Balzer, Peter (1847-1909)
Peter Balzer was born in Gnadenfeld, a village in the Russian Mennonite colony of Molotschna, 6 November 1847. Losing both his parents in early childhood, his education was provided for by a friend from Steinbach. Under the tutelage of the well-known Mennonite teacher, Heinrich Franz, he prepared himself for the teaching profession. After teaching for a few years in the village of Liebenau, and after his marriage in 1872 to Sarah Unruh, he joined the Alexanderwohl congregation in the emigration to Kansas in 1874, where, in the new Alexanderwohl, he continued to serve the community as a farmer-teacher for 28 years.
In the meantime he also established here a private preparatory school with some encouragement from the Western District Conference (General Conference Mennonite), offering to both local and boarding students from other communities advanced courses for the preparation for the teaching profession. This pioneer preparatory school, which later had many imitators among the western Russian Mennonites, was really the predecessor of the later Emmetal preparatory school in the same community, which later was transplanted to Halstead by the Western Conference and finally developed into Bethel College.
Balzer was ordained to the ministry in the Alexanderwohl congregation in 1884 and elected elder in 1896. He was for many years a member of the Foreign Mission Board of the General Conference, and for a time its president; he was president of the directorate of the local Bethesda Hospital, and a member of the Bethel College Corporation. His first wife having died in 1901, he married the widow of his brother-in-law, Heinrich Richert, in 1903. He died 3 December 1909.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 114.
Mennonite Year Book and Almanac (1909).
Peters, Henry P. History and development of education among the Mennonites in Kansas: a thesis. Hillsboro, KS: H.P. Peters, 1925.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 218. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Smith, C. Henry. "Balzer, Peter (1847-1909)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B35828.html.
APA style: Smith, C. Henry. (1953). Balzer, Peter (1847-1909). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B35828.html.