Feist Farm was Homesteaded by one of First Five
German-Russians to Settle in Strasburg Area: Jacob Feist Arrived
Burke, Allan. "Feist Farm was Homesteaded by one of First Five German-Russians to Settle in Strasburg Area: Jacob Feist Arrived in 1888." Emmons County Record, 27 June 2002, 1 & 8.
There will be lots of activity this week at the Albert and Angeline
Feist farm north of Strasburg because most of their 10 children
grandchildren will be home for the Strasburg Centennial.
The Feists and their farm has special significance because Albert's
grandfather, Jacob Feist, was in the first group of five German-Russian
immigrants to homestead in what is now south-central Emmons County,
Jacob donated the land for the first Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic
cemetery at what was then known as Tiraspol. He and neighbor Egidi
also established the Tiraspol community's first store, The
The five-member group of bachelors included Sebastian Bauman, Joseph
Baumgartner, Joseph Burgad, Joseph Kraft and Jacob Feist.
Natives of the Strassburg area of Russia, they came to New York
City on the
steamship, S.S. Trave, from the German port of Bremen. They traveled
train from New York to Eureka, S.D., where they spent the winter
of 1888. In
1889, the men homesteaded in Emmons County.
Brothers of Jacob who settled in the area included Damion, Casper,
Jacob married Barbara (Schwahn) Wald on May 13, 1889. They were
Father Bernard Strassmeier, either at Fort Yates, where Father Bernard
headquartered, or at St. John¹s Church.
Barbara also came over on the S.S. Trave but in April of 1889.
on the ship were other members of the Feist and Kraft families plus
first members of the Keller and Schwab families.
Her sisters also married settlers. Agatha, married Egidi Keller;
married Peter Kraft and Regina married Lorenz Schwab.
Jacob built two sod houses to claim his land, and both were within
walk from where the present farmstead is located. Nothing remains
house, although Albert remembers there was a dirt pile where one
Jacob had no formal education, so he joined forces with his brother-in-law,
Egidi Keller, who had some education as well as bookkeeping skills,
The Bazaar on his homestead land. Egidi was the grandfather of Charles
Keller, Sr., a neighbor of Albert's.
The tiny Tiraspol community included the church, rectory and the
Strasburg was founded when the railroad came to the area, and it
for Jacob and Egidi to move their store two miles into the new town.
moved to the site where the BEK Communications building now stands.
later, it was a bowling alley and was destroyed by fire.
After the store was moved to town, Jacob and Egidi were joined
in owning the
business by Damian Lauinger, Michael Baumgartner and J.J. Baumgartner.
The decision by the diocese to move the church and rectory from
the new town was not universally popular, but it was finally accomplished.
"My uncle once told me that Father Justus Schweizer would walk
Tiraspol to the farm to visit my grandparents, and he would come
in the summer," Albert said. "He would have a meal and
visit everyone in
the neighborhood before walking back to the rectory."
Father Schweizer served Sts. Peter & Paul from 1903-1906.
Albert said his dad told him of his memories of the church being
Many of the graves from the Tiraspol Cemetery were moved to the
in town, but the cemetery, with its iron crosses, remains a landmark
A family story that Albert heard many times as he was growing up
Joseph Keller, a son of Egidi Keller.
"A band of Gypsies came through the neighborhood when nearly
gone to Strasburg for Mass," he said. "Some of the Keller
at home, including Joseph and an older sister. The girl saw the
coming toward the farm with their horse-drawn buggies, so she went
and locked the door. Joseph was playing outside in the sand, and
picked him up and took him along."
"When they got to our farm, they must have seen people coming
because they dropped off Joseph nearby."
"When the Kellers found out what happened, they set out in
pursuit of the
Gypsies. Jacob saw them and joined the chase. They caught up with
Gypsies and horse-whipped the perpetrators," Albert said. "That
There were no trees in the Tiraspol area, so wood had to be gathered
eight miles to the north along Beaver Creek.
"My grandfather and Egidi Keller took a team of oxen and a
wagon to cut
wood along the creek, and they intended to get back home before
Albert said. "The wagon broke down, and by the time they got
it fixed it
was dark. My grandmother told me it was pitch black when they got
farm, and they found it only because she had hung a lantern outside
History books about the Strasburg area say that Jacob devoted his
the store, but the truth is that he was heavily involved in farming.
eventually owned over 15 quarters of land, including land south
Jacob and Barbara had 10 children: Damian, Joseph, Jacob, John,
Sebastian, Peter, Barbara, Paul and Anton.
