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THE founders of Munjor, Kansas, located on the fertile west side bottom land of Big Creek, came from the town of Obermonjour, Government of Samara, Russia, in the summer of 1876. They formed part of the largest expedition of emigrants to forsake the empire of the Czars in search of greater freedom and opportunities in the United States. Together with numerous inhabitants of Herzog, Wittman, Marienthal, Schoenchen and Gattung, they left Saratov on the eighth of July, 1876. At Eydkuhnen the party separated, the emigrants from Herzog deciding to go to America by way of Bremen, in a ship of the North-German Lloyd line, and the others choosing Hamburg as the place of embarkation.
The party traveling by way of Hamburg arrived in New York late in July and immediately turned their faces westward, reaching Herzog (Victoria) a few days later. After remaining in Herzog several days, they moved to a place on Big Creek some miles north of the present site of Munjor. Here they stayed about two months, after which they changed to Section 25, Township 14, Range 17, where the town now stands.
The pioneers of Munjor were: Jacob Engel, John Berg, Franz Leiker, Henry Leiker, Joseph Leiker, Konrad Leiker, Michael Leiker, Nicholas Leiker, Peter Leiker, all of Obermunjour, Russia; John Dechant, John Herl, Henry Miller, Henry Ruder, Stanislaus Ruder, Joseph Schreibvogel, Anton Schumacher, Henry Schumacher, George Schumacher, Catherine Schumacher, all of Wittman, Russia; Nicholas Eberle, Peter Gross, Mathias Rohr, Peter Rohr, of Marienthal; Anton Wasinger and Anton Wasinger, Jr., of Schoenchen; Anton Schneider and Peter Stoecklein of Gattung. In addition to these, the following families arrived in 1878: Gerhard Befort, Anton Dechant, Carl Dechant, Jacob Engel, Peter Klaus, John Pfannenstiel, Konrad Rupp, John Stoecklein, and Anton Gabel.
The very year of their arrival the settlers purchased Section 25, and organized the Munjor Land Company, which in 1882 was superseded by an incorporated organization, the Munjor Town and Grazing Company. This latter company was formed at the suggestion of John Schlyer of Hays, who for many years was the chief adviser and benefactor of the newcomers.
Part of the section was surveyed for a town site, and each lot holder became a member of the company, which started business with a capital stock of $10,000 - 200 shares at $50.00 per share. Among other things, the charter provided that the company have a board of directors made up of five members, a president, a vice-president, a secretary, and a treasurer, all to be chosen from the members of the company; that no portion of the land holdings could be burdened with debt, transferred, or sold without the consent of two-thirds of the shareholders. The by-laws provided for quarterly meetings, and an annual election of directors.
Unfortunately for the peace of the new settlement, the settlers were incapable of properly handling the affairs of such a corporation, and the result was a long series of recriminations and quarrels which split the town into two factions. After a futile attempt to settle matters in the courts, the two contending parties came to an agreement, the Munjor Town and Grazing Company was dissolved and peace and harmony restored, to the relief and joy of all concerned.
But this is anticipating events. When the settlers arrived at their destination, their first care was to construct some kind of a shelter no matter how humble. Like their fellow-countrymen in the other settlements, they were poor, and for building material had to use whatever their new surroundings offered. From the sod of the prairie, the sapling, and the trees of the nearby creek, they constructed their rude but comfortable bungalows.
Next to home and family, the object of greatest concern to the settler was the house of God, and thus in Munjor we find the people, immediately after completing their own houses, casting about for means to build a suitable church. As early as 1877 they succeeded in erecting a small frame church measuring about 41 by 20 feet. Here, in the beginning, Mass was said once a month by Rev. Fr. Wibbert and Rev. Fr. Valentine Sommereisen. In 1878 the Capuchin Fathers took charge of the parish and Mass was said more frequently. The following list contains the names of all the priests who have labored in Munjor:
|1877||Rev. Valentine Sommereisen.|
|1878||Rev. Anastasius Mueller, O.M. Cap.|
|1879||" " "|
|1880||" " "|
|1881||Rev. James Muench, O.M. Cap.|
|1982||" " "|
|1883||(Mar.) Rev. Andrew Eisenhut, O.M. Cap.|
|1884||(Apr.) Rev. James Muench, O.M. Cap.|
|1884||(Oct.) Rev. Francis K. Strobel, O.M. Cap.|
|1885||" " "|
|1886||(Jan.) Rev. Martin Muelders, O.M. Cap.
(Aug.) Rev. Matthew Savelsberg, O.M. Cap.
|1887||" " "|
|1888||" " "|
|1889||" " "|
|1890||(Jan.) Rev. Martin Muelders, O.M. Cap.|
|1891||(Jun.) Rev. Matthew Savelsberg, O.M. Cap.
(Nov.) Rev. Albert Andlauer, O.M. Cap.
|1892||" " "|
|1893||" " "|
|1894||(Sep.) Rev. Hilary Maier, O.M. Cap.|
|1895||" " "|
|1896||(Sep.) Rev. Nicholas Deinlein, O.M. Cap.|
|1897||(Aug.) Rev. Leo Egger, O.M. Cap.|
|1898||" " "|
|1899||" " "|
|1900||(Aug.) Rev. Chilian Lutz, O.M. Cap.|
|1901||" " "|
|1902||" " "|
|1903||(Jun.) Rev. Leo Egger, O.M. Cap.|
|1904||" " "|
|1905||(Aug.) Rev. Raphael Schwarz, O.M. Cap.|
|1906||(Aug.) Rev. Emmeram Kausler, O.M. Cap.|
|1907||" " "|
|1908||" " "|
|1909||(Aug.) Rev. Herman Jos. Peters, O.M. Cap.|
|1914||Rev. Mathew Savelsberg, O.M. Cap.|
|1915||Rev. Paul, O.M. Cap.|
|1916||" " "|
|1917||Rev. Paul,||O.M. Cap.|
|1918||Rev. Leo Egger, O.M. Cap,|
|1919||" " "|
|1920||Rev. Fr. Angelus, O.M. Cap.|
|1921 to present time Rev. Leo Egger, O.M. Cap.|
The church built in 1877 soon proved too small, and in a few years sixteen feet were added to it. The cornerstone of the present stone edifice was laid on Passion Sunday, 1889, and the dedication took place in 1890, on Trinity Sunday, the ceremony being performed by Very Rev. Fr, Francis Wolf, O.M. Cap. Owing to the steady increase of the congregation the building was later enlarged.
Education had to contend with serious difficulties in Munjor: The people were so poor that they were compelled to make their children work on the farm when they should have been in the class room; the older people did not appreciate the value and necessity of a sound education; and finally, the bilingual system divided the school day into one-half German and one-half English, with the result that the children made but slow progress in mastering the language of their adopted country.
Of late years, however, a decided change for the better has taken place. Children now attend school regularly, and are encouraged to study by their parents. Quite a number of Munjor youths and maidens have attended schools of higher learning, and their example does much to bring education into good repute.
The school building now in use is a stone structure designed by Justus Bissing of Catherine. It measures 74x36x37 feet, and contains four large class rooms. It is attended by about 200 pupils divided into eight grades. The Sisters of St. Agnes are in charge.
Beforet, Anton, Casper, Conrad A., Mrs. Joseph, Fidelis, Jacob
Binder, Mrs. Sebastian
Dechant, Anton A.
Doerfler, Conrad, Albert
Graf, Franz, Alex, Mrs. Michael
Gross, Anastasius, Peter P., Martin
Herl, Hieronimus, Hieronimus Jr., Joseph, Anton
Hertel, Alex Jr.
Hertel, Alex Sr.
Klaus, Alex W., Fidelis, John W., John Sr.
Korber, Felix, Mrs. Elizabeth
Kuhn, Andrew, Fred
Leiker, Andrew, Alex B., Alex M., August, Caspar, Frank, Henry
Leiker, Jacob E., Jacob, John, Pius, John S., John B., Mrs. Carl, Michael Nicolaus, Peter S., Peter D., Peter M. M., Sebastian, Raymund, Romuald
Meier, Mrs. Andrew
Pfannenstiel, Adam, Alex, John M., Mrs. Barbara, Michael, Fidelis, Jacob, John Sr., Joseph B., Nick J., Joseph J., Peter A., Mat., Martin, Nick, Peter, Philip
Miller, Joseph, Jacob
Riedel, Peter, John
Rohr, Joseph, Peter, Mathias
Ruder, John A., Henry, Alex
Rupp, John, Peter
Schumacher, Alex, Anton, Jacob, John, George. Hieronimus, Nick, Joseph
Stoecklein, Christof, Cornelius, Jacob Sr., Jacob Jr., John S., Carl J., Mrs. John P.
Unrein, August, Joseph D., Wendelin, Frank
Yunker, Peter P., Mrs. Barbara
Goetz, John F.
Picture: First church and belfry, Munjor
Picture: Sister Rosa, C.S.A. For many years a teacher at Munjor.
Picture: View of Munjor, Kansas
picture: St. Francis Church at Munjor, Kansas
picture: Group of Survivors of Immigrants of Munjor, Kansas
picture: Sisters -
1. Sr. Maria Philippi (Dreke); 2. Sr. Florian (Germaine Pfannenstiel); 3. Sr Agnese (Mary Grabbe); 4. Sr: Laurinda (Elizabeth Pfannenstiel); 5. Sr. Hedwig (Toepfer); 6. Sr. Rosaria (Erbert); 7. Sr. M. Silveria (Boos); S. (Erbert) 9. (Weber); 10. Sr. Agneta (Margaret Kuhn); 11. Sr. M. Augustine (Basgall); 12. Sr. Sabinus (Roth); 13. Sr. Ligori (Roth)
Picture: Munjor Deceased -
1-2. Heinrich and Catharine Leiker; 3-4. Peter and Catharine Klaus; 5-6. Joseph and Catharine Gassman; 7. Catharine Schumacher; 8-9. Gerhard and Elizabeth Befort; 10-11. Gerhard and Catharine Stecklein; 12-13. Martin and Anne Maria Leiker; 14. Mrs. Maria Ruder (Vincent); 15-16. Henry and Dorothea Ruder; 17-18. George and Maria Anna Sauer; 19-20. Mr. and Mrs. Anton Pfannentiel, Sr.; 21. Anna Margaretha Sauer; 22-23. Joseph D. and Anna E. Leiker; 24-25. Jacob J. and Margaret Leiker; 26-27. Henry and Anna Maria Miller; 28. Elizabeth Doerfler (wife of Conrad); 29-30. (Not identified); 31-32. Conrad and Eva Rupp; 33-34. John and Maria Klaus; 35. Mrs. Boos; 36-37. Carl and Catharine Dechant; 38. Nickolaus Wasinger; 39. Conrad Doerfler; 40. John Grabbe; 41. Stanislaus Ruder; 42. Mrs. John K. Leiker; 43. Jacob Herl
Transcribed from The Golden Jubilee of German-Russian Settlements of Ellis and Rush Counties, Kansas, August 31, September 1 and 2, 1926