Home History Culture Oral History Transcribed Interviews

 

Interview with Andrew Johs

Conducted by Dr. Homer Rudolf
17 July 2000, Napoleon, North Dakota

Transcription by Jayne Whiteford
Editing By Mary Lynn Axtman


HR: This is in Napoleon, North Dakota, on July 17th, 2000. And he has already been interview by his son Leo, recently and so there is more information on that. So Mr. Johs, tell me about, was your family or your parents involved in music, were they musicians?

AJ: No, not my family.

HR: Really?

AJ: Not mine, my family not then.

HR: But you and your brother?

AJ: I am, no I don't think my brothers are, were involved.

HR: Well now, the brothers that sing on here, Andrew, Mary, John, Carl J. George and Mary Weigel. John W. Wangler, played the organ.

AJ: Oh, Joe, my son, he sings in the choir, yeah.

Leo: He lives in Bismarck.

AJ: He lives in Bismarck.

HR: So is that your brother?

AJ: That's my son.

HR: Oh that is you?

AJ: Yeah, yeah that's

HR: Oh, okay so your, that is why I am trying to figure who some of these people were on all these tapes.

AJ: There are three of my sons.

HR: Do you have any other children?

AJ: Huh?

HR: Have you any other children? And children, how many children do you have?

AJ: We had nine.

HR: You had nine children. I was one of eight.

AJ: Seven boys and two girls.

HR: Two girls Oh, that is, I have one of those too, in matter of fact, sort of nice. I interested in the fact that you became so involved in singing but also sang music from the Roman Catholic Church but you also sang Lutheran music.

AJ: 19, yeah

HR: You sang reformed church songs, and then you sang German folk songs and then you sang American songs, so I am sort of curious how you got involved in all of that.

AJ: Yeah well I was in the choir for twenty years in the St. Boniface church.

HR: Here in Napoleon,

AJ: No, out in the country.

HR: Out in the country, about where is that located?

Leo: Twelve miles southwest of Napoleon.

AJ: Seven miles south and five miles west.

HR: That church is no longer there?

AJ: Oh yeah.

Leo: It is still there.

HR: Oh it is.

AJ: That church is still going. Yeah.

HR: So you are saying there are twenty…

AJ: I belonged there fifty-five years.

HR: And so you sang with the choir?

AJ: Sang in the choir, yeah.

HR: How big was the choir?

AJ: Well, there were only about six, five six mostly. Yeah. All men.

HR: And then you had, did you have an organ, a pump organ?

AJ: A pump organ, yeah.

HR: Who played the organ at the church? Who played the organ, do you remember?

AJ: Pius Kuhn 32 and John W. Wangler was first but he died in 59'.

Leo: 69'

HR: So they are the same people, the same ones on these tapes then.

AJ: Yeah.

HR: So they directed the choir too or…

AJ: Yeah they directed the choir. We had choir practice about once a month.

HR: Did you practice in the church?

AJ: In the church, yeah.

HR: My mother said that sometimes in the winter they would practice in people's homes so they wouldn't…

AJ: Yeah, sometimes

HR: Have to heat up the church. And everything you sang was Latin in the church? Services or did you sing some German?

AJ: Well, in 1964 they changed it to English.

HR: But before that it everything was Latin.

AJ: Everything was Latin, yeah. We sang German at that time too.

HR: In the service?

AJ: In the service, yeah.

HR: Did the congregation ever sing?

AJ: No, not that time. But now the congregation sings all the time, too.

HR: Yeah, exactly. So your wife sang too.

AJ: Yeah, she was in the choir too.

HR: Did the choir pick her out because she sang music, was a singer.

AJ: She was a better singer than me they say.

HR: Oh, really?

AJ: That's what my son said. At our sixteenth wedding anniversary, and they said that they knew that, that singing; my ma was a better singer then me.

HR: That wasn't a nice thing to say.

AJ: Well, she was a good soprano singer.

Leo: Did you hear the Joe Wangler play on Friday? In 51.

HR: No, where was I? I missed that because Mike Miller was having a reunion, I went on one of those to the Ukraine and so we were having a get together there.

Leo: Anyway, his dad is the organ player, now, this Wangler father, is the organist at the church now.

HR: At St. Boniface? Oh, is that a good group that Wangler group?

Leo: I haven't heard them but I just that…

AJ: No, that wasn't his 57, it was his uncle.

Joe Johs: Tony Wangler, used to farm 58. His 59

Leo: Tony was up there too when they introduced them. Tony also use to…

AJ: He is the organist now down at St. Michael.

HR: Well, so how did you, since you grew up Roman Catholic, where did you learn the Lutheran hymns? Did you have friends who were Lutheran?

AJ: No well, you know Pete Frank?62

HR: Yeah.

AJ: For two years we went together, I and my wife, Leo Gross, and his wife, and Pete Frank, and his wife, we went together and sang mostly evening about two hours. And Pete was a good singer; he could play a good tune.

HR: So you'd just do that in your homes?

