Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Johann Regier the Clockmaker

I've been intrigued my 4-greats grandfather Johann Regier #18878 (b. 1759) because he was a clockmaker.  All my ancestors beginning with my grandparents in Kansas and Oklahoma and going back to Poland and West Prussia in the 1700s were farmers - EXCEPT for Johann Regier.  According to a note in the Grandma database that references Pioneers and Pilgrims : The Mennonite Kleine Gemeinde in Manitoba, Nebraska, and Kansas, 1874 to 1882 by Delbert F. Plett, he was a clockmaker who moved to the city of Yekaterinoslav (now Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine) shortly after immigrating to South Russia in 1804.

Since he did not follow the typical pattern of settling on a farm in Khortitsa or Molotschna colonies, I have had a hard time finding more information about him.  In fact, no death date is known for him.

But today I found an intriguing possible reference to him.  In an excellent article about Mennonite clockmakers, James O. Harms mentions that he has heard of a clockmaker named Regier but that nothing further is known about him.  I have sent an e-mail to Mr. Harms, so I hope that together we can unearth more information about Johann Regier.

I am curious how he became a clockmaker - apparently he was from the farming village of Neum√ľnsterberg, Poland.  He married a daughter of Peter Epp, the elder of the Danzig Flemish Mennonite church.  Did he move to Danzig and learn the clockmaking trade there?  Did he plan to continue make clocks in Russia?  Or did he try farming upon arrival in Russia and realize that it was not for him?  Are there any clocks still in existence that he made?  Did he pass his clockmaking skills on to any of his sons?  I will update this post as I get more information.

Hans Regier family record, Danzig Mennonite Church, Danzig, West Prussia, vol. 2, p. 302.  Accessed at https://mla.bethelks.edu/archives/cong_310/bdms18/314.jpg on 3 August 2016.

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