Hermann Jantzen's inspiring memoirs
The amazing 1880-1881 trek of Mennonites from South Russia 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.
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.
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.
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 Mennonitische Rundschau from Alexanderpol in Russia’s Memrik Mennonite Settlement.
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. Then based in the U.S., the Mennonitische Rundschau was a lifeline for separated families and friends on different continents. The translated letters are shared below along with a short biography of Heinrich, information about his descendants, and photos.