Claassen (Claasen, Classen, Claesz, Claussen, Klaassen, Klassen, Klaeszen) family

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Claassen is a Mennonite name that originated in the Netherlands. In Prussia it was first mentioned in 1552 at Schmerblock. In 1776, 107 families carried this name in West Prussia (without Danzig); in 1910, 409 persons; and in 1935 (without Elbing), 420 persons. In Prussia it was one of the most common Mennonite family names, occurring mostly in the Flemish congregations. An outstanding representative of the family was Peter Claassen, the second elder of the Grosse Werder congregation from 1645 until 1679. Another Peter Claassen (1828-1901), a minister of the Heubuden congregation, immigrated to North America in 1878 and was instrumental in founding the First Mennonite Church in Newton, Kansas.

The members of the Claassen family who went to Russia at the close of the 18th century and settled in Chortitza usually spelled their name "Klassen," while those who settled later at the Molotschna and in Samara used the forms "Claassen" and "Klaassen." Some of the outstanding bearers of this name in Russia were Elder Peter Klassen (1825-1902); Claassen, David Ivanovitch (1855-1932), all-Mennonite representative of the Forestry Service; J. J. Klassen (1856-1919), the managing secretary of the Chortitza district; Martin Klaassen, writer of Mennonite history literature; and Jakob A. Klassen (1847-1919), an educator in Chortitza.

In North America the two predominant forms of the name are "Klassen" (usually among emigrants from Russia) and "Claassen" (usually among emigrants from Prussia). Cornelius F. Claassen (1859-1941) was president of the Kansas State Bank in Newton and treasurer of the General Conference Mennonite Church Emergency Relief Board. Claassen, Johannes (1835-1898), writer of numerous books on philosophical, theological, and literary subjects, was a Prussian Mennonite. Other prominent members of this widespread and well-known family include: Johannes Claassen, one of the founders of the Mennonite Brethren in Russia in 1860; Johannes Klaassen, long-time missionary to Java (1872-1950); C. F. Klassen (1894-1954), vice-chairperson of the All-Russian Mennonite Agricultural Union in Russia, and active in Canada in colonization and refugee migration work; J. J. Klassen (1872-1942), elder in Dundurn, Saskatchewan; J. P. Klassen (1868-1947), elder of Schönwiese (now First Mennonite) Church in Winnipeg; H. A. Claassen (1883-1954), missionary and elder in Beatrice, Nebraska; J. P. Klassen (b. 1888), Professor of Art in Bluffton; P. J. Klassen, writer and minister in British Columbia; and H. F. Klassen, Winnipeg, Manitoba, editor of the Mennonitische Rundschau.


Classen, D. J. History of the Classen Family. Bakersfield, Calif.

General Conference Mennonite Church. Bundesbote Kalender. Berne, Ind.: Verlag des Mennonite Book Concern der Allgemeinen Konferenz der Mennoniten, 1902: 33 f.

Author(s) Gustav Reimer
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Reimer, Gustav. "Claassen (Claasen, Classen, Claesz, Claussen, Klaassen, Klassen, Klaeszen) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 12 May 2021.,_Classen,_Claesz,_Claussen,_Klaassen,_Klassen,_Klaeszen)_family&oldid=119529.

APA style

Reimer, Gustav. (1953). Claassen (Claasen, Classen, Claesz, Claussen, Klaassen, Klassen, Klaeszen) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 May 2021, from,_Classen,_Claesz,_Claussen,_Klaassen,_Klassen,_Klaeszen)_family&oldid=119529.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 611-612. All rights reserved.

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