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Interview with Eva Baer (EB)

Conducted by Brother Placid Gross
11 December 1997, Richardton, North Dakota

Transcription by Joy Hass Stefan
Editing and Proofreading by Jane D. Trygg


PG: Today is December 11, 1997 at the Richardton Health Center. I am Brother Placid Gross and we are going to talk with Eva Mischel (sp) Bauer. When were you born?

EB: I was born July 25, 1901 on the farm.

PG: When did you get married?

EB: October 14, 1919.

PG: What was your father’s name?

EB: Ferdinand Mischel

PG: Your mother’s maiden name?

EB: Susan Forster Mischel.

PG: Was your father born in this country?

EB: I don’t think so as far as I know.

PG: He came from Russia, right?

EB: Yah, they were married over there.

PG: Your parents were married in Russia.

EB: Yah.

PG: Do you know your father’s parents?

EB: Well I didn’t know him, but his name was Sebastian Mischel.

PG: What was grandma’s name?

EB: Well he was married to three wives. Now I don’t know how they all died, but one was a Gardner as far as I know and the last one was a Jochim.

PG: And your father’s real mother?... You’re not sure which one it was?

EB: No, I am not sure. He had three wives. I’m not sure.

PG: We were talking about the grandpa, right? Did grandpa have three wives or your father?

EB: My grandpa Mischel had had three wives as far as I know.

PG: But he died in Russia.

EB: Grandpa Mishel? No. He had cancer and I think he died in Richardton, but he got sick in Kansas and my dad went down and got him.

PG: What was he doing down in Kansas?

EB: I guess they tipped the buggy over and his wife broke her leg and then he took her to another country – thought she’d get better.

PG: You said at Kansas. Were you living in Kansas?

EB: Yah, I don’t know how come they lived in Kansas.

PG: They come from Russia to Kansas?

EB: They come from Russia to here in Richardton.

PG: How did they get to Kansas?

EB: I don’t know how he got to Kansas.

PG: Maybe they went to Kansas first. Maybe they went from Russia to Kansas and then up to here.

EB: Might all be, I’m not sure.

PG: What about your mother? She was a Forester.

EB: Yah, she was a Forester, and her parents lived up there beside the church, the one that went down. They bought that and that’s where they lived.

PG: The house was real close to the church? That was a stone house, huh?

EB: Yah, that had steps on each side where the house split or something so it fell over.

PG: What was your mother’s first name? Did we say that already?

EB: Susanna.

PG: Susanna Forster

EB: Yah.

PG: What was Susanna’s parents’ names?

EB: Jacob Forester and her name was Friez.

PG: Do you know grandma’s first name?

EB: (A45 Mary Eve) they called her.

PG: Do you know what village they came from in Russia?

EB: I’m not sure. (A48 German)

PG: There is a Karlsruhe and that sounds right. What did you do all of your life, what work did you do?

EB: Farmed. A little of everything – had a few sheep, cattle, few horses, pigs.

PG: Did you have turkeys?

EB: Oh yah, I had a lot of turkeys. Not many geese, I couldn’t raise geese – I don’t know why. I had ducks and turkeys and chickens.

PG: Did your mother ever talk about the old country?

EB: Oh yah. They all had to go out to the field and take a kettle of soup along out, and they ate all from that soup. They had to work in the fields too.

PG: The women worked in the field too, didn’t they?

EB: Yah, they all did. They cut the grain by the scythe and then they made from the grain to make the buns.

PG: What other work did your mother do over in Russia?

EB: I guess just help out in the field

PG: Did she milk the cows?

EB: In Russia or over here?

PG: In Russia.

EB: She never said nothing about that.

PG: Your mother and dad were married in Russia, right.

EB: Yah.

PG: So they were adults already when they came over here

EB: Yah, they never had any children yet. The children were all born over here.

PG: They got married, and then they left over there and came here.

EB: Yah, they went with dad’s parents. See, they come over and then they stayed by Foresters. He was from Russia too.

PG: So, your dad’s parents came over here too.

