Autobiography of Eduard Suderman

Brief Autobiography of Grandfather Eduard Suderman, father of Edward and Cornelius Suderman and Maria (Suderman) Warkentin. Written by himself in German, at the age of 80. Translated into English in 1981 by his granddaughter Anna Suderman, daughter of Cornelius Suderman.

                                                          <signed> Anna Suderman

 

First of all, the birth and death of my dear parents, Father Johann (John) Sudermann, born on August 11 in 1799 in Frauenburg, East Prussia, and died on November 1, 1843 in Wormditt East Prussia.

Mother was born on March 19, 1807 in Tiegenhoff, West Prussia, born Helena Wiens. She died in Wormditt, East Prussia in 1862.

I, Eduard Sudermann, was born on December 11, 1833 in Borenhoff, West Prussia. From my childhood I remember only that we had a large fruit orchard, especially one tree which had very big apples. Then I remember a flood in which we had one foot of water in our house. In stepping onto a board to go into house I fell into the water. I suffered no harm but was thoroughly drenched.

Then I remember our uncles, Abraham and Jakob Sudermann from Marienburg who came to visit us. They had a large sailboat which was a lot of fun, especially when it rocked a lot.

The uncles came to say good-bye, as they were ready to move to Russia that spring. All this took place before my sixth birthday. I had already started attending school.

Then Father sold his establishment and we moved to Tiegenhoff (Germany), where I continued school. Father bought another business in Wormditt.

I was very lonely there as we had moved so far away from all our relatives. It was a strange new place, ten German miles (kilometers) away where we had no one we knew. This move brought a big change into our way of life.

There were no Mennonites there, only an evangelical fellowship. The rest were Catholic. We remained with the fellowship, where I also attended school.

We had a small grocery store with a liquor bar – you can only imagine what a boy up to age 15 will learn in that kind of environment.

When I was 11 my father developed a "nerve fever" which caused his death after three days of illness. This was a great trial for mother, with four young children to raise. Our bread- winner was gone and we had to carry on the business. By God's help we survived.

I poured many a glass of wine during those years. It now seems terrible to me in view of what we read in Proverbs 28:20-35 (the actual reference is 20:30-35—MAP). At that time I thought nothing of it. I did not know better.

Many people came by our store on Sundays, going to church, especially the Catholics who came for early mass at 6:00 a.m. We were only two houses from the church. They stopped by fora swig to warm up so they could go to mass in high spirit! The wine was like our taking Communion wine in our churches.

On the way back they stopped in again, sometimes for a longer period. Some went home a bit befogged.

When I think of that now I feel that we opened our hands to give them occasion to sin. Even the Mennonites in the city did the same thing. They were mostly business people or saloon keepers. For this reason they had lost their godly walk.

They had sermons and Bible books but those were not used. In homes also, no prayers were said.

However, our mother came into our rooms at bedtime and prayed with us, but the prayers were only memorized ones. Praying from the heart was an unknown factor.

About two years after Father's death, mother married Abraham Thiessen, so we had a stepfather. He was strict but just. He helped to keep the business prospering.

When I was 12 years old I experienced a special protection from the Lord in an accident.

Back of our orchard there was a pond which in places was quite deep. When the ice was breaking up that spring we young ones had fun jumping onto the ice floes. There was a pile of bean sticks (pods?) in the garden so we would snatch a handful of pods, then jump onto an ice floe to catch a ride. Usually we managed quite well.

One day some of us boys (three, I believe) jumped onto a floe and had a great time. Evidently the floe was getting quite soft and suddenly it broke, throwing us all into the water, which went over our heads!

In thinking about it now it seems to me as though a hand soon pushed my head above water and since I was not far from shore I was soon standing on dry ground.

What now? I thought. I had only to go uphill to our house but knew if I did I'd catch it on my behind!

There was an old castle wall nearby where, the sun shone warmly. Jumping, behind the wall I stripped, wrung out the wet clothing and laid it out to dry. Then I had to stand there in my shirt until everything was dry. I must say to the glory of God that He kept and guided me.

