Schlichter, Samuel (1821-1873)

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Samuel Schlichter: farmer and the first preacher for scattered New Mennonites around New Dundee, Ontario, Canada, was born on 17 October 1821, the second son of his parent’s 12 children. His father was John Schlichter (1787-1846) who came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania to Waterloo County. His mother was Elizabeth Bechtel (1795-1876). They both died in New Dundee. Samuel married Catherine Detweiler from nearby North Dumfries Township on 19 November 1843, just as two of his sisters married Detweiler men. Catherine was born 12 March 1825 to Esther Zeigler (1789-1883), the second wife of Jacob Detweiler (1789-1875). Catherine and Samuel had at least seven children before she died on 4 March 1860. Sometime in 1861, Samuel married again, to Mary Break, daughter of John Break (1792-1842) and Catharine Betzner (1798-1873) and together they had six more children, the last being born months after Samuel’s own death on 17 July 1873. Samuel and his wives were buried in the Hallman Mennonite Cemetery, east of Roseville, Waterloo County, Ontario. Mary died 16 December 1889 in Brown City, Sanilac County, Michigan, USA, where several of her sons lived.

There was no public school in New Dundee until 1851, so it is not clear what formal schooling was available for Samuel Schlichter. In 1852, agreeing with the 1853 Wayland list in L. J. Burkholder’s A Brief History of the Mennonites in Ontario, Samuel Schlichter was ordained a preacher for the Blenheim Meeting House, about 2 km west of New Dundee. Schlichter inclined to revivalistic evangelicalism in his faith for by 1853 he was already preaching at the Blenheim Union Meeting House which was shared by Methodists, United Brethren in Christ, Evangelical Association and the newly forming New Mennonites from places such as the Detweiler Meeting House west of Roseville. He preferred to press people for a definite experience of the forgiveness of their sins and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Around 1854 or 1855, according to Ezra Eby, Schlichter left the Mennonite Conference of Ontario to identify with the New Mennonites, yet he is not listed as a member of the 1st Annual Conference of the Mennonites in Canada West and Ohio which met in Blair (then called Carlisle) on 25 May 1855. Even when he does appear in the minutes of that Conference (a part of the General Conference Mennonites in formation), he is called brother rather than bishop or preacher. When he appears in the membership and minutes of semi-annual conferences of the New Mennonites of Blair, however, he is accorded the title “Reverend”.

Samuel Schlichter was a founding member of the first Mennonite missionary society in Canada, called by New Mennonite preachers John McNally and headed by his brother-in-law, Abraham Zeigler Detweiler in September 1859. In the early 1860s, Schlichter made several pastoral journeys to visit New Mennonite families who had moved to pioneer in Huron County, Ontario. When Evangelical Mennonite preachers from Pennsylvania, Eusebius Hershey and Levi Jung, toured Canada in the 1860s, they preached in the homes of Samuel Schlichter and his Tunker brother-in-law Wendell Hallman, Senior.

Samuel Schlichter’s New Mennonites had several temporary preaching sites, including eight years sharing a building (he was a trustee) with the New Dundee Baptists (1862-1870). He helped draw up the preaching roster for the whole Ontario New Mennonite Conference in the later 1860s, but by 1870, he himself was not an itinerant preacher. He drew up a will in 1871, chiefly to care for his "beloved wife Mary" and added to it 11 days before he died on a Sunday in 1873.

The Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada congregation at New Dundee remembers him as their earliest preacher and should be counted as their first resident pastor, since he preached in the area where he grew up, farmed and died on the farm 1.6 kilometres east of New Dundee. Ezra Eby referred to Schlichter as a “noble worker” who was "sincere and diligent." He had a son, Wesley B. Schlichter, who was prominent minister in the Michigan Conference of the Mennonite Brethren in Christ Church. He described himself in his will as "a minister of the gospel."


Burkholder, Lewis J. A Brief History of the Mennonites in Ontario. Kitchener, Ontario: Mennonite Conference of Ontario, 1935: 304, 319.

Eby, Ezra E., Joseph Buchanan Snyder, and Eldon D. Weber. A Biographical History of Early Settlers and Their Descendants in Waterloo Township. Kitchener, Ont: Eldon D. Weber, 1971: [#entry number]. Available online at or in multiple electronic formats at

Good, Reginald E. Detweiler`s Meetinghouse: A History of Mennonites near Roseville, Ontario. Roseville, Ontario: Detweiler Meetinghouse, Inc., 1999: 31

Hoover, Muriel I. A History of Bethel Missionary Church New Dundee, Ontario, Canada. New Dundee, Ontario: Centennial Committee, 1978.

Jung, Levi, "The Diary of Levi Jung 1865-1868." Web. December 2013.

“New Mennonites” file in the Mennonite Brethren in Christ fonds, Mennonite Archives of Ontario.

"Schlichter." Waterloo Region Generations. Web. March 2014.

Schlichter, Samuel. “Last Will and Testament.” G 739, Land Registry Office. Kitchener, Ontario.

Author(s) Clare Fuller
Date Published March 2014

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Fuller, Clare. "Schlichter, Samuel (1821-1873)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2014. Web. 22 May 2024.,_Samuel_(1821-1873)&oldid=135612.

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Fuller, Clare. (March 2014). Schlichter, Samuel (1821-1873). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2024, from,_Samuel_(1821-1873)&oldid=135612.

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