EB: Yah, both parents come over here. They said the ship was rough and a lot of them were seasick and they had to throw-up and everything went back and forth.

PG: Do you know how long they were on the water?

EB: No, I don’t know; must have been on the water a couple of days.

PG: Yah, two weeks maybe.

EB: Maybe, yah. See my grandpa Mischel married a young women and then they had a child – do you know Adam Mischel?

PG: Yah

EB: Well she was by him. See grandma was a young bride, and she didn’t want to take care of that child, so my mother had to take care of her.

PG: Grandpa Mischel married a woman that had a child.

EB: No, they had a child.

PG: They had a child. But she didn’t want to take care of it.

EB: Well, she was just a young bride. So my mother had to take care of it.

PG: You don’t know anything else about the ship coming over?

EB: Well they talked about them sharks I guess

PG: Sharks?

EB: Well, great big fish how they come against the ship.

PG: Maybe a whale

EB: That’s what I mean, yah.

PG: Did your father ever talk about the old country? Did he say anything?

EB: No.

PG: Did your parents start to talk English over here?

EB: Mother didn’t know too much but father could talk pretty good. He learned by himself. He says when they looked for some horses they wrote a name on a piece of paper looking for some horses; they couldn’t talk English so they give him the paper.

PG: Did they talk about the church in Russia and what is was like?

EB: No, not that I remember, but they had church over here in the schoolhouses and once she said that there was some firebugs, and then they thought the Indians were coming; then they rolled around and (A105 tape cuts out) so they could protect themselves, and they were just firebugs.

PG: Did your mother get homesick for Russia?

EB: No, I don’t think so. She was so busy all the time I guess.

PG: She did not have time to get homesick.

EB: No, I guess not.

PG: Because your mother’s parents were over here too. How about your mother’s brothers and sisters, were they all over here?

EB: Yah, as far as I know.
PG: And your dad’s brothers and sisters, were they over here?

EB: I guess they must have come along over.

PG: You think they all came over, your dad’s brothers and sisters?

EB: Yes.

PG: Did they ever get letters from the old country?

EB: No.

PG: So they didn’t have any relatives over here if they didn’t get any letters.

EB: No.

PG: Did you get German newspapers over here?

EB: They got the Aberdeen Herald. (A121 German Der Folks Fried)

PG: That was printed at the Abbey.

EB: Yah, dad I guess learned himself to read German.

PG: Do you know any German poems, in German?

EB: (A126)

PG: Do you know something like (A127 German)

EB: No, (laughter). My mother used to sing a baby song, but I forgot it. (A129 German)

PG: (A130 German)

EB: (A131 German)

PG: You don’t remember that one, huh?

EB: No.

PG: Did you talk German to your children? Did your children learn German?

EB: Oh, yah. They were kind of (A134 stubborn) about it but they all can talk a little bit.

PG: But when they were little they could. When they were at home they talked German.

EB: Yah.

PG: Did your parents talk Russian?

EB: We had to Russian hired men and they could talk to them.

PG: So, your parents could talk Russian?

EB: Oh, yah.

PG: What kind of work did you have to do when you were little?

EB: Oh my God, everything – outside and inside. I run every machine that’s on the farm, even the header. My husband had to work in PWA and there was grain – barley or oats – and I told him if he harness up the horses I and the boys would do it, so we cut that and by the time he got home we had that cut.

PG: Good. Did you wear pants when you went out to work or did you wear a dress?

EB: No, I wore pants.

PG: Did you milk the cows by hand?

EB: Oh, yes, all the time. We never had no milk machine.

PG: When you were little you had to milk too. You probably started when you were six or eight years old?

EB: Yah, I guess so. I know we had a cow that had such a big udder; you put the pail under and it was in the pail – kneeled down and milked her.

PG: When you were little, what work did you like to do?

EB: I liked to ride the horse; took care of the cows.

PG: Did you have a saddle?

EB: Oh, yah, the horse’s name was (A155 Fannie)

PG: What work did you not like to do?

