Funeral picture of Reverend Johann Toews Sr. (1845-1898). Third from right is Johann Toews, the letter writer; far right is Wilhelm Toews, who received the letters. Second from left is John Braun’s great-grandfather Johann Braun (1869-1922), whose wife Katharina Toews Braun is not pictured because she had just given birth. (Photo courtesy of John Braun)
Johann Toews, the letter writer, left, and two of his sisters, Elisabeth Toews (1881-1922) and Helen Toews Letkemann (1879-1919). (Photo courtesy of John Braun)
Johann Toews, the letter writer, when he was sentenced to five years forced labour in exile. (Photo courtesy of John Braun)
John Braun, currently interim pastor of Bethel Mennonite Church, has always had a passion for stories and genealogy. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
When John Braun was contacted by a relative he didn’t know existed, it was the start of a long adventure into family history and an old language.