Growing up in Logan County
Gross, John. "Growing up in Logan County." Logan County Historical Society Newsletter, March 2003.
Time has come again to write a bit to the newsletter and welcome more
of you to so the same.
As a German from Russia boy, growing up in South Western Logan
County, born in 1924, the only language spoken in our household
In an all Catholic community, my parents John and Magdalena (Vetter)
Grosses farm where I grew up, was located in about the center of
four Catholic Churches. The churches were: St. Anthony’s,
which was four miles east; St. Joseph’s was three miles south;
St. Michael’s was five miles west; and St. Boniface was six
miles north of our farm.
My father grew up one mile from St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
and my mother one-fourth mile west of St. Joseph’s Catholic
With being surrounded by four churches, that didn’t give
us much of an excuse for not attending church services either on
Sunday, holidays, feast days, weddings and funerals. We were members
of the St. Anthony parish which was in the Fargo Diocese and, of
course, all our priests were German then.
The custom in our church was that the men would sit on the right
side of the pews and the women would sit on the left side. The younger
you were the further forward in the church you sat.
Every now and then, some of us unruly boys got our ears pulled
during service from the church elder, in German that person was
identified “Da Kircha Vater.” The singing was either
German or Latin. All prayers were said in German except mass was
said in Latin by the priest till about the year of 1938 when church
service gradually changed over to English.
Very much did I encounter a language barrier as a youngster not
knowing any English when I started country public grade school.
We called it “English School” and the German religion
summer school “Deutsch Schule.” Church services were
all in high German “Hock Deutsch” as we called it and
that was a contrast to out own dialect very much so.
The church was really the center of attraction. WE all had young
people in an organization called Sodality, softball, German religion
school and a lot of visiting before and after church service.
For the elders, there was always a lot of visiting at the nearby
grocery and variety store near the church.
Our farm was also near the center of distance to the major cities
of Linton, Wishek, and Napoleon from 17 to 23 miles.
The land was loaded with many farms and large families. We all
spoke the same language and lived the same lifestyle with relatives
Fortunately, I found a nice girl not too closely related three
miles away from out farm. Her name was Margaret Schaffer. On February
3, 1947, we tied the knot. As of today, the language in our house
is still German. Our five children all understand our dialect and
We are proud to be American, and we also have a heritage to be
Margaret and I are life members of the International Germans from
Russia Society. The Organization was incorporated in 1971. There
are now 26 chapters in the United States and Canada. The central
office is located in Bismarck with a large new building. Our chapter
is called South Central North Dakota Chapter. We meet in Wishek
four times a year. This year’s annual international convention
will be in Rapid City, South Dakota, on September 4, 5, 6, &
7. As a member of the society, we receive in the mail four Heritage
Review Magazines a year. Much information is available through the
main office from archives out of Odessa, South Russia. The office
is loaded with family history books, old letters, videos, obituaries,
a mass of information free to preserve our history for our children
and future generations.
Until next year. John
Reprinted with the permission of the Logan County Historical