Jansen, Peter (1852-1923)
Peter Jansen, a son of Cornelius and Helena (von Riesen) Jansen, was born in Berdyansk, South Russia, on 21 March 1852, died on 6 June 1923. In 1873 he emigrated to America, settling in 1876 on a ranch near Jansen, Nebraska, a town named in his honor. In 1909 he sold the ranch and retired to Beatrice, Nebraska. He married Gertrude Penner on 4 May 1877, and had seven children: Helen, John, Anna, Katherine, Gertrude, Cornelius, and Margaret. Soon after his arrival in America he became a representative of the railroad companies in the midwest. He was a pioneer, farmer, rancher, politician, diplomat, and traveler. He and his father were instrumental in bringing many Mennonites from South Russia to Nebraska, had an interview with President Grant and General Custer in 1874 regarding the settlement of Mennonites in the West, and took an active part in the early development of the state. He started one of the first large-scale sheep farms in Nebraska, feeding 15,000 to 25,000 sheep a year; he founded the town of Jansen and organized the Jansen Bank, which operated after 1887. In 1884 he was chosen as alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention; in 1888 he was Justice of the Peace in Jefferson County; in 1896 he was delegate at large to the Republican National Convention; in 1898 elected to the Nebraska State Legislature representing the 34th district; in 1899 named by President McKinley as U.S. Commissioner to the Paris Exposition; in 1901 represented Nebraska at McKinley's funeral; in 1904 represented Nebraska at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis; and, in 1910 was elected to the Nebraska State Senate. He was urged to run for governor, but declined because of (in his own words) "my pronounced opposition to war and all that is military."
Although he became prominent in local, state, and national affairs he always remained a friend to people in the common walks of life and was a member of the Mennonite Church until his death. He was listed in Who's Who in America in 1913, and in 1921 published an autobiography entitled Memoirs of Peter Jansen.
Claassen, Cornelius J. "Peter Jansen—Pioneer, Leader and Philanthropist." Mennonite Life 2 (October 1947): 41-43.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 391.
Memoirs of Peter Jansen. A Record of a Busy Life. (an autobiography) Beatrice, 1921.
Miller, D. Paul. "An Analysis of Community Adjustment: A Case Study of Jansen, Nebraska." (Ph.D. dissertation, Nebraska, 1953.
Reimer, G. E. and G. R. Gaeddert. Exiled by the Czar: Cornelius Jansen and the Great Mennonite Migration, 1874. Newton, 1956.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 92. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Miller, D. Paul. "Jansen, Peter (1852-1923)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 23 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/jansen_peter_1852_1923.
APA style: Miller, D. Paul. (1957). Jansen, Peter (1852-1923). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/jansen_peter_1852_1923.