A widely ramified family name among the Mennonites in West Prussia and America, Rempel is derived from Raganbald or Raganbold, which means "a brave council." It is thought that this family name is not of Dutch origin, as is the case with most of the Mennonite names found in West Prussia and Russia. In the Dutch language Raganbald and Raganbold became Rempaud and Remboud while in southern and central Germany it became Rempel. The geographic distribution area of this family name in the late Middle Ages was Franconia, the Lower Rhine, Thuringia, and Silesia.
In West Prussia the Rempel family appeared first exclusively in the Flemish congregations of Elbing, Danzig (since 1673), Tiegenhagen (since 1723), Ladekopp, Rosenort, and Heubuden. Representatives of this name were serving the congregations in Prussia to a lesser degree than later was the case in Russia and America. Only once was there a preacher with this name (in Rosenort 1813-38) and in more recent times a Vorsteher in Königsberg. Most other bearers of this name were probably farmers.
In Russia the Rempel family was strongly represented in the service of the church, starting as early as 1832 with preacher Aron Rempel. After 1864 the Rempel name appeared with progressively greater frequency among church leaders in Russia. Hermann A. Rempel, Hermann D. Rempel, and Jakob A. Rempel were all leaders and elders of the Russian Mennonite Church. Of the 26 preachers of the Rempel family in Russia during the early 20th century 12 died a natural death, 3 escaped to Canada in the 1920's, while the 11 remaining in Russia were martyred. Those remaining in Russia were: Abram Rempel of Hochfeld-Yazekovo, Gerhard D. Rempel of Kantserovka No. 2, Orenburg, Gustav A. Rempel of Gnadenfeld, Gustav G. Rempel of Gnadenfeld, Jakob D. Rempel of Kantserovka No. 3, Orenburg, Johann D. Rempel of Klubnikovo, Orenburg, Johann J. Rempel, last heard from in Einlage, Abram Rempel of Central Voronezh area, David D. Rempel of Kantserovka No. 3, Orenburg, Johann D. Rempel of Davlekanovo, Ufa, and Peter Rempel of Central, Voronezh area. One of the two Rempel deacons in Russia was Abram D. Rempel of Kantserovka No. 3, Orenburg, who trod the way of martyrdom in 1929 and as late as 1947 was still living in exile.
The Rempels, almost unknown in the United States, are found in Canada mostly as a result of the immigration of Russian Mennonites to Canada both in the 1870s and 1920s. Among the important Canadian Mennonite leaders are several representatives of the Rempel family, including: J. G. Rempel who was an elder of the Rosenort (GCM) congregation at Rosthern, Saskatchewan, H. S. Rempel who was an elder of the Steinbach Evangelical Mennonite Brethren congregation at Steinbach, Manitoba, and C. J. Rempel, of Kitchener, Ontario, who, for several years, was the Mennonite Central Committee director for Canada.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: "Rempel."
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 297. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Rempel, Alexander. "Rempel family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R4662ME.html.
APA style: Rempel, Alexander. (1959). Rempel family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/R4662ME.html.