John farmed with his father and married Magdalena Schlosser on
1924. She was the daughter of Peter and Eva (Kuntz) Schlosser.
"Dad said it was like a summer day when they got married,"
A dance floor was built at the farm for a wedding dance, and the
lasted at least two days, which was customary for German-Russian
those days, according to Albert.
John and Magdalena then took over the family farm, and Jacob and
moved to Strasburg.
Jacob died July 9, 1933, and Barbara died April 11, 1949.
John and Magdalena had five children. Edward (Margaret) of
(Mrs. Sylvester) Meier of Zeeland, Albert (Angeline), Geneva (Mrs.
Vetter of Linton and Clarence, who lives in Minneapolis, Minn.
Albert married Angeline Houn, daughter of John and Magdalena (Jacob)
at St. Michael¹s Catholic Church east of Linton on January
They took over the farm and later bought it from Albert's
parents, and John
and Magdalena moved to Strasburg. Albert farmed with his dad for
a number of
"This farm had milk cows on it for well over 100 years,"
"We sold the last cows in 2000."
Albert said milking was ideal for the family since he and Angeline
"The farm kept the kids busy, and it was a good life for them
as they grew
up," he said.
The Feists milked from 50 to 65 cows, which was a good sized family
Their children include:
Gordon Jerome was born on August 19, 1966, and married Laura Rohrich
October 24, 1987. Charmaine Marie was born on November 2, 1967,
Kelly Patrick Swanson on September 20, 1991. Loren Shawn was born
November 20, 1969. Gerald Dean was born on January 26, 1971. Marvin
born on August 15, 1972, and married Tina Vetsch on September 11,
Steven Dion was born on November 17, 1975. Dwayne Jason was born
16, 1977. Sheldon Jonathon was born August 17, 1979. Keriann Corinne
born on March 5, 1982. Aric Donavan was born on February 27, 1984.
Aric graduated from Strasburg High School in May, and for the first
30 years Albert and Angeline won't have a child attending school
Angeline said raising 10 children was not as difficult as it may
"Everything falls into place, and we didn't think much
about it," she
The kids had horses to ride and were busy with school activities
as well as
helping on the farm.
Albert and Angeline have seven quarters of land, all of which is
now in CRP.
Four of their quarters were part of the land Jacob put together.
The Feists have visited Europe twice, in 1985 and 1989.
"The wall came down in East Germany about two weeks after
we got home in
1985," Albert said.
They visited many relatives in Germany and met people from their
same village (Strassburg).
"I can remember that my grandparents sent money to the relatives
remained in Russia," Albert said.
Albert and Angeline speak German, and they were able to communicate
"Aric says I am so German that I laugh in German," Albert
The Albert and Angeline Feist
family includes, back row, left to right, Charmaine, Loren,
Albert, Angeline, Sheldon, Marvin, Dewayne and Gerald; front
row, Steve, Karriann, Aric and Gordon.
Jacob and Barbara Feist are pictured later
These men owned the Strasburg Bazaar. They
are, back row, left to right, Damian Lauinger, Michael Baumgartner
and J.J. Baumgartner; seated, Jacob Feist and Egidi Keller.
Jacob and Barbara Feist would probably not
recognized their homestead today, although the house they built
in 1905 is the home of Albert and Angeline Feist. The house
has been remodeled many times over the years, and all of the
out-buildings have been replaced.
Albert and Angeline Feist are pictured by
their home. He is holding an antique bottle found on the farm,
and she has some traditional German-Russian soup spoons they
were given on one of their European trips.
There was lots of snow at the
Feist farm after the Blizzard of 1966.
John and Magdalena Feist are pictured on
their wedding day in 1924.
John and Magdalena Feist are pictured in
the 1940s on the homestead.
Albert is pictured with his older sister,
Albert and Angeline Feist
Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.
Other books about Strasburg, ND, can be located at these GRHC
As We Reminisce: Strasburg, Emmons County, North Dakota
Moments to Remember
Saints Peter and Paul's Parish Centennial Book 1889 - 1989: Strasburg,
Saints Peter and Paul Parish Golden Jubilee Book
Strasburg Centennial Book: 1902 - 2002