Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter
Second Series, Volume V, #2 Octo b e r 2 0 0 2
Mennonites from above federal policies effectively period that defines them, rather than
separated the more conservative geography. These are not analytical
Mexico and poorer Mennonites from the terms, but rather terms, which the
by Bill Janzen more liberal and progressive Mennonites, themselves, used to
I n Calgary, there is a Genealogy
Group that meets once a month.
A variety of interesting topics have
The more conservative were
less reluctant to strike official
differentiate them and so, should
continue to be employed.
been discussed. One of the topics
was about the Mennonites from
Mexico. What follows is a brief
summary of that presentation.
Immigrant Group Definitions
Mennonites who came to
Canada from Russia in the 1870’s
became known as Kanadier
(Canadian) and numbered about
7,000. At the same time, about the
same number or more immigrated to
the United States from Russia. Due
to different settlement policies in the
two countries, the Mennonites of
Canada had the opportunity to
retain their culture to a greater
degree than the Mennonites of the
Canada’s multicultural policy
(which permitted separate and
private schools, and didn’t
discourage use of other languages)
combined with encouragement to
Mennonites to settle on one of two
reserved land settlements (East and contracts with the government, to Conditions back in Russia
West Reserve of Manitoba) meant ensure separation of settlement, In 1872 Czar Alexander II took
that Mennonites continued to be a retention of the German language, the opportunity to visit the Colonies
people separate from the rest of and the ability to school their own of Mennonites, Lutherans, Catholics
Canadians. In the United States, people. Those who moved to the and Jews – all groups that were
where the policy was much more United States were not as anxious actively courted and settled by
assimilationist, Mennonites may to strike those bargains. However, policies of Czarina Catherine the
have chosen to settle near each many of them later made the move Great. What he saw disturbed him:
other, but the government from the United States to Canada. they had become wealthy, whereas
inducements to do so were missing. Frank Epp in Mennonites in Canada the majority of Russian Nationals
A second difference existed 1876-1920 refers to them as “late had served as serfs and had only
between the Kanadier and Kanadier”. been emancipated in 1861.
American-settled Mennonites. The The next major wave of Ironically, he could not convey this
migration was in the 1920’s when to the immigrants directly because
Contents: Canadian Pacific Railways and the they didn’t have a language in
Mennonites from Mexico Canadian Mennonite Board of common; the immigrants had never
Editorial Colonization assisted about 20,000 learned Russian.
Chairman Jake's corner Mennonites. Due to a shortage of His response to the situation
MHSA Opens New Facilities arable land and a lack of resources was to introduce the beginnings of
Music from Siberia to purchase that land, many moved the Russification Policy. Included in
David Toews Book Review
on to Alberta, Saskatchewan or this policy was the requirement of
Aaron and Elizabeth (Miller) King
Henry J. Eckert Ontario within two or three years teaching and learning Russian in
Dick Family Sponsors Siberian where they either found open land school. It was also a time of much
Mennonite to homestead or employment on the military posturing in Europe and the
Yarrow Research Committee Initiative farms or in the homes of others. cont’d, p. 2
MHSA Launches Library and Archives These immigrants were known as
History of Chinese Mennonite Church Russländer. MHSA will hold its Fall meeting
MHSA’s Bookshelf The terms are confusing in LaCrete. Plan to join us for
MHSA Members' Ancestry Corner a bus trip to the “most
because both groups came from
Biographical Profile: Wm. G Marten
Fonds in MHSA Archives Russia and settled in Canada. The northerly” Mennonite
The Church in Chortitza critical difference is one of temporal community.
2 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
Canadian government decisions. setting. Early in July all was ready to
Editor: Diedrich P. Neufeld Now some of them are retracing make the move from MCCA to the
Editorial Committee: Diedrich their steps, back into Canada. new address. Again volunteers,
Neufeld, Roger Epp, Judith Rempel We included a review of the including a group of young people,
Layout: Judith Rempel biography of David Toews written by came to help and the transfer was
Distribution: D. P. Neufeld an admirer. soon accomplished.
Two more stories of family At our May meeting the MHSA
Visit our Website: migration came to my attention. Board had agreed to hire Judith
www.mennonites.ca/mhsa/ There must be an endless supply Rempel to work for one month to
available and more being written organize and catalogue the materials
every day. Our ancestors’ accumulated. She flung herself into
Alberta publishes this newsletter devastating experiences in Russia, the task. With many extra hours and
three times a year. Subscription is prompted a search for the right help from volunteers she was able to
through membership in the Society. homeland. That search is bring complete the major portion of the
Cost of membership is $15 per year. continued by many families. work in time for our “launch” and
To join, send payment to: We are encouraged by the open house on October 5th.
MHSA emphasis on further research into Then she donated the
2946 - 32 Street NE both documented and oral records. contracted remuneration back to
Calgary, AB T1Y 6J7 The Mennonite story is increasingly MHSA. What dedication and
being documented. generosity!
Send submissions, photos MHSA is venturing into new Now that we have a permanent
and correspondence to: territory, geographically, by taking address and our materials are
Diedrich Neufeld its fall 2003 meeting to LaCrete, inventoried, we need to make them
2946 – 32 Street NE where Mennonites began to settle in available so that interested people
Calgary, AB T1Y 6J7 the early 1930’s. We look forward can use them. To aid in this the
Or to: email@example.com to one or perhaps even two bus archives/library will be open every
loads of interested people, joining Saturday from 10:00 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.
Current Executive the Board for the 12-hour trip from staffed with a volunteer attendant.
Chair, Jake Harder, Edmonton Calgary. LaCrete Mennonites have The MHSA website is already in
Vice Chair, Henry Goerzen, published several historical books operation. In the near future we
Didsbury and continue to gather stories want to use the Internet to provide
Secretary, Irene Klassen, Calgary about the experience of information to clients. To this end we
Treasurer, George Paetkau, Gem homesteading in such a remote need some additional equipment. We
David Wiebe Neufeldt, Lethbridge agricultural part of the province. haven’t a phone yet, and the old
You are invited to participate computer we have hasn’t the
in the history collection and capacity or the functions needed.
Area Representatives preservation process by submitting Else where in this Newsletter you will
Northern Alberta – Peter Goerzen your family stories either to the find a list of items for which we need
Edmonton Area – Colin Neufeldt Newsletter or for retention in the sponsors. Our income is erratic as
Tofield Area – Harry Stauffer archives. We welcome your we depend on membership fees and
Calgary Area – Irene Klassen, submissions and hope to begin donations.
Calgary receiving more photos. At our October Board meeting
Rosemary Area – Mary Burkholder MHSA moved to:
Carstairs/Didsbury Area – Richard 1. Complete a Policies and
Harder Chairman Jake’s Procedure Manual for the
Southern Alberta – Hilda
Corner operation of the
by J D Harder archives/library for approval at
I t has been a busy summer for Annual meeting next April.
some members of MHSA. 2. Hold the spring Annual General
Editorial I reported in June that our Meeting and Workshop on April
by D. P. Neufeld accommodation at the MCCA office 26, 2003, in Gem, Alberta
T his edition is another collection
of wide ranging materials
provided by numerous
was filled to capacity and that we
had reached an agreement with
MCCA and the Thrift Store to rent
complete with a fund raising
3. Plan a fall story telling meeting,
individuals. part of the mezzanine floor. We now hosted in LaCrete.
We feature the experience of have a secure room that should I end with a sincere thank you
our Mennonite ‘siblings’ who fled the serve our needs for at least ten to all the people who worked so
threat to their beliefs, from back in years. Thanks to volunteers a wall diligently to bring the MHSA
Russia in 1874, much earlier than was built to enclose our space, Archives/Library to life.
many of our forebears. They doors fitted, and paint applied, to
responded again in the 1930’s, in make a fine home for our historical
much the same way they had when materials. This has become a Mennonites from Mexico (cont’d)
they left Russia, when education reality; a functional and attractive fact that these Mennonites were
and isolation were impacted by
3 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
exempt from military training and able to retain control over most of Canadian government promised in
spoke an enemy’s language led to their affairs, schools, and the 1870’s.
changed policies. From this time on, settlement arrangements on their The early years were very
Mennonite men were required to land reserves and remain separate difficult in Mexico; the Mennonite
participate in military training. from the rest of the population. people struggled because they were
Fortunately, the church leaders This separation was difficult to not familiar with the type of crops
were soon able to negotiate a form of maintain during World War I and that could be grown when was the
alternative service such as forestry politicians felt the pressure of other time to seed, etc. The banks proved
service (Forstei) that was acceptable citizens who did not have the unstable and many lost most of their
to the Czar. privileges enjoyed by the saving. Difficulties with the Mexican
The Russification Policy caused Mennonites. The Mennonites were people who formerly lived on the
concern for many of the Mennonites, thus forced to attend Public Schools land that the Mennonites purchased
made their situation very unstable.
In 1935, the Mexican Government
had all the Mennonite Schools closed
and it appeared that they were losing
the privileges they had been
extended. Many people wanted to
return to Canada, but did not have
The progressive individuals in
the Colonies in Mexico wanted to
move ahead. They wanted to put
their tractors on rubber tires, drive
trucks and hook up to the electricity.
