Unruh, Kornelius Benjamin (1849-1910)

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Kornelius Benjamin Unruh: an educator of the Mennonites of Russia; born in 1849 in the village of Waldheim, Molotschna settlement, Russia. He was the second of seven children of Benjamin Unruh (1818-1907) and Maria (Kunkel) Unruh (1828-1903). His grandfather was a minister of the Brenkenhoffswalde church in West Prussia. Kornelius married Maria Epp and had three children: Kornelius, Fritz, and Anna. His son, Kornelius K. Unruh, was a lawyer in Ekaterinoslav. Benjamin H. Unruh and Abraham H. Unruh were his nephews, children of his younger brother Heinrich Benjamin Unruh, (see additional information for further information regarding Kornelius's family). Kornelius died 17 August 1910 in Friedensfeld, Zagradovka, South Russia.

Kornelius received his training in the Halbstadt Zentralschule under Gustav Rempel. At seventeen he started teaching on an estate and later at Blumenort, Molotschna. He had an unusual thirst for knowledge. During his free time and in summer he read and studied privately in Ekaterinoslav, Kiev, and Odessa. He mastered the Russian and French languages and was thoroughly acquainted with modern methods of education. He introduced Russian into the Blumenort elementary school.

In 1870 Unruh accepted the position as teacher at the Halbstadt Zentralschule. After one year he spent three years in Switzerland and Moscow. He studied at the Muristalden (Bern) Protestant normal school and numerous other schools. After his return to Russia he spent one winter in Moscow in private study. In the summer of 1873 he married Maria Epp and became principal of the Ohrloff Zentralschule, where he taught for 32 years. He was also elected minister of the Orloff Mennonite Church in 1883. In co-operation with others he helped to produce a number of textbooks for Mennonite schools, including the following: Biblische Geschichten für mennonitische Elementarschulen. Oberstufe (Halbstadt, 1902); Leitfaden zur Kirchen-geschichte für mennonitische Centralschulen in Russland (Neuhalbstadt, 1890); Leitfaden für den Religionsunterricht in den mennonitischen Centralschulen Russlands (Halbstadt, 1906); Kratkaya Nemetskaya Grammatika . . . (a brief German grammar for elementary schools in Russia) (Berdyansk, 1898).

In 1905 Unruh resigned from his position and established a secondary school near Novo-Poltavka in the province of Kherson. After two years he established a Bible school in Friedensfeld, Zagradovka settlement. In addition to this he taught Bible and German at the Zagradovka Zentralschule. Because of his extraordinary weight (ca. 400 pounds), his heart suffered severely during the last years of his life.

K. B. Unruh possessed an unusual capacity for work and was an outstanding educator. Peter M. Friesen, who was his friend and colleague, ranks him next to Tobias Voth, Heinrich Hesse, and Heinrich Franz.


Friesen, Peter M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) im Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt: Verlagsgesellschaft "Raduga", 1911: 590, 600.

Görz, Heinrich. Die Molotschnaer Ansiedlung. Steinbach, 1951: 162.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006: #133606.

Additional Information

Kornelius’s parents were Benjamin B. Unruh (10 November 1818, Zofyovka, Volhynia – 21 June 1907, Tokultschak, Crimea, South Russia) and Maria (Kunkel) Unruh (6 January 1828, Volhynia – 1903, Crimea, South Russia).

In 1873 Kornelius married Maria Epp (b. Waldheim, Molotschna, South Russia). They had three children: Kornelius, Fritz, and Anna.

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

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MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. "Unruh, Kornelius Benjamin (1849-1910)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2007. Web. 8 Feb 2023. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Unruh,_Kornelius_Benjamin_(1849-1910)&oldid=132473.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Richard D. Thiessen. (May 2007). Unruh, Kornelius Benjamin (1849-1910). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 8 February 2023, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Unruh,_Kornelius_Benjamin_(1849-1910)&oldid=132473.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, pp. 785-786. All rights reserved.

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