Hutterites of Central Montana
Hutterite Life Today
Hutterites are a communal people living on scattered bruderhofe or colonies throughout the prairies of North America. Their religion is unique in that all material goods are held in common. All members of the colony are provided for equally and nothing is kept for personal gain.
In every Hutterite colony, the minister or spiritual leader is also the chief executive and he, along with an advisory board, makes the day to day decisions. The advisory board consists of the minister, the colony manager, the farm/ranch manger and two or three witness brothers (deacons) who are elected for life.
Early education has always played an important role in Hutterite life and usually takes place in public schools located at the colony. More recently, many young colony children go on to public high schools and some are beginning to pursue college degrees.
The Hutterites are by nature very hospitable and neighborly and frequent opportunities are found for visiting and joint projects with neighbors or other colonies. A distinguishing characteristic of the Hutterites is their entrepreneurial spirit and initiative. A visit to a colony always has surprises in terms of produce or crafts or unique services that fill a niche in the local economy.
The Ayers Colony is located about 6 miles west of Grass Range, 23 miles east of Lewistown on Highway 87. (View Map)The Hutterites at Ayers Colony came from Austria to Huron, South Dakota where they had resided since 1874. They purchased their land in Montana from former Montana governor Roy E. Ayers in 1944.
The Colony currently has 9 families with a total population of 42 persons. Ayers Colony was the first to record Simmental cattle in the United States. They had cow number 22 in the American Simmental Association and sold bulls and club calves all over the US and Canada.
There are many special activities at the Colony, and they love to give tours of the Colony’s modern meat processing facility that handled over 700 animals last year. Another specialty of the Colony is catering meals for special occasions with such delicacies as roast pig or roast quarter of beef.
Visitors are always welcome at the colony with advance notice. To arrange a visit, call Marilyn Stahl at (406) 428-2207 to discuss your interests and the kind of visit that would be most rewarding.
The King Colony is located about 10 miles west of Lewistown on Highway 87 and then 2 miles north along Kolin/Ross Fork Road. (View Map) The Colony owns the King Ranch which was one of the most famous and prosperous ranches in this part of Central Montana. It was first settled by Christ King in 1881 and the original cabin he built still stands on the property.
The Ranch was operated by two sons, Anton and Joseph, until a combination of difficult economic conditions during the Great Depression and Joseph’s death in 1934 led to the sale of the Ranch to a Hutterite Colony led by Reverend Joseph Stahl in 1935.
The Colony now has 13 families and a total population of 55 people. Many of the farm and ranch operations are for their own consumption, but they do have a commercial dairy and cow/calf operation.
For more information or to arrange a visit, please call (406) 538-9835
The Spring Creek Colony is located 14 miles northwest of Lewistown on Highway 426. (View Map) The Colony has a long history that goes back to 1912 when the King Ranch sold the lower (north) portion of their Ranch to a Hutterite Colony led by Jacob Stahl of Wolf Creek, South Dakota.
During World War I, however, persecution of the Hutterites due largely to their pacifist beliefs and German heritage led them to sell the Colony and emigrate to Canada. Subsequently, in 1946, Jacob Walter and Paul Walter led a colony that that once again purchased the ranch.
Today, Spring Creek Colony owns about 20,000 acres with 13 families and a total population of 46 people. Like the King Colony, they have a commercial dairy and a cow/calf operation in addition to much agriculture that is pursued for their own consumption.
If you are interested in learning more about Spring Creek Colony, please call Kathy Walter to arrange a visit at 406-538-5160.