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Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter

VIEWS: 151 PAGES: 12

									      Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter
Second Series, Volume IV, #3                                                                                    Octo b e r 2 0 0 1
IDA CROSSES THE LINE                         various destinations on the prairies of     joined in the singing. Ida thought this
by Don Kauffman                              Western Canada.                             sounded like at home and she felt better.

“T       he whole platform was full of
         people when we left Milford.
They had come to see us go,” said Ida
                                                  The passenger train carrying the
                                             families crossed the border on March
                                             10. Pa had left the freight train at the
                                                                                         Pa preached a sermon, Uncle Joseph
                                                                                         said a prayer and Aunt Lydia told a
                                                                                         children’s story. Everyone felt better
(Stauffer) King when she was being           border and rode the rest of the way in      yet during the noon meal people kept
questioned many years later. Ida was         the passenger train. Ida felt safer.        saying, “Soon”, “Just one more day”, “I
just eight years old and was a part of the   Uncle Joseph was also a passenger, but      wonder where we will be next Sunday”;
group because her parents had decided        he spent most of his time adding up         Ida could tell even the adults wanted this
to move to Canada. “It was hard to           rows of numbers in his account books        journey to be over.
leave friends, the school and church.”       or reading maps to figure out where to
Some of her uncles, aunts and cousins        buy more farms for the other families
were travelling with them but others         he hoped to bring to Tofield.
were staying behind. Pa had been                  Ida felt safe. Her Pa and Ma, her
talking about this move for more years       uncle, big sister Katie, Aunt Lena, Aunt
than Ida could remember and now              Lydia, and her sixteen cousins were
finally, they were going.                    all on that train with her. Their part of
      Everyone had come to the station to    the train was filled with cousins:
say good-bye. Tears flowed freely but        children,      crying     babies     and
there was excitement too. Pa and Ma          mischievous boys who grew restless
had promised that everything would be        with the constant clickety clack and
all right. Now they were finally on their    swaying of the train. They stopped so
way. Ida knew they were going to a           frequently to take on or drop off
different country and would have to          passengers. Ida was happy that her
‘cross the line’, whatever that meant.       cousins were there, but she wondered if          The older boys were glad for a
This was high adventure with only Pa’s       she would ever see the cousins left         chance to get off the train. They
promise that everything would be             behind in Milford. Pa said they would       ‘explored’ this new land. They noticed
worthwhile. Ida knew that somewhere          go back to visit, “But who will want to     some unfamiliar little brown animals
up ahead was a freight train with all of     make this long journey again”, thought      beside the tracks. They managed to kill
their possessions and Pa was on that         Ida. That was more than an eight-year       a few. Then they worried that they
train.                                       old could fathom. Right now she just        might have been someone’s pets. Ida
                                             wished they were at Tofield.                stayed close to Ma; it seemed better that
Contents:                                         The cousins ranged in age from         way.
Ida Crosses the Line                         about one year (three of them) to 20             Monday finally arrived and they left
Pennsylvania to Tofield
                                             years. Three boys, Nicholas Stauffer,       on the final leg of the long journey from
Mennonites in Mayton, Alberta
From Salem to Holyrood                       14, Joseph, 15 and John Reil 12, found      Milford. When they stepped off the
Salem Hosts Russian Immigrants               ways to entertain themselves.          In   train at Tofield and clustered on the
Unfettered Friendship                        Winnipeg they managed to steal some         platform, only the men from the freight
                                             apples from a fruit stand. Then they        train were there to greet them. Ida
Chairman Jake's corner
Biographical Profile                         worried throughout the trip that the        looked around, noticed the difference
New MHSA Publication                         police would stop the train and arrest      from the crowded Milford platform, and
New MHSA Library Holdings                    them.     They worried their parents        the scrubby brush across the tracks.
MHSA Members' Ancestry Corner
                                             would find out. Cousins or not, the         She was moved to say, “Ma, why did we
MHSA Website Update
Book Announcements & Reviews                 girls would tell.                           ever come to a place that looks like
                                                  Three days into Canada the train       this?”
                                             pulled into the station in Wainwright.           “Don’t worry children, we’ll be
     At Emerson, Manitoba, March 7,          The conductor told them they were now       alright” Ma replied, as she put her arms
1910 the freight train ‘crossed the line’    in Alberta. “Since this is Saturday         around little Ida and Millie, her two
into Canada with five boxcars of             night we will be staying here until         youngest daughters, as the older children
Mennonite settlers’ effects. Peter Reil,     Monday morning. Trains do not run in        clustered around them.           “Pa has
Valentine Roth, Sam Stauffer, John L.        Alberta on Sunday.”         Ida couldn’t    arranged for us to sleep in a house
Stauffer and Ben Stauffer were on that       figure that one out, “but at least we       tonight, near our new farmland. We’ll
train to tend to the animals and look        have stopped swaying.”                      be all right.” Ma looked across the
after their other belongings. There were          Sunday morning Pa and Uncle            heads of her children towards the
twenty-seven other parties, each with        Joseph gathered us all for church on the    horizon to the southeast. “We will be all
one or more boxcars full of valuable         train. This was their first worship         right” she whispered to herself as she
possessions.      All were headed for        service in Alberta. Aunt Lena with her      silently prayed, “Oh Lord, keep us
                                             beautiful voice led while everyone          safe!”
2                           Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                  October 2001

                                                 The workshop is designed to serve       Program Committee and Colin Neufeldt
The Mennonite Historical Society of           two main purposes; to attract new          MC’d the event.          It was a very
Alberta publishes this newsletter three       members to the Society and to help         successful day.
times a year. Subscription is through         document the history of the Mennonite           The History of the Vauxhall
 membership in the Society. Cost of           community within this province.            Mennonite Church, written by Anne
membership is $15 per year. To join,             October 13 was a busy weekend           Harder and edited by Judith Rempel was
          send payment to:                    among Mennonites in Alberta. Four          displayed for the first time. It is a good
           George Paetkau                     events competed for participants, so it    story. One hundred copies were printed
              Box 100                         was no surprise that MHSA attracted a      and are available to purchase for $8.00
        Gem, AB, T0J 1M0                      small but enthusiastic crowd of only       (See ad for materials available from
                                              forty persons. It may be that history is   MHSA elsewhere in this letter).
       Send submissions and other             a hard sell. Nevertheless it is evident         The MHSA Ex/Bd. met for an hour
            correspondence to:                that there is an enthusiastic segment of   with the following decisions being
              D. P. Neufeld                   Mennonites in Alberta. We intend to        made:
          8 Edgeland Close NW                 continue searching out and telling the     1. Helen Heidebrecht has been asked
          Calgary, AB T3A 3B1                 story.                                          to serve as a southern Alberta
      Or to:                                                           representative to MHSA
                                                                                         2. Peter Goerzen from Grand Prairie
       Editor: Diedrich P. Neufeld                                                            was recommended to be the
     Editorial Committee: Diedrich P.         Chairman Jake’s Corner                          representative for the Peace
    Neufeld, Roger Epp, Judith Rempel         by J D Harder                                   River/LaCrete area.
                                                                                         3. It was agreed to publish two
          Layout: Judith Rempel                    his is the third Newsletter of the
        Distribution: D. P. Neufeld                year. Our volunteers have done             Newsletters per year, instead of
                                              well. It is no easy task for people to          three, but to add considerably more
Visit our Website:                            take over from veterans like Judith             content.                     Rempel and Mary Burkholder. Irene          4. An Editorial Committee of Judith
                                              Klassen has competently fulfilled the           Rempel and Roger Epp was
                                              secretarial job, even becoming literate         appointed to work with Dick
Current Executive                             in the use of e-mail, and Dick Neufeld          Neufeld in identifying and selecting
Chair, Jake Harder, Edmonton                                                                  articles.
                                              has weathered the transition to editing
Vice Chair, Henry Goerzen, Didsbury                                                      5. A program Committee to plan for
                                              and publishing the Newsletter. Good
Secretary, Irene Klassen, Calgary                                                             the Annual Meeting in spring was
Treasurer, George Paetkau, Gem                                                                appointed.      Members are: Ted
David Wiebe Neufeld, Lethbridge                                                               Regehr, chairperson, David Wiebe-
                                                                                              Neufeldt, and Irene Klassen. The
Area Representatives                                                                          location is to be somewhere from
Northern Alberta – Peter Goerzen                                                              Didsbury south.
Edmonton Area – Colin Neufeldt
Tofield Area – Harry Stauffer
Calgary Area – Irene Klassen, Calgary
Rosemary Area – Mary Burkholder                                                          Pennsylvania to Tofield
Carstairs/Didsbury Area – Richard                  A number of work days have been       A Report to the Workshop by
Harder                                        held at the archives center at MCCA        Cena King
Southern Alberta – Hilda Heidebrecht          when up to ten volunteers a session,       by Irene Klassen

