Mennonite Heritage Village

History of a Werder Clock

Village News (May 24, 2018)

By Ernest Braun


History of a Werder Clock

“I have good news and bad news,” was what the late Arthur Kroeger said to me on the phone in June of 2013. The good news was that he had managed to repair my clock, but the bad news was that it was not a Kroeger clock.

The clock is a round-face Werder design which, according to Mr. Kroeger, was no longer made after 1840. Moreover, the primitive face painting, unusual one-hand mechanism, and two-piece face design are indications that the clock was manufactured in Prussia by a non-Mennonite tradesman and then brought to Russia (Ukraine), most likely by a Mennonite family.

Which family that was is a matter of speculation. What is certain is that the clock arrived in Manitoba aboard S. S. Peruvian in July 1875 in the possession of the Wall family, either the son Johann (1848) as family legend suggests, or the widow of Johann Wall Sr. (1818), Susanna Krahn (1824), who had in the meantime married Johann Mueller. Both son and mother ended up in Rosengart, West Reserve, where the clock kept time for over thirty years.

There are some unknowns: was the clock purchased new or second hand? Was the clock brought into the family from a wife’s family at some point along the way? How did the clock get into the possession of the Johann Wall family? If in fact the clock was purchased new by an ancestor of Johann Wall (1848) who brought it to Manitoba, then a most likely scenario is that his great grandfather Johann Wall (1768) of Danzig acquired the clock there prior to emigration in 1795, and it was passed on to the succeeding generations of sons until it ended up on the ship with his great grandson. If the clock was bought second hand, then its provenance is impossible to guess. If the clock came via a wife’s family, then again the trail leads to Prussia and an early acquisition date by either the unknown wife of Johann Wall (1768) or perhaps via Helena Redekopp (1798) the wife of his son Johann Wall (1793).

The clock can be placed with certainty in the hands of the Johann Wall family of Neuendorf, Chortitza, prior to emigration. From Russia the clock has again followed the migrations of Mennonites, coming to Manitoba to arrive in Rosengart, West Reserve. According to Susan Wall Funk (1927), the clock was inherited by her father, Isaak Wall (born in 1886 in Rosengart, WR), one of the younger sons of Johann Wall (1848). GRANDMA data base indicates that before 1909 the family moved to Saskatchewan where several children were born. In 1922 or so, Isaak Wall took the clock to Mexico with him and it kept time for them in Blumenhof, Swift Colony. In 1936 they returned to Manitoba, living in the Morris area, and later in the Plum Coulee district. Upon the death of Isaak Wall in 1946, the clock ended up with daughter Mary Wall, who eventually gave it to her sister Justina (Wall) Doerksen, the youngest. Somehow, during that time, maybe during a move, the pendulum was lost. Susan Wall Funk commented that it had been fairly worn already at that time, but still serviceable. The last direct descendant to own the clock was Susan Wall Funk, who lived near Grunthal with her husband Jacob. During the years in Grunthal, a new pendulum was constructed by John Broesky. In the 1990’s, the Funks sold their place and moved to Kleefeld, having an auction at which the clock was sold to Orlando Hiebert, a relative of both Susan Wall Funk and her husband Jacob Funk. Ernest Braun, Tourond, bought the clock from Orlando in fall of 2012 and took it to Arthur Kroeger to be repaired.

Today it is part of The Art of Mennonite Clocks, the new exhibit in the Gerhard Ens Gallery at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), jointly sponsored by the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation and MHV.

Calendar of Events

June 9 – MHV/Eden Tractor Trek (departing at 10:00AM)

June 15-17 – Waffle Booth at Summer in the City

June 17, 11:30AM-2:30PM – Father’s Day Lunch Buffet

July 1, 9:00AM-6:00PM – Steinbach’s Canada Day Celebration (with fireworks at the Soccer Park at 10:45PM)