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.
Discovering the Teskes
I was curious about the Teskes ever since finding a letter by my great-grandfather, Heinrich Plett (1850-1934) #54349, outlining the family of his wife, Katharina Teske (1857-1918) #69167. Everything he said was new and different! GRANDMA only showed names of her parents, and those were inaccurate.
Heinrich’s motivation for writing in 1910 was an inheritance matter. Katharina’s uncle Benjamin Teske #85929 had died in the U.S. without descendants, leaving a fortune. Part of his estate was believed to be owing to Katherine and her siblings, as the surviving children of Benjamin’s brother Cornelius. I don’t know if any money made its way to Russia, but the list of Cornelius’ children and their spouses was a treasure!
But my searches for Katharina’s family still came up empty. I continued looking for other letters in the Mennonitische Rundschau mentioning the family.
Katharina’s sister Maria #10629 and her husband Heinrich Schroeder #668224 wrote heart-rending messages from Terek, where they were struggling to survive, but they shared few genealogical details.
Katharina’s cousin, Tobias Schmidt (1866-1936) #284406 helpfully wrote from Saskatchewan, listing all the children of his grandfather, Michael Teske (1799-1858) #78192. In this list, Cornelius Teske was mentioned, although he was missing in the GRANDMA listings for this family.
I had found our Cornelius! But I didn’t know until I found another treasure. Several of Michael’s children travelled to America from Volhynia, Russia (formerly Poland, now western Ukraine). A translated 1850 census of Volhynia, where the Teskes moved to in 1846, showed Cornelius along with his parents, siblings, his wife Eva—finally a name for her!—and five children. And the census gave ages for everyone! Katharina wasn’t yet born, but it was certainly her family.
Cornelius didn’t stay in Volhynia for long. By 1857 when Katharina was born, the family was back in Waldheim, Molotschna, where they were before Volhynia. Katharina’s siblings, Johann, Susanna and Kornelius attended school there in 1861-62.
The family attended the Alexanderwohl Mennonite church, where four of Katherina’s siblings became members when they were baptized from 1864 to 1871. The family probably moved again before Katharina was of age to be baptized as an adult. Formal letters of transfer are only noted for Maria (to Rudnerweide, Molotschna in 1867) and Susanna (to Pordenau, Molotschna in 1870).
In 1877, Katharina married teacher Heinrich Plett (1850-1934) #54349. They celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary on 5 May 1902 in Alexanderfeld, Sagradovka, and had ten children, nine of whom survived childhood.
Katharina’s sister Aganetha Teske Beier had three children who came to North America. They first travelled to Siberia in northern Russia. Cornelius Beier (1897-1972) lived in Saskatchewan and later moved to Langley Township, B.C. I wonder if we crossed paths! Agnes Beier Hiebert (1886-1957) travelled to China on her way to Reedley, California. Son Heinrich Peter Beier (1902-1941) died in a car crash in Reedley, California. Some obituaries are shared below.
Piecing together all of these fragments led to the family trees below. As much of Katharina’s legacy is in her children, I’ve provided a Plett family tree as well.
Three earlier generations of Teskes were also in GRANDMA, but those connections were doubtful. I found some cool documents in Ancestry, like the 1731 marriage record of supposedly Michael’s grandparents, Martin Teske #1181890 and Dorothea Elisabeth Kopitzken #1181891. But several family trees between Michael and Martin were inconsistent, and corroborating records were scant.
Katharina’s cousin Abraham Teske (1871-1926) #82213 wrote from Saskatchewan in 1911. I enjoyed his perspective on adjusting to life in Canada: “We haven’t been in Canada for long, just from January 27, 1910. I can’t say too much yet, but so far we can still bear it. If at first some things are not as one would like them to be, we trust that God won’t abandon us. We’ve already experienced this here; if you trust him, he will bring help once again.”
There were some famous Teskes, but I couldn’t say if we were related. Johann Gottfried Teske (3 May 1704 - 25 May 1772) was a noted Prussian physicist, philosopher and academic who lived in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).