                                              catalogued books and other materials.
                                              Judith Rempel oriented the groups to
                                              their tasks. She then made labels for
                                                                                         C    ena King and her husband Lloyd
                                                                                              served with MCC Akron for several
                                                                                         years and felt very much at home after
by Diedrich P. Neufeld
                                              the shelves and the books for easy
T    he second annual MHSA workshop                                                      generations away from their roots.
                                              identification according to their               William Penn, an English Quaker
     held in Tofield October 13, featured
                                              classification. Our gifted computer is     who was given a grant of land in
the     migration     experiences      of
                                              having it is innards filled with data.     America as a settlement of a family
Mennonites to Tofield Alberta. This
                                                   The October Workshop hosted by        debt, used that land in Pennsylvania, for
Newsletter focuses on some personal
                                              Salem Mennonite Church consisted of a      refugees from religious persecution.
experiences and recollections. It also
                                              full day’s program of historical           Along with the Quakers were also some
introduces an upcoming book by Ted
                                              presentations. Bill Janzen chaired the     Amish and Mennonites who came from
3                           Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                    October 2001

Switzerland.      The first came even              Despite good soil and crops, the       Abram gave him a tithe of all the booty.
before those who founded Germantown           Mennonites gradually left this area.        That is as much as Genesis tells us about
in 1683. The Quakers and Mennonites           The principal disadvantage at that time     either Melchizedek or Salem.
believed in separation of Church and          was the long distance to rail lines and          There is only one other reference to
State as well as in non-resistance.           market access. Both CPR and CNR             Salem in the Old Testament, but there
     Their opposition to slavery brought      chose to build their lines too far west     are cross references to Jerusalem and
further persecution in the new homeland       and east for horse-drawn deliveries.        some commentators suggest that Salem
so that some migrated to Ontario about             The Widemans and others moved          was a name later changed to Jerusalem.
100 years later, travelling in the famous     to Tofield and became part of the                Thus, in the 76th Psalm it says: “In
Conestoga wagons.                             Salem community.        Others drifted      Judah God is known, his name is great
     Mennonite homes were also known          elsewhere, so that by 1920 the              in Israel; his tent is pitched in Salem, in
as stopovers for the slaves escaping          Mennonite church was no longer in           Zion his battle quarters are set up. He
northward along the Underground               existence.                                  has broken the flashing arrows, shield
Railroad. As the land in Pennsylvania              William Wideman loved Sunday           and sword and weapons of war.”
became overpopulated the people               School and still does, witness the fact          There are two references to Salem
migrated westward, through Iowa and           that he still teaches.                      and nine to Melchizedek in the New
other states, some coming to Canada.                                                      Testament – all in the book of Hebrews.
     Today Lancaster County is famous                                                     There the writer tries to explain the
for its Amish/Mennonite ambiance – the                                                    significance or meaning of the Old
horse and buggy, the quilts the markets,      From Salem to Holyrood                      Testament story.        He says, “About
the food like shoofly pie - all of which      by Ted Regehr                               Melchizidek we have much to say, much
serves a lucrative tourist trade.                                                         that is difficult to explain, now that you
                                              The following talk gives introduction to    have grown so dull of hearing. For
                                              Ted’s forthcoming book “Witness in the      indeed, though by this time you ought to
                                              Northwest”…A Centennial History of          be teachers, you need someone to teach
Mennonites in Mayton,                         the Northwest Conference.                   you the ABC of God’s oracles.” The
                                                                                          writer goes on to say; “This
William Wideman reminisces at                 S    alem was the name chosen by
                                                   members of a group of Amish
                                                                                          Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of
                                                                                          God Most High, met Abraham returning
age 90                                        Mennonite migrants from Nebraska            from the rout of kings and blessed him
by Irene Klassen                              when     they     organized      a    new   and Abraham gave him a tithe of

T   he first Mennonite settler in Mayton
    was Henry Wideman.
homesteaded there in 1901. Others
                                              congregation near Tofield, Alberta in
                                              1910. Salem is a biblical name. It is
                                              first mentioned in the fourteenth
                                                                                          everything as his portion. His name, in
                                                                                          the first place, means ‘king of
                                                                                          righteousness’; next he is king of Salem,
joined them and a congregation was            chapter of Genesis.         That chapter    that is, ‘king of peace.’ He has no
established. “I don’t know the exact          describes a tribal war, which pitted five   father, no mother, no lineage; his years
number of members, but the Sunday             kings, who today we might call tribal or    have no beginning, his life no end. He
School records show seventy-five              clan chieftains, against four others. The   is like the Son of God; he remains a
children at its peak,” said Wideman. He       four kings won and captured, among          priest for all time. Consider now how
had the records to prove it.                  other places, the cities of Sodom and       great he must be for Abraham the
                                              Gomorrah.       The patriarch Abram’s       patriarch to give him a tithe of the
                                              nephew, Lot and his family lived in         spoil.” The writer then argues that Jesus
                                              Sodom at the time and were captured.        was a high priest in the succession of
                                              Abram then organized his own rescue         Melchizekek. He does this to refute
                                              party consisting of 318 men, surprised      charges by the religious authorities of
                                              and beat the four victorious kings. He      the day, who claimed that Jesus was not
                                              brought back all the flocks and herds,      a legitimate high priest because he was
                                              and also his kinsman Lot with his           not a descendant of Aaron or of the
                                              flocks and herds, together with the         priestly tribe of Levi. Jesus was a
                                              women and other captives.           When    descendant of Judah, and Moses,
                                              Abram returned he was met and               according to the critics makes no
                                              honoured by several kings, including        reference to Judah when speaking of
                                              Melchizedek, the king of Salem.             priests. But, according to the writer of
                                              According to the biblical account,          Hebrews, Jesus’ legitimacy as a high
                                              Melchizedek was a Priest of God Most        priest    of     God      comes    through
                                              High. He blessed Abram, and in return
4                            Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                   October 2001

