Jacob G. Niebuhr: Russian Mennonite industrialist; born 20 October 1847 at Kronsthal, Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, South Russia, the fifth of eight children of Gerhard Niebuhr (10 June 1818, Kronsweide, Chortitza, South Russia - 5 April 1856, Kronsthal, Chortitza, South Russia) and Margaretha (Braun) Niebuhr (14 April 1817, Kronsweide, Chortitza, South Russia - 28 January 1876, Manitoba, Canada). After his father's death, Jacob's mother married Daniel Teichroeb (1835-1895) and they had four children. On 18 January 1868 Jacob married Helena Siemens (12 March 1844, Chortitza Mennonite Settlement, South Russia - 25 October 1923, Olgafeld, Fürstenland Mennonite Settlement, South Russia), daughter of Gerhard Siemens (ca. 1802-1876) and Helena (Koop) Siemens (1811-1868). Jacob and Helena had eight children: Helena (died young), Margarethe, Jakob, Helena, Peter, Gerhard, Anna, and Katharina (died young). They also adopted Amalia Wekkesser. Jacob died on 28 January 1913 in New York, Ignatyevo Mennonite Settlement, South Russia.
Jakob G. Niebuhr lost his father, Gerhard Niebuhr, at the age of four. After two years of school he worked for his uncle Abraham Niebuhr of Chortitza, who had a small mill. For a while he worked for the pioneer industrialist A. J. Koop of Chortitza, serving as foreman for 11 years. In 1881 he started his own J. G. Niebuhr factory at Olgafeld, Fürstenland, manufacturing parts for fanning mills. Soon he produced plows, among them the "Bugger" plow, very common among the Mennonites of Russia. Before World War I, he produced 4,500 of these plows annually. In 1898 Niebuhr started another factory at New York, Bachmut. He made inventions in the realm of improving reapers and drills. Of the latter he produced 4,500 annually. He also manufactured numerous other machines, including those for the growing milling industry (see Agriculture among the Mennonites of Russia). At its peak, the J. G. Niebuhr factories employed 350 people and had an annual production of 450,000 rubles, one of the largest among Mennonites in Russia.
During the later years his sons, Jakob J., Peter J. and Gerhard J. Niebuhr, were his assistants. Annually they produced 20,000 larger agricultural machines. In addition to three factories, they owned two mills, one at Olgafeld and the other at Yelenovka. In 1912 their property was estimated at 1,500,000 gold rubles. Because of the anti-German feeling during World War I, the business declined rapidly, and was sold for a token price on 15 October 1915. In 1929 Gerhard Niebuhr escaped to China and went to Paraguay in 1932, where he died in 1950. Peter Niebuhr, who served under the Soviets as engineer of the Niebuhr factory, was exiled in 1933 and died in 1934. Jakob J. Niebuhr and his wife fled Russia in 1943 with four daughters. They traveled via Poland to Germany where his wife died in Gronau in 1946. In 1947 Jakob J. Niebuhr boarded a ship in Bremerhafen and arrived in Montreal, Canada on 24 August 1947. He died in St. Catharines, Ontario in 1955.
GRANDMA = GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.06 ed. Fresno, CA:, 2011: #111037.
Niebuhr, Jacob J. "Jakob G. Niebuhr Fabriken." Mennonite Life 10 (January 1955): 25-30.
Archival RecordsMennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, MB: Volume 5414:12.
|Richard D. Thiessen|
|Date Published||August 2011|
Cite This Article
Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Niebuhr, Jakob G. (1847-1913)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. August 2011. Web. 22 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Niebuhr,_Jakob_G._(1847-1913)&oldid=76318.
Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (August 2011). Niebuhr, Jakob G. (1847-1913). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Niebuhr,_Jakob_G._(1847-1913)&oldid=76318.
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