Hermann Jantzen's inspiring memoirs
The amazing 1880-1881 trek of Mennonites to Central Asia offers many life lessons. Some of those are in the lives lost along the way. It is my hope to honour the dear people who died while following their dream, or that of their family’s, to achieve freedom from military service. A short travelogue accompanies this list of all those found who died until 1884, when the first group left for America.
Walter Ratliff’s excellent book discusses the journey Helena took
Helena Graewe Warkentin (1865-1942, #88939) shares her amazing story about how she travelled across deserts and mountains in a wagon train to Central Asia in 1880-1881.
Dimitri and Agathe with children (in birth order):
Anna, Tina, Daniel, Willy, Liselotte and Peter in Romania, ca. 1950
My dad’s aunt Agathe Graewe wrote from Jena, Germany after the city was bombed in 1945. The family later wrote from another sort of war zone, after they were forced to move to communist Romania. I’ve also included my dad’s story of their legendary romance.
Heinrich Plett (1853-1934) and Katharina Teske (1857-1918)
I was thrilled to find records that filled out the family tree of my great-grandmother, Katharina Teske Plett. Translated letters from Russia and Saskatchewan in the early 1900s are shared below, along with Teske and Plett family trees.
John was sketched by an artist* in 1948.
My uncle John Boleak (1925-2008) was a charming man who made everyone laugh. He also survived five years of captivity in Russia.
At the casket of Johann H. Wiens, 1962 (see below for names)
When searching for my dad’s war buddy, Johann Wiens, I learned about another man with the same name who was my dad’s uncle. It was news to my dad as well! This Johann married my dad’s aunt Anna Plett, who sadly died before my father was born, but left descendants. Anna and Johann found peace with God when bandits raged in Russia.
Isaak Boleac and Hilda Balkon, about 1953, Vancouver
Isaak Boleac (1927-2007) was one of my father's three dear cousins, who were our only close relatives in Vancouver when I grew up. He left a genealogical treasure recently discovered by his daughter Esther Wolff. Isaak tells the story of an outsider being embraced by Russian Mennonites, then enduring through much upheaval.
Margaret and Peter at their wedding in 1990
Margaret Lammert (1921-1997) [#1340893] was my father’s second wife. He is now happily married to his third wife, Nola, but it’s good to take a few moments to remember those who have gone before us.
Maria Plett Wiens (1888-1980) #476149
My father told me the story of how his aunt Maria Plett survived a shooting that killed her husband, Peter Wiens, in post-war East Berlin.
Graewe family photo from 1927
As a child of immigrants, the only relatives we had nearby were the families of my dad’s three cousins, related on his maternal Graewe side. Now I’m discovering new connections through genealogy. What a surprise when I learned that Graewes began arriving in North America in the 1800s! Their story—our story—is shared below, along with where descendants can be found today.