|Interview with John Miller
Conducted by Robert L. Carlson (RC)
Golden Valley, Mercer County, North Dakota
21 November 1975
Transcription by Joy Hass Stefan
Edited and Proofread by Linda M. Haag
RC: This is Robert Carlson. The following is an interview
I recorded with Mr. John Miller at his home in Golden
Valley, North Dakota, on November 21st, 1975, beginning
at about 2:00 p.m.
JM: [? 022]
RC: Mostly German.
JM: Yes, it was all German. Oh, later on they came
from Deutschland. It always was all German.
RC: When did you come here, John?
JM: In 1903.
RC: Oh. Did you come over from Germany?
JM: No, from Russia.
RC: From South Russia?
JM: From South Russia, yes. From Krim.
RC: From Krim?
RC: Was that a dorf?
JM: No, it’s a, oh, how do you call it…
RC: Oh, like a province or a village?
JM: Yes. There were villages in there. It was on
the Black Sea. I have a map.
RC: Oh. Here’s the Black Sea, right?
JM: Yes. That’s the Black Sea.
RC: Here are the streets. [? 042 – German phrase?]
Why did you leave Russia and decide to come to the
United States? Or your parents, I suppose, did.
JM: Yes. And see, the land was high priced at that
time in Russia. And here you get a lot. There was
good people [? 049] So without land you can do nothing.
It was awful cheap, you know it was worth it. And
here too, at first. The first year I got around 10,000
RC: Working for a farmer?
JM: Yes. But the next year it was really good. The
price came up.
RC: How old were you when your dad and mother and
you came over here, John?
RC: Oh. What did you think of this country when you
first saw it?
JM: Well, I liked it.
RC: Oh you did, huh? Never wanted to go back, huh?
JM: No. It is a nice country, especially around here.
[? 065] That’s a big city, [? 070]. The people
only had 10 miles to the river up here. But all the
wheat was all up here. You got a better price.
RC: Because that was a seaport?
JM: Yes. [? 076…]
RC: How did you get along with the Russian people
JM: Oh, the Russians, they were good people.
RC: The Germans and the Russians got along okay then.
JM: Oh yes. There were not many Russians there. There
were some others… Bohemian. There was about
17 miles of that. [? 086]. There was a Bohemian. And
there were two kinds of Bohemians – There was
[? 088] and Bohemian. The [? 089] they speak German.
It was a big village.
RC: Did you learn how to speak Russian too?
JM: Oh yes. I was good. I could speak Russian good.
[other person]: He still has his reader.
RC: Oh, is that right? You must be what, now, close
[other person]: 89 he was in September.
RC: Boy, he doesn’t look it!
[other person]: He still reads without glasses.
RC: Is that right? That’s tiny print.
[other person]: I can’t read it with my glasses.
JM: See, that’s a picture of our school.
RC: In Russia?
JM: In Russia, yes.
RC: Oh yes. That’s an old picture.
[other person]: This is a [? 108].
JM: Yes, yes.
RC: Oh. Yes, you’ve changed a little bit. [laughter]
JM: Yes, I was… that was in ’98, and
86… [? 113] And that’s how the people
make their living, you know. They cut the flax.
RC: Oh, by hand.
JM: Yes. They made their clothes. See here, it shows
how they make the dresses.
RC: Yes. That’s an old book.
JM: Yes. And here it shows them making some material.
RC: Oh yes. That’s a loom, I suppose. [sounds
of turning pages]
JM: Yes, it says it was 1901. That’s a history
book. They built from stone. It was soapstone. It
came in blocks, like brick.
RC: Do you remember coming over here on the ship?
RC: What was that like? Were you in a cabin by yourself
with your family, or were you in a big room with lots
JM: No, we were in a big room. That was a freight
JM: They took some freight on here too.
RC: Was that a pretty hard passage? I talked to a
woman in Richardton who came over about the same time
you did and she said they didn’t get enough
JM: No, we had plenty to eat.
RC: Oh? Could you keep it down?
JM: There was a German ship. It was [? 154]. See
that’s how they saw the Kaiser… it was
Catherine. She sought to take the people in.