Edmund Rudolph Teske (7 Mar. 1911 - 22 Nov. 1996 Los Angeles) was a photographer noted for his experimental methods and prolific output of work including portraits of entertainers. His parents were Rudolph Teske (1888-1969) from Russia and Olga Ritter Schulz (1888-1963).
The most famous present-day Teske may be Orlando Magic basketball star Jon Teske. Jon was born on 4 May 1997 to Ben and Julie Teske. Ben is a familiar name in our Teske family. Jon also has a spiritual side that resonates. His maternal grandfather, Jim Zuidema of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a favourite adviser. Reporter George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press asked what advice Jim gave his grandson that week, in March 2018.
“I usually share a Bible verse with him," Zuidema said. "Proverbs 18:12. It says, before his downfall, a man’s heart is proud. But humility comes before honor. That’s our prayer with Jon, that he does not become proud.” (Sipple, 2018)
I hope you enjoy this visit to our shared history.
- Irene Plett
Teske family tree
Michael Teske #78192 born 27 Apr. 1799 Russia, died 15 Apr 1858 Russia.
Spouse: Richert, Susanna, born 1793, died 20 Nov. 1862, #86025. [Note: an earlier unnamed spouse is shown in GRANDMA, but no sources are given.] Their children:
The children of Cornelius Teske #85940 and Eva ___ #103451 include:
Plett family tree
Children of Heinrich Plett and Katharina Teske:
I translated the letters below with the help of DeepL. The original text is in the German language version of this blog post.
Heinrich Schroeder and Maria Teske: a tough life in Terek
Maria Teske #10629 was a sister of my great-grandmother, Katharine Teske. She and her husband Heinrich Schroeder #668224 moved to Terek. The settlement along the Terek River in southeast Russia was established in 1901 for the growing numbers of landless families in Molotschna. It is now part of the Republic of Dagestan.
Unfortunately life in Terek didn’t live up to the hopes of the settlers. Cornelius Krahn writes in his article on Terek: “In 1902 there was a total crop failure…. In 1908 and 1909, after repeated crop failures, many left…. Great damage was caused by grasshoppers in 1909-10, and by frequent floods recurring in June, July, and August. In 1905, 105 persons died of malaria and typhoid fever, spread by the floods.” After attacks by other ethnic groups following the 1917 revolution, the settlement emptied in 1918. Some returned after promises of restitution, but soon “theft and murder were repeated and it became obvious that the Mennonites could not stay.… The Terek Mennonite settlement was the only undertaking of this nature by the Mennonites of Russia that was a complete failure.” (Krahn, Gameo)
Heinrich and Maria’s situation was no better. A daughter was bedridden for years, and finances were tight due to high medical costs and poor harvests. The Schroeders often thanked the Rundschau editor for forwarding unexpected gifts to help them and other families in need. In 1917, they wrote from Seuzowa, an unknown location in Russia, pleading for further aid. It seems that they, too, had given up on Terek.
published 21 Apr 1909 p 6
Chartsch, Feb. 6, 1909.
I wish you blessing in your business, and may the Lord bless you for your efforts. Have read a number of the Rundschau issues the other day. It was so familiar to me, as I used to read the Rundschau, and I’d like to read it now, but I’ve become too poor in Terek, due to much illness and very bad land.
Dear friend [Martin] Fast [#2615], please ask for the addresses of our friends in America:
Also my wife's friends:
Dear Editor, please send us the addresses if possible. I would still like to enjoy their company, even if only by letter. I cannot repay your effort; may the Lord do so.
Heinrich and Maria Schroeder
(Addresses: Abr. Martens, Buhler, Kan. Bernhard Ratzlaff, Jansen, Nebraska. The others can reply themselves. Greetings.—Editor.)
published 7 July 1909 p. 12
Brother Heinrich Schroeder, Chartsch, Terek, writes on May 28:
We wish you grace, mercy and the peace of God. The Rundschau is a good paper, it brings news from everywhere. Our parents are dead, and friends and siblings live far away, so it is nice when the Rundschau brings news.
