Schellenberg, Elisabeth Warkentin (1819-1905)

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Elisabeth Warkentin Schellenberg: medicine expert and artist; born 11 May 1819 in Blumstein, Molotschna Colony, Russia, to Cornelius C. Warkentin (1777-1847) and Katherina (Warkentin) Warkentin (1784-1852). She was sixth in a family of six daughters and two sons. She married Gerhard Schellenberg (1 December 1827, Blumstein, Molotschna, South Russia - 15 November 1908, Rosenfeld, Manitoba) on 25 December 1847. Gerhard was the son of Gerhard Aron Schellenberg (1797-1837) and Elizabeth (Kasdorf) Schellenberg (1792-1864).  Elisabeth and Gerhard had a son and a daughter, but the daughter died young. Elisabeth died on 10 July 1905 in Rosenfeld, Manitoba.      

Elisabeth Warkentin was known for her artistic ability and intelligence. Her Fraktur drawings on a Gesangbuch and her many paintings and sketches are examples of the first, while her intellectual side was evident in her avid reading and spiritual musings. She believed in a deeper, more all-encompassing faith than she saw in her parents’ church and soon left the mainstream Mennonite Church for the Kleine Gemeinde. She was baptized on 2 June 1840 in a Kleine Gemeinde church. Her affiliation with this group angered her father, who disinherited her. For a time, Elisabeth had no contact with her family, but eventually she and her sister Anna reconciled. Anna came to an enthusiastic agreement with Elisabeth’s convictions, although she remained part of the Grosse Gemeinde. It was through Anna’s intervention that Elisabeth and their father finally reconciled. Before his death in 1847, Cornelius rewrote his will to include Elisabeth and then went to visit his estranged daughter. In December 1847, two months after her father’s death, Elisabeth married Gerhard Schellenberg of the Kleine Gemeinde. The couple lived in Ohrloff, Molotschna Colony. Their son Gerhard was born in 1851 and their daughter Margaretha in 1861.                 

Elisabeth Warkentin Schellenberg was a very talented person. Besides developing her artistic abilities, she became knowledgeable about medicines; in 1863, she even began writing her own book of remedies for such ailments as jaundice, headaches, and snake bites. She may also have acted as a midwife for the community for some years.                 

Church and faith were central to the Schellenberg family. Gerhard and Elisabeth joined the Kleine Gemeinde church in Ohrloff in 1864, and they remained with that congregation even after it split in 1866. That year, Gerhard and Elisabeth Schellenberg moved to a village called Rosenfeld, which the Kleine Gemeinde had founded near Nikopol and where Gerhard became a minister. Although Elisabeth was wary of her sister’s exuberant conversion experience, she also had a deep faith that withstood her father’s disapproval and the other trials of her life.                          

Change came again for Elisabeth Schellenberg and her family when political shifts in the 1870s made emigration desirable and the Schellenbergs moved to Canada. They were among the founding families in Rosenfeld, west of Steinbach, Manitoba. Tragedy struck, however, when Elisabeth and Gerhard’s daughter, Margaretha, died the year after the family’s arrival in Canada.                 

Elisabeth Schellenberg was a unique person. Although her art and medical knowledge made her stand out among the other villagers, her quiet persistence and her patient acceptance of the people around her were particularly notable. She lived a life of dedication to her family, her church, and her God.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.03 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2007: #6338.

Plett, Delbert F. “Elisabeth Warkentin Schellenberg, 1819-1905.”  Preservings No. 10 Part II (June 1997): 67-70.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published October 2007

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Huebert, Susan. "Schellenberg, Elisabeth Warkentin (1819-1905)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2007. Web. 28 Sep 2022.,_Elisabeth_Warkentin_(1819-1905)&oldid=118710.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (October 2007). Schellenberg, Elisabeth Warkentin (1819-1905). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 28 September 2022, from,_Elisabeth_Warkentin_(1819-1905)&oldid=118710.

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