Hutterite Descendants – Freed Slaves from the 1605 Turkish War

Written by: Linda Maendel on Friday, April 11th, 2014

I’ve received some interesting messages since I’ve started blogging at a few years ago. The most recent one made me do a double take and wonder if this person was dreaming. Upon conducting an internet search to learn more about the Hutterer Park in Innsbruck, Austria, this person was led to my blog, where I had written a post on this park after visiting the area.

“Hi Linda, just read your ‘Living What Our Forefathers Died For’ post. Deeply touching article, as I am a descendant of the Hutterites enslaved by Turks during the raids. We were eventually sold as slaves in Istanbul and sent to Cyprus. We were freed in the 1800’s and still live in the same Turkish village in Cyprus. We are still in touch with our distant relatives in Süd Tirol and some Hutterites around the world. I am keen to visit a Hutterite colony one day.”

Naturally I felt compelled to respond and find out more about this intriguing ‘descendant of the Hutterites’. Over the course of a few emails, I learned that the man was born and raised in the United Kingdom, to Turkish Cypriot parents.

“Since a very young age, I have always had a fascination with genealogy and trying to trace my ancestry.” He wrote in an email. “I managed to trace my family tree back to the 1800’s, to the same Turkish village my father is from, but couldn’t go back any further. So I decided to take a DNA test to work out my origins. The results came and it turns out I have the rarest European DNA (Haplogroup L2) and the DNA I carry only appears in one part of Europe – Süd Tirol.”

A few years after getting this DNA test done, a man from Süd Tirol took the same test. His results were posted onto a database and because they matched, both men, one in the UK and the other in Süd Tirol were alerted to this. They received an email from the DNA testing company to inform them they were 12th cousins and shared the same forefather in the 1500’s. At that point the man in the UK got in touch with this distant relative in Süd Tirol, and later, fascinated by this discovery, also visited him.

After more research, both cousins learned that in the 1500’s their common ancestor lived in Leifers, Süd Tirol. One of their forefather’s sons became a believer and converted to Anabaptism. Due to this he was disowned by his family and went through severe persecution. The people that remained on the farm are where the family in Süd Tirol descends from. My contact in the UK descends from the disowned son who became an Anabaptist.

The trail then goes to Moravia; where in the 1600’s the Turks invaded and enslaved 200 Hutterites as recorded in the Hutterite Chronicle, pages 702 to 788. From Moravia they were taken to Hungary and then Istanbul, Turkey, where they were sold as slaves to a farm in Cyprus. The farm they settled on is the farm where the family continues to live today!

“So, I am a descendant of the Hutterites who managed to return from Turkish captivity!” this man from the UK informed me. “As a result of my research and findings, I converted and became a believer too – I now attend an Anabaptist Church in the UK. Unfortunately we have no Hutterite gathering in the UK!”

I told him about the Bruderhof community in London and he has since made contact with former Hutterites there and has visited them as well and felt “very emotional and happy”. He and his family are now planning a week-long visit the Darvel Bruderhof in England.

“There are no modern day Hutterites from this same family line – they were all either murdered or enslaved by the Turks.” he noted, as he continues his research, “We have unfortunately lost our link, but I am intent on making the link again and ensuring the people from my father’s village are made aware of their Hutterite origins. I am very keen to visit a colony and experience the life I call home”.

In his quest to find other “Turkish” Hutterites he has managed to find members of the Stahl family living in North East Turkey who were enslaved. As a result of this discovery he now plans to continue the work of Salomon Böger and trace as many of the lost Turkish Hutterites as possible. Salomon Böger’s was a Hutterite in Moravia, and is known for his unusual and valiant efforts to redeem Hutterite women dragged away by the Turks during a very bloody war raid in 1605. His wife and daughter were victims of these raids, thus his passion to find and try to bring home these slaves. This mission lasted a few years and he was able to reunite a few lost women with the community. In 1610 while traveling toward Hungary, he disappeared and later it was reported he was murdered on the road.

Having recently visited ‘Moravia’, which today is known as the Czech Republic, this story really piqued my interest. Not only is it linked to Hutterite History, but I was able to make a better connection from a geographical sense.

In conclusion, like many other similar stories, this is a part of Hutterite History that could never have made it into our history books, because tragically, people sometimes just disappeared and were never heard of again. Till now – for this family anyway. In reading our history, I’ve often wondered what happened to the people who by choice or force were separated from their Hutterite communities. For example, the people who chose to stay in Russia, when the Hutterites immigrated to America. One can only imagine what fascinating pieces we could add to our history books, if we’d ever find out. Then again, and as is evident with this Cyprus connection, who knows what more we’ll learn in this ‘information age’ we’re living in.

Showing 31 comments

Terry James said:
On: 12th Apr, 2014 at 20:57

What a fascinating story!

John Gorentz said:
On: 15th Apr, 2014 at 17:36

That is a fascinating story. It’s interesting to see the many ways in which people live with their history.

