|Homeland Choir Tours Strasburg Area
Wald, Katie Glatt. "Homeland Choir Tours Strasburg Area." Emmons County Record, 2 September 1997.
As my husband, Felix, and I were attending the 27th annual convention
of the Germans from Russia held at the Jamestown Civic Center at
Jamestown, we had the great pleasure of meeting many members of
this Homeland Choir.
The Friday evening, July 18 performance at 8 p.m. in the Civic Center,
as part of the GRHS convention entertainment, brought together a
record crowd. Many people off the street, were in attendance to
hear the beautiful voices of this German choir.
Sunday morning, July 20, the group’s journey took them to
Streeter High School Gym at 8 p.m. Here again, there was a large
crowd in attendance, the choir members stayed with host families
at Jamestown, Streeter, Strasburg, Bismarck and Richardton.
Monday, July 21, the Homeland choir departed from Streeter and
were met at Napoleon by John and Margaret Gross along with Felix
and Katie Wald.
After a most interesting tour through the Logan County Museum with
local tour guides, John and Leo Gross, Anton G. Schatz, Joe Fettig,
Matt Gross and Mr. And Mrs. George Lubbers, among others explaining
and answering questions as to the use of various tools, equipment,
etc., including a home, church, school, train depot, hand operated
printing press, stationary engine and much much more. Your trip
to visit this museum is a must. The beloved German people even sang
a few numbers in the little church, and yes, Leo Gross played the
piano and sang a beautiful number in the house.
It was lunch time as we all gathered in the Korner Bar and Café
at Napoleon for a delicious dinner of ham and chicken with all the
trimmings. John and Margaret Gross were in charge of all the arrangements
in Napoleon. Entertainment by John and Margaret Gross, Mike Welder
playing the harmonica and everyone including local area residents
joined in singing German songs as sung by our generation and also
the Stuttgart Choir. What a wonderful time.
But all too soon, it was time to move on and head out for Strasburg.
After a visit to the Sts. Peter & Paul cemetery, as these people
are very anxious to find names of relatives, the choir had time
to practice at the Sts. Peter & Paul Church. After which a potluck
dinner was hosted by our local GRHS members and all the host couples.
As the group of about 70 people gathered in the Blue Room and enjoyed
their evening dinner, many more people from the area started coming
in to see and meet these wonderful people of the Homeland Choir.
Soon after the tables were cleared, the evening’s fun and
entertainment began-as additional members of the Young German Singers
(Kasmier and Ann Wald, Julius and Carol Vetter, August and Loretta
Vetter and John and Margaret Gross) came and joined our GRHS members
with Ben Vetter on the accordion. The joyful singing began, with
the singing group of the Homeland and our Strasburg people joining
together as a family to sing with their hearts of joy in being able
to come together in America.
Later dear friends of mine, Victor and Barbara Wald of Napoleon,
joined us also. Victor with his accordion started the rhythm beat
of polkas and waltzes and wow! Our groups intermingled and danced
just like old times – oh, what a great time as the seating
was fully occupied with spectators.
Katie Wald introduced all the host couples and the choir members
for their two night stay at Strasburg as the evenings together had
to come to an end.
Tuesday, July 22, Felix and Katie (tour guides for the day) started
with a 9 a.m. visit to the Lawrence Welk Homestead farm. Rosemary
Schaefbauer and Elaine Wald assisted with explanations of Lawrence’s
life on the farm and his musical world. The choir members were most
interested and knew about Lawrence Welk, purchasing many souvenirs
as a remembrance.
From there, our next stop took us to the pioneer cemetery just
outside of Hague. This was another point of interest, many indicating
that the wrought iron crosses are indeed very similar to some in
Our visit to the beautiful St. Mary’s Catholic Church at
Hague was an inspiration for everyone, as Katie Wald shared a brief
message on the struggle of our fore fathers to rebuild this historic
site after it was so tragically destroyed by fire in 1929.
With a little free time before lunch, the choir sang several numbers
for practice. Oh, how beautiful sounded and how proud I was to have
this Homeland Choir of Germany perform in our church. If only Fr.
Niebler could have been with us.
Now, we are off to the Hague Café for our noon lunch, and
it is a German Day menu, of course: with bean soup, apple and pumpkin
blachinda, fry bread and my special request, cheese buttons! Our
dear friends tried to sample and test everything by sharing with
each other. However, it all was so good, they just ordered more
and more, enjoying it all so much. They said "This is just
how we used to eat at home." Stefan Kloetzel commented over
and ever again-"It’s been 54 years since I last had
pumpkin blachinda-since 1943 when my mother last prepared some for
me." Our host couples did not have to prepare a big supper
In order to also give them a fuller understanding about our heritage
and way of life on the farm, our next visit took us to the Wald
farm (Duane and Eileen, our son and daughter-in-law) seeing the
large equipment used today, the grain and corn fields, large round
bales-they were amazed at how much hay the farmer needs for his
On our return trip from Hague to Strasburg we made a brief stop
at our home for a cold drink and a short visit. The choir members
were rather anxious to get back to their host couples for a little
relaxation and time to get ready for the evening performance.
