Cliff Wall's self-published book Remembering our Heritage (1998) contains over five hundred pages of genealogical information about Russian Mennonite immigrant families who settled in Brothersfield Township, Turner County, South Dakota from 1874 to 1880. In 1999 Cliff and I began to expand his work with the help of a public website (dakotadirksens.com) that attracted additional material from many living descendants of the Brothersfield immigrants. In 2003 we were given the research materials used by Robert Guenther for his book Passionate Possessions of Faith (1994) about the Guenther Brothersfield immigrants. All of our data was transferred to the Brothersfield Tree on Ancestry.com after Cliff's death in 2011.
Because a few GRANDMA (Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) individuals contain references to dakotadirksens.com in their Notes fields this web site is reactivated (2015) to provide a link to that data.
|Dakota Dirksens - Kansas Duerksens||GRANDMA page||Ancestry.com page|
|Their Progenitor||Kornelius Duerksen||Cornelius Dircks|
|Progenitor's first son, born 1761||David Duerksen||David Cornelius Dircks|
|Progenitor's second son, born 1766||Johann Kornelius Duerksen||Johann Cornelius Dircks|
|Johann Kornelius' first son, born 1801||Johann Johann Duerksen||Johann (Oel Ohm) Dircks|
|Johann Kornelius' second son, born 1809||Heinrich Johann Duerksen #14647||Heinrich Johann Dircks|
|Heinrich Johann's wife, born 1811(13?)||Catarina Adrian||Catarina Adrian|
From 1876 to 1885 ten children of two Dutch Mennonite brothers emigrated from Russia to America. Six of the ten were children of Heinrich Duerksen. Four were children of Johann Duerksen. Johann's four sons brought their families to Kansas in 1878, 1880 and 1884. Heinrich's children (four sons and two daughters) brought their families to Dakota Territory in 1876, 1879 and 1885. The progenitor of this Duerksen family line was Cornelius Dircks who lived near the Vistula River in Poland (Dragas at 53.505653, 18.738950) from about 1736 to the early 1800s.
The progenitor's son Johann was a great-grandfather of the immigrants. Circumstantial evidence, and early family histories, strongly suggest that Johann had a brother, David who had ten children by three different wives. One daughter married Penner and two of their children came to America in 1874 and 1875. One grandson, also named Cornelius, came to America in 1874 and wrote a diary of the journey. All others in the line stayed in the old country.
The first genealogist in the family was John Funk Duerksen whose 1928 family tree mixed up the descendants of the progenitor's sons (David and Johann) in a confusing way. The second family genealogist was John Funk's nephew Alvin Gaede who published a Family History after the Shafter Duerksen Reunion of 1953. Alvin was unaware of the errors in his uncle's papers. In 1997 Mennonite Genealogist Alan Peters discovered the first evidence of much needed corrections in the family lines. These are incorporated in GRANDMA and ancestry.com. Other corrections are logical projections from a supposition that David Dircks was, in fact, a son of Cornelius Dircks. Perhaps future DNA examinations will provide some certainty.