Melchizedek, rather than through Aaron         in the sixteenth century. It too was        organized a fellowship and then a
or Levi.                                       sacked several times by English             congregation.
     Some quite fanciful theology has          invaders who, in the fashion of Old              In the Old Testament story,
been fashioned around this story. In           Testament Israelite warriors, thought it    Abraham and his household stayed away
fact, I have a nephew who wrote his            their sacred duty to kill every man,        from the city; his nephew Lot however
doctoral dissertation in theology on the       woman and child they found after            went to live in Sodom. Abraham was
subject.     But, it was probably not          breaching the walls of the fortified city   blessed by God, but Lot got into a lot of
complicated theology that prompted the         of Edinburgh. Then, according to one        trouble in Sodom and was only rescued
Mennonite pioneers near Tofield to             source, they made a “jolly big fire” of     through       Abraham’s      intervention.
name their congregation the Salem              the palace. But the Scots are a resilient   Edmonton never had quite as bad a
Amish Mennonite church. Rather it              people. They rebuilt the palace and it      reputation as Sodom except perhaps in
was almost certainly the simple fact that      served for a time as the principal          the minds of some Calgary football and
Melchizedek, the king of Salem, is             residence of Mary Stuart, better known      hockey enthusiasts and a few Tory
called the king of peace. That made the        as Mary, Queen of the Scots. It was in      politicians in the days when Edmonton
name Salem appealing. Or, perhaps, the         Holyrood Palace where Mary’s lover,         voters elected members of the New
pioneers near Tofield adopted the name         Lord Darnley, was murdered. Later,          Democratic party.        But Mennonite
simply because it was already familiar         when Mary was found guilty of treason       bishops and ministers did think the city
to them. In the United States there are        against her rival, Elizabeth I and was      was a wicked and dangerous place, and
at least thirty cities, towns and villages,    beheaded, an artist painted a large         worried when some of their members
as well as a creek, a fork, plateau, a         picture of her body-less head lying on a    left their rural Salems and moved there.
pond, a river and numerous churches,           platter. That painting hangs, or at least   People in the cities, they feared, had
which are all named Salem.                     hung when we were there, on one of the      different, more worldly and perhaps
     The Amish Mennonite pioneers at           walls of the royal chambers in the          more militaristic lifestyles, values and
Tofield decided in 1915, because of            palace. Still later, when Mary’s heir,      ideals.
their geographic separation from other         Bonnie Prince Charles, sailed from
Amish congregations and conferences,           France in an attempt to regain the
to join what was then the Alberta-             crown, he stayed, danced and had a
Saskatchewan Mennonite Conference.             merry time at the palace just before the
                                                                                           Salem Hosts Russian
They were farmers who wanted to build          disastrous Battle at Culloden which         Immigrants
the Kingdom of God in a quiet rural and        ended in decisive defeat, and the           by Margaret (Heidebrecht) Boese
agricultural environment, and to
separate themselves as much as possible
from the evils of the outside world.
                                               prince’s hasty retreat back to France.
                                                    Holyrood is thus closely associated
                                               with many of the most violent, bloody,
                                                                                           O    ctober 1925 the Tofield Mennonites
                                                                                                had a significant influx of German-
                                                                                           speaking Mennonites from Russia. This
Most thought cities, and the values and        wicked and murderous events of              is the story of one such family as
ideals of urban life, were not conducive       Scottish history. It stands at the lower    recalled by Margaret.
to the healthy Christian living. Yet,          end of Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile,            My parents, John and Katharine
beginning in the 1940’s some members           opposite Edinburgh Castle at the upper      Heidebrecht with four children came
of the Salem congregation moved from           end of that famous street. The castle       from Russia, arriving in Tofield on
Tofield to Edmonton, either for a few          was for centuries the most important        October 19, 1925. I was 2 1/2 months
years of study or training or in response      military fortification in Scotland and is   old with 3 brothers, David, John and
to employment, business or professional        today a great tourist attraction where      Henry. We came by CPR and the Salem
opportunities. Then, in 1950, they             Scotland’s bloody, often treacherous        Mennonites met and hosted us. Our
established first a small house church         and confusing military history is           family stayed with the Joseph Kauffman
called the Edmonton Mennonite                  celebrated, romanticized and glorified.     family for a week whereupon the three
Fellowship, and then in 1956-57 they                The urban Mennonite pioneers           boys came down with the chicken pox.
built a church in the Holyrood district of     who built the Holyrood Mennonite                 This church provided us with food,
the city. Later the congregation adopted       Church probably knew less about the         clothing and what ever we needed. We
the name Holyrood Mennonite Church.            history of Holyrood Abbey and palace        lived near Dodds that first winter where
     Holyrood is the name of an Abbey          than they did about Melchizedek, the        our father worked for Joseph Voegtlin.
near Edinburgh Castle built in the             king of Salem. But before 1950 quite a      He cut brush and whatever other work
twelfth century. It was sacked several         few members of the rural congregation       was available.
times by invading English armies, and          of the Alberta Saskatchewan Mennonite            We moved in 1927 to Kingman
finally destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s         Conference – now the Northwest              where father worked for Milo Stutzman.
soldiers. The ruins are still a major          Mennonite Conference – had grave            That year our parents joined the Salem
tourist attraction. Next to the Abbey,         misgivings when some of their               church, and my sister Wilma was born.
King James I built a royal palace early        members moved to the city and
5                           Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                    October 2001

