Conducted by Wallace T. Lang (WL), Erica Lang
Wangler (EW), and Arlyn Lang (AL)
April 1990, Theodore Lang Farm (The Roesler Homestead),
Tappen, North Dakota
Transcription by Ann Grausam
Editing and revising by Bernadine Lang Kuhn, further editing
by Jane D. Trygg
WL: Finally, ready. Why don’t you tell me
about your whole life. What is the first thing that you remember?
RL: When my brother was sick. I was five years old.
WL: Which brother was that?
RL: That was my third sibling. And he was only nine days old,
when he died. And I walked up to the funeral with grandma holding
my hands, I can remember that.
WL: With your grandma or your mother?
RL: My mother was in bed.
WL: Because he was born just nine days earlier, so she was
kind of recuperating.
RL: She was at home. Then it was the funeral, I can remember
WL: Is that right, walking to the church? You said that the
church that you went to…
RL: It’s all down now. (There is nothing there.) The
building is there, but the steeple is off. The door is locked
at the Glueckstal church, Russia
I know, I remember when we went to church.
WL: That brother that died, he was actually the oldest brother?
RL: No, Pete was older.
WL: How much older are you than Pete?
RL: Oh, six or seven years.
WL: The baby that died was older than Pete (born 1902), wasn’t
RL: No, it was younger than Pete. It’s a long story.
WL: So, I am still trying to figure this out, because you said
that you were five years old.
RL: I was two years older than my sister, Christina (born 1899).
Then over a year, Pete was born.
WL: And then the baby that died. So actually the baby that
died was between Pete and Jake.
RL: Jake and Sam, Gideon: they are all brothers you know. I
had only one sister that grew up.
WL: How many of those were born in Russia?
RL: Four. Three went into America and one was buried in Russia,
that little Christ. (Roesler)
WL: And how many were born here?
RL: Jake and Sam and Gideon were all born here in the United
States, and two twins.
WL: Are they the ones that are buried out in that north field.
RL: Yeah, out here.
WL: Do you know where that is about?
RL: I know, I should walk up there and see it today.
WL: Were they, the twins, the youngest in the family, or not?
RL: No there was a little brother, American born. (Gideon)
AL: You can still see the mounds up there.
RL: Ted knows the place. He said the other day that we should
put a wire fence around it. So the renters know there is something
there, you know. There are about five buried there, two Roesler
twins, two Kapp twins, and (I) don't know about any others.
WL: Do you have any other recollections about living in Russia?
RL: I know the grandparents, I had three grandparents. We visited
WL: You had three grandparents you said. Because you had your
Roesch step grandparents and your Roesler step-grandparents,
and your step-father.
RL: We went out to the winery (vineyard) and cut grapes. My
grandpa Rott had a winery and vineyard. We went out and cut
the grapes in the fall and had the barrels on the wagon. The
next day the wine making started, we had to step with our feet.
Boy was that tiring, we got tired.
WL: You had to wash your feet I suppose.
RL: About two, three times. -And that was a job!
WL: Did they let the little kids do that too?
RL: No, just me and my sister, that’s all. When the wine
was ready, it went down in the cellar; and when we come to grandma’s,
she got her dipper out; and we each got a glass of wine. Then
was the sweet wood there in the garden.
WL: Tell me about the sweet wood, I don’t understand
RL: It was like rhubarb, but not so sour. It had roots like
horseradish (sharp stuff). It was sweet though. So we enjoyed
it [possibly Diakon, white radish].
RL: Then Christmas came and had three places to go to get the
packages (Grandpas and Grandmas. I had a big bargain.
WL: Did you have a Santa Claus?
RL: We had the Belzenikel and another lady that that came along.
RL: A lady came along.
RL: I don’t remember what her name was. (Belzenikel)
He was kind of rough, we were afraid for when he was coming.
He had a pretty good whip there, for the bad kids.
WL: How did he come, on a sleigh?
RL: Oh, in the house. He walked around from house to house
to visit all the kids.
WL: Did you ever find out who it really was?
RL: I don’t know, at that age, we didn’t care.
We were glad when he was gone. We didn’t like him so much.
WL: So they actually grew grapes in that area of Russia?
RL: Yes. There was lots out in the hills. Grandpa walked out
to hoe the vineyard, my mother’s father, grandpa Rott.
He never drove much. Took a little lunch along with him and
went all the way out.
WL: What did your father Roesler do?
RL: He was a farmer. Just wheat and corn and stuff, not grapes.
He also had some cows and horses. We went out, when they were
hoeing the corn; and we were out under the wagon in the shade,
the kids. All day. That’s kind of hot days sometimes for
WL: Were the younger children, that was Sam, Gideon and Jake.
Were they born in this place?
RL: No, Jake was born January 10, 1906 over on the flat at
Wittmeiers house. Sam and Gideon were all born here. (Christian
WL: Not in this house, but just where this house is.
RL: Yes, just the same homestead. In 1906 we moved here, and
we built a two room house. That chicken house over here was
part of the old house.
WL: That was your house.
WL: When was that other part of it added on?
RL: It was about 1911 or 1910, that other room.
WL: We call that the stoupe. “Stube” German Spelling.
RL: It had two big rooms then.
WL: So when you got here, you basically had to help your parents
on the homestead.
RL: Oh, I helped with what ever I could. I was plowing with
the hand plow (walking plow) when I was twelve years old.
WL: When was the first time you met grandpa (Fred Lang)?
RL: I was about thirteen.
WL: Where at?
RL: He was working down south about ten miles. And on Sunday
he came by here riding home. His folks were living north of
here. He stopped outside; and the kids were out and boys out,
and Christina went out and I went out too. Then he had a postcard
for me. It had “sweetheart” on it. I didn’t
know what sweetheart meant at that time. Nobody talked about
sweethearts. I could hardly speak English.