About that time of year there was a certain Catholic "happiness festival" which fascinated me. It was like a Good Friday celebration. The body of the lord was carried in a holy shroud in procession.

For that festival they had planted green trees on both sides of the street, from the market to the church. We were allowed to get pine trees from, the forest. After sweeping the streets with dry pine boughs they were covered with palm branches and Calimus leaves.

At the marketplace, which was in a square, a booth was built with green branches at each corner. These were decorated with holy pictures and flags, with an altar in each booth.

The procession moved from the church with trumpets and horns blaring, and school children carrying crosses and flags followed. The priests marched, with holy water and incense censors. Four men followed carrying a heavenly throne. Two priests and a Father came carrying golden vessels in which Communion bread, was carried. The priests were garbed in red, white and blue robes.

Their procession passed by our house. As it passed, the people on the street crossed themselves and bowed to the priests, kneeled down and were springled (sic) with holy water.

The whole group marched to the end of the street, turned around and went to the market on the other side, continuing the music and singing as they went.

At each booth the procession came to a stop. The priests read the mass in Latin. I do not think there was one who understood a word of it, not even the priests. As the Father lifted up the vessel, all the people fell on their knees to worship, as the music continued.

This was like the feast proclaimed by Nebuchadnezzar in which everyone hearing the music was to bow down and worship the image (Daniel ch.3).

As the procession passed the market they stopped at every shop and prayers were said. After they had passed the last shop the procession returned to the church and the festival was concluded.

The people then dispersed and stopped at the bar for a "schnaps" on the way out.

Vocation: At the age of 14 I had to decide what profession I would choose for my life work. I wanted to join the Marines but my dear mother did not approve.

Then some uncles came from Tiegenhoff to the cloth market for business. Among them was a teacher for the trade. He asked me whether I would like to learn the trade of blue-cloth dyer. Since I could not do what I really wished to do it did not really matter what I chose. At least it would take me back to Tiegenhoff to all my dear relatives. So I was "sold" for five years of apprenticeship.

After working at it for some time it really wasn't so bad. But since my relatives were all well—to—do, respected people I wasn't supposed to make friends with the other apprentices, but only to stay with my cousin.

Since I was with Mennonites there, they wanted me to join their fellowship. Uncle Herman Wiens asked me to go to his neighbor, Mr. Schellenberg, to ask him to intercede for me as to whether I could take baptism. I went and he approved. All that was required was to memorize the catechism and recite it to the church. Whether I believed in God and had forgiveness of sins, that was not asked. No one prayed with me. I do not think they prayed on their own either, only when they were in the church. No prayers were even beard in the church. It was all done without audible expression.

So we, 22 of us youths were baptized. No (sic) we were considered grown-ups. But true life in Christ was not evident in any of us. This could be seen by our actions, even on the day of the baptism.

All met for coffee and cakes at our uncle Rahn's. Everybody had a good time with music and dancing. No word of God nor prayers were heard again. That had all been done in the morning service and was considered sufficient. It was really no wonder, for we were ell "living dead" (no spiritual life).

The five years apprenticeship came to an end finally and I had only been with my parents twice for a few days during that time. On one trip I remember going with a seaman from Tiegenhoff to Elbing by ship. (Elbing, Germany). We had fair weather with a good breeze blowing. But the pilot evidently had not been careful and our ship struck a land bank getting stuck. All kinds of efforts were made to get us out but to no avail. Two men had to take a boat to land and call a larger ship and more help. We finally got out but had to unload about half the cargo. We were able to leave then, but lost a day and a half - we thought we'd freeze, as there was already considerable ice on the ground. However, we got to Elbing safely. The seven miles by foot did not seem too difficult either.

When the five years of apprenticeship were completed, the next step was to travel around the country. That was also my desire, so I got a travel pass for five years.

During that time I saw a great deal of the world, worked in numerous factories and workshops, learning much about my future trade which was useful to me later. Yes, I also learned other things which were not for the best.

At the end of the travel I started to make my way home. In Berlin I met my half brother, Herman Sudermann, and spent a few days with him.

