Rev. Peter and Margaretha Kroeker

Copyright 2001 Lorilee Scharfenberg.

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Peter Kroeker's parents presumably raised him in Margenau, on the Molotschna Colony, Russia. In 1853, at age 13, his father passed away. His family consisted of one sister, Katharina (16 years older), brother Franz (13 years his senior), and Jacob 4 years older.

Peter married Margaretha Loewen Braun (1841-1919) August 2, 1860 after both being baptized the same year. His mother passed away on Mar 9, 1861. Over the next twenty years, Margaretha gave birth to 11 children. Several died in early childhood. One died in infancy in Manitoba in 1875. According to the 1874 ship lists, their oldest living daughter Margaretha may have had a twin named Jacob who immigrated too but died previous to 1882.

Peter M. Kroeker was elected as deacon on Jan. 23,1872 with 23 votes. Later he was elected as minister and ordained Feb 14, 1873. At this time the family lived in Heuboden, Borosenko Colony, Russia. In 1874 they immigrated to Rosenort, Manitoba, along with all of his wife's family members including his mother-in-law, now a Mrs. Jacob F. Friesen nee Margaretha Loewen, several sister-in-laws: Mrs. Anna (Frank) Froese, a mentally ill sister Elizabeth who remained single, and Mrs. Maria (Gerhard) Harms. Incidentally mother-in-law Friesen was badly injured while sailing, but managed with a cane for the remainder of the voyage.

Upon arriving in Manitoba, he and brother Jacob decided to join David Klassen's decision of making their home on the Scratching River Reserve. Having several ministers and a deacon on the Reserve definitely helped establish Rosenort and Rosenhoff. In December of that first year in Manitoba, Rev. Kroeker took time to write a letter to Aeltester Peter Toews in Russia. He notes that his wife is sickly. The letter seems to be a response to the fact that the Kroeker brothers decided to part ways with the group that settled in Steinbach. Unity in Christ is stressed and no defense given other than the reminder to forgive.

He and his brother Rev. Jakob M. Kroeker of Rosenhoff and Rev. Peter Baerg of Gruenfeld, were the only ministers to remain faithful to the Kleine Gemeinde after the Aeltester Peter Toews and the other ministers left to join the Holdeman Church.

Peter was a farmer and ran a harvesting company in Rosenort with his brother-in-law and next door neighbour Franz Froese for several years. In 1901 the census records show that the Kroeker's had domestic help by the name of Aganetha Klassen (age 27).

He is mentioned often in the John W. Dueck diaries. Rev. Kroeker served the Rosenort congregation from the beginning. In 1911 he was still busy preaching. In their retirement, the Kroekers moved into their daughter, Mrs. Abram D. Loewen's home, where they had their own room in the large house. In 1915 John W. Dueck writes that "his illness reduced him to "skin and bones" "Someone is always with him at night" "He loves to hear beautiful songs while he sits in his rocker. He is failing more and more and becoming more patient all the time. One is reminded of Job and his illness." On April 16, 1915 JWD says 'At last Uncle Peter Kroeker has been healed of his sickness as he peacefully passed away." The funeral was held in the Rosenhoff schoolhouse April 17 and he was buried in the Rosenhoff cemetery. His wife Margaretha passed away four years later of Spanish influenza when the dreadful epidemic took the lives of four in the A.D. Loewen household within one week.

Much is unknown about Rev. Peter M. Kroeker. No known photo exists of him. What we know is reflected in his children. He had three sons all of whom were ordained as ministers after his death. Son Peter B. Kroeker (1873-) was elected a minister in Blumenort in 1916. Son Frank B. Kroeker was born January 17, 1879 and elected as a deacon in 1928 and a minister in 1930. Son Jacob B. Kroeker was born in 1882, elected a songleader in 1911, a minister in 1921, and as a Kleine Gemeinde Bishop in 1923. Margaretha and Peter also had two daughters: Margaretha was born July 25, 1866 and married Abraham D. Loewen, a well-to-do farmer in Rosenhoff. Anna was born on July 12, 1876 and married Cornelius J. Loewen, a farmer in Rosenort, who was a songleader and son of Mayor Isaac W. Loewen. The offspring in the community are many and distinguished.

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