Fonds PP - Jacob D. Epp family fonds

David G. and Justina Epp Abe Friesen, Eva Friesen, John H. Wieler Elizabeth Epp on hay rake Rev. David H. Rempel, Hague, Sask. Double wedding Maria Epp, Anna Epp, Helena Epp and Peter G. Epp John H. Wieler and deceased Heinrich Wieler Plowing with a 2 horse team David G. Epp's Fordson tractor and plow With the deceased Rev. Gerhard Epp Softball game John H. Wieler (left) and David G. Epp Rev. Gerhard Epp on death bed Horses pulling a mower or swather David G. Epp hauling firewood
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Jacob D. Epp family fonds


  • 1788-1986 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1.08 m of textual records
89 photographs
114 frames of microfilm

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Jacob David Epp (1820-1890) was born in the Mennonite village of Chortitza. He came from a family of prominent leaders. His grandfather David Epp (1750-1802) was the Mennonite Elder who negotiated the Charter of Privileges granted the Mennonites by Paul I in 1800. His father Davd Epp (1781-1843) also was a prominent minister.

Jacob D. Epp married Maria Klassen on November 18, 1841. They were blessed with ten children, one of which died during childbirth. He began his diary writing in 1851 when he was a school teacher on the Island of Chortitza . In 1852 he left teaching on the Island of Khoritza in search of a better way of making a living for his growing family. He and his family settled in the Judenplan, a Jewish agricultural settlement which was about 50 miles west of Chortitza, and farmed there for 25 years. Here he was elected as a minister and served as such until his death. On March 15, 1863 his wife Maria (Klassen) passed away, leaving him widowed with 9 children. On June 25, 1863 he married Judith Dyck (1830-1906). They had 5 children, of which two died at a young age. In the late 1860s and early 1870s he helped his children acquire land in newly established daughter colonies such as the lease-land Nepluiev settlement and Baratov-Shlakhtin, developing near the Judenplan. In 1874 he too purchased a farm in the Baratov settlement and remained here until his death in 1890. His widow and ten of his eleven children and their families migrated to Canada in the 1890s. She died on July 15, 1906 at Eigenheim , Saskatchewan .

Name of creator


Biographical history

Gerhard Epp married Katharina Janzen (186?-1944) in Russia in 1889. They came to Canada in 1893 with his mother Judith, and their two children, of which the youngest died en route. They were blessed with ten more children in Canada. Gerhard and Katharina remained in Rosenort (near Gretna now known as Rosetown) Manitoba until April of 1894 when they moved to Saskatchewan where they purchased a homestead west of Rosthern. On July 21, 1895 Gerhard Epp was elected as a minister into the Eigenheim Mennonite Church. Gerhard and Katharina, like his mother and father, both kept diaries.

Name of creator


Biographical history

David G. Epp (1897-1986) was born in Eigenheim near Rosthern, as the fifth child of Gerhard and Katharina Epp. He married Justina Rempel (1900-1986) on October 3, 1926. Upon the death of his father (Gerhard Epp) in 1919, he was asked by his mother to take over the family farm which he then ran for 60 years. David G. and Justina Epp were blessed with eight children. In 1983 he and his wife moved from their farm to the home for the elderly in Rosthern. David G. Epp was the fourth generation to keep a diary in the Epp family.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Name of creator


Biographical history

Name of creator


Biographical history

Archival history

Following the death of Jacob D. Epp (1820-1890) his diaries were sold at auction to members of the immediate family. The majority of these treasures followed the Epp family on their trek to Canada in the 1890s and were passed on through the generations.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

In 1976 David G. Epp (1897-1986) donated the first items of this collection to the Mennonite Heritage Centre. (Mennonite Historian, Vol.2, No. 4, Dec. 1976). More items were obtained at various times over the years. Some items were acquired from the Mennonite Library and Archives, Bethel College, Newton, Kansas on microfilm. Most of the material was donated by Dennis David Epp, the son of David G. and Justina Epp, in two separate deposits dated October 1997 and April 1998. Three diaries of Katharina (Janzen) Epp were deposited by Carl A. Krause in December 1998. Ted Harder provided a transcription of the marriages performed as outlined in diary 6 in September 2013.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This fonds consists of four series:
-1) Epp Diaries, 1837-1843, 1851-1986
-2) Epp Materials, 1788-1811, 1846, 1878-1955
-3) Epp Family Farm Ledgers, 1927-1986
-4) Epp Family Photograph Collection, [1920's?]

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged and described by Iris Hiebert in July 1998. Updated by Alf Redekopp in July 2008 and Conrad Stoesz September 6, 2013, January 25, 2019, February 11, 2019.

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Language of material

  • German

Script of material

  • Gothic

Language and script notes

Transcriptions and translations available for most.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Series and some item description and inventory file list

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Heinrich Wieler papers and David H. Epp papers at Mennonite Heritage Centre.

Related descriptions

Publication note

Harvey Dyck, "Mennonite Community in an age of troubled change: the diary of Jacob D. Epp, 1851-1880" published in Mennonite Historian, Vol. XIV, No. 4 (Dec. 1988).

Harvey Dyck, A Mennonite in Russia : the diaries of Jacob D. Epp 1851-1880 (Toronto, Ont. : University of Toronto Press, 1991).

Family Register of Gerhard and Katharina Epp, compiled and produced by Bruno and Carl Epp, July 1998.

"Thanks for All Good Things: The Diaries of Katharina (Janzen) Epp 1919-1944," translated by Henry Klaassen, edited by Maureen Epp, 2008.

Notes area


Acc. nos. 76-0??, 97-057, 98-080, 98-090, 98-149, 99-076, 2008-063, 2019-001


Photos in vol. 4637 files 14 and 15 were removed from the box and placed in photo collection 735 April 2020.

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