AJ: Huh? Yeah in the homes, sometimes we would be at our place and the at 68 went to their place. So we had, and I always took recorder along and made tape.

HR: Oh, so that is how you got those tapes.

AJ: That is where I got started, I had that in mind when I get old so I have something for past time. And I got about close to two hundred tapes.

HR: Oh really, yeah. So that was in 62' when you started…

AJ: Huh?

HR: Was that in 62' then when you started?

AJ: No, well in 62' he made the tape that time. Then we had Wangler that was in 82', 83' when we were together with Pete Frank.

HR: And so how did you know him?

AJ: Well, I knew him for a long time.

Leo: They sang at the…

AJ: He sang at the, when they had a convention before 79, we sang up there.

Leo: Andy Weigel was in it.

AJ: Andy Weigel, Leo Gross, and Leo Gross was playing the accordion.

HR: The accordion, yeah. But most of the time when you sang you used organ? Or did you…

AJ: Well when we were on the farm we, when we'd play at Pete Frank's place, he had an organ, he'd play the organ then. But other wise Leo Gross had an accordion and played it.

HR: Now did you have an organ in your home?

AJ: Huh?

HR: Did you have an organ in your house?

AJ: Yeah, we had one but I could play a little, not much, but my wife played. We had a pump organ or a court organ here at our place. First, we had an old pump organ, we bought a court organ from Fargo once and we had it for many years.

HR: Now did you wife play by ear too?

AJ: Yeah, she played by ear too.

HR: Yeah, that is just like my mother. And you would then, was Pete Frank Lutheran or was he Reformed? Do you know?

Joe Johs: Lutheran

HR: That is what I thought, yeah.

AJ: He use to go out and 93 some place.

HR: Oh did he.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He was, had a lot more, learn as how to play each singers sing a separate tune, four tunes.

HR: So they sing each in harmony.

AJ: But his wife got sick and then it didn't happen anymore.

HR: Yeah, did you have an organ other than a pipe organ out at the church?

AJ: No, we never had a pipe organ just an organ.

HR: That's, smaller churches like that.

AJ: Huh?

HR: The smaller churches tend to have those, and you never had a piano out there either or something like that.

AJ: No.

HR: Because pump organs are easier to take care of.

Leo: But now I think we got an electric organ.

HR: Yeah, probably. So who are some of these other people, you had Pius Schmidt that was singing.

AJ: Pius Schmidt

Leo: yeah he sang

AJ: And, a

Joe Johs: Brother in law, he is a nephew to you.

AJ: He is a nephew to me.

HR: Is he?

AJ: Yeah. And there was…

HR: Leo Gross, who was he?

AJ: Leo Gross, we're buddies all the time. He lives here in Napoleon.

HR: So did you grow up on the farm all of you or…

AJ: Huh?

HR: Did you all grow up on the farm?

AJ: Yeah, yeah he grew up on the farm. I didn't know him when he was a little boy. He is about 84 years old too.

HR: Was he at your same church, St Boniface?

AJ: Oh, no. He went to St. Anggie church.

HR: And Bertha Kambeitz?

AJ: Huh?

HR: Bertha Kambeitz.

AJ: Bertha Kambeitz.

HR: Kambeitz, yeah.

AJ: Kambeitz, yeah, yeah. She is the sister to Leo Gross.

HR: Oh is she?

AJ: Yeah, she is the sister, she is married to John Kambeitz.

HR: So all these singers are related somehow or other.

AJ: Huh?

HR: All these singers are related somehow.

AJ: Yeah.

HR: Pius Kuhn was one of the…

AJ: He was the leader.

HR: He was the organist after Wangler died.

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

HR: He died three years ago. Most of them are dead now I think.

Leo: He lived in Napoleon and Sundays he would drive out to St. Boniface.

AJ: St. Boniface.

HR: Did he? And was there Alois 119, Gross was he with you?

AJ: Alois Gross, yeah he was brother to Leo Gross. They were good singers. Them Gross's. And then the Weigels? Mr. and Mrs. Weigel Andy Weigel and …

HR: Andy Weigel. Now, they were just friends, too?

AJ: Huh?

HR: They are just friends of yours or…

AJ: Yeah.

HR: Or were they related?

AJ: We were always singing together, like when John Wangler was still living, we went around to sing, in homes, in Strasburg, Wishek, and Napoleon.

HR: So you just got, do you have one certain song, or just sang?

AJ: Yeah, yeah. We went lot of places.

HR: So you sang at…

AJ: It was I and Leo and Alious Gross, Andy Weigel and John W. Wangler. We played at Wishek Hospital.

HR: Yeah, I was going to ask you whether you did places like that too.

Leo: So the nursing home right in town.

AJ: And the nursing homes, we played. Strasburg, and Napoleon and Wishek nursing home.

HR: So then you took an accordion along with you?

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

HR: Now, the folk songs that you sang, were those songs you learned when you were young?

AJ: Yeah, they are all when I was young, yeah. I think they all come from Russia.