RC: To invite the Germans in, yes.
JM: There were all kinds of people who came in.
RC: There were quite a few Turkish people there too…
JM: Yes. There were people from Turkey. Oh, they
had a piece of land with cotton and a few sheep. [?
170…]. They picked wheat, so in that village
there was a lot of good wheat. This was the last Kaiser.
RC: Oh yes. Alexander? John, did you know any people
who left Russia because they might get drafted into
JM: Oh yes. Yes. There was a lot of that.
[other person]: Your uncle was in it, wasn’t
JM: Yes, yes. He left in ’89. He was drafted.
He was the second one. They left the oldest. They
took the second one.
RC: The oldest they’d leave to farm, huh?
RC: Oh, I didn’t know that. Did the Russian
officials pick on the Germans at all, ever? I mean
the Russian government people.
JM: No. There were a lot of big farms and they had
all the Russians to work, but they came from up north.
And they had [? 203] so they can make a little profit
there in the spring. Then when everything was done,
[? 207] and some of them they stayed the winter. [?
210…] Most they went back again, they had to
go back again. They hired them for three months.
RC: For thrashing and stuff, I suppose.
RC: Did your dad know anybody over here before they
RC: Had he been writing back and forth?
JM: Yes. There was… his brother was here. And
[? 221] too. But he was dead already.
RC: What was your dad’s name? I should ask
RC: Where was your homestead from?
RC: Or where did your dad homestead?
JM: His homestead was in Minot.
[other person]: The people across the street here
in that corner house, they all had land [? 231]
JM: I was 9 miles NE of Minot.
RC: When you turned 21, then you got your own homestead.
JM: Yes. That was in ’07. Late in ’07....September,
I think. [? 240…]. He went away to Canada, so…
RC: You contested it. Were there many people living
around here when your dad and you and your mother
first came here in 1903?
RC: Not many other homesteaders then.
JM: Only ranchers.
RC: Were there some pretty big ranches here then?
JM: Oh yes. Yes, there was one close to my homestead.
RC: Who was that?
JM: That was Arnett. And Notke [? 256] was his manager,
you know. [? 259..] the ewes, and cows to milk. He
had a section or two sections or something like that.
RC: Way back that early, in 1907?
JM: That was before the fence. In 1907 they’d
left. They left in ’05.
RC: Oh, the rancher did.
JM: Yes. See, that’s starting when people came.
[other person]: Before that they used all the Government
land for nothing.
JM: Yes. I bought 3 quarters from that rancher. He
sold some of it to McHayden, and he made them cut
[other person]: Springs.
[other person]: So they homesteaded 40 acres at a
time over there with a spring on it.
JM: So the ranchers wanted to sell a spring to us.
[other person]: They owned the water.
RC: How did the ranchers like it when the homesteaders
started to come in here?
JM: I don’t know. I never see them. He didn’t
RC: No. He just came in the summer.
JM: He mostly came in the summer.
[other person]: It was a long way from Texas up here.
I remember [? 293] telling that. See [? Same person]
had the home place for that ranch. I remember that
was way back there, before I went in the service.
He was our neighbor.
JM: Dad worked for that rancher that summer when
we came over here. He paid a good price, $30 a month.
For two months he cut hay. He had a lot of people
in a small time to make hay.
[other person]: Did he have a contract with the army
for horses? That Arnett – did the army buy horses
from him when they had soldiers at [? 310] ? I thought
somebody told me that. [? 313].
JM: [? 314…] Oh yes, they raised a lot of horses
[other person]: You used to hear the stories and
then you forget them.
JM: And the horses were selling at a good price then.
RC: I suppose there were lots of homesteaders who
JM: Yes. I think there must have been 400 or 500
RC: Now would that be for just a team of ordinary
broncos, or would that be for Percherons, or something
[other person]: They didn’t have Percherons
at that time.
RC: They didn’t, huh?
[other person]: They were mostly… oh they had
some breed horses, but not too many. They were all
crosses. In the east they probably had thoroughbreds,
you know in the eastern states. But out here they
JM: That was one of the biggest ranches out here.
