Saints Peter and Paul Parish 25th Year Jubilee,
Strasburg, ND, June, 1914
A FEAST SCRIPT
for the 25 YEAR JUBILEE of the
SAINTS PETER & PAUL'S PARISH
and at the same time
a Feast Offering for the
Third Catholic Convention
for the Diocese of Bismarck
on the dates of 16-17-18 of June 1914
Original Script Written by: _________________________________
Father Max Speckmeier
Translation by: __________________________________________
John J. Baumgartner, Jr.
Translated From: _____________________________
Father Max's German Edition of 1914
Note: The following text has the composition, grammar and punctuation
of the original translation with minor modifications such as the
correction of typographical and spelling errors.
The year 1914 is a year of celebration for the Parish of Strasburg,
North Dakota. At this time, we find the German Catholic Vereins
of the Diocese of Bismarck, and the General Convention were combined
in one celebration.
It is also this year, a 25th Jubilee year for the Parish of
Strasburg, since it is now twenty-five years that this Parish
was founded. With interest, with joy and happiness and thankfulness,
we look back these twenty-five years, which were very fruitful
in suffering and happiness, in patience and success.
Today, after 25 years, the first settlers look back with pride
for work well done, and all the hardships they endured after their
arrival here. They feel very much rewarded for all the hardships
endured, when they see how the Parish of Strasburg in all respects
flowered, to such an extent, that the Parish of Strasburg is considered
one of the better ones in the Diocese of Bismarck, and probably
one of the better parishes in the whole State of North Dakota.
The following pages should give us an insight into these 25
years, which now belong to the past, and should show our young
people what has to be done, in order to find success, and also
what has to be done to establish in a parish a happy and well
ordered environment that will endure.
The First Settlers
It was in the fall of 1888, when in this part of Emmons County,
the Strasburg Parish arose. Some agents from Strasburg, South
Russia arrived to look over the area and to find out, whether
this area was suitable for settlement. What these men found was
all fields - no houses, no people, but room enough for settlements.
There was only one inhabitant to be seen far and wide namely,
a Mr. Petrie, who today is a very successful businessman in Linton,
After this inspection trip, there arrived in the spring of 1889,
more South Russian settlers to homestead. The first enthusiastic
arrivals were: Jacob Feist, at that time an unmarried youth, but
soon hereafter became married and today is considered an appreciated
and well-to-do successful member of the Parish; Jacob Baumgartner,
also a successful farmer, or better - a retired one, who now lives
in town on his savings. Johannes Baumgartner, often called, "old
John," who gave to this Parish a line of prominent members
in his boys and girls, and who since a number of years ago, had
come to town to live on his savings, and to take a well earned
rest. also Franz Baumgartner, a brother to the above mentioned
men, who now has passed to the hereafter, where we hope, he received
a rich reward for the many years of service as school teacher
and choir master, that he rendered to the Church. also Lorenz
Schwab, by now a member of the neighboring parish of Rosenthal,
and Martin Schwab, who also, moved from here to Karlsruhe, where
by now, death brought him to a better life. What these first settlers
found was nothing more than the wide naked prairies. Yes, timely,
naked were these prairies, since shortly after the arrival of
these brave people, a prairie fire had burned down everything
in this area that was not of earth and rock.
On the 7th of May, 1889, [at] noon came the first arrivals,
and on the very same day they began to turn over the sod in order
to build some miserable tents. This was in the least, bad enough
and discouraging. The first night had worse things to offer, since
it brought rain and very cold weather, so that people had to take
off the boxes from their wagons to protect themselves from the
rain and cold.
As warmer days arrived, some parts of the prairies were plowed
in preparation for seeding. The result of the seeding was little,
since a poor crop was in the offering. The flax, that had been
cut with the grass mower, when it was ripe, for the most part
was blown away by the wind. Then in order to save some, they pulled
the flax, that remained standing, with their hands, out of the
And what effort it cost, to make the little wheat they harvested
end up in money and a livelihood. Eureka, South Dakota was the
closest railroad station and also the closest place where one
could buy and sell things. The road there was at least 50 miles.
What these poor people had to endure on this long trip, especially
during snow and rain storms, is difficult for the younger generation
to fathom. Also not to forget, was that the first horses of these
first settlers were oxen.
The year 1890 arrived, again a crop failure. Among the people
were much need and discouragement. The women often tell even to
this day, how often they wept for whole days, partly because of
need and misery, often because of homesickness for their old homeland.
Many would have returned by foot to Russia, if it would not have
been so far, and the big ocean between America and Russia did
In these hard times many traveled the whole long day, over the
prairies looking for buffalo bones. These then had to be brought
to Napoleon or Steele where they were sold and for the money received,
the necessary provisions secured. For the bones they received
very little; for a wagon load, about a sack of flour, which was
the most important food stuff of these dire times. Meat was a
scarce item. However, meat was available at times, but one had
to buy it with a shot gun.
So one day, three men went hunting in order to shoot something
that had flesh and bones. The men were Jacob Feist, Egidi Keller
and Lorenz Schwab, these three were the heroes.
They went on the road toward Beaver Creek; where they should
find something to hunt. They walked a long way, but saw nothing
and caught nothing. At last they saw a bird, not very big and
not really small; it could have been a snipe. Now, they had to
be quick, because the bird was a fast flyer. Quickly, Lorenz shouldered
the gun, the shot echoed and the bird dropped dead to the ground.
