Schmidt, Nikolai (1815-1874)

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Nikolai Schmidt: primarily responsible for the founding of the Templer movement among the Mennonites of the Molotschna settlement, Russia; born 22 July 1815 in Steinbach, Molotschna Settlement, South Russia. He was the eldest of twelve children of Peter Daniel Schmidt (29 November 1789 – 12 May 1856) and Anna (Wiens) Schmidt (20 March 1796 – 4 November 1870). Nikolai’s first wife was Katharina Dyck. Nikolai married for the second time on 24 October 1835 to Katharina Matthies (21 March 1816, Rudnerweide, Molotschna Settlement, South Russia – 6 February 1880, Jerusalem, Palestine), daughter of Abraham Isaac Matthies (b. 25 January 1781) and Gertruda (Klaassen) Matthies (b. 19 April 1783). Nikolai and Katharina had eight children: Abraham, Nikolai, Anna, Peter, Gertrude, Tinchen, Marichen, and Barbara. Nikolai died 14 September 1874 at Taganrog, South Russia.

Nikolai’s maternal grandfather, Klaas K. Wiens (1768-1820), was the first Oberschulze of the Molotschna Mennonite Settlement and founded the Steinbach estate in 1812. Nikolai’s father Peter eventually took over the estate.

During his journeys in Germany Nikolai became acquainted with the educational institute Kirschenhardthof, Württemberg, under Christoph Paulus (whose son Christoph Daniel Paulus later married Nikolai’s youngest daughter Barbara). Johannes Lange was sent to attend this school and became the first teacher of the Gnadenfeld Bruderschule (established in 1857), of which Nikolai and Johann Schmidt were board members. This school became the testing ground that led to the founding of the Mennonite Brethren and the Templer movements. Nikolai Schmidt was an outstanding leader of the movement, transplanting the ideas of the Templer movement from South Germany into the Mennonite environment of the Molotschna and in the establishment of the Tempelhof settlement at Kuban. He went to Palestine to investigate settlement possibilities and died on the way to Palestine in 1874 while migrating with a group. His wife Katharina and children Nikolai, Peter, Gertrude, Tinchen, Marichen, and Barbara all moved to Palestine in the 1870s.

Son Nikolai Schmidt II (29 September 1839 – 28 December 1876), as well as grandson, Nikolai Schmidt III, born 13 April 1876, also played a significant role in the movement. The latter was mayor of the Templer colony of Jerusalem after World War I and leader of the group during the trying years of World War II. He died in Australia, 10 January 1953.


Isaac, Franz. Die Molotschnaer Mennoniten. Halbstadt, 1908: 207-66.

Sawatzky, H. Templer mennonitischer Herkunft. Winnipeg, 1955: 22, 46-49.

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

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MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Schmidt, Nikolai (1815-1874)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2007. Web. 6 Dec 2021.,_Nikolai_(1815-1874)&oldid=134905.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (February 2007). Schmidt, Nikolai (1815-1874). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 6 December 2021, from,_Nikolai_(1815-1874)&oldid=134905.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 467. All rights reserved.

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