There were a lot more small ranches. But that was
a big ranch. There were a lot of cattle.
RC: But he quit two years after your dad came here?
He didn’t come back. Arnett, his ranch, he quit
ranching here in 1905.
JM: Yes. He quit then. He saw them preparing to homestead
here, and he quit.
RC: What kind of a house did your dad build on the
JM: From rocks.
RC: He did, huh?
[other person]: It was sandstone. The house is still
sitting out there.
RC: It is?
[other person]: Yes. It’s covered with siding
that was put on it, but it’s still there.
RC: That’s one thing that people don’t
know how to do anymore at all, I don’t think.
JM: Yes, but most houses were from sod.
RC: From sod strips, or from mud bricks?
JM: No, sod strips. Oh, there were some from brick
too, but not very many. Most were from sod strips.
After we were here, they built some of them, but not
much. But when we came most houses were sod strips.
[other person]: There was no lumber around.
JM: Other ones were [? 372…]
RC: Are you talking about lumber? Timber, from the
RC: But that was quite a ways away.
[other person]: The river isn’t too far from
RC: Oh, I guess maybe it isn’t.
[other person]: About 12 or 14 miles.
RC: That’s still a pretty good haul, though,
I suppose, to get enough logs for a house.
[other person]: Well, I don’t know. Where he
lived out on the farm, the first years when he seeded,
he hauled the wheat to Hebron.
RC: Gee, that must be 50 miles. Or 40 anyway.
[other person]: From out at the farm, that’s
a good… see, it’s 35 miles to Hebron from
here, and it’s 18 miles from the farm into town.
RC: Did it take him two days to get to Hebron then,
with a load of grain?
JM: We made it in one day to Hebron the next day.
RC: You must have had a good team then.
JM: Well, we started out in the morning about 5 o’clock.
[other person]: Get out to the [? 395] River by noon.
RC: I’m sure you had to fjord the river then
too, didn’t you?
JM: There was an elevator then, at the river, too,
at Manhaven. At Expansion and…
[other person]: Manhaven. But this was at Walcott.
RC: That one I haven’t heard of.
[other person]: The stray dogs there… you know
where the old [? 407] bridge used to be?
[other person]: It was just right down there in that
RC: Oh, it was on the reservation.
[other person]: Yes.
RC: The Wolcott elevator?
[other person]: Yes.
RC: And they had a chute going down to the boats
then? Or did they just load sacks?
JM: No, it came from the elevator in a chute down
to the boat.
[other person]: That was before my time.
JM: At Wolcott that was only there for three years.
They built it in ’09, and they took the wheat
seed and [? 423]. It was an awful rough road too,
RC: Oh, I suppose, up and down hills.
JM: There were big hills.
JM: [? 428…] Still it was a rough road to build.
It was always rough, to Hebron too, it was rough.
RC: So, until 1909, Hebron was the closest elevator,
huh? Was there any town or any store close by where
you could buy salt or sugar, or things like that?
JM: Yes, there was one in Defiance. There was a Jew.
RC: Now where was this?
[other person]: Defiance. Defiance, North Dakota.
RC: Where was that?
JM: Straight up.
RC: On the river?
[other person]: No.
JM: Pick up stuff in Hebron.
RC: Who ran that store there? You said he was a Jew.
JM: Yes, he was a Jew. Nacht, they called him, Father
RC: Father Night?
[other person}: Yes.
JM: Oh, he’d give you good pieces.
[other person]: Yes, there’s a little post
office like that… a little store at Zapiah that’s
just a post office.
JM: Yes, there was one at Zapiah.
RC: Now what was that?
[other person]: Zapiah.
RC: I’ve never heard of that.
[other person]: It’s straight north of here.
Then there’s another one southwest of here.
JM: There was a farmer east… [? 477] was his
RC: And he had a little store in his farmhouse, you
mean, or a post office?
JM: No, he had no store.
RC: Just a post office?
JM: Yes, just a post office. In Defiance they had
a little store. Then in Halliday there was a little
RC: In where?
RC: Oh, in Halliday, yes. You mean there was a store
there before the railroad got there?
