In nineteen-fourteen some Amish from Kalona, Iowa founded a new community one hundred miles north of there in Buchanan County. The original Amish settlers drove their cattle there on foot. Soon many others would join them. They came from all over. Many came by “immigrant car” on the railroad, to places like Hazelton, Fairbank, and a ghost town of sorts once known as Bryantsburg.


Bryantsburg was the point of entrance for many of my Borntreger relatives. Sometime in the mid-twenties their Kansas wheat land had been traded for land in Buchanan County, and we find references to farms for my great-grandpa Moses and sons Christ, Dan, Ben and my grandpa Jonas. I’m not absolutely certain, but at this time I believe that all eight of Moses Borntreger’s grown children had lived in Buchanan County with their families at some time during the twenties and thirties. Much of the land south and west of Hazelton was once known as Borntreger Land.


Maternal grandparents Joe and Lydia Schrock also moved. From Kansas they went to Popular Bluff and Sikeston, Missouri and then later also to Buchanan County. They bought a farm on the east bank of the Wapsi River near Dunkerton, Iowa and settled there with their eight children. The year was nineteen-thirty.


Of course the Migration did not stop when my ancestors reached Iowa. In February of 1938, Joe Bontrager Sr., a scribe for The Budget, (an Amish newspaper,) wrote the following.


“I think it was twenty three years last fall that the first Amish families moved into this locality. After the first of March, after the moving is done there will be 44 families living here, and 48 families have moved away. Fifteen years ago we were the 14th family that moved here. At that time three families had moved away already.”



There were seventy-four Borntreger first cousins in my dad’s generation. At the time of this writing, Sarah (Mrs. Abner,) Swartz is the only one of these cousins still living in Buchanan County Iowa.


My grandpa Jonas died in 1939. He and my dad had jointly owned a saw mill. In the process of installing a diesel engine from a Buda truck to power the mill; a barrel of diesel fuel fell on my grandpa and crushed his intestinal area. Grandpa Jonas died a painful lingering death from Gangrene poisoning. After his death, and even though dad owned half of the mill, his mother never let the saw mill be used afterwards. On his death bed, Grandpa Jonas required a promise from my father that he would marry the oldest daughter of Joe M. and Lydia Schrock.


My parents were married in 1941; I was born in forty-two (in Grandma Sarah’s kitchen.) and by 1948 my parents, my three oldest siblings and I were once more moving. This time the Land of Promise lay twelve miles southwest of Bowling Green, in Pike County, Missouri.