     My mother had been trained as a               I discovered in my research that        slipped into the ludicrous. One fall it
seamstress in Russia. She brought her         Jack had been a part of our community        took him with his one speed bicycle on a
sewing machine, which had no treadle,         and associated with the Salem                journey over dirt and gravel roads from
from Russia. We children turned it by         Mennonite Church years before I was          Tofield to High River to serve as a
hand while she sewed and told us              even born. In fact, his story can be         harvest hand on the Howard Stauffer
stories. She was a great storyteller and      traced back even further to his days as a    farm.
kept us well dressed.                         boy with no known relatives who                   In his early years in the community
     Other      “Russian”    Mennonite        somehow found himself on the streets         Jack struggled with the problem of
families were Gerhard Heidebrechts, C.        of London, England in the period             excessive drinking. After he had hauled
Boschmans, and others whose names I           following World War I. Jack was              a load of grain to the Round Hill
forget. These families held German            probably born in 1903 or 1904 – he did       elevator for Uncle Dan Schwartz-
worship services on Sunday afternoons.        not know the exact date. He was one of       endruber, he stopped at the bar for a
They were so grateful to be in a land         the orphan boys (so-called home              drink. Perhaps he was enticed by
where they were not persecuted.               children) shipped to Canada by the           drinking buddies.        Apparently that
     In 1927 my parents and seven other       British Government, ostensibly to give       happened to him sometimes, but usually
Russian Mennonite families bought the         them opportunities to make something         at the Ryley bar. Not surprisingly, he
Trent Ranch north of Tofield. We              of themselves. The fact that Jack was        overindulged      and     became     very
moved there on January 1, 1928. The           Irish may have eased some official’s         inebriated. With today’s technology he
1929 depression made it impossible for        conscience.                                  would have been a hazard on the road.
us to make payments, so our                        Jack began life in Canada in his        But he and the wagon were returned
dependence on jobs continued. Ten             early or mid-teens in a foster home in       home with ease and in perfect safely by
years later, in 1939 we homesteaded           Ontario. His first connection with           Uncle Dan’s team of trusty Belgians.
land southwest of Tofield, in the             Mennonites occurred after he had taken            There was no doubt in the Salem
Spilstead area.                               a job in Morris, Manitoba at about the       congregation      at   the    time    that
     All through those years we kept in       age of 16. It was there that a friendship    drunkenness was a sin. Jack shared that
contact with the Salem Mennonite              was made that would bring him to             conviction and when he was enticed by
church. They did so much for us. We           Dodds, Alberta, about a dozen miles          others or his own needs and desires into
are very grateful to them.                    southeast of Tofield, and to the Salem       excessive drinking he would “make it
                                              congregation where he later would            right” with the congregation and his
                                              become a member. Both he and John            God. Unfortunately, he did not find in
                                              Zook, who subsequently married my            his confessions enduring protection from
Unfettered Friendship                         aunt, Mary Lauber, from Dodds,               this problem, which would dog him for a
                                              worked for John’s brother, Aaron Zook        number of years. God’s’ universal gift
The Story of Jack Thompson                    in Morris. The Zooks were a part of a        of healing, father time, would however,
by Murray Lauber                              small community of Mennonite Church          help him to overcome this weakness.
J  ack Thompson entered the life of our
   family in a significant way when I
was nine or ten years old (others in the
                                              people. After about a year in the
                                              Morris community John returned to the
                                                                                                When I came to know Jack I sensed
                                                                                           no evidence of a drinking problem.
                                              Dodds area in 1921. It was through           Apparently he had overcome it. Perhaps
community referred to him more                John’s friendship that Jack found his        my most vivid memories of Jack grow
formally as John, but we knew him only        way to the Dodds area too, either with       out of the care that he gave to the
as Jack). He visited our house often in       John or shortly thereafter.                  seedlings in the grove-to-be, which
the early 1950’s in his Model T Ford.              Jack’s nickname was apt.           It   surrounded the Salem Church. This
At the time he seemed to me to be in his      became apparent quickly that he was a        would have been in the early 1950’s.
forties. He was a short, wiry man with        “jack of all trades”. During his years in    He was still doing some freelancing but
dark hair and thick glasses and a quick       the community he took on many jobs,          only as a supplement to his steady job as
wit that at first belied but then fit his     mostly     shorter    term,     including    the janitor and caretaker of the grounds
physical appearance.                          carpentry and all sorts of farmhand          at the Salem church. There is some
     There was a mystery to Jack’s            work. Among his carpentry projects,          question whether the care of the
story. How had he come to know ours’          he constructed a number of buildings         seedlings that had been planted recently
and other families and to associate with      for persons from the church and              around the churchyard was included in
the Salem Mennonite Church? He was            community including a barn for Joe           his responsibilities.     Regardless, he
not of Mennonite background. Indeed,          Lehman south of Ryley and a house in         nurtured those trees devotedly and I took
in that respect, he seemed to be a bit of     Smith, Alberta for Paul and Doris            it for granted that he was their natural
an alien who had been accepted into our       Burkholder when they first moved to          guardian. As I look back, it seems to me
midst. How had he come to share in            that community.        Jack’s resource-      that Jack must have shared a passion
our lives?                                    fullness in pursuing work sometimes
6                            Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                             October 2001

that has added meaning to my life – the        that he took his own life. He had                    was almost as if his final act was
love of trees.                                 hanged himself. Why had he done it?                  sufficient to nullify his whole life – all
     At that time Jack lived alone in a        Had he lost his sense of place in the                the good that he had done and all his
modest house towed from the                    community and the affection that we                  generosity and kindness. Surely that
Blackburn homestead into Dodds, a              had for him? Were we derelict in                     silence ought to give way to the freedom
hamlet near the then very productive           failing to express more openly our love              to acclaim him with joy. Why not honor
Black Nugget Coal mine. He had                 for and appreciation of him? A day or                his memory as one who brought his own
graduated from his one speed bicycle to        two before his death Jack had spent                  special gift of love and friendship to our
a Model T. We would hear him putt-             most of the day visiting with my                     community but then chose to leave this
putting down the lane to join us for a         brother Leo in the Dodds grain                       life for reasons we do not understand?
meal or to borrow our horse Sal, our           elevators, where Leo was an assistant to                   The Christian Church since its
potato cultivator, and my big brother          Uncle Norman. On Jack’s invitation                   inception has had a strong faith in the
Leo. These he would use to cultivate           they had shared noon lunch at his                    communion of saints. Those who die
the Salem grove-to-be, which was               house. Jack loved visiting but this all-             are present with us in their spirits. They
located just one mile north of our farm.       day visit struck Leo as unusual. Was                 are part of the cloud of witnesses
Leo would ride Sal, and Jack would             this part of his preparation for death?              referred to by the writer of the book of
steer the cultivator. Often, at the end of          There was a more troubling                      Hebrews. In that faith I offer my thanks
a strenuous day, Jack would join our           question raised by a note left by Jack.              to God and to the spirit of Jack
family for supper. He was fond of              Bishop J.B. Stauffer (or JB, as the                  Thompson for the unfettered friendship
apple dumplings, especially of mom’s           bishop was commonly called) had                      that Jack gave to our family and to all in
version. Our relationship with Jack was        visited Jack before his death and had                the Salem community. In that faith I
an easy one relaxed and enjoyable and          officiated at his funeral.        It was,            offer my thanks to Jack for the grove
punctuated with wit and humor. I do            however, not until about a year later                that still surrounds and protects the
not recall him ever burdening us with          that JB discovered the note that had                 Salem Mennonite Church and that
judgments of us or of our standards of         been slipped undetected into his suit-               serves as a living legacy of Jack
behaviour.      He helped to make it           coat pocket. The message on the note                 Thompson.
possible to believe that Jesus’                was the passage from Romans where
commandment “judge not that you be             the Apostle Paul laments his tendency                Acknowledgements:
not judged” can be lived.                      both to do what he would not want to                      I would like to thank the following
     North of the Salem churchyard was         do and not to do what he would want to               for sharing their memories and recorded
donated plot of about one acre, where          do.1 Was the note a call for help that               details of Jack Thompson’s life with me:
the youth planted potatoes to raise            the Bishop had missed? J. B., a very                 Donald Kauffman, Leo Lauber, Harry
money for their activities and for             sensitive person, was visibly shaken by              Stauffer, Merlin Stauffer, Joseph
special relief projects. If the potatoes       that question when he informed the                   Voegtlin, Kenneth Zook. Without them
were in need of weeding Jack would use         congregation of his discovery.                       I could not have written the story.
our horse-drawn cultivator on them as               A still more disturbing question
well. In turn, he recruited the youth to       plagued many of Jack’s friends. How
assist him in hoeing the weeds that had        could he have resorted to the damning
been left in the rows when he cultivated       act of suicide? There was at least one
the trees.                                     explanation to soften the implications
                                                                                                    New MHSA Book
     Some years earlier Jack had been          of the question. Not long before his                 Harder, Anne. (2001). The Vauxhall
instrumental in establishing and               death, while working on the Blue Sky                 Mennonite Church.         Avail MHSA
operating the library in the Salem             church building, Jack had had a serious              ($8.00+$2 S/H). Order from Mrs. Irene
congregation.      It appears that he          fall from the upper floor to the                     Klassen, Secretary, MHSA, 151
selected a number of the books that            basement. Some, including his doctor,                MacEwan Ridge Villa NW, Calgary,
became a part of the early collection.         believed that an injury to his head had              AB T3K 4G3 Phone 403 275 9550
The library quickly became a primary           made him suicidal.                                        The mandate of the Mennonite
source of reading material for the youth            Perhaps no explanation is needed.               Historical Society of Alberta is in part to
and for others in the congregation.            Perhaps the greatest tragedy lies in the             acquire and preserve the history of the
     Jack’s death left the community           question itself. Not much was said                   Alberta Mennonite churches.           The
with some unanswerable questions. On           about Jack for years after his death. It             churches embody the life of its
a fall day in 1956, Uncle Norman                                                                    members, as well as their beliefs and
Wideman, the elevator agent in Dodds,                                                               commitments to God and to each other.
found Jack dead in his house. He was
                                                 According to one recollection the note, or
                                                                                                         The history of our churches no
52 or 53 years of age. The tragedy of          perhaps a different note found earlier at the time   matter where located should be of
Jack’s death was accentuated by the fact       of Jack’s death, contained the clause “Into the      interest to all of us. Writing these
                                               hands of a just God.”
7                           Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                     October 2001