Dear cousin Heinrich Gaede, I have received 23 rubles from the dear editor. The money came quite unexpectedly. Oh how we were pleased! I cannot repay you. Dear brother [in Christ] Fast, may God bless you abundantly for your love for the poor in Russia. Our daughter has already been in bed for four years—she also likes to read the Rundschau. We thank you very much for the love you have shown us.
published 5 Jan 1910 p. 13
Sister [in Christ] Heinrich Schroeder [Maria Teske #106249], Terek, writes:
"Received the gift from cousin Schmidt. We thank you very much. Our daughter has already been operated on twice and now she is to be operated on for the third time; we have become very poor as a result. There is no grain here and we are very short of it. There is often a lack of bread and clothes.
(Yesterday we sent another gift to brother [in Christ] Schroeder, it came from brother [in Christ] F. M., Inman, Kansas.—Editor).
published 23 Mar 1910 p. 30
Chartsch, Jan. 17, 1910.
Dear brother [in Christ] and editor,
We wish you good luck and blessings in business. We thank you very much for the gift we received on January 12th. We don’t have words enough to thank you for your trouble, but we believe that the Lord will reward you.
We have distributed it honestly to the needy. The teacher also received five rubles, his name is Gerhard Rosfeld. It gave great joy, they also thank you very much. Even if it is only a few rubles, it’s worth a lot in Terek. We bought food and clothes from our portion. Migration is stopping here in Terek. The good Lord can direct everything wonderfully, he can guide hearts. Once again, thank you kindly.
Our sick daughter, who has already been bedridden for four years, loves to read. She read about the editor's book in the Rundschau, and would very much like to have it, but we don’t know how we could pay for it. [Martin Fast wrote about his 1908 trip to Russia, originally shared in segments in the Rundschau, published in 1909 in Reisebericht und Kurze Geschichte der Mennoniten (Travelogue and brief history of the Mennonites).]
Heinrich and Maria Schroeder
published 18 May 1910 p. 15
Chartsch, Terek, April 5, 1910.
Dear brother [in Christ] Fast [#2615],
We wish you the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, also many blessings for your work and health, that you may do your work with friends and for the Lord. We cannot be grateful enough for what you have done for us, may the Lord repay you. We didn't know what to do. We were already in debt at the pharmacy, and yet more medicine was always needed, because our sick daughter often had great pain. Then help came. We received 100 rubles from elder Franz Enns. Once again, thank you very much for your trouble.
The canal digging is particularly difficult here; have repaired the dam at Zulak and dug the Talma River larger; three fathoms [18’ or 5.5 m] wide at the top and two [6’ or 3.6 m] at the bottom. I have always dug for a week; it was very difficult, I am already 65 years old, but thank the Lord, He has given me strength. It wouldn't be so hard if it helped a bit, but it’s the same work every year and it doesn’t fix anything. But when we come to the house of the Lord, we are glad that it won't stay like this.
On April 4th we had a blessed gathering. Brother [in Christ] Janzen from village No. 4 [Konstantinovka] spoke about Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night time. Brother [in Christ] Wittenberg based his remarks on Luke 17: 26-27. [Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. NIV] He gave an important sermon. We should not only help to build, but strive to attain eternal bliss, to be with our Jesus always and forever.
Warm greetings from your fellow pilgrims to Zion,
Heinrich and Maria Schroeder
published 3 Aug 1910 p. 12
Chartsch, June 23, 1910.
Dear brother [in Christ] Fast [#2615],
We wish you and your family many blessings. I received the money, 28 rubles, and a little later the letter with six rubles, and have distributed everything to the sick and needy and widows, just as you ordered. They were all very happy and thank you. May the Lord bless the givers and editor for this.
I would like to mention one woman in particular. Her husband is in hospital in Crimea, and she is very poor here with four children. She was very happy when she received something; she could not say anything because the children were hungry and were crying out for bread. Now she could buy flour and feed the children. So again she was helped.
