JTB Genealogy

Biographical Details about Johannes Bartsch, Jr.


    "He participated in the siege of Paris; he spoke at least three languages; he traveled thousands of miles; two of his sons were named Gotthilf and Rudolph; he was a ventriloquist; he sang in opera; he carved scenes in cork; he worked for the Lord; he settled in Kansas; he was my grandfather, and the grandfather of John and Barbara; he was Johannes Bartsch."   Paul W. Bartsch, Jr. (PWB)

     "The siege of Paris, that Johannes Bartsch participated in, was an action of the Franco‑Prussian War (1870‑1871).  Paris capitulated and ceded Alsace and Lorraine to Germany.  King William of Prussia was proclaimed Emperor (Kaiser) of Germany." (PWB)

     "Johannes Bartsch was born in Heiligenbeil, West Prussia, where his father Johannes Bartsch and his mother Helene nee Isaac lived at the time.  He spent his youth in the parental home, and attended school in his home village.  After his school time, an exciting life began for him.  Next he became an apprentice to learn business.  At the end of his apprenticeship, he became an opera singer, in 1870 he was drafted from this to military service, went to France, and took part in the siege of Paris.  At the end of the war he was discharged and was a traveling businessman for a time.  Then he traveled to his mother in Russia and there became a colporteur for the British and Foreign Bible Society and worked there with good success.  in 1881 he went along to Asia and was warehouse manager there for the Bible Society in Tashkent.  From there he moved to Auli Ata / Central Asia and settled there, but sold out and moved here to America, where he first joined the Emmaus church and in 1902 joined the church here....  [Records of the six Bartsch children are listed.]  Brother Bartsch died on Sept. 30, 1915 after a long and difficult illness (liver disease) and was buried on Oct. 3." (From the Frontispiece of the unpublished Bartsch Family Roots including the Journal of Johannes K. Penner and genealogical supplements.  161 pp., by Paul William Bartsch, Jr. Photocopy of typewritten original. August, 1996)

[Gloss in the margin]:  "m. Anna (Hamm) Bergmann as per Emmaus Church record No. 113."

Timeline of Johannes Bartsch, Jr.

August 25, 1848. Johannes (or Johann) Bartsch, Jr. was born in Heiligenbeil, East Prussia. His parents were Johannes Bartsch, Sr. (1817-1859) and Helene Isaac (1816-?).

Ca. 1868. Opera Singer. He became an opera singer about 1868. Apparently he was an unbelieving Mennonite with musical talent.  After his conversion he sold Bibles in Russia on camel back.

1870-71. Military participation, Paris, France. The Prussians laid seige to Paris and Johannes Bartsch was part of this conflict.  "Kaiser Wilhelm was highly thought of.  A lot of Williams were named after him and Wilhelminas as well." (Bartsch Family Roots, p. 151. Also phone conversation with Paul William Bartsch, Jr. July 8, 1996.)

1881-1882. Great Trek.   He traveled to Serabulak, Bukhara, Central Asia. Johannes took part in the Great Trek. Fred Belk states that a fifth wagon train of the Great Trek journeyed from the Trakt to Serabulak, Bukhara from September 1, 1881 to June, 1882.  Included were forty‑seven families, including Claas Epp himself and Johann Bartsch.

1882 - Bible Seller. Franz Bartsch was a brother of Johannes. Here is what he wrote about two of his brothers:

The eldest of my brothers had arrived at Syrabulak during the course of the year.  My second brother, formerly also an ardent adherent of Epp, had been an itinerant bookseller for the British and Foreign Bible Society in Russia.  He had resigned his job and had joined the exodus in Orenburg.  Because of some events during the trek he had become disillusioned with Epp and had stayed in Tashkent.  He submitted an application, had been welcomed back into the Bible Society and had been entrusted with establishing a depot in Tashkent (this was the beginning of the British Bible Society in Asiatic Russia).  I despatched a telegram to him from Kattakurgan, asking him for a job.  I received a positive reply.  My brother H. B. in Syrabulak lent me the necessary money for the return trip....  We arrived at Tashkent without a mishap.  There we met my brother, J. B., who welcomed us heartily.  And so I became a traveling salesman for the British and Foreign Bible Society.

