Barkman, Peter K. (1826-1917)

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Peter K. Barkman, Mennonite miller and millwright, was born on 9 March 1826 in the village of Rückenau, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia. He was the second of five children born to Jakob J. Barkman (1794-1875) and Gertrude (Klassen) Barkman (1800-?). Peter was baptized and became a member of the Kleine Gemeinde in May 1846. Two years later he married Anna Toews (1827-1881) on 18 January 1848. Newly married, they moved to the village of Margenau and started a family. Together Peter and Anna had five children, three sons (Jacob, 1848-1935; Peter, 1861-1936; Johann, 1862-1900) and two daughters (Mrs. Abr. W. Reimer, b. 1859; Mrs. Johann S. Friesen). During the 1860s they moved to Rosenfeld which was part of the Kleine Gemeinde settlement of Borosenko. In 1874 they emigrated from Russia to Canada with this group and settled in Steinbach, Manitoba. Peter's mother had died by this time but his father Jakob came with them to Canada, where he died the following year. Peter's wife, Anna, died in August of 1881 and in September he married Elizabeth Warkentin (1837-1911).

Peter K. Barkman not only managed his land holdings but was also a trained millwright. He built a wind powered mill in Rosenfeld, Borosenko which burned down in 1870. He then rebuilt the entire operation only to loose the second mill to fire as well. After resettling in Canada, Peter's mill building skills were very much needed by the new settlement. They experienced their first good harvest in 1876, and in 1877, Peter was put in charge of moving two windmills from the Red River to the East Reserve. At this time Peter was making 50 cents a day for his labor. That same year he was hired by Abram S. Friesen to build a windmill in Steinbach. When this mill was completed it was found to be poorly located and unable to operate to full capacity because of the brush which grew around the village. Abram S. Friesen decided to sell the mill which was then moved to Rosenort, where Peter reconstructed it. During these years he also built several mills on the West Reserve. In 1880, Peter began work on the first Steinbach flour mill which was the largest project he had ever undertaken. It was certainly the most expensive and in order to finance the project Peter traveled to Ontario, where he borrowed the money against pledges at 6% interest from the Schneider family in Berlin, now Kitchener. Peter had several partners to help him with the construction and operation of the mill, the most important of which was Klaas R. Reimer. By August 1880 the mill began making flour. Unfortunately the milling equipment used to build the mill still used grinding stones and this is probably what led to the fire which claimed the mill in 1892, just two years after Peter had finished its construction. After 1892 Peter retired to a house in Steinbach where he enjoyed gardening and raising chickens. The mill was rebuilt without him but Peter will always be remembered for having "laid one of the essential cornerstones of Steinbach and guaranteed its future success." On 5 January 1917 Peter K. Barkman died at the age of 91.


Plett, Delbert. "Peter K. Barkman 1826-1917." Preservings No. 9 Part I (December 1996): 40-46.

Author(s) David P. Reimer
Sharon H. H. Brown
Date Published May 2006

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MLA style

Reimer, David P. and Sharon H. H. Brown. "Barkman, Peter K. (1826-1917)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2006. Web. 7 Dec 2023.,_Peter_K._(1826-1917)&oldid=75180.

APA style

Reimer, David P. and Sharon H. H. Brown. (May 2006). Barkman, Peter K. (1826-1917). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 December 2023, from,_Peter_K._(1826-1917)&oldid=75180.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 235. All rights reserved.

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