As scheduled, the evening performance was at 8 p.m. in Sts. Peter
& Paul Church. Low and behold the church was filled. People
came from Mobridge, Selby, Pollock and Herreid, S. D., Linton, Hazelton,
Moffit, Wishek and Zeland to mention just a few that I am aware
The crowd listened very attentively and applauded, also giving
very generously for their free-will collection (which was to help
them pay for the long trip to America). Special attractions of the
choir were Thomas Backer, 16, who played the trumpet, with certain
numbers that gave you goose bumps, duet singers Lydia Klein and
Emilie Schwan were always asked to sing "Louisa." Words cannot describe the inner feeling that would overcome the audience
as these people of our Homeland performed. Conductor/choir master-Marina
Bauer is the daughter of Alexander and Lydia Klein. Lydia is a sister
Eugene Schwan. Wendelin Backer, father of Thomas and brother of
Emilie Schwan, Barbara Martin, sister-in-law of Klemens and Amalie
Lack of time just did not permit really getting into family relations
to a big extent. Only brief conversations revealed names like Schumacher
and Schwartzenberger. Mr. and Mrs. Schwan of Strasburg and also
Schwans attended the GRHS convention. The entire group attended
a Schwan family reunion at Aberdeen, S. D.
Mr. And Mrs. Schwan (whom we had the pleasure of hosting along
with Stefan and Ruth Kloetzel) and Mr. And Mrs. Klein, also indicated
a relation going into the Walds and some that they are even acquainted
with. It’s a small world, but yet so many miles apart.
Many comments heard were, "I still can’t believe it-that
we finally got out of Siberia to Germany and not to America."
These good-hearted people were overjoyed people were to be here
and spend time with us.
A reception for the public was held in the church’s downstairs
dining hall following the performance. This was also filled to capacity,
with our local GRHS members hosts for the occasion, serving a variety
of goodies, coffee and lemonade. The choir sang several more jolly
numbers like "Musikan" accompanied by Waldemar Hergert
on the accordion. Waldemar Hergert and Stefan Kloetzel on the Balalaika
(a Russian instrument) also played duets together as two of the
ladies danced a Russian dance (very enjoyable to watch).
It was through the efforts of Michael Miller, NDSU, that the Heimatklaenge
Choir came to America and North Dakota. Michael attended each performance
with them and asked each member to introduce themselves with a brief
note on their life. Their stories were all very sad, having lived
in Kassachstan, Siberia-many losing a loved one-(who was taken and
never seen again).
Life had been very difficult for most of them, but they are rejoicing
and glad to be back in their homeland (Germany).
Wednesday morning, July 23, the time had come for their departure
to Bismarck for the next two days. It was picture taking time as
the choir members all gathered in Lawrence Welk Park with their
host families. This was one big, happy family as Michael Miller
also joined us and took group photos.
With hugs, kisses and tears, our last good-byes were said, and
everyone waving as the bus slowly made its last turn out of Strasburg.
After spending two full days with these dear and kind-hearted people,
we have come to be so close that we attended the concert in Bismarck
just to see them one more time. Isadore Gross, local GRHS member,
It was such pleasure to spend this time with these people, who
spoke very little English, but that was no problem, I am sure the
Homeland Choir members of Stuttgart, Germany, will always remember
The Logan County Community
Church is located at the Logan County Museum. Ruth and Stefan
Kloetzel stand in the foreground.
The day’s tour included
a stop at the Pioneer Cemetery near Hague with Felix Wald answering
many of their questions.
On our farm visit, Felix
and Katie Wald explained the use of various large equipment
at their farm.
Stuttgart Choir members
are pictured in the wheat field near the yard where they asked
numerous questions and offered comments. As choir member, Lydia
Klein, commented to me at the end of the day, "Oh yes,
Katie, today I learned a lot, and it was most interesting."
The choir members, our friends, thanked us over and over again
for the wonderful time we had together.
The Homeland Choir, including
all host couples, is pictured at the Lawrence Welk Park, minutes
before their departure. Host couples are Andy and Regina Senger,
Felix and Katie Wald, Oscar and Isabel Ternes, Pius and Benedict
Scherr, Delores Hulm Dramer, Rita Gefre, Mike and Theresa Wold,
Albert and Ange Feist and Magnus and Helen Heidrich. Bus driver,
Clem Heidt of Dickinson, is pictured at the right.
The German Choir is pictured after
a gourmet luncheon at D & D’s Korner Bar at Napoleon.
Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.