accounts pays tribute to those who went             This beautifully bound hardcover             Stunning in its vision and historical
before us, many in difficult pioneering       book is subtitled Background and First        sweep, tender and humane, this
years in a young developing province.         Hundred Years of the Sommerfelder             sensational novel from the twice-winner
    The Vauxhall Mennonite church             Mennonite Church, this represents the         of the Governor General’s Award is at
was one of these. (It closed its doors in     first    dedicated     work   to    the       once an enthralling saga of the
October 2000.)                                Sommerfelder Church. Access to                Mennonite people, and a story about
                                              administrative, historical and archival       family love and what holds us together.
    Another book by the MHSA in this          records has been difficult for                     The story of the Mennonite people
vein is the Namaka book, written by           researchers so this work is of                has never before been treated in a
Henry Goerzen, also available through         significant value. Chapters include:          contemporary novel: it takes us from the
Irene Klassen, for $8.00.                     West Lynne Bergthal Congregation, 6           Netherlands in the 16th century to 19th-
                                              chapters devoted to early Bishops,            century Russia, from Samarkand to the
The Mennonite Historian’s                     Ministerial Organization, Churches,           horrors of World War II, to Paraguay
                                              Divisions and Departures from the             and Chile and back to Canada. At the
Bookshelf                                     Congregation, and over a hundred              heart of the novel is Adam Wiebe, born
T    his fall has held an embarrassment
     of riches when it comes to new
resources for the Mennonite historian.
                                              pages of baptismal, church and other
                                              church data of significant interest to
                                                                                            into an Alberta homestead in 1935; a
                                                                                            boy through the war, he watches training
                                              family historians.                            fighter planes fly over his one-room
There are some really great new titles                                                      schoolhouse; as a man he falls in love
listed below. The MHSA would be               Birdsell, Sandra.         (2001).      The    and raises a family. But when he begins
pleased if any member would like to           Russlander. Avail most bookstores             to have affairs his marriage collapses,
purchase a copy of any of these books         ($35+GST list)                                and, faced with the disappearance of his
to place in our library.      We also              This book was nominated for              daughter, he turns to his own history,
welcome reviews of these new books.           Canada’s Giller Prize; the publisher          becoming obsessed with his ancestral
Submit such reviews to Editor, Dick           describes the book as follows.                past.
Neufeld.                                           Set in the early part of the 20th             That history comes brilliantly alive,
                                              century,      within     a      Mennonite     as the saga of the Mennonites weaves in
Adolf Ens, Jacob E. Peters & Otto             community in Russia, The Russlander           and out of Adam’s own life story,
Hamm. (2001). Church, Family and              is a rich tapestry of lives, relationships,   embracing the story of the Wiebe family
Village: Essays on Mennonite Life on          and politics in a time of growing             over four centuries. We begin amidst the
the West Reserve. 310 pp. Available           political tensions.                           turbulence of the Reformation, with the
from ($20 + s/h)               This was an era when the                 burning at the stake of Adam’s ancestor
     The Research and Scholarship             Mennonite pacifist way of life was            Weynken Wybe, for her heretical views
Committee of the Manitoba Mennonite           overtaken by anarchists and the ensuing       on Communion, and from there follow
Historical Society gathered this              maelstrom of revolution and civil war         the Wiebes through Europe, caught up,
collection of essays. Some appear for         destroyed prosperous towns and                as the peaceful Mennonites were, in the
the first time in English. This book          villages. The world that existed under        major events of each century – from the
contains articles on Russia & West            the protection of the Tsar comes to a         remarkable women who fought for the
Reserve Beginnings (Fuerstenland,             violent end. But above all, this is a         freedom to live and pray as they wished,
Pukhtin, Aeltester Johann Wiebe,              human story, of friendship, betrayal,         to the brilliant engineer Adam Wiebe,
Obervorsteher Isaak Mueller, The Post         love, and loss.                               who invented the cable-car system, the
Road), Sommerfeld Mennonite Church                 Poignant, powerful, and with a           artist Enoch Seeman who, forbidden to
history (nine essays, including ones on       vivid cast of characters, Birdsell's long-    paint by his Mennonite church, found
Mexico), Renewal Movements (Hoff-             awaited new novel evokes the                  acclamation at the royal court in
nungsfeld, Aeltester Johann Funk,             innocence of a world before war while         London; to Adam’s aunt, Elizabeth
Rudnerweider Mennonite Church, and            capturing the underlying sense of             Katerina, who is caught up in the
Manitoba Old Colony Mennonite                 tension as events move closer to the          German Wehrmacht invasion of the
Church),      and     local     histories     climactic moment of change and its            USSR, at a time when rape and pillage
(Neuenburg,        Edenburg          and      riveting        aftermath          eventual   are the reward given to soldiers. But the
Altbergthal).                                 displacement.                                 human spirit is unquenchable, and as
                                                                                            Adam discovers his past, he begins to
Bergen, Peter, compiler. 2001.                Rudy Wiebe. (2001). Sweeter Than              understand what he has lost, and
History of the Sommerfeld Mennonite           all the World. Avail most bookstores          searches to reunite his family.
Church.        308 pp.           Avail:       ($35+GST list)                                     Sweeter Than All the World takes its ($42 + s/h).                   The publisher describes the book         title from a hymn, and it reflects the
                                              as follows:                                   beauty of the novel, as well as its
8                             Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                         October 2001