He was a cabinet maker in that city. He informed me that the Uncles in Russia had asked him to join them in Russia as it would be easier to make a living there. "What do you think of that?" he asked me. "Would you like to come with me?"

I hesitated, as I had already been thinking of going to America; I told him I would think about it and then write him.

After a few weeks at home, my sister, who was working in Marienburg asked me to join her there for there would be work for me. That way could stay together for awhile.

I went, there and found work with a Mr. Scheiberling and enjoyed working with his step-son, Warkentin.

I told Warkentin that my brother would like for me to qo to Russia with him. He thought it was not a bad idea as he Himself had spent a few years in Russia. He advised that I try to find a way to get a ride with someone.

A week later Warkentin told me that there were three young men in Koldan who wished to travel to Russia. They wanted two more people to go with them. They were Gerhard and Julius Peters, and a Johann Fast. Warkentin advised me to go Sunday to inquire about going along. After consultation we decided to go, paying them 33 dollars. They agreed, with the stipulation that we furnish part of the food for the journey. I told them I would consult with my brother and send him word.

So I wrote to Berlin and shared the whole matter with my brother, asking him to reply by return mail. He answered my letter immediately. He asked me to get ready and notify him or the leaving date.

We decided to leave the day after Ascension Day. I notified my parents also, When Herman came, we went to see our parents and relatives. My mother had made a dozen shirts for me!

Everything was packed and we left with a good wagon and three fine horses. Three other families and two youths had joined the group with two more wagons. After our uncle Epp had given a short devotional we were off to our future home (in Russia).

Uncle Epp had also given us the travel route. After a few unsuccessful robbery attempts by Jews in the inns, we were on our way.

But 2000 "Werst" (2134 kilometers) was a long way to go. We took seven weeks and made the trip without haste. As a result we arrived with our horses in good shape.

As soon as we got to Halbstadt (Russia) dear relatives appeared on the scene – my cousin Abram Klassen gave me a warm welcome.

This dear uncle then took me to Altona to a Mr. J. Regehr who had a dyeing business. After I presented my credentials he gave me a job which paid 10 Rubels a month. As a foreman he gave me 170 Rubels a year. Upon my request, he gave me permission to visit an uncle in Bergiangst before beginning work.

My relatives did not please me. They were outwardly pious but not honest in business. Where in Prussia the Christians showed too little piety, here it was all over-done, but their walk was not upright. In Prussia our relatives were more just and moral but they did not want to overdo their piety.

I went back to the colony then and took up my job. It went quite well but I missed good fellowship. The landowners whiled away their time in saloons, and also wasted my time.

I went back to Halbstadt for a week and found what I thought was better company. Upon returning to my work I discovered that some malicious gossip and defamation had been spread about me. They did not want me there anymore.

It did not bother me too much. I returned to Halbstadt but could not find work in a dyeing business there, so I went to my cousin Jacob Klassen and helped him in his cabinet making shop. I did not earn much that winter but earned my keep and had a place to stay.

In Spring I packed my bags to look for work in a dyeing factory. In Weikirk Mr. Thomson did not have a vacancy. In Ranarweide at Mr. Mathies the answer was the same. At one more place in Grossweide I went to Abram Fast. I told him I needed a place To work. He asked me to stay for the night. After I had returned to bed, he asked me whether I would work for him at 10 Rubels a month. I agreed to take the position.

He had hired two apprentices and asked me to train the older boy. He warned me, however, that the boy's grandmother also lived in that village and if her grandson would complain about me I might get into trouble. I told him that would be my responsibility and I would make out OK.

For awhile it went quite well, but frequently in the afternoons the boys would visit with neighbor boys. Then I had to wait until they returned. This aggravated me, so one day I went after the boys and brought them back. That was rather a hasty move. "You better be on your guard", Mr. Fast told me. "The old lady might come to investigate." "Send her to me if she comes and I'11 take care of it", I told him.

She came then to Mr. Fast and he sent her me. She was afraid to do that, but the boys: learned their lesson and were more prompt after that. They were more obedient and did better work.

We had plenty of work until harvest time, but after that there were days when work was slack.

