Waterloo County: Anthes Family Letters

Skip to list of Anthes letters.

Included in the Rieder Anthes family fonds is a unique group of letters. Within the Anthes archives are 28 letters in German, totalling over 78 pages, which were written between 1867 and 1872 primarily from the Carrick and Port Elgin Ontario areas to family members in Baden and New Hamburg in Waterloo County. The letters were found in the donation still tied with decorative ribbons and one can assume had probably not been looked at for over a century. These letters, along with those of the Breithaupt family, are among the earliest extant documents of local German families.

Anthes family portrait.

This photograph of the Jacob and Magdalena Anthes family was probably taken shortly before their 1867 move from Waterloo County to Carrick Township, possibly as a remembrance for family members. The children are, left to right, Martin, Catharine, Mary and Sarah.

The Anthes family became one of the very important local families in Waterloo County and the surrounding areas in the field of business and manufacturing as well as in local Evangelical churches.

The writer of most of these letters is the Rev. Jacob Anthes (1836-1874), second son of Martin and Catharine Anthes. Martin Anthes is listed in the 1871 census as a farmer in Wilmot Township.

Jacob married Magdalena Stricker (1840-1914) ca. 1857. The 1861 census lists Jacob as a farmer, religion as Methodist, located on land close to his father's. By 1871, his occupation is listed as "preacher" and his religion as "Evangelical Association." In 1867 Jacob Anthes and his family travelled through raw April weather to Carrick Township, near Mildmay, where Jacob was to preach for the Evangelical Association. He had a local congregation but also rode far and wide across the countryside through all weathers to preach to widely scattered congregations. He and his family moved again in 1868 to Port Elgin where Jacob helped to build the Evangelical Association Church. In 1873 Jacob relocated to Berlin, Ontario, now Kitchener, as pastor of Zion Evangelical Church. He died unexpectedly in 1874 at the age of only 38 of what is described as "brain fever."

Jacob and Magdalena were to have six children, five girls and one boy. At least one daughter died in infancy. The letters Jacob wrote home to his family recount with humour and kindness the challenges faced by their family in the wilds of Ontario.

Funded jointly by grants from the Waterloo Regional Heritage Foundation and UW's Waterloo Centre for German Studies, the letters were transcribed and translated by Dr. Susan Thorne whose special skill is in reading handwriting from the 17th century to the present.

List of Anthes Letters

Letters dated only with a year are placed in order with others from that year based on relevant information they may provide: allusions to the season, for example. Failing such information, they have been listed last among letters for that year.

Date Description of Letter Comments
January 2, 1865 Shoe Repair Bill  
May 3, 1867 Without a Home  
June 7, 1867 A Long-Awaited Letter  
August 30, 1867 Leaving a Child Behind  
November 19, 1867 Many Meetings  
December 7, 1867 Financial Concerns  
February 27, 1868 A Letter Concerning a Sick Child  

Sad News

Letter is dated 5th day, without a month
September 8, 1868 Household Economics and Building a Church  
1868 A New Daughter Letter is dated 16th day, without a month
1868 Assemblies and Conversions Letter is dated 27th day, without a month
December 15, 1868 A Sick Wife  
1869 Several Mennonites Converted Written early in the year: Ewald's note refers to a meeting coming up in April
March 1869 Ewald and Anthes Letters Probably later than "Several Mennonites Converted" since the number of conversions has climbed to 50
July 13, 1869 A New Assignment  
July 27, 1869 Toothache  
August 26, 1869 A Fatal Accident  
1869 Autumn Apples  
November 17, 1869

Religious Fervour and Financial Worries

January 5, 1870 Religious Rivalry  
March 10, 1870 Theobald Anthes Letter  
June 10, 1870 Request for a Loan  
November 10, 1870 Sebringville Letter  
June 12, 1871 A Death and a Burial  
December 1871 Boots and Shoes Repaired  
October 2, 1872 Plans for a Visit  
none Take the Money Straight to Breithaupt Undated
none I Will See that the Cow is Fetched Undated

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