We also thank you very much. How happy one is when something comes unexpectedly, when it is so needed.
Greetings from your fellow pilgrims,
Heinrich and Maria Schroeder.
published 23 May 1917 p 13
Note: dashes ( — ) are in the original printing.
Seuzowa, January 30, 1917.
Dear Editor [C.B.] Wiens,
We are very pleased that you have accepted our request and sent us 30 rubles, we say thank you very much. May the Lord repay it.
But one more request: If it's possible that there are still compassionate hearts. We do not know how to get through. We are both old and cannot earn anything. Our clothes are torn apart and the 30 rubles are worth a lot, but they are not enough to satisfy our needs. We have bought straw and that comes to — rubles, the — everything is so expensive here now. Then we have nothing left to buy a cow and seed wheat; we don't have any barley or oats to sow. There is nothing to borrow, and the wheat is — flour costs — and so everything is so expensive, we know of nowhere to go except to the editor. We also have many friends there [in America] whom we have also written, but have not received an answer. I don't know if they didn’t get the letters, or if they are dead. Well, the dear Saviour will reward the editor if he works for us. Please, please.
Heinrich and Maria Schroeder.
Rundschau editor Martin B. Fast (1857-1949) often helped the Teskes in Terek.
Photo used by permission from Preservings.
Note: Martin B. Fast (1857-1949) #2615 was editor of the Rundschau from 1903-1920. He often sent financial help to Russia and encouraged others to contribute. He visited Russia in 1908 and again in 1919 during the civil war. Fast’s relief work led to the founding of the Mennonite Central Committee in 1920, where he served as its first General Secretary.
When Fast left the Rundschau for health reasons in October 1910, over 200 wrote asking him to stay. C.B. Wiens (1870-1962) took over the editor’s job. Fast recovered and went on to become a minister in Reedley, California, and to continue his passion for missions.
Tobias Schmidt: Michael Teske’s children
Tobias D. Schmidt (1866-1936) #284406 was my great-grandmother’s cousin, and the son of David Schmidt #85950 and Helena Teske #85947. His explanation of Michael Teske’s family provided the missing Cornelius Teske #85940 in our family tree.
Tobias arrived in the U.S. with his parents on 2 Sept 1874 aboard the S. S. Colina. In 1892 in South Dakota, he married Helena Unruh #104496, the widow of his brother Heinrich #87263. She had two children from her first marriage and then five with Tobias. The family arrived in Canada in 1901. Tragically, two-year-old son John died the following year, after which another son was born. Tobias died in 1936, five years after his wife. Both were buried in Waldheim, Saskatchewan.
published 9 June 1909 pp 14-15
Laird [Saskatchewan], April 29, 1909.
Dear Editor, warm greetings to you! I have often looked in the Rundschau for a report from friends, but so far in vain. We would love to hear something about our father’s and mother's siblings and their children.
In issue No. 16 of the Rundschau, I read a report from Heinrich Schroeder, of Chartsch, Siberia (likely Terek? — Editor). The writer asks about his wife’s uncles, Benjamin [#85929] and Christian Teske [#81698], who emigrated to America from Poland [Volhynia]. As I also have two uncles with the same name, I thought that Maria [Teske] Schroeder [#106249] could be my niece [cousin].
My grandfather's name was Michael Teske [#78192]. He had six children; three sons and three daughters:
The couple named last were my parents. Benjamin, Christian, Anna and Helena moved to America from Heinrichsdorf, Volhynia, in 1874. All of them have already died.
If Mrs. Heinrich Schroeder is my cousin, please report whether your father is still alive and how you are. How many siblings do you have? I would like to get to know more about my friends. It won't be in person, but by writing. Are any of my father's brother's children still alive? His name was Jakob Schmidt [#60741], and he lived in Waldheim [Saskatchewan, Canada]. I would be very grateful if I received news about my dear friends.
