Warwick County Historical Society Annual Potluck

By: City of Newport News

This Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 6 p.m., the Warwick County Historical Society will host its annual potluck supper. Guests are asked to bring their best country side dish or dessert to share, or a $5.00 donation.    After the meal, a program will be presented by Mennonite Historian Jo Anne Kraus, author of “Holy Experiment: The Warwick River Mennonite Colony 1897-1970” and “Phebe’s Home: A Woman’s Life in the Warwick River Mennonite Colony.” The author will have books available for for sale and signing. In 1897, Mennonite and Amish families from northern and western states began to relocate to former plantation land in Southeastern Virginia along the banks of the Warwick River. Their migration was part of a large, though little known, movement in the Mennonite Church in the late 19th century to settle church colonies in the post-Civil War South.  By developing the depleted tracts into successful farms and creating new congregations, Mennonite leaders hoped to keep their church vital and growing in a time of shrinking membership. They also hoped to find a strategy for mission work in keeping with their faith. The Warwick River Colony was the only one in the American South to survive this experiment and eventually thrive. Kraus, whose family was among the pioneer settlers, will chronicle the Mennonite community’s remarkable story of hardship, courage and determination to establish a new life in a new land.  The venue is the 1884 Warwick County Courthouse, located at 14421 Old Courthouse Way. The event is open to the public. For additional information, contact 757-525-7372 or www.warwickcountyva.org.

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