HR: From Russia, yeah, those are hard to find now, to find people who know those. What I have read is that most of the time folk songs or that were song, they are song by the men only, or the young men.

AJ: Yeah.

HR: Do you remember that, that was the case when you were young, did the women sing folk songs or the girls?

AJ: No girls.

Leo: Yeah, most of them songs were sung at names days or weddings.

AJ: Yeah.

Leo: And the women sang too.

HR: The women sang then too.

Leo: Because Ma would always sing and Helen and Mrs. Reis and they all…

AJ: Yeah, we made that tape in 1962 that is what I sent to Mike Miller. And there are just the children; there was me and my sister, Mary Weigel, George, Mr. and Mrs. George Weigel, and my bother John and Ann Johs, and my brother, Carl and John W. Wangler later. A small organ.

HR: What was I asking, oh, when you went to school, you went to school out in the middle of the farm, right?

AJ: Yeah.

HR: Country School? Did they have music there at the beginning of the day?

AJ: No, they didn't have much music, well we sang.

HR: But you didn't speak English when you started school.

AJ: No, no, my first teacher was Vincent Wolf from Zeeland.

HR: Oh, yeah.

AJ: And he could talk German.

HR: Oh, he could. Well, that helps, because a lot of them couldn't.

AJ: Because in school we had to speak English.

HR: Right, and on the playground, you weren't supposed to speak.

AJ: Yeah but we all would…

HR: You cheated a little.

AJ: Yeah, that's for sure. And you talk German too?

HR: 161-162

AJ: Huh?

HR: 162

AJ: 162

HR: German was my first language when I was a baby or a young boy but…

AJ: My kids all talk German.

HR: Do they? Well you are lucky.

Leo: Talk better German than English.

HR: Good for you. It is great that you kept it up. A lot of people just…

Leo: Yeah, I'll never forget it.

HR: Yeah. Now, did you go to barn dances and stuff when you were growing up?

AJ: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

HR: Were there a lot of dances around here?

AJ: Oh yeah, a lot of barn dances around here.

HR: Do you remember any places that had them?

AJ: Oh, well about five, six, the had one of the barns, Pete Kuntz, Fred Oneigum.

HR: And do you remember any of the bands that played?

AJ: Yeah, mostly that time it was Weigel and Wangler. 175

HR: Oh, what instruments did they have in the band? An accordion…

AJ: Accordion and clarinet and drum.

HR: And the dances were, what dances did you do?

AJ: Oh, mostly the two step, and polka.

HR: The shoutish too?

AJ: No shoutish.

HR: You didn't do the shoutish

AJ: The fox trot they called it that time.

HR: And the butterfly, did you do that?

AJ: The Butterfly, yeah.

HR: How much did you pay to get into the dances?

AJ: Oh I think fifty cents.

HR: Some people have told me that the ladies got in for nothing.

AJ: Yeah the ladies got in for nothing, the men had to pay fifty cents.

HR: And did you, were there dances here in Napoleon too? Were there dances in town too?

AJ: Oh, yeah, yes.

HR: Did you go to mostly the barn dances?

AJ: Well I went to Napoleon dances too. Even to Kintyer I went to the dance.

HR: Oh, how far away is that?

AJ: That was about ten miles west of Napoleon; we went seven boys by horseback.

HR: Oh, really.

AJ: Up to Kintyer, it was a wedding dance. And Tom Guttenberg, we went to see that. So we rode up on the horses.

HR: So at the wedding dance was, there auction off the bride, and the brides shoe and dances and…

AJ: At that time, that is a long time, that wasn't the twenty's and I don't know.

HR: Because they use to, you use to have to pay a dollar to have to dance with the bride and stuff like that.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Leo: That still goes on.

HR: Does it, here in Napoleon?

AJ: That still goes on that way, yeah.

HR: I just remember that a little bit from Wishek, when I was growing up. Did you have a record prayer at home?

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

HR: And did you use a crop record?

AJ: Well something like this, we got one in there and one down in the basement. But there getting old.

HR: Do you remember when you got that?

AJ: Yeah,

Leo: We never had any.

AJ: At home or here.

Leo: Not as long as I can remember we didn't have any.

HR: But you had that out on the farm, the hand crank?

Leo: Grandma had one…

AJ: yeah, grandma, my grandma, when I was home yet, yeah.

Leo: We didn't have any.

AJ: We didn't have any, yeah.

Leo: Till they came out with cassettes and stuff like that.

HR: And, you listened to radio when growing up, what radio stations do you remember?

AJ: What radio stations? KFYR and WNAX.

HR: Yeah

AJ: WNAX, we always listened to. Lawrence Welk was on there.

HR: Yeah, I was just talking to Mike Wolf from the Strasburg up at Bismarck and interviewed him, and that is what said too that they listened to Bismarck, but then also listened to 218 Lawrence Welk was on there.

AJ: Yeah, I was at the dance when Lawrence Welk played in Napoleon. It was in 1923.

