Dick, David Jakob (1861-1919)
David Jakob Dick: estate owner and philanthropist; born on 29 June 1861 on the Rosenhof Estate in the Brodsky area of Taurida province, near Melitopol. His parents were Jakob Jakob and Anna (nee Schmidt) Dick, owners of a large estate. David was the seventh of 11 children. On 21 October 1887, David married Katharina Schmidt, daughter of Peter Schmidt II, owner of the Steinbach estate. The couple had 11 children, all of whom lived to adulthood. David died on 18 October 1919 at his home.
David Jakob Dick completed his elementary education in a private school on the estate, after which he went to the Gnadenfeld Zentralschule, graduating in three years. He joined the Petershagen Mennonite Church. After their wedding, David and Katharina lived with Katharina’s mother on the Steinbach estate. They finally moved into their own house in 1894 and lived there for the rest of their lives.
The couple had extensive land holdings in the Apanlee area and in the Crimea. Through further purchases and inheritance, the Dicks soon owned land on the Tamak Estate, as well as the Burulcha Estate near Simferopol. It was reported that the Dicks’ total annual income was about 150,000 rubles.
The Dicks treated their employees well and apparently paid reasonable wages. David Jakob Dick was a farmer (Landmann) at heart and ran a model farm operation. He particularly liked purebred cattle and horses, often importing animals to improve his breeding program.
Although they had not previously been particularly spiritual, both David and Katharina had a conversion experience in 1896 through the influence of an itinerant Mennonite minister, Jakob Quiring. After that time, the orientation of the couple was strongly focused on helping others and bringing them the good news of salvation. They helped start a monthly fellowship group which eventually became a new church known as the Molotschnär Evangelische Mennoniten-Brüderschaft, also known as the Allianzgemeinde.
David Dick was very concerned about the training of preachers and teachers and held special week-long seminars, alternating between Yushanlee, Steinbach and Apanlee. He was also a founder of the Molotschna Tract Society in 1904 and was later involved with the “Tent Mission,” as well as with the Mennonite forestry service camps (Forstei) camps in Russia, trying to appoint camp managers with a Christian orientation, and also arranging for itinerant ministers to hold evangelistic meetings in the camps.
David was also vitally interested in education. Together with Jakob Sudermann, he played a vital role in the founding and funding of the Zentralschule in Alexanderkrone. David and Jakob were two of the ten founding members of the Alexanderkrone Schulverein (Board of Directors) and helped in the founding of the Halbstadt Kommerzschule.
The Dick household was known to be sympathetic to the poor and disadvantaged, often donating money to people in need. David contributed heavily to the Maria School for the Deaf and Dumb in Tiege, as well as to orphanages and other charitable institutions.
After the Russian Revolution, two Communists briefly imprisoned David but released him on the intervention of the peasants. On 16 October 1919, bandits attacked the estate, taking almost everything. That night, six more bandits broke in and demanded money; they started shooting when they found the Dicks did not have much money on hand. Katherina was killed and David badly wounded. He died on 18 October 1919.
David Jakob Dick was a model farmer and philanthropist who greatly affected the people around him. Over the years, he gave away most of the money he had made, leaving a legacy of generosity for his children and the community around him.
Dick, David. “Faith Put to the Test.” Mennonite Brethren Herald (15 April 1977): 1-4.
Friedensstimme (15 April 1906): 154; (27 May 1906): 221; (17 June 1906): 252; (30 September 1906): 432-433; (17 February 1907): 77; (9 June 1912): 7.
Friesen, P. M. Die Alt-Evangelische Mennonitische Brüderschaft in Russland (1789-1910). Halbstadt, Taurida: Raduga, 1911: 513, 659, 722-724, 763; Documentation pp. 722-24 places the organization of the Allianz church to have occurred at Juschanlee on 16 May 1905. Peter Riediger, quoted by J. B. Toews, says the meeting was in a large granary on the David Dick estate in 1906.
Goerz, H. Die Mennonitische Siedlungen der Krim, Winnipeg, MB: Echo-Verlag, 1957: 35 (p. 27 in the English translation).
Huebert, Helmut T. Mennonite Estates in Imperial Russia. Winnipeg, MB: Springfield Publishers, 2005.
Huebert, Helmut T. Molotschna Historical Atlas, Winnipeg, MB: Springfield Publishers, 2003: 179.
Jahresbericht . . . in Sachen der Unterhaltung der Forstkommandos im Jahre 1908. 1908 Forstei List: 14.
Koop, Erika (granddaughter), personal family information. This includes letters and essays written by David Dick himself, as well as reports by a number of the children.
Kroeker, Abraham J. “Das Begräbnis von David und Kath. Dick, Apanlee.” Friedensstimme, carried in three successive issues starting 30 November 1919: 1
Lohrenz, Gerhard. Heritage Remembered. Winnipeg, MB: CMBC Publications, 1974: 67, 68, 119, 193.
Regehr, T. D. For Everything a Season. Winnipeg, MB: CMBC Publications, 1988: 8, 19, 28, 36-37, 41-42, 46, 50, 61, 69, 70, 110, 129, 134, 144.
Sudermann, David P., personal family information.
Toews, Aron A. Mennonitische Märtyrer der jüngsten Vergangenheit und der Gegenwart, 2 vols. Abbotsford, BC: Selbstverlag des Verfassers, 1949-1954: v. II, 369-377.
Toews, John B. “Russian Mennonites and Allianz.” Journal of Mennonite Studies (1996): 49, 53-61.
Volksfreund (10 June 1918): 7.
Wiebe, Irmgard, personal family information.
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MLA style: Huebert, Susan. "Dick, David Jakob (1861-1919)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2009. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/duck_david_j._1860_1919.
APA style: Huebert, Susan. (February 2009). Dick, David Jakob (1861-1919). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/duck_david_j._1860_1919.