Smissen, Carl Justus van der (1811-1890)

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Carl Justus and Sara van der Smissen
Photograher: T. D. Wolbach, Wadsworth, Ohio
Source: Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, North Newton, KS: #2009-0211

Carl Justus van der Smissen, a Mennonite General Conference Church minister and educator, was born at Altona, Germany, on 14 July 1811, the son of Jacob II van der Smissen. He attended school at Friedrichstadt and Ratzeburg. He was baptized in 1826, in which year he went with his parents to Danzig where his father received a call as a minister. There he learned the trade of bookbinding. With the mediation of Johann E. Gossner he spent some time in this line of work in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1832 he began his study at the Missionshaus of Basel, preparing for the ministry. After three years he spent two years at the University of Erlangen. In 1837 he accepted the call of the Mennonite church of Friedrichstadt, and married Sarah van der Smissen. Among the eight children born to them were Carl H. A. and Hillegonda Cornelia. Under the influence of such pietists as Gossner, van der Smissen caused a revival in the congregation. In 1850 the war compelled the family to go to Hamburg. The following year he returned to his work.

In 1867 the General Conference Mennonite Church extended a call to van der Smissen to become the teacher of theological subjects at the Wadsworth School in Ohio. The family moved to Wadsworth in 1868. For ten years he taught at this school. Many leaders and ministers of the General Conference received their training under him, the first American teacher and minister with a formal theological training. After the close of the school, van der Smissen became the minister of the Salem Mennonite Church at Haysville, Ohio, in 1879. He served for many years as secretary of the Board of Missions (1872-90) and edited the mission paper, Nachrichten aus der Heidentvelt (1877-81). He remained active in his pastoral work almost to the close of his life, which occurred on 29 May 1890. His sermons have been preserved in the van der Smissen Collection (Mennonite Library and Archives [North Newton, Kansas]).


Krehbiel, H. P. The History of the General Conference . . . 1898: 436-40.

Smissen C. H. A. van der and S. F. Sprunger. "Lebensbeschreibung von Carl Justus van der Smissen." Christlicher Bundesbote (12 June 1890): 4.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius. "Smissen, Carl Justus van der (1811-1890)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 17 Aug 2022.,_Carl_Justus_van_der_(1811-1890)&oldid=163005.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Smissen, Carl Justus van der (1811-1890). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 17 August 2022, from,_Carl_Justus_van_der_(1811-1890)&oldid=163005.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 550. All rights reserved.

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