Bartsch, Johann (1757-1821)

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Johann Bartsch: Mennonite deputy; born 6 September 1757 in Danzig, Prussia, most likely the son of Jacob Bartsch and Christina Phillipsen. Johann was married for the first time on 15 August 1779 in Danzig, Prussia to Susanna Lammerts (ca. 1760, Danzig, Prussia - 15 November 1790, Rosenthal, Chortitza, South Russia), the daughter of Jacob Lammerts and Susanna (von Niessen) Lammerts. Johann and Susanna had three children: Susanna, Maria, and Sara. After Susanna's death, Johann was married for the second time in 1791 to Susanna's younger sister, Magdalena (5 October 1770, Nobel, Prussia - 16 February 1823, Rosenthal, Chortitza, South Russia). Johann and Magdalena had nine children but only two survived infancy: Helena and Margaretha. Johann died in Rosenthal, Chortitza, South Russia on 16 December 1821.

Johann was one of the two delegates who on 31 October 1786, left their homes in West Prussia to find a suitable location in Russia for a planned colonization. Empress Catherine II had issued a manifesto on 22 July 1763, calling new settlers into her lands and promising them extensive freedoms. Through her ambassador in Danzig she invited the Mennonites of West Prussia to immigrate to Russia. The document, which promised them complete freedom of religion and freedom from military service, and offered each family 160 acres (65 desiatinas) of land, was signed by George von Trappe as the director and curator of the Mennonite colonies (Isaak, Die Molotschnaer Mennoniten, 5). It was read to the Flemish congregation in Danzig at an open meeting on 7 August 1786, and was favorably received, though the magistrate of Danzig was much displeased by it.

Nevertheless Johann Bartsch and Jakob Höppner left for Russia as deputies of the Russian government and at its expense. They were provided with authorization signed by 60 Mennonites and with a letter of recommendation from von Trappe. At Dubrovna on the Dnieper they were introduced to Prince Potemkin. In the spring of the following year on their journey to Taurida they were also received by the Empress in the presence of her highest dignitaries at Kremenchug. They had to accompany the Empress in her train "out of special favor and grace" to the Crimea. When on their return they were presented to the heir-apparent (later Emperor Paul I), he kissed their cheeks. At the end of the year they returned with von Trappe, the Russian commissar. Their active efforts led to the emigration of 1789.

The two delegates received small thanks for their service. The emigrants were bitterly disappointed at their arrival in Chortitza in 1789; and now all their anger and discontent were heaped upon the two delegates. These placed their authorization and important papers into the hands of the preachers. Soon afterward they were excommunicated from the church. Bartsch was received again upon his request; but a sad fate awaited Höppner. Later a monument was placed on each grave. The monument of Johann Bartsch, a beautiful obelisk of marble, surrounded by a white iron fence, was located in the Rosental colony near Chortitza until it was moved to the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada.


Epp, D. H. Die Chortitzer Mennoniten. Odessa, 1889.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.02 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2010: #12624.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 128.

Hildebrandt, P. Erste Auswanderung aus dem Danziger Gebiet nach Südrussland. Halbstadt, 1888.

Isaak, Franz. Die Molotschnaer Mennoniten. Halbstadt, 1908.

Smith, C. Henry. The Story of the Mennonites. Newton, KS, 1950.

Archival Records

Johann Bartsch letters (copies at Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College (North Newton, KS).

Author(s) Christian Neff
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published May 2010

Cite This Article

MLA style

Neff, Christian and Richard D. Thiessen. "Bartsch, Johann (1757-1821)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2010. Web. 5 Dec 2023.,_Johann_(1757-1821)&oldid=144778.

APA style

Neff, Christian and Richard D. Thiessen. (May 2010). Bartsch, Johann (1757-1821). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 5 December 2023, from,_Johann_(1757-1821)&oldid=144778.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 240. All rights reserved.

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