Those who dared to change were
excommunicated by their churches
and remained thus until about 1999.
In the colonies near Cuauhtemoc,
Chihuahua there are now more
progressive churches established,
and excommunication is rarely used
as a form of discipline. But in
Mexican colonies where there is only
the one church, it is still being used
to bring dissidents into line.
Over the years problems arose
because of rapid increase in
population, extended periods of
drought and a shortage of land. As
early as the 1950’s, Mennonites from
Mexico began returning because
they could not make a living in their
colony. Or, they would come to
Canada and work during the
fearing that this was the beginning to learn the English language. summer and then return to Mexico
of losing the privileges promised to Families were fined heavily for not for the winter. Others looked for
them by Czarina Catherine. They sending their children to the Public more land and started new colonies
sent out a land search party to find School both in Manitoba and in other parts of Mexico, Belize and
possible locations where they could Saskatchewan and church leaders Bolivia.
move to and have the privileges were in court and some were It is believed that over the last
enjoyed thus far in Russia. The land imprisoned because of their 30 to 40 years possibly as many as
search party returned with two resistance to further integration. 40,000 Mennonites have returned to
possibilities: Manitoba in Canada or This was not the only reason, but Canada. We have an estimated
parts of the United States. Others possibly the main reason, why 10,000 to 12,000 Mexican
felt that they had responsibilities in history repeated itself and a land Mennonites living in southern
the country. Once alternative search party was sent to check out Alberta. They have returned to
service arrangements had been other possibilities. Canada and settled in Alberta in the
agreed upon, they were willing to The move to Mexico began in last 20 to 25 years.
stay in Russia. 1922 and continued throughout the Many of the people retained
The Kanadier Mennonites of 1920’s when they were promised their Canadian citizenship while
the 1870’s settled in southern the same privilegium that the residing in Mexico. That is what
Manitoba and prospered. They were allows them to return to our
4 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
country. Others, who did not the Colonies and their need to move Organizations like MHSA are the
register the members of their on. pillars for the people.
families, may not return unless Before the ribbon was cut to
they can come as a landed MHSA Opens New officially open the Archives to all
immigrant. The Canadian searchers, Irene Klassen spoke a
Government is tightening the Facilities prayer of dedication. Then she cut
borders and is following the letter of by Irene Klassen the ribbon and handed the key to
the law. To retain Canadian
Citizenship, there now are minimum
required residency periods.
M ennonite Historical Society of
Alberta has made a major
Judith Rempel then introduced
the various interest centres - Peter
Significant numbers have lost their From the granary on Henry Penner was in charge of the Library,
citizenship because they did not Goerzen’s farm, the archives have Henry Goerzen and Judith the
have their marriage legalized in been moved to the spacious setting Archives, Dick Neufeld, identifying
Mexico by a Justice of the Peace. on the mezzanine level of the MCC old photos, and Harold Friesen,
Because many were married in the Thrift Store in Calgary. Many Genealogy. Guests were invited to
church only, their children are now records have already been filed in visit the centres of their choice.
not considered legitimate children archival containers and are lined up Zwieback and Pflaumenplatz were
of Canadian citizens, and therefore on shelves. Judith Rempel has done served with coffee.
may not qualify for Canadian a lot of cataloguing, with some help Already in the collection, are
citizenship. from volunteers. It is really just the records of Alberta Women in
Over the years large numbers beginning of the process, and there Mission, Alberta Mennonite Youth
of Mennonites have migrated to is much room for expansion. Organization, Conference of
On October 5, the Library and Mennonites in Alberta and others..
Belize, Bolivia, Paraguay and
Argentina. One group has also Archives was officially opened. We also have on microfilm, the entire
settled in the Seminole, Texas area About 50 guests attended the event. collection of Canadian Mennonite
of the United States. Their reasons Jake Harder, Chair of the MHSA, Board of Colonization settlement
for moving are at times similar to welcomed the guests. records. These are being
the initial ones, but mostly now for Henry Goerzen gave a photocopied and transcribed.
work and land to make a living. historical sketch of the beginnings. The library contains family and
Some are still migrating because The Alberta Historical Society was local histories, periodicals, as well as
they want to find a place where they at first combined with books about Mennonite history from
can be separate from the world. Saskatchewan’s Mennonite Crimea, Molotschna, Chortitza and
Mennonite Central Committee Historical Society, but it was others.
Canada has assisted Mennonites in decided to become independent in MHSA welcomes donations of
the colonies in Mexico at various 1986. After a few years of relative personal, congregational, or
times. During the drought years in inactivity, it was reactivated in 1998 institutional records written by or
the early 1950’s, MCC provided and it has become quite viable. about Mennonites in Alberta. We are
relief assistance as well as some Henry, who is the Archivist for in the process of collecting
agricultural research support. They the Mennonite Conference of biographies of Mennonite leaders in
assisted in keeping colonies and Alberta, has collected records, Alberta to be published in a book.
families connected and reading books and other materials over the Are we there yet? No, but we
through Die Mennonitische Post. In years, and was recognized for his are definitely on the way.
recent years MCC has placed work, by presenting him and his
workers in Mexico to determine how wife, Erna a certificate of lifetime
MCC could best help them to membership in the Society. David Toews was Here:
remain with their families in Mexico. Abe Janzen, Director of MCCA, 1870-1947. Helmut Harder.
Further, provincial MCC’s are from which MHSA is renting the Reviewed by Henry Epp
providing assistance to migrants
who come to work in Canada and do
not have the proper documents and
space, spoke of the importance of
this link with other Mennonite
organizations. Preserving the
M Y first impression after starting
to read was, this is going to be
a good historical book as well
who need assistance finding jobs, history of the Mennonite people is a as a good read. This impression was
living accommodations, etc. form of ministry. Mennonites are strengthened as I proceeded through
The Kanadier migration from relatively few in number, but they the pages.
Mexico to the various places have established a good reputation David Toews was Here falls into
throughout North and South wherever they have gone. the "third culture" genre - writing by
America is probably the largest an expert for the public and for
Mennonite migration in history. MHSA Library & Archives professional scholars. The book is
Anyone interested in the story of 2946 - 32 Street NE very readable, is helpful in getting to
their return to Canada can contact know more about David Toews and
10:00-4:30 Saturday has scholarly value.
MCC Alberta office and request the
Mennonite Genealogy Group Lawrence Klippenstein, in the
video “Migration North” which
provides background to the life in Meets at MHSA L & A Foreword, writes ‘The David Toews
1:30-4:00 story has been waiting a long time to
rd be told.”
3 Sat of Month (except Dec)
5 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
Music from Siberia
by Ben Geddert
I recently came across several song books, dated 1924 to 1926, that belonged to my parents, (my father being a
choir director) when they lived in two adjacent villages, Gruenfeld and Orlovo, in the Barnaul colony of Siberia. The
books consist of nearly two hundred song titles, many of which we have all sung in the last fifty years and still use
today. We find them in our own Hymnals (English and German), Hymns of Praise, the Lutheran Hymnal and Service
Book, and popular choir books. The songs are written primarily in German, in the all-but-obsolete Gothic script. This,
of course, gives a sense of urgency to the task of translating them.
In addition, there are twelve songs in Russian, one in English and another one with English words written in
Gothic German script. To make matters more difficult, all the music is written with cyphers instead of the notation we
use now. For example, these are the beginning bars of a well-known hymn, “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing”.
B dur. A=7 _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 2 _
|| _ _ _ _ _ _ | | _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ |
|| _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ | |
|| _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ | | |
5 5 5 5 5 5
There is no credit or acknowledgement given to any publisher for any of the manually copied songs, nor to any
local person who might have composed one of the numbers. However, I did find in one of my father’s books a note
saying that he had written that song around midnight of a particular day. Several of the songs in my mother’s books
are embellished with names, but there is no indication of a connection between the song and the name of the person.
The Russian hymns in these books appear to have been written in a German style, by people whose first language
is not Russian. A couple of questions occur to me. Were these songs composed by and for Mennonites, or were they
meant for the benefit of those members of the local Russian community who were in the Mennonite households as
servants or hired hands? The degree of concern the employers had for the servants’ spiritual welfare varied from
virtually ignoring the issue to demanding compulsory attendance at church and daily family devotions, with physical
punishment for failure to comply.
I expect to spend a good deal of time trying to track down the sources of the songs, translating them and finding some
ways they can be used for constructive purposes, and am trying to find a way to copy the books without damaging
The first chapter immediately Personal and business letters, other especially since this book itself will
shows that this is more than the papers, and newspaper articles become a major source of historical
"story" of a prominent person. This have been used as sources by information about early Canadian
is a real historically-based Harder, as well as some interviews Mennonite history.
biography. So does the book meet with descendants. Detailed The book evaluates the
the goals I have inferred? Yes description of the author's methods accomplishments, not only in his
indeed, it does so very well. and sources would have been respective times, but also from a
As a biography the book welcome. Nonetheless, information current perspective. Moreover, the
begins with his birth and ends with is meticulously documented with book also evaluates character and
his death, with some posthumous references detailed in the "Notes" motives in relation to the recorded
comments by kin. As it is section at the end of the book. A actions. This adds greatly to its long-
impossible to provide details on all critical analysis of these references term value as more than an
of anyone's life, let alone a person by the author would have helped interesting read, it is propelled into
with as long an active and the reader who is interested in the the realm of a truly valuable
prominent life as David Toews, historical importance of Toews life, analysis.
