In the summer of 1990 a large collection of Mennonite archival material, collected by school teacher Peter Braun and presumed lost after 1929, was discovered, independently, by George K. Epp of Menno Simons College, Winnipeg and Harvey Dyck of the University of Toronto 1. When news of the discovery of these records reached the Manitoba Mennonite community there was considerable interest as to what genealogical information might be found. I think that there was some disappointment when it was learned that, aside from a few tid-bits, the only major acquisition of genealogical importance was a census of the Molotschna Colony from the year 1835. Although this census is of considerable significance to the descendants of the Molotschna Mennonites who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1870's and to North and South America in the 1920's and 1940's, the relevance of this document to those who s ancestors lived in the Chortitza Colony is not so obvious. In this article I would like to point out some interesting, and hitherto unknown, information that I have gleaned from the 1835 census. One of my goals is to show some surprising connections between this census and the Chortitza and Bergthal Colonies. I will further illustrate how Russian records can provide information reaching back to the generation of Prussian Mennonites that preceded the emigration to Russia.
Those who have taken a close look at the census will have noticed the occasional occurrence of the statement nach Chortitz ( or to Chortitz in the English translation). I have been able to identify 57 of these entries. I have also been able to make several connections to existing Chortitza Colony, Bergthal Colony and Manitoba records. First it should be pointed out that these entries do not appear in the original Russian but are added in German. I have found that Chortitz , in this case, means the Chortitza or Bergthal Colonies. For example Peter Dirkova Heinrichs (31 years, ie. born in 1804) of the Molotschna village of Friedensdorf is said to have moved with his family to Chortitza in 1836 but, in fact, can be found in the church records of the Bergthal Colony (Vol.A p.37) 2 .
That same year the families of Peter Johann Funk (b.1799) of Rudnerweide and Jacob Kornelius Stoesz (b.1780) of Halbstadt are recorded as leaving the Molotschna Colony. Both of these Families ended up in the Bergthal Colony. Peter Funk can be found in Vol.A p.102 of the Bergthal Colony Gemeindebuch2. His son Johann (1836- ) later became the Aeltester of the West Reserve Bergthal Church in Manitoba 2,3. Johann Funk was born in Nieder Chortitz in the Chortitza Colony. The census also lists Peter Funk s father, Johann Johann Funk (b.1773) in the same village (Rudnerweide), indicating that there was a grandfather , Johann Funk, who possibly remained in Prussia. Jacob Stoesz and his family can also be found in the Bergthal Colony church records (Vol.A p.90) 2 . Jacob Stoesz is the ancestor of the Stoeszes presently living in North and South America 4 . His son Kornelius (1836- 1900) became a minister of the Bergthal Colony church in 1864. Son David (1842- 1903) became a minister in 1869 and later(1882) became the Aeltester of the Chortitzer church in Manitoba. These two examples also show how the census of 1835 can provide information reaching back to pre-immigration times in Prussia. From the Stoesz entry we know that Jacob Stoesz s father was Kornelius. This is in agreement with the Stoesz Genealogy 4. Kornelius Stoesz (1731 - 1811) remained in Prussia.
In one case it is actually possible to make a connection from the Prussian forefather (who never left Prussia) to the Old Colony (Reinland Kolonie) Church Records in Manitoba with this single document. The family of Abraham Franz Peters (b.1801) is listed as moving from Marienthal to the Chortitza Colony in 1843. His sons Jacob(b.1830) and Abraham(b.1832) are listed on pages 116 and 132 , respectively, of the Manitoba Old Colony church register 5. In a census of 1881, Jacob is found to be living in Blumenort and Abraham in Rosenort 2. The Old Colony church records also give Franz(b.1840) and Heinrich(b.1842) as children of Abraham and Agenetha Peters. These two were born after the 1835 census. Abraham s (b.1801) father Franz Franz Peters (b.1771) can also be found on the same page of the 1835 census. Having been born before 1788, Franz Franz Peters must have come from Prussia, either with his own family or as part of his father Franz Peters family. I can find only one Franz Peters in B.H. Unruh s book 6 and that is Franz Peters who lived in Schoenhorst, in the Chortitza Colony in 1795 and 1802. Although this Franz Peters is of about the right age in the 1795 Revisions- Liste, a closer look 7 shows that he is not the Franz Franz Peters of the 1835 census. This is one of a number of cases where people who have appeared in the 1835 census, and were born well before the move to Russia, can not be found in Unruh s book. Since Franz Franz Peters was born before 1776 one might expect to find his father Franz Peters Sr. in the 1776 Prussian census 8. The name appears three times; in Augustwalde, Neumuensterberg and Rudnerweide. I will leave it up to the interested genealogist to determine which is the right one.
The Molotschna census of 1835 will, no doubt, prove to be a very useful source of genealogical and demographic information. The Molotschna- Chortitza (Bergthal) connection is certainly of interest and definitely warrants a closer look. I would like to end with a preliminary list of the families that are mentioned in the census as having moved to Chortitz .