With quick steps all three rushed together and picked up from
the ground the offering, but lo and behold the poor animal was
shot to pieces. Two were ready to throw it away, when bewildered
and enthusiastically Egidi shouted, "Now bring it along,
it is meat." So valuable was meat in those costly days.
Now, meat was scarce; that wasn't too bad, because one could
still his hunger with something else. Worse was the lack of firewood
and no roads. A very good picture and example of this is the following
Jacob Feist and his wife with his brother in law, Egidi Keller,
got together one day, hitched up their oxen on the wagon and drove
toward Beaver Creek to get some wood. There they found plenty
to load two big loads. When loaded and ready to drive back to
their homes, the sun was ready to set. Travel was slow, the oxen
were slow and the wagon load was heavy and there was no road.
Darkness arrived too soon, a very dark night indeed and soon thereafter,
they lost direction. They saw nothing, but drove further and with
much luck, at last they saw a light in the distance. "That
is my house", Jacob called happily, for he had instructed
his family to hang out a lantern by evening in front of the house,
and that was a wise move. But, suddenly the light disappeared,
at least the night travelers didn't see it anymore, because they
came behind a hill. The two log and wood haulers now parted way.
Jacob drove toward the direction of his house, where after a few
missturns luckily arrived. Also, Egidi was looking for the direction
to his home, but really got lost. He drove around during the darkness,
but didn't make it home. Finally, he fell asleep, but the oxen
didn't fall asleep. They peaceably continued forward. The folks
at home were afraid and worried, but finally crawled under their
wagon box to get their night's rest. After getting up at sun rise,
they saw the oxen in the yard, with a nice load of wood, and on
top of it was Egidi, fast asleep. His guardian angel was better
able to steer the oxen, than Egidi himself. Yes, in those days,
one needed on these open prairies, a guardian angel very much.
All of the early pioneers could tell you their own stories.
The First Priest
The closest priests for our first settlers were 26 miles away.
They were the Benedictine Fathers on the Indian Reservation at
Fort Yates, namely, Father Bernard and Father Franz. Already,
in the first year, 1889, as soon as Father Bernard heard that
a new German Russian settlement had begun close by, this eager
priest began looking for these poor and forsaken lambs, and celebrated
in their midst the Holy Mass, in the home of our deceased Franz
How with great realization and happiness, the first priest was
welcomed and how the young and old in thanksgiving kissed his
hands, all this is easy to imagine. Even if an angel came from
Heaven, could the happiness and luck have been greater. In those
days each priest was treasured and loved, then one did not scold
or gossip about him. Nowadays, on this point, we find to the sorrow
of the people, that things have changed somewhat.
Until the year 1889, we find the Benedictine Priests from Fort
Yates and from the mission of St. Johns (McIntosh County) taking
care of the people around here, and Hague, at that time known
as Elzas. It was in the year 1889, when the first resident priest
arrived in McIntosh, namely, a secular priest, a Father Schmitz.
Now, the priests from Fort Yates really didn't have to minister
to this area, by that we mean, they were not obliged to visit
these German Russians. Nevertheless, the two soul hungry priests
from Fort Yates, filled with their good hearts, these sons of
St. Benedict, continued for about three years, to come over the
Missouri River, in order to say the Holy Mass for these German
settlers, also to spread the word of God, and to administer the
holy sacraments and besides to console and encourage these people.
When any of the priests were to come, the news was spread a
few days ahead, from house to house, as to the day and also the
place where the religious get-to-gether was to take place. The
various homes in turn were used as churches. All came together,
young and old, down to the very youngest, who had to wait to become
citizens of the United States, and also awaited baptism to become
citizens of the Church. When the religious services ended all
people stayed together at the meeting house, where the noon dinner
was served for all. Hereafter, the people conversed for a few
hours, and if everything went well, then around three or four
o'clock, coffee was served. Soon all parted and went in different
directions, each to his own home. In those days, we found more
Christian love and understanding than is the case nowadays.
So, we find in those beginning years, that during the get-to-gethers,
not so much was said about our neighbors, nor scolded or lied,
as we so often find these days, when not always, but sometimes
About those early days, even today, the following story is told,
which isn't so important, but yet quite interesting. One day Father
Franz came to Elzas, to say Mass there in the old Church, which
not so long ago, was dismantled and so disappeared. At this opportunity
a baby boy was brought in for Baptism. It was the first Baptism
for Father Franz, a newly ordained priest, to perform. The interesting
circumstances were these: the priest that baptized was a Franz;
the father of the child was named Franz, namely, Franz Roehrich,
the godfather's name was Franz, a Franz Wolf, and of course the
baby was named Franz. The child by now is a married man. Interesting
indeed, are these circumstances, and seldom will such a thing
We have noticed in this writing, that both of the first years
1889-1890, brought poor harvests, and could be called crop failures.
The year 1891, was an extra-ordinarily good year, and the blessings
of the fields continued until 1910. This year was a poor one,
but a complete crop failure was the year 1911, the worst in 25
years. We did have also, in the year 1904, a crop damage from
hail, but only in certain places, and only partly.
