Giesbrecht, Aganetha Thiessen (1825-1912)

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Aganetha Thiessen Giesbrecht’s letter of 1884. Preservings photo.

Aganetha Thiessen Giesbrecht, Mennonite pioneer, was born on 8 July 1825 in the village of Neukirch, Molotschna Colony, South Russia. She was the seventh of 12 children born to Jakob Thiessen (born 1785) and Anna Enns (born ca. 1798). Aganetha was baptized into the membership of the Kleine Gemeinde in 1844. Three years later in 1847 she moved to Prangenau after marrying Gerhard Giesbrecht (1816-1863). Together they had nine children five of which survived to adulthood. Due to poor health, Gerhard was unable to farm. Alhough he ran a small business, his family depended on assistance from the Kleine Gemeinde treasury in order to survive. After Gerhard died in 1863, Aganetha managed with a great deal of determination and hard work to keep her family together and to raise her children on her own. In 1874 Aganetha immigrated to Canada with her son Wilhelm Giesbrecht (1849-1917) where they settled in Lichtenau, Manitoba. Aganetha Giesbrecht died on 7 June 1912.

Upon her death Aganetha left a collection of letters which were given to her son Wilhelm who passed them on through the generations until they came into the possession of her great grand-daughter Dolores Giesbrecht Pankratz. This valuable historical legacy provides insight into Aganetha’s personal experiences as well as the larger Mennonite experience in America and Russia. They provide an unusual glimpse into the plight of poor or landless Mennonites during the 19th century.


Plett, Delbert F. "Ananetha Thiessen Giesbrecht 1825-1912." Preservings No. 10 Part II (June 1997): 19-23.

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

Cite This Article

MLA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. "Giesbrecht, Aganetha Thiessen (1825-1912)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. June 2006. Web. 18 Nov 2018.,_Aganetha_Thiessen_(1825-1912)&oldid=91924.

APA style

Brown, Sharon H. H. (June 2006). Giesbrecht, Aganetha Thiessen (1825-1912). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 November 2018, from,_Aganetha_Thiessen_(1825-1912)&oldid=91924.

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