Janzen, Jacob H. (1878-1950)

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Jacob H. Janzen (1878-1950)

Jacob H. Janzen was a Mennonite teacher, preacher, elder, and author, a man of rare gifts and rich understanding. He had a strong influence in the General Conference Mennonite Church. He was born in Steinbach, South Russia on 19 March 1878 to Heinrich Johann Janzen (25 January 1844 - November 1904) and Maria (Dirks) Janzen (b. 20 February 1845). Jacob's first wife was Helena Braun (14 July 1879, Gnadenfeld, Molotschna, South Russia - 29 July 1922, Tiege, Molotschna, South Russia), whom he married on 15 August 1899 in Gnadenfeld, Molotschna, South Russia. Helena was the daughter of Abraham Braun (ca. 1848 - bef. 1924). Seven children were born to Jacob and Helena: Heinz, Erna, Helga, Liesel, Schura, Sieghard, and Martha. Jacob's second wife was Elisabeth "Eliese" (Reimer) Neufeld (11 June 1884, Russia - 18 April 1950, Kitchener, Ontario), whom he married on 25 February 1923 in Karassan, Crimea, South Russia. Jacob died in Waterloo, Ontario on 16 February 1950 and was buried on 19 February in Waterloo.

Jacob was educated in the Gnadenfeld Zentralschule, and by industrious private study he acquired a teachers' certificate in Melitopol and Kharkov. In 1913-14 he studied philosophy and natural sciences at the universities of Jena and Greifswald in Germany. He served in Russia first as a village schoolteacher; from 1908 until 1921 he was head teacher of the Girls' School at Tiege, Molotschna. He was ordained to the ministry on 19 November 1906, in Gnadenfeld. Because he was a minister he was compelled by the Red government to give up his teaching position in 1921. From that time until his emigration he served the congregations with preaching and lecturing, and also represented the interests of the Mennonite Church to the government as a member of the Kommission für Kirchenangelegenheiten (KfK).

In the fall of 1924 Jacob arrived in Canada and settled in Waterloo, Ontario, where he was ordained as elder on 14 February 1926. He lived in Waterloo until his death, with the exception of 1935-1937, when he was the head of the Mary Martha Girls' Home in Vancouver and elder of the United Mennonite Church in British Columbia. In Ontario, especially in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, he did great work helping to gather and organize the new immigrants from Russia (those who arrived after 1924) into congregations. In addition he did much work as a traveling evangelist and as a writer. At least 38 published writings have come from his pen. Bethel College, where he lectured repeatedly, awarded him a doctor's degree in 1944 in recognition of his services for the Mennonite community. Particulars about his life and work, as well as a list of his writings, are found in Mennonite Life (July 1951) and also in Der Bote (12 April 1950). He was a pioneer Mennonite writer, his articles and short stories appearing in many European and North American Mennonite papers and yearbooks. (The J. H. Janzen collection is located in Bethel College Historical Library.)


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.05 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2008: #110526.

Archival Records

Mennonite Archives of Ontario, Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ontario. Hist. Mss. 1.22.

Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, MB: "Jacob H. Janzen fonds." Volumes 2112-3, 4565, 4566.

Additional Information

Audio Files

Clip (6:55) of Jacob Janzen preaching at the Johannesthal Mennonite Church, Hillsboro, Kansas on 23 March 1949.

Author(s) N. N. Driedger
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published March 2009

Cite This Article

MLA style

Driedger, N. N. and Richard D. Thiessen. "Janzen, Jacob H. (1878-1950)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2009. Web. 23 Jun 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Janzen,_Jacob_H._(1878-1950)&oldid=171058.

APA style

Driedger, N. N. and Richard D. Thiessen. (March 2009). Janzen, Jacob H. (1878-1950). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 June 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Janzen,_Jacob_H._(1878-1950)&oldid=171058.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 95-96. All rights reserved.

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