Helmut Harder has concentrated on Factually, the book seems as
the events important to history and accurate as selected records can be.
to David Toews as a individual and comments by my parents and other One error is caught by the author
as an historical figure. These events folk of their generation, I am not and an errata slip shows David
are of the author's choosing.1 able to provide a detailed critical Toews' mother was Maria, not Anna,
analysis of how representative the Harder has succeeded in
samples or sources are. The choices acquainting us with Toews’ personal
Not knowing a great deal more seem sound, and meet the intent of and family life. The reader develops
about Toews, except for anecdotal the book. a feeling for what life in those times
6 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
must have been like. He avoids rampant diseases. Toews condemning either Toews or his
pedantic posturing and understood the situation better critics. He attempts rather, to tell
anachronistic moralizing, which are than most Canadians. the full story of an influential person
almost a given in current The Canadian Parliament who was essentially a human with
biographies. The author was supported Mennonite immigration his own set of foibles, some of which
successful in differentiating between at the time, although not always. did not sit well with a few of his
his subject’s personal influences Significantly, without the staunch peers.
and when circumstances were assistance and support of Colonel The organization and layout make
beyond his control. I would argue John Denis, and the Canadian the book not only easy to read, but
that, with the exception of the Pacific Railway (CPR) his employer, also to revisit selections that may
informational value of the book, most of the immigration might not have struck the reader as especially
herein lies its greatest strength. have occurred. The CPR fronted the salient. This is useful in the absence
Clearly, then, the book is a scholarly travel costs. An irony not lost to of an index. Typographical errors
success as well as an aesthetic one. Harder is the fact that Denis, the are rare. The typeface is easy to
Thinking of the book as most important non-Mennonite read, although a bit small.
something to read for enjoyment, it friend the 1920s immigrants had in So, should you rush right out
has much going for it. David Toews Canada, was a former military man! and buy this book for twenty-four
almost lives again. One feels his Toews' life, as described in the dollars? The answer is yes,
anguish over world events, over book, is a graphic example of how emphatically.
decisions he makes like not being Mennonite ministers and bishops
home with his family, his duties as a were used in the past. They were (CMBC Publications, Winnipeg,
bishop or elder, unjust criticism by expected to preach, preside at Manitoba. 2002. xii, +388 pages.
trusted church leaders, the installations, travel frequently and Appendix 1, Appendix 2, Notes,
interminable dragging out of to do so often under poor travel Photographs, Errata Insert. ISBN: 0-
immigration travel payments. One conditions, yet earn their own 920718-74-4. $24.00.)
feels the loss of his little daughter in livelihood and tend to their families
a fire, the loss of his wife Margarete, while doing this - all the while
the difficulty of never-ending work listening to self-proclaimed critics
and, finally his own terminal illness. who knew how to do everything
Aaron and Elizabeth
Creating such an effect is no small better. Such treatment of leaders (Miller) King
achievement on the part of the seems almost incomprehensible by Harry Stauffer
The author impresses the
readers about David Toews’ heavy
today, so the book is a good
reminder of just how difficult
church-related work was in the
A aron King was the third child
(first son) born to Jacob Y and
Catharine (Kung) King, April 23,
workload during his lifetime; as past. It helps establish Toews even 1863 at Motville, Michigan.
chair of various high profile boards, more firmly as one of the greatest His parents, who had two older
including the Canadian Mennonite Mennonite leaders of the 20th daughters, had moved from
Board of Colonization and the century. The author does an Lawrence County Pennsylvania in
Conference of Mennonites in exemplary job of driving this point 1862 to Motville, Michigan. In 1866
Canada. He was significantly home, again without lapsing into the family then moved to Garden
involved in establishing and anachronism. City, Missouri where two more
ensuring the survival of Rosthern Harder ensures that the family children were born. Both died in
Junior College against great support Toews had in his public life early childhood.
financial stress. He was a strong is not ignored in the book. Toews' As a seventeen-year-old,
leader who had difficulty delegating. wife, Margarete, receives the Aaron’s responsibility was to provide
Yet Harder is not excessively acclaim she deserves for for his parents, when his father
judgmental. Harder allows that only successfully minding the family of Jacob had to have one gangrenous
Toews himself had a sound grasp of eight daughters and one son, often leg amputated. Then, a year later
whether the work really would and under very difficult financial Jacob died. Now Aaron had to
could have been done had he not conditions. Some would argue that provide for his widowed mother.
done it himself. We will never know Toews was too free with donating Some of his skills were learned from
the answer, and speculation is personal funds to causes, creating his father who was a carpenter
pointless. grief for his family, and some would making furniture and caskets. (A
For me, the highlight of the argue that he was not careful writing desk built by Jacob is
book was the part dealing with enough about keeping track of apparently, still in the possession of
Toews' influence over the large money. Others criticize him for relatives living in Garden City.)
Mennonite immigration into Canada making too many unilateral Aaron took seriously the wishes
from Russia in the 1920s. I could decisions. Again, Harder does not of the church and parents regarding
not help but feel emotional about gloss over these characteristics. He courtship, a practice quite different
the situation when reading about it, goes into some detail about from today. The custom was for the
remembering my parents' horror resulting enmities, which Toews groom to ask the Bishop if he might
stories of relentless and unjust engendered during his lifetime. Nor go ask the girl and her parents if she
persecution, added to famine and does Harder fall into the trap of would be willing to marry him. The
end result of that process was that
7 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
Lizzie Miller accepted the “approved” sufferers. Aaron’s reply, “They are when the guards drank excessively,
proposal and a wedding day was set. doing just fine. We just cleaned off about 500 to 600 adults plus their
Bishop J. C. Kenagy solemnized the the dry scabs, burned them and I families crossed the Amur River into
wedding. will blow some of the soot over to China coming to the city of Haerhpin
Aaron’s mother Catharine had your house.” Whereupon he heard a [Harbin]. The Eckerts were one of
been remarried on January 13, click as the phone went dead. these families. They settled in and
1886 to Jonathon K. Zook. They Grandpa got many a chuckle from lived here for three and one half
shared married bliss until July 29, responses to that story. years.
1913 when Jonathon died. By this Harbin had American, British,
time Catherine was blind, living Canadian, Japanese as well as some
under the care of her family for 2 ½ Henry J. Eckert South American country consulates.
years until her death December 15, by George Paetkau By making application through these
Thirty-three years of Aaron and
Lizzie’s married life was spent
J acob Eckert of Rosemary, told
me about his dad, Henry J.
Eckert, who along with about
consulates, some of the Mennonite
families were able to migrate to
Brazil and Paraguay.
raising their family in the Garden 500 other adults, went from The Eckert family remained in
City area. In 1909 they spent a year Orenburg to Moscow to apply for their new setting. Jake and his
as a family out at the West Coast emigration papers. His application brother Henry, (now living in Brooks,
renting a place near Hubbard, was rejected. In the meantime he AB) as well as their sisters, attended
Oregon. They had many different heard the rumour that military a Russian school, which had been
experiences in that year (as told to officials were looking for him. established in this Chinese area.
Harry and other grand children). Instead of returning home, he Henry, their father, decided that
One especially interesting one was a boarded a train heading east since they expected to live in China,
week spent at the ocean and intending to travel to the end of the the children ought to continue their
another was Aaron’s hike up to the line. He had heard that Mennonite education. They were too far from
top of Mount Hood. It took four settlements existed there and he the Chinese school, so this was their
days with a guide traversing expected to escape into their midst. most convenient option. The Eckert
Oregon’s muddy roads. Upon arriving at Blagoveshchensk family lived near Harbin for
Sorrow was very real to Aaron on the Amur River just north of the approximately 20 years. Their
and Lizzie when they lost three China border, he was informed of neighbours were Chinese as well as
daughters in a weeks time to about a dozen Mennonite villages Japanese, who had migrated into the
diphtheria, May, Amelia and Emma, consisting of more than 500 people. area, and of course other German
who are all buried in the Sycamore Henry sent word back to his (Russian) speaking Mennonites - a
Grove Mennonite Church cemetery, wife, informing her of his safe miniature Babel with four languages
Garden City, Missouri. arrival and inviting her to join him. being used and taught.