EB: I didn’t like to stack the haystack. It was always sweet clover and he (A160 rolled it down with the rows all bundled up) and I had to tear that apart and by the time I had that apart he had another load. That was the hardest work I’ve ever done.

PG: Stacking the sweet clover hay; that would be hard work. How old were you then?

EB: Oh… I was married already.

PG: Did you go to school when you were little?

EB: We went to Spring Valley School, a mile from Paul’s place.

PG: How many years did you go to school?

EB: I only went to the fourth grade. I had to stay home when mother washed and when they hauled hay to make there way from the upstairs so they could pitch it in.

PG: How about your other brothers and sisters, did they go to school?

EB: Yah, they didn’t go to school too long either, they were about sixteen or so.

PG: Were you the oldest in the family?

EB: No, (Mary Behm) was the oldest.

PG: So the older ones had to stay home too to work.

EB: Yah.

PG: In your school, were they all Germans or were there other people in your school?

EB: Mostly Germans.

PG: Did you talk German in school?

EB: Well, sometimes and sometimes not.

PG: Were you punished if you talked English?

EB: No.

PG: How did you go to school?

EB: We had a horse and in the wintertime we drove and he went back home again – we left him go. His name was Jack.

PG: You drove with one horse and then you let the horse run home so your dad could use the horse at home, huh?

EB: Yah. Yah, he was a gentle horse. When they had a bronco or something to break in, to drive, they had him with old Jack, tied him on to him.

PG: In the afternoon when you went home you did not have a horse to go home.

EB: Sometimes we got a ride with the neighbors; they drove.

PG: How far was it to school?

EB: About a mile.

PG: What kind of teachers did you have?

EB: I remember one man, his name was Hasper; I think Ed was his name.

PG: Was he a good teacher?

EB: My dad didn’t like him (A199)

PG: He would shoot the kids with spitballs with a rubberband.

EB: My son was pretty good educated already and they had arithmetic so my son made it and the teacher couldn’t make it so the teacher says, “yours must be right.”

PG: So your son knew more than the teacher in arithmetic.

EB: I guess so.

PG: Where did the teachers board?

EB: We had quite a few of them that stayed at our house.

PG: Did you have men teachers or women mostly?

EB: Just that one man that I know, Haspert.

PG: Where did the teachers come from?

EB: I think they lived in town here.

PG: I mean were they Germans or were they English?

EB: I guess they were English.

PG: Did you go to church a lot?

EB: Sundays we went to church.

PG: Did you have church at home?

EB: No, the neighbors I guess; they used to go together.

PG: Did you pray at home when you were little?

EB: Sure, we always prayed before we ate and had our night prayers.

PG: When you went to church when you were little, was it church in German?

EB: Latin, I guess.

PG: The Mass would be in Latin and the sermon would be in German?

EB: Yah.

PG: When the church switched to English, was that hard on you or did you like that?

EB: Of course we liked it, but I guess my parents I don’t know, they never said nothing. My parents probably weren’t alive no more when it went into English.

PG: Do you remember when Father Gregory preached in German?

EB: Yes.

PG: Could you understand him when he preached in German?

EB: Oh yah.

PG: When somebody died in your family where did you have the body? In the funeral home or…

EB: They usually had it in the house I think. I know (A239) had their child in the house. I don’t think that they had it in the funeral home. Then I guess they took them to church after a couple of days or so.

PG: Do you still have any old things that your parents brought from Russia? Dishes or blankets…

EB: No, I don’t think so. She had a set of (A246 blue) dishes, but if she got them from Russia I don’t know.

PG: You don’t know where those dishes are now, huh?

EB: No, I know my daughter had some her grandma gave her; she’s in Alabama now.

PG: How did you celebrate Christmas when you were little?

EB: Well, Krish Kindle.

PG: The Krish Kindle came.

EB: Then the Belzenickel came with a fur coat on and come with a chain.

PG: What did the Belzenickel do with the chain?

EB: Well he scared the kids. (laughter)

PG: Scared them good. Did he come into the house too?