A Mr. Letkeman, whom I met in the store had come from Schoensea (nice sea) to Grosweide. When he heard that work was slack he told me he had plenty. If I wanted to I could come with him. I told Mr. Fast and he released me. At Schoensea I had plenty of work.

Then I began to go to church again, but the services were not to my liking. The singing was awful. I bold Mr. Letkeman I could not sing with them. I could read and hear but could not find any beginning or ending. It just went on and on without a pause. I had to ask where they were singing!

He told me this would improve, as they were going to teach the people to sing by numbers (used for notes), but I did not see any of it. I became ill with fever every three days (one type of malaria, A.S.) so I had to quit working. No medication seemed to help.

I then decided to return to Prussia, "where there is a will there is a way" I told myself. Another young man had to return to Prussia for military service, so he joined me and we set off. My companion was stopped in Katerjinos, still in Russia. He had to wait for a pass to travel on. "But whoever has nothing to grease the palm" as they say. "has to wait".

I met another German family returning to Prussia so I joined them. After coming to Elisabetpass we stayed there for a few days. Reflecting on my decision I wondered "Why am I returning to Germany?"

I decided not to go on but turned back to Russia by way of Gerson, Barneslaf and Taschenk back to the colony.

After arriving back in Halbstadt I visited Mr. Doerksen, a dyer, to see wehther I could get work there. The fever had left me on the journey.

He, told me to stay, shave off my heard in order to be like the Mennonites again, then go to Schoenau to Mr. Jacob Thiessen, who was firing his manager and would be looking for a replace- ment. He assured me that I would get a position immediately. Upon this suggestion I acted, and presented myself for a position.

I asked him whether he was looking for a new manager. "Yes," he said. "Do you feel that yon would be able to handle this position?" he asked me.

I told him of my training in Prussia and that I felt I could handle the job.

When I asked about the wages he told me that I would get half the profit at the end of the year when the accounts had been made. He would take charge of the expense accounts.

That, I felt, was a good offer. If I worked hard the earnings would be greater but I was not bound to a rigid schedule.

After another week in Halbstadt completnig my assignment there, I joined Mr. Thiessen. My meals I had with Mr. Thiessen's clerk who lived in an apartment with his family nearby. My expense for board and room 80 Rubels (a year).

Marriage: At the end of the first year I had earned 200 Rubels. In the second year I felt that the 80 Rubels for board was too High. I had. Already found my future wife so I asked her whether she could provide their meals for 80 Rubels. She said that they could get along with even less than that. So the decision was made to get married.

I had already received my church membership statement from Prussia so I went to Gnadenfeld to the elder N. Goertz. I asked him to send a competent man to perform the marriage. He said it was too far to come, but he would send Elder Toews, who would willingly comply. However, since I was from another community I would have to go to Halbstadt to get permission from the authorities for the wedding. The wedding was per- formed on March 16, 1864. (Name of the bride, Mary Pauls, was omitted from the account, A.S.)

Work went well for awhile, but the clerk, Cornelsen, with whom I had been boarding, was unhappy because, he was not receiving the income as before, besides they had to pay one Rubel. That caused some friction. I told my wife to keep quiet, it would come out OK.

The annual market where completed merchandise was sold came around at Takmak. We wanted to go there to get some needed supplies. I went to the clerk asked for a loan. He refused to give it saying that Mr. Thiessen had told him not to give me any money as I still owed some debts from the year before.

"Did he say that?" I asked. "Yes, he did," he told me. "All right," I said, "I'll deal with him myself."

Saying that, I jumped over the counter. Mr. Cornelsen tried to stop me but I told him I did not need him and he better stay there.

Thiessen had already noticed that I was agitated. I asked him whether he had forbidden the clerk to give me money. He said he had, so I asked him to look at last year's account and look at the sales and profits.

"Don't we have as good a business now as we had last year?" I asked him. He affirmed that we did. "OK," I said, "You give me the money now and at the end of the year all will be cleared." So he gave me 27 Rubels. We went to the market, bought our supplies and had some money left over.