Aaron and Elizabeth moved to She managed, with the help of Following the defeat of the
Tofield, AB in August 1918. It was friends and neighbours, to pack all Japanese and the Germans (WWII)
in Tofield that Nora (who had one her goods and belongings into a rail American and Japanese people were
older surviving sibling, Joseph and car and eventually she arrived repatriated, but the Russian people
two younger ones, Jake and safely in Blagoveshchensk to join stayed. This created a dilemma for
Christina) married Benjamin Henry. They settled in this area the Mennonites, who had fled the
Franklin Stauffer. Ben and Nora are and lived at peace and without Communist system. Russian
parents to Harry Stauffer, the threat for about three years. officials renewed the purge of
author of this tale. Eventually the Czar's [White] German speaking Mennonites even
army, retreating from the advancing venturing into China and there they
Harry, who is a dedicated Communist [Red] army, also arrived took Henry Eckert captive. Despite
member of the MHSA, remembers his in the vicinity. The Czar's army their promise to keep him for a
Grandpa as having quite a sense of managed to hold their position for maximum of three days, the family
humour. One of his favourite stories about 3 to 4 weeks, but eventually never saw him again.
is: “My mother Nora, was a victim of were over whelmed and fled across Mrs. Eckert and her four
small pox as a child. One night, the Amur River into China. The children assisted by Henry's brother,
when her fever broke and Nora "Red" army then stationed border Cornelius who lived in Rosemary,
began her recovery, Grandma Lizzie patrols along the Amur River to AB, successfully arranged to migrate
was cleaning the dried small pox prevent others from following the to Canada, arriving in Rosemary in
scabs from Nora’s body and burning escaped "Whites". “My parents and 1951.
them in the stove. others were questioned and beaten
The resulting snap, crackle and and some men began to disappear,”
The April 1, 1936 edition of
pop were quite amusing. Just then said Jacob.
Mennonite Rundschau contains a
their phone rang; Grandpa Aaron Gradually the local Mennonites
letter written by Henry Eckert,
answered to hear an enquiry from a became acquainted with and
translated as follows:
relative, who was paranoid about befriended some of the border
On February 7, I received a
contracting the disease, asking about guards. (They may well have used
letter from the German Embassy in
the condition of the small pox money as incentive for protection).
Harbin, with an enclosed list
One week before Christmas of 1930
8 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
detailing where each of the named those Siberian sources. How to get He himself was not born in Siberia,
German refugees might be settled. it done most efficiently and within but in 1910 his family joined the
Therefore those families who had reason financially was the big large number of Mennonites moving
interest in farming left the city of question. What seemed necessary to the Altai, Siberia. Peter has many
Harbin. was to find a Russian who knows happy memories of life there, but in
The area, where we settled is the archival deposits, has learned to 1927, at age 22, he decided to leave
about 5 kilometers from the town of know and work with the Siberian for Canada, alone without family,
Nunkiang and equally far from the archivists, and who could achieve while he still could. Family and
beautiful Ronje River, which is full of our ends at a reasonable cost. relatives who remained behind went
fish. The river is also used to What turned into an through some terrible experiences
transport lumber, which can be opportunity to achieve this end, because of the repressive measures
purchased at a considerable price. started when I had the occasion to and the purges of the next ten years,
The land is rich, black soil and meet Andrej Savin, a young 1928-1938.
good for farming. The area has historian in the University City of In July 2002 Savin began to
abundant wild life including ducks, Akademgodorok (near Novosibirsk). search the archives in Tomsk,
geese, pheasants, grouse, antelope This was during the last part of my Novosibirsk, Barnaul, and Omsk, as
and others. The market for grain is two-month stay in the Altai, well as some in Moscow for materials
good. Quality wheat costs up to Western Siberia, in October and of primary interest to Mennonites.
1.20, oats and barley .50 - .60 per November 2000. He will list these, first in Russian,
russ. Horses, oxen and sheep are Andrej Savin works out of the and ready them for their eventual
similarly expensive. (No equivalent history department of this translation into English. Part of his
values known at this time) University. He is already familiar to initial assignment is also to make
The Government is stable and some of us from his numerous hard copy of the documents
particularly the Chinese farmer’s articles in Forschungen in der considered primary to our interest.
benefit thereby. The latter are Geschichte u. Kultur der The translation and publication of
friendly towards us. Russlanddeutschen, and from his documents will likely constitute a
The conditions under which we recent book, with Professor Detlef second and separate project for
are to acquire the land have still not Brandes, Die Sibirien=Deutschen im which funding will be necessary.
been clarified, but are to be decided Sowjetstaat, 1919-1938, The informal executive of the
later this month. We have received Duesseldorf: Klartext Verlag, 2001. "Siberian Mennonite Research
precise instructions from the It was fortunate that James Urry Initiative" is made up of Paul Toews,
consulate as to what we are had forwarded some relevant Fresno Pacific University; James
expected to do upon acquiring a land articles by Savin, Belkovec, and Urry, Reader in Anthropology,
agreement. others to me before I left for Siberia. University of Wellington, NZ; Harry
God willing, I expect to seed 20- Savin's apparent qualifications, Loewen, Kelowna, former holder of
22 'schan', having acquired both the based on experience in those the Chair in Mennonite Studies; and
land and the seed grain. We also archives, and achievements in Peter Penner, researching and
have enough wheat to grind for publishing, as well as his writing in Calgary, Alberta.
bread to last us until October. We sympathetic interest in the story of Supportive of this executive are the
have four horses, one cow, a wagon the Russlanddeutsche, encouraged following: most of whom were
and a nice ride-on plow that has a a number of western Canadian present in Winnipeg in early
great value here. historians to join with archivists December 2001: the archivists: Abe
We are thankful to the Lord seated in Winnipeg and Fresno to Dueck, CMBS-Winnipeg; Alfred
Jesus Christ for all we have, praising form this "Siberian Mennonite Redekopp, MHC, Winnipeg;
and thanking Him daily for the Research Initiative". We met for the Lawrence Klippenstein, retired
privileges we have been granted. first time in conjunction with the archivist, Winnipeg. Historians in
History Conference staged by the Winnipeg included: Hans P. Werner
Chair in Mennonite Studies, and Royden Loewen, University of
University of Winnipeg, late in Winnipeg; John Friesen, Canadian
Dick Family Sponsors 2001. Mennonite University; in Alberta:
Siberian Mennonite It was left to Paul Toews, Colin Neufeldt, Edmonton, and Ted
Research Initiative Director of the Center for Mennonite Regehr, Calgary; in BC: David
by Peter Penner Brethren Studies, Fresno Pacific Giesbrecht; and in Ontario: Walter
F or some years now Mennonites University, to find funding for this Unger, well known for his annual
have benefited enormously from project and to negotiate with Savin Mennonite Heritage Tours down the
archival resources that were the details of his assignment. We Dnieper.
discovered in Ukraine and Russian are pleased to announce that the
archives. This material has been a Peter G. Dick family has agreed to
great boon for Mennonite Studies. fund the first installment of the Yarrow Research
What is needed now and what we research - essentially for a period of Committee News Release
have within our reach is the eighteen months.
he publication of local histories
recovery of documents of primary Peter Dick, who is doing well at
with new information is always
interest to Mennonites from all age 96, lives in Vineland, Ontario.
cause for celebration. The
9 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
Yarrow Research Committee is Persons interested in placing things are in good order and ready
pleased to announce the forth orders should contact either David for visitors and researchers.
coming publication of two volumes Giesbrecht at (604) 853-0382 This space is supplemented by
under the shared subtitle Yarrow, (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lora space shared with the Thrift Store
British Columbia: Mennonite Promise Sawatsky at (604) 795-5197 that we use for desks, processing of
that explores a historic Fraser Valley (email@example.com) records, library shelving and
community in a way not done research/reading/meeting space.
Early in 1928, a fragmented MHSA Launches Library Our Library
group of war-ravaged European We now have about 800 books
immigrants began arriving in & Archives on our shelves.
Yarrow, BC to build a new home for by Judith Rempel For genealogists we have the
themselves and their families. Now,
almost seventy-five years later, a
number of former Yarrow residents
W ell, we’re done! The MHSA
Library & Archives has moved
its new quarters on the
paper copies of the Canadian
Mennonite Board of Colonization
records, a copy of the Bergthal
and associates have written two Mezzanine Level of the MCC Thrift Gemeinde Buch, B.H. Unruh’s book
books that explore both the pre- Store in Calgary (2946–32 Street published in 1955 in Germany, a
Mennonite history of Yarrow and, NE). Not only have we moved from copy of Mennonitischen
after 1928, the fascinating and at the basement of the MCC building, Namen/Mennonite Names
times painful story of the founding but also we’ve managed to move the (bilingual), 20+ biographies, 20+
and development of this immigrant collection that had been housed at published family history books, the
settlement. The initiative for the interim location on the farm of Mennonite Historical Atlas, pedigree
starting this study came from Henry Goerzen in Didsbury. charts from the Mennonite
anthropologist Dr. J. A. Loewen, What a wonderful space we Genealogy group and more.
who in 1998-99 invited a number of have. Our Archival Vault is secured For sentimental folks, we have
scholars to join in a project of with a fire-retardant wall and steel copies of Arnold Dyck’s Low German
research and writing. Perhaps like door2 has a floor space of about 370 works, some fine volumes of Goethe,
Pacific salmon that spend years square feet – plenty of room for our and 40+ Mennonite College
living in an open ocean, eventually current archival holdings and ones yearbooks (Swift Current Bible
feel compelled to return to their that we’ll acquire over the next five Institute, Menno Bible Institute,
spawning channels, these former years. By July 2, it was ready to be Rosthern Junior College, Mennonite
Yarrow residents found such an filled. A number of second-hand Educational Institute etc.).
