Petter, Marie Gerber (1869-1910)

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Petter family living in a tent cabin near Fonda, Oklahoma, while church was being built; L-R: Marie Petter, Rodolphe Petter, ? (standing), Chief Mower, ?, ?, Valdo Petter, daughter of Mower, daughter of Mower, ?, ?. Source [ Mennonite Library and Archives]. Photo 2003-0280

Marie Gerber Petter, was a General Conference Mennonite (GCM) missionary among the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho in Oklahoma (Indian Territory) from 1891 to 1910.

She was born 24 October 1869 to Christian Gerber (7 August 1818-27 January 1888) and Elizabeth Geiser Gerber (4 June 1827-30 December 1890), Mennonites living on the Les Veaux Farm in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland. (Her similarly-named elder sister Maria Anna Gerber was a deaconess and later relief worker in Armenia.) In 1890 Marie married Rodolphe Petter, of Reformed Church background, whom she had met while he was visiting her brother. When she and Rodolphe married, he joined her church.

When S. F. Sprunger from Berne, Indiana, visited Switzerland, he persuaded the Petters to come to the United States as the first Swiss Mennonite missionaries. The Petters toured Mennonite congregations in North America and spent a year in English language study before beginning their missionary assignment in Indian Territory. They were the first missionary couple there to be assigned exclusively to reaching adults and to learning the language. Two children were born to the Petters: Olga and Valdo. Marie Gerber Petter died 31 July 1910 of tuberculosis. She is buried in the Cantonment, Oklahoma.


Barrett, Lois. The Vision and the Reality: The Story of Home Missions in the General Conference Mennonite Church. Newton, KS: Faith and Life, 1983: index.

Petter, Rodolphe. "Some Reminiscences of Past Years in My Mission Service Among the Cheyenne." Mennonite 51, no. 44 (10 November 1936): 16 (also printed as a separate pamphlet).

Author(s) Lois Barrett
Date Published 1987

Cite This Article

MLA style

Barrett, Lois. "Petter, Marie Gerber (1869-1910)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Marie_Gerber_(1869-1910)&oldid=171359.

APA style

Barrett, Lois. (1987). Petter, Marie Gerber (1869-1910). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Marie_Gerber_(1869-1910)&oldid=171359.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 699-700. All rights reserved.

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