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Harms, John F. (1855–1945)

Proper Title

John F. Harms fonds

Dates of Creation

1897, 1942, 1943, 1945, [1983–?], 1983

Physical Description

1 folder of textual records and one black and white photograph

Biographical Sketch

John F. Harms was born on April 29, 1855 to Jacob Harms (1826– ) and Anna Voth (1823– ) in the village of Kleefeld, south Russia. He married Maria Isaac in 1873. She died ca. 1876. On September 15, 1876, he married Margaretha Isaac who was born in the village of Grossweide, Molotschna to Peter Isaak (1812– ) and Susanna Fast (ca. 1815– ). Together they had six children. In 1878 the family immigrated and settled on a farm near Mountain Lake, Minnesota. John Harms gave up farming in 1879 when John F. Funk invited him to move to Elkhart, Indiana to serve as editor of the Mennonitische Rundschau and the Herold der Wahrheit.

In 1884 the family moved near Hillsboro where Harms was influenced by the French Creek revival and was baptised into the Mennonite Brethren church. In 1884 he also took leadership of the newly established Zionsbote, the first Mennonite Brethren publication. He also helped establish the conference publishing house in Medford, Oklahoma in 1903. In addition to his conference work he wrote short stories, essays, poems, and tracts and was the town journalist.

Harms had interest in conference education. He held various positions and helped establish Tabor College and the Herbert Bible School in Saskatchewan. He was ordained into the ministry in 1896 at the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren church. Other churches he served at include in Medford, Oklahoma, and Flowing Well, Saskatchewan. He also established new churches and served as an evangelist to the Doukhobors in North Dakota in 1980–1909.

While he had a deep concern for the well being of his conference he also looked outside of it. He was on the committee that established one of the first mission projects of the conference to the Comanche Indians of Oklahoma. He reported the sufferings and hardships of those in Russia after the First World War. He gave “hands-on” help, by packing relief boxes and preparing food drafts.

According to the family, Margaretha died May 15, 1921. Harms married for a third time on November 27, 1921, this time to Adelgunda Jost who was born January 17, 1864, in Prangenau, Molotschna, to Peter Jost and Adelgunda Suderman. John F. Harms died on January 7, 1945.

Custodial History

The material in this collection has been collected by the archival staff over time and placed together in this collection.

Scope and Content

The material in this collection contains publications by Harms and material written about Harms after his death.


  • Volume 965.
  • Described by Conrad Stoesz December 3, 1999.
  • Accession nos.

File List

Volume 965
1. J.F.H., Zubereitung zur Entrückung, Hillsboro, Kansas. -- 1897.
2. John F. Harms, Zubereitung zur Entrückung, Hillsboro, Kansas. --1942.
3. John F. Harms, Eine Lebensreise, Hillsboro, Kansas. -- 1943.
4. Obituary of Rev. John F. Harms, in Hillsboro Journal, and one other unknown newspaper. -- 1945.
5. Letter from Wes Prieb to Ken Reddig. --1983.
6. Black and white photograph of John F. Harms on driveway. -- [193-?].

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