About the Book:
"Born in November of 1870, David was but three years old when his parents, along with other Hutterite brethren, began making ﬁnal preparations for their journey to a new land. He was too young to be concerned about the religious and political implications of this great exodus, but most certainly his entire life would be greatly inﬂuenced by this momentous decision to immigrate to America." David Hofer was born into the Hutterite Church and communal way of life in Russian Ukraine at a very unique time in this little-understood Christian community's history. After nearly four hundred years of fleeing across Europe in search of a homeland in which to practice their faith free from persecution, the Hutterites made the momentous decision to flee Ukraine and set sail for the North American continent in 1874. The very first Hutterite Colony in North America was established near Yankton, South Dakota, on the banks of the Missouri River in 1874. This colony, called Bon Homme, is where young David Hofer would observe his fourth birthday soon after its founding. However, by seventeen years of age, David would make a decision that would change his life forever. Rather than join his family in their move from Bonne Homme colony to Milltown colony, he would strike out on his own and break away from the Hutterite way of life. This is his journey.
Enhanced by a collection of family photos, this book begins with a condensed, but helpful overview of the history of the Hutterites. After approximately hundred years in Russia, the Hutterites again looked for a new home, this time crossing the ocean. David Hofer’s journey started in the Ukrainian frontier. When he was a little boy he and his family got on a ship and headed for the United States.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this detailed and sprinkled with humour historical account, of one maverick Hutterite. It’s obvious that a lot of time and research went into chronicling this remarkable story. His venture of leaving family and home at the Bon Homme Hutterite colony in South Dakota wasn’t easy, but he persevered and over time was rewarded with a successful business. Even though David chose to leave his Hutterite colony, he, for the most part, stayed true to his Anabaptist beliefs. He maintained contact with his family and always respected the faith and communal way of life he grew up with. This is obvious, through visits to see his family, although rare and at times unsettling. When the Hutterites were being mistreated because of their pacifist practices, David was clearly hurting for his misunderstood people.
While reading it struck me that with dialogue or more quotes this narrative would have been even more captivating, as this engages the reader, brings the characters to life and infuses drama into the story. I would have loved to hear the voices of David and Anna and others through conversation pieces that could have been woven into the story. I know this is not always easy with this type of book, but I saw a number of places where it would have worked beautifully.
Nonetheless, I recommend this book to anyone interested in Hutterite history, or who wants to get a glimpse into the life of the Prairie People, families and individuals who chose to leave their communal way of life to live in mainstream society.
My sincere thanks to Verlyn Hofer for sending me a copy of The Maverick Hutterite, in exchange for an honest review. And to Jordan Hofer for putting me in touch with his grandfather, the author of this book.