HR: Yeah I remember seeing, I got microfilms of the newspapers, the Wishek newspaper so that, I think it was twenty-one, when Lawrence Welk was going to be playing a dance in Wishek. So that time I thought…

AJ: Yeah, in twenty-three I was born in 11'.

HR: Yeah

AJ: I was young yet.

HR: So what else can you remember about?

AJ: Huh?

HR: What else can you remember about the music that, did you have teachers that were?

AJ: No, we never had teachers.

HR: You never had a teacher. So did any of your friends that you sang take lessons at all?

AJ: No, I don't think anybody took lessons. When we get together, especially Name's Day, we always sing. Leo Gross, Pius Kuhn or when it is a wedding then we sing, and we sing that Lutheran 234, is what they called it. I think you heard it when we sing it a little earlier.

HR: Right, yeah. And then those are Catholic churches. And what is you favorite song?

AJ: My favorite song was 238.

HR: Oh yeah, that is on the tapes.

AJ: That is on the tape too. That was my favorite.

HR: And that is not a Christmas song, though is it? No that's not Christmas.

Leo: First Holy Communion song.

HR: Yeah, Holy Communion song. Now when you have Holy Communion did the choir sing during the communion?

AJ: Yeah, sure they sang that, when they made that first Holy Communion and the choir sang the 244. So that is when they sang German songs, during communion.

HR: Yeah, yeah. Can you think of some questions that I haven't asked yet?

AJ: No, not really.

HR: Did all of you grow up singing too?

Leo: Yeah, I use to sing in the church choir, before he did I think at St. Boniface. When I quit then he took over.

HR: This is Leo, his son. He just said he sang, what about you?

Joe Johs: I am still singing in choir. I sang in the church choir of Bismarck for fifteen, fourteen years, something like that.

HR: Marty?

Joe Johs: No singer.

HR: You can be the audience; we all need audiences too.

Joe Johs: When I left Bearden, then I could sing.

HR: How long have you been in Fargo now?

Leo: Well, about thirty years. Before that I was eight, nine years in Bismarck. But I get home a lot. Whatever I got in geniality or stuff like that, he's got also.

HR: Uh-huh, yeah.

Leo: but he hasn't got a, what I got he's got too.

HR: And you taped a Christmas mass.

Leo: Yeah, yeah

HR: How old were you when you did that? That was a long time ago.

Leo: Well I suppose it was like 62' or 63' when I recorded St. Boniface.

AJ: Where was Pius Kuhn did the part of bishop, sang the part.

Leo: I think that some of the first ones were John W. Wangler. John W. Wangler was probably the best musician out in Napoleon until Joey Schmidt come along. But John died when he was 55 years old.

HR: Oh, really.

Leo: yeah.

HR: So, that St. Bon…I hadn't caught that but that is, St. Boniface has your home church.

AJ: Yeah.

Leo: Yeah, I had gotten a brand new tape recorder and it was really good at picking up real good for upstairs. So I think that I got just about all the German church songs that are, were sung. My favorites are the Names Day songs, or these German-Russian songs. I don't know what they mean but I know the tune of most of them.

HR: Oh, do you?

Leo: And I really like them.

HR: Are there some of them on these tapes? The Names Day now?

Leo: Oh, I think most of them are.

AJ: Most of them are on there.

Leo: Most of them are on that tape when, the first ones were made when you sang as brothers and sisters in 1962. In German-Russia songs, whatever they call them.

HR: Now did you put those songbooks together yourself?

AJ: No, no. Lea took them down to my Mike Miller.

Joe Johs: yeah, but they were your songs.

AJ: Them are my songbooks. Well I wrote them all down, all the songs that I knew, and put it on paper. And the best ones that I had I gave up, I gave to Tony Wangler because I said I am old enough I got to quit that stuff. And I had a few left, Leo came home and said, my girl wants some old songbooks or something. And then when Pius Reis died we brought everything up here and set it out here so that I can have it. So I gave them all down there.

AJ: So, Tony Wangler is John Wangler's son.

AJ: No,

Joe Johs: No, Romaltus

AJ: Remaltus Wangler.

Joe Johs: He works on the farm 297

HR: So he was related any way.

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

Leo: There was a lot of Wanglers that knew how to play.

AJ: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Leo: There was a Joe Wangler; I think I got him on tape too. He used to play with his sons and he was good too, and he died young. And then there was a John W. or John Wangler that had the jewelry store in Linton.

HR: Oh, yeah.

Leo: And he was very good.

AJ: He was a good one, yeah. And his older brother, Anton was killed by lighting in 1929. He was the first Wanglers; they wanted to come that way.

Leo: So there were, it is all in the relationship. Some of them are all related, and they are all musicians.

HR: Yeah it runs in families. And umm, you sang both, a lot of English too, as a matter of fact.

AJ: Oh, yeah. We sang a lot of English. When we sang with Pete Frank we some times, some evenings we would sing all German songs, and mostly church songs. What they sing in the Lutheran churches.

