John Funk Duerksen was born in a Russian Mennonite village first settled in 1820 by sixteen Prussian families that included his 54 year old great-grandfather Johann Kornelius Duerksen and his 19 year old grandfather Johann (Oel-Ohm) Duerksen whose son Jacob Johann, John Funk Duerksen's father, would, in 1840, be the fourth Duerksen born on the same farm.
John's great-grandfather Johann Kornelius died 8 years before he was born, but his grandfather Johann (Oel-Ohm) lived a few more years after John was born. His father Jacob Johann emigrated from the farm to Lehigh, Kansas in 1884. Three years later twenty-four year old John, whose mother's surname was Funk, followed him.
"I, John F. Duerksen, was born in Russia in the village Alexandertal on July 25, 1863 on Thursday. In a short time, I was dedicated to the Lord by Br. Jacob Jantz, Friedensfeld. The man was interesting to me, and I observed him closely. He is already well founded in the service of his Lord, old and well experienced in the service of his Lord. I was baptized on April 30, 1879, in Klippenfeld in the Talmand. My parents are Jacob and Katherine (born, Funk). Jacob was born May 2, 1840. Katherine was born June 14, 1844. Both were born and reared in Alexandertal. The parents of my father were John and Helena (born Boldt) Duerksen. Both born in Prussia. Their parents must have lived near Danzig. The parents of my mother were Peter Funk and Julianna (born, Fenski). Both born in Prussia. My grandmother was about 19 years old when she left the Lutheran Church and joined Gnadenfeld Mennonite Church. My grandmother's brother died in the war against Napoleon in 1815. The parents of my wife were Abraham and Katherine (born Dueck) Warkentin."