[other person]: Yes. Yes.
RC: Oh there was.
[other person]: In Golden Valley too… there
was Old Golden Valley out here.
JM: There was [? 492…].
RC: Did your dad have some machinery when he started?
JM: Yes, he bought it. The first two years we worked
out, we had no water too.
RC: Oh, so he worked, you worked for other people?
JM: Yes. Oh, on the threshing machine I worked five
years. I worked in [? 508] in ’05 and ’06
and ’07. Eight.
RC: Were you a bundle hauler, or a spike pitcher,
JM: Well, at that time they stack…. They stacked
RC: They stacked instead of hauling from the field,
the shocks, yes.
JM: Yes. Later on they threshed the shocks, but at
first they stacked the bundles.
RC: Was that a steam threshing rig, then? Or was
it a horse-powered?
JM: At that time when we came there was all horse-powered.
It was in 1903 there was the first, in Mercer County,
the steam. It was when Abe… but the rest of
us it was all horse-drawn.
RC: How many horses did they have on the one you
JM: Yes. And in Russia there was horse-drawn machines
too. They had only eight. They brought that machine
with the belt… [? 543…].
[other person]: They had a shaft instead of a tumbling
rod. That would be with the universal… see the
horse power, and then your gear box, and then the
shaft that was like a power take off from the gear
box to the machine. Of course they could do more power
than a belt.
RC: And the horse would have to step over that shaft
JM: Yes. Over that. And in Russia there was like
RC: Well a 14-horse horse-power must have been must
have been about the biggest one they made then, wasn’t
JM: Yes. Then there was… I didn’t see
any smaller ones.
RC: I’ve heard people…
JM: Well, there was a smaller one for grinding feed
and stuff like that, but in threshing there was always
the big ones.
JM: [? 569].
RC: Yes. And cut the twine first, I suppose. Were
any people still seeding by hand when you got here,
or when your dad started?
JM: We seeded first by hand.
RC: You had to be pretty good to be able to do that,
didn’t you? To get a good crop, I mean. You
had to know…
RC: Somebody told me they used to mix dirt with the
seed when they’d seed by hand so they could
throw evenly and not throw too much.
JM: I don’t know; I never did that.
RC: You never did that.
JM: Yes, he did that with the seed. He was used to
[other person]: [? 591…].
JM: At that time when we came they had some [? 598]
already. But some of them couldn’t buy [? 600].
In Russia it was the same way. There was a lot of
people, they had seeding [? 606]. The smaller farmers
seeded by hand.
RC: How much did your dad break up the first year?
JM: We rented some land the first two years. [? 615…].
Then after that, [? 620…]. We had only one team.
The horses were so high priced.
RC: Let’s see… what was I going to ask
you? You got your own homestead in 1907. Do you remember
what years were good years and what years were bad
years from 1907 up to…
JM: Well, I started in ’08, and it was not
so good. It was dry that year. [? 638…] and
break up the land to 24 acres, the main homestead.
We tried to break up more. Then in ’09, that
was a good wheat year for us… a real good year.
In ’09 I put in 24 acres of wheat and 50 acres
I break up in flax. [? 660].
RC: Really? You got rich!
JM: And flax, about 18.
RC: Really? Man!
JM: In ’09, it was a very good year. But [?
666] at that time. It was not very good. It was about
60-cents, 65. All the flax was really good. It was
up to $2.50.
RC: 60-cents probably bought as much then as $5 does
JM: Yes. I bought horses for a team. In the spring
I paid $300 for a team. They built the granary then.
RC: How were ’10 and ’11?
JM: ’10 was, well, ’10 was not much.
And in ’11 there was nothing. It was an awfully
dry year. And ’12 was a good year. ’13
was good and ’14 was good. ’15 was good,
and ’16. But in ’16 there were grasshoppers.
There was a good stand of wheat, and there was nothing
left. But the flax was good in ’16. In ’16
I had [? 719…], so I didn’t cut any of
RC: I suppose prices got better then in ’15
and ’16 and ’17.
JM: Well, the flax was $2. The wheat…
[742 – end of taping on this side. Begin Side
RC: Go ahead.
