Eigenfeld: A Village Near Steinbach!

One day this past summer, after work, I convinced Andrew to head out on a “little drive” with me, just to see if we could locate some old ghost villages on our own, from the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve. I began by telling Andrew that we’d just go see Eigenfeld, which is pretty much a part of Steinbach at this point. Not too far to drive!

I brought the Atlas with us, and directed Andrew west, down Mackenzie Road. At precisely the place that I figured we should see Eigenfeld, sure enough — there was a cross in the distance.

It looked a little unattainable, so we just kept driving.

But we returned a different day… along with Ernest Braun and Glen Klassen, who wrote the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve!

Speaking of which, here is what I’ve learned from the Atlas about this particular spot: first of all, it’s actually just a few feet away from Lichtenau, another ghost village. Except perhaps that’s a misnomer. In these cases, these weren’t necessarily villages. Rather, they were “groupings of homes” — usually families. And they didn’t do the open-field farming thing, either. Actually, Lichtenau was a KG “village” of Kornelsons. So, these two were just really close to each other, I guess. I don’t think Lichtenau even had a cemetery, and it was abandoned by 1893. Eigenfeld itself seemed to exist from about 1875-1889. Though you’ll see from the burial dates below that this cemetery continued to be used by Wiebes through to the 1920’s.

Ernie and Glen may have a few years on us, but they nimbly climbed through the fence, and so Andrew and I followed suit, walking right up to the cemetery. I was very pleased!

Right away I was pretty impressed by this cemetery, because etched onto the cross are all the names of the people who were laid to rest here. Even female names.

Is this a misspelling? Or…?

Glen and Ernie explained that this was because this was a Bergthaler cemetery. They tended to document all names, of all genders. (As opposed to Kleine Gemeinde, who would just throw in a “Mrs.” and call it a day. We had just come from the Gruenfeld cemetery, where I had disappointedly noted the lack of female names. Yep, I’m pretty new to this whole “local history” thing…!)

There are a lot of Wiebes in this cemetery. And, the metal etching reminds me of a shop teacher, a Mr. Wiebe, who taught metal works at the Steinbach Junior High. I wonder if he was the one who put up this cross?

Anyway, I didn’t think that my photos of the names on the cross would show up in the photos, so I’ll just type them out for you:

1. Peter J. Wiebe
Born – August 13, 1821 or 1822
Died – April 13, 1892
2. Katerina Bergen Wiebe
Born – June 16, 1823
Died – January 24, 1887
Came to Canada on the S.S. Sarmatian in August of 1874
(Abe D. Wiebe Great-Grandparents)

3. Abraham B. Wiebe
Born – July 23, 1848
Died – October 26, 1910
4. Margaretha Krahn Wiebe
Born – ____ 12, 1844
Died – June 13, 1909
(Abe D. Wiebe Grandparents)

5. Abram K. Wiebe
Born – February 24, 1881
Died – December 24, 1951
6. Elisabeth Dueck Wiebe
Born – December 5, 1895
Died – January 14, 1925
(Abe D. Wiebe Parents)

7. Heinrich K. Wiebe
Born – August 3, 1884
Died – December 30, 1905
(Abe D. Wiebe Uncle)
Heinrich D. Wiebe
Born – July 25, 1920
Died – August 10, 1953
(Abe D. Wiebe Brother)

8. Bernhard D. Wiebe
Born – December 29, 1924

10. Daughter of Peter N. Wiebe
and Justina Dueck (2nd Wife)
Agatha Wiebe
Born – July 10, 1921
Died -September 3, 1921
Liese Wiebe
Born – August 18, 1925
Died – February 7, 1928

Died – June 7, 1927
Son of Isaak E. Ginter
and Helena Neufeld

12. Sarah Friesen
Born – December 7, 1939
Died – December 7, 1938
Daughter of Martin M. Friesen and Sarah Hiebert

Abraham Wiebe
Born – July 5, 1794
Died – January 12, 1851

Andrew and Ernie

Above, Ernie takes a photo of the cross while Andrew looks on.

Feature photo: Andrew and Ernie held up the Eigenfeld sign (which had been lying in the cemetery) at my request. Glen is in the background, investigating the cemetery.

(Speaking of Glen, he has written a very interesting article about the things he’s learned from investigating abandoned local cemeteries.)