My wife then told me that she had heard that they were going to close the dyeing business after New year. They had even decided on dividing our things among themselves, and what each one would get.

"Well" I told her, "You just keep quiet. They won't get any of our things."

When the year was up we settled accounts and. we received 65 Rubels in addition. I asked Mr. Thiessen then, had I not told him everything would be in order after the annual account. He agreed that I had.

We then moved to Blumenort to my wife's parents and looked for work. I found a job in Neukirk with a Mr. Thompson, but his wages were very low. I objected to the low rate and asked for a raise. He refused, so I left and found another position in Tiege. They paid 8 Rubels a week. I do not remember how long I was there.

But then Klaus Braun came from Halbstadt and offered me work by the piece, plus free housing, a cow, free summer and winter, and straw for fuel.

There my earnings were good, as much as one Rubel a day. I worked early and late for over a year.

Then Abe Matthies came from Rudernerwiede to ask me to join him there. I did not really want to go. He urged me to come and look it over, so I went. Thompson came and asked me how much I wanted. I said 300 Rubels a year. They thought it was too much, so we settled for 270, with free lodging, free cow, and my board. They came and brought me then, but I was soon sorry I had came as Matthie's wife interfered with my work. She wanted everything run according to her wishes. I told her to tend to her household and leave me alone. That was a mistake.

When some cotton was stolen from the dyeing houses she suspected that the manager would know about that. I told them to search our premises if they wanted to, but I decided to leave their establishment.

How we would manage I did not know. "But again" I thought, "Where there is a will there is a way."

First of all I went to Waldheim to find a place to live. Looking back, I realize that the Lord had already paved the way for me there, though I did not realize it then. I just thought it was my good fortune. It just happened that way.

The first place I stopped to inquire was at the liquor store, where a person can get information and advice about situations available. The man in charge was able to give me good advice.

He told me of a Gottlieb Straus who just happened to be there at the time. Ordinarily he lived in the Crimea. He advised me to go to Mr. Straus who wanted to rent out his place, and investigate. I went, found him at home and we had a chance to talk about many things. I asked him whether he wanted to rent out his place. "Yes," he said, "It is available for rent."

He told me if I would give him 60 Rubels a year I could have the place. I told him no one would give him that much, but I would see. We looked at everything. The house was small, but there was a large barn with some sheds nearby. Then there was another barn with a specially built in room with a window opening built in. He said I could remove the bricks and set in a window. That was like made for me! There was also a good well with plenty of good water,

I told him if he would rent me the place on contract for five years I would take it, thought I thought 60 Rubels was a bit high.

We went to the village elder and had the contract written.

I went home and told my wife, "Now we will have our own dye establishment." "How?" she asked. "We have no money." "I know, but things have worked so far. There will be a way."

I had always had the maxim, "Keep your eyes open". I had noticed at Mr. Isaac Matthies a large wine barrel lying by the back door. The barrel was seven feet long. I wanted to get it for the dye vat.

When I approached him he asked, "What did you bring?" "I did not bring anything, but I want to buy that wine barrel," I said. "It isn't for sale," he answered. Then I told him I had to have it for my dye vat so that I could arrange my own dye plant. "In that case" he said, "You can have it

for five Rubels," I told him I could not pay immediately as I had no money. "All right" he said, "You do not need to pay. I will give you some work, to take along." That was even better, Besides, I already had one customer!

From there I went to Grossweide to a man I had worked for Previously, but who was now involved in agriculture. I asked him whether 1 could borrow the table and other needed items to set up my plant. "What if I sell the place to a dyer?" he asked. "In that case I'll send back the supplies as soon as you send the word." He then let me take the equipment.

I went back to Waldheim, then hired a wagon, and brought my family and goods, also the wine barrel and the things I needed to set up.

A Mr. Barkman had a store in Waldheim far which he needed that kind, of dyed cloth for his customers. So I had my clientele, Only one thing, was lacking, the dye. I had no money to buy it. When I presented that need to Mr. Barkman he asked me whether I could get what I needed in Takmak (the marketplace). I assured him that I could, so he promised to take me to Takmak the next day. He would arrange for me to buy my supplies on time. It was arranged and carried out. I was in business!