JM: There was in ’11 and ’12, two years
I just [? 005…018]. There was a rancher who
had some sheep. I went out and got some sheep –
I don’t remember how many. And I made a little
RC: You started in the sheep business, huh?
JM: Yes. Butchering.
RC: Yes. That’s kind of tricky to do, isn’t
it? They say, anyway, that you’ve got to know
how to butcher sheep; you can’t just…
JM: My dad, he butchered in the old country. [?125…].
RC: Was there any big steam plowing rigs that people
were using here? A steam engine to pull twelve bottoms
or 10 bottoms?
JM: Yes, later on. There was… [? 032].
RC: He owned it?
JM: Yes. He had a big steam-run…
RC: How did that work if they hit a rock? That’s
what I always wondered, because they didn’t
have a break-away hitch like they had later.
RC: Did it break off a bottom?
[other person]: No, no. Those bottoms were all individual.
I remember that yet. [? 040] had one of those big
[? 041]. Oh, I was maybe about 10 or 12 years old,
and the folks would visit. They were in a big frame,
those bottoms, the beams were attached to one end
of it and each bottom had to be, when they lifted
it up, each one had a lever on it, you see, so they
were not solid. That helped absorb some of the shock.
RC: Of course they didn’t go six miles an hour
[other person]: They went six miles a day. [laughter]
JM: Yes, they’d go slowly.
RC: Do you remember the flu epidemic in 1918?
RC: Was that pretty bad around here?
JM: Oh yes, there was a man in my neighborhood who
died. [? 055…067].
RC: Was there a doctor here then that you could get
JM: Yes, there was a doctor in town.
RC: What was the doctor’s name, do you remember?
[other person]: Oh, that was Doc White. I don’t
know, maybe there was a doctor before him, but he’s
the one that I remember.
JM: Yes, there was one before, but I forgot the names.
[other person]: Was it Gabee?
[other person]: And Doc Graul.
RC: Did your mother, or did any of the older women
from the old country have some home cures for fevers
or colds, or things like that too? Do you know what
I mean, like a…
JM: Yes. My mother, she was… when people got
sick, she got all kinds of oil.
[other person]: Medicines.
JM: Sometimes they came at night. There was no doctor
at that time. The doctor [? 088] about 1914 or 1915
that he was in those towns.
RC: Was your mother a midwife too, then?
JM: Yes. She was.
RC: Women didn’t go to a hospital then, huh?
[other person]: Those were quite different days.
RC: Yes, but maybe they should do it again. I just
read a story in the paper that out in California they
did an experiment, and women who had kids at home
with a midwife had fewer problems than those who went
to the hospitals. When did you get married, John?
JM: I got married in 1910. February 22nd.
RC: You were all established on your homestead by
then. I suppose you were a pretty good catch after
your big crop, huh? [laughter]
JM: Yes. Yes, it was a cold day when I got married.
Snowing, wind blowing… But after that we were
kept warm. We had [? 111] and that was the best thing…
kept warm. [? 113…117].
RC: Say, that reminds me, I wanted to ask you….
JM: But afterward, it was a dry year. We had a lot
of snow in the winter, but in the spring we had some
rain, but not much.
RC: Do you remember any bad prairie fires?
JM: Oh yes.
RC: Was that quite a problem here?
JM: It was in the first years, yes. We’d go
out and, well the most fires were on the reservation.
And then they bring all this to watch, so then all
the neighbors around would go and the farmers would
go and burn stuff, you can set fires. Sometimes it
was about nighttime. Yes, those first years there
was a danger of fire. But later on [? 136].
RC: You say a lot of them started on the reservation,
huh, a lot of the fires?
JM: Yes. Most of the fires would start on the reservation
with the Indians.
RC: How did you get along with the Indians in those
days? How did the White man and the Indians get along?
JM: Oh, okay, I guess.
RC: No trouble, huh?
JM: No trouble.
RC: What did people do for fun there, just for entertainment,
back, well, about the time you got married, let’s
say, in 1910 when there wasn’t any radio or
JM: Well, there was, in the evening, reading stories
and stuff like that.