Family Head Age Village Year of Departure 1. Daniel Wilhelm Unrau 43? Alexanderthal 1824 2. Heinrich Daniel Guether 36? Altonau (to Schoenwiese) 1823 3. Aron Franz Lambert 18 Elisabethtal 1848 4. Johann Kornelius Enns 41 Fischau 1836 5. Jacob Johan Neufeld 41 Franzthal 1843 6. Christian Martin Hamm 50 Friedensdorf 1843 7. Andreas Andreas Pankratz 37 Friedensdorf 1836 8. Johan Jacob Klassen 34 Friedensdorf 1836 10. Peter Johan Friesen 41 Friedensdorf 1836 11. Johan Kornelius Reimer 60 Friedensdorf 1836 12. Peter Derk Heinrichs 31 Friedensdorf 1836 13. Daniel Brandt* 41 Fuerstenau 1836 14. Dirk Klassen 21 Fuerstenwerder 1836 15. Abraham Peter Unger 44 Fuerstenwerder 1843 16. Cornelius Peter Kroeker 48 Gnadenthal 1843 17. Jacob Kornelius Stoesz 55 Halbstadt 1836 18. Heinrich Isaak Fast 34 Halbstadt 1836 19. Johann Johann Defehr 37 Halbstadt 1832 20. Jacob Johann Dyck 28 Konteniusfeld 1836 21. Klas Klas Kroeker 48 Ladekopp 1836 22. Jakob Johann Sawatsky 30 Ladekopp 1836 23. Franz Johann Sawatsky 27 Ladekopp 1836 24. Peter Peter Klassen 29 Ladekopp 1836 25. Isaak Peter Klassen 28 Ladekopp 1836 26. Abraham Peter Klassen 25 Ladekopp 1843 27. Jacob Micheal Loewen 58 Lichtenau 1836 28. Johan Johan Reimer 22 Lichtenau 1836 29. Jacob Peter Braun 37 Lindenau 1843 30. Jacob Jacob Kroeker 33 (in 1816) Lindenau 1823 31. Jacob Johann Wiebe 22 Lindenau 1836 32. Johan Johan Groening 27 Marienthal 1836 33. Abraham Franz Peters 34 Marienthal 1843 34. Franz Franz Peters 32 Marienthal 1836 35. Peter Johan Sawatsky 47 Marienthal 1836 36. Dirk Abraham Reimer 22 Muensterberg 1836 37. Johan Jakob Bergen 32 (in 1816) Muensterberg 1822 38. Dirk Dirk Bolt 40 Muntau 1843 39. Kornelius Peters 29 (in 1816) Muntau 1823 40. Jacob Jacob Harder 22 Neukirch 1843 41. Jacob Jacob Letkeman 48 Neukirch 1836 42. Reinhard Andreas Huebert 26 Prangenau 1836 43. Jacob Johann Thiessen 50 Rueckenau ???? 44. Daniel Daniel Peters 40 Rueckenau 1850 45. Peter Johan Funk 36 Rudnerweide ???? 46. Heinrich Peter Letkeman 58 Schoensee 1836 47. Abraham Johann Regier 35 (in 1816) Schoensee 1823 48. Abraham Jacob Friesen** -- Sparrau 1836 49. Franz Heinrich Voth(?) 29 Sparrau 1836 50. Wilhelm Wilhelm Rempel 44 Sparrau ???? 51. Martin Martin Wiebe 41 Sparrau 1836 52. Jacob Johann Toews 17 (in 1816) Tiege 1822 53. Wilhelm Wilhelm Penner 27 (in 1816) Tiege 1823 54. Jacob Klas Heide 20 (in 1816) Tiegenhagen 1823? 55. Abraham Martin Brandt 53 Wernersdorf 1843 56. Simon Paul Janzen 46 Wernersdorf 1843 57. Franz Franz Janzen 33 Wernersdorf after 1835
Permanent Address: Dept. of Chemistry, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, N1G 2W1.
* In 1835 Daniel Brandt lived with his grandfather Jacob Jacob Brandt.
** Died before the family moved.
1. Mennonite Historian Vol. 18, #1 p.4
2. Bergthal Gemeide Buch, Hanover Steinbach Historical Society, Steinbach, 1993 (includes the census of 1881)
3. Aeltester Johann Funk: a Family Tree, Mary Dueck Jeffery ed. 1980.
4. Jacob Stoesz 1780 - 1859, H. D. Stoesz, Lincoln, NE, 1972.
5. Reinländer Gemeindebuch 1880-1903, Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, Winnipeg, 1994
6. Die Niederländisch-Niederdeutschen Hintergründe der Mennonitischen Ostwanderungen im 16., 18. und 19. Jahrhunderte, B. H. Unruh, Karlsruhe, 1955.
7. Schönhorst: The Old Colony The First Settlers: 1788-1803, part I, Henry Schapansky, Mennonite Family History, July 1993, p111.
8. Die Ost und Westpreussischen Mennoniten, H. Penner, Weierhof, 1978.
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