Friesen, Abraham (1782-1849)

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Abraham Friesen: elder of the Kleine Gemeinde, of Ohrloff, Molotschna; born 13 July 1782 in Tiegenhagen, Prussia, the son of Abraham von Riesen (28 September 1756 - 18 March 1810, Ohrloff, Molotschna, South Russia) and Margaretha (Wiebe) von Riesen (October 1754 - June 1810, Ohrloff, Molotschna, South Russia). On 10 October 1807 Abraham married Katharina Wiebe (30 October 1781 - 20 October 1854) in Molotschna Mennonite Settlement, South Russia. Katharina was the daughter of Heinrich Wiebe and Katharina (Schierling) Wiebe. Abraham and Katharina had eight children: Jacob (also a Kleine Gemeinde minister, father of Abraham L. Friesen), Katharina (died young), Margaretha (mother of Abraham Thiessen [1838-1889]), Abraham, Heinrich, Peter (a Kleine Gemeinde deacon), Katharina, and Elisabeth. Friesen died 1 July 1849 in Ohrloff, Molotschna, South Russia.

Abraham immigrated with his parents in 1803 from Kaltenherberge, Prussia to Russia, settling in the Molotschna Mennonite Settlement. Abraham was elected as a minister in the Kleine Gemeinde Church in 1823, and elected to succeed Klaas Reimer as elder on 3 April 1838. Bernhard Fast of the Ohrloff Mennonite Church, having been requested to ordain him, discussed the matter with his coelders, Peter Wedel, Wilhelm Lange, Benjamin Ratzlaff, and Abraham Friesen. Since Friesen was not willing to agree to certain conditions—such as not accepting members from other congregations without a church letter—for his ordination as elder, he assumed the elder's functions without the usual ordination. When the elders were reluctant to recognize Abraham Friesen as an elder of the Kleine Gemeinde, Johann Cornies had him decreed an elder in 1843 by the Board of Guardians (Fürsorgeamt) at Odessa. Abraham Friesen must have been a better educated leader than his predecessor, Klaas Reimer. Numerous (handwritten) writings by him have been preserved and can be found in homes of the members of the Kleine Gemeinde and in the Mennonite Library and Archives (North Newton, Kansas). The booklet, Eine einfache Erklärung über einige Glaubenssätze der sogenannten Kleinen Gemeine (Danzig, 1845), written by a "Faithful servant," has under the conclusion the initials "A. F.," which very likely stand for Abraham Friesen. This booklet also contains the correspondence with Elder Bernhard Fast.

Abraham served as elder until 1847 when his nephew Johann F. Friesen (1808-1872) was elected to replace him.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.06 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2011: #3593.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 5.

Plett, Delbert F. "A Biography of Aeltester Abraham Friesen (1782-1849), Ohrloff, Molotschna Colony, South Russia: Evangelical Missioner." In Leaders of the Mennonite Kleine Gemeinde In Russia, 1812 to 1874, edited by Delbert F. Plett. The Mennonite Kleine Gemeinde Historical Series 6. Steinbach, MB: Crossway Publications, 1993: 223-236.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published May 2011

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MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Friesen, Abraham (1782-1849)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2011. Web. 25 Oct 2021.,_Abraham_(1782-1849)&oldid=145183.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (May 2011). Friesen, Abraham (1782-1849). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 October 2021, from,_Abraham_(1782-1849)&oldid=145183.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 403. All rights reserved.

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