RC: How about dances or baseball games?
JM: Later on, they started the ball games. Yes, there
were quite a few ball games.
[other person]: When I was young, we had a lot of
teams, back in the ‘30s. Every four or five
miles, wherever there were nine boys, there was a
RC: Did Halliday have a team?
[other person]: Yes. We played Halliday, Dodge, Gold
Valley, and we played Werner. And we beat them quite
often, too. Then there was, straight north of here,
there was a couple of teams, north of Dodge, north
of Halliday and north of Werner a couple of them.
That’s the way it went going south too. We didn’t
play anybody from the south. It was too much traveling.
JM: Yes, there were a lot of teams at that time for
RC: Were things like 4th of July celebrations pretty
big things too, or rodeos, or anything like that?
[other person]: There were a lot of 4th of July celebrations
out on the farms. Like Weisenbergers, they had them
for many, many years. John Weisenberger. And Herb
RC: How about blind pigs… were there any blind
pigs in Halliday or Werner or…
[other person]: The saloon.
JM: Oh. Well, there was a blind pigs in Hazen and
Krim. But not around here.
RC: Well, the German people are supposed to like
their beer pretty well. Did some make their own, because
it was illegal to…
JM: Yes. Oh, you could send for beer.
RC: Oh you could?
JM: Yes. It was cheap. Only you couldn’t sell
it. But you could send for it. There was [? 188…]
I sent for some beer too, and whiskey and alcohol.
There was alcohol… it was real cheap back then.
For $3 a gallon you could get alcohol, the best alcohol.
You could send for it, and it really was cheap at
RC: But you weren’t supposed to sell it.
[other person]: So that’s where the blind pig
deal came from.
JM: In Hazen there was two or three.
[other person]: Did you shop in the blind pig in
RC: I’ve never stopped in there. I’ve
driven by there. It’s got kind of an interesting
JM: And later on, when the dry came up, you couldn’t.
[other person]: In 1918? Oh, prohibition.
JM: No, I think it was in 1916. Then you couldn’t
sell any alcohol. Then they started to make it, alcohol,
you know. There was a lot of that. Some of them, they’d
RC: Well the sheriff never got too tough with anybody,
did he? People he knew?
[other person]: Some, like Adolf Horth, he had to
go to jail. He was down at Fargo for about three months.
RC: Really? Just for making…
[other person]: Selling moonshine. Of course, he
had a big family and that’s the only money he
RC: Yes, I suppose.
JM: There was, not very far from here… Olstrom…
[other person]: Charlie Olstrom, yes.
JM: He made good – he was one who perfected
RC: Oh, so he knew how to do it.
JM: Yes. He made real good stuff. He sold to Halliday.
[other person]: They used to supply Bismarck to this
little [? 230] and they’d get it.
RC: He must have had a good reputation. He should
have opened a brewery, or a distillery when it got
legal, and market it.
[other person]: It was legal for him all the time.
JM: And sometimes he’d hide something else.
RC: Let me ask you about politics for a few minutes.
Was this country pretty strong for the Non-Partisan
League or for Townly or Lempke, or any of those fellows?
[other person]: I don’t think he cared about…
he was not a politician.
RC: Wasn’t much of a politician, huh? You probably
[other person]: I never heard him say too much.
JM: There was a lot of talk at that time too, about
politics. [? 251…]
RC: Kind of like entertainment to hear some politician
speak, I suppose.
[other person]: They used to come out once in awhile.
One thing I remember yet, which was quite an event
for about 3 or 4 days when a Chicagoan would come.
That was something.
RC: In Halliday?
[other person]: Yes.
RC: For 3 or 4 days?
[other person]: Yes. They were usually for 3 days.
They set up in different towns, you know… the
performers and the speaker that was here today would
be in the next town the next day.
RC: Oh, so everybody would keep moving, but you’d
get a different…
[other person]: Yes.
RC: Act then.
[other person]: Different act, yes. Put up tents…
that’s something the younger people have all
missed. Those were good events.