When the good years came, one had to think about getting good
threshing machines. The first group, that for much money, bought
a threshing machine were Jacob Feist, Casper Feist, Peter Kraft
and Frank Giesinger. Naturally, people gathered, in order to look
over this wonderful thing, and to marvel on how well it worked.
As the machine had to be taken to another place, soon a very bad
accident could have happened. The machine was moving along nicely,
and the workers and other onlookers were walking along the sides
and behind. Suddenly, high up, the straw ladder came loose, and
fell down with a loud noise to the ground. Those that heard the
noise ran toward the sides full of fear - this was a chance for
Jacob Feist, so he began to lament and shout. "For God's
sake" called the astonished Peter, and rushed toward him.
"Jacob, what happened - are you hurt?" "O Jesus,
O Jesus", murmured poor Jacob and shook and trembled, "If
that thing would have hit me, it could have killed me." Now,
there arose a loud, happy laughter from all sides, and as Jacob
got over his astonishment, he began to laugh himself, and even
to this day he has to laugh at this death opportunity.
The First Church
Since the year 1892, a Father Joachim, O.S.B., who had his residence
in McIntosh County, came from time to time to give church services
for our German Russian people. This was good and proper, but there
was something missing, that one needed here very badly, namely;
a church. In the year 1893, the settlers agreed among themselves,
that a church had to be built. But where can we find the money?
So one day a few men drove over to Peter Miller, who at that time,
was a well to do man and a member of the Holy Trinity Church and
received from him a loan of $600. With this the building project
began. At the same time collections were made, whenever such could
be had. In a short time, the construction was finished and on
the feast day of the Birth of Blessed Virgin Mary, in the same
year 1893, the Church was blessed with great pomp, by Father Joachim,
assisted by Father Bernard and by Father Franz.
The cost of the Church amounted to about $1,200. As church patrons,
St. Peter and Paul were chosen.
From now on Strasburg became a regular mission which regularly
was ministered from McIntosh.
The Building of the Parish House
In the year 1899, Prior Vincent Wehrle, O.S.B. from the St.
Gall's Seminary at Devils Lake, sent one of his priests, a Father
Benedict Peter, to this area. This priest, was actually to go
to McIntosh where he was to stay with Father Stephen Stenger,
who was parish priest of St. John's. From here Father Peter was
to take care of the Strasburg Mission. But when Father Benedict
Peter came to Strasburg for church services, he stayed here and
since there was no priest's house, he took living quarters at
Peter Keller's home.
Now, there was a priest, but no house. So the people said right
away, "We must build a parish house." So in the very
spring, building was begun. Father Benedict drew the plans; the
necessary building materials were brought here from Wishek, about
40 miles away for $700, and brought it here. Since everybody helped
along, especially Father Benedict Peter himself, it didn't take
long and the house was under roof, and the inside, too, was completed
as quickly as possible and as well as they could, so that Father
Benedict, as first parish priest of Strasburg, could move into
the new parish house, which to this day does its purpose.
Since, on January 6, 1900, Father Benedict was reassigned, we
received Father Joseph Thuille, who came from the same seminary
as Father Benedict. This hardworking priest, who especially was
noted for his beautiful sermons, that still live with us, worked
with great blessings in this Parish until June of 1903. Again
Father Benedict was called to take care of the Parish, until September
of the same year, Father Justus Schweitzer, O.S.B. was appointed
parish priest for Strasburg. This same priest served here until
the fall of 1906, with very great priestly endeavors, and special
care for this Parish. The last few years of his work here, things
In the spring of 1902, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul
Railroad was being built, and by December of that year, opened.
This same year, the establishment of the City of Strasburg took
place, as four men: John J. Baumgartner, Mike Baumgartner, Egidi
Keller, and Jacob Feist, erected a store by the name of Strasburg
Bazaar, and soon hereafter Raphael Volk built himself a house
nearby. The newly started town was about two and one half miles
away from the then, church yard. In the following years, as more
houses were added to the first two buildings, the question came
up, shouldn't the Church and parish house stand there where the
new town was started and where most likely the future development
would take place. This question came up and became more and more
important, so by the year 1906, a decision had to be made. So
the storm broke out. The one said, yes, move, the other said no.
Some pulled this way, others that way. The priest was in favor
of moving, since the Bishop was in favor too. One part of the
Parish was on the priest's side, the other group against these,
and often time in very unfriendly tone.
Finally, it was decided to move. Some naturally, favored it,
the others, of course, not, and these wouldn't do anything.
With some effort and hard work, Church and parish house were
moved to town. As luck would have it, the Church arrived safely
at its new home, but a misadventure happened to the parish house.
As it was being pulled over the railroad, the house broke into
two pieces - half on this side, and the other half on the other
side of the track. More hard luck was in the offering, the train
was coming - maybe this was a stroke of luck. After lengthy discussion
with the railroad officials, it was decided to use the locomotive
of the train to free the two halves of the parish house from its
In those days many a mistake was made about which today one
better not say much. By now, most understand that the parted parish
house on the railroad tracks had a lesson to tell. "Working
together builds houses, dissent tears them apart."
By now, most people, who then disagreed, are now satisfied.
Most all people now wish the fights and disagreements never would
have happened. It is not so long ago that a sensible man told
me, "At that time I, too, was one of the kickers, but I made
up my mind that during my life time, no more kicking. One cannot
accomplish much, only bring discord and impatience." "Yes,"
I answered to these words, "and often times one commits sins."
