Friesen, Abraham S. (1848-1916)

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Abraham S. Friesen, Mennonite entrepreneur, was born on 16 January 1848 in South Russia. He was the eldest of two children born to minister Abraham Friesen (1807-1891) and Helene Siemens (1812-1920). Abraham was baptized into the Kleine Gemeinde in May 1867 and later that same year married Katharina Reimer (1850-1912). Together they had six children who survived to adulthood, four sons and 2 daughters. As a father Abraham must have emphasized individualism, hard work and self-reliance. As adults all four of Abraham's sons followed in their father's footsteps setting up their own financial enterprises and both daughters married men of business.

In Russia, Abraham owned a "Vollwirtschaft" and ran a rolling mill. In addition, he specialized as a glazier and a machinist. Abraham immigrated to Canada with his family in 1874 where he settled in Steinbach, Manitoba. That year he became the first "Vorsanger" in the Steinbach Kleine Gemeinde. The following year he became the first mayor. With assets acquired from selling his farm and business in Russia, Abraham was able to become a successful pioneer entrepreneur in Canada. Among his various business accomplishments were many firsts. In 1876 he set up the first lumber camp and built the first saw mill in Steinbach. He was also the first owner and operator of a threshing machine as well as the first owner of an upright stationary steam engine and a Dutch-type windmill. In 1884 Abraham became the first postmaster in Steinbach and in 1891 the first notary public. After becoming postmaster, Abraham acted as land conveyancer which made him responsible for the legal work for most land transactions in the district. In 1890 he built a General Store in Steinbach and two years later established a machine repair business with his sons. Contrary to church teaching Abraham borrowed money to finance some of his business ventures.

After his wife Katharina died in 1912, Abraham remarried and moved to Dallas, Oregon. There he joined the Brudertaler (Evangelical Mennonite Brethren) Church. Abraham S. Friesen, an ambitious and highly successful Mennonite entrepreneur, died on 25 November 1916.


Friesen, Ralph. "Entrepreneurial Legacy of A. S. Friesen." Preservings No. 9 Part II (December 1996): 67-76.

Author(s) Sharon H. H Brown
Date Published May 2006

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MLA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. "Friesen, Abraham S. (1848-1916)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2006. Web. 27 Apr 2018.,_Abraham_S._(1848-1916)&oldid=87586.

APA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. (May 2006). Friesen, Abraham S. (1848-1916). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 27 April 2018, from,_Abraham_S._(1848-1916)&oldid=87586.

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