sorrows. It is a story about courage,           physician and an avid Mennonite                  end of the Napoleonic Wars (1796-
about the past and its effects upon us,         genealogist.                                     1815) and those who immigrated to
about religious beliefs and the legacies                                                         Russia later.     He suggests that the
that trail in their wake. Above all, it is a
deeply redemptive novel about family
love and its power.
                                                H     enry Schapansky, who is a well-
                                                      known authority on the history and
                                                genealogy of the early Chortitza
                                                                                                 earliest Mennonite settlers in Russia,
                                                                                                 particularly those who settled in the
                                                                                                 Chortitza Colony, tended to hold to
                                                Colony settlers, has published in this           traditional Mennonite values more
Now back in print: Dyck, John.                  volume a synthesis of his research into          closely than those who migrated to
(1992). Bergthal Gemeinde Buch. 439             this topic over the past several decades.        Russia after 1815. He concludes that
pp. Avail from              His book consists of essentially 2               many Mennonites, particularly those of
($26+s/h).                                      portions: one a historical synopsis              Frisian background, who migrated to
     This key genealogical data source          about the origins and formation of the           Russia after 1815 were more influenced
contains the Gemeinde Buch 1843-1876            Chortitza Colony in Russia and the               by Pietistic teaching and thus held less
with annotations by John Dyck;                  other a summary of available                     tightly to conservative Mennonite
Chortitzer Gemeinde Buch indexes for            genealogical information regarding the           viewpoints.4     His statements about
volumes started in 1878, 1887 and               earliest settlers in the Chortitza Colony.       Pietism and about the early development
1907; Passenger lists 1874-1880 of                   The historical portion of the book,         of the Mennonite Brethren Church
Mennonite immigrants to Manitoba                consisting of 158 pages, is found in the         reveal some personal bias towards
with annotations by Cathy Barkman;              first 11 chapters. The author explores           traditional 18th Century Mennonite
and the 1881 federal census data on             the development of Anabaptism and                theology and church practices. Some
residents in Manitoba Mennonite                 then in more detail discusses the history        readers will feel that his statements
communities.      Only the title is in          of Mennonites in West Prussia in the             regarding the Mennonite Brethren
German - contains thousands of family           context of European history.            He       Church and Reformed theology are
group sheets from the Bergthaler                explains the origins of the various              misleading.
Mennonite (Manitoba) church records             groups of Mennonites who migrated to                  Later chapters in the historical
that were begun in 1843, Bergthal,              West Prussia as well as the                      portion of the book discuss the
Russia. Generally birth, and baptismal          development of the Flemish and Frisian           formative years of the Chortitza Colony.
dates are provided. Often death dates           Mennonite churches in West Prussia.              Interesting information about the
are also recorded. Families are cross-          Chapter 4, which discusses the                   colony’s early civic and church leaders
referenced with older and younger               background        of     each    individual      with brief biographic sketches of the
generations. A household head index is          Mennonite church (Gemeinde) in West              most important of these men is provided
included. Mennonites found on Quebec            Prussia, is particularly enlightening and        in Chapter 8. Chapter 11 includes many
passenger lists for 1874-1880 are cross-        provides excellent summaries about               details about the various daughter
referenced as are those found in the            each church.                                     colonies sponsored by the Chortitza
1881 Census of Canada for Manitoba                   In Chapter 6 Mr. Schapansky                 Colony and about the subsequent
Mennonite municipalities (Hanover,              explores the reasons for the Mennonite           dispersal of Mennonites from the
Rhineland, Stanley).                            migration to Russia in some detail. In           Chortitza Colony throughout Russia.
                                                his view, the primary reason that the                 The genealogical portion of the
Reinlaender Gemeinde Buch.                      early Chortitza Colony settlers migrated         book, consisting of 336 pages, is found
    And, there’s one sad item of note.          there from West Prussia was to                   in Chapters 12 to 25. A chapter is
The well-used Reinlaender Gemeinde              maintain their traditional democratic            devoted to each of the original nine
Buch is now out of print.                       beliefs and culture.2 However, other             villages in the Chortitza Colony
                                                Mennonite historians have emphasized             (Chortitza, Einlage, Insel Chortitza,
                                                the lack of available land for additional        Kronsweide, Neuenburg, Neuendorf,
Book Review:                                    settlement in West Prussia, the                  Rosenthal, Schönhorst, and Schönwiese)
Henry Schapansky. (2001). The Old               attraction of Catherine II’s promise of          as well as those that were founded
Colony (Chortitza) of Russia: Early             freedom from military service in                 between about 1797 and 1812
history and first Settlers in the Context       Russia, and the potential for economic           (Kronsgarten,      Burwalde,      Nieder
of the Mennonite Migrations. 519 pp.            advancement in Russia.3                          Chortitza, Kronsthal, and Osterwick). In
                                                     The author emphasizes the                   each chapter Mr. Schapansky provides
$39.     Avail from Author, 914
                                                differences between the Mennonites               genealogical information about all
Chilliwack Street, New Westminster,
BC V3L 4V5.                                     who immigrated to Russia prior to the            Mennonites known to have settled in
                                                                                                 those villages by 1806. Within each
Reviewed by Tim Janzen, M.D.,                   2                                                chapter the immigrant families are listed
                                                  Henry Schapansky, The Old Colony (Chortitza)
Portland, Oregon, a family practice             of Russia, p. 86.
                                                    Ibid., p. 83                                 4
                                                                                                     Ibid., p. 87, 94.
9                               Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                    October 2001