WL: The card was written in English?
RL: Yes. On the outside a rose was on it, and in gold printed
it had “sweetheart.” I don’t know what it
had on the back of it, and he gave me that card. I put it away,
I showed nobody what it was. I don’t know what he gave
me that card for. I didn’t even talk to him, the kids
were all there.
WL: He was what, seventeen years old at that time?
RL: Yes. And then I thought what in the world did he give me
that card for? He must like me or what. I couldn’t figure
it out. That’s how it all started.
WL: You were going to a different church weren’t you?
RL: Yes, I had school and church on the flat.
WL: You were going with the Roeslers who were Seventh Day Adventist
RL: We had a blind lady (This lady was called “Blind
Boss” she was blinded by smallpox.) over here, living
by Bill Hoffers. We always took her along and went to church.
She got off the buggy as fast as any lady that could see. She’d
know the buggy and sit down. She walked over here, two miles
from Bill Hoffers place to here. I was about twelve or thirteen
years old and I had her by the arm over all those creeks here,
and the hills. She never fell on a rock or a stone. I told her,
“There was a rock,” and she knew it already. We
were singing all the way! She knew the German songs all by heart.
I can remember that. She was a nice lady. She was baby-sitting
here. That Kapp lived, over the hill here, Jacob Kapps. And
she baby-sat for their three children. But the kids listened
to her good.
WL: So you met grandpa, when you were about thirteen; and you
got married, when you were eighteen years old.
RL: I knew him for five years, before I was married.
WL: I thought maybe you met him in church, but you went to
a different church.
RL: He was at the Glueckstal church. [Rural Tappen, North Dakota]
WL: So after you got married, where did you live?
RL: We lived with our grandparents (Karl Langs - parents of
Fred Lang) for four years.
WL: Same house or a different house?
RL: Yes a two room house.
WL: Two rooms, so you all were in the same house.
WL: How many other people were there besides you and grandpa
RL: Grandpa Karl and Grandma Elizabeth and just two little
children there too. Ted and Leo were born in that house.
WL: You told me a story about going to a wedding in Streeter,
and dad was a little boy, and he got into some mud or something
RL: We went to my sister, Christina Rudolph, her wedding was
in Streeter. And Ted was not quite three, and Leo was nine months
old. It was in April, there was some mud outside in the garden.
And Ted always went outside. I had a baby and any slit in the
door he was out in the mud. That wedding was in the house too.
WL: Whose house was it in?
RL: Charlie Rudolph Sr.’s house. It was 1919, when she
got married. She married Charlie Rudolph Jr.
WL: So he liked to play out in the mud.
RL: In 1920 we moved this little house here, from the Norwegian
place to the Lang’s place there. It is still there in
the yard. Then we moved over there. Ella was born in that house.
WL: You are talking about the house that is by Isabel Lake
RL: No, that was built in 1931. That little house standing
there beside the sod house. That we moved in 1919. And then
we moved in in June, and Ella was born.
RL: We had no room at that little house. We had two kids there.
That crib is still upstairs there. I got that crib from at home,
my father made it for Gideon and all those boys. I used it for
raising all my own ten children.
WL: So where are they at?
RL: It’s still there at that old house. It is in good
WL: In that white house up on Gil’s farm?
RL: Yes. Upstairs.
RL: They asked me the other day how many kids were in there.
I said, “All mine were in and my brothers and sisters.”
Grandpa made it for my little brothers. There was no money spending,
WL: Do you have any questions, Erica, that you can think of?
EW: You talked about your first trip taking off from Russia,
and how your family felt. Tell that whole thing; how it was
when you left?
RL: And then we had an auction sale. I remember that, everything
was sold. And then we stayed over at grandpa’s house,
my mother and sister and I. And stepfather went to his folks.
And I had a uncle on mother’s side, he couldn’t
EW: Tell what happened to him or why he couldn’t walk…
RL: He had convulsions when he was six weeks old. And then
he never stopped (the convulsions) for a long time, and then
they got some medicine, and that stopped it (the convulsions).
He never could walk in his life. He grew up to 49 years old.
And the grandparents took care of him.
WL: He lived in Russia the whole time?
RL: Oh yes. The grandparents took care of him. And when we
left night and in the morning, we said goodbye; and we walked
down the street; I don’t know how far and he cried so
hard. I can still hear him crying. Oh, he cried hard. It was
the last time. He had a little dog too. Just a little thing.
We always liked to play with it.
EW: What was the dog’s name?
RL: I don’t know, there was no names for dogs then. I
don’t know what they called it. And when we touched the
bed, he was laying on the floor in the daytime and they hauled
him up to his bed at night, the grandparents. We always liked
to touch his bed. And that dog, he wouldn’t let you touch
the bed. (to tease the dog)
EW: He was his buddy that guy.
RL: Yes. And then we left.
EW: That uncle’s name was Franz Rott Jr., right. I would
like to tell kind of, too, what your grandparents names were.
RL: Oh, grandpa was Franz Rott Sr. too. And grandmother was
Matilda nee (dut) Rott. And my Roesch grandparents were Magdalena
and John Sr. My father was John Jr. too. They were buried in
one grave, my grandpa (John Roesch Sr.) and my father(John Jr.).
They died three weeks apart. By Ted Lang, June 1898.
WL: In one grave, how could they do that?
RL: They opened it up again to lay him beside. They had one
gravestone too. John Jr. and Sr.
WL: You were very young, when your father died though.
RL: I was only six months old.
WL: So people just tell you about it.
RL: I don’t remember him.
WL: You said that when you left Russia. What was the motivation
for leaving? Whose idea was it to go? [Addendum by Ted L.: people
also left because of evading military duty, Roesler’s
RL: There was not land enough for living, it was so crowded
in Glueckstal and in the village too. So thirty families left
at that same time.
