Penner, Gerhard (1805-1878)

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Gerhard Penner.
Source: Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, KS: 2003-0021

Gerhard Penner: elder of the Heubuden Mennonite Church, West Prussia; born 20 May 1805 in Marienburg, West Prussia, the son of Heinrich Penner and Anna (Fast) Penner.  He was baptized 19 May 1823 in the Heubuden Church.  He married Agathe Goossen (7 February 1812 – 24 August 1875, Koczelitzky, Gross Werder, Prussia) on 16 February 1830.  She was the daughter of Johann Goossen and Catharina (Hamm) Goossen. Gerhard and Agathe had three children that lived to adulthood: Heinrich, Gerhard, and Johannes.  Gerhard died 20 February 1878 in Nebraska, USA.

Gerhard was the leader of the conservative Mennonites who opposed the acceptance of the constitution adopted by the North German Confederation on 18 October 1867, which stipulated that the Mennonites accept noncombatant services. Twenty-three representatives of the West Prussian congregations met in his house at Warnau (Koczelitzky) and a delegation of five was sent to Berlin to interview Alfred von Roon, the Prussian Minister of War. Nevertheless the law pertaining to military service was published, and the delegation was summoned to Berlin once more. When Gerhard Penner, Johann Andreas, and others saw that they would be compelled to accept noncombatant service, Penner migrated to Beatrice, Nebraska in 1877, with a minority of the large Heubuden congregation. He died there in February 1878. 

Penner had served the Heubuden congregation as elder since 20 May 1852. In 1877 he resigned because the majority of the members were willing to accept noncombatant service. Gerhard Penner of Irrgang, minister of the Heubuden Church 1861-67, was his nephew. In 1888 Gerhard Penner Jr., son of Elder Gerhard Penner, was ordained as minister and elder of the First Mennonite Church of Beatrice and served until 1920 when he was succeeded by Franz Albrecht. Cornelius Penner, the son of Gerhard Penner, also served the congregation as minister.


Andreas, W. C. "High Lights and Side Lights of the Mennonites in Beatrice." Mennonite Life I (July 1946): 21 ff.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006: #69989.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Richard D. Thiessen
Date Published December 2007

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Penner, Gerhard (1805-1878)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2007. Web. 24 Sep 2023.,_Gerhard_(1805-1878)&oldid=163649.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (December 2007). Penner, Gerhard (1805-1878). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 September 2023, from,_Gerhard_(1805-1878)&oldid=163649.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1114. All rights reserved.

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