alphabetically by surname in three                material into his book. The book also        dates for various events unless they
groupings based on whether they                   includes information from major              contact him personally.
immigrated between 1788 and 1795,                 primary sources that have only recently           The following are some additional
between 1796 and 1798, or between                 become available, in particular the 1801     shortcomings that researchers using this
1803 and 1806. Additional notes about             Chortitza Colony Census and the              book should be aware of:
each family are also given as                     Chortitza Colony vital records data for           1. Mr. Schapansky does not clarify
appropriate.                                      the period 1801 to 1807.                     the fact that many of the years of birth
     Two lengthy appendices are                        Much of the genealogical data           that he gives for individuals mentioned
included near the end of the book that            found in his book has previously been        in the genealogical chapters are merely
provide a detailed discussion of the              published in Mr. Schapansky’s articles       approximations. These estimated years
currently available West Prussian                 about the early Chortitza Colony             of birth are derived from ages given for
Mennonite church records as well as               settlers that have appeared over the past    individuals in the various Chortitza
early immigration and census records              10 years in Mennonite Family History.        Colony censuses or in other similar
available relative to the Mennonite               However, the book also includes much         sources where people’s ages were listed
colonies in Russia. Mr. Schapansky                new information that he has obtained         at a specific point in time. Some
emphasizes the information published              more recently which was not published        researchers will be misled into believing
by Benjamin H. Unruh and Dr. Karl                 in those articles.                           that an individual was truly born in the
Stumpp.        It would have been                      While Mr. Schapansky’s book has         year given for that person in the book
appropriate for him to have also                  many positive qualities, it also has a       when in fact that individual may have
discussed other major sources, in                 number of shortcomings. The most             been born a year or more before or after
particular the 1797, 1801, and 1806               serious of these is the fact that the book   that year. It would have been better if
Chortitza Colony Censuses, in the                 does not include an index. This will be      he had placed “about” or “circa” before
appendix on Russian sources.                      a major handicap to researchers using        years of birth which are simply
     Mr. Schapansky is to be highly               this book. Researchers will need to          approximations.
commended for his diligent efforts to             know which village a family lived in if           2. For the heads of families listed
synthesize the data found in the                  they hope to readily locate that family      in the book he mentions which ones
available West Prussian Mennonite                 in the book. Since the families of each      were listed in the currently available
church records and in the 1776 West               village are subdivided into three            portions of the 1795, 1802, 1806, 1808,
Prussian Census with the information              groupings based on when they migrated        and 1814 Chortitza Colony Censuses,
available about the early Chortitza               to Russia researchers must also be           but he doesn't mention which ones were
Colony settlers. He gives data from the           careful to review each of the three          listed in the 1797 or the 1801 Chortitza
church records and from the 1776                  groupings in each chapter when               Colony Censuses or those who had
Census where this is available. Several           attempting to locate families of interest    children listed in the 1809 and 1814
major sources that he should have                 to them.                                     Chortitza Vaccination Lists.
utilized in his research but neglected to              Another major shortcoming is the             3. He uses a date format that is
use are the West Prussian Land Register           fact that the book does not include          potentially confusing to researchers. He
of 1772-1773 and the 1789 Land                    footnotes to the sources for any of the      chose to give dates in the following
Census of West Prussian Mennonites.56             genealogical data and includes very few      format: 12.8.1796. This format is
He also has not included data from the            footnotes in the historical chapters. If     generally not used in modern historical
West Prussian Catholic and Lutheran               the author had provided an index and         and genealogical publications because
church records, some of which contain             had also heavily footnoted the               readers may accidentally confuse the
significant amounts of genealogical data          genealogical material, his book would        months with the days of the month.
regarding Mennonites.                             have been much more user friendly                 4. He does not provide locations for
     For the most part, the author has            than it currently is. Providing footnotes    any of the births, baptisms, marriages, or
carefully studied the major genealogical          would have given researchers the             deaths mentioned in the book even
sources relative to the Chortitza Colony,         opportunity to more readily locate           though he had knowledge about where
particularly the information published            original sources for specific data found     some of these events occurred.
by B. H. Unruh, and has integrated that           in his book if they so desired. To his            5. He did not review some readily
                                                  credit, he does include a long list of       available sources, in particular the
                                                  references at the end of the book            Grandma 3 database, that contain
  West Prussian Land Register 1772/3, compiled    however. Researchers familiar with the       additional genealogical data that he
by Rueben R. Drefs, published by the Odessa
Digital Library, 21 June 1999, online
                                                  majority of his references will be able      could have integrated into his book.
<>.   to determine the sources for some of              6.     The genealogical data as
  The 1789 Land Census/General-Nachweisung of     the material in his book, but they           published in the book does contain at
West Prussian Mennonites, compiled by Adalbert    certainly will have significant difficulty   least some errors and is not always
Goertz, online
                                                  tracking down sources for specific           consistent internally. For instance, in
10                             Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                  October 2001

the chapter on Kronsweide he lists                        Rempel (6 Jan 1845 - Apr
Anna Fröse as the possible wife of                        1928).
Kornelius Banmann (b. ca 1781) and               V. Jakob R. Friesen (19 Sep 1875,
gives her year of birth as 1774 whereas                   Muntau, Mol., RU - ca. 1955)
in the chapter on Kronsthal he lists her                  m. Maria B. Harms (15 Sep
unequivocally as Kornelius Banmann’s                      1875, Rosenhof, MB - Oct
wife and gives her year of birth as                       1961, McTavish, MB ).
1775.7                                           VI. Jacob H. Friesen (11 Mar 1894,
     7. There are many spelling and                       McTavish, MB - 5 Oct 1973,
grammatical errors found throughout                       Rosenort, MB), m. Margaret
the book that could have been                             Loewen (19 Oct 1894,
eliminated through more careful editing.                  Rosenhof, MB - 13 Mar
     In spite of its shortcomings, The                    1983).                  
Old Colony (Chortitza) of Russia is a            VII. Peter J. L. Friesen (living) m.            On November 3, Judith Rempel
welcome addition to the published                         Evelyn D. Cornelsen (living).     launched the Mennonite Genealogical
literature about the early Chortitza             VIII.    Harold James Friesen m.           Data Index. The Index is meant to be a
Colony settlers and will be a valuable                    Sandra Marie Fehr.                tool for the serious Mennonite
reference for Mennonite historians and                                                      genealogist. It contains links to 970
genealogists alike. I am sure that many                                Harold Friesen       online and paper data sources organized
will enjoy reading and digesting the                         <>        according to geography and record type.
information found within it. Individuals
interested in purchasing a copy of this          KORNELSEN
book may write to Mr. Schapansky at              I. Johann Kornelsen (ca. 1746 –
914 Chilliwack St., New Westminster,                      1828) m. ? Barkman.
BC V3L 4V5.                                      II. Abraham B. Kornelsen (12 Nov           Alberta Profile: Rudy &
                                                          1769 – 15 Mar 1831) m.            Elsbeth Janssen
                                                          Agatha Schellenberg (2 Jan        by Irene Klassen

MHSA Members’
                                                          1778, Tiegenhof, PR - 19 Sep
                                                          1858, Lichtenau, Mol., RU).
                                                 III. Abraham S. Kornelsen (9 Mar
                                                                                            R    udy Janssen has been involved in
                                                                                                 many church-related activities. He
                                                                                            designed and built a number of
Ancestry Corner                                           1806, Lichtenau, Mol., Russia     churches, the first of which was First

T   his Ancestry corner will be
    dedicated to one or two direct
ancestor lines of MHSA members have
                                                          - 5 Feb 1880, Gnadenau, KS)
                                                          m. Helena Eidse (9 Apr 1806,
                                                          Fischau, Mol., RU).
                                                                                            Mennonite in 1958. He spent a year in
                                                                                            Winnipeg building Canadian Mennonite
                                                                                            Bible College. He designed and
supplied pedigree charts. It follows a           IV. Cornelius E. Cornelsen (8 Dec          researched, consulted and confronted the
format initiated by the Journal of                        1835, Konteniusfeld, Mol.,        political powers whenever necessary.
Mennonite Family History.           Sub-                  RU - 6 Apr 1910 m. Katherina      He has always been generous with time
missions may be sent to the Editor.                       Dueck (22 Jun 1839 - ?).          and money, pushing toward completion
                                                 V. Cornelius Cornelsen (26 Sep 1864,       of a project, sometimes, perhaps, even at
FRIESEN                                                   RU – 17 Oct 1908, SK), m.         the sacrifice of the family's comfort.
I. Jakob Friesen (ca. 1734 – 1776) m.                     Anna Harms (8 Dec 1862,                In 1952, Rudy with his wife Elsbeth
         ?.                                               Alexanderkrone, Mol., RU - 4      (Bartel) and two children came to
II. Johann Friesen (Nov 1763,                             Aug 1935).                        Canada       from       East     Germany.
         Rosenort, Mol., RU - ca. 1830           VI.      Isaac H. Cornelsen (7 Jan         Economically, Europe was recovering
         Rosenort, Mol., RU) m.                           1904, Rosenort, MB – 4 Aug        after World War H, and the extended
         Margaretha.                                      1969, Rosenort, MB) m.            Janssen and Bartel families were fairly
III. Jakob F. Friesen (10 Sep 1820 – 26                   Justina F. Dueck (27 Apr          well established, but the political
         Apr 1888), m. Margaretha                         1905, Rosenort, MB).              situation was threatening to disrupt
         Toews (23 Sep 1819 - 22 Oct             VII.     Evelyn D. Cornelsen (living)      religious freedom. In February 1952,
         1860).                                           m. Peter J.L. Friesen (living).   over a period of several nights, members
IV. Jakob T Friesen (10 Nov 1845 – 11            VIII.    Harold James Friesen (living)     of the family, in groups of two's and
         Oct 1903) m. Elizabeth                           m. Sandra Marie Fehr (living).    three's, slipped across the border into
                                                                                            West Germany.            From there the
                                                                       Harold Friesen       challenge of carving out a new future
                                                             <>        lured almost the entire extended family
 Henry Schapansky, The Old Colony (Chortitza)
of Russia, p. 241, 471.                                                                     to Canada.
11                           Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                   October 2001