WL: On the same boat?
RL: Yes, the same train and the same boat. They all came to
America at the same time.
WL: All from the Glueckstal area?
WL: What I don’t understand is that Roesler was a Seventh
Day Adventist, but he lived in Glueckstal. I thought all Glueckstal
RL: Oh, they were all Lutherans; there was no other church.
They couldn’t build a church there. There was one church
that they married in; they have to go to this church. And one
school. And if they go to the other village, then there was
somebody at the evangelisch church. They could go there. There
was only one church in the village. The Catholics they had only
one church; and the Lutherans had one; and the evangelical had
one. Different religions, nope. Like now you have four or five
churches, what for. There’s only one God, why so many
churches. I don’t think it’s right.
RL: And then we went to Germany, by train. We left a little
bit before October, from our village and then we went to Germany.
We were there eight days.
WL: Do you remember the town?
RL: Berlin I always say.
WL: It can’t be Berlin, because that’s not next
to an ocean.
EW: No, dad said which port they left from.
RL: And then we stayed a week there and waited for the ship.
The passenger ship had to come. It was over seas. And it came
and went in.
WL: But you said, when you were in this town you were in it
for about a week?
RL: Eight days we stayed in Germany.
WL: And you got to see all kinds of things.
RL: Yes, we walked around the zoo. We enjoyed it.
WL: Was that the first time you ever were in a big city?
RL: Yes. That was the first time.
WL: Did you see lots of things you had never seen?
RL: Yes I did. We walked everyday all over town.
EW: Did they have a restaurant or something like that?
RL: We had a little eating place, everybody was eating there.
All those that went with us. There was everything paid. We paid
for the whole trip. Then I took one-hundred Rubel (Russian dollars)
from my money from my purse out there. They kept the money in
“waisekass” (orphan account) there for us until
I was eighteen years old. But they took some out for the trip
for me. So I paid my own trip.
EW: That was your estate money, wasn’t it.
RL: Yes, from grandpa. John Roesch Jr. (to be meant as her
Then we went on the boat. I can remember when we walked in.
Oh, the band was playing.
EW: It made it a little bit easier.
RL: It was the first time I ever heard something like that
in my life. They walked in they closed up; and the ship started
going. We were standing on deck and looking and looking. And
finally we could see no more land. Only water.
EW: Did you ever get sea sick?
RL: Oh, yes. We got seasick and couldn’t eat anymore.
One meal we ate, when we came in; and that was the last, everybody
got sick. Everyday, pa took us up to the deck. My sister and
me. Mother couldn’t get up. She was too sick. We would
stand up and walk around the deck in the sunshine a little bit.
Then we saw a whale in the ocean.
WL: You saw a whale. Did you see the water shooting up?
RL: Yes. We looked and looked and looked. Then we suddenly
came to the Statue of Liberty. They said that that was the Statue
of Liberty up there. And we looked there too. We passed England
the southside too. Then we came to New York. And they couldn’t
drive the ship in there. They had no ports or anything ready
at that time. Nothing to walk out on. They had little boats,
and we had to crawl in the boats. And those boats were so loaded,
they were just two inches off the water top. I was sitting there.
I was so scared. Oh, my. I was so glad to get out of it. Then
we went on the train from New York.
WL: Have you ever seen the Statue of Liberty since then?
RL: No, no. That was my first and last time. And then we came
to South Dakota.
WL: Was that Ellis Island?
RL: I thought it was the Statue of Liberty, I don’t know.
WL: Ellis Island is right next to that. A lot of people went
WL: How long did the boat trip take?
RL: Eleven days. Grandpa, Fred Lang took the freight; it took
fourteen days for him.
EW: See they had a passenger boat, while most rode the freight.
RL: The Langs didn’t want to wait. We waited and took
the passenger ship.
WL: But they didn’t leave at the same time?
RL: No, they left two years later.
RL: So you were here on this place before Langs came here.
WL: How did your dad decide that this was the place he wanted
RL: Oh, we had two uncles over on the flat. And there were
some homesteads who were still here, homesteading still available.
And they went up to Steele in January 1906 and took the rocky
hills here. And the Langs came later. Grandpa Karl Lang came
up from South Dakota; and Winkler they took their homestead,
the Lang homestead in 1908. Then they moved up the next year.
But Martha didn’t come up right away, and Fred Lang. They
had to work down in South Dakota for another year or two.
WL: To pay off their trip?
RL: Yes. That was the way.
WL: The farming operation here was so much different that I
assume than it was in Russia. Were you surprised.
RL: They seeded the flax by the hand too. Russia and here too.
Grandpa (Christ Roesler) knows how to seed flax by hand.
AL: I remember you saying that at one time, you came out to
this homestead; and you thought what great land. It just looked
beautiful. But then you cut the grass down and there were a
whole bunch of rocks waiting for you.
AL: Or Mary Zimmerman may have said that. I can’t remember
if it was you or Mary.
RL: When we came here, there was always lots of steers eating
around here. That rancher had hundreds and hundreds of steers
here. He let them roam anywhere. They ran free. He bought them
from Texas somewhere, I don’t know. Then he had to fence
out our homesteads. He was kind of mad. That was Jasper O. Gilfillan.
He was like a cowboy. His father send the cattle from south
here, and he got them here over summer, and he sent them back
Then we came to South Dakota; and then we stayed a month in
South Dakota; my mother had an uncle there. We helped them harvest
the corn. Then in November we took the train to Napoleon. And
there was no snow. And then she had two uncles in the flat.
And there was Mr. Brenneise, he was in town that day, he took
us down to the uncle. But they had no room for us. We were five
And then your mother’s cousin, Mrs. Wittmeier; she said,
“I got a big house, I’ll give you a room.”
And she gave us a room for eight months with free rent. And
we had a stove here, with manure for firing. A cookstove, mother
cooked there. Then in June moved over here. We built a house.