During this period of discord in the Parish, Father Justus was
recalled from the Parish in the fall of the year, and then for
a month Strasburg had no priest.
When the Church and parish house were properly placed in town
and things fixed up, and the heckling was over to some extent,
then there arrived in Strasburg, Abbot Vincent Wehrle, from Richardton,
where a few years before a new Seminary had been erected. In the
year 1907, the Abbot had the first church services in the new
town. He encouraged the people toward understanding and peace,
and promised to send them a good priest.
The Building of the New Church
During the time of Father Alois, a very difficult enterprise
was undertaken, the building of the new Church. It took a great
and enterprising spirit, to begin such a piece of work, and not
everyone would have the necessary courage to do that. Usually,
when a priest undertakes such a large undertaking in his parish,
and things don't turn out just right, no one gets the blame, but
he alone. If however, the undertaking was a success, and was to
the benefit and pride of the parish, and someone asks in wonderment,
"Gee, how was this accomplished?" The reply would be,
"We" and again, "We" and for a third time,
"We"!! Few think or say, that the priest should receive
at least some appreciation and honor.
However, we found that Father Alois had the courage to build
a church. He drove around himself in the Parish to encourage every
member of the Parish, and to find out what each could afford,
and would be willing to donate.
As things appeared rather sure, that the enterprise could succeed,
the basement then was dug in September of 1909, after Abbot Vincent
staked out the line for the new Church, and he and Father Justus
had loaded the first load of stones and brought them on location.
In the fall of the year the foundation stone was laid, so that
by April of 1910, the foundation stone could be placed and the
building of the real Church could begin. Abbot Vincent, who in
the meantime, became Bishop of Bismarck, came himself in order
to bless and lay in a festive way, the corner stone.
During the whole year of 1910, people worked with enthusiasm
on the building of the Church, so that by mid October, when Father
Alois became ill, and had to be recalled, and in his place Father
Max Speckmeier O.S.B. was sent here by the Bishop, to become the
regular priest here. By that time the Church was completed, all
but the inner decorations.
Now, kind reader, you may have guessed by now, that the present
priest, Father Max, of Strasburg, is the writer of this story,
and therefore, [I] will introduce myself and relate how things
happened since my four years here as head of the Parish.
I came here during the middle of the church erection but had
little to say toward its completion. Most of the donations and
plans were completed before my arrival. By the beginning of November,
the basement was so completed so that a chapel could be used for
church services, and the rest of the basement opened for a parish
Shortly before Christmas, around the middle of December, when
the inside was finished, then arrived the high altar, the pulpit,
the communion railings and the church benches. Quickly, things
were installed, so that by midnight and holy night of 1910, we
could celebrate with much joy for the priest and for the whole
congregation, the first church services in the new Church.
During the Midnight Mass, the Church was pretty well filled
with pious people. On Christmas Day, during the main church services,
the Church was so crowded, so that one could hear voices saying,
"The Church is too small, it should at least have been twenty
The Church, one of the most beautiful in the State of North
Dakota, cost about $45,000 and by the time it was completed, the
congregation had a debt of $24,000 dollars on it. On this debt,
a part still had to be paid (1910), and should we have a good
crop, and with good will, the debt could easily be paid off. Many
members of the Parish, not only paid their stipulated monies,
for the payment of the Church, but willingly offered more. In
this way, we were able to plan a high altar, the beautiful angels
on both sides of the church, and also the grandiose windows. I
cannot mention each member. It is really not necessary because
the good Lord, the rewarder of all good, knows them all, and will
not forget to reward them.
About two years ago, the beautiful Stations of the Cross were
secured. These cost $700 and most of the money for them was donated.
The same year our Church received an interesting nativity scene,
which also came about by free gifts.
This last year (1914) the Church obtained the burial crib. As
I, one Sunday explained to the congregation how nice it would
be, if we could have a holy grave, for Holy Week. There was brought
to me in the course of a week, to the parish house, almost enough
money, so that little more was needed, and that came in a short
By December of this last year, it was possible for us to purchase
the exquisite altar of the Sorrowful Mother of God, for one of
the rear side chapels. For this, two women of the Parish each
spent $100. This became a chapel like affair, as a prayer niche
for pious women. Also the money for both side altars, and the
two confessionals were free will donations. These cost around
Without my asking in any way, by the new year, enough money
was collected, so that it became possible to order two bells.
Now, the one bell did not have to chime alone, in the lofty tower
of the steeple. Together these bells chimed out in all directions
of the Parish, in order to invite the faithful and liberal children
of the congregation, to their church services.
Should good harvests come, we will soon be able to buy two more
bells, so that we can have some beautiful ringing in harmony,
worthy of our gracious house of God.
Besides, the future will bring a big pipe organ and a beautiful
baptismal font, so that our Church will have almost everything
that is needed.
To write a long description of the Church, I deem unnecessary,
if one does not see the Church, one cannot even, with the best
description, make a true picture of it. The Church is big and
spacious and especially the indoor decor arranged in a practical
way. People who enter it are astonished by its gracefulness. Especially
charming is the way the paintings were done. One does not tire
gazing at these.
