Aron and Anna Friesen grew up in unsettled times for the Bergthal Colony. Bergthal was an offshoot of the Molotschna and Chortitza Colonies, and by the 1860s, the population had grown far beyond the capacity of the original five villages. Government restrictions against purchasing additional land exacerbated the troubles of population growth, while many colonists were becoming increasingly uneasy about the loss of privileges such as exemption from military service. When immigration to North America became possible in the 1870s, many people decided to leave their homes for a fresh start. Between 1874 and 1876, the entire Bergthal Colony left Russia for Canada. Aron and Anna Friesen, together with their daughter, Katharina, were among the migrants to arrive at the junction of Manitoba's Red and Rat Rivers on 10 August 1874. From there, the families walked six miles to their new homesteads to begin a new life.
For Aron and Anna Friesen, the move to Canada was a chance to enhance their spiritual lives and financial prospects without crippling restrictions from the Russian government. Moving together with the entire colony had many advantages for settlers like the young couple. Village structure in the new location soon resembled what the settlers had left behind, and when Aron applied for a land grant in September 1882 the area was already divided into quarter sections. One part was reserved for the village of Strassburg, established in 1881. Most of the nine families who first lived in the village were related to the Friesens or the Loeppkys. These relationships helped cement bonds as the settlers broke previously untilled soil, dealt with grasshoppers, and lived through flu and diphtheria epidemics.
Despite these difficulties, however, the settlement prospered. Drainage systems helped prevent springtime floods, and a church-run fire insurance system minimized the financial devastation of losing crops, buildings, or equipment. Aron and Anna prospered in their new surroundings, acquiring land and livestock. Aron also worked as a horse breeder, using mainly purebred animals for his business. In addition, he involved himself in civic matters and served as a municipal councilor for a year. The Friesens felt it was important to share their abundance; in addition to raising their own eight children, they fostered a girl whose mother had died when she very young.
Aron and Anna Friesen grew old the way they had lived. Family was very important to them, and they shared their home with their married children for several years. Grandchildren were frequent visitors to the home in later years; Aron’s sense of humor ensured that he always had time to laugh and joke with them. The Friesens’ grandchildren enjoyed visiting the older generation and reciting poems and Bible verses for them at Christmas celebrations. Although Anna’s arthritis crippled her, she and Aron continued to enjoy interacting with others.
Aron and Anna Friesen showed dedication and faith as they lived through the trials of immigration and the joys of work and family.
Friesen, John K. “Aron Schwartz Friesen and Anna Loeppky Friesen.” Preservings No. 11 (December 1997): 51-53.
GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2007: #185434.
|Date Published||October 2007|
Cite This Article
Huebert, Susan. "Friesen, Aron Schwartz (1848-1923) and Friesen, Anna Loeppky (1850-1927)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2007. Web. 7 Oct 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Friesen,_Aron_Schwartz_(1848-1923)_and_Friesen,_Anna_Loeppky_(1850-1927)&oldid=94742.
Huebert, Susan. (October 2007). Friesen, Aron Schwartz (1848-1923) and Friesen, Anna Loeppky (1850-1927). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 October 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Friesen,_Aron_Schwartz_(1848-1923)_and_Friesen,_Anna_Loeppky_(1850-1927)&oldid=94742.
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