Penner, Martin (1849-1928)

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Martin Penner: minister and farmer; born on 25 November 1849 in Margenau, Molotschna Colony, Russia, to Peter and Katharina (Rempel) Penner. He was the second of five brothers born to his father’s second wife. Martin was baptized on 24 October 1871 and married Aganetha B. Toews (1854-1928), daughter of Peter W. and Aganetha (Barkman) Toews, on 11 December 1871 in Rosenfeld, Borosenko, Russia. The couple had thirteen children, ten of whom lived to adulthood. The Penners left Russia for Canada in July 1874.

Martin grew up in a large family. His father married five times and had 25 children, only twelve of whom lived to adulthood. Martin was 6 years old when his mother died, but he soon had a new stepmother to look after him. When Martin married Aganetha Toews at age 22, his father had already married for the fourth time.

Aganetha grew up in the same area as Martin and his siblings. In the late 1860s, both the Penner and Toews families moved to Rosenfeld in the Borosenko area, and Martin and Aganetha were neighbours for some years. They married on 11 December 1871 and settled on a farm in Rosenfeld. Their first child, a daughter, was born in 1872 but died the next year.

As political conditions in Russia threatened the Mennonites’ privileges, many Mennonites began to consider emigration. Martin and Aganetha’s fathers, Peter W. Toews and Peter Penner, were involved in helping the Rosenfeld villagers sell their property in preparation for the move. They settled in Blumenort, Manitoba (East Reserve), Canada in 1874 .

Martin Penner and his family were among the second group of Kleine Gemeinde immigrants to arrive in Manitoba.  Martin filed for two homesteads, one in 1874 and the second in 1878, but the family lived in the village of Blumenort. There, Martin established a sawmill, using his father’s steam engine for power. He also became involved in the community, serving on the local school board.

Martin bought a large plot of land to farm in the Greenland area, near Ste. Anne, Manitoba in 1891. They did well on their new land, and soon the farm was one of the largest in the community.

Besides his work as a farmer and businessman, Martin was a devout member in the Mennonite church. In 1881 he experienced a conversion experience as a result of John Holdeman’s revival meetings, was baptized into the Church of God in Christ Mennonite, and elected as a minister weeks later in 1882. He travelled from congregation to congregation, preaching, visiting in homes and overseeing the work of the church. He also wrote theological articles for the church paper, the Botschafter der Wahrheit.  In 1928, Aganetha’s health began to fail, and she died on 26 June 1928. A little over a month later, Martin died 38 days later, on 6 August 1928 in Greenland, Manitoba.

Martin Penner was a dedicated farmer and a committed minister.


Penner, John G. “Rev. Martin Penner (1849-1928), Greenland.”  Preservings No. 11 (December 1997): 85-87.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2007: #5783.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published 2007

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Huebert, Susan. "Penner, Martin (1849-1928)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2007. Web. 11 Jul 2020.,_Martin_(1849-1928)&oldid=118587.

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Huebert, Susan. (2007). Penner, Martin (1849-1928). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 11 July 2020, from,_Martin_(1849-1928)&oldid=118587.

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