In June of 1911, the new Church was consecrated by the very
honorable Bishop Vincent Wehrle in a very festive way and in the
presence of many priests. A Pontifical High Mass was said, and
at this opportunity the holy sacrament of Confirmation administered.
The day will remain as an unforgettable day of honor and happiness
for the congregation. A tremendous crowd of people from all sides
streamed in for the Feast, not only Catholics, but many non-Catholics.
The big Church was not able to hold even half the people.
The Religious Life of the Parish
The religious life of the congregation developed itself in a
very satisfactory manner. This we can note by the many church
Already, Father Justus started for the women, the Altar Society.
On January 6th of 1912, this society was combined with the brother-hood
of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar. This society, was founded
under cannon-law by the Bishop and united to the main brother-hood
in Rome. Each member promises to spend at least once a month,
an hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and pay a five
cent monthly fee. The brother-hood numbers 180 members. With the
establishment of the society, a Holy Hour was inaugurated for
every Saturday, and for the evening before a feast day, also a
special adoration for the first Saturday of each month. On each
first Sunday, the Blessed Sacrament was set out at early Mass,
followed by a solemn procession after the main church service.
Besides, as was done before, each month had a special service.
On the 8th of December 1912, the Society of Mary was inaugurated
for the young women. This group was led by the sisters and held
meetings twice a month. It numbers about 50 members.
For the children there exists a Childhood of Jesus Verein, with
a membership of 120 boys and girls. Each child pays one cent a
month as dues, and the receipts are used for the Heathen Missions.
The visits to church services during the week days, are also
very good. Also the receiving of Holy Communion is regular and
enthusiastic. In the last few years, between 10,000-11,000 Holy
Communions were distributed.
Special church feasts are: Forty Hours Devotions - This takes
place during the beginning or during Lent, with two sermons daily,
during which neighboring priests help out in a friendly manner.
The whole Parish goes to Holy Communion. Holy Week - All ceremonies
are appropriately held, and make a deep impression on the people.
Starting Holy Thursday morning until Good Friday morning, during
which time the Blessed Sacrament is preserved in the chapel in
the basement of the Church, one finds during the whole day and
during the whole night, many devotional people, who in a touching
way, spend hours at devotions. The same enthusiasm is shown on
Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, when the Adoration of the Cross,
that is in memory of the Crucifixion of Christ, takes place.
Corpus Christi was begun in a special festive manner. The procession
moved through the streets of town, and the houses are decorated
in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. During all of the Octave, we
have a daily High Mass with the Blessed Sacrament exposed and
also an evening Vesper.
Pentecost is the feast of the First Communicants, a day of bright
joy, not only for the lucky children, but also for the whole congregation.
Many outside people come every year to Strasburg for the festivity.
The outstanding feast for the congregation, [is] the Feast on
June 29th, the Feast of two Patron Saints. During this time, we
have a tremendously large group of people. This day is also the
main feast of the St. Peter and Paul's Society. In the afternoon
of this day, we at all times, have a large open assembly with
various speeches and entertainment. The Societies from the neighboring
towns of Hague and St. Anthony's regularly come to Strasburg.
During Lent, we have each Wednesday and Friday noon, Stations
of the Cross, at four o'clock, which are eagerly attended.
During the month of May, there is daily May Devotions, also
at seven o'clock evenings, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the remaining
days after Holy Mass, in the morning and on Sundays after Vespers.
During the month of June, we have at the beginning of Holy Mass
a short devotion in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Also, during October there is a daily Rosary Devotion. Opportunities
for devotions and adorations there are many, and to the praise
of the Parishioners, one must say, the opportunities are well
Besides these church organizations, there exists also two secular
societies. The St. Peter and Paul's Support Verein, was founded
July 1908, with 52 members. Father Alois Strigl, O.S.B. was the
first president, today the Society has 95 members.
The St. Mary's Support Verein, a branch of the above Society
is for the women.
Until Christmas of 1910, we had in Strasburg, the ordinary church
singing as was commonly heard in many of the prairie churches
of the German Russian people.
Already, with the beginning of the parochial schools, the music
sisters had encouraged the musical children that by Christmas,
the congregation was to be surprised by the delightful children
singing, and most people were joyously surprised, as for the first
time they heard the bell-clear voices of the children reverberate
from the high choir loft, in honor and praise of God. At first,
we had one voice Masses, but soon came two voice singing. Since
last year, we laid special stress on choral singing, until we
began late last fall with a four voiced church choir. I began
with a group of men, to practice on a four voiced Mass and the
sisters did the same with the girls. As these two groups thought
they had progressed enough, an hour was appointed to try for the
first time, this first Mass. We tried it and the success was pleasing;
things went well, much better than we could believe. So it was
decided that the Mass actually set for the Catholic Day, was already
to be sung on the Feast of Mary Candle Mass Day. So it happened,
and the joy and praise of the parish was especially great. There
wasn't much prayer during High Mass. Most people had their ears
pointed and many that ordinarily think Mass takes a long time,
found that it ended too soon.
Church singing was as a whole ardently cultivated. During early
Mass on Sundays and feast days, a German Mass was sung according
to the Diocese Song Book. On the ordinary Sundays, a Choral Mass
was sung and on all Sundays and feast days the Choral Vespers
were sung by the people. The participation by the people isn't
so good as yet, but it is getting better.