HR: Right, yeah.

AJ: Huh? Yes.

HR: Yeah, that is where I grew up.

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

Leo: Did you know them three, two-day weddings that they used to have?

HR: Yeah.

Leo: Well, they'd have Red eye and then they would start singing and got into these songs. I really enjoyed that.

HR: Yeah, my dad made we called it hochseit schnapps. Did you use 319 cherry juice in your red eye?

Leo: I think so, cherry juice.

AJ: What?

HR: When you made your red eye did you use cherry juice in it?

AJ: I don't know what we used. I never made it.

Leo: Ahh, you've made red eye.

AJ: Oh, yeah, mixes you mean.

HR: Yeah.

Joe Johs: Burnt sugar with a cherry on it.

Leo: now on the tape, they made that Schmeckfest tape, and they got theirs a lot darker than what ours usually were.

HR: Well my, in fact I am still making, my dad taught us he just used 327 he didn't use cherry in his. But his was fairly dark too. Well, it all depends on the burn. The more you burn, the darker it will get. But you have to be careful so that you don't go too far, then you have to throw it away. When my parents had their 50th wedding anniversary, we made some hochseit schnapps and there some of my dad's brothers and sisters who hadn't had it in years. They were pretty excited.

Leo: I remember when my first oldest sister got married; we had bought one case of the alcohol and I think it cost like four dollars and fifty cents a bottle. Now, I spouse you would pay, probably twelve dollars.

AJ: It is more than that.

Leo: More than that?

AJ: Yeah.

Joe Johs: Fourteen, fifteen or sixteen dollars.

Leo: we would take a whole case and each bottle made four bottles.

HR: Yeah, well I got to buy some to take back to Virginia, you can't buy it in Virginia.

Leo: oh, you can't.

HR: No.

Leo: so how long were you down there?

HR: Twenty four years.

AJ: Your down in Virginia?

HR: Yeah, Richmond, Virginia.

AJ: Yeah.

Leo: Was Sam Rudolph a uncle of yours? Or what?

HR: He was my dad's cousin.

Joe Johs: How about Julius Rudolph?

HR: Well, all the Rudolph's are related. Some of them are, I never knew, and some of those are dad's cousins and so on.

AJ: Were you related to them Rudolph's up in Napoleon too?

HR: All the Rudolph's are related. There was only one, only a couple Rudolph's that went to Russia. And Ed Ketterling who used to live here and had the store here in Napoleon,

AJ: Yeah

HR: He was my mother's cousin.

AJ: Yeah

HR: My mother was a Ketterling. I never knew them very well but…

Leo: Their son is going to get, Clayton.

HR: Clayton

Leo: He is going to get the high school alumni award because…

HR: yeah I knew Clayton because we both went to college at Jamestown. So, I knew him better.

Joe Johs: You went to Jamestown College?

HR: Yeah. Then it taught at Minnewankan 356 for three years. Near Devils Lake. That is a little place that is taken over Devils Lake, practically.

Joe Johs: I had coffee with a couple Jamestown college graduates every morning. Ed Miller…

HR: Ed Miller

Joe Johs: And Jack Luynch

HR: I never heard of them guys.

Joe Johs: They are about 65 now.

HR: Yeah they would have been…

Leo: They were star basketball players

HR: Then they are just ahead of me because I am 62. So then they are probably, as a freshman or sophomore, sometimes you don't get to know those people.

Leo: What happened to that Lake boy that died? Do you know?

Joe Johs: Suicide

HR: I was just thinking of something else that I was going to ask.

AJ: Helps if you got.

Leo: So what do you plan on doing with this?

HR: Well they are starting to talk now about doing a Prairie Public Television and doing a German-Russian music video, and but I want to do a book on German-Russian music. That's my goal down the line.

Leo: Good songs in it then or?

HR: Including some of the songs and then of course I have the newspapers and I have been collecting hymn books, and then music like you have, in lists, songs lists like you make up. So I am just trying to find enough information that I can and talking to people. Talking to people like your father who, you know, know a lot of the older music and wanting to know how they learned music and, you know, it is strictly because you sang such an interesting combination of things. That is very unusual for people. And it is because of the people that you knew and you did things with.

AJ: Yes.

HR: But you were still out on the farm when you were doing.

AJ: Yeah, I was out on the farm until 91' then I moved to town. That was fifty-five years at that farm.

HR: And that is the year that you did that one tape, that gives in to Johs' history.

AJ: Yeah

HR: In 91', shortly before your wedding anniversary.

AJ: Yeah, yeah. I think it was in 90' when made that.

HR: Was it 90'?

AJ: And one tape I made Leo gave it in 85'.

HR: Yeah, that song. Would you say you have about 200?

AJ: Huh?

HR: You say you have about 200 tapes.

AJ: Close to 200 that I have.

Leo: Yeah but thats not all…

AJ: Use to have close to 500.

Leo: That is some of the old time music and stuff. Oh, I got so much.