I had not known that Hutterites were in Russia before coming to America. Were they part of (or confused with) what are sometimes called Volga Germans?

Linda said:
On: 15th Apr, 2014 at 20:08

I’ve never heard of the term Volga German.

    John Gorentz said:
    On: 16th Apr, 2014 at 01:54

    Linda, there is a Wikipedia article for Volga Germans.

    The closest it comes to mentioning Hutterites is this sentence: “The German Mennonite communities were opposed to military service because of their religious beliefs, so many Mennonites emigrated to the Americas instead.” I don’t know if those would have included Hutterites, though. Do you?

    When I was a little tyke growing up in central North Dakota, there were many of these Volga Germans around. The older, more established Germans often referred to them as Russians and tended to look down on them. The language they originally spoke in America was Swebish, which is far more German than Russian.

    It’s possible that I’m oversimplifying all of this. In recent years some historians have taken more of an interest in these people, and I’d consider their words to be more reliable than mine.

      Linda said:
      On: 16th Apr, 2014 at 02:06

      I read that article, after replying to your comment. If they’re connected to Hutterites in some way, I’m not aware of it. And the article doesn’t say either. Unless someone else who visits this site will know something.

        John Gorentz said:
        On: 16th Apr, 2014 at 03:47

        Some more googling led me to this page: “The Religious History of the German-Russians in the USA

        Although it’s a jumble of information, it seems to be saying that Hutterites moved next to the Mennonites who had preceded them in the Volga region. It would be interesting to know what kind of interactions they had, but maybe it’s unknowable at this point.

        Some of my own ancestors were Volga Germans. When my mother learned about this years ago, the news was not entirely welcome among the relatives, some of whom said, “Nope, there are no Russians in our family.” But the information we have is pretty vague. We don’t know very much about it.

          MKJ said:
          On: 4th May, 2016 at 20:50

          from what I have read, the Hutterites at the beginning were more craftsmen and professionals than farmers. Hutter=hatter, Lehrer=teacher, etc. (the occupations of the leaders). I read that when they accepted the invitation to live in Russia, the German Mennonites already there taught them to farm. Prior to that, the Hutterites had been known for their fine ceramics and other crafts as their means of income.
          In the 1870’s when the Hutterite scouts went to the US to examine the land available for homesteading, they made the trip with some scouts of their neighboring German Mennonites, who were going for the same reason.

Dani Scafati said:
On: 24th May, 2014 at 02:48

Just stumbled upon your fascinating article while perusing things Hutterite. In the comment section it was mentioned that the Volga Germans spoke Swebish. I am German and grew up in southwest Germany where schwaebisch is the dialekt. If I combine that with the fact that the Hutterites originated in Switzerland, which borders this area in Germany, there could well be a connection.

    Linda said:
    On: 24th May, 2014 at 04:29

    Hutterites originate from Austria and also have roots in Sued Tirol, Italy -Jakob Hutter was from that area. But the Reformation, which ultimately led to the beginning of community of goods, started in Switzerland.

MayMay said:
On: 10th Jul, 2014 at 18:32

Are there any Hutterites who have become Jehovah Witnesses?

    Lindamaendel said:
    On: 10th Jul, 2014 at 19:03

    Not that I’m aware of. Why do you ask?

Barbara Brooks said:
On: 2nd Sep, 2014 at 06:49

Please ask this brother to make a blog of his quest for the descendants of the Hutterite slaves. I’m very curious to hear what he finds and hope that he gets a chance to lead some of these long-lost kinsmen to Christ.

    Linda said:
    On: 2nd Sep, 2014 at 13:01

    Thanks, Barbara, will pass this message on to my friend.

    Linda said:
    On: 2nd Sep, 2014 at 13:01

    Thanks, Barbara, will pass this message on to my friend.

Terry Driscoll said:
On: 26th Sep, 2014 at 23:05

I came upon this blog by reading a orbit from my home town of Flandreau South Dakota. But as I read the orbit and investigated further I became more intrigued as to the person in the orbit and her history. Not to sound morgue, but I find obituaries as a way for us who are living as a way we should guide our lives, if we choose. None the less I investigated the Hutterite religion further only that its beliefs are close to what I believe we all should be living. Let alone the problems we as free Americans face with the new threat of IS, as our President Oboma has renewed attacks on. Why do we have to have all of the wars we have had in the World since WWII? Answer: Religion and Greed. I choose not to be a part of that, nor do I want my sons to be casualties of that.

Steven wurtz said:
On: 1st Mar, 2015 at 21:03

Wow I had chills reading this article , my family left the hutterites in the 80ies but still love the people and history, they are my blood I got to travel Austria a couple years ago to find the kleinsasser house and wurtz farm… My wife and I traveled to Moravia ,( Czeck republic not knowing we could gave distance relatives there …if I only would have known… I wanna travel to turkey:))))) thanks for that article , —– steven w

    Carlyn said:
    On: 20th Mar, 2016 at 02:36

    The Kleinsasser house is one of the houses from my ancestors family compound. Until a few years ago there was still a website for a bed and breakfast run by a distant cousin. My Aunt Rozella visited when it was still a bed and breakfast. I see your last name is wurtz, and with the mention of the Kleinsasser house, pretty sure you are link, or kink in my family genealogy.