I worked long and hard, rarely getting home before midnight. It did not take long until I had all my debts paid off - I had my own business and could make my own living without anyone telling me what to do.

During that time a Barnhard Harder, who was also a school teacher, had begun a service with a Bible study which I began attending. That meant for me and for many others a more godly life and a desire for more spiritual enlightenment, but it did not lead to a complete breakthrough at that time.

When the five years were up my wife suggested that we buy our own place so we would not have to pay rent continually. I did not desire to do that at that time, but finally gave in.

I bought an old school-house in Landskron with 12 "daschinen" of land for 1000 Rubels, most of which was debt. I gave the land as mortgage for the interest. All the changeover and starting anew, with loss of time, resulted in considerable loss. Eventually it came into line again. The work could begin again but I missed the Bible studies.

I became acquainted with a David Block there, a blacksmith in Landskron. He was a member of the Mennonite Brethern (sic) church. He asked me to come to their meetings in Blumenort. Since my wife's father also belonged to the Brethern (sic), we went. There I again enjoyed the Word of God.

One thing I still lacked. I was not in complete agreement with their teaching. When I told the brother why, he said, "If you will confess your sins and turn to God you will have peace and all will be different." That was just what I did not want to do. The enemy within whispered, "All they want to find out is all the blunders you made so they can make fun of you."

I left them, for a time, but I knew I had to be saved and went back again.

One Sunday we went to Neukirk where they were having a baptismal service. I wanted to talk to Johan (John) Regehr but could get no one's attention. Disgruntled, I said to my wife, "Let's go home. No one cares for us." She said she would like to stay for the service, which we also did.

On the way home I was angry. My innocent horse had to suffer for my impatience. That is what happens when we don't realize what we are doing anymore. However, we got home safely.

When I was going to the loft to pick up the feed for the horse I heard a distinct voice say, "Here is a rope. Take it and hang yourself."

I was so startled and horrified I ran from the loft and slammed the door above me. When I think of it even now a chill runs over my back.

But then I was able to kneel down and pray, asking the Lord to help me. I promised I would go to David Block and confess all my sins.

I went that evening and told them what happened, and confessed my sins to them. We read God's Word and prayed together, after which I went home.

The next morning when I went to work I took my Bible and asked the Lord to give me a promise which would assure me of salvation and of peace with Him. I found the verse in Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage. I will not leave thee nor forsake thee (Joshua l:9). Joy came and I thanked the Lord for forgiveness of my sins. I then went to my wife and told her what had happened.

Just then Brother Henry Gossen came in. When he saw me he said, "Something has happened to you. You look so happy." "Yes," I said, "I should be happy, I have forgiveness of my sins!" "Brother" he said, "Let us kneel down and thank the Lord," which we did.

He said, "Now you should be baptized in accordance with the Lord's baptism." That was what I desired to do - The baptism which I had received in Prussia was no real baptism as I had known all along that I was not saved.

When I told my wife she objected. She was afraid of the ridicule we would get as a result.

"Just as you are now you are going to be baptized?" She asked. "Yes, just as I am. I have tried two years to make myself better, but it did no good. Now I'm going to let the Lord take over to change me because I can't do it." He was true to His word as He had said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee."

Even though I went through much tribulation and many trials I can now say at age 80 that I rejoice in the certainty of salvation.

I asked for baptism, and with six others was baptized by immersion. We gave our testimonies and brother Abraham Schellenberg baptized us in the river in April 1873. (At age 40, A.S.)

Of the seven who were baptized I know three who survive today. (At the time of writing, in 1913, A.S.) Brother Klas Enns of Sparau, Russia, G. Johan Block, Henderson, Nebraska, and myself.

That same year my dear wife also found, peace and was baptized in August of 1873, the third time for her. She had been baptized in infancy in Prussia, then as a young lady by sprinkling; and now in Mintau, Russia, in the river.

That same year, by God's grace, my daughter Maria was also saved in Russia and baptized in Klippenfeld.

