Jacob F. Ens

1907 - 2002

Jacob F. Ens was born in Ljubomirowka, Borissovo, Ukraine on September 27, 1907. His parents Franz Ens and Sara, nee Schroeder, and all of his 9 siblings grew up on a farm which at one time had been part of three villages. His father was concerned that all of their children receive a good education. However, since there was no school in that area, his father engaged a home schooling teacher, “Hauslehrer”.  One of these teachers was Mr. P.B. Krahn. Onkel Jasch was able to continue his education at the Ignatow high school. He then went on to get his teacher training at the Teacher Training Institute in Chortiza. His career as a teacher lasted for barely two months when the political situation in the Soviet Russia made it very difficult for a Christian, or anyone of German Descent. As a matter of fact, one morning he packed a few things of his belongings and left the school without notifying anyone.

In 1929 Onkel Jasch went to Moscow to join some 15000 Mennonites who hoped to get the necessary emigration documents. Of these 15000 only 5000 were successful. The rest were all sent to labor camps in Siberia.  Onkel Jasch, his parents and six of his siblings were among the fortunate who made it through the “Red Gate” to safety. They spent a few months in refugee camps in Germany before they sailed for South America. They chose to settle in Brazil.

Their first home was made in Auhagen, Santa Katharina. The area was called Stolz Plateau. Much pioneering had to be done: Clearing land, building houses, planting crops, etc. This was a most difficult time for all. In 1933 he was baptized by Altester David Koop. After a few short years most of these settlers moved to Curitiba in the state of Parana. He found employment here and also helped in surveying and mapping a parcel of land approximately 40 km from Curitiba. This became “Colonia Witmarsum”.

In 1956 his brother Hans who had moved to Canada offered to sponsor him, and so Onkel Jasch moved to Canada to work as a lumber jack for about three years, pulling stray logs  from the Fraser River. It was here in B.C. that he found his future wife. Tante Marie, as she was known far and wide, especially in the village of Reinland, paid a visit to her Margaretha Wiebe in B.C. Friends and relatives of Tante Marie knew about Jacob F. Ens, the bachelor lumberjack. They though they should do some match-making. And so it came about that the two met in B.C. As Onkel Jasch put it, “ We saw each other and it was “Yes””. And so Tante Marie after being a widow for more than 30 years, married Jacob F. Ens in November of 1959. They made their home in the Gerhard Ens homestead in Reinland where Tante Marie had taken care of her parents until their death. Onkel Jasch and Tante Marie were married for 35 years. Onkel Jasch found work with Ens Farms where he remained a faithful worker until his retirement. Tante Marie died in Salem Home in 1995. Soon thereafter he moved  to an apartment in Winkler, then to Salem Home in April 2000 where he died 2 years later on May 23, 2002. He is survived by two sisters Melita Koehler nee Ens of Sao Paulo, and Hilda Ens of Curitiba, bedsides many nieces and nephews.

Whenever Onkel Jasch told the story of his pilgrimage, he emphasized that it was God’s guiding every step of the way. He was never heard to grumble or complain. “Everything is just fine. I am one hundred percent satisfied. I feel good from top to bottom!”, he would say. All of the years that he spent in Reinland together with Tante Marie, were years of dedicated service. MCC was a high on their list besides the Blumenort Mennonite Church as Rosetown and the Mennonites church at large. There was hardly an MCC auction where he was not fully supporting the cause. His other interests were bookbinding and gardening. He was well liked by all who knew him. One of his great-grand nieces sums it up so well for all of us: “I like Onkel Jasch!”

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