Heinrich Plett (1850-1934) and his wife, possibly 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.
Isaak Boleac and Hilda Balkon, about 1953
My cousin Esther recently discovered a treasure: a letter written by her father about his family and their life before coming to Canada. Isaak Boleac (1927-2007) was one of my dad’s three cousins who were our only relatives in Vancouver when I was growing up. Isaak tells the story of an outsider being embraced by Russian Mennonites, then enduring through much upheaval.
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.
Writer's grandson David Graves with wife Eva in 1995, Manitoba
A girl stabbing her father for alleged abuse; a serious cough sickening children; death by lightning … these are some of the stories shared by a long-lost relative that I discovered through his letters to the Rundschau from Alexanderpol in Russia’s Memrik Mennonite Settlement ... which also led to some Canadian connections.
Heinrich Plett wrote to this historical Rundschau in 1882
I recently discovered some of my great-grandfather’s letters to a Mennonite publication and found them a fascinating window into a past from which most records were destroyed after families were uprooted. The Rundschau was a U.S.-based newspaper that was a lifeline for separated Mennonites on different continents. The translated letters are shared below along with a short biography of Heinrich, information about his descendants, and a photo!
Irene Plett is a writer, poet and animal lover living in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.