The Molotschna Colony Census of 1835:
Chortitza and Bergthal Colony Connections

By Glenn Penner

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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