- 1893-1928 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
4 cm of textual records
Name of creator
Abraham Doerksen (1852-1929) was born in the village of Schoenthal, Bergthal Colony, Russia to Abraham and Katherina (Friesen) Doerksen. His father was a manufacturer of plows, wagons and other machinery. He married Maria Dueck in 1872. They left Russia in 1874 and settled in Manitoba. After living on the Mennonite East Reserve for a short time, they relocated to the village of Sommerfeld on the Mennonite West Reserve..
The church on the West Reserve became divided over the issue of higher education. The majority disagreed with the newly elected bishop Johan Funk who promoted the school of higher learning and the development of the Mennonite Collegiate Institute (MCI) in Gretna. Mediation with the mother church from the East Reserve under the guidance of Bishop David Stoesz was not able to bring the two parties together. After Funk and his supporters parted (retaining the name Bergthal Mennonite Church), the larger group was left without a bishop until Bishop David Stoesz ordained Abraham Doerksen on Palm Sunday March 18, 1894. This group eventually adopted the name Sommerfeld Mennonite church because Doerksen was from that village. Bishop Abraham Doerksen made numerous trip to visit the adherents of the Sommerfeld Mennonite Church as they spread to various regions in western Canada. In addition to his normal church work, he was on a committee of church leaders that negotiated with the Canadian government for military exemption for Mennonite men during the First World War. When the Canadian government withdrew some school priveleges after the war, Doerksen was among a group of about 600 Sommerfeld church members who immigrated to Mexico in 1922 where he settled in the Santa Clara colony, north of Cuauhtemoc. Bishop Doerksen died in Mexico in 1929.
The Abraham Doerksen papers were passed on to surviving descendants and various other interested individuals. Jake Peters of Winnipeg, Manitoba borrowed them from Bishop Jacob Doerksen, Blumenthal, Mexico, a grandson of Bishop Abraham Doerksen, in 1982 and photocopied them for the Mennonite Heritage Centre. In 1994 William Kehler of Altona translated one sermon by Doerksen which he donated along with other translated sermons. It is unclear where the original is. The new year's sermon was donated and transcribed by John L. Klassen of Altona. Peter Bergen, author of the Sommerfeld Church History acquired a sermon from the son of minister Peter A. Friesen . The Heritage Centre received other Abraham Doerksen papers via the Christian Heritage Library founded by David and Trudy Schellenberg of Winkler.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Jake Peters, William Kehler, John L. Klassen, Peter Bergen and David and Trudy Schellenberg.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
This fonds consists of a ledger and some loose papers. The ledger includes lists of sermons preached by Abraham Doerksen and lists of baptisms. The loose papers include correspondence, baptismal records, church meetings and obituaries. The documents from the Christian Heritage Library include a book entitled "The Family Tree of Abraham Doerksen, Regina Hoeppner and Descendants", as well as writings, sermons and his certificate of baptism which exempted him from military service in World War I.
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Language and script notes
The records are almost all in Gothic German handwriting
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Inventory file list (Volume 2230, 4370:22; Microfilm 351)
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
Accession nos. 82-56; 94-076, 94-153, 97-087, 01-027, 97-150
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Dates of creation revision deletion
Described by Jake Peters in "Resources for Canadian Mennonite studies: an inventory guide to archival holdings at the Mennonite Heritage Centre" (1988: 64-67). Edited and updated by Conrad Stoesz, April 26, 2001.