Others in Landskron turned to the Lord and we were a group of 22 believers there who could have sweet fellowship together.

Then a big change came as Brother Abraham Schellenberg left for America. All the believers in our village followed him. My family was the only one left behind. Wee realized what real fellowship meant, after all had left. It was a large village but no one with whom we could meet in prayer.

A frequent visitor at our house was a Tobias Janzen, a preacher in the Alexwohler church who often asked me questions about God's Word. After he left my wife would say to me, "Now he has received light again so he knows what to preach tomorrow."

One day when he had been with me he said he wanted to visit the school teacher yet, so I went with him for a short distance.

I said to him, "This is a large village and there are many people here, but no one with whom I can pray," He did not respond to that but later, after he had been converted himself he told me that I had almost killed him with those words at that time. He had felt that he should immediately kneel down on the road and pray, but he had suppressed that urge.

"Yes," I said, "Dear Brother, if you would have been obedient to that urge you would have come to the knowledge of the truth much sooner."

After that I found a few more with whom I could have fellowship as they relinquished their worldly ways. We gathered again as a group of ten people with whom we could meet in fellowship on Sunday and Wednesday evenings.

During that time I worked with a Gerhard Toews in Gnadenfeld, took care of a printing shop and earned six or seven Rubels a week. Those people treated me quite well and we had a good relationship together.

That summer a cattle plague struck the villager's cattle and many died. Many barns were almost empty. The plague also got into Gnadenfeld.

A Mr. Tomson had four lovely cows. I felt that I should pray for them. I did not really want to do so but I had no rest about it. I felt I should do so. I asked the Lord to give me a word which would give assurance that my prayer would be heard. I had the Bible in my shop, opened it and got the passage in John's Gospel where Jesus prayed at the raising of Lazarus, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou hearest me always." (John 11:42)

I knelt down on the dry floor, thanking him for answering my prayer. I have often had answers to my prayers, but I was never so sure of the answers that I would thank Him before I made the request.

I had barely risen from my knees when Tomson came in. I could tell he had something on his mind. "Suderman," he said, "The Taylor Willems has a secret remedy he wants to sell for three Rubels. If one hangs that on their neck they will not get sick. Shall I buy it?" "What now?" I thought. I had to tell him what I had done, and advised him not to buy it. I had prayed the Lord to keep the cows well and that He would do so. "Good," he said, "I will not get it." The Lord did not let me down. Many of the neighbors cattle died but his did not.

We did not speak about it later, but old man Tomson had thought we sometimes imagined hearing God's Spirit revealing things to us, but he could not believe it. I told him if he could not believe it, it was a sign that he was not listening to God's voice.

However, the tempter of our souls often, did tempt me to doubt the Lord. The plague continued until after New Tears and every time I went by the cattle herd's home I wanted to ask him about the cattle's continued well-being but I resisted the temptation.

By that time my daughter Maria had already married Bernard Warkentin. They also lived on a rented farm.

Then "Colorado fever" where everyone could get a free farm by "home-steading" the land. (Building a small shack on it and starting to develop the land, A.S.)

Since among the agents there were some preachers, people had confidence in the venture. A preacher should not advise people to go to an unknown place for their own profit! This move caused many hardships in our lives.

Edward came along to Colorado but did not like it from the Start. Since he still had a rented farm in Kansas he had to return for the harvest. He just left everything in Colorado and did not come back. We sold his possessions and sent back the rest of his things. He then went to Oklahoma and took up a quarter section of land there (160 acres). He kept on writing to us to come to Oklahoma but we did not go for awhile, my wife did wish to go.

Then Cornelius married a Seventh Day Adventist sister and brought her into our home. That did not work out well, so my wife said it would be better for us to go to Oklahoma, and we moved. (Mother did not remain an SDA very long, A.S.)

After arriving in Oklahoma I built a small house for ourselves, and got some chicken and two cows. I helped Edward when he needed it. He always paid us well for our work.

Then I started selling home remedies again and we had a good living.