The speaker/writer is Franz Bartsch.  The eldest of his brothers is Herman Bartsch.  His second brother is Johannes Bartsch. This quotation is from Our Trek to Central Asia, by Franz Bartsch, pp. 103, 104, 105. (CMBC Publications and Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1993.  Translated from the original German version of 1907.   Available from The Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Winnipeg, Manitoba  204 888‑6781.)

Independent confirmation of Johannes Bartsch's occupation as a Bible seller is gained from John T. and Florence Bartsch:  Johannes had been an opera singer, but after his conversion had sold Bibles in Russia by camel back.

1882. Missionary, Tashkent, Turkestan.

      "The trinitarian problem did not diminish the zeal of young men such as Johann Bartsch, however.  Because of his earlier work with the Kirghiz while but a teenager, he was invited by the English Bible Society to start a Bible center in Tashkent.  The main objective of this body was to put the Holy Scriptures of Christianity into all the languages of the Turkestan area and actively seek to win the natives to the Christian religion.  Bartsch gained the permission of the government to evangelize among all the native peoples.  Franz Bartsch, his younger brother, was hired to sell books and Bibles to the natives and discuss the meaning of Scripture with them.  Becoming quite involved in teaching the natives, he gained for himself a profound understanding of many aspects of theology.

     During this time of religious change, innovation, and missionary activity by men like the Bartsch brothers, one principle of their faith remained unaltered:  a strong belief in nonresistance." (From The Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites to Central Asia 1880-1884, by Fred Richard Belk p. 146.)

1882. Marriage. Johannes was married to Anna Hamm Bergman in 1882. This date obtained from Anna Hamm Bergman Bartsch's obituary.  Some record exists in Emmaus Mennonite Church (Record No. 113), NE of Whitewater, Kansas. Unfortunately this latter record was probably destroyed in a fire that burned Emmaus Church to the ground Jan. 29, 2008.

Ca. 1886. Traveled to Aulie Ata, Turkestan.

      "...plans were quickly made to leave for Aulie Ata, a region 150 miles northeast of Tashkent but still within the borders of Turkestan....  It was learned by the Mennonites ... that the Talas River basin could become a productive area for raising grain and cattle if enterprising farmers would diligently work the land.  This (beautiful) valley, about 25 miles wide and almost 200 miles long, was enclosed by the perennially snow‑covered Alexander Mountains."

     Belk indicates that fifty families have been identified as settling at Aulie Ata, including Franz Bartsch and Johann Bartsch. (Belk, The Great Trek, pp. 138, 139, 225.)

1893. Traveled to Newton, Kansas. Johannes Bartsch brought his family to Newton a year or two after we arrived.  They consisted of the artist, John [Hans] Bartsch, St. Louis, Paul Bartsch, Newton, Sister Helen Bartsch of Bethel Deaconess Hosp." (From Bartsch Family Roots, p. 150; also From the Steppes of Russia to the Prairies of Kansas - 1893, by Rev. J. B. Epp, The memoirs of the coming to America of the two families ‑‑ Rev. Johann Epp and family and Mr. John Wiebe and family.  Written in German by Rev. J. B. Epp in 1942; translated into English by Arnold C. Claassen.)

1915. Died at the age of 67, Newton, Kansas.

Johannes Bartsch and Anna Hamm Bergman Bartsch had six children:

Johannes Herman ("Hans") Bartsch, born June 3, 1884 in Tashkent, Turkestan. He died in 1959 in St. Louis, Missouri at the age of 75.

Gotthilf Jacob Bartsch, born December 24, 1885 in Tashkent, Turkestan. He died August 29, 1886 in Tashkent at two years of age.

Rudolf Bartsch, born June 5, 1887 in Aulie Ata, Central Asia. He died in Aulie Ata in July of 1888 at the age of one year.

Herrmann Bartsch, born August 27, 1888 in Aulie Ata, Central Asia. He died in Aulie Auta on February 8, 1890 at one and a half years of age.

Paul William Bartsch, Sr., born May 13, 1891 in Aulie Ata, Central Asia. He died in Topeka, Kansas on December 1, 1967 at the age of 76.

Helene Marie Bartsch, born December 9, 1894, probably in Newton, Kansas. She died in June of 1966 in Newton, Kansas at the age of 71.

JTB Genealogy Index Page

Updated June 19, 2012

This Page Updated March 9, 2016

Genealogical Documents Compiled

by James T. Bartsch