The excellent and untiring organist of the Parish, Sister Henrika,
deserves the recognition and many thanks of the Parishioners.
What she accomplished for church music must be appreciated.
The Strasburg Concert Band
Under the name there exists in Strasburg, since a few years,
a combination of men and youth, who in an enthusiastic way keep
busy in fostering music. Through ardent practice, this Band with
its talents, brought it about, that not only in their home town,
but also in other places, their playing earned them fame.
A very delightful endeavor of our artistic musicians that they
use their art, at certain opportune times and willingly perform
for the benefit of the Church.
It is hoped, that the Concert Band will never disband, but instead
it will more and more improve and perfect itself. Beautiful music
elates man and lifts his spirit.
The Catholic Parochial School
When a large Catholic parish has no Catholic school, by that
we mean, no parochial school, then it is as if the congregation
has a beautiful, large church, but in which we find no altar or
tabernacle, and no church services are being held. When a Catholic
parish, with much effort builds an embellished church, that is
proper and good. All these efforts aren't worth much, if the parish
does not foster a Catholic school. If someone should ask what
is more important and of more use and need for a Catholic congregation;
a charming church or a Catholic school? No sensible man could
have any doubts for a moment, that a Catholic school is more important
than an embellished and luxurious church.
Church services can be held in a miserable hut, and the first
priests had to do this and many still do that in this country.
God is satisfied with this; it is better to be received by people
in a poor hut, than not at all. Where should our Catholic youth
be trained and instructed in their religion, and encouraged in
virtue and holiness. This can happen only in one place, in a Catholic
school. Therefore, we find in this country that many Bishops will
forbid in their parishes to build beautiful and costly churches,
if before that they have not built a parochial school. And this
is right. If we give no attention to build Catholic schools for
our youth, then in a short time, it will be useless to build new
The Parish of Strasburg is lucky that it has a parochial school,
and for the most part, the Parishioners know that this luck has
to be preserved.
When the plan was drawn up for a new church to be built, a plan
was made at the same time for a parochial school. It was impossible
to erect a separate building next to the Church. Therefore, the
basement of the Church was so arranged that besides having a chapel,
and an assembly hall, two well lighted school rooms [could] be
The effort of the honorable Bishop, made it possible to secure
the Ursuline Sisters from Germany for both new schools to be built,
one in Strasburg, and one in St. Anthony in Morton County. The
order of Ursulines was founded by the holy Sister Angela, and
also for the education of youth.
As soon as the basement of the Church was completed, a parochial
school was opened, and that very important date for our Parish
was November 7, 1910. After a High Mass, for gaining Grace from
the Holy Ghost, there was a gathering of the sisters and the children,
in one of the classrooms, and as I entered the same, I found to
my great joy, the stately number of 70 children. After a short
speech, I gave my blessing to all, and the blessing of God fell
upon this school from the beginning. The number of children continued
to increase, so that we were forced, already by November of that
same year, to erect the third classroom. For this the assembly
room was used. But yet, the number of pupils increased more and
more so that the first year, we had 170 children attending the
By the beginning of the third year, October l, 1912, the necessity
arose to build a fourth classroom. For this purpose, the assembly
hall was partitioned by a wall for two school rooms. The number
of children that attended the parochial school this year, was
well over 200.
During the present school year (1914) the attendance was very
large, besides the number of children that attended school for
nine months kept growing. By now, the school has seven grades,
so that the next school year needed an eighth grade. It is hoped
that in two years a high school could be opened.
The instruction was planned the same way that is in public State
schools. The instructional language is English. Besides, the children
learn the foundational German and what is most important also
religion and the Bible.
The girls received instruction in various handwork, and that
they learn many useful things one can see each year at the handicraft
In school, we have five sisters that work untiringly and perseveringly.
The extreme usefulness of a parochial school anyone can see
who is not blind, or who on purpose puts on a blind-fold. Besides
the knowledge of various useful subjects, which children lend
themselves to, our youth, for the most part, have gained a great
deal in speech and behavior. Very often one hears that when one
comes to Strasburg, one notices that the children are quite different.
Yes, naturally, that is a result of a parochial school.
Our parochial school is not visited only by children of our
own Parish, but also from surrounding parishes. Yes, even from
very far away areas of the State, parents bring their children
to receive good instruction and behavior habits, regardless of
costs. A good up-bringing and good education it seems, is worth
more than gold and goods.
We hope that God's rich blessing will in the future, be with
our treasured parochial school.
The Ursuline Convent
"A convent in Strasburg?" you may ask astonishingly.
"Yes" I answer thee. In Strasburg,
we do have a real convent, namely, the convent of the Ursuline
Sisters, that was consecrated to
St. Anthony. How this came about, I will now relate in short.
On the evening of September 21, 1910, the arrival of the sisters
into Strasburg took place, under virtually lightning and thunder
accompanied by a streaming rain. Either God wanted, through the
flaming lightning and voice of thunder, [to] show the Strasburgers,
what an important moment the arrival of the sisters was for the
Parish, just as God on Mount Sinai gave the lasting Commandments
under lightning and thunder, or the sinister thunder weather was
the complaint of the evil spirits, who were worried over the beginning
of the endeavors of the sisters, and the opening of the parochial
school. Father Alois welcomed these good sisters, heartily and
led them to their new house, the house of Gabriel Marbach, close
by the church. It happened luckily, since Gabriel Marbach, this
very year with his wife and child wanted to make a trip to Russia,
so it was possible to offer his house until his return. The house
was really charming, but four small rooms for five large sisters
was not enough. But these mission-spirited sisters were willing
to put up with some inconveniences, and felt at ease in the little
house, during their initial work.
