Electronic mail message from Sue Masten (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I've looked into this question, as far as I can tell:
About 1788 the first of a long steam of Mennonites left Poland to relocate in the Ukraine. They moved to escape the Poland's forced enrollment into the military. They acquired much land in the Ukraine. By 1853 about 1600 families had settled into 72 villages with land holding of about 500,000 acres.
In 1860, a small group of Mennonites living in Russia underwent a religious "awakening", which called for much stricter discipline. They formed the Mennonite Brethren Church, some of which members left Russia. The Mennonites had lost their exemption from military service. Many of these Mennonites settled in the Middle West US.
By W. W. I, the Mennonite settlements in Russia included more than 120,000 members. They lived in Villages where all forms of government within, where controlled by them. All Mennonite communities in Russia where destroyed during W. W. II, or dissolved by the Russian Government. Today, Mennonites lived scattered among the Russian population.
Now lets moved around in history.....Emigration to North American began about 1660. They did so to preserve their faith, to escape European militarism. In North America, they were able to maintain their German language, living in rural communities as farmers.
In 1775, the Mennonites addressed the Pennsylvania Assembly:
It is our principle to feed the hungry and give the thirsty a drink; we have dedicated ourselves to serve all men, in everything that can be helpful to the preservation of men's lives, but we find no freedom in giving, or going or assisting in anything by which men's lives are destroyed or hurt.
In 1783 Mennonites in Lancaster County were accused of Treason for feeding the destitute British soldiers. In the Civil War, some hired "substitutes," other paid money to escape military services, and those who did serve were excommunicated.
Slowly the language changed from German to English. With the adoptions of such practices as Sunday School and evangelistic services, combined with all the "side effects" of change..a number of division occurred within the Mennonite population.
(Amish do not speak English until they go to school, at age 6, where they are taught it. Until that time, they speak only their Dutch German language, which is spoken entirely at home, and within their comminutes. Their church services, wedding [one of which I just attended] are all in German.)
The largest group is the Old Mennonite Church, then, General Conference of the Mennonite Church, and the Mennonite Brethren. Still other groups of Anabaptists exist: Old Order Amish, and Hutterites - the most extreme, still living communally.
The migration of the Mennonites from Russia have continued through the 20th century : to both America's. In South America to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia, Mexico, and British Honduras, Africa, and other parts of Asia.