The Mennonites Come To Kansas

Their religion and customs were strange, but these master farmers from the Russian steppes turned a treeless prairie into America’s granary

In the fall of 1874 a Russian farmer, fingering the rich, black earth of central Kansas and gazing out over virgin prairie that stretched as far as his eye could see, predicted that “in three years that ocean of grass will be transformed into an ocean of waving fields of grain.” At the same time a Kansas newspaperman wrote with prophetic insight: “Kansas will be to America what the country of the Black Sea … is now to Europe, her wheat-field.” Both men were doing more than simply peering into a crystal ball.