Father got four horses, he bought. He was “breaking up”
[sod busting] land a month. Got a little wages out of that.
And so it went. And we grow up here.
EW: When you first came, you were in the box or buggy trailer,
how many nights?
RL: No, we went over to Kapps house for one week. That Kapp
(Jacob Kapp) lived there. We stayed with them, and then they
built that house, and we moved right in. There was no chimney
in that front house. But we had a cookstove outside. We cooked
outside a few days, until the chimney was ready.
EW: Well, who was it that came up from South Dakota; and all
they had was the wagon in the back.
RL: They put the wagon box over them at night; tipped it over;
the children went under; the mother was watching all night.
EW: Who was this?
RL: It was another couple, I don’t know who. I forgot
EW: Oh, I thought it was you.
WL: Your dad actually broke quite a bit of land.
RL: He broke west, thirty acres worked a whole month, digging
rocks to get it clean and break it up. When I was fifteen years
old then. We worked every day.
WL: Did they not have rocks, where you were in Russia?
RL: No, there were no rocks, it was all clean.
WL: So that was a big disappointment. What is the biggest change
that you have seen in your lifetime.
RL: Oh, the winter. The winter was kind of more cold here.
We were out of company here too. The first year, I had no school
here. And then we started school up north. (by T.L. = School
refers to classes held at Christ Kemmet Sr. home (Sod house)).
Because nobody could talk English, oh was that hard. Parents
couldn’t help us you know. We had to learn everything
from the teachers. Then two English girls came, they helped
us too. We learned a little bit more at recess. They talked
English and we listened and picked up some words. That was the
And we lived here and that school house was a mile and a half
off from here, northeast. And sometimes in the winter the horses
came walking up with the sled alone, to pick us up. They just
walked way up by the school house. We had to watch for when
they come. If you don’t watch they will go right away
home. They don’t stop, they go back home. And one evening
we forgot, we could see them coming about a half a mile and
they come walking and that evening nobody watched them. They
went around the school and right away home. We came out it was
too late, they were far going. And we had to walk home that
day. I remember that.
WL: You missed the bus! They didn’t honk the horn or
RL: Next time, we watched careful. They come by; the door walking
by and you say, “Ho.” And they stopped right away,
and we got on the sled and home.
EW: Well did somebody send them or did they just know what
RL: Grandpa (Christ Roesler) sent them. Hitched them on and
put them on their way. In the morning he drove us up. In the
evening the horses came, lots of evening.
EW: Can you believe that!
RL: There was no blizzard. If there was a blizzard, they didn’t
sent them up. They walked right on the road, always walking
they had the reins pretty tight so they wouldn’t go too
fast. We had no school house. School in the Kemmet house. There
was a big sod house, Kemmets.
WL: Did the teacher live right by the school?
RL: Yes he boarded there by Kemmets. He was from Dawson.
WL: Do you remember his name?
RL: Robert, I don’t know the other name, he was a young
WL: Was there ever a time that your parents felt that they
made a mistake by coming here?
RL: Oh, they were very homesick. Oh, my, they were homesick.
Sitting here in the prairie and the hills. They were homesick.
We kids didn’t mind it so much. Kids, they always have
something to do.
WL: Yeah, they adjust easier than the adults do.
RL: When they went to town, that took almost a day with the
horses. Then I was the oldest, and I was with the kids. We hoed
sometimes and made little dinner.
WL: How often did you go to Napoleon?
RL: Whenever we had some cream. We had to take the cream to
WL: And there was no roads, to speak of, were there?
RL: It was just over the hill. No roads.
WL: How long did it take you to get enough cream to go, once
RL: Oh yes, once a week. And then later on when I grew up,
the cars came around. The horses were so afraid. I had to haul
wheat in. Boy, oh boy, I tell you those horses got scared and
run away. Sometime you heard the car; the horses heard it before
the car came. And then you get out in the front and hold the
horses down. I thought they would run away, I was just young
there. We never liked to come across cars on the road, horses
didn’t like it either.
WL: In the wintertime, did you go to town once a week too?
RL: Oh yes, we had cream always. It was always bad, because
you had to go to town when the cans full. You didn’t like
to go so much in the winter.
WL: Yeah, because you had to bundle up.
RL: Oh, not so many went. Only one went in, father. I only
went for Christmas and Easter, no other time.
WL: Why did you go to town then, just to do a little shopping.
RL: Oh, get some Easter stuff and Christmas. Kids said, “Ma
you go along now, ma you go along.” There would be no
Christmas with out nuts and candy. Yes, I went along for Christmas
and Easter. One time I and Ted went in. Ted was kind of a boy.
I had to pull a tooth. There was man here. And then I had such
a bad toothache that I couldn’t go home. I had a lady
friend. I went to the house and laid down there. And I had to
go home before dark. I said, “Give me a piece of bread.”
I took it in my mouth. I put a piece of bread; I bit on it;
and the pain left. Then I went to the store that Ted was in,
and then we drove home. Everything was good. I was always home
for milking time.
WL: After you were done milking in the morning, you had to
be back again in the evening. So it was never more than a one
day trip. How many cows did you milk?
RL: I had three from at home, and grandpa had five or six.
So we had eight or nine cows. Then Margaret got hers. Then we
were not having so many.
WL: When you say Margaret got hers you mean…
RL: She got her cows here, and she got married in Washburn.
WL: And they gave some of the cows to her.
RL: In the spring she came and got her cows. I had three cows,
and three calves, and another little steer; four sheep, and
they each had two lambs. That was my inheritance, dowry.
Then we moved from that house in 1920. Then I got some furniture
too, a table and chairs.
WL: How long did Karl and Elizabeth Lang live on the farm?
RL: He died on October 22, 1924.
WL: She died when?
