Dÿck, Franz (1822-1887)

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Franz Dÿck: minister and pioneer recorder; born 14 November 1822 in Osterwick, Russia to Jacob Dÿck (1787-1847) and Helena (Wall) Dÿck (1792-1874). He was the fourth of eight children. He married Margaretha Buhr (1828-1853), daughter of Kornelius Buhr and Maria Driediger, in 1846. The marriage was childless, and Margaretha died seven years later. In 1854, Franz married Justina Klassen, the daughter of Martin and Helena (Martens) Klassen. The couple had 12 children, but only four survived their childhood years. Franz died on 8 June 1887 in the Rural Municipality of Hanover in Manitoba.

Franz Dÿck came from a family of ministers. Several of his cousins held the position of Ältester in their communities, while others married men in similar church leadership roles. Franz worked for a time as a teacher in the Schönthal school. On 25 November 1854 he was called to the ministry in the Bergthal church. By 1874 he was the most senior minister of seven serving the Bergthal church. As a prominent man in the community, he became an intermediary between the colonists and the government, and he helped some of the colonists with obtaining permission to emigrate.

Conditions for the Mennonites continued to worsen despite the efforts of people like Franz Dÿck, and the first group of Bergthal emigrants left the Nikolaiowsky train station on 16 June 1874. Four ministers from the Bergthal church left with the group, but Franz was one of the three remaining to care for the spiritual needs of the people who stayed. The next year, he was left in charge as sole minister of the church, caring for the congregation’s spiritual needs after the other ministers left for Canada. For over a year, Franz Dÿck ministered as Assistant Ältester to what remained of the Bergthal congregation. However, his time for departure soon came, and together with his wife, five children, and the final group of emigrants from Bergthal, Franz left for Canada in 1876, arriving in Quebec at the end of July.

Immigrating to Canada opened new opportunities for Franz Dÿck. He was a talented speaker and writer, and had even helped draft a petition to the Russian government in 1873 to ask the Tsar not to rescind the privileges Mennonites had enjoyed for almost a century. In Canada, Franz found his skills were needed once again. The Dÿck family settled in Schönsee, Manitoba, a town in rapid decline with families moving away to North Dakota and Minnesota. Church records were in a state of disarray, and the congregation needed someone to travel around the area, surveying the Mennonite families for the vital statistics to include in a new set of church family registers. 

Franz Dÿck had a gift for organization, and his neatness and accuracy prompted the church to ask him to keep the registers updated. He journeyed from one community to another, polling community members about their plans for the future and noting gatherings and special meetings. Some of these special gatherings were in his own home; on 17 June 1883, a communion service took place in the Dÿck house, with 21 people attending. In 1881, Franz conducted a similar survey for the West Reserve, noting the baptisms, celebrations, and other events in the life of the church. As the communities changed, Franz wrote out new registers to reflect the new congregational mix, leaving an accurate picture of the churches and families of southern Manitoba. These registers compiled for members on the East Reserve became known as the Chortitzer Church Registers and registers compiled on the West Reserve, the Registers of the Church at West Lynne.

Franz Dÿck continued to work as a minister, instructing youth and officiating at weddings and funerals. He also had time to write out the regulations governing mutual aid organizations such as the Brandordnung fire insurance program, while also earning a living on his farm. At his death in June of 1887, he was still working hard for the church.

Franz Dÿck was a dedicated leader who served the Mennonite community both in Russia and in Canada.


Dyck, John.  “Minister Franz Dÿck (1822-87):  Pioneer Recorder”  Preservings No. 11 (December 1997):  81-83. 

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2007: #184988.

Unger, Henry, Martha Martens and Adolf Ens. Sommerfeld Gemeinde Buch: Registers of the Church at WestLynne, 1881-1935. Winnipeg, MB: Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, 2004: xiii-xii.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published October 2007

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Huebert, Susan. "Dÿck, Franz (1822-1887)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2007. Web. 24 Jul 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=D%C3%BFck,_Franz_(1822-1887)&oldid=118141.

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Huebert, Susan. (October 2007). Dÿck, Franz (1822-1887). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 July 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=D%C3%BFck,_Franz_(1822-1887)&oldid=118141.

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