Friesen, Johann J. (1869-1935)

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Johann J. Friesen, minister and elder: b. 6 December 1869 in Russia, the eldest of nine children of Jacob Friesen (21 August 1840–12 February 1927) and Helena (Siemens) Friesen (13 July 1846–21 February 1923).  Johann married Maria Fehr (19 September 1879–13 May 1931), daughter of Abram Fehr (6 September 1856–10 August 1922) and Maria (Doell) Fehr (9 June 1858–7 October 1888) on 16 July 1899 and they raised six foster children: Abraham Klassen, Johann Klassen, Peter Hamm, Elisabeth Hamm, Cornelius Loepki, and Agatha Loepki. After Maria's death, he married Sara Loewen (b. 16 August 1901) on 24 December 1931 in Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico.  She was the daughter of Jacob Loewen (22 July 1865–14 July 1941) and Katharina (Harms) Loewen (3 February 1870–12 March 1942).  Johann and Sara had one child, Jacob.  Johann d. 2 August 1935 in Mexico.

Johann emigrated from Russia with his parents in 1875, settling in southern Manitoba.  He became an elder in the Reinländer or Old Colony Mennonite Church of Manitoba where he served in the village of Neuenburg.  When the federal government introduced national registration during World War I, Friesen negotiated with Prime Minister Borden and representatives of the National Service to obtain exemptions for men in the Reinländer churches. The Reinländer felt increasingly threatened by various items of government legislation, particularly legislation that reduced their control over their own schools, and the decision was made to emigrate. Friesen was part of the delegations sent to Mississippi (12-29 April 1920) and to Quebec (19 August 1920) to find new land for settlement. Once satisfactory arrangements were made for settlement in Mexico, Johann Friesen insisted that immigration was necessary for all those who wished to remain members of the church.  When he left for Mexico in 1923, he, like the other two Reinländer bishops, refused to install any successor to serve those who remained behind. He continued to provide leadership to the Mennonites in Mexico.


Ens, Adolf. Subjects or Citizens? The Mennonite Experience in Canada, 1870-1925. Ottawa:  The University of Ottawa Press, 1994: 156, 174, 204, 216.

Dyck, John and William Harms, eds. Reinländer Gemeinde Buch 1880-1903. Winnipeg, MB:  The Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, 1994.

Author(s) H.H. Hamm
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published January 2006

Cite This Article

MLA style

Hamm, H.H. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Friesen, Johann J. (1869-1935)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. January 2006. Web. 24 Jul 2021.,_Johann_J._(1869-1935)&oldid=87603.

APA style

Hamm, H.H. and Richard D. Thiessen. (January 2006). Friesen, Johann J. (1869-1935). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 July 2021, from,_Johann_J._(1869-1935)&oldid=87603.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 405. All rights reserved.

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