Hutchinson County Haven
Jul 30, 2015
The fertile fields of Hutchinson County became a haven for ethnic Germans fleeing Russia in the 1870s. They had lived there for years, enticed by Catherine the Great to transform the region around the Black Sea into Europe’s breadbasket. She offered freedom from military service, but when Czar Alexander II rescinded that promise in 1871, the pacifist Germans sought new land. Several thousand emigrated to southeastern Dakota Territory beginning in 1873. By the end of the decade, Germans had established farms up the James River Valley to the Menno and Freeman areas, where their descendants still work the land. Joel Schwader, of Rapid City, grew up in Freeman. He visited his hometown this summer and shared these photos from rural Hutchinson County.
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