It was clear, that this condition could not last for a long
duration. As spring approached, I had to think about, in some
way or another, to offer the sisters some worthy living quarters,
if our Parish was to retain them.
Besides my house, I could see daily, the abandoned Church, and
the thoughts to change the same into a sister's house hit me often.
But with what? Everything costs money, and in this poor year,
money was scarce. At last, I had to try, and so called on the
12th of March 1911, a general assembly of the Parishioners, and
presented them a plan. My presentation was: the Parish should
give me the old Church, no money payments, for a free undertaking,
with a title to the property. Unanimously, the proposition was
accepted, not one vote was against it. After their acceptance
of this deal, came the second question: who would be willing to
help to remodel the old Church into a sister's house? Those that
wanted to help should at once give their offering, and sign in
an offered listing, but those that didn't want to help, could
go. Most of the people left and my enthusiasm began to sink, even
though, not rightly so, the very best stayed and signed up for
$1,100 within a quarter of an hour. So I was able to begin the
construction with satisfaction. With the then Sister Superior,
Sister Hildegard, I made a proposition. I would come up with $2,000,
and the remaining costs, the sisters should bear, and as the building
was completed the sisters would receive the title for the property.
On April 17, I called together the men who signed the donation
listing and presented the proposition to them. All were satisfied
with the conditions offered.
With the remodeling, progress was rapid, and by June 21, the
sisters were able to move into their new home. On June 28, the
Bishop blessed the house and consecrated the convent Chapel. He
said Holy Mass in this same Chapel and from this hour on, the
good Lord was present in the Tabernacle of the old Church, in
a regular place. The Chapel and the whole house was placed under
the protection of St. Anthony. Strasburg now had a convent.
A fairly large debt was left, and by Christmas I tried with
general help, to sponsor a fair, the first one to take place in
this Parish, and from the income the debt could be paid. With
this, a heavy stone fell from the heart of the worried priest.
The small convent grew since. The number of sisters rose from
five to seven and an increase of numbers is anticipated for this
The house not only offered more room for the sisters, but also
was arranged to accommodate the school children, a kind of boarding
school. Room for about 30 children in the house was provided.
Each year the sisters had somewhat larger numbers of children
in the house, especially from the surrounding area.
The sisters, not only, offered school instruction, but also
instruction on the piano and organ, also in design, drawing, fine
hand work, culinary arts, ironing and other house work.
In June, the convent was hit by a great danger. During a severe
weather, lightning struck a near by granary, without luckily causing
a fire. The sisters, at that moment, as the lightning struck were
saying the words, "Help, Mary, it is time, Mother of all
The convent with its delightful gardens all around, make a very
pleasing impression on viewers, and add to the beauty of the town.
May the convent develop more and more, to add more blessing
on our Parish, and to the Diocese of Bismarck.
As the first Church was built, at the same time, close by the
Church, a cemetery was laid out which as years went by, was filled
with many rows of graves.
After the building of the new Church in town, it was not only
my wish, but also the desire of the Parish, that the cemetery,
which was two and one half miles from the Church in town, to bring
it closer to the village. So, I went with a number of other men,
to purchase a piece of land, containing two laid out city blocks,
and all told, having somewhat over 30 acres.
The reason for this land purchase, was to donate it to the sisters,
with the understanding, that they would later, on it, erect a
larger convent with an academy, or something else. For this purpose,
we secured also the land of the Milwaukee Land Company, for the
rather large sum of $1,700. The money problem, which usually is
the most acute, could be raised in some unforeseen way.
A member of the Parish, promised $500 and little by little most
of the Parishioners donated smaller and larger amounts. By Christmas,
we had another fair, and part of the receipts, were used for the
land, so that only a small sum was left to pay.
As soon as the contract for this desirable land was made, and
with the approval of the Bishop, a block square of land was designated
for a cemetery. The bishop now ordered, that from now on, no one
should be buried in the old cemetery (Tiraspol Cemetery), and
that the remains of those buried there should be gradually brought
to the new cemetery. Many followed these wishes of the Bishop,
so that soon the new cemetery could show rows of old and new graves.
In the future the cemetery is to have an appropriate iron fence
around it, and besides brought in order otherwise.
The City of Strasburg
The railroad was completed in the year 1902, and two men John
J. Baumgartner and Raphael Volk with their families were the only
inhabitants of the new town, and so laid the foundation for a
new town. No man would have believed how quickly and well this
village developed. Should one have foreseen, no man should have
resisted the moving of the Church and parish house into town.
Although not placed along the main railroad, but on the branch
of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, from Roscoe,
South Dakota toward Linton, North Dakota, it did touch Strasburg!
Even though no industry developed here, not even a mill or anything
else, yet, Strasburg in the course of a few years grew into a
flowering little town with about 400 inhabitants. Of these, all
but a few others, are Catholics and with few exceptions are German
The whole Parish numbers about 150 families with a soul count
of 850-900. About one half of the Parishioners live in town.