RL: She left in 1928 to Tappen, then she died on January 26,
1937. She lived in Tappen with Margaret, her daughter. Now a
WL: Margaret was not married at that point?
RL: She married him (Andrew Gross 3-2-16) in Washburn, and
they had a store in Tappen. And then she went up there. She
had kind of sore feet. Then she went to the doctor, and then
she stayed there.
I was so homesick when she left. She was nine years here, no
more than nine. When I went out the door I always cried, grandma
was gone. I couldn’t look over at the house. That made
me sick. She came over every day sitting a while and sewing.
EW: You got along with your mother-in-law pretty good then?
RL: Oh, yes. Four years in that little room there. Here was
the bed, and here was the table. Chairs were between; and here
was grandpa sitting; and here was grandma; and I there; and
there was my trunk in the corner, with my clothes in from home.
And grandpa sat in that corner. Four sitting there. We cooked
what we liked.
EW: That’s good that it worked out that way.
RL: Oh, yes, it worked out good. She was my doctor, my nurse
when the babies were born; and everything went well. She taught
me how to raise the children. Oh, yes, I listened to her.
EW: Did she deliver your children?
RL: Oh, yes. I had no doctor. For a long time there was no
EW: Do you remember anything about when dad (Ted Lang (Theodore))
was born? Was there anything special that happened? Or what
do you remember about that?
RL: He was born in Russia.
WL: No, I am talking about my dad, Theodore. Your first son.
RL: Oh, I don’t remember.
WL: What day of the week was it?
RL: I think it was Tuesday he was born.
WL: And he was born in October, so what were you doing that
time of the year? (Born 10-17-16)
RL: The men they were out threshing. He was born in the evening
about ten o’clock. I can remember all my children when
they were born, but Rose I forgot. I didn’t know what
time she was born. It must be a special day.
WL: Do you want to go through that list, I am curious. You
say that dad was born at ten o’clock at night on a Tuesday.
How about Leo? (6-3-18)
RL: Leo was born in the morning, Ella (8-7-20) was born about
ten o’clock, before noon, in the morning on a Saturday.
They went out headering, grandpa; the barley was so ripe. (Good
harvesting weather) I was out headering the day, before Ella
was born. Then I hitched the horses in the morning, still hitched
the horses. I wasn’t feeling so well. Then I went in the
house; then grandma came over; I think grandpa told her to come
to check on me. She brought the butter churn with. She wanted
me to do it. Every week we made butter, fresh butter. And I
said, “No, let me make the bed that’s enough for
today.” I knew something was going to happen. And then
she was born; she was only skin and bone, oh heavens, only four
pounds. Mother said, “I can’t touch her; she’ll
fall apart.” And I was fat, I got strong. Everything goes
on me. But that was like Ted, he was four pounds; in two months
he weighed fourteen pounds; how fast he grew. All my children
was small like that. But they were well; they slept and breast
EW: Maybe you worked too hard and didn’t eat much.
RL: Oh, yes I worked pretty hard. I would eat so good, and
I was gaining weight.
WL: But the kids didn’t get very big anyway. So Ella
was born on a Saturday. After Ella was Edwin.
RL: He was born, I don’t know, Friday I think in 1922
(8-18-22), and Reuben was born in 1925 on New Year’s,
the new year just came in. We said we got a new year, making
a new year. Then Rose (6-9-27) was born. I don’t know
which day of the week, June the 9th, 1927. And after Rose, was
Adella. She was born in 1929( 4-7-29), that was a Friday. It
was the last day of school for the kids. Adella was born the
7th of April. We had forty acres seeded of wheat with the horses
in April already. It was a good spring. And Gil was born in
1931, May. It was kind of cold, snowy. It got snowy, after Adella
was born in April.
WL: Oh, you had all this wheat, but had snow anyway.
RL: Yes. Then Gil came and Laura was in 1933. Laura was born
on Maundy Thursday, the 13th of April, in the evening. That
was the last day of school again there. I wasn’t up there.
I was waiting for the kids to come home. They had a picnic outside.
I looked always up the hill, to see if they were coming yet.
And then they came, and she was born about seven o’clock
in the evening. And Gertie was the last one, I had a still born.
I feed Gertie (4-25-35) for a year and seven months from the
breast. I wanted to make it to two years, but I couldn’t
do it. She wouldn’t eat, no. She was so dependent on me.
In the night, she would wake me up and everything. I said that’s
enough; Ella get her upstairs; and Ella got her up there; and
she was crying and crying. I had to hide from her for the first
days, I couldn’t come so near to her. She always liked
me so much you know, I’ll never forget that.
RL: Then they started leaving. Ted then went to Montana, and
Leo to California, and never came back from the beet fields
in Montana. Then he went in the army. That was hard time for
EW: When did dad leave for the first time, what year?
RL: I think 1936. He went to Washington.
EW: And Gertie was born in 1935, so there was like four years
when they were all home at that time.
RL: Then he went to Montana; then he went to Washington(State);
he was single at that time. Grandpa Roesler was out there. He
hitchhiked with a train. There was lots of hitchhikers at that
time. He took only two dollars and fifty cents. He had no money
along, but he made it out there Washington to visit them; then
he went back home. He was looking for a job then. It was dry
years then, dry years. Then he walked in Montana (Hardin, MT),
I don’t know where he walked; then he saw a man raking
hay in the field there; his name was Jim Kane. And he walked
over and talked that he was looking for a job. The man hired
him. (Jim was a bachelor and his sisters were spinsters, lived
in the same house). There were two sisters home; they were bachelorettes.
He worked all fall there. He got forty dollars; but dad took
it away, when he come home. He never forgets that.
EW: Why did he take it away?
RL: I thought he saved it; grandpa saved it for him. He gave
it to him later, bought a car and everything. Then he come home
and heard that rancher had lots of cattle out there, that Jim.