Four years passed and then my wife became ill. After only one week she passed away. (She had had a running ulcer on one leg for some years and had a difficult time, A.S.)

So I was alone. When I was at home I stayed with the children, working as much as I could. Another year went by. Then Edward became ill. He had been in poor health with stomach trouble a long time. After only a brief illness he also went into eternal rest in heaven.

That left me with his widow and the six dear grandchildren. (The youngest was only 11 months old, A.S.) I spent about another year with them.

When my children wrote from Colorado that I should come to live with them I sold everything and returned. Now I have lived with Bernard Warkentin ten years already and am waiting for my Departure. May the Lord grant it. (End of Grandfather's writing)

As translated from the German by his Granddaughter Anna Suderman in 1981.

To Follow What Grandfather Wrote.

This Autobiography was written by Grandfather Eduard Suderman at age 80 in 1913. He lived yet until 1922 when he was almost 80 years old (she means 90—MAP).

In the meantime the Warkentins and Grandfather had returned to Kansas, where he lived until he went "Home" to glory.

Our family, the Cornelius Sudermans, had also moved away - to Comins, Michigan in 1913, with six of us older children. Five more were born In Michigan between 1913 - 1921.

The following was told to me by my Mother:

Anna Kroeker Suderman, daughter of Jacob and Anna (Wurms) Kroeker was born on September 16, 1977 in Henderson, Nebraska (she means 1877—MAP).

As noted earlier, she had become a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. She did this under strong pressure by her parents during her teen years. Her parents home had been invaded by a persuasive SDA who influenced them into joining. Previously, they had been Krimmer Mennonite Brethern (sic) from the Crimea area of Russia, meeting in a small house church in Henderson, Nebraska.

My parents were married, on January 13, 1900.

During her third pregnancy in which Mother had lost premature twin girls, in 1903, she had been very ill. During her illness she realized that she had been misled by the SDA and repudiated their doctrine. She then joined the Mennonite Brethern (sic) Church at Kirk, Colorado where Father was a member.

                                                          Anna Suderman, Translator

                                                                   <signed> Anna Suderman

 

Concluding Comments and Acknowledgements

I, Anna Suderman, daughter of Cornelius and Anna (Kroeker) Suderman, am now in the 80th year of my earthly pilgrimage. It has been a joy to work through this brief autobiography, Written by my grandfather Eduard Suderman, when he was 80 years old.

The manuscript, which had been typed from the original German script written by Grandfather, was given to me by my cousin, Lydia (Warkentin) Braun, while I was. visiting in Reedley, California in March 1981. Lydia is the daughter of the late Maria (Suderman) Warkentin, Grandfather's daughter, my Aunt. Lydia and two of her nieces (sic), daughters of Mary (Warkentin) Heinrichs, requested me to translate this history from German to English, for posterity.

1 have done my best to make it as authentic as possible. An Official translator here, Philip Fisher, volunteered to read the translation. He made suggestions and minor revisions before I wrote the clean copy for the typist.

A great grand-neice (sic) of Grandpa's, my brother John's grand- daughter, Marieanne (Weber) Beechler has done the typing of the MSS.

                                                          <signed> Anna Suderman

 

Remarks by Pastor Matthew A. Postiff April 21, 2017

I came across this typewritten autobiography and notes in my files. I cannot remember where I got it, but it may have been from Tena Suderman (Katherine, my grandmother) or her daughter/my aunt Carol Kuhn, sometime prior to 2004 when Katherine died. I scanned it to PDF at 300dpi and then at 600dpi with optical character recognition, copied the text out into Microsoft Word, and then manually fixed all the scanning errors, of which there were hundreds. I have attempted to leave typos as typos, with notes indicating corrections where needed and annotated with my initials—MAP). The page numbers were original to the document—but handwritten at the bottom.

Anna Suderman was a missionary to India. This was according to my father, Marvin A. Postiff. This Eduard Suderman is my great-great grandfather.

© 2004-2019 Fellowship Bible Church | 2775 Bedford Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 | 734-971-2837 | Privacy Policy | Sitemap

Home | Connect | Learn | Grow | Community | Bible | Members

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube