Duerksen, Jakob G. (1860-1922)

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Jakob G. Duerksen: teacher and politician; born in Alexandertal, Molotschna Mennonite settlement, South Russia, on 19 April 1860 to Gerhard Duerksen and Anna (Doerksen) Duerksen (see additional information for further details regarding the family of Jakob Duerksen). He was the second youngest of seven children in the family. His parents had emigrated from Prussia in 1828. In 1882, Jakob married Elisabeth Dueckman of Alexandertal and settled in Hierschau. Jakob died in Hierschau on 22 May 1922 after a prolonged illness.

As a child, Jakob attended school in Alexandertal before continuing his education informally on his own, mainly through reading extensively, a habit he continued into later life. Several of his brothers became teachers, ministers, or politicians, and Jakob continued in that tradition. He was appointed teacher at the school in Hierschau in 1878, when he was 18 years old. He must have traveled back to his home village periodically, since in July 1882, he married Elisabeth Dueckmann of Alexandertal. The couple settled in Hierschau, where Jakob continued teaching. Ten children were born to Jakob and Elisabeth, but two children died young.

After teaching for 12 years, Duerksen gave up that vocation to begin working as a farmer, and he purchased some land on the south side of the village street. At about the same time, in 1890, Jakob was elected Schulze, or mayor, of Hierschau. He also joined other committees, becoming Waisenältester, commissioned to help provide assistance for orphans in the area.

When his brother Gerhard became seriously ill in 1905, Jakob replaced him as Oberschulze of the Gnadenfeld district, acting as mayor over the region (Gerhard Duerksen was Oberschulze from 1887 to 1905). In order to take up his new duties, he gave up his position as the Schulze of Hierschau. His new job entailed a considerable amount of travel to and from the village of Gnadenfeld, where the district offices were located. He routinely spent two days a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, in the office, returning home late at night. Even his days at home could be busy, as people would come to ask for advice from him. 

As Oberschulze, Duerksen attended meetings discussing the wider Mennonite community, including sessions held in 1910 to discuss the forestry service, the Forstei. In 1914, at the time of increasing international tension just after the outbreak of the First World War, he was at a meeting of Molotschna church leaders, where he signed a declaration petitioning prayer for the Tsar and the country of Russia. In the course of his life, he received four medals, likely for service to region and country.

In 1915 and 1916, Jakob became increasingly disabled, asthma making it increasingly difficult for him to do any physical work. He resigned from his position as Oberschulze, probably in 1916. After the war and during the following civil strife, his health slowly continued to deteriorate. While Jakob was not directly involved in church work, he and his family nevertheless had a very deep religious commitment. Jakob, Margaretha, and some of their children belonged to the Margenau-Landskrone-Alexanderwohl congregation, while several daughters joined the Mennonite Brethren church in Waldheim. When Jakob’s health declined to the point that he could no longer leave his home, one of his faithful visitors was the minister of the Mennonite Brethren church. After a prolonged illness, Jakob died in Hierschau on 22 May 1922.

Jakob G. Duerksen was a dedicated politician whose hard work and devotion to his community was an example for others to follow. Through his teaching, his position as mayor, his committee work, and more, he had a profound influence on the people he encountered.


Der Bote (23 November 1983): 7.

Duerksen family history.

Duerksen, D. J., youngest child of Jakob Duerksen, personal letters.

Friedensstimme (7 November 1909): 7; (10 September 1911): 8; (18 August 1910): 7; (30 July 1914): 5.

Friesen, Peter M. The Mennonite Brotherhood in Russia (1789-1910), trans. J. B. Toews and others. Fresno, CA: Board of Christian Literature [M.B.], 1978, rev. ed. 1980: 498.

Goerz, Heinrich. Mennonite Settlements in Crimea, trans. By John B. Toews. Echo Historical Series. Winnipeg: CMBC Publications and Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, 1992: 183.

GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 6.00 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2009: #14751.

Huebert, Helmut T. Hierschau: An Example of Russian Mennonite Life. Winnipeg: Springfield Publishers, 1986.

Mennonitische Rundschau (8 January 1902): 2; (29 June 1904): 5; (14 December 1904): 8; (24 November 1971): 11.

Peters, Katharina. Unpublished biography of Isaak Peters.

Toews, John A. History of the Mennonite Brethren Church, ed. A. J. Klassen. Fresno, CA: Mennonite Breth­ren Board of Literature and Education, 1975: 83, 89-90.

Additional Information

The parents of Jakob G. Duerksen were Gerhard Duerksen (7 September 1814, Montauerweide, Stuhm, Prussia - 1880, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia) and Anna (Doerksen) Duerksen (20 July 1817, Ellerwald Trift 4, Elbing, Prussia - 1881, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia).

Jakob was married in July 1882 in Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia to Elisabeth Dueckmann (11 September 1861, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia - 1939, USSR). She was the daughter of Martin Dueckmann (18 July 1837, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia - 28 March 1902, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia) and Anna Franz (1833, Alexanderthal, Molotschna, South Russia - 1906, Molotschna, South Russia).

Jakob and Elisabeth had 10 children: Anna (died young), Martin (died young), Helena, Gerhard, Elisabeth, Katharina, Jakob, Sara, Maria, and David.

Author(s) Susan Huebert
Date Published May 2009

Cite This Article

MLA style

Huebert, Susan. "Duerksen, Jakob G. (1860-1922)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. May 2009. Web. 1 Jun 2020. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Duerksen,_Jakob_G._(1860-1922)&oldid=118125.

APA style

Huebert, Susan. (May 2009). Duerksen, Jakob G. (1860-1922). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 1 June 2020, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Duerksen,_Jakob_G._(1860-1922)&oldid=118125.

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