They were drinking on the river in the wintertime; and he said,
“No I want to stay here; I won’t have no ice here
in the wintertime. Maybe the cattle fall down and then it’s
my fault, then I go home.” We were so glad, when we go
home too. Leo was gone two and a half years.
EW: When did Leo leave?
RL: He went with Otto Graf; went in the car to Montana to work
with the beets for a month. (By Ted Lang 1937 (1st trip), to
Hardin, MT with Matt Rudolph Jr. and Art, Jake, and Rudolph.
1939 (2nd trip to MT)). Then he left for Californiain 1939.
Then the war broke out. And he was all over there. When I woke
up, Leo was on my mind; when I went to sleep, I prayed for him.
And then we went to Montana in August 1945; and there was funeral.
The boy (Emil Neumiller in Yellowstone River 7-22-45) drowned
in Montana, he was seventeen years old, in Fallon MT.
Then we went out on the train, and we came home, and then Leo
he had come home in the interim. We came home from the funeral
around the house driving around the corner; and he was there
brushing his teeth out by the summer kitchen. I cried. I was
so happy; I couldn’t hold myself. He was home; he made
it through the war. He had hard times too. He had asthma there;
and it was so hot down there in the islands in New Guinea, what
ever the names was. He couldn’t work. He was always near
the water. There was some dark people, they would load the trucks
with food and everything. He worked there in the ranches there
in California a couple months.
WL: How did you keep track of what was going on? Did you get
RL: We had the German newspaper from Eureka. It was all over
the world a little bit.
WL: We got news about the world. And when you got it, how old
would it be? Would it be a week old?
RL: It was whenever we would get the mail there in town. Some
of the neighbors brought in the mail, but we went in sometimes.
In the wintertime, it was kind of a long time.
WL: So like when you had elections, did you vote in elections
RL: Yes. I didn’t know of the elections the first years,
but when the twentieth started elections for the women too.
It was 1922.
WL: Do you remember voting for the first time?
RL: Yes, it was kind of a funny thing to do. The women went
along for the election in the church knew that there was not
a women election there: that was the men’s business, not
the women. The women had nothing to say. The man went to put
the Christmas tree up, there was no women there. They went up
to put the tree up before Christmas, and nobody complained.
WL: Did you think that is the way it should still be?
RL: I don’t know, we were satisfied. Now it is different.
The women got the right now. In the first place, they talk now.
That’s okay what they do.
WL: So you remember voting for the first time in Women’s
suffrage, that’s interesting. What do you remember the
most about the twenties?
RL: There was a dry spell too in the twenties.
WL: There was what years were those?
RL: I know one day four calves died of ours. There was kind
of a disease going around. We had yearling calves, and four
died in one day.
WL: You didn’t have that many to begin with I imagine.
RL: We had six calves all winter eating rye straw, and they
And the thirties (1934), the government bought our cattle.
Twenty dollars a piece in those dry years. Every calf got twenty
dollars and a cow got twenty dollars, and we had some rented
out to a neighbor. They were keeping them for share. He didn’t
take good care of them, so we sold everything for twenty dollars
that time. At home, we sold as much as we could, we had to milk
the cows. And that winter we had there. Those cows were going.
Some they killed on the farm, some calves. Grandpa said, “No
calves will be killed on my farm. Take them where you want them,
not here on my place.” They took them away; I don’t
know where they went. Some butchered some steers too.
WL: The government bought them.
RL: Yes. Government business. So we cleaned out a little bit.
It went on.
WL: Did a lot of people you know in the thirties pack up and
RL: Margaret and Andrew: they left in the thirties ;
they went to California.
WL: Were you tempted to do that too?
RL: No, we never thought about much about that. Neumillers
left in Spring 1929, John and Aunt Martha (Lang) Newmiller.
They went to Montana too. They (Andrew and Margaret Gross) went
there, and they got a restaurant right away, and Gross got good
WL: In California?
RL: Yes, he was pretty good here in the store too. People liked
him. He was a jolly man. He could dance around, and whistle,
and he liked to make the people laugh. He liked that. And so
In 1959, Gross always wrote to dad that we should come to California.
It’s not such a hard winter there, and we would like it.
And then we start out. We took the train to California. It was
a nice Christmas.
EW: What year.
RL: 1959. And then…
WL: Didn’t Gil buy a new car that year? No, that was
in 1960; he bought a new car, and took you out in that new car.
RL: And then we stayed there over Christmas, January; and then
Gross said, “You should buy a house here.” I said,
“No we have a house in North Dakota.” We’ll
go back anyway in April; we won’t stay. It was summer
in California, we got no business there. Then talked and talked,
and dad liked it. He wanted to buy the little house there. “Buy
it, if you want it; I go back anyway,” I said. We went
Gil was alone you know. It was summer here, was not for him.
He was out on the field; and there was no cook or nothing, so
we went back. Five summers, we went back to North Dakota. Then
the last when I was sixty-five, our golden wedding was. And
then dad didn’t feel so good. And then I said, “We’ll
go back.” “Oh I don’t think you can take me
back anymore,” he said. “Oh yes, we got a house
there,” I said, “We’re going.” I asked
the doctor too. He said, “Yes we can go.” So we
went back again. The next year 1966, we came back for good.
He was so down; he didn’t eat much; and I was afraid.
Then he lived eight more years. I could’ve stayed but
I was afraid; he would die so quick. Then I had trouble to sell
the house for myself.
WL: Where at now?
RL: In California, Galt. He didn’t care anymore. He said
nothing, do what you want. Then I told the neighbors, “What
am I going to do? We are going back to North Dakota with my
children.” Then the neighbor said, “You go over
to the printing office and get a “sale by owner”
sign.” And when Monday’s over we got that paper,
it was about ten inches long; and I took it in the garage.