invitation irresistible. items have been purchased from the For those serious about
After several years of work, the Thrift Store3 and supplemented Mennonite history we have copies
Yarrow Research Committee (YRC) with gifted items from others. (Hint: of: P.M. Friesen’s book on the
can report that a distinguished we still need a clock and a good Mennonite Brotherhood (English);
publisher, Heritage House of personal computer (Pentium II or A.H. Unruh’s important book (Die
Victoria, BC has agreed to publish better, including a CD writer). Geschichte der Mennoniten-
our study of Yarrow, covering the And in the first two weeks of Brüdergemeinde); Walter Quiring’s
years 1928-1958. The projected July it was filled.4 Then the task pictorial account of Mennonites in
release date is early December 2002. began of putting the materials in Canada; Mennonites in Canada (I &
We expect to offer this set of 6” x 9” order. We still have a backlog of II by Frank H. Epp and III by Ted D.
volumes, titled Before We Were the archival records to be inventoried Regehr); the History of the Mennonite
Land’s and Village of Unsettled and books to be catalogued, but Conference of Alberta by C. L. Dick,
Yearnings respectively, in a slipcase. the Profile 1974 by Delbert Plett,
Some 129 pictures and a number of 2 which is about the immigration of
maps will complement the text. Credits: Harold Friesen, Henry Kleine Gemeinde to Canada in 1874,
This will be the first such study of a Goerzen, Dick Neufeld, Ellen The Mennonite Encyclopaedia (Vol. I-
Mennonite community ever released Kinghorn and Erna Goerzen for IV).
by a publishing house in B.C. planning, putting up the studs, In addition, we have thousands
While carefully researched and putting the drywall in place, of periodical issues: Long runs of
documented, these two volumes are mudding & painting & vacuuming. Der Bote, Mennonite Brethren Herald,
written for the general reader. Credits: two desks hand-made by The Mennonite, The Canadian
Volume I provides a historical Gerhard Bartel, used lamp and coat Mennonite, Mennonite Historian, and
survey of pre-Mennonite and early rack fixed by John Klassen, and a Mennonite Life, and selected
Mennonite settlement and in its last beautiful table donated by Margaret volumes/issues of Journal of
two parts, features excerpts from Kent. American Historical Society of
personal memoirs and journals of Credits: Harold & Sandra Germans from Russia, Volkswarte,
30 Mennonite settlers, ten of them Friesen, the College & Career youth Festival Quarterly, Mennonite Mirror,
women. Volume II offers numerous of Abbeydale EMC Church, Peter Mennonite Weekly Review and
essays designed to serve collectively Penner, Henry Goerzen and Dick Mennonitische Rundschau.
as a cultural mural of Yarrow from Neufeld for moving the MANY boxes
1928 to the end of the 1950’s. and shelving units to the new
10 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
What we need Friesen, Margaret Riediger, Henry
The Archives From Congregations: Sunday Goerzen and others).
This has been a real adventure. bulletins, annual reports, Descriptions and Finding Aids
Starting from ground-zero in terms yearbooks, membership albums, for those records will be available at
of knowing how archives are wedding invitations, funeral the Archives and on our website in
managed, we have drafted a 40 page bulletins, membership registers, November.
policy manual to be reviewed and pastoral records, financial Do consider preserving your
approved by both the Archives records, photos, discarded congregation, family, or personal
Advisory Committee5 and Board, library books, congregational or records by making arrangements for
visited three Canadian archival conference histories, burial them to be deposited to our
institutions in the past six months, records Archives.
consulted with and had a three site
visits by the Michael Gourlie From Families: family papers - Plan to drop in and research!
(Archives Advisor of the Alberta source items that can be used The MHSA Library & Archives
Society of Archivists - ASA, made for family histories, biographies, will be open every Saturday (10:00-
substantial progress in the or research into the origins of 4:30), staffed by rotating volunteers8.
processing of our archives the Mennonites in Alberta (MC, Bring your research questions,
collection6 and have been capturing GC, MB, EMC, etc.). Photos!, pencils (no pens please), and we’ll
temperature & humidity measures. published family histories, help you dig into the materials that
We’re doing well enough, that GEDCOM files will advance your research interests.
it’s conceivable that we’ll be The materials are all non-circulating
recognized as a full member of the From Individuals: manuscripts (you can’t take them off premises),
ASA very soon. That puts us in of books, translations of early but we do have a photocopier at
better position to receive advice from Mennonite works, transcriptions hand if you need copies of some
the ASA and to be eligible for grants of genealogical data items.
(such as those, which would pay for
temperature/humidity controls in From Communities: local Thank you to all!
our vault). histories, burial records, land Thanks to the many folks who
At this time, we have received records, tax records came to the MHSA Library &
about 25 accessions (discrete gifts of Archives Launch on October 5. You
records) – with the largest coming Photos of: made us feel that this is something
from the Conference of Mennonites Everyday life to celebrate and that you’ll support
in Alberta (CMA, now Mennonite Gathered families us with your donations (records,
Church Alberta). In total the Church buildings time & financial) and visit us when
materials cover about 30 metres of Congregational gatherings you have research interests.
shelving. Apart from the CMA, we Significant events Significant thanks go to our
also have fonds7 from Alberta Mennonite leaders (in church friends in Mennonite Central
life, music, education, missions, Committee and in the MCC Thrift
The AAC is comprised of Ted family life, sport, government, Store – they’ve made the move a
Regehr, Henry Goerzen, and Peter business, etc.) delight with their many forms of
Penner; Judith Rempel has taken support.9
the role of archivist. Equipment: wall clock,
The key tasks in processing telephone line, Internet access,
PII or better computer with CD
archival records are: clearing the
History of the
files of damaging items such as
paper clips and post-it notes; Chinese Mennonite
Stories: Long and short - about
ensuring that no items are
times in Russia or Germany or Church
folded/askew; transferring the By Daniel Kong
early Alberta, about the journey
records to acid-free folders and et us look back to our church’s
to North America, about family
boxes; capturing the folder titles history. We started our
life, about church life, about
(and dates) into a database; and church through the Mennonite
describing the records. Archival school life, etc.
Central Committee. They
description is a significant task in
itself – since the several-page Women in Mission, Alberta
document needs to provide the Mennonite Youth Organization, 8
Credit: Irene Klassen, Dick
researcher with a substantive David Braun, several congregations Neufeld, Peter Penner, Henry
appreciation as to whether or not (which have discontinued operating) Goerzen, and Judith Rempel.
the fonds might answer the research and individuals (Helen Pauls 9
Credit: Abe Janzen, Martha Ras,
questions s/he has and point Sheila & Hank Froese, Joyce Rochel,
him/her to the appropriate boxes set of documents created and/or Marion Koop, Victor Pries & John
and folders. accumulated and used by one Wiebe; but also the many volunteers
A fonds (pronounced “fo” where the person, family or organization in the whose faces are growing familiar but
“o” has a nasal sound) is the entire course of their activities. which change daily.
11 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
began the sponsorship of refugees for their support to us in pulpit • Giesbrecht, Abram B. (1995).
from Vietnam in 1978. The ministry. Der ersten mennonitischen
Conference of Mennonites in Alberta Tomorrow is exciting and full of Einwanderer in Paraguay.
also supported this project. promise for everyone. It is not an • Lemieux, Victoria & David
The CMA employed pastor exception for our church. We wish Leonard. (1992). Tracing your
Ezekiel Wong from Vancouver to to have a lot of challenges. Church Ancestors in Alberta.
come to Calgary for church planting needs to have not only a mature • Schapansky, Henry. (2001). The
and promoting the evangelical leader but also a loyal congregation. Old Colony (Chortitza) of Russia:
ministry for refugees. We should work together and Early History and First Settlers in
We began our congregational prepare God’s people to participate the Context of Mennonite
worship in 1981. The Foothills in various ministries so that the Migrations.
Mennonite Church provided the body of Christ could be built up. • Smith, C. Henry (1957). Smith's
place of worship, not only for us but We have four primary aims: Story of the Mennonites.
also for our twin, the Vietnamese • form a church of prayer; “It is • Warkentin, John H. (2000). The
Mennonite church. We started our the way to receive strength and Mennonite Settlements of
churches together. guidance from God”. Southern Manitoba.
There were just three people in • To form an evangelical church;
the beginning of our church life. to train and to equip the church • Zionsbote - all issues
After five years, the church members to become leaders in • Mennonitisches Rundshau - most
membership had increased to fifty. evangelism. issues
We purchased the present chapel in • To form a mission-church and • Der Bote - issues from before
1987. The mortgage funds were participate in missionary work. 1990
borrowed through our Conference • To form a mature church. • The Canadian Mennonite - many
from Mennonite Foundation of Every year we plan at least one issues
Canada. From that time our camp retreat and three devotional • Journal of Mennonite Studies –
services, our choir, fellowship, meetings. To strengthen our most issues
Sunday School and children’s deacons and workers, we plan
worship continuously grew. • The Mennonite - many issues
different training courses for them, Mennonite Life - many issues
Pastor Ezekiel Wong such as evangelical and caring
concentrated his services in our • The Mennonite Brethren
Church since our brother/sister Conference Yearbooks (Alberta) -
May God be glorified.
church, the Vietnamese Mennonite 1993 to 2002.
