Simple Servants:

The Story Of the

Lewis County Mennonites

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About the Film

One of America’s most well-known and iconic folk groups, the Mennonites have helped shape much of what is today considered a part of the American identity. Their intricate home goods, hearty food, and pacifistic beliefs have created a unique legacy that has stood the test of time.

“Simple Servants” is the powerful, little-known story of the Lewis County Mennonites, whose epic struggle to freely practice their faith led them to the rugged wilderness of Northern New York, where they finally found a place to call home. Escaping 300 years of persecution in Europe, including the threat of execution they journeyed to North America in search of religious freedom, like many others before them. These individuals faced tremendous hardships to live their faith, and went on to become a powerful movement whose commitment to service, volunteerism, and peacemaking became a model for the world.

Screening Sponsored By The

Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Association

and the

Lewis County Historical Society


Read about the film here:


Watertown Daily Times

Mennonite World Review

Lowville Journal and Republican


Rome Daily Sentinel


CROGHAN, NY, August 5, 2014 – On Saturday, August 30, the Adirondack Mennonite Heritage Association is hosting a world-premiere documentary film screening of Simple Servants: The Story of the Lewis County Mennonites at the Lowville Town Hall Theater. The one-night only event runs from 6 – 8 p.m. and includes the film screening, a question and answer panel with the filmmaker, and a concert by Jacqueline Schwab, a nationally renowned pianist. The event is free and the community is invited to attend.

The 45 minute feature length documentary, commissioned by AMHA and written, produced, and directed by Dawson Grau, tells the powerful, emotional story of the Lewis County Mennonites, who came to America in 1833 and settled in Northern New York to escape over 300 years of religious persecution for their faith. These Simple Servants’ story is a unifying message that exemplifies the true spirit of American freedom and what makes this country so unique. It also highlights the hard work ethic and perseverance required to survive and build a life in the harsh wilderness of Northern New York, which the Lewis County community is built upon.

“I’m excited to share the story of the Lewis County Mennonites with the community, and the world, because I truly believe it’s an important, but relatively unknown story,” said Dawson Grau, writer, director and producer of the film. “This is the first time this story has been told on film, which will reach new audiences in a whole new way, for generations to come.”

Grau, a sixth generation Mennonite descendant, traces his roots back to the original group of Mennonite families who settled in the Lewis County area in 1833. He spent over a year completing the documentary, researching local and national sources on Mennonite heritage and history, and searching through thousands of photos from local Mennonite historians, church archives and the Lewis County Historical Society.

Simple Servants features traditional hymns used in Mennonite worship and Americana folk music, played by nationally-renowned pianist Jacqueline Schwab, who is known for her work on several award-winning Ken Burns’ documentaries. The film is narrated by Jerry Reed whose voice is recognizable to many in the area from his daily farm and agricultural reports that were broadcast locally in the 1980s.