Born in Poland, Bartel came to the United States with other Mennonite immigrants as a small child. In 1900 he married Nellie Schmidt, and in 1901 they went to China with Horace Houlding and his “China Band.” In 1905, after working with Houlding for four years, Bartel established what subsequently came to be known as the China Mennonite Mission Society. It drew missionaries from various Mennonite denominational groups and was located in Shantung (Shandong) and Honan (Henan) Provinces.
In addition to doing evangelistic work, the mission opened numerous schools and orphanages and the Truth Publishing House. In 1941 Bartel and his wife began a work in West China near the Szechwan-Kansu-Shansi (Sichuan-Gansu-Shaanxi) border; in 1945 it was accepted as a Mennonite Brethren mission project. Through his assistance the General Conference Mennonites opened a mission adjacent to that of the China Mennonite Mission, and the Krimmer Mennonite Brethren established a mission work in Inner Mongolia. In 1951 the Bartels were requested by the government to leave China. Four of the Bartels’ children—-Loyal, Paul, Agnes (Wieneke), and Elsie (Eisenbraun)—-also worked as missionaries in China. Loyal, who gained Chinese citizenship, remained in China until his death in 1971.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.
H. C. Bartel, Mennonite Mission in China (1913) and M. B. Missions in West China (1949). Robert and Alice Pannabecker Ramseyer, Mennonites in China (1988).