Frans Baatenburg de Jong said:
On: 13th Jul, 2015 at 08:02

The danger of excluding yourselves and becoming prosperous is recepy for disaster. We have seen it with the Jews, Whites in Africa and even with the Hutterites themselves firsthand in Europe and in particular in Ukraine.
Why is that? God wants us to primarily be “sharers” of blessing and truth, as the “salt” of the earth, not selfserving; so it is only a matter of time when the Hutterite communities will again have a hard time. Sun Myung Moon introduced the aspect of Tribal Messiahship, where by all means you share new things with relatives by the way of True Love, solving problems of Family and society in this way, bringing joy to God as our Heavenly Parent!!!

Evan Eichler said:
On: 13th Dec, 2015 at 16:04

Fascinating story. Is it possible that the Stahl’s mentioned from North East Turkey are descended from Johannes Stahl from Zobelhof, Slovakia who as captured and enslaved by Ottoman raiders in 1663. I have researched the genealogy of the Stahl family including church records from Slovakia and visiting the Habaner in Sobotiste. I would be interested in hearing more about these Turkish Hutterites.

Peter Mandel said:
On: 15th Aug, 2016 at 02:15

Hi Linda
Mine name is Peter Mandel ,I know we are related if your maiden name is Maendel
I loved your story about our history when I read our history book I often wondered what happened to our Brethern who were taken as slaves in turkey .I live in Alberta in a colony I never was in Europe I guess I never will so I enjoyed reading about our people who helped build our believes .God only knows where I would be if it wasn’t for their sacrifice

    Lindamaendel said:
    On: 15th Aug, 2016 at 14:27

    Yes, Peter, we have a rich history and our forefathers sacrificed a lot. Now if we would only do more than read their stories. If we don’t learn anything from the examples they set, than they really are just stories. What are we sacrificing? What are we saying ‘no’ to? Is brotherly love and faithfulness as alive in our communities as it was in theirs? Are we a light to the world?

Kathryn Turner said:
On: 7th Sep, 2016 at 17:26

I find your blog inspiring. The struggles of the early Hutterites who were tortured and enslaved are very sad but the colonies are growing in the 21st century. Today when I read the news about people being enslaved by ISIS or others I wonder how they will maintain their cultural indentity and connections to family. Their struggles seem similar to the early Hutterites in some ways. Also, when I read about island nations having to move entire populations because of climate change, I wonder ” how will they do this?”. Thank you for sharing your faith and your history.

Eric said:
On: 7th Jul, 2017 at 19:55

Hi Linda, id love to get in touch with you about the article you wrote entitled

“Hutterite Descendants – Freed Slaves from the 1605 Turkish War”

Its a great article, well written.

I grew up Hutterite, but left a number of years ago. I still love the Hutterite people and sometimes log onto this blog to read the new posts. I frequently travel into Europe and Have been to Turkey. I’ve lived for close to a year in Greece. I would love to meet the Turkish family that reacted its roots back to being Hutterite. It would be incredible meeting them in person and talking with them. Would it be possible to connect with them through you?

Philip Hofer said:
On: 26th Nov, 2018 at 15:35

Linda, This is so interesting, still, 4 years after you wrote it. I have been researching my maternal and paternal ancestors, particularly the women in the four lines and all Hutterites. I have been intrigued by the sojourn of my 5x great grandmother (on both sides) in Transylvania. I have wondered what the impact of the Turkish/Austro Hungarian battles were along the way. I had not read anything like what you write about the connections to Turkey and Cypress because of the wars and the plunder of such. Fascinating. Thank you.

    Lindamaendel said:
    On: 26th Nov, 2018 at 15:48

    Thanks for your comment, Philip, and for reading my blogposts! It certainly is interesting, and also how I learned about this part of our history, as I too have often wondered what happened to those people dragged away to be slaves.

John Lehr said:
On: 19th Apr, 2019 at 17:18

Fascinating story Linda. I really found this intriguing. Some years ago John Hofer (JVC) told me a story that supports this account.

Jock Lehr

    Lindamaendel said:
    On: 19th Apr, 2019 at 21:06

    Thanks, Jock. I’d be interested in John’s story myself. Not too much is said about this in our history books.

Hartmann said:
On: 1st Aug, 2019 at 07:20

Finde ich sehr interessant, weil ich erstens aus Südtirol bin, zweitens mich für die Sprache der Hutterer interessiere, und drittens auch für Genealogie.

    Lindamaendel said:
    On: 1st Aug, 2019 at 07:53

    Vielen Dank, Hartmann. Es ist wirklich eine interresante Geschichte.

Julie Greer said:
On: 2nd Dec, 2019 at 14:53

Just looking at Czech because I have an ancestor last name Purcell.