Introduction of Kansas Winter Wheat

U.S. #1506 was issued on the 100th anniversary of this event.

On August 16, 1874, Hard Winter Wheat, also known as Turkey Red, was first introduced in America.

In the 1760s, Catherine the Great of Russia invited German Mennonites to settle along the Volga and Karaman Rivers. She hoped to establish a great agricultural area there and believed they were the ones to do it. To encourage their settlement, Catherine offered them exemption from taxes and military service as well as help with their move.

Between 1763 and 1768, more than 25,000 Germans accepted her offer and established 104 communities in Russia. And for the next 100 years they lived in peace and comfort. However, after Russia was defeated in the Crimean War, Alexander II rescinded their exemption from the military. As their religion opposed military service, the Mennonites searched for a new home.

U.S. #1506 FDC – Winter Wheat Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

In 1872, Bernhard Warkentin traveled to the United States in search of a new home for his people. He soon found that Kansas’ prairies closely resembled their home in Russia and the land was available for $2 to $3 per acre. Warkentin arranged for the purchase of land and told his people back home he’d found a new place for them.

On August 16, 1874, Mennonite immigrants settled in Marion, Kansas. They planted a wheat they called “Turkey Red” – a drought-resistant, heavy-yielding wheat developed in Turkey. This wheat, now known as Hard Winter Wheat, flourished in Kansas. These Mennonite families were responsible for what has been called “the most significant event in Kansas history.” Turkey Red made Kansas one of the world’s greatest granaries.

U.S. #1506 FDC – Winter Wheat Plate Block First Day Cover.

Although manufacturing and services now bring the state more income, agriculture is still very important to the economy. Kansas ranks third in the nation, behind Texas and Montana, in the total number of acres devoted to agriculture. It’s the nation’s top wheat grower, which has earned Kansas the nickname – the “nation’s breadbasket.” Other key crops include grain, sorghum, corn, hay, soybeans, and sunflowers. However, cattle and calves are the most lucrative agricultural products.

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  1. I never knew the story behind Rural America stamp. Inspiring story of Kansas and foresight of people migrating from one country to another enemas. How ever the justification of the title Rural America is not clear. Indirectly one can justify the name Rural America because it produces for the nation and world.

  2. There have long been settlements of Mennonites in Montana where they continue to grow the hard red winter wheat. Very hard working, gracious people.

  3. My family ancestry is ‘Germans from Russia’, or ‘Children of the Steppes’. Interesting so see the information on that background with this stamp. My ancestors emigrated to the Dakotas and southern Canadian plains areas. They came to these areas because they were so similar to the region in Russia. Knowing the extremes of summer and winter in this area of the US, you sometimes wonder ‘what were they thinking?’.

  4. As I read the story, it made me think how unfortunate it is that President Trump fails to recognize the great contributions that have been made my immigrants to this nation of ours.

  5. Mr. Mitrovich, please do not confuse or conflate legal immigration with illegal immigration. This country, including our present President, has welcomed LEGAL immigrants over a period of some 300-350 years, including today. However, this country, nor any country, can accept an uncontrolled flow of massive numbers of immigrants who do not follow the rules (and laws) of this country. If anyone who wishes to do so can just (illegally) cross the borders of this nation; then there can (and will) be huge numbers – perhaps in the tens, even hundreds, of millions who will come here illegally. There are, literally, hundreds of millions of peoples around the world who would like to come to America. This country cannot absorb them all. There are not enough jobs available for that many additional people, and the taxpayers cannot afford to support millions upon millions of additional people added to our welfare rolls. There are an estimated 10-12 million illegal immigrants in this country today. Nobody know the true number. If 10-12 million people can come to this country illegally; there is nothing to prevent another 10-12 million, then yet another 10-12 million, etc. from coming here illegally; unless our immigration laws are enforced, and our borders are secure. My (German) Trautmann ancestors came to American; but they did it legally. So should everyone else.

    1. Mr. Mitrovich never mentions legal or illegal immigration. Please check your history book as this nation was formed July 4, 1776. I will do the math as it seems to be beyond your ken; it has been 243 years and counting.

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