Jacob Olfert 1877-1956
Jacob Olfert, born Jan. 23, 1877, emigrated to Canada from Russia,with his mother, Maria Olfert (nee Hiebert), one sister and six brothers. Their ship, the S.S. Circassian, came to Quebec City on June 2,1891. Jacob's father, Isaac Olfert, had died on Feb. 2, 1889 in Russia, leaving behind a large family.
The Olfert family settled in southern Manitoba with a Mennonite who had arrived in Canada sometime earlier. Jacob Olfert had an opporunity to work at his mother's brother's place near Winkler, Man. While working here he met Aganetha Dyck whom he later married.
Aganetha Dyck was born Apr. 12, 1880, at Gruenfeld, Man. She and Jacob were married Mar. 19, 1899 at Winkler, Man.
On Mar. 20, 1899, the young married couple moved to their homestead east of Rosthern. The trip to Rosthern by railroad was quite an experience. Jacob rode in the cattle car looking after the cattle while his new bride rode in the coach car. They had always said that was their honeymoon.
The Olferts homesteaded NE 10-43-3-W3. This homestead had been entered by a David Dueck in Nov. of 1898' and abandoned May 13, 1899 with no improvements having been made. Some confusion arose following this abandonment when a Jacob Friesen who, also had applied for this homestead, found out that the Olferts were already living there.
In July, 1899, the Olferts built a 24x16 ft. house on the homestead, valued at $500. They also erected a stable, a granary, a pig pen, and dug a well, all valued at $150. In order to meet the requiments of their homestead application, they made the following improvements. In 1899 they broke 26 acres and cropped 8. In 1900, they broke 42 acres and cropped 48; in 1901 they broke 4 acres and cropped 68, and in 1902, they cropped 72 acres. They also owned four head of cattle, seven horses and nine pigs in 1902.
Besides farming and raising a large family, Jacob Olfert was involved in many community affairs. He served on the Roslthern Municipal Council for many years; was a member of the Waisenamt, an organization to protect orphans and widows and their interests. He served as a trustee on the Bergthal School Board and as a vorsaenghe (song leader) in the Bergthaler Mennonite Church. He passed away Dec. 15, 1956 at Rosthern.
Sometime after the death of her husband Aganetha became a resident of the Rosthern Nursing Home. She way the mother of 16 children, of which 11 became adults. In the booklet put together by the Olfert family, it describes some of her activities. She helped to seed, harvest, hay and milk cows, besides doing her baking, cleaning and sewing. She never complained that she had worked too hard as she cooked for all tho company, for birthdays, and for wedding receptions. She did lots of knitting and crocheting of doilies and dresser scarves, all of which her family remembers her by. Her main concern was her large family.
Just imagine how many meals she cooked, how much washing she did; how many diapers she changed, how many wounds she cared for and how many tears she wiped away. She lived to be 82 yearand 10 months, passing away Feb. 12, 1973.
Credit for the information to the Olfert family book, and for the photo to Mrs. Katharina Doell of Warman.
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Mennonite Historical Society of Saskatchewan (MHSS)
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