AJ: yeah, you got too much. I know it. And every time he go some place 395

Leo: I bought two of them in Bismarck again. I wanted to enter so as family day.

HR: Oh, the 397.

Leo: In Jamestown,

HR: It is a dinner theater?

Leo: So I bought one of them and I bought one of Bob Dahlacheck 399

HR: un-huh.

Leo: I use to, Bob Dahlacheck use to work with me at Kirsehmann Manufacturing. And he was the head foreman. And so I usually collect tapes like that. Anybody that is pretty good, I'll buy the tape. I must have fifty different bands.

HR: yeah.

Leo: That is kind of my hobby.

HR: So do you have "Six, Five Dutchmen" and um….

AJ: Oh, yeah I think I got two tapes.

Leo: Just about anybody.

HR: 406

Joe Johs: Mike Dosch

HR: Yeah, Mike Dosch.

Leo: Last year we had a polka fest at the Fargodome and you had the world's largest polka band played, "Jimmy Stirr our New York City".

HR: Oh Really.

Leo: I have never heard of the guy before except that I had two tapes from him. But other wise I had never heard from him. So, I ended up buying another one and I think I got about six of him now. That was really a good band. They were all like in there fifty's and they all dressed the same and it was just very good.

HR: What did you think of that accordion group up at Bismarck?

Leo: Very good, they were better than the Six Fat Dutchmen.

HR: Right, yeah, I liked them a lot.

Leo: I did care really that much for the Six Fat Dutchmen.

HR: Did the Dutchmen that played the night before, you mean?

Leo: No, there, at Fargo the real Six Fat Dutchmen.

HR: Are they still active?

Leo: Yeah, they are all in their sixty's or seventy's probably too.

HR: Yeah

Joe Johs: Who was in the group at that time?

Leo: Bismarck, Sir Mack was the leaders.

Joe Johs: Was that out of Bismarck? Their group?

Leo: No, just local people, they got a polka or a accordion club and then they had them playing…

Joe Johs: Marv Shilling

Leo: Marv Shilling was the leader and he would walk around the floor and play the accordion.

Joe Johs: Sir Mack and Geiger.

Leo: Sir Mack and Emanuel Geiger and Jimmy Geiger, is the best, I think.

Joe Johs: Yeah, I heard him over the radio on Sunday.

Leo: And it had Bernie Stein, his mother, Jan Stein, and Bob Dolacheck430, Phil 431. No, Andy Wald

HR: There are good, yeah. In fact, I didn't even get to the dance later on, we were out talking, but the band that played Saturday night afterwards didn't do the song as near as good as the accordion band.

Leo: Oh, I believe it. And then Friday they had a variety too. They had a Weber from Napoleon, played the horn and they had Emanuel Geiger played the accordion.

HR: 439, is that the name of it? Dutch I think was the name of it.

Leo: Dutchmen, I think.

HR: Dutchmen.

Leo: Well it was made up and one of the Schwabs was in on it and I didn't know the guys, but they were both real good. Probably the best bands they have ever had for the 444

HR: Yeah there was a lot of good entertainment at this convention. Do you still sing?

AJ: Not much, only when I play the tapes I sing along.

HR: You sing along, that is what I do too.

AJ: But I am getting too old. I am ninety years old.

HR: Oh, you're never too old.

Leo: Did you ever get the fun tapes that the guys from 450. They use to sell it at the convention.

AJ: Yes, I got them.

Leo: They are really good. That is what you should have. Actually it would be more or less like Palmer and Kilmer or whatever you call it.

HR: Un-huh, I'll have to check into that.

Leo: They played part of the people when they first come over from Russia.

AJ: 454

Leo: 455, they still sell the tapes at the office in Bismarck.

AJ: Yeah, I got all of them here.

Leo: I've got at least six or eight different tapes that.

AJ: You got this tape from the German lady, from Germany. I played that one since 459, he couldn't take it to you and out in the kitchen. He said you couldn't take it.

Leo: They had some skits up there too. but it was nothing compared…

AJ: And she talks German just like me.

HR: Yeah, I have gone so long now that I can still understand most of it, but every once in a while I am not sure what they said.

Joe Johs: I heard you talking about the Reformed church music, what is the difference between that and the Lutheran and the Catholic music or whatever?

HR: The reformed they used a men quartet, men's quartet music quite a bit, but they also the music, they call it white gospel and they also have a chorus 471-472. So you have the melody and then the other people answer and…

Joe Johs: That is like an 474.

HR: Yeah, so that is very common with the white, the reform church music. And they have completely different hymnals at the end.

Joe Johs: I lived next door to a Reformed church so that is why I was wondering.

HR: And in fact there is a, in John 478 told me last year that her husband had some hymnals from his mother that were from the reformed church and I haven't really ever seen hymnals that I know that were used in the reformed church so I am trying to get a look at those too. But I have looked at, I known information on over a hundred hymnals, most of them published in the United States, a couple from Russia. Hymnals and song lists and like the books you put together.