EB: Oh yah, oh yah. Kids got scared. Fur coat on and had a chain and [said] “Kids are you good?”

PG: Now when you were married and you had children, did you have the Belzenickel too?

EB: No. (laughter)

PG: What do you think of that Belzenickel? Was that a good thing or was that bad?

EB: It scared the kids too much I think.

PG: That was not too good huh.

EB: No, I don’t think so.

PG: What about the Krish Kindle?

EB: He come with a white sheet or something like that.

PG: What did the Krish Kindle bring you?

EB: A few nuts and a few candy; maybe an apple and an orange.

PG: Did you get any gifts when you were little?

EB: I guess they had a doll in a shoe box… (tape scratchy)

PG: You hung the doll on the wall. That was so nice?

EB: Why sure it was nice. It would break if you didn’t take care of it.

PG: So you didn’t even play with it?

EB: No, just look at it.

PG: So, you did not get many gifts when you were little.

EB: Beads for around [the neck] and the chain broke and the beads were gone.

PG: What did the boys get from the Krish Kindle?

EB: Maybe shoes or stockings.

PG: How did you celebrate Easter when you were young?

EB: Well they’d bake. They ate a lot of good food; maybe potato salad, and a ham, and doughnuts (A286 German - Shnaboil )

PG: (Shnaboil) – snowballs. Did you have Easter eggs?

EB: Oh, yah. They made the color with onion peels.

PG: Did they have other colors too or only the onion peel?

EB: No they didn’t.

PG: You don’t get nice colors from the onion peel do you?

EB: No just kind of yellow. Then the kids have a nest to put the eggs in, probably got some candy.

PG: The kids made a nest?

EB: Yah, oh yah, where the Easter rabbit would come.

PG: When you were married what kind of a wedding did you have?

EB: Just in a house out by the farm because his brothers died that year of the flu; they didn’t want no dance or anything; of course they didn’t have no room to dance. That was the house where Paul Baer lived.

PG: Oh, that was the old stone house?

EB: Yah.

PG: You came to Richardton to church. How did you drive to church?

EB: We had an old Ford.

PG: Then you went home to your mother’s place?

EB: Yah. My husband bought that place from my folks.

PG: Then you lived in that stone house all your life.

EB: I guess I was about six years old when they built the house. I don’t remember so much about it, but I know that they built it.

PG: Is that house still standing?

EB: Yes, that’s still standing.

PG: Did you like that stone house?

EB: Oh, yah. It was a big house; had an upstairs and a basement.

PG: Was it warm or was it cold?

EB: It was cold. In the summertime it was cool.

PG: Did you have a furnace in the basement.

EB: I can’t remember what they used to heat it with. I guess they just heated it with some kind of stove.

PG: You just had a stove in the middle of the room, I think.

EB: Yah, dining room.

PG: What did you burn in the stove?

EB: Coal.

PG: When you got married you did not have a three day wedding, huh?

EB: No, we didn’t.

PG: You said your husband lived at Halliday before he was married.

EB: About a half a mile west of the big flat.

PG: Which church did they go too?

EB: St. Martin’s.

PG: So, are his parents, the Baer grandparents, are they buried at St. Martin’s?

EB: My husband’s parents are buried down there and three brothers who died of the flu.

PG: Oh, three brothers died of the flu?

EB: In three days.

PG: Oh my, that was bad. Do you know how old they were already when they died?

EB: They were all pretty well grown up; one was married, Paul Baer; then was Nick and Tom.

PG: They’re buried at St. Martin’s.

EB: Yah.

PG: When you got married did you have a bridesmaid?

EB: Oh, yah. It was my sister and his sister were two bridesmaids.

PG: What was your sister’s name?

EB: Anna. She married Ray Brown.

PG: and his sister?

EB: She married Carl Heindert. They’re all gone already.

PG: What about the best man?

EB: We didn’t have a best man. No, we just had two bridesmaids. It was just a plain wedding.

PG: What kind of food did you have at the wedding?