RC: What kind of things would they have, like plays
[other person]: Well, they had singing, and they
usually had a speaker or two. Very articulate speakers.
They spoke about current events and stuff like that.
RC: How did this country make it through the 1930s,
or people who lived here? Was it pretty tough to make
a living here in the 1930s?
JM: Oh no, not too bad. [? 278]
RC: Did many people leave during the Depression in
the 1930s? I mean, just give up their farms or give
up their business and leave?
JM: Yes. So many would lose their homes, the land
I mean. It was a lot. Well, there were a lot of farmers
at that time that left the farm.
RC: Did Halliday have a bank then? I suppose Halliday
had a bank at one time.
JM: Yes. Two.
RC: Two banks?
JM: Yes. And Golden Valley had three.
RC: Is that right?
JM: Yes. But they all closed.
RC: Did they all go broke during the 1930s, or was
it before then even?
JM: I think it was before then.
[other person]: It was in the 1920s mostly then,
RC: Did people lose much money in them then?
JM: Yes, some of them. [? 299…] There wasn’t
much money… there was about $200 or $300. [?
305…] The trouble was that the credit was too
big and the interest was high at that time. 12 % interest.
They couldn’t collect anything, so the bank
RC: Did they take a discount then too? If you borrowed
$100, would they only give you $90, and then they’d
keep the $10 plus charge you interest? Do you know
what I mean? A discount or something?
JM: Yes. There was an auction always at that time.
Then you could keep that, but if you sold that to
the bank, then the bank would get 10%. [? 324…]
RC: Did you have a telephone system out of Halliday
on the farms?
RC: In the early days?
JM: In 1906 and in 1908.
RC: Is that right? That’s going back there
quite a ways.
RC: Who ran that? Was it a company, or farmers who
[other person]: The farmers got together. I don’t
know how it originally started, but later on we organized,
and that’s how I know what it is. We repaired
our own line then. We had our own little telephone
deal. Then, of course, when we organized we were also
liable for taxes, so we had to pay some taxes. I don’t
remember what we charged a year. Then in Halliday,
that’s where the central was at, and I guess
he charged a dollar a month to subscribe to central
RC: Oh. For the switchboard.
[other person]: The switchboard.
JM: Halliday had that [? 345] set up. Not all of
them, but all of [? 346]
[other person]: Yes, one of the reasons [? 346] That
didn’t last very long. Nobody wanted to go out
and repair it. See our system was quite long. On the
east end was myself and my uncle Chris Mueller, and
then there was [? 353] and a bunch, Goetz. Twice a
year we’d get together for a day and we’d
fix up those lines. If a pole broke, we’d reset
it and splice the wire, put new insulators on.
JM: See, at that time, lightening did so much damage.
[other person]: Our ring used to be two short and
one long. We had code rings.
RC: And one long ring for general or something like
[other person]: A long ring… that was central.
RC: Well, just let me ask you one, maybe two more
things. You are almost 90 years old now. Do you think
people have changed any over the years in the way
they think or act? Sometimes people say they think
people used to be more neighborly than they are now.
Do you think that’s true, as far as helping
out your neighbors? That’s kind of a fuzzy question
[other person]: Well, I don’t know, as far
back as I can remember, you always had those people
that, always have had, they expect help all the time,
but they very seldom help back. And that goes way
back. I’m 65 years old so I remember.
RC: Oh, you are?
[other person]: Yes. I will be in January.
RC: You guys are such a young looking pair, here.
[other person]: I’m not in very good shape
now. I had a stroke this summer.
RC: Oh you did?
[other person]: Yes. I couldn’t walk for a
couple of months. My hand I couldn’t use. So
that’s about… I don’t think it’s
changed too much as far as… you don’t
get the changes in these small communities like you
do other places.
RC: No, probably not.
[other person]: It isn’t quite so much dog
eat dog or, how can I put one across on them.
RC: And you still know your neighbors here too.
[other person]: Yes.
RC: Well, I think that’s about what I had in
mind. Is there anything we didn’t talk about
that we should have?
[other person]: No, I guess we’ve talked about
RC: I’d like to take your picture.
[400 – end of Side B taping session]