Henderson was settled by a group of 35 Mennonite families in 1874. Mennonites migrated from the Molotshna Colony in Russia to Nebraska to begin a new life in America.  Because of changes that took place in the Russian government, the Mennonites were fearful that they would lose their military exemption and other religious freedoms they enjoyed.  In preparation for these inevitable changes, a delegation was sent to scout out America as a possible new home. The reports were favorable so serious plans were made to leave Russia.

Leaving Russia was difficult. Chests and cases had to be made to pack their clothing and necessary supplies for their trip across the continent and over the Atlantic Ocean.   Selling many of their belongings, leaving friends and relatives behind–they ventured forth on their long and arduous journey to America.  By rail, they traveled to Hamburg, Germany and finally in August of 1874 they set sail on the Tuetonia. Their voyage was plagued by fire, seasickness, and death before they finally arrived in New York.
Another trip by rail brought them to Lincoln where they waited a month for the Burlington Missouri River Railroad to compete their new home–The Immigrant House.

The original Henderson Immigrant House was a long narrow building about 20 by 80 feet in size, constructed of rough boards, the walls being about eight or nine feet high. Upon the Mennonites arrival, the carpenters were putting the final rows of shingles on the roof. Inside, the floor was of wide boards and the walls were lined with tar-paper to make them more air-tight. The cracks between the outside boards were covered with batten. It had two rooms and many windows. A well had been dug nearby.
The 35 Mennonite families crowded into the long narrow building and anxiously awaited the completion of their own homes before winter set in. This roughly constructed building served as the Mennonites first home in America and symbolized their determination to seek out a place where their way of life could be preserved.  Life that first winter was not easy, but much better than it had been in Russia.

Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park was created as a place to remember the history of these Mennonites and share their stories with future generations.  Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park is located 1.5 miles south of the Henderson interstate exit (Exit 342) or .75 miles north of Henderson.  For further information about this park visit their website.