What are all of my friends in South Dakota doing? We lived there for so long; a warm greeting to all of you. As we heard, many moved away. Have they struck a good Loos? We should be satisfied if we have food and clothing. We long for a reunion.
I haven’t received a response yet from brother-in-law Wilhelm Liedke [#509459]. We are all alive and well. Greetings to you and your family and we ask for a letter. We also would like to hear from our siblings and friends in Turner County and Hutchinson County. Brother Peter [#284410] and brother-in-law C. B. Schmidt in North Dakota, we are waiting for a long letter.
Now a little bit about our dear siblings [in Christ], Johann Schmidt and Heinrich Bartel and his wife in China. We received your letter long ago and will write again. Brother Johann often lets us sing the song: "Hurry, because the time of our life is passing," and then we remember happy times. My wish is that the Lord blesses you all and brings us all together up there where we will be united with the Lord forever.
Here in Canada we’re having a late spring. Hopefully it will be warm soon so that we can plant our seeds in the ground.
Wishing the editor and his family God's blessings in his work, and the same to all readers.
Tobias D. Schmidt.
Heinrich Plett: The Teske Legacy
My dad’s grandfather, Heinrich Plett (1850-1934) #54349, married Katharina Teske (1857-1918) #69167. They lived in Friedensfeld, Sagradovka and had ten children. I shared more about them in a previous story that included all of his surviving letters from Russia.
published 17 Aug 1910 p. 12
Friedensfeld, Sagradovka, 5 July 1910
Dear brother [in Christ, Martin] Fast [#2615], a warm loving greeting to you. Please allow my letter a modest place in the worthy Rundschau.
I just received a letter from our brother Heinrich Schroeder of Terek [Mennonite Settlement]. He writes that we still have cousins and nieces there in America, namely: Jakob Schmidt, David Schmidt, and another David Schmidt, who has a wife, Maria Teske, who should also be our niece.
He also writes that our uncle Benjamin Teske [#85929] died there childless in America and left quite a fortune. Benjamin was a real brother of our late father, Kornelius Teske [#85940]. The heirs there in America believe that they have already received their portion of his estate. However, our late father’s Kornelius’ portion is said to have consisted of 20 acres of land that was leased out. The Rundschau was looking for the rightful heirs earlier, but unfortunately I didn’t see that issue.
Now I would like to ask you, dear uncle and niece—unfortunately I don’t know your addresses—or other Rundschau readers who are familiar with this inheritance matter, to kindly help us as a service of love in word and deed, for which we thank you all in advance.
Our father Kornelius Teske [#85940], who was a brother of our late uncle Benjamin Teske [#85929] in America, died eight years ago [in 1902], and left children who are now entitled to his inheritance.
The heirs are:
1. Heinrich Teske [#940457], who died along with his wife, but they have left children;
2. Johann Teske [#81723];
3. Kornelius Teske [#81699];
4. Kornelius Richert, married to Anna Teske;
5. Heinrich Schroeder [#668224], married to Maria Teske [#106249];
6. Johann De-Jeger, married to Susanna Teske [#106298];
7. Heinrich Plett [#54349], married to Katharina Teske [#69167]; and
8. Peter Baier [#38458], married to Aganetha Teske [#38459].
Hence eight heirs here in Russia.
My address is: Russia, Tiege Post Office, Gouvernement Kherson, Preacher Heinrich Plett, Friedensfeld.
Dear Brother [in Christ] Plett, I have put your name on the list today, and expect that perhaps you will write a report every month—please. Greetings. Editor.
Abraham Teske: Visit us in chilly Canada
Abraham C. Teske (1871-1926) #82213, a farmer, was my great-grandmother’s cousin, and the son of Christian Michael Teske #81698 and Elisabeth Schmidt #86026. At age three, he arrived in America with his parents and six other siblings, from Volhynia, Russia, on 2 Sept 1874 aboard the S.S. Colina.