The little village has not just a few beautiful houses, and
not too many unpainted huts, has no dirty streets and unclean
places with all kinds of manure piles, that one often can find
in places the size of Strasburg. No, the impression that our town
makes upon visitors, is that of a charming and clean little village.
The streets of the town, are well laid out, and kept well. The
whole town is laid out with many concrete sidewalks. The main
street has rows of trees planted on either side, and by next fall,
or the latest by spring, all streets are to have shade trees planted
in the same manner. The Church is surrounded by trees, and most
houses have trees around them. Yes, many are surrounded by a virtual
forest. The homes themselves are truly very pleasing. As one goes
through the streets of the town, one marvels over the many fine
residences. Should one enter one, one would find charming rooms,
well furnished, heating systems installed, yes, even bathrooms.
To these outstanding homes of the town, the parish house does
not belong, and even though it does not make such a good impression
from the outside, yet the inside is pleasing. Last year a hot
water heating system was installed in the same, and the Parish
did it willingly, no one complained about it.
When, the Church will be paid for, and good harvests come, then
the pride of the Strasburgers will demand that next to the delightful
Church, an appropriate parish house will be built.
Yes, proud are the Strasburgers, but not in a way that it may
be sinful. They think much of their faith and the holy Church
and have become part of it, built for the loving God a costly
temple. Proud of their town which no one wants to leave and may
others want to move to. Proud are they altogether of their Parish.
They want to progress, and make many efforts, and rightly so,
to make more improvements.
Because of this, they are willing to sacrifice. One has to consider
the two very bad years, that we had, and content with, and one
has to know precisely what, in these difficult times happened
and had to happen, in order to realize, how much a large part
of our Parish is inspired for everything that is noble and delightful
and toward the betterment of the environment and desire progress
and a willingness to sacrifice.
Strasburg is a well known business town. All visitors coming
through declare that from Bismarck and Aberdeen, Strasburg is
the best business town. One can find and secure everything one
needs; of course, one has to pay for these. In general one can
say that our business men of the town do not ask unreasonable
prices. Many things one can buy better and cheaper than in larger
In order for me to get acquainted with the business people,
we made a circuit and will enumerate them in a row: Strasburg
Bazaar, general merchandise; owners, John J. Baumgartner, Math
Fischer and Damian Lauinger; Strasburg Drug Store, owner Raphael
Volk combined with an appropriate hall; City Hotel, owner Martin
Lipp; City Meat Market, owner John Schmaltz; General Store, owner
John B. Biegler, Carpenter and Tin Shop, owner Mathias Moszer;
Farmers Store, owner Gregory Bichler and Benedict Schneider; Machinery
and Farm Implements, Valentine Keller, owner; Peoples Meat Market,
Joseph Fettig; Strasburg Lumber Company, President Michael Baumgartner
and Vice President Mike Klein, Secretary Lorenz Mastel, Manager
Anton F. Wald; Machinery and Farm Implements, Klein and Mastel;
Security State Bank, President John J. Baumgartner, Vice President
Mike Baumgartner, Cashier John P. Henn; The Golden Rule - general
merchandise and farm machinery, owners Adam Kraft, John Keller
and Joseph Lipp; General Merchandise, M.A. Klein and L.K. Mastel;
Pool Hall, Anton Kautzman; Variety Store, owner Jacob Kopp and
Manager Peter Van Soest; Pool Hall and Bowling Alley, Casper Feist,
Sr.; Strasburg Opera House, owner Balzer Wald; Strasburg Livery
Barn and City Dray Line, Henry Winkel; Northwestern Auto Company
Agency, Mike Baumgartner and Lawrence K. Mastel. By the depot
stand five grain elevators, also a creamery. Three cream stations
and two blacksmith shops are found in town.
Naturally, the town also has a public school, a post office,
a freight express and telegraph-telephone office. Also a practicing
doctor, Dr. J.J. Poort is located here. A fire house and a jail
are other city properties. That such a small town can have so
many business places, is proof that the surrounding area is good
Along with the beautiful and good things that the town contains,
all kinds of plans are made for the future. Before long we will
have electric lines. A plan to build a Vereins Hall has been talked
about for some time, as well as that of a city park.
Also our beloved farmers are not lacking behind the town. One
who drives around our area can see a rather large number of modern
equipped farm houses. Many of the farmers own automobiles. That
each that owns a house in town, soon will have an auto, is easy
to understand. Before a few years are past, things will have happened
so fast, that the "parish Priest" will be the only "poor
Swallerer" who has to be carted around in some one else's
auto. Progress is the main issue for the Parish of Strasburg.
Beloved reader, when you have read all that I have written,
you probably will think and say Gee! Gee! one would have to think
that everything in Strasburg is tops and okay, but there can be
a few things here not quite in tune. Yes, sure good friend, you
are right. In all large herds, we find black sheep, but they are
few and found in small numbers in our Parish, and they do no harm.
If they cannot fall into stride, they can go where they have a
Therefore: Respect and Honor for the Parish of Strasburg. May
it blossom and prosper. May God give his Blessing.
In conclusion, all loving visitors to the Catholic
Day a "Hearty Welcome"
Your Priest Father Max
In the Name of the Whole Parish of Strasburg