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Bestvater, Wilhelm J. (1879–1969)

Proper Title

Wilhelm J. Bestvater fonds

Dates of Creation

1919, [ca.1920?], [ca.1922], [193-?], [ca. 1945–1960], [ca. 1967]

Physical Description

16 cm of textual records and one audio reel

Biographical Sketch

Wilhelm was born to Jacob and Katherine (Adrian, Penner) Bestvater in the village of Alexandertal, Old Samaria, Russia on July 26, 1879. In his early childhood his father died. His mother, with the rest of the family, moved in with her oldest daughter, Mrs. Bernhard Dyck. Later, Wilhelm accepted an invitation from his half-brother, Julius J. Adrian, to come to the United States. It was difficult for his mother to say good by to her youngest child, but in 1894 he immigrated to Mountain Lake, Minnesota with two other families. He lived with Julius Adrian and attended the local teachers training school. He taught in various schools in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Wilhelm was baptised in the Bethel Mennonite church in 1898. On August 12, 1900, he was married to Helen H. Janzen. Five children were born to this marriage. In 1902 the new couple attended the Light and Hope Bible Institute to prepare for Christian service. They returned a year later due to health concerns and joined the Mennonite Brethren church in Mountain Lake. His gifts were confirmed when he was ordained to the ministry in Dolton, South Dakota, and ministered in churches at Shafter, Bell, and Los Angeles, California. He travelled widely as an evangelist and Bible teacher. He also served in city mission work in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and as principal of the Herbert Bible School in Herbert, Saskatchewan. He also taught at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas in 1939. He was a regular contributor to Der Zionsbote from 1908–1964. Wilhelm Bestvater died on September 29, 1969 at the age of ninety.

Custodial History

Some of the notes in the material suggest that Mrs. Anna Redekop, daughter of Wilhelm Bestvater, donated some of the material in the Spring of 1973 and January 1974. Other material came at a undisclosed time.

Scope and Content

The material in this collection contains material produced by Wilhelm Bestvater in his role as minister and Bible teacher. Included are sermons, Bible outlines, and some published material. Most of the material is typed and in German. Bestvater was also a speaker in a German radio series directed by John G. Siemens of Shafter, California, which were aired in the San Joaqim Valley area in 1959 and 1960. A small amount of material is in English.


  • Volumes 916–917.
  • Title based on content of the fonds.
  • Described by Conrad Stoesz October 15, 1999.
  • Accession nos. ca. 1973, ca. 1974, unknown.
  • Related Material: Photograph collection NP-25–07–20.

File List


Volume 916

  1. Wm J. Bestvater, Betrachtungen über das Leste Buch der Bibel, Hillsboro, Kansas: Mennonite Brethren Publishing House, 1919. 2 copies.
  2. Wm J. Bestvater, Textbüchlein in Bibel ’ Kunde für Deutsche Bibelschulein, Herbert, Saskatchewan, [ca. 1922]. 3 copies.
  3. Wm J. Bestvater, Textbüchlein in Glaubenslehre für Die Herbert Bibelschule, Herbert Saskatchewan, [ca. 1922].
  4. Wm J. Bestvater, Textbüchlein in Glaubenslehre für Die Herbert Bibelschule, Herbert Saskatchewan, [ca. 1922]. 4 copies.
  5. Bible summary outlines, Old and New Testaments. – [193-?].
  6. Autobiographical Sketches from our Diaries. – [ca. 1959].
  7. Anna Rose (Bestvater) Redekop, Amazing Grace: The Life Story of William J. Bestvater. – [ca. 1967].
  8. Outline lesson plan for the book of Revelation. – [ca. 1920?].
  9. Life work, sermons, and obituary. – [192-?],1960,1969.
  10. Sermons by Wilhelm Bestvater on various topics. – [ca. 1945–1960],1949,1952,1959. – Note: A few of the sermons appear to have been by another minister and then type up by Bestvater.

Volume 917

  1. “The Bible Class Monitor,” studies in doctrine and selected New Testament books. – [ca. 195-?].
  2. Bible summary outlines, New and Old Testaments. – [193-?]. – Note same as box 1, file 4.
  3. “The Bible Class Monitor,” studies in selected New Testament books. – [ca. 195-?].
  4. William J. Bestvater: Rightly diving the word of truth/ Harold Jantz. -- [2009?]. -- 6 leaves.


Location: NA-19–38.

  1. Four radio broadcasts directed by John G. Siemens, Shafter, California, which were aired in the San Joaqim Valley area on January 4, 1959, February 22, 1959, March 1, 1959, and July 3, 1960. Speakers included: William J. Bestvater, “Die Fürbitte der Gnade,” John P. Siemens, “Das Segenszeitalter der Gnade,” an unknown speaker, “Anfang des Radio Gottesdienstes,” an unknown speaker, “Aus leiden in Herrlichkeit,” 7 1/2 ips.=
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