Hutterite History Book is in the Works: Waldner
Uncovers Treasury of History
Franz, Peggy. "Hutterite History Book is in the Works: Waldner Uncovers Treasury of History." Walsh County Record, 22 July 1986.
Tony Waldner, member of Forest River Colony, has uncovered a treasury
of history after digging in records for almost seven years.
And he will use that treasure to write a book about North Dakota's
first Hutterite Colony, established in 1949.
"I started collecting in 1979, and at that time I didn't see
a project coming out of it," Waldner explained, noting that
it was only this year that he envisioned writing a history on the
Forest River Colony. "I'm just a historically-minded person.
History was my favorite subject in school, and I've always been
interested in the historical aspect of things."
Waldner, 29, hopes to have the book completed within three years
to commemorate the Forest River Colony's 40th year of establishment
and the state's 100th year of existence.
Forest River Colony, located five miles northwest of Inkster, was
the only Hutterite Colony located in North Dakota between 1949 and
1971. Since then, four other colonies have been established in the
For Waldner, the main purpose in tackling such a project is for
the colony's future generations. "The children who don't know
the history well will benefit the most from the book. If a book
comes out it will be dedicated to the future generations. That's
why I'm doing it, and also because it's a hobby of mine," Waldner
When completed, the book will be available to the public. Waldner
cited that the history would be more benefit to the general public
than to members of the Forest River Colony, mainly because colony
members are already aware of their history. "Most people have
heard about the colony, but they know very little about the colony
and its people," cited Waldner.
Waldner got the idea to correlate his project with the state centennial
after a group of people came to inquire about doing a similar state
centennial project of the Forest River Colony themselves.
After waldner did not hear anything further from the group, he
decided to take the project on himself. "I feel we can give
the best perspective," he noted. "On any given book that
anybody writes, the best perspective is always from the person or
persons nearest the situation," he noted. "Just anyone
who writes a book can never understand the inside life of the colonies,
not completely at least."
For the past seven years, Waldner has uncovered books and books
of newspaper articles, photos of people and buildings, family history
records and land records.
Waldner, who works on the project in his spare time, has put hundreds
of hours into collecting, searching and organizing records, articles
and photos. "After working for six years I've got enough information
together, but I haven't got enough information yet to see the light
at the end of the tunnel."
Said Waldner, "I still don't have enough for a book. I feel
records, pictures and history are just a skeleton of a book. The
part of the book that makes it interesting is the stories, the anecdotes.
"I haven't interviewed enough people to get that part of the
book. The stories people have to tell are the spice to a history."
He added, "If I wanted just pictures and records, I could put
it out today, but I don't want a book like that."
Waldner's next step is to interview people, members and non-members
of the colony, who have had contact with the Forest River Colony.
When that is completed, he will begin writing, organizing and compiling
After the book is written, Waldner, a book-binder, will bind what
he says will be a slender paperback history book of the colony.
Waldner says history has always been an important part of the colony
in order to maintain its culture. "Culture goes right along
with history," he cited. "If you don't know where you've
been you don't know where you're going."
Waldner says in every culture, someone has to take responsibility
for history. "Of every culture someone has to do the historical
part," he noted. "Why we have history books is because
someone took an interest in it."
Reprinted with permission of the Walsh County Record.
|Tony Waldner shows son Jason the many
newspaper articles written about the Forest River Colony. For
the past seven years Waldner has collected many books of information
regarding the Hutterite Colony. He hopes to condense the information
in a book to be ready for the colony's 40th anniversary and
the state's 100th anniversary in 1989.