Mennonite Inspiration

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.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Linda, how fascinating to have noteworthy ancestors. I look forward to hearing more. And also to reading that book. The buzz is picking up. Thanks for adding to it.

  2. I enjoyed your review, Linda, and will look for this book. I also checked out the Story Circle site and bookmarked it.

    I've always enjoyed reading about the experience of the settlers in Kansas, Nebraska and the eastern plains of Colorado. There were large numbers of German/Russians who settled in eastern Colorado. One of the best books I've read on the subject is Second Hoeing by Hope Williams Sykes. I'm thrilled to have a lead on another good story!

  3. My great-great grandmother lost three children in two weeks to diptheria. The story goes that my great-great grandfather let a sick stranger sleep in the children's bed while she and the children were away. They all caught the disease and died. The story goes that she never forgave her husband.

    And we think times are tough?

  4. What a rich heritage! I can hardly wait to hear more.

  5. How exciting! I'm fascinated by both the Amish and Mennonite cultures. And I didn't know of this book you've reviewed (I read all I can get my hands on). I'll have to check the author out. And I'm eager to hear more of your ancestors!

  6. Thanks for the review which encouraged me to read the book. How blessed we are today to see our children grow into adults – these woman really faced challenges beyond my imagination and must have had tremendous faith.

Leave a Reply to Karen Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.