The Hutterites were founded in 1528 by Jacob Wiederman. They began as a small community of Christians living together,
holding all things in common. In 1529, Jacob Hutter, whose name the Hutterites carry, joined the small commune of believers,
and became one of their best known leaders. Jacob Hutter was captured by Catholic authorities in 1536 and was burned at the
stake for refusing to renounce his faith.
Because of the intense persecution of Anabaptists during this time period, the Hutterites frequently fled to different
countries. In 1621, Bethlen Gabor, the prince of Transylvania and a Protestant invited the Hutterites to come to Transylvania.
The Hutterites politely declined, since they were happy with their present situation. Rather than letting the matter drop,
the Prince forced two hundred Hutterites to move to Transylvania, where he gave them land and promised them religious freedom.
This was a blessing in disguise, where these two hundred Hutterites lived and thrived for some time in Transylvania, Hutterites
in other countries were slaughtered and became non-existent.
In 1755, the Hutterites were expelled from Transylvania by the decree of the new Catholic empress. The Jesuits
then coerced the Hutterites to join the Catholic church and give up communal living. The Hutterites were not to die off in
this fashion though, for a group of Lutherans came into contact with these people, and the Hutterites revived. Many Hutterites
today are descended from this group of Lutherans that joined the Hutterite faith.
In the late nineteenth century, the Hutterites migrated to North America, and set up many of their communities
in South Dakota, as well as several other states and parts of Canada. When WWI came, three Hutterite young men were drafted.
Since the Hutterites are pacifists, all three young men refused to fight, and were placed in solitary confinement and died
in the hands of the U.S. military.
Today, about twenty-five percent of all Hutterites live in the USA. There are also communes in Canada, as well
as a missionary commune in Nigeria, Africa. There are three types of Hutterites in North America, the Schmiedeleut, the Lerherleut,
and the Dariusleut. These three communities contain about 40,000 members in about 450 colonies today.