In the late 1800s my great-grandfather Heinrich Letkeman, his wife Katarina, and their four children joined the mass migration of Mennonite Brethren from Osterwick, Russia. The six week journey cost the life of their five-year-old son, Jacob, who succumbed to illness before the six-week journey ended.
They settled in Manitoba Canada and over the next six years Katarina gave birth to four children, none of whom survived beyond their third birthday. Even their youngest son, after enduring the harsh Atlantic crossing, succumbed to illness within four years of their arrival in Canada. Sustained by their faith, the couple persevered and eventually added four more heathy children to the family.
I can’t imagine the heartache Katarina must have endured at losing six of her twelve children as the family tried to build a new life in a new land.
I just finished reading and reviewing a Kim Vogel Sawyer’s new book, Fields of Grace. This is a fictional tale about a family of Russian Mennonites who immigrated to Kansas at around the same time of my great-grandparent’s journey and it parallels many of their experiences. You can check out my review here.
I’ll share more about my own Mennonite family in the future.