In 1910, Abraham moved with his wife Maria Jantz #85938 and their children to Saskatchewan, from where he wrote this letter. But perhaps Canada was too chilly, as in 1921, the family returned to America. In 1926, Abraham died in Benton Harbor, Michigan; his wife followed him in 1945.
published 15 Mar 1911 p. 11
Morse, Saskatchewan, Feb. 11, 1911.
Dear editor of the Mennonitische Rundschau, warm greetings to all readers. Wishing you all good health in the new year. I became a reader of the Rundschau through a good friend. I wanted to order it myself, but he ordered it for me first. I’m very thankful for this New Year’s gift.
I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, but there was nothing to say; it wasn’t that there wasn’t enough time, but it never seemed to fit. And I always wanted to read about friends and acquaintances, but never found anything. So the thought occurred to me: others must experience the same thing. So I’ll let you hear something about us in the worthy Rundschau.
We are all in good health, God be thanked and praised, and wish the same to all friends and readers from the bottom of our hearts.
The weather here is still wintry. It started right after Christmas. We got quite a lot of snow; then there were some fair snowstorms, but also some nice days. But usually the snow doesn’t stay too long, because when a breeze rises, it soon blows from north to south and from west to east. We have an average of over 12 inches of snow. It hasn't been very cold yet, except for a few days in January.
We haven’t been in Canada for long, just from January 27, 1910. I can’t say too much yet, but so far we can still bear it. If at first some things are not as one would like them to be, we trust that God won’t abandon us. We’ve already experienced this here; if you trust him, he will bring help once again.
Now I come to my friends, namely:
What are you all doing there? Please be so good as to send us a long letter. We would be happy to read it as well as answer it.
Dear cousins in Russia and Kansas, America, let us hear from you. The cousins in Kansas visited a year ago. I can still remember you well, and dear uncles, Cornelius [#59020], Abraham [#72916], and Daniel Schmidt [#49885]; all of you are warmly greeted. Come and visit us in chilly Canada. It seems to me, you can also live here if the Lord gives his blessing. If you can’t visit us, then please write a long letter.
Now I’ll quickly wrap it up so I don’t take up too much space in the Rundschau.
With warm greetings I remain,
Abraham C. Teske, Morse, Saskatchewan, Canada
The following obituaries have been translated with the help of DeepL; the original is in the German language version of this blog post.
Agnes Beier Hiebert (1886-1957) (Katharina’s niece)
Agnes Beier #38460 was the daughter of Aganetha Teske and Peter Beier. A gifted nurse who knew how to set broken bones, Aganetha was also busy as a farmer’s wife. GRANDMA says that Agnes was born in Schoenau, Sagradovka. After her parents moved to northern Russia, she met her future husband Heinrich H. Hiebert (1883-1966) #38457 and married there on 15 Nov. 1909. They had five children, of whom two survived childhood.
In 1912, the family moved to Barnaul, Siberia. In 1929, they fled across the Amur river to China, then made their way to the city of Harbin in northern China. In 1930, they left for America, settling into farming life in Reedley, California.
Agnes’ obituary in the Mennonite Weekly Review on 21 Mar. 1957 p 8 has been published online. Her obituary in the Rundschau is shared below.
published Rundschau 3 April 1957 p. 9.
Mrs. Heinrich H. Hiebert
Sister Agnes Hiebert, daughter of Peter Beier and Agnes nee Teske, was born in southern Russia on August 25, 1886, and was allowed to leave this old world in Reedley, California on March 3, 1957, to enter the glorious presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She reached the age of 70 years, 6 months and 6 days.
She spent the first part of her youth in southern Russia. From early youth she had to work hard at home and also as a maid, and therefore she received little schooling.
On November 15, 1909 she entered into holy matrimony with me, Heinrich H. Hiebert. Our marriage was blessed with 5 children (2 sons and 3 daughters). One son and two daughters died in the tender days of infancy.
In 1915. she realized her lost condition, and in deep repentance she accepted Jesus as her Savior. On August 27, 1922, she was baptized and joined the Mennonite Brethren Church.
