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Lazarus Project

An expanded obituary project of MennObits.  Includes additional information of obituaries appearing in
The Mennonite and other newspapers.  
Source of individual obituaries given with each record.  Project managed by Thelma Martin.

1906 A to B

  Burkhard, Jacob ; . .

Burkhard, Jacob

October 11, 1873 -- September 29, 1906

Jacob Burkhard was born on October 11, 1873, near Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois, to Daniel and Hannah (Snyder) Burkhard; and died in Dhamtari, Central Provinces, India, on September 29, 1906, succumbing to blood poisoning due to a carbuncle on his back. He was known as a strong man of prayer and at the end "he prayed for his family, for the work, for the people round about and for himself, closing with the words 'This body may perish and decay, but Thou O Lord wilt take the soul into glory.' These were his final words." His span of life was 33 years, 11 months and 18 days.

Jacob died just as day was breaking. With no time to be lost because of the warm climate, a wooden casket was made immediately from store boxes on hand. The Reverend A. Stoll, from the closest neighboring mission, was summoned to perform the service. At three o'clock the lepers came for a short service. At four o'clock a general service was held attended by high and low cast Hindus and Mohammedans, the orphan boys and girls at the mission, and by many of the Christian community. The reading was from John 11:26 first in English and then at some length in Hindi. Immediately after the service Jacob was buried close by next to a mango grove.ii He was the first Mennonite missionary to die in service in India.

At the time of death, Jacob was survived by his wife, Mary (Yoder) Burkhard; three small children, Esther, Samuel Theodore, and Anna Lois Burkhard; his parents, Daniel and Hannah (Snyder) Burkhard of Roseland, Nebraska; three brothers, Samuel, Henry, and Noah Burkhard of Roseland, Nebraska; his maternal grandmother, Mary Gingerich Snyder Rutt also of Roseland, Nebraska; and many aunts, uncles and cousins living in Nebraska, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Siblings that had gone to their reward before Jacob were brothers William, Charles, Eli, and Reuben; and infant sisters Mary, Anna, and Lydia.

Jacob's first four and a half years were spent in Stephenson County, Illinois. In 1878, he and his parents and younger brother, Charles, moved to Nebraska, settling first outside Hastings. Their first home was a sod hut. After a few years, his father was able to purchase land near Roseland, where Jacob grew to manhood, going to school and working on his father's farm. In 1893, Jacob passed the Teacher's Examination to teach school. In March 1894, Jacob was converted, when J. M. R. Weaver of Newton, Kansas, held meetings in the Roseland Mennonite Church, and was baptized the next month by Bishop Albrecht Schiffler, Pastor of the Church. He became an active worker in his home community and was soon made superintendent of the Mission Sunday School at Antioch, near Pauline, Nebraska. His Christian zeal led him to enroll in 1899 at the Elkhart Institute at Elkhart, Indiana. By April 1900, in his second term at the Institute, he was seized with the call to become a missionary to the starving orphans in India. He and his former classmate at the Institute, Mary Yoder, of West Liberty, Champaign County, Ohio, were then united in marriage on April 18, 1900, in Elkhart by Bishop John M. Shenk of Elida, Ohio. The Mennonite Evangelizing and Benevolent Board gave them certificates of appointment as missionaries in India for five years. The next months were spent in preparation, and in September they sailed from New York, reaching India a month later. The Mennonite Orphanage at Dhamtari warmly welcomed them, but was swamped with orphan children. The Hindi language was learned first and the duties varied as the months and years passed, including preaching, teaching, praying, working on mission accounts, ordering supplies, and a multitude of other tasks. On April 5, 1901, Jacob was ordained in the Hindi language by J. A. Ressler. In September 1906, they were long overdue for their furlough, but there were too many needs to let them go at that time. Jacob was ill for only about 10 days before he died.iii

Afterward, the secretary of the Mission Board wrote in the Herald of Truth, "Lest we sorrow overmuch, let us remember the triumph. Brother Burkhard's body perished but the Lord took his soul to glory. He taught and showed the Indian people how to live; they saw how a Christian can die, they saw the triumph of faith. His death showed them Christianity is more than a theory, more than a system of ethics, more than a makeshift for life that becomes a despair in the hour of death. It showed the reality of the Christian religion and the absolute solace and comfort it gives both the dying and those bereaved and enables them to say, 'The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.'"iv

"Take time to be holy, Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word;
Make friends of God's children, Help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek."

Submitted by Walter Bauer, grandson
May 2014

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