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Voth, Johannes T. (1897-1973) and Katherina (Bergen) Voth (1896-1976)

Proper Title

Johannes and Katherina Voth fonds

Dates of Creation


Physical Description

38 cm of textual materials and photographs

Biographical Sketch

Johannes Tobias Voth was born (21 April 1897) on the Ginden Estate in South Russia (i.e., Ukraine) near the village of Kolimoba, Blumenau, Schoenfelder to Tobias M. and Katherina (Regehr) Voth. As a young lad, he had a crippled leg. However, after many treatments over several years, he was able to put aside his crutches and walk on the strengthened and healed leg.

In 1908, the Tobias Voth family moved to Neu Samara, Russia, and established an Estate farm near the village of Lugowsk, two hours away on horseback. In Lugowsk, Tobias built a large flour mill and a house for the family. During the winter, the family lived at the Lugowsk house, so that the children could go to school. During the summers, they were at the farm estate called Svetlov Ozera or Shining Water.

In 1916, Johannes was mobilized to serve in the Red Cross medic trains, caring for wounded soldiers during the war. Following the Revolution, there were initially more freedoms, even freedom to engage in evangelism and mission work, which was previously forbidden. For a time, Johannes was part of the Soldiers’ Christian Society ministering to soldiers in Moscow, which became The Tent Mission. Johannes returned to Lugowsk in July 1917.

Katherina Bergen was born (16 May 1896) in the village of Pleschanova, Neu Samara, Russia, to Kornelius Gerhard and Helena (Sawatsky) Bergen. Her father was one of the first to build a house of stone in the newly opened farming territory, as the other homes had been built of sod during the first years of settlement.

During the revival times in Neu Samara, Katherina was converted and soon after baptised in the river in 1911. Her parents were also baptised at the same time and the family became part of the Mennonite Brethren Church in nearby Lugowsk. In the course of time, she and Johannes became acquainted and they were engaged in May 1918.

On 5 October 1919, Johannes Voth and Katherina Bergen were married and they set up a home on the Voth Estate, Svetlov Ozera. During the Civil War, the initial freedoms of the Revolution vanished and the Estates were gradually nationalized, with sections parceled out to other families, leaving less and less land for the Voths to farm. Finally, by 1925, Johannes and Katherina Voth had to leave the Shining Water Estate. By this time, they had three children: Walter (b. 1920), Herta (b. 1923), and Holdina (b. 1924). Seeing little economic future in Russia, they applied for and secured travel visas for emigration out of Russia to Canada.

The Voths arrived in Canada on 11 December 1925, spending the first year-and-a-half working for various farmers in the Rivers and Marquette, Manitoba, area until they were able to purchase a farm lot near Springstein, Manitoba, in May 1927. They served as deacons in the Springstein Mennonite Brethren Church.

In 1951, the family decided to sell the Springstein farm and move to Virgil, Ontario, and purchase a fruit farm. After almost ten years on the farm, Johannes and Katherina sold the orchard and moved into the town of Virgil in July 1960. For seven years, until retirement at age 70, Johannes worked as a nursing orderly at the St. Catharines General Hospital.

Johannes and Katherina (John and Tina) raised ten children: Alvin (b. 1926), Tobias (b. 1930), Johannes (b. 1931), Susanna (b.1934), Erna (b. 1936), Edith (b. 1938), and Katherina (b. 1940). They lived to see 28 grandchildren.

They derived much satisfaction helping others, serving the church, and bearing witness to the love of God in their everyday interactions.

Johannes died on 9 February 1973 and Katherina died on 2 June 1976.

Custodial History

In 2005, granddaughter Audrey Voth Petkau donated to CMBS a box of Johannes Tobias and Katherina (Bergen) Voth's correspondence, diaries, ledgers, family Bible, and photographs relating to their life both in Russia and in Canada. In 2007, son Toby Voth donated a large envelop of family photographs.

Scope and Content

The Johannes and Katherina Voth fonds consists both of documents written by Johannes and Katherina (letters, diaries, which have been translated/compiled by daughter Herta Voth) and of photographs depicting aspects of their family life as immigrants to Canada in the 1920s through to the various places they lived in Canada, as well as images of their parents and their early years in Russia. The fonds documents the assumptions, motivation, vision, and everyday life of one Mennonite family, the Voth-Bergen family.


  • Title based on contents of fonds.
  • Accession number: 2005-24.
  • Volume Nos.: 1509–1510.
  • Finding aid consists of a description and a file/folder list.
  • See MAID online photo collection (NP214-01) at Johannes and Katherina (Bergen) Voth photo collection
  • Description created by Jon Isaak, April 2020.
  • Some restrictions to access, as noted.
  • Language: English and German.

File List

Volume 1509

11. Genealogical records for the extended  Baergen/Bergen clan (1725–1995). --  1996.
12. Genealogical record of John and Tina Voth and their children. -- 2012.
13. Assorted obituaries, wedding anniversaries, and funeral bulletins pertaining to the extended John and Tina Voth family. -- 1969–1993.
14. Collection of family records of the John and Tina Voth family. Letters, photos, memorabilia, short biographies, immigration and citizenship documents, anniversaries, and genealogies. -- 1925–2003.
15. Collection of memories, letters, and photos pertaining to Holdina Voth (1924–2004) and those she held dear. -- 1999.
16. English translation of Johannes (John) T. Voth (1897–1973) Diary dated October 1916 to November 1918. Translated and compiled by Herta Voth. -- 1992. [Restricted. Contact Audrey Voth Petkau for access permission.]
17. English translation of Johannes (John) T. Voth (1897–1973) Diary dated December 1918 to December 1925. Translated and compiled by Herta Voth. -- 1995. [Restricted. Contact Audrey Voth Petkau for access permission.]
18. English translation of Katherina (Tina) (Bergen) Voth (1896–1976) "Collection of Memories." Translated and compiled by Herta Voth. -- 1994. [Restricted. Contact Audrey Voth Petkau for access permission.]
19. Black Diary. Johannes Voth's diary, 1916 to 1918. See file fld #16. -- 1916–1918.
20. Blue Diary. Johannes Voth's diary, 1918 to 1925, and on to 1968. See file fld #17. -- 1918–1968.
21. New Black Diary. Johannes Voth's diary, 1968 to 1973. --1968–1973.
22. Assorted family photos. -- 1914–1996.
23. Collection of letters written by Johannes and Katherina Voth to their children. -- 1950–1976.
24. Funeral guest book for Johannes T. Voth's memorial service in 1973. -- 1973.
25. Funeral guest book for Katherina (Bergen) Voth's memorial service in 1976. -- 1976.
26. Green 1947 day planner agenda book. -- 1947.
27. Brown 1950 day planner agenda book. -- 1950.
28. Blue family financial ledger book. -- 1947–1953.

Volume 1510

1. Small, green, birthday memory book with birth dates of friends noted.  -- 1909–1942.
2. Holdina Voth's red telephone and address book. -- 2003.
3. Black family financial ledger book. -- 1936–1946.
4. Family Bible with genealogical data inscribed. -- 1919–1940.

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