Church, employed their own pastor. • Mennonite Weekly Review – most
We dedicated our church during the issues
opening ceremonies in 1987. At The Mennonite • Mennonite Quarterly Review –
that time, the church membership
had increased to eighty-five. Our
his month we have decided to
pastor, Ezekial Wong attended the
tell you what’s missing from our
Associated Mennonite Biblical
Seminary for further study in 1989
library bookshelves. If you’d MHSA Members’
and Pastor Raymond Wong carried
like to consider a Christmas gift to
the MHSA in the form of unused
on his pastoral ministry.
Raymond Wong resigned in
1990. Our church again employed
items in your personal library, we’re
looking for these books and
T his Ancestry corner will be
dedicated to one or two direct
ancestor lines of those MHSA
Ezekiel Wong. During that time, the members who have supplied
church membership decreased to • Heimatbuch - most years
pedigree charts. It follows a format
thirty people but later it increased to • Doell, Leonard, compiler.
initiated by the Journal of Mennonite
seventy-five. CMA helped us to (1999). Mennonite
Family History. Sub-missions may
establish the Faith Mennonite Homesteaders on the Hague-
be sent to the Editor.
Church in 1990, but it closed in Osler Reserve.
1997. • Dyck, John & William Harms. 1. Judith (Judii) Dianne Rempel m.
We employed pastor Daniel (1994). Reinlaender Gemeinde Eduardo (Kip) Deang Pabustan,
Kong for the Chinese ministry and Buch: 1880-1903. Jr..
pastor David Ma for the English • Dyck, John & William Harms. 2. Bernhard (Ben) Johan Rempel b.
ministry in 1998. Thank God! He is (1998). 1880 Village Census of 13-Feb-1926, Novo Omsk,
guiding us as our Church leader. the Mennonite West Reserve. Siberia, USSR, occupation
What we should do is to worship our • Friesen, John. (1994). Against Miner/Businessman, m., Irene
Lord because our help is coming the Wind: The Story of Four Edith Luetta Peters, Bernhard
from the Creator. Mennonite Villages. died 11-Jul-1987, Atlin, British
Looking back on our brief • Friesen, Rudy P. (1996). Into the Columbia.
history we should thank God. He Past. 3. Irene Edith Luetta Peters.
continuously cares and guides us. 4. Johan Wilhelm Rempel b. 20-
Also thank CMA and a lot of pastors Oct-1875, Hochfeld (Yazekovo),
12 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
Russia, occupation Factory South Russia, d. 20-Apr-1931. 25-Nov-1916, Prob. Reinland,
Operator/Farmer, m. (1) 19- Peter died 17 Dec 1885, MB. Johann died 13-May-
Feb-1902, in Franzfeld, Hochfeld (Yazekovo), Russia. 1909, Altona, Manitoba.
Yazykovo, South Russia, 11. Agatha Isaak b. 27-May-1847, 25. Agatha Neufeld b. 2-Aug-1840,
Katharina P Epp, b. 19-Oct- Einlage, Chortitza, South Kronsthal, Chortitza, South
1881, Franzfeld, Yazykovo, Russia, d. 20-Apr-1931. Russia, m. (1) 28 Sep 1859,
South Russia, d. 5-Jul-1923, 12. Herman (Harm) J Peters b. 7 Johann (John) Peters, b. 28-
Presume Novo Omsk, Siberia, Sep 1862, Kronsthal, Dec-1839, Kronsthal,
m. (2) 10-Aug-1924, Anna Chortitza, South Russia, Chortitza, South Russia,
Petrovna Ketler, b. 16-Oct-1884, occupation Farmer, m. 20 Nov occupation farmer, d. 13-May-
Neuhochfeld (Chortiza), Russia, 1884, Helena H Friesen, b. 14- 1909, Altona, Manitoba, m. (2)
occupation Housewife, d. 21- May-1867, Prob. Mariupol, 30 Dec 1909, Isaac Wiens, b.
Sep-1966, Clearbrook, British Ekat., Russia, d. 3-Jun-1912, 30 Aug 1836, d. 8 Oct 1922.
Columbia. Johan died 16-Apr- Rosthern, Saskatchewan. Agatha died 25-Nov-1916,
1953, Clearbrook, British Herman died 2-Jul-1914, Prob. Reinland, MB.
Columbia. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. 26. Heinrich Friesen b. 18-Jan-
5. Anna Petrovna Ketler b. 16-Oct- 13. Helena H Friesen b. 14-May- 1843, Prob. Mariupol, Ekat.,
1884, Neuhochfeld (Chortiza), 1867, Prob. Mariupol, Ekat., Russia, occupation labourer,
Russia, occupation Housewife, Russia, d. 3-Jun-1912, m. 11 Sep 1864, Katharina
d. 21-Sep-1966, Clearbrook, Rosthern, Saskatchewan. Bueckert, b. 17-May-1844,
British Columbia. 14. Heinrich (Henry) Stobbe b. 3- Prob. Mariupol, Ekat., Russia,
6. Herman H. Peters b. 25-Nov- Jan-1868, Grunau near d. 30 Oct 1938, Reinland,
1896, Reinland, Manitoba, Mariupol, Russia, occupation Manitoba. Heinrich died 6 May
occupation Grain Elevator Blacksmith, m. 13-Oct-1891, 1920, Reinland, Manitoba.
Agent, m. 26-Dec-1915, in Josefstal, South Russia, 27. Katharina Bueckert b. 17-May-
Susanna (Susie) Stobbe, b. 7- Maria (Mary) Fischer, b. 12 1844, Prob. Mariupol, Ekat.,
Jun-1896, Rosthern, Oct 1872, Neuendorf, Russia, d. 30 Oct 1938,
Saskatchewan, occupation Chortitza, South Russia, d. Reinland, Manitoba.
Housewife, d. 9-Jul-1968, 27-Aug-1915, Rosthern, 28. Peter Stobbe b. bef 1848,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan. Heinrich died occupation Fisherman &
Herman died 25-Dec-1968, 17-Sep-1917, Rosthern, Shoemaker, m. Elizabeth
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan. (Elisabeth) Mohriz.
7. Susanna (Susie) Stobbe b. 7- 15. Maria (Mary) Fischer b. 12 Oct 29. Elizabeth (Elisabeth) Mohriz
Jun-1896, Rosthern, 1872, Neuendorf, Chortitza, 30. Carl (Karl) Fischer b. 14 Jun
Saskatchewan, occupation South Russia, d. 27-Aug- 1850, Neuendorf, Chortitza,
Housewife, d. 9-Jul-1968, 1915, Rosthern, South Russia, occupation
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan. Blacksmith & farmer, m. 04-
8. Wilhelm Wilhelm Rempel b. 26- 16. Wilhelm Peter Rempel b. 18- Jan-1870, in Josephstal Ev
Aug-1832, Osterwick, Chortitza, Feb-1808, Russia, m. (1) abt Lutheran, Lotschinof, Rus.,
South Russia, m. (1) Aganetha 1831, Maria B Penner, b. 10- Adelgunde Werner, b. 27-Dec-
Thiessen, b. 11-Aug-1838, Dec-1812, Ukraine, Russia, d. 1850, Schoenhorst, Chortitza,
Osterwick, Chortitza, South 29-Aug-1853, Ukraine, South Russia, d. 11-May-1933,
Russia, d. 21-Oct-1868, ? on Russia, m. (2) Margareta Rosthern, Saskatchewan. Carl
the day her son Abraham was Penner, d. Russia. Wilhelm died 19-Feb-1932, Rosthern,
born., m. (2) aft Oct 1869, Maria died 29-Jun-1866, Ukraine, Saskatchewan.
Dueck, b. 2-Mar-1840, Russia. 31. Adelgunde Werner b. 27-Dec-
Chortitza, Chortitza, South 17. Maria B Penner b. 10-Dec- 1850, Schoenhorst, Chortitza,
Russia, occupation Housewife, 1812, Ukraine, Russia, d. 29- South Russia, d. 11-May-1933,
d. 13-Aug-1886, Hochfeld Aug-1853, Ukraine, Russia. Rosthern, Saskatchewan.
(Yazekovo), Russia. Wilhelm 20. Jacob (Jakob) A Ketler(Kesler) 32. Peter Peter Rempel b. 29-Dec-
died 29-Aug-1905, Hochfeld b. ?? ___ 1813, m. 1759,
(Yazekovo), Russia. 21. _____ _____ Tiegenhagen/Petershagen,
9. Maria Dueck b. 2-Mar-1840, 22. Abraham Isaak m. Anna Dyck, Prussia, m. (1) Widow Loewen,
Chortitza, Chortitza, South d. ? at 60 years of age. d. bef 1795, m. (2) Cornelia
Russia, occupation Housewife, 23. Anna Dyck d. ? at 60 years of (Kornelia, Neli, Nelka) ?, b. ??
d. 13-Aug-1886, Hochfeld age. ___ 1772, m. (3) Margareta
(Yazekovo), Russia. 24. Johann (John) Peters b. 28- Teichroewen, b. 10-Aug-1773,
10. Peter Jakob Ketler b. 8-Apr- Dec-1839, Kronsthal, Krebsfeld, Prussia, d. Russia.
1837, Kronsweide, Chortiza, Chortitza, South Russia, Peter died 24-Apr-1820,
South Russia, occupation occupation farmer, m. 28 Sep Russia.
