Friesen, Cornelia Harms (1853-1938)

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Cornelia "Nelke" Harms Friesen, Mennonite pioneer and teacher’s wife, was born on 24 April 1853 in the village of Sparrau, Molotschna Colony, South Russia. She was the second of six children born to Peter J. Harms (1806-1870) and Cornelia Warkentin (1822-1892). On 18 May 1873 Cornelia was baptized into the membership of the Kleine Gemeinde in Blumenhof, Borosenko. On 3 June 1873 she married Abram T. Friesen (1854-1908) and a year later they immigrated to Canada. Together Cornelia and Abram T. Friesen had 11 children of which five survived to adulthood. Cornelia died on 21 July 1938 in Swalwell, Alberta.

It must have been with a mixture of fear and anticipation that Cornelia and her husband began their new life in Canada after 1874. They lived in Rosenort, Manitoba for one year then moved to Steinbach where Abram served as the first teacher. Life as a teacher’s wife meant moving often and required very careful money management. They tried homesteading for a short time without success. In 1883 Cornelia and her husband became caught up in the spiritual renewal movement which swept through southern Manitoba. This eventually led to their joining the church started founded by John Holdeman, called the Church of God in Christ, Mennonite. Cornelia stood as an example of a faithful Mennonite woman who struggled to be faithful and managed to persevere in the midst of the hardships and losses that characterized pioneer life.


Braun, Walter. "Cornelia Harms Friesen (1853-1938)." Preservings No. 10 Part II (June 1997): 25-27.

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

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MLA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. "Friesen, Cornelia Harms (1853-1938)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2006. Web. 24 May 2018.,_Cornelia_Harms_(1853-1938)&oldid=87588.

APA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. (June 2006). Friesen, Cornelia Harms (1853-1938). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2018, from,_Cornelia_Harms_(1853-1938)&oldid=87588.

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