Classification scheme: 

Title: Franz and Anna (Toews) Tiessen family fonds

Dates of creation: 1905-1991

Physical description: 17 cm of textual records; 13 photographs

Biographical sketch: Franz Peter Tiessen (1906-1991) was born in Schoenfeld, South Russia to Peter J. and Elizabeth (Fast) Tiessen. Peter and his first wife Anna (Enns) had six children, four of whom survived infancy. Peter and his second wife Elizabeth (Fast) had eight children, (seven of whom survived infancy) including Franz. The children grew up on the family’s prosperous 700 acre farm. In 1919, the family left for Blumstein to avoid frequent raids by bandits. On June 23, 1924, the family began their immigration journey to Canada. After a brief stay in Heidelberg, Ontario as billets of a local Mennonite family, they moved to Ruthven, Ontario. In 1927, they were able to buy a farm.

Anna (Toews) Tiessen (1909-1996) was also born in Schoenfeld. Her parents were Jacob J. and Susanna (Dick) Toews. The family later moved to Kleefeld, and immigrated to Canada in 1924. In 1925, they moved to the Leamington area. Anna Toews married Franz Tiessen in 1932; the couple had three children. The Tiessens farmed in Essex County. Franz's name was sometimes Anglicised as “Frank.”

Custodial history: Donated to the Mennonite Archives of Ontario by son Bob Tiessen in 2015

Scope and content:The fonds consists of: diaries and account books kept by Franz Tiessen; autobiographical writings by Franz Tiessen, Anna Tiessen and others predominantly recounting stories of the Russian Revolution and Mennonite emigration; family correspondence and genealogy; photographs; and collected poems.

Notes: For photographs related to the Tiessen family search the Mennonite Archival Image Database.
Further materials related to the Tiessen family may be found by searching the Archives.
Original archival description created 2016 by Laureen Harder-Gissing.

File list:

  1. Immigration documents of the Peter J. and Elizabeth Tiessen family, 1924
  2. Canadian Mennonite Board of Colonization correspondence and receipts of Peter J. Tiessen, 1924-1934
  3. Anna Loewen papers
    Scope and content: Anna Loewen is Franz Tiessen’s half-sister. File contains undated poems; an obituary, [1977]; postcards sent from Anna to Peter J. Tiessen on her way to South America, 1931
  4. Poetry collected by Franz Tiessen
  5. Anna Tiessen autobiographical writings, 1979-1980, 1992
    Scope and content: File contains three manuscripts: “Etliches aus meinem Leben,” 1979-1980; “Reminicing” (a Christmas story told to a Sunday School class by Anna Tiessen), 1992; “Grandmother’s pillow”
  6. Franz Tiessen autobiographical writings, 1979, 1987
    Scope and content: 1979 recollections include genealogy notes; 1987 recollections were translated by Margaret E. Tiessen
  7. News clipping, [1985]
    Scope and content: “Mennonites have prospered,” Rob Hornberger, Star Leamington Bureau
  8. Autobiographical writings collected by Franz Tiessen
  • "The establishment and growth of the Sunday School in our new homeland."
    : This appears to be written by Frank Tiessen who was one of the first Sunday School teachers in Leamington
  •  “Eine Lebensgeschichte”
    Scope and content: A personal account of a Mennonite family’s experiences during the Russian Revolution and civil war. The author is unknown; likely someone in the Leamington area.
  • “Songs in the night”
    Scope and content: A personal account of a Russian Mennonite family’s experiences with bandits on the night of 10-11 Jan 1919. The author is an unidentified brother of siblings Abram, Nicholas, Jacob, John, Gerta and Sarah. Several family members were killed.
  • “Die letzte zeit meiner geliebten Eltern” by Neta Neufeld
    Scope and content: Neufeld recounts the murders of her parents Nicholas and Elizabeth Tiessen. Nicholas was a brother to Peter J. Tiessen.

    9. Franz Tiessen diaries and financial records, Mar-Aug 1939, 1966-Apr 1991

    10. Franz Tiessen travel diary, 1977-1987
    Scope and content:  California (1977, 1979), Gatlinburg (1977, 1978), Ottawa and eastern Canada (1978), Florida (1980), eastern Ontario (1982), Niagara Falls (1983), northern Ontario (1985), eastern Canada (1987)

    11.Genealogy compiled by Susanna (Dick) Toews (photocopy), [ca. 1960]
    Note: Susanna Toews is Anna Tiessen’s mother

    12. Family photographs
    Note: For descriptions of these photographs, search the Mennonite Archival Image Database


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Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238