Diedrich Isaac Family of Kleefeld, Manitoba

Diedrich Isaac 1831-1902 and Anna Esau 1840-1919

Anna Esau Isaac in her old age

Fischau, South Russia

Speculatively Diedrich Isaac is the son of Peter Isaac and Justina Doerksen of Fischau. If this is true then he would have had brothers named Gerhard and Peter and sisters named Katharine, Maria and Justina. He would have been named after his grandfather Diedrich Isaac of Wirtshaft 11, Fischau. B. 17??.

Diedrich, called Dirk, attended school in Fischau. We know little about his schooling except that he had a teacher who taught him the Art of Fraktur. He continued to draw the rest of his life and gave these away as gifts and remembrances. A Gesangbuch, still in its original protective black cardboard cover, has Diedrich=s name engraved in gold lettering and the date 1841. Did he get this as inheritance? A lengthy letter dated Jan 1, 1842 ended with Diedrich Isaac=s name is still extant and untranslated in the Isaac kjist.

Diedrich was baptized in 1853, shortly before being enlisted to serve in the Crimean War as a transport driver. The Mennonites agreed to haul food during the war but not ammunition. Interestingly, all the boxes and bags had been stamped as containing bread! Showing his humor Dirk said that the bread he'd hauled had been been very heavy. Dirk drove wagon loads of supplies to the front lines with bullets and shrapnel flying overhead. Toward the end of the war Dirk was hit with British enemy shrapnel (from a grenade) which blew away the top of his skull and scalp. Medics moved him aside and left him to die. When hours passed and he didn't die, they decided to patch him up. They managed to stretch the skin together, but he was in actuality partially scalped. His brain had been exposed and there was no bone left to protect the top of his head. It was ribbed with white scar tissue. That part of his head healed but was always very sensitive so he was known for wearing woolen caps (touques) year round. He had a pommel on top so that he could feel if his head was brushing the top of a doorway and protect himself. His family expected him to be left mentally handicapped but the joke was that he was actually fairly average for an Isaac. The war came to an end in 1856.

Another family joke was that one of Diedrich's brothers got married for the first time late in life -perhaps 70's. Maybe this will provide a clue for someone as to who is Diedrich's family.

Diedrich married Anna Esau, born in 1840-the seventh of 10 children, in 1865. She had been baptized in 1860.

Anna Esau wrote a letter to brother Johan in 1874 of sad farewell. Shortly afterward, She and Diedrich must have agreed to move as well. Heinrich Enns in a letter to Peter Toews, Jan 20, 1875, mentions that 3 families have sold their (farms)Wirtshaften and want to move namely: Dirk Isaac, Zinner (tinsmith), Gerhard Doerksen and cousin Cornelius Toews. "They seem to be very committed and hopefully will take their part there. Dirks brother-in-law Abraham Schellenbergs (Margaretha Esau) wish to join too. Enns say that Isaacs (Anna and Diedrich) know him and he is true hearted."

Gruenfeld, Manitoba

Diedrich and Anna arrived on the SS Prussian in 1875 with their two daughters Justina and Anna and settled near Gruenfeld - Rosenfeld. On Oct. 5, 1875 they became part of the ER Kleine Gemeinde.

The first winter the family had a frightening experience. The parents left the two girls alone in their home which was partly in the ground and partly out surrounded by bush. The girls were playing when they felt something watching them. Looking at the tiny window they saw a pair of fierce eyes. They hid under the parents bed in fear until they heard the parents come home. By then it was dark outside. When they told their father what they'd seen, he doubted them. When he checked outside the window the next morning he saw to his horror, the huge paw prints of a wolf.

In 1879 Dirk filed for the homestead Nw 26-6-5E Rosenfeld, formerly Peter Ungers Dynasties p. 420. More information on his land ownership is available in the John R. Dueck book.

Dirk was easy-going, humorous while his wife was more serious and stern. Dirk loved raw eggs and would eat many of them. His saying "one egg-one gulp". His daughters enjoyed finding freshly laid partridge eggs for him when herding cows.

The girls were warned not to eat wild berries since they might be poisonous. They watched the birds and on the sly sampled only what they ate. They quickly discovered the joys of blueberries, saskatoons, cranberries, pincherries and wild plums. On the way to church one day their mother remarked that the berries looked so good, she wished she knew they were poisonous or not. Then the girls confessed and soon berry-picking became a favorite family pastime.

Anna Isaac made fruit cordial (mild wine). She encouraged her granddaughter Anna Bartel to taste test the three varieties she had created: cherry, current and grape wine. She was blind so she never noticed how much Anna was sampling. After the second round of all three types of wine, young Anna fell fast asleep and slept all night and through til the next noon hour. She woke up ill and never liked wine after that.

One day when the Isaac family was digging potatoes and placing them in the cellar of their house, the door was left open. A skunk got in and decided to relax on their potatoes. Since Justina Isaac was an animal lover, she got an old overcoat and talked to skunk soothingly. She took the skunk in her arms and walked to and put it in the creek. Then the skunk let loose. But the Isaac home was saved from the smell.(see Bartel Book for more

Dirk was fluent in several languages: Russian, German, and Low German. He actively tried to learn English. He encouraged his children to learn English quickly and among his favorites gifts to them were English storybooks he purchased on rare trips to Winnipeg.

Diedrich left a will to his children remonstrating them to look after their mother if he passed away and to look after him if he was left behind, (See J.R. Friesen book Kleefeld).

Mrs. Anna Isaac, although known to be blind in old age, had an uncanny knack for knowing what others were up to. One day her grandson Gerhard Bartel snuck out to ride bicycle, which she disapproved of. When he came in quietly after having royally wiped out she remarked, "Have you learned your lesson from riding the "Flittzepei"? He wondered how she'd know what he'd done. Perhaps she only lost her front vision and still some side vision. We'll never know. Despite her blindness, she whiled away many hours knitting socks and mitts and sweaters for all her grandchildren and hardly ever lost a stitch.

Family Treasures

Several of Diedrich and Anna=s treasures still exist. A hand carved yard stick to measure cloth, the 1841 Gesangbuch with Diedrich's name engraved (Dick B. Eidse), the Isaak A kjist@ 4 2 feet by 2 1/4 feet with feet Originally it was painted dark brown. The original brass handles are still there. The inside is decorated with two beautifully illustrated Fraktur gifts for son-in-law Jakob Bartel and daughter Justina Bartel nee Isaac. They are dated 1872 in his handwriting which would indicate he did several drawings at a time and then filled in names after the fact. A unique picture he drew was of an outdoor scene in Russia including wolves, European robins and trees. The Isaacs old Prussian clock circa 1830's is currently displayed in the Morris Museum.

After their death their children, the Jacob Bartels, continued to support relatives in Russia who were struggling with survival. In the year 1922, the Jacob Bartels sent 3 money orders to the widow Johann Harder of Fischau and two to uncle Peter Peter Isaac who was being fed at a kitchen.

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