I didn’t tell dad right away. And Wednesday was that big
sale in Galt; every Wednesday there was a big sale going on.
We lived just by the road; and in the morning I said, “I
got a paper [sign] for selling the house. I am going to put
it out today, there were lots of people driving by; and they’ll
see it.” Then I went over to the sale first, and came
home, and put the paper out.
It was an hour out, the real-estate man stopped. He asked,
“Do you want real-estate?” I said, “No.”
He said, “I buy it from you.” I said, “No.
We are going to leave it out a week.” I sold it by the
owner. And then I told the neighbor ladies that, “I was
going to sell the house, and I will be going.” And then
a lady, she knew we were going, was interested.
She wanted a house in town; they lived in the country. And then
they told her boy. Then one weekend, they came on Friday, that
young man and his wife; she was from Bismarck. And they liked
the yard, and she liked the house; they had a big girl there.
And right away they had the money too. So we went up to the
bank next Monday and signed the papers.
And then I told Lydia Kolb, “You better look, we’re
going to North Dakota.” That was in August then. And we
drove with the cars; somebody drove the cars. There was a man
Fischer; he lived in Lodi. He got land and Ashley here. Every
year he went out here for harvesting. And then he said, “Yeah,
I take riders along.” And we got a ride, I think it cost
us $60.00. His name was Fischer, and he came to North Dakota.
And I told them here that we were coming. And then we stopped
at Bismarck. He said, “We stopping at the saloon.”
I said, “No, we stop at my daughters place. Maybe she
got a can of beer.” And then we stopped at Gertie’s.
She came out, and I said, “Do you have a can of beer?”
It was kind of funny. “Go ahead and drink it,” I
said to Fischer. And we went along to Napoleon. And Gertie said,
“There’s no room, the hotel is full. Oh, take your
suitcases.” I said, “No, no I don’t want to.”
At that time that Wentz had the motel (apartments), the owner.
He was from Bismarck. He was out selling papers that week, and
his wife was baby-sitting. And Gertie called down to them; she
knew he was there in Bismarck; Mae was her name. And she said,
“Yes, Pete is coming home Saturday; we’ll see what
he knows.” And Pete came home and said, “Yes there
is a couple moving out today.” In the apartment in Napoleon.
And we could move in.
EW: The present apartment that you are in now?
RL: Yes. And he said, “We should go down and see it.”
I said, “I didn’t want to see it. We are just going;
I don’t care what it is.” I didn’t want to
stay too long in Bismarck there. And Sunday there, Bert took
us down. The Lord helped us all the way. I was up praying day
and night. I needed help.
WL: Are there any events from when your kids were growing up
that was special, something traumatic or something really happy?
RL: There were lots of them. Like when we had Edwin, that sick
boy for nine years. That was a big event. And he died of heart
WL: He was sickly pretty much the whole time.
RL: Yes. At six months he got sick. He got it from his teeth.
I don’t know what it was. The doctor said when that his
teeth started too fast. I don’t know. But his mind was
EW: Do you think he could have had fever from his teeth that
RL: He kind of had a cough, a cough a little bit. He had bad
asthma. It was kind of a bad fever. I took the him to the doctor
in May, but he didn’t do much, Mr. Simon.
WL: Mr. Simon was the doctor. You had him for many, many years.
RL: Oh, yes many years. He was a good doctor too; he was a
RL: Ella got her hand hurt, you know. She was two years old,
not quite. He fixed it all up, that Doctor Simon.
WL: Any other things you remember happening.
RL: Then there was the dry years; there then the kids started
moving out. Ted got married. Leo got married then, and then
Ella got married.
WL: I am thinking when the kids were really little, did they
get into stuff or what kind of things did they do?
RL: Oh, they had to make anything like that wagon there with
the goat on, you know. We have a picture of it. Leo made the
harness. The wagon was metal, that was made already. We had
the house ready; we had the money in the banks, and all the
banks closed. The Napoleon Bank closed; the Streeter Bank closed;
we had a little money for the house.
The neighbor came over one evening and said, “The Napoleon
Bank closed, there was two banks in Napoleon, and the Streeter
one closed today.” We had little money for the house.
We was sitting a while, then grandpa said, “Well, we’re
still young. We don’t have to worry about it. Go to bed.”
And our bank wasn’t closed. Thank the Lord. Then we built
the house in 1931.
WL: So you were able to get your money out.
EW: Where did you bank, in Napoleon?
RL: Yes. There were two banks there in Napoleon, but ours didn’t
close. We had about $3,000.00 in there.
WL: So that is what you built your house with. The one that
is up at Lake Isabel.
RL: Yes. Then the house was ready. They had lights put in;
we had a motor for the lights, a generator. And then we had
the lights already on; we weren’t moved in yet. And then
Edwin died. Sometimes the kids showed him the lights in the
evening; he wasn’t so very happy about it. But then he
died. Everything was broke down. I sent for a bed away, Sears
Roebuck, single bed for him. It wasn’t here. It came after
the funeral. I think it is still up there in the house. A single
bed you know for him. So that was kind of sad. Then we had to
cheer up again.
EW: What month was this?
RL: The funeral was the 30th of September.
And Grandpa Lang (Karl Lang) died in October, 1924. He had kidney
trouble. He didn’t go to the doctor right away, and then
it got too far. He was only 68 years old.
EW: Grandma Lang (Elizabeth) died how old?
RL: She was 82. She never had a dentist or anything visit,
or an eye doctor. She could see the last years without glasses.
When they bought her glasses; they just put them on; and if
they fit good, that’s the right one, they took it and
EW: Did she crochet or anything?
RL: Oh, yes. She made little rugs. She had a big garden and
everything. She was always busy, chickens, making Easter eggs.
EW: You always had a pretty nice garden too. You had strawberries
I know. We got to pick some once in awhile.
