Wiebe, Johann (1837-1905)

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Johann Wiebe, elder: b. 23 March 1837 in Neuhorst, Chortitza Colony, South Russia.  He was the seventh of eight children of Bernhard Jacob Wiebe (21 March 1796 – 13 January 1852) and Helena Wiebe (b. 1798).  Johann married Judith Wall (7 August 1836, Neuhorst, Chortitza Colony – 8 June 1910, Rosengart, Manitoba, Canada) on 4 December 1856 in Neuhorst, Chortitza Colony.  She was the daughter of Jacob W. Wall (15 May 1807 – 3 May 1860) and Judith (Dueck) Wall (10 December 1807 – 20 February 1842).  Johann and Judith had 10 children, with 8 reaching adulthood: Jacob, Johann, Peter, Helena, Bernhard, Heinrich, Abraham, and Maria.  Johann d. in the village of Rosengart, Manitoba on 21 February 1905.

Johann was baptized in 1856, ordained as a minister in 1865, and as elder of the Mennonite Church in Fürstenland in 1870. He and his family left Russia in 1875 with 1,100 Mennonites to settle in the West Reserve, Manitoba; they were followed by Mennonites coming from the Chortitza and Bergthal settlements under the leadership of Elder Gerhard Wiebe, who settled in the East Reserve. Soon some Mennonites of the East Reserve crossed the Red River and joined those on the West Reserve, introducing some new patterns of culture and economic and religious life to which Johann Wiebe objected more than any of his co-ministers.

Before the migration of the Mennonites to Manitoba some progressive communities, including Fürstenland, had introduced the use of the Choralbuch to improve the singing. Bergthal had not done so. In Manitoba Johann Wiebe returned to the traditional singing, discarding the Choralbuch, while Gerhard Wiebe, the elder of the Bergthal group, introduced the Choralbuch in Manitoba and thus broke away from the traditional singing.

On 5 October 1880, a "Bruderschaft" meeting called by Elder Johann Wiebe of the village of Reinland decided that those who were willing to adhere to the traditional principles and practices of the church should renew their membership. Those who refused were not considered members. This was the official beginning of the Reinländer Mennoniten Gemeinde (commonly known as the Altkolonier or Old Colony Community). It also marked the parting of the ways between the Old Colony Mennonites under the leadership of Johann Wiebe and the Bergthal Mennonites under the leadership of Johann K. Funk. When Johann Wiebe died he was succeeded as elder by Johann J. Friesen, under whom a large number of the Old Colony Mennonites of Manitoba and Saskatchewan migrated to Mexico in 1922-26.

Johann Wiebe possibly did more than anyone else to develop and maintain the consistently conservative attitude that has characterized the Old Colony Mennonites. During his service he preached 1,544 times and baptized 2,228 persons. He wrote a short account of the emigration of his congregation from Russia to Canada, Unsere Reise von Russland nach Amerika aufgezeichnet, published in Blumenthal, Hague, SK. (10 pp.).

See also: Old Colony Mennonites, Bergthal Mennonites, and Manitoba.


Friesen, P. M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910) in Rahmen der mennonitischen Gesamtgeschichte. Halbstadt, 1911: 700.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2006: #109277.

Plett, Delbert. Old Colony Mennonites in Canada 1875 to 2000. Steinbach, MB : Crossway Publications, 2001: 64.

Wiebe, Gerhard. Ursachen und Geschichte der Answanderung der Mennoniten aus Russland nach Amerika. Winnipeg: printed by Nordwesten, ca. 1900.

Author(s) Cornelius Krahn
Alf Redekopp
Date Published April 2004

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MLA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Alf Redekopp. "Wiebe, Johann (1837-1905)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. April 2004. Web. 4 Aug 2021. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wiebe,_Johann_(1837-1905)&oldid=132641.

APA style

Krahn, Cornelius and Alf Redekopp. (April 2004). Wiebe, Johann (1837-1905). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 August 2021, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Wiebe,_Johann_(1837-1905)&oldid=132641.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 946. All rights reserved.

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