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Memorable Manitobans: Katharina Born Thiessen (1842-1915)

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Katharina B. Thiessen
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Physician, midwife.

Born in Alexanderkrone, Molotschna (a Russian Mennonite colony in what is now Ukraine) on 9 May 1842, daughter of Peter and Anna Born, she was sent to Prussia at the age of eighteen to train as a midwife. She also developed skills in chiropractics and naturopathy. In 1862, she married Abraham Karl Thiessen (1840-1910) of Lichtenau, Molotschna. Their son Abraham was born in Fürstenau in 1865. Nine years later, the family emigrated to the USA, settling near Peabody, Kansas, where Abraham farmed and Katharina worked as a “practical doctor.” They were attracted to Canada in 1885 by the promise of free homesteads, settling in the village of Hoffnungsfeld, near Winkler. In1895, after complaints from Morden doctor F. W. E. Burnham, she was taken to court by the medical establishment. Found guilty, her fine was paid by MLA Valentine Winkler. She practiced medicine until 1907, after which she continued to sell patent medicines. She died at Morden on 15 September 1915.

See also:

‘One of our own’: Ethnicity Politics and the Medicalization of Childbirth in Manitoba by Hans Werner and Jenifer Waito
Manitoba History, Number 58, June 2008


“Dr. Katherina Born Thiessen: A Woman Who Made a Difference” by Shirley Bergen, Mennonite Historian 23(3): 8, September 1997.

Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives, Winnipeg, Collection 579, photograph #1.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 9 June 2014

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