    Rudy smiles as he remembers that he           After many years of teaching             it was very nice and calm but after
brought with him a large saw with              Sunday School Rudy was elected as a         a little a great storm overcame us we
which to clear the land in this vast           ministerial candidate and in 1988 was       were all on deck for the boat had no
Canadian wilderness. His concept of            ordained to the ministry, preaching         cabin, and the Storm got so severe that
pioneering in Canada was changed               almost exclusively in German, his           Men could not stand on his feet
rather dramatically as the train carried       mother tongue. Preparing sermons was        without holding on something. Everyone
him and his family across the western          more difficult than teaching Sunday         thought we were lost but everyone on
plains, where scarcely a tree was in           School, but he took up the challenge.       the ship prayed very hard to God and
sight. It was the hoe in the beet fields       However, during this time, there were       promised to be true to him forever. and
of Coaldale that was his first tool. And       church related conflicts, and the           God was mercifull and saved us all, so
as with so many of his contemporaries,         congregation was in turmoil. Rudy           we arrived in Odessa where I saw a
challenged by the roads and the great          resigned in 1996.                           train first time of my life. Then we took
distances between points and places, his          Rudy has an eye for beauty and has       the train to Hamburg Germanie. from
first ambition was to own a car.               recently designed a sign for the church,    Hamburg we sailed on the North Sea to
    Since beet work was seasonal and           which is attractive, and states who we      London, Eng then by train to Liverpool
their two year requirement was soon up,        are and what we believe. He has also        then on the Atlantic Ocean to Quebeck
the Janssens, as well as most of their         created     beautiful    clocks     from    then to Toronto then on the Superior
extended family      moved to Calgary.         interesting rocks he has collected in his   Lake to Duluth then in some part of the
They found employment in the                   travels.                                    U.S.A. to Fargo then we sailed on the
construction business and built their             Although Rudy has basically retired      Red River to West Leen Canada that
own homes.                                     from active church participation, and       was the destination. then a few of our
    The Janssens became active in the          has enjoyed more freedom, he and            uncles met us on the arrival and took us
Scarboro Mennonite Church, Rudy in             Elsbeth still rarely miss a Sunday in       up to Reinland where Father bought a
Youth work and in the Sunday School            their usual place in church. He and the     little house which was built 4 feet
and on various committees. Elsbeth             family enjoy their motor home and they      deep in the ground but had a waterproof
joined the Women's Group, Verein               spend much time ‘at the lake’, whether      Grass Roof (FN include image here) the
Einigkeit and was its chairman for             Chestermere, (where they have a             second night we were their a furius
several years. She is always the               cabin), Mara, Shuswap or other inviting     Electrick Storm broke loose and
gracious hostess for family and friends.       spots.                                      kept on for 12 hours we surely thought
    When Rudy starts a project he                  Rudy and Elsbeth have six children,     the World came to an end.
becomes totally involved. In the mid-          16 grandchildren and they thrive on
70's it was determined that the                family gatherings.                               Please send typed copies of your
Mennonite older folks required housing,                                                    letters as e-mail attachments to
so he became immersed in the building                                            ,     photocopied
of Merino Gardens and Menno Court.                                                         letters can be sent to: MHSA Letters
He then became maintenance man,                Letters of Immigration                      Project, 76 Skyline Crescent NE,
jack-of-all-trades, the public relations                                                   Calgary, AB T2K 5X7.
person, always at the beck and call of
                                               and Conscientious
the residents.                                 Objection
    When he began building the lodge at
Camp Valaqua, he knew precisely what
the specifications were and pictured and
                                               T    he MHSA would like to open up
                                                    this portion of the MHSA website
                                               to be devoted to first-hand letters and     MHSA Library Holdings
planned a beautiful building that blends       diary accounts of        immigration and    Go Online
into the wilderness setting.
    When funding was made available
for the establishment of a Mennonite
                                               conscientious objection. We welcome
                                               letters from Mennonites around the
                                                                                           T        he MHSA library holdings start
                                                                                                to go online. We have about 500
                                                                                           books documented in our database so
Elementary School in Calgary, it was                We start with one, from an Judith      far. Another 100 or so will follow in the
Rudy who took on the project, saw it to        Rempel, MHSA member whose great             new year.
reality and has vigorously supported it        grandfather's brother wrote about the            Then,    we'll    begin    on    the
ever since. For many years he was              1876 journey from Southern Russia to        documentation       of   our    archives.
general handyman, even designed and            Southern Manitoba. Here’s a paragraph
built some of the props and sets for their     from it (no editing applied):
musical productions. He has seen and
assisted Menno Simons Christian                    Then we sailed on a little boat on
School through its several moves.              the Dniepper River which mines in the
                                               Black Sea. The time we reached the Sea
12                               Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta Newsletter                                October 2001

Description of those items will also be
put online as they are developed.
     The MHSA Library is located at
the MCC (Alberta) building, 76 Skyline
Crescent NE, Calgary, AB.
     Access is during usual business
hours and on the 3rd Sunday of the
month when the Mennonite Genealogy
group is meeting (1:30-4:pm, Sep-Nov
                                                                                      No inscription on reverse.
and Jan-Jun).

Mennonite Genealogy
Special Interest Group
(SIG) Donates Books
T     he Menno SIG, as it is
      affectionately known, has donated
three books to the MHSA library this

Jake Harder & Bill Janzen in Library/Archives

     •    Mennonite Historical Atlas, 2nd
          Edition, by William Schroeder                                               Inscription: Hein. Hein. Dyck, Papelheim,
          & Helmut Huebert (183 pp)                                                   Mama’s Cousin, zweiten grad. (Photo by J.
     •    Mennonite      Migration     to                                             Chalfine, courtesy Helen (Pauls) Friesen
          Russia, 1788-1828, compiled
          by Peter Rempel and edited by
          Alfred H. Redekopp & Richard
          D. Thiessen. (250 pp).
     •    Bergthal Gemeinde Buch                                                      MHSA Publications
          edited by John Dyck (439 pp).                                                    •     Alternative Service for Peace in
                                                                                                 Canada during World War II,
                                                                                                 1941-46 (A.J. Klassen) - $25
                                                                                           •     Namaka (Henry Goerzen) - $8
MHSA Receives Photos                                                                       •     Knowing and Interpreting our
S  everal interesting photographs have
   been received this fall by the MHSA
Archive. We offer reproductions of
                                                                                                 Past: Alberta’s Mennonite
                                                                                                 History (Judith Rempel, ed.) -
several here.                                                                              •     Vauxhall Mennonite Church
   Only two had inscriptions on the                                                              History (Anne Harder) - $8
reverse.    All are courtesy MHSA
Member, Helen (Pauls) Friesen
                                                   No inscription on reverse.
                                                   No inscription

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