EB: We had chicken noodle soup and his mother was blind already so we took some soup out to her on our wedding day.

PG: She couldn’t come to the wedding?

EB: No, she didn’t come to the wedding.

PG: Besides the chicken noodle soup what did you have?

EB: I guess potato salad.

PG: Did you eat chicken too?

EB: I’m sure they had chicken to make the soup.

PG: Did you have a wedding cake?

EB: No.

PG: That was not the style, huh.

EB: No, not there yet.

PG: How about Schnapps? Did you have Hokseit Schnapps?

EB: I guess they must have. I don’t remember.

PG: What kind of a dress did you have?

EB: A white one, silk.

PG: Have you still got it?

EB: No, I had it for a long time then I dyed it at made night gowns for the little kids.

PG: How did you dye that?

EB: We got dye.

PG: Oh, you could buy it.

EB: Yes.

PG: What color did you make that?

EB: Light blue.

PG: That was a nice color. If your husband lived out by Dodge, how did you ever find him?

EB: Well, it was (Kouplad). My mother was a Forester and his sister married a Forester, so it was my
uncle and aunt. (laughter) Well they thought I could work good so I guess they needed someone to work and take care of his mother.

PG: So, how long did you know him before you got married?

EB: From July to October. I knew him before, I just seen him, but we never...

PG: Was that long enough?

EB: Must have been. (laughter) It worked.

PG: Well then after you were married where did you live?

EB: We lived by his folks in the house for a few months I guess and then they moved a little house there that had a kitchen and a front room and a bedroom. That’s where we lived for a couple of years; out by Halliday.

PG: Then your husband bought your dad’s farm and you moved there?

EB: Yah, that was a couple years after [we were married].

PG: Did your dad give you something when you got married? Did you get cows from your dad?

EB: Yah, two horses, two cows, table, bed, chairs, washboard.

PG: But you got two horses too?

EB: Two horses and two cows.

PG: Usually the men get the horses.

EB: I guess I worked enough there so they gave me some. Two black horses.

PG: What was there names?

EB: One was Kate, the other one I don’t know; they were two female horses.

PG: What kind of German food did you eat?

EB: (A462 rivel milik) soup.

PG: I don’t even know what that is.

EB: That is milk soup with rivels in there. I just made them by hand.

PG: Did you make Borscht?

EB: Oh, yah; put in meat and cabbage and beans and carrots and potatoes and tomatoes, and a little cream.

PG: Did you make Halupsi? –cabbage with rice in it.

EB: Well, we made raisin and rice and you put it in a casserole and put some sugar, salt, water, and butter on and put it in the oven.

PG: Did you make Blachenda?

EB: Not too often. I did, but not my mother.

PG: Did you bake Kuchen?

EB: Yah, my mother made sugar Kuchen.

PG: Did you have music in your family?

EB: No, they didn’t have no music. Well I think mouth organ.

PG: Did you sing at home?

EB: Well when we milked the cows my sister sang when we had them in the barn.

PG: Can you still sing? Do you know the names of any songs that you sang?

EB: No.

PG: Did you dance?

EB: Once in a while, not too much.

PG: Did your parents dance?

EB: No, they couldn’t dance.

PG: Did you play any games at home?

EB: We ate a lot of sunflowers (laughter); played checkerboards.

PG: What kind of games did you play in school?

EB: Andy-Andy-Over.

PG: Over what?

EB: The schoolhouse.

PG: Did you break the windows too in the school?

EB: No, I don’t think so.

PG: Did you play cards at home?

EB: Yah, Old Maid and something else, but I don’t know what that was anymore.

PG: What did you do if somebody got sick at home?

EB: They had (A539 German gumbascmere) and (linament); steamed them.

PG: Were you able to go to the doctor when you were young? Was there a doctor?

EB: No.

PG: What did you do if you stepped into a nail?

EB: Soak it in water.

PG: Did you have Brauche? Do you know what Brauche is?
EB: No.
PG: When a lady would pray over you and put her hands on you.
EB: No.
(End of interview)

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