Leo: Have ever been over to Russia to them…

HR: I went in 98'. It was an interesting trip, I am glad that I went but boy that is, well you know when our ancestors left those villages were really prosperous and they were raising good crops and all that is gone now. It is really destroyed. And they just don't have then info-structure at all. The roads are terrible…


Joe Johs: they have the fertile land and no way, they can produce a crop, but can't get it to the market.

HR: And they don't have the machinery and even if they had machinery they don't have parts to repair so they have these huge fields with these cooperative farms or use to be the collector farms and you see, people, village people and those fields look like they are a mile long and people hoeing weeds. We saw almost no machinery at all while we were there. So its, its tough. And we stayed overnight in Glueckstal which is far enough away that we had to stay over night, which was nice, it was interesting. But almost nobody has inside plumbing. They have electricity but most of them have out houses or something. Well…

Leo: Me and Mike go out and eat dinner every once in a while.

HR: Yeah,

Leo: Oh, he's got something.

HR: He's got a lot of stuff going.

AJ: Was he at the convention too?

HR: Yep.

Leo: I didn't see him much around, I was gonna talk to him.

HR: Well, they were heading up to Russia now to a do some filming there about the iron crosses and also the Elsas, Russia, Kleinlabental and Kandel villages, the Catholic villages. What villages did your family come from?

AJ: My dad came here from Kleinlabental.

HR: Kleinlabental.

AJ: My mom from Elsas.

HR: Elsas, yeah

Leo: I bought…

AJ: But them iron crosses, I told Mike, that the guy who makes them, that was our hired men once.

HR: Oh, really?

AJ: Yeah.

Leo: Louie Schnider

AJ: Louie Schnider, yep.

Leo: They showed pictures of…

AJ: Yeah, at that time they called them 523. 523-525. I told him, I said it must be 1910, 11', but it was later, maybe in 15' or 16' when he worked because he worked over here in 14 on our homestead and it must be 15' or 16'. We had two hired men's, 531. And they use to be two miles south and over a mile over there them 533 lived there. On Jacob Kuhn's farm. We moved in 1914 from my dads homestead in Shell Beach Township.

HR: Uh-huh, so how did he get that nickname.534?

AJ: Yeah, I know the old man was called that 535.

HR: That is funny even in those letters, that was written in the newspapers. You will find nicknames.

Leo: Did you take in the work show? When you…

HR: Yeah.

Leo: You know I think that they made a mistake, this iron cross that they want to put by the new building, that black one then took down.

HR: Yeah

Leo: I think that the other iron cross this guy made is the crafting was the same that they had sitting up on the stage that was swinging much nicer than his black one. And it was homemade too.

HR: Right, yeah. I didn't like that one much either. It is just so heavy.

Leo: I don't know, the other one looked just perfect, the one they had up on the stage. I could listen to him clopping end all night.

HR: So, then maybe on these ones, when working with that video and you know…

Leo: But I could not stand Ripley. I don't think people care for his kind of talk.

HR: Yeah.

Leo: You could tell, they were just leaving, it was interesting. He was talking about the Dakota Prairie Press, or whatever newspaper.

AJ: Yeah.

Leo: He talked a lot about that newspaper.

AJ: Yeah, I read the 557, in Moorhead and the North Dakota Herold.

HR: So, the Herald was published in Dickinson?

AJ: Dickinson, yeah.

HR: 559 was from Aberdeen.

AJ: Yeah. No, it was from Bismarck.

HR: From Bismarck.

AJ: Bismarck, yeah.

Leo: What does that mean?

Joe Johs: 563 means hound, doesn't it?

HR: Yeah, something like city register, probably.

AJ: It was a German paper.

Joe Johs: Yeah, what was the name.

AJ: 567

Joe Johs: Yeah, what…

AJ: Huh?

HR: What does 568 mean?

AJ: I don't know.

Joe Johs: 569 must mean town, right?

HR: Yeah

AJ: Must be, yeah

Joe Johs: 570 or whatever…

HR: 570 was. So must be the name.

Leo: Newspaper.

HR: Yeah, something like register, the city register. But it is interesting that there were a lot of German language newspapers in North Dakota, but particularly those papers and then, did you ever read the 575?

AJ: Uh-un

HR: My mother said they didn't either but, of course, there were so many Germans in 578 too that…

AJ: Yeah. A lot of them came over and it was the only town at that time.

HR: Yeah. Well, I really appreciate your willing to spend some time to talk about that because I was really curious about how you did all this strange bits of music and now I understand.

AJ: Yeah.

Leo: It is your 584

AJ: And I think that I had that in mind when I get old so that I got something for past time. I got about thirty media tapes and they are good tapes and that. I got that tape from Gordon Call; maybe you can remember that, that was in 90 when he had a shoot out up here.

HR: Uh, yeah.

AJ: The dinner.

HR: The dinner.

AJ: That is a good tape. I have played it a few times already.

HR: Yeah, because they said he…

AJ: And I made a tape while we sing that, on the first tape we played the tape and I and my wife and the whole Schmidt's were all together and then we sang. I sang when 599.