In 1912, we moved to Siberia and settled in the Slavgorod region, near Omsk. God had given my wife the gift of nursing the sick and setting bones. She faithfully maintained this ministry to the very end.
We also experienced the difficult days of the communist revolution in Siberia. If God had not had mercy on us, we too, along with many others, would have perished. In 1929, we escaped across the Amur River and came to Harbin, China. The next year we were allowed to emigrate to North America and arrived in San Francisco, California. We immediately went to Reedley, California, where we were allowed to settle on a farm.
The good Lord has blessed us abundantly in this country — both spiritually and temporally.
In 1952, we sold our land and purchased a home in the town of Reedley. The following year, my dear wife became seriously ill and had to undergo surgery. That was the first of seven operations. During this time she suffered severely. For the last five months she had to spend her nights in her chair.
Her great desire was to be released to enter the heavenly rest where there will be no suffering or pain.
She was a faithful spouse to me. She was the one who led me to the Savior. She has been a great help and support in my life of faith. She was a loving and praying mother for the children. At the last evening prayer, she was still praying fervently for her children and her two grandchildren. We will miss her very much, but we wish her a sweet heavenly rest.
She leaves behind:
Cornelius Beier (1897-1972) (Katharina’s nephew)
Cornelius Beier #663444, a farmer, was the son of Aganetha Teske and Peter Beier. Born in Kaltan, Neu Samara, the family moved to Barnaul, Siberia, in 1912.
In 1921, Cornelius married Maria Loewen (1901-1973) #409518 in Saratov, Barnaul, Siberia. They left for Canada in November 1926, first staying with relatives in Laird, Saskatchewan. They settled in Glenbush, Saskatchewan, where several of their eleven children were born. In 1947 they moved to Aldergrove (Langley Township), B.C., and in 1960 to Abbotsford.
published Rundschau 24 May 1972 p. 11
Cornelius P. Beier (Clearbrook, B.C.)
There will be rest for the people of God. Brother Cornelius P. Beier was allowed to enter this rest on April 18, 1972. The funeral service was held on April 24th at the Clearbrook M.B. Church. The organ played while the mourners gathered. After the coffin was brought in, followed by the grieving family, the funeral service was opened with prayer by our pastor, brother Herman Lenzmann. He read John 11:25-27, greeted those gathered and addressed words of comfort to the bereaved family. The men's choir sang the song, "I Shall Know Him."
Brother H. Lensmann based his message on two scriptural passages, Proverbs 14:32 and Isaiah 43:1-3. He showed how different are the lives and actions of the Godless and believers. Their end is just as different. The end of the Godless is without hope. For the child of God, there is a refuge with Jesus, the Savior, which has already been found in life. Therefore the believer is safe even in death. In Isaiah 43:2a it says: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you" [NIV]. In this faith, brother Beier was allowed to go home.
The congregation sang the song: “Wenn ich am Ufer des Jordans steh’” [When I stand on the bank of the Jordan]. Brother Heinrich F. Klassen showed Jesus, the suffering high priest, according to Hebrews 5:7-9. Also for children of God, the way of suffering is certain. Here the child of God learns obedience, practices patience, the roots of faith go deeper, so that the child of God can also withstand testing. Suffering is also preparation for the song of praise and thanksgiving that will resound among the redeemed at the crystal sea.
Brother H. Lenzmann read out the life story. This was followed by a song from the men's choir: "Wenn zuletzt ich daheim" [When at last I am home]. Brother H. F. Klassen led the closing prayer. The funeral was followed by burial in Hazelwood Cemetery [Maclure Road Mennonite Cemetery]
My precious husband and the dear father of our children, Cornelius P. Beier, was born on January 8, 1897 in Kaltan, [Neu Samara,] Samara, Russia. His parents were Peter Beier [and Aganetha Teske]. As a child he moved with his parents to Paschnay, Siberia. He lost his mother at an early age.
On November 27, 1921 he gave me, Maria Loewen [(1901-1973) #409518], his hand for life. We were married by preacher Heinrich Loewen in Saratov.
