Mennonite Minister Holds Church Services at Brandon School House and Water Valley School House in 1914

By Mike Bowen, co-author, We Found the Lost Sand Creek Site

Christian Reiff, a Mennonite minister, held church services at the Brandon school house and Water Valley school house in 1914. 


The services were organized by a group of Mennonites, who were possibly living in the area. 

At the time, Reiff was living in Newton, KS so he likely was a traveling pastor. He could have traveled by train from Newton to Brandon. 

The Brandon Bell newspaper stated that services were to begin near the end of November of 1914. By early December, Reiff stopped holding services in Brandon and began holding them at the Water Valley school house. The Colorado Farm & Ranch in Eads also published the information about the church services. We have not found any information that states why he came, where he stayed or how long he was in the area. 

Water Valley School House. Chuck Bowen took this photo in the 1960s.

Reiff was born in Maryland, married in Newton, KS and died in Indiana. 

From our research, we learned he had a brother, David, that once lived in Rocky Ford. It’s possible Christian took the train from Newton to Brandon and kept preaching along the way to Rocky Ford. David also belonged to a Mennonite church so if the group that organized the Brandon meetings didn’t live in the area, he could have been involved in bringing Christian out to preach. 

The newspapers spelled Christian’s last name “Reif.” The photo of his headstone on spelled it “Reiff,” so that is the spelling we used.

If anyone has information on a Mennonite community that lived in Brandon, CO or area about 1914, please let us know. We are interested to learn about it. 

We mention Christian Reiff in our book when we are talking about Water Valley. Read about Water Valley and its significance to Sand Creek in our book.  

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