HR: Well.

AJ: That is when tapes are getting old and some of them you get nothing on anymore.

HR: Yeah, nothing is forever.

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

HR: That all changes. Well I really appreciate it and…

AJ: Well what we need now 607 and your address.

HR: I can give you a card.

AJ: Really?

HR: Rudolf is my last and Homer is my first name.

Leo: And you were born where?

HR: I was born in Wishek.

Leo: Wishek, I was really surprised at that town when I saw…

AJ: You live in Wishek now?

HR: No,

AJ: You live still down there.

HR: I live in Richmond. I was born on the farm but dad lost the farm when I was two weeks old. So we moved to Wishek right then.

Leo: Did you hear that they moved Bismarck convention when this guy that donated the $500,000 for the building?

HR: Yeah.

Leo: He was born, I think in Zeeland. Roger Hoss. And he was saying that when he was small he liked to play matches. And he burned down the sheep barn and his dad was so mad at him that he said you'll have to repay this someday, so this is why he did this. He paid back $500,000 to name the building in honor of his parents. His mother was a Shower and his dad was a Hoss.

HR: And the funny part of this story too is when they were putting out the fire, the mother and father took turns pouring pails of water on the fire and while one poured water the other one spanked him. But where he grew up is right were my family grew up.

Leo: I remember, I have been reading from when I was young, I started reading like the homestead and the tribunes and stuff that there was a basketball player from Zeeland and I think his name was Hoss. But I don't remember what his first name was. But I am sure that it is not my social. Unless he had some younger brothers too. I don't know.

HR: Well there were four, he had three brothers that were there.

AJ: Yeah, I had a cousin that was married to a Hoss. He was from Zeeland.

Leo: Oh, he was.

AJ: Oh, yes, but he died a long time ago.

Leo: I think you said there was a Larry Hoss and this Roger that I know.

HR: Well, Larry is his brother. He lives in Arizona and then there is another brother who is married to my cousin and his name is Chris. And they lived in Aberdeen and they just retired and moved to Arizona too. and then there was another brother there who I don't know.

Leo: It was nice meeting you.

HR: Thank you very much for all your work and appreciate your being here too. It helped.

Leo: And if you ever would want some German tapes I got a lot of them.

HR: Okay.

Leo: Mine are in better shape than his because I got the…

AJ: He doesn't use them but I use them all the time.

Leo: Mine are the original ones.

HR: Oh, you have the masters.

AJ: You know them guys that were here yesterday?

HR: Uh-huh.

AJ: One was from El Paso, Texas.

HR: Oh really?

AJ: The one with the computer. And the other two guys were from Spokane, Washington.

HR: So they were here for a reunion?

AJ: Huh? They were here for the Schwartzenberger reunion. And I like them two guys from Spokane; that was my first cousin.

HR: Oh, uh-huh.

AJ: And those boys came dressed, Elvis I think it was, they were here a I got 672, first time I seen them. And the 673, his mom was my first cousin.

HR: And he was genealogy yesterday?

AJ: Yeah, yeah, he works, he goes to work at 6:30 and then he couldn't finish it then. Leo showed him that Johs Book was ahead and he looked through and started putting in any one that put the old book in the computer now. And he said that if I could buy a book here and then they found out who has those books. And they went up and got him one.

HR: Oh, did they?

AJ: But he must be a smart guy because they made he had the reunion in 58' and they…

Leo: No,

AJ: Huh?

Leo: 79'

AJ: Oh, 79'; made a big book and he had eight, ten pages just for his history.

HR: Oh, yes, covered it all.

AJ: He said history card all the 690 that went there. And down in the hall on the 692 I see two guys sitting there, one was him, had the computer, the other one was his cousin from 695 Michigan. They both had computers. One would guess the name then they found the name in the computer and it was then they put it in.

HR: When we you get together, that is what you got to do.

AJ: Yeh, yep.

HR: Well I'm gonna…


Andrew Johs told his son, Leo Johs of Fargo, that he learned those German Russian folk songs from some of the early settlers that came to America from Russia. Andrew said these old settlers used to celebrate every Name's Day or Saint's name. Andrew use to bring his mother, Johanna Johs to the Name's Day, as Johanna was a widow, her husband, John Johs died young at the age of forty-six. Andrew said that these old settlers used to sing a lot, and he was there, so he got most of the songs from them. Andrew said they celebrated every Name's Day or Saint's Day.

Leo remembers the Names Day celebration also. He was about eight or ten years old. At the celebration, they would eat candy, cookies, and lunch, drink Redeye, and play cards. A lot of people would come by horse and cars. Leo also remembers the Saint's Day, like St. Boniface, June 5th. St. Anthony's, June 13th and St. Philips of Napoleon, May 26. Andrew's Name's Day was November 30th. He remembers a mass with six to seven priest in church, and people had house guests for dinner after church.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Library North Dakota State University North Dakota State University GRHC Home