Windmill Operator, m. Nov 1859, Agatha Neufeld, b. 2- 33. Margareta Teichroewen b. 10-
1868, Agatha Isaak, b. 27- Aug-1840, Kronsthal, Aug-1773, Krebsfeld, Prussia,
May-1847, Einlage, Chortitza, Chortitza, South Russia, d. d. Russia.
13 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
34. Berend Penner b. ?? ___ 1798, Prussia. Peter died 12-Jan- Feb 1806, Neuendorf,
m. Maria ?, b. ?? ___ 1783. 1788. Chortitza, South Russia.
35. Maria ? b. ?? ___ 1783. 65. Cristina von Dycken b. 30- 221. Susanna Klassen b. ?? ___
40. Abraham (Abram) May-1731, Prussia, d. 12-Jan- 1770, m. (1) Jacob Derksen,
Ketler(Kesler) b. ?? ___ 1763, 1786, Petershagen, Prussia. b. 21 Dec 1767, d. 2 Feb
m. (1) Helena Schuetz, b. ?? 66. Johann (Teichgroef) Teichkrew 1806, Neuendorf, Chortitza,
___ 1788, Plauschwarren, East b. ?? ___ 1745, Prussia, m. (1) South Russia, m. (2) Johan
Prussia, m. (2) Maria ?, b. ?? abt 1771, Margaretha ?, b. abt Abram Neudorf, b. ?? ___
___ 1743, d. 27 Aug 1799. 1745, d. bef 1780, Prussia, m. 1783, Petershagen, Prussia,
41. Helena Schuetz b. ?? ___ 1788, (2) Katharina ?, b. ?? ___ d. 15 Apr 1860, Osterwick,
Plauschwarren, East Prussia. 1762, Prussia. Johann died Chortitza, South Russia.
48. Jacob (Jakob) Peters b. bef bef 1802, Schoenhorst, 222. Jacob Klassen m. ___
1814, m. (1) Katharina Janzen, Chortitza, South Russia. 223. _____ ___
d. bef 1879, m. (2) Judith ?, b. 67. Margaretha ? b. abt 1745, d. 248. ? Werner m. ? ?, b. 1747, d.
abt 1810. Jacob died bef bef 1780, Prussia. 13-Jul-1807, Schoenhorst,
1879. 80. David Ketler(Kaedtler) m. Chortitza, South Russia.
49. Katharina Janzen d. bef 1879. 81. _____ 249. ? ? b. 1747, d. 13-Jul-1807,
52. Jacob I Friesen b. ?? ___ 1794, 82. David D Schuetz b. abt 1760, Schoenhorst, Chortitza,
m. Margaretha Epp, b. 28 Feb m. 26 Nov 1782, in South Russia.
1802. Jacob died 29 Jun Plauschwarren, East Prussia, 440. David Derksen b. ?? ___ 1733,
1867. _____ _____, b. ?? ___ 1756, d. Tiegenhagen, Prussia, m.
53. Margaretha Epp b. 28 Feb bef 1795. Maria ?, b. ?? ___ 1736.
1802. 83. _____ _____ b. ?? ___ 1756, d. David died bef 1802.
54. Jacob Bueckert b. 25 Dec bef 1795. 441. Maria ? b. ?? ___ 1736.
1811, Russia, m. (1) 13 Nov 104. Isbrand (Isebrand) I Friesen
1834, Helena Doerksen, b. 21 b. ?? ___ 1767, m. Katharina
Jun 1816, Russia, d. 27 Dec ?, b. ?? ___ 1766.
1878, m. (2) 20 Jul 1880, 105. Katharina ? b. ?? ___ 1766.
Justina Loewen, b. 15 Nov 108. Herman Bueckert m. Maria Alberta Profile:
1822. Jacob died 14 Nov Elias. William Gerhard Martens
1884. 109. Maria Elias by Irene Klassen
55. Helena Doerksen b. 21 Jun 110. Franz Derksen b. ?? ___
1816, Russia, d. 27 Dec 1878.
Johann Fischer b. ?? ___ 1803,
1792, m. Helena Klassen, b.
15 Aug 1796, d. ?? Feb 1878.
W ilhelm Martens was born in
August 1892, in Landskrone,
Russia the youngest of seven
Riedselz, Weissenburg, Franz died ?? ___ 1877. children – 4 boys and 3 girls. He
Prussia, occupation servant, 111. Helena Klassen b. 15 Aug received his elementary schooling in
m. (1) 15 Apr 1841, in Russia, 1796, d. ?? Feb 1878. Landskrone and his high school in
Anita Beilan, m. (2) Amanda 124. Heinrich Werner m. Gnadenfeld. Then he took two years
Beillan, m. (3) Louise ?, b. abt Elizabeth (Elisabeth) ?. of teacher training in Melitopol and
18-May-1815, d. 17-Dec-1875, Heinrich died aft 1807. taught school for 3 years. He was
Friedensfeld, South Russia. 125. Elizabeth (Elisabeth) ? drafted for military service and
Johann died ?? ___ 1866. 164. David Schuetz b. bef 1740, served in Kursk for 2½ years as a
61. Anita Beilan occupation teacher, m. (1) Sanitaeter, before he became
62. Peter Werner b. abt 1825, _____ _____, m. (2) 18 Nov Kanzelei Schreiber (Secretary). After
Prussia, occupation Labourer, 1781, in Plauschwarren, military service he took over a school
m. Adelgunde Gabriel, b. 1827, East Prussia, Helena ?, b. ?? in Blumenhof, Caucasus, 1,000
Prussia, d. 13-Jul-1887, ___ 1762. David died bef miles from Landskrone. At that
Schoenhorst, Chortitza, South 1795. distance it took two years for him to
Russia. Peter died bef1870. 165. _____ _____ become aware of his parents’ deaths.
63. Adelgunde Gabriel b. 1827, 208. Isbrand (Isebrand) Friesen b. In Blumenhof he met and
Prussia, m. (1) Peter Werner, ?? ___ 1740, m. (1) _____ became intimately acquainted with
b. abt 1825, Prussia, _____, m. (2) Agatha Dueck, Sarah, the daughter of Prediger
occupation Labourer, d. b. ?? ___ 1745. Heinrich Dirks. They were married
bef1870, m. (2) Klaus Hydack. 209. Agatha Dueck b. ?? ___ 1745, April 14, 1919, on a Sunday
Adelgunde died 13-Jul-1887, m. (1) 19 Apr 1772, Wilhelm morning. That afternoon a Bruder-
Schoenhorst, Chortitza, South Bolle, b. 3 Feb 1746, d. 31 schaft was called and he was
Russia. May 1789, m. (2) Isbrand unanimously elected as preacher.
64. Peter Rempel b. 6-Jul-1735, (Isebrand) Friesen, b. ?? ___ He started his preaching career in
Prussia, m. abt1758, in 1740. August 1919. In those famine-
Prussia, Cristina von Dycken, 220. Jacob Derksen b. 21 Dec plagued years, in addition to
b. 30-May-1731, Prussia, d. 1767, m. Susanna Klassen, teaching, he often shared his own
12-Jan-1786, Petershagen, b. ?? ___ 1770. Jacob died 2 meager bread with his students.
14 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
In September 1924, Wilhelm at Chinook, as well as other families enrichment, new local congregations
and Sarah Martens with two at Sedalia, New Brigden and Naco.12 were organized.”
children left Russia. With the help To make ends meet he farmed a ½ The formal Alberta Conference
of the Canadian Pacific Railway, section of rented land. of Mennonites came into existence in
they boarded the ship Minnedosa, fall of 1929 with Harder elected as
eventually landing in Halifax, Nova Most worship services were the first chairman. However the first
Scotia. There they received a Bible, held in homes, but some times the official minutes (available at this
bologna and bread - and then local school was used. For large date) were of the meeting held on
traveled by train to Tofield, Alberta gatherings, the town hall was July 20 and 21, 1936 in Rosemary.
where the J. Brennemans met them rented. In Chinook the United Martens was the presiding
and then hosted them that first Church was used for several years. chairman. He served in that
He traveled many miles capacity from 1931 to 1938 followed
in the widespread by another three years as secretary.
and preached many
He always had
something to say to the
children13. He ate in
many homes and at
one particular time
was heard to say, “Oh
good, chicken! One
gets a bit tired of
potato salad every
Baptism of John Neufeld, ?, Tina Wiebe, ? Schmidt &
day.” David & Katherine Epp with
Liese Schmidt in Chinook with Aeltesters Jac. Wiens On February 28- children, Gerhard and Irene, and
and Wm. Martens, ca. 1929 March 1, 1929, Rev. Wm. Martens at Baptism,
Aeltester C.D. Harder June 25 1944
invited eight preachers
and one deacon to the Neufeld Upon Martens return to
In March 1925 they moved to
residence near the Bergthal Chinook, following the Allgemeine
Namaka, where 24 other families
Mennonite church (where he Konferenz, he was chosen as leading
were renting a 13,000-acre farm10.
resided tentatively) to convene an minister by the Chinook church.
