Anamoose Sisters Keep Track of History: The Siblings
Have More Than 150 Years Worth of Memories
Cantlon, Cleo. "Anamoose Sisters Keep Track of History: The Siblings Have More Than 150 Years Worth of Memories." Minot Daily News, 13 July 1998, sec. 1C.
The Rice sisters from Anamoose have more than 150 years of memories
to sustain their interest in recording the history of the area.
|Helen Rice Nolden, left, and Minnie Kapfer
collected photographs and memorabilia like these hairbrushes
and accessories to display at the Anamoose centennial July 3-5.
Minnie Rice Kapfer and her sister Helen Rice Nolden were born
in the railroad section house at Anamoose, Kapfer on November 5,
1919, and Nolden on April 5, 1924.
Their father, Kasimer Rice, who first came to the U.S. in 1908,
helped construct a bank on the east side of Anamoose's main street.
Then he returned to Russia for his fiance Helen Kraft. They were
married May 30, 1910, in Aberdeen, South Dakota and came to Anamoose
where he was railroad section foreman for 44 years.
Kasimer and Helen Rice, who changed their name from the German
`Reis,' had six children who grew up in the drafty, old railroad
house in Anamoose. He was in charge of the section of track several
miles either side of Anamoose.
Living so close to the railroad put the children at the center
of activity in the town and area. That created an interest in people
and history which has been important to Kapfer and Nolden and valuable
Nolden, named the city's historian in 1975, and her sister set up
shop in the old post office for the town's centennial, displaying
memorabilia of times past and photographs of the city and area.
The building itself has an important past as a hotel, then as the
post office for many years.
The sisters' interest in history did not come from education.
"I only got to go to high school for two years," Kapfer said.
"There just wasn't any money."
She recalled borrowing pajamas, a suitcase and her music teacher's
shoes to use when she sang with a school group that advanced to
music contests at Velva and Minot.
Kapfer left school, married Harold Kapfer on June 1, 1937, and
moved six miles southwest of Anamoose where they shared a farm home
with his parents and his sister's family.
Harold and Minnie had four children, Eileen, James, Robert and
Donald. Minnie Kapfer milked cows, stacked hay, tended chickens
and a huge garden and canned 700 to 800 jars of food each year.
"In 1949 we got electricity, with lights, a refrigerator, and,
the most important thing, indoor plumbing," she said.
In 1968 after her husband suffered a severe heart attack and several
strokes, they moved into Anamoose. He died in 1994.
Kapfer's education ended early but interest in music established
in school remains with her. She loves to play music, on the organ
in her home, at the Senior Citizens center and public gatherings.
"Last Christmas I took my keyboard out to Sage Hill Bed and Breakfast,
the old white consolidated school, for their Christmas gala, and
I played for four hours straight," she said. "I play everything,--
religious, modern, waltzes,-- everything."
While Nolden admires Kapfer's ability to play by ear, they strongly
disagree on what is good music. Nolden opts for classical, Kapfer
Writing is Nolden's major interest. In 1986 she published a collection
of essays, family papers and reminiscences, "Helen's Love (Family)."
Nolden, who has been a winner in the State Fair writing contest,
has been a columnist for Velva, Harvey and Towner newspapers.
The sisters stay busy with more than history. Kapfer's children,
Eileen, James, Robert and Donald, 14 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren,
and one great-great-grandchild, occupy much of her time. She has
crocheted afghans for each of them.
"Minnie loves auction sales and likes to shop, especially for
her family," Nolden said.
Nolden, who was married to Jake Hieb and later to Erven Nolden,
dedicated her book to her four children, Jacqueline Reis in Minneapolis,
Tom in Milnor, and Barbara and John in Minot.
They urged her to record family experiences such as Grandmother
Kraft's years in Siberian concentration camps. Although she had
written many of her experiences, she found large gaps in the family
record when she began compiling the book.
Nolden, who reads German, communicates with relatives still in
Russia and Germany.
Nolden received early encouragement as a writer.
"My high school English teacher Miss Gilmore liked my writing,"
Nolden said. "She urged me to write more, and writing has always
lurked in the back of my mind."
In 1975 she moved to Minot and edited the newspaper for North
Dakota Seniors United for several years. Later she worked at the
Minot tourist information center.
"I always wanted a job where I could tell people where to go,"
she joked. Nolden said she enjoyed meeting people from all over
the world, seeing a story in every one.
"I'm one of the few people left in the world who doesn't drive
a car," Nolden said. "It got to be such a problem to have people
haul me around so in 1986 I moved back to my roots, to Anamoose."
When Nolden is worried, she also does what she calls "rock therapy,"
collecting small stones and gluing them together to create figures
of people or animals.
"Just handling the stones is calming," she said.
Having diverse hobbies is just one difference between the feisty,
look-alike sisters. For example, their memories of their parents
and early life also differ sharply, which Kapfer believes stems
from the difference in age between her and Nolden, the baby of the
But they agree on most things. Nolden felt Anamoose centennial
T-shirts should feature the Soo Line railroad.
"There would not have been an Anamoose without the railroad,"
When centennial organizers chose a more generic shirt design,
the Rice sisters proudly wore their minority opinion, a locomotive
logo designed by Nolden.
Nolden and Kapfer expect to do a lot of living yet and to record
and remember each day of it.
Reprinted with permission of the Minot Daily News, Minot,