Hamilton County NEGenWeb Project
In the fall of 1874, about 200 German-speaking Russians arrived in Lincoln and took up temporary quarters in an emigrant house, set up by the Burlington & Missouri Railroad while land-seeking expeditions were sent out. On October 14, 1874, they moved to the west part of York County and the southeast part of Hamilton County. There they founded the first Ruissian Mennonite settlement in the United States. The move was made to the new country to escape the tyrannies imposed upon them. It was not persecution or poverty which faced them, but something far more important to them -- the giving up of one of the most important principles in their religious belief. They or their sons would have to go into military service, which was against their beliefs to bear arms. A delegation of 12 ministers had come to America in the spring of 1873, intent upon finding religious liberty. They traveled through Canada, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and further south. Their return to Russia, Alexanderwohl, was five months later, and they gave a very favorable report of this country. A corporation was formed and each family head contributed as he was able and more than $8700 was raised, and shared with the less-fortunate in making the trip. After 18days on the ocean the party landed in New York, September 2, 1874.
The settlement which was to be Henderson was made through the influence of John Grosshans of Sutton who located there the year before. A large group went to adjoining states but 35 families banded together to form the Henderson community. Most lived for a time in an emigrant house, 24X80 feet, others occupied homesteads not now occupied by their owners. The emigrant house was a mile east of the present town of Henderson. While this town is located in York County, many of the group have always resided in Hamilton County.