That fall, after harvest, he took his
Allgemeine Prediger Konferenz. Eight other candidates from this
wife and children to Gretna,
These preachers, one of whom was community were chosen as
Manitoba, where he studied English
Wm. Martens, represented scattered ministerial candidates. Five of these
language and took high school
groups of Mennonite families. The accepted the nominations: Heinrich
courses to prepare for a Canadian
purpose was to plan for nurture and Dueck, David Boese, Abram Epp,
Teaching Certificate. In April 1926,
spiritual guidance for the widely Peter Regehr, and Jacob Neufeld.
it was back to Namaka.
scattered immigrant families in The Chinook congregation also
Forty-two Mennonite immigrant
Alberta. elected two deacons: Tobias
families had settled in this central
These ministers who had come Schmidt, Gerhard Baergen. Elected
eastern area in Alberta, north of
together from all directions (allen to Church Council (Kirchenrat) were
Oyen. In 1927 Martens was asked
Winden, referring to their origins in Peter Martens and Gerhard Bergen.
to come to Chinook to serve these
Russia) were inspired (in the words The churches now appeared to be
families and organize them into
of Martens) “in response to Elder equipped with faithful and
Harder’s encouragement to organize courageous leaders.
The families were scattered congregations wherever we had While in Chinook, in 1931 he
over a large area, from Chinook in settled, we returned with new was ordained as Aeltester by
the south, Naco in the north, and determination to our families and Aeltester David Toews. In November
New Brigden in the east - close to congregations. Wherever our new of that year, Heinrich Janzen
the Saskatchewan border. He immigrants had settled in groups became his assistant.
served those families who gathered and were meeting for spiritual It was a sad loss to the
scattered congregations, when in
April 1934 the Martens family moved
The farm was owned by George The church register for this to Coaldale, where Martens also
Lane, who had encountered combined congregation is available served the church. The Martens lived
financial difficulties resulting in a in the MHSA archives. in Coaldale until March 1938, when
takeover by the Dominion Bank. One lesson I personally remember they moved again, this time back to
According to the records the first was about honouring our parents Vauxhall where he served the
meeting was held on March 14, and never to speak of them in a Vauxhall/Grantham Mennonite
1928. derogatory way.
15 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
Church, later known as the church until 1974. Then he retired • Canadian Mennonite Board of
Vauxhall Mennonite Church14. and moved back to Winnipeg. Colonization fonds. -- 1923-
During all these years, Martens The unexpected death of his 1966. -- 36 microfilm reels, 35
was still considered the Aeltester at first wife in 1953, had been a big mm
Chinook/Sedalia, so he continued to setback for him, but he carried on, - two-sided records of
travel there for baptisms and special adapting to new situations and immigrants from 1923-30 to
occasions. In 1943 he performed the relationships. He was always Canada, including full names
last marriage in that church, Peter willing to serve and was never lost and birthdates/locations of
Derksen and Margarete Dueck, and for words. He enjoyed serving the family members, dates of the
in 1944 performed the last baptism: Lord. He enjoyed life and meeting points in the journey from
Gerhard Epp, now of Didsbury and people, whether in church, on the Russia to Canada, and details
Irene Epp (Klassen) of Calgary.15 street, bus, train, wherever. He about settlement location and
Then in February 1946 he was could strike up a conversation very kin in North America
called to serve the church in Sardis, quickly with almost anyone. His
B.C., which he served until 1950. family enjoyed him very much and
Here he also served part-time in the missed him a great deal after his
• Bergthal Mennonite Church
Chilliwack church. passing on January 11, 1976.
fonds. -- 1927-2001). -- 60 cm
His next move was back to the
Vauxhall Church in 1951.
- includes constitutions,
Following the sudden death of
Sarah, his wife in 1954, he returned Fonds in MHSA minutes, annual reports,
bulletins, activities of
to Rosemary, staying with his Archives committees, and newsletters
daughters, Elsie Janzen and/or By Judith Rempel
Agnes Janzen. From 1955–1956 he • Blumenthaler Mennonite
The MHSA has 12 Church fonds. – 1931-1992. --
preached in the churches at organizational or congregational
Rosemary, Gem and Vauxhall on a 8 cm textual records
fonds in its collection that are - includes minutes and
part-time basis. processed and accessible for
He married the widow Helen bulletins
researchers’ use. Another 13 fonds • Coaldale Mennonite Church
Reimer of Calgary in 1956 and are being processed and include
served for about a year in the First fonds. -- 1968-1989. -- 10 cm
records donated by other textual material
Mennonite Church in Calgary, as lay organizations (e.g., Alberta
minister.16 From Calgary, they - includes constitution, annual
Mennonite Youth Organization), reports and bulletins
moved to Chilliwack, BC; but not for Congregations (e.g., Taber
long. His wife became ill and passed • Mennonite Church of Lacombe
Mennonite Church) and individuals fonds. – 1968-1989. -- 3 cm
away in 1959. (e.g., Helen (Pauls) Friesen,
In 1963, he married Mrs. textual records
Margaret Riediger, David Braun, - includes constitution, annual
Katherine Kasdorf of Winnipeg and etc.) and will be available very soon.
moved there, serving as Associate reports, and bulletins
Pastor in First Mennonite Church • Namaka Mennonite Church
for several years. While in Winnipeg
Organizations fonds. – 1937-1971. -- 5 cm
he was asked by a Mr. Redekopp to • Alberta Women in Mission textual records
go to Chihuahua, Mexico to teach a fonds. -- 1971-1997 -- 60 cm - includes minutes and church
few classes in German. So, from textual records. -- 401 register of events
May 1965 to May 1966, at the age of photographs • Neukirchener Mennonite
73, he and his wife made the move. - includes constitutions, Church fonds. -- 1928-1945. -
It was quite a challenge no doubt, minutes, annual activity - 1 cm textual records
but both of them enjoyed the reports and correspondence • West Zion Mennonite Church
experience. • Coaldale Cheese Factory fonds. -- 2001. -- 4 cm. textual
Then it was back to Winnipeg fonds. -- 1966-1973. -- 2 cm records
from 1966-1969. Another move in textual records - includes history of church
1969 took him to Niverville, - bound minute book and essays presented at
Manitoba, where he served the • Conference of Mennonites in centennial
Alberta fonds. – 1928-2000. -- • Westheimer Mennonite
3.6 m textual records Church fonds. -- 1936-1990. -
- includes constitutions, - 4 cm textual records
Anne Harder has written the correspondence and minutes - includes minutes, church
history of the Vauxhall Mennonite pertaining to the Executive register of events, and history
Church and it has been published and General Council, of church
by the MHSA. Missions and Service,
The author of this article – (ed) Education, Home for the
16 Aged, Camp Valaqua,
I remember his searching through
the phone book for Mennonite Finance, Ministers and
names and trying to locate and Deacons and other activities
encourage ‘lost’ ones.
16 Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter October 2002
The Church in Chortitza
It was the Mother church of quite a
few of the surrounding villages,
including Einlage, Burwalde and
Rosengart. It served many
parishioners. It was built after 1830
and was called The New Church.
The structure was of clay brick and
it had no ornamentation inside or
outside. It was two stories with a
main sanctuary and a large balcony
on three sides.
Helen Friesen donated these
two pictures of the Chortitza
Mennonite Church. Her attached
note reads as follows.
Rev. John Kroeker of First
Mennonite in Calgary told me that
the last service in this “our” church
was held on Christmas eve, 1936.
The church was then closed and
converted to a
That last service
included singing “Dies Mennonite
ist die Freundlichkeit”,
sung to the melody “O Publications
dasz ich tausend Dec 2002
Zungen haette”. • GRANDMA V CD, to contain
Helen recalls about 800,000 linked family
sitting in the school records in Brothers Keeper and
adjacent to the church GEDCOM database formats.
with windows open, • Chortitza Family Registers
eavesdropping on the Compact Disk – PDF files of
service. When the scanned Chortitza Colony,
teacher came into the Russia church records
classroom, she was (especially Chortitza and
upset and closed the Rosenthal villages) for 1870s-
• Sommerfelder Gemeinde Buch,
Vol I & II (West Lynn, Manitoba)
being produced by the West
Lymburn Mennonite Lynn Historical Society
Church Order from JR Solutions
MHSA Publications This church served numerous (www.jrsolutions.net), 2416 Bowness
• Alternative Service for Peace in families who moved into the Road NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3L7
Canada during World War II, Peace River
1941-46 (A.J. Klassen) - $25 when they first
• Namaka (Henry Goerzen) - $8 came to Canada
• Knowing and Interpreting our from Russia. J.
Past: Alberta’s Mennonite D. Nickel served
History (Judith Rempel, ed.) - as pastor and
$12 later moved to
• Vauxhall Mennonite Church Rosemary.
History (Anne Harder) - $8