Smid family

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Smid (Smit), a Mennonite family at Balk, Dutch province of Friesland, found there from at least 1672. Many of its members served as deacons, preachers, and elders in the Balk congregation, which more than other Dutch congregations held to the old Mennonite principles and practices—ban, nonresistance, lay ministry, difference of the functions of elder and preacher, plain dress, Biestkens Bible. From 1800 to his death in 1844 Meine Obes (Obbes) was at first a preacher and then an elder of this church. Of great significance and blessing was Johannes Obes (circa 1765-1828), who assumed the family name of Smit (Smid), being a blacksmith. In 1814, at his own expense, he reprinted for the congregation the Klein Hoorns Liedboek, a 17th-century Dutch Mennonite hymnal which was used at Balk until 1848, when the Uitgezochte Liederen were adopted to be used together with the Hoorns Liedboek. In 1824-25 he reprinted Tieleman van Braght's Schole der Deugd and Pieter Boudewijn's Onderwijzinge des Christelijken Geloofs. In 1828, after Johannes' death, his eldest son Obe Smid (1802-50) became a preacher of the congregation. He was a good leader with great gifts of heart and head. He diligently studied the writings of Menno Simons, Dirk Philips, and Pieter Jansz Twisck. Besides a diary he wrote a number of doctrinal and devotional tracts, one of which, entitled Verklaring van 't groote gebod Gods, was published at Sneek in 1848. A list of the manuscripts he left behind is found in Mennonite Quarterly Review 30 (1956): 130 f. Obe Smid, who was unmarried, died in 1850, apparently somewhat disappointed in the spiritual development of the congregation, which had partly left the old paths.

Ruurd Johannes Smid (1814-93), the third son of Preacher Johannes Smid, was appointed preacher in 1847 and elder in 1849. On 9 May 1853, together with Preacher R. J. Sijmensma, he led the emigration of a large part of the Balk congregation to the United States. For this exodus (19 of the 30 Balk members, with their children 52 souls, emigrated) there were different reasons: not only, though predominantly the desire to maintain the old Mennonite principles and practices, particularly that of nonresistance, but also because economic conditions had become difficult for them. In five letters, three by Smid and two by Sijmensma, they informed the part of the Balk congregation which had not joined the emigration, of their trip and their first experiences in America. (These letters were published in Gorter's Doopsgezinde Lectuur, 1854.) The Balk group first moved to Dover, Ohio, from where some pioneers, including Smid, moved to Indiana where they found farm land near Goshen. The group, apparently because of its small size, did not organize a church here, but worshiped with some German-speaking Mennonite (MC) in "the Christophel Meeting House" (Yellow Creek church). Ruurd Smid (he soon Americanized his name as Smith) preached sometimes in this church as he did later in the Salem church. In 1874 "the Christophel Church, including the Holland brethren" was "under charge of R. J. Schmidt" (Smith). During the first years after the immigration, when the Balk people were not yet well acquainted with the English language, Ruurd Smid often preached in the homes of the members. Mrs. Smith's diary relates that Ruurd Johannes Smid became sick on 20 April and died on 26 April 1893. Mrs. Smith, nee Grietje (Margaret) Sijmensma, was a sister of Preacher R. J. Sijmensma (1820-1911).


Brüsewitz, C. F. "De Doopsgezinden van Balk." Stemmen uit de Doopsgexinde Broederschap V (1956): No. 4.

Brüsewitz, C. F. "The Mennonites of Balk." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXX (January 1956).

Doopsgezinde Bijdragen (1861): 130; (1887): 112.

Doopsgezind Jaarboekje (1950): 49 f., 195 f.

Yoder, Marie. "The Balk Dutch Settlement near Goshen, Indiana." Mennonite Quarterly Review XXX (January 1956).

Author(s) Nanne van der Zijpp
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. "Smid family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 26 Jan 2021.

APA style

Zijpp, Nanne van der. (1959). Smid family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 26 January 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 548-549. All rights reserved.

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