In 1922, my husband and our father converted. He was baptized soon after and joined the Saratov M.B. [Mennonite Brethren] congregation. The difficult experiences of the post-war period caused us to leave Russia.
In November 1926 we came to Canada, first to our grandparents and relatives in Laird, Sask. Soon after, we established our home near Glenbush, Sask. where we lived through the pioneer years in great poverty.
In all situations the Lord helped wonderfully and always answered our prayers. It was in one of those years that my husband received a severe blow to his head from a horse. Although I was alone with the children on the farm, the Lord helped wonderfully and also restored my husband.
In 1947 we moved from Glenbush to Coughlan, B.C. [probably the Coghlan neighbourhood in Langley Township], where we received our daily bread from berries and Ausarbeiten. There we joined the East Aldergrove M.B. Church. In 1960 we moved to Clearbrook, where my spouse also soon retired. We found our spiritual home here in the Clearbrook M.B. Church.
Last summer, in 1971, his strength began to wane. In the fall, his situation worsened. Despite medical efforts, he could not be helped. On April 14th, he had to go to the MSA hospital, where the Lord called him home on April 18, 1972, at 7:30 in the morning.
He is at home with the Lord. He was patient in his suffering and had a strong trust in God. He lived to be 75 years, 3 months and 10 days old. He was preceded in death by a son who died last summer while swimming in Cultus Lake [Abram Beier #1021323]. That was a great blow. He was also preceded in death by his parents and, as far as we know, all his brothers and sisters.
He leaves behind me, his grieving wife Maria Beier, seven sons, two daughters, a son-in-law, three daughters-in-law, 19 grandchildren and many relatives and friends. He has completed his course and is at home with the Lord.
The grieving wife and children.
Written on behalf of H. Janzen, correspondent.
Heinrich Peter Beier (1902-1941) (Katharina’s Nephew)
Heinrich Peter Beier #75060 was the son of Aganetha Teske and Peter Beier. In 1912, the family moved to Barnaul, Siberia. Many losses followed: a brother in 1918, his mother in 1919, his father in 1922 and a sister in 1923.
Heinrich was welcomed into the family of his sister, Agnes, and joined their escape to China in 1929 and California in 1930. He lived a quiet life until his untimely death from a motor vehicle collision at age 39.
published Zionsbote 19 Nov. 1941 p. 12
Heinrich Peter Beier was born on July 27, 1902 in Russia, where he also spent his youth. He lost his dear parents early, as well as a brother and a sister. The brother died in 1918, the mother in 1919, the father in 1922 and a sister in 1923.
After the death of his dear parents, he made his home almost exclusively with his natural sister and her family, Mrs. H. H. Hiebert, where he was regarded and treasured as one of the family.
When times abroad became more and more difficult and many fled, he also came to America with his Hiebert siblings in March 1930. Here he made a living [gefristet hat] by Ausarbeiten, as the opportunities for this in this country are usually favourable.
He had a mild and pleasant nature, and his presence was agreeable. We would like to tell you about a special experience he had with the Lord, but we are not granted that privilege. But we know and take comfort in the fact that we have a just and gracious God in heaven, who will ask only in the measure according to which He has distributed.
Monday evening at about 8 o'clock sudden death befell him, standing on the side of the road behind a loaded trailer, while the car had gone to the station to get gas. Another car came and hit the trailer, killing him suddenly between the car and the trailer. He was 39 years, three months and seven days old.
He leaves to mourn his sudden death his natural sister, Mrs. H. H. Hiebert [Aganetha Beier (1886-1957) #38460] and family; a brother in Canada [Cornelius Beier (1897-1972) #663444] and family; a sister [Maria Beier #663445] in Russia and family; and many friends who loved him and will miss him.
Please note: I was unable to access The Teske Story 1799-1990, ed. Ralph and Carolyn Fauth. However, family trees that cited this book didn’t include our Cornelius.
Irene Plett is a writer, poet and animal lover living in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.