Bergthold, Jakob (1766-1821)
Jakob Bergthold, a Mennonite preacher whose work brought blessing to the Mennonite churches in Galicia and West Prussia. He came from the Palatinate, where his family name is still found in the congregation at Friedelsheim. His grandfather, Jakob Bergthold, was a distiller and a wine merchant in Schifferstadt (Kohlhof), who lived a few years in Herrnhut, where his oldest daughter married a member of the Herrnhut group, then bought a vinegar factory at St. Grethen, near Dürkheim a.d.H., which he operated with success. His oldest son Daniel married Margarete, the daughter of Jakob Lichti, a miller in Harxheim, and there in 1769 acquired a plot of land with a distillery and vinegar distillery.
Here Jakob (II) Bergthold, their oldest son, spent his youth. In 1781 he was baptized in the Mennonite church at Kriegsheim. Four years later his father (Daniel) emigrated with 28 Mennonite families from the Palatinate to Galicia. In response to an invitation of Emperor Joseph II of Austria they settled near the town of Szczerzec south of Lemberg. Jakob II, whose parents lived at Rosenberg, married the sister of Jakob Müller, the elder of the church at Einsiedel. On 19 December 1787 he was chosen preacher, and performed the duties of that office faithfully until 1797, when he migrated to Russia with several brethren and settled in a Hutterite colony at Vyshenka on the Desna in the province of Chernigov. However, they were unable to adjust themselves to the faith and the conditions among the Hutterian Brethren, and returned to Galicia after a year.
When obstacles were put in the way of Bergthold's staying in Galicia he planned to go to West Prussia. On 3 November 1797 he started out on his journey and visited most of the Prussian churches. Everywhere his bearing and his sermons won him sympathy. Heinrich Donner, the elder at Orlofferfelde, offered him the position of preacher in that church, He accepted and in 1799 moved with his family to Orlofferfelde. Besides preaching he was very active as the corresponding secretary of the Hauptbibelgesellschaft in Berlin. "All who knew him," says an obituary, "must truly admit that he was an exceptionally faithful and zealous servant of the Lord, in proclaiming as well as in spreading the saving Word of God." At a time when the various Mennonite groups had no contacts with each other, he, in his capacity of preacher, represented a unique connecting link between the Mennonites of the Palatinate, Galicia, and West Prussia; his equally unusual attempt to make contact with the Hutterian Brethren failed.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 166.
Mennonitische Blätter (1867): 29 ff.
Miller, Thomas P. "Descendants of Peter Berchthold." Galacian Family Study. Web. 21 December 2006. <http://www.galiziengermandescendants.org/Mennonite/bergthold.pdf>.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 283. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Neff, Christian. "Bergthold, Jakob (1766-1821)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 21 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B47420.html.
APA style: Neff, Christian. (1953). Bergthold, Jakob (1766-1821). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B47420.html.