Jacob Barkman: Born in Prussia, Buried in Manitoba

This past Saturday, Andrew and I got it into our heads to find his twice-over great-great-great-great-grandfather’s grave.

We used the Find A Grave website to see a photo of this grave. It is marked with a cairn, but it’s in a privately-owned field.

We were also using the Historical Atlas of the East Reserve because I bring it with me everywhere.

This led us to a private farm. What to do? I thought I recognized the name of the farm, so I texted a member of the family and was told that yes, there was a cemetery there, and yes we could go ahead and drive onto the property. What a relief!

Onto to the farmyard we drove. Upon meeting the owner of said property, we were told how to access the cemetery, and eagerly walked out to the edge of the hemp field, following the path, aiming for the lone tree.

“Oh my goodness, it’s really happening!” I exclaimed, eagerly trotting alongside Andrew as he took long steps through the tall grass.

This was the site of the very first Blumenort village. It was right here. But what astounded me was that not only was this the site of Andrew’s great-great-great-great-grandfather’s grave… but it was also the site of my twice-over great-great-great-great-GREAT-grandfather’s grave.

Yes. That’s FIVE “greats”.

And yes. Twice over.

I’m talking about Jacob Barkman, a figure who appears twice in my genealogy; I am descended from him in two ways. (In other words, my great-grandparents were Barkman second cousins. Classic Menno behavior, that.)

It was actually Jacob Barkman’s year of birth that caught our eye first — 1794!

We stared at the date. “Whoa,” Andrew remarked, “He was born in the 1700’s. That means there is someone buried in this cemetery who was probably born in Prussia.”

I had a feeling that this was probably a person I was descended from. About as ancient a forefather as I can locate without crossing an ocean.

I stood and stared at the cairn, then at the ground.

His skeleton is there under that grass, somewhere.


Once we returned home, I looked it up, just to be sure.

And so it’s confirmed that I had visited the grave of Jacob Barkman, born 1794, died 1875. My twice-over g-g-g-g-g-grandfather.

So. According to Grandma Online, he was born in Neustaedterwald, Gross Werder, Prussia. I read in Royden Loewen’s book Blumenort: A Community in Transition, that Jacob Barkman immigrated to South Russia with his brother Martin in 1818 — on foot. Grandma Online tells me that he married Gertrude Klassen in 1819. They had five children together — I am descended from two of them: Peter Barkman (and Anna Toews), and Katharina Barkman (and Johann Koop). Apparently he (presumably with Gertrude) moved to Molotchna sometime in 1821 or 1822, and was mayor of Rueckenau for several years. Gertrude died in 1847, and Jacob married Anna Loewen in 1852. She passed away in 1859.

And so, in 1874, twice a widower and 80 years of age, Jacob Barkman immigrated here with his grown children and their families. After just one year in Manitoba, he died.

I wonder if maybe after that first year, he felt he could pass away, having seen his children putting down roots in their new place of residence.

I think it’d be safe to say that he has thousands of descendants in this area. I am just one of many.