Jantzi, Joseph G. (1835-1918)

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Joseph G. Jantzi: farmer and first Old Order Amish ordained leader in Ontario, was born 1 May 1835 to John F. Jantzi (24 March 1806-12 December 1881) and Elizabeth Gerber Jantzi (2 January 1806-25 June 1890). Joseph was the second child in a family of six sons and four daughters. In 1834 Joseph’s parents immigrated from France to Lewis County, New York, USA, where their second child, Joseph, was born. Seeking better farm land, the Jantzi family was part of a contingent of Lewis County Amish who in 1838 moved to the Amish settlement in Wilmot Township, Waterloo County, Ontario. On 8 January 1860 Joseph G. Jantzi married Catherine Schwartzentruber (20 October 1835-13 November 1907). They were blessed with 11 children—eight daughters and three sons.

When the Wellesley Amish Mennonite congregation was organized as an offshoot of the Wilmot congregation in 1859, Joseph's father was ordained as the new congregation’s first bishop. On 18 June 1865 Joseph was ordained a deacon and served alongside his father. Beginning with East Zorra in 1883, all the Amish congregations in Ontario decided to build meetinghouses. In 1886 when the Wellesley congregation decided to hold their church services in a meetinghouse, Joseph was the only ordained leader who opposed this innovation. Joseph and most of his extended Jantzi family were the tradition-minded members who split from the main congregation and continued worshipping in homes and barns. From the beginning they worked closely with a like-minded congregation in nearby Mornington Township which emerged after the Poole congregation built a meetinghouse in 1889.

Because the Wellesley and Mornington Old Order Amish congregations didn't have a resident bishop for the first years of their existence, Old Order bishops from Holmes County, Ohio, served communion and officiated at baptisms. As a result, the Ontario congregations were nicknamed "the Holmsers." Later this group became known by the name which gained general usage in the USA for similar groups, "Old Order Amish." In 1891 Joseph's younger brother, Peter G. Jantzi, was ordained as minister and, a year later, the bishop of the Wellesley Old Order Amish congregation.

As deacon of the congregation, Joseph was the "Armen Diener" or minister to the poor. After his ordination, Joseph purchased a small account booklet and began recording the "Armen Geld" (poor money). His first entry in the alms book was dated 1868 and stated, "This little booklet belongs to me, Joseph G. Jantzi and contains a record of the poor money which I received from the congregation and how much I have paid out." Since the Amish custom was to give alms for the poor twice a year at the spring and fall communion services, the entries in the booklet generally corresponded with that practice. Joseph recorded amounts paid out for a funeral, for keeping someone "during his sickness," for "keeping" a "lame" church member, for keeping impoverished seniors and for hail damage done to a church member's grain crop. In September 1887 Joseph recorded donations which were given for two Ontario Amish families which had migrated to Nebraska and Kansas and suffered hard times.

Before establishing their own cemeteries, the Holmsers used the cemeteries which were maintained by the meetinghouse groups. Thus, Joseph, who died 22 June 1918, and Catherine Jantzi were buried in the Maple View (Amish) Mennonite Church cemetery. Joseph G. Jantzi is remembered for his 53 years of service as a deacon and as the first Old Order Amish ordained leader in Ontario.


Gingerich, Orland. The Amish of Canada. Waterloo, Ontario: Conrad Press, 1972: 75-76, 170-171.

Luthy, David. "The Jantzi family comes to Canada." Family Life (February 1990): 21-23.

Maple View Mennonite Church history book: 1859-1984, 1984-2009. Wellesley, Ont.: Maple View Mennonite Church, 2009.

Roth, Lorraine. "Summary of the Jantzi / Yantzi / Yancey families." Unpublished papers at Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

Author(s) Fred Lichti
Date Published February 2018

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MLA style

Lichti, Fred. "Jantzi, Joseph G. (1835-1918)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2018. Web. 24 Sep 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Jantzi,_Joseph_G._(1835-1918)&oldid=156582.

APA style

Lichti, Fred. (February 2018). Jantzi, Joseph G. (1835-1918). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Jantzi,_Joseph_G._(1835-1918)&oldid=156582.

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