RL: Oh, yes.
WL: Do you remember early in the mornings, when you would walk
down and you would walk down to where Gil had some cattle, in
the pasture down here. And you had this kind of thing made of
gunny sacks and put oil on it for the flies. You would walk
down, when the sun came up at four or five o’clock in
RL: When the sun was up, I would get up. I wouldn’t get
up before the sun would get up. I liked to lay, in the morning.
It feels so good in the morning, I tell you. The longer you
lay the better it is!
WL: You would come down with some kind of oil deal, and you
would put oil on.
RL: With a can, we would put it on the gunny sacks and for
WL: What was that supposed to do?
RL: Oh, they (the cattle) rubbed (on it) and walked underneath
it, for the flies. The flies were so bad.
EW: Then you always brought us that black licorice that hard
licorice, in your schurz (apron); you always had it.
RL: I can’t remember that. Otherwise when I was baby-sitting,
it brought you up a little bit. Stayed over evening or day at
my house, you know.
WL: Do you remember the first time you saw a radio?
RL: It was over at Rosie (Rosa) (married to John) Hoffer’s.
We went over there in the evening to listen.
WL: Was that something amazing to you?
RL: It was something funny. We listened like… We couldn’t
understand much, but we listened. That was the first time. I
don’t know the first television that I saw.
RL: So I have lived for twenty-one years in Napoleon now. So
many, Mr. Ahler came over, and had to shake my hand, and said,
“You shouldn’t have so many friends.” I said,
“No, they are all gone.” There are so many that
died in those twenty years, I can’t believe it. All my
friends ladies and ... I got some new one’s now. I won’t
run out it looks like!
WL: Were a lot of your relatives in Streeter?
RL: Yes. They were living around here. Mother’s uncles,
two older she had. When we moved to Wittmeiers, we had nothing.
No food, nothing. So Uncle brought one-hundred pounds of flour
and some bags of dried beans, a paper sack, and some peas. We
always cooked dried peas and dried beans. And some neighbors
brought some ham and potatoes to cook. Wittmeiers gave some
potatoes, if they had enough.
And father went out and helped the people fill the upstairs
hay. All winter. But I don’t know how much he got. A dollar
maybe, I don’t know. There was no wages at that time.
WL: Do you remember going to Salt Lake?
RL: Later on. We drove up there with the car.
WL: You never went with horses there?
RL: Oh yes, onetime we did. Maybe a couple of times, not too
WL: When would you do it, on Sundays?
RL: Yes, only on Sundays.
EW: Did you go swimming?
RL: Go up there on the water and took some lunch along, picnic.
The kids walked around; they had to walk, we would watch them
a little bit.
WL: Were there a lot of people over there at the time?
RL: Oh, yes, it was pretty good, settled all around. Come from
all over the place. We had to drive home early, milk the cows
WL: Darn cows. You always had to go home, because of them.
RL: Yes, the chickens and things, geese and ducks. One year
I had forty geese and sixty ducks that I raised. And Ted said
one day that they plucked the geese alive. I said I never heard
that thing. Their feathers get ripe, you know in the summer.
Then we pick them when they get ripe. We never picked them when
they were alive. No, no, bloody; we didn’t kill them.
We picked them about two times. And they loose their feathers
in the summer time; they molt. And then we picked them. I had
never heard of the thing, where you pick them while they are
still alive. Shocked me.
EW: But they did do that?
RL: Just the ripe ones on the bottom of the rump, just right
on the bottom not the whole feathers. They loose them anyway.
Grandma knew this from in Russia. Then she put the geese in,
and we picked them.
EW: I never heard that either.
RL: Oh, yes. You have to learn, too, til you’re 90 years
old. Then we lived here until 1974, when grandpa died; and now
I am alone. Thirteen years alone in June. And the kids are all
over. Over in Switzerland, I have a granddaughter. “Come
over grandma,” she said. I said, “No, no.”
WL: You should to surprise her; just go over there and surprise
RL: No, that’s okay. I won’t go over the ocean
in an airplane.
WL: You have never flown in an airplane.
RL: I don’t care for it. “We got a place on the
ground,” grandpa said, “we got room here.”
So I go to Bismarck to visit them a little. One time, I went
to California all alone too on a bus. When dad was dead a year,
after a year. Oh, thirteen states I went to. Went to visit Mary
Wiegand, and Dora and Bill. Then I was in Wyoming and California.
That was life. It was well so far; I can be thankful. I can
walk wherever I want. Eat too.
EW: How did they have Christmas programs up at this Glueckstal.
They had lots of kids; and they would sing.
RL: Yeah, they did.
EW: When did you get your first organ for the Glueckstal church
and stuff like that for the church?
RL: For Glueckstal that was in, I don’t know what year,
I was married for a couple of years. And grandma Lang she always
wanted an organ. We had no organ. And she said, “I’ll
give five dollars.” And all of us pitched in and they
bought an organ. And a couple of years later, she always wanted
a bell. And she started with five dollars again. That was Grandma
Elizabeth Lang. And then they bought the bell, it is still up
there. They won’t sell it, they say. You could hear it
on Sunday morning and we went out early and hear the bell ringing.
It was down on the farm. If we had that bell in Napoleon that
would be a thing. She has got a better tune than any bell they
have ever had. When the Napoleon bell rang, you could hardly
EW: Well, maybe they should move it into Napoleon.
RL: I don’t know if they can get someone to move it.
EW: They should take that bell and preserve it somehow.
RL: It would be unusable, it would be a souvenir. It would
be something for Napoleon. I suppose that’s the end until
BREAK IN DIAL:OGUE
WL: Everybody talks about the 1966 blizzard.
RL: And it was a big blizzard, when we were in California in
1966. That was before we came home that next summer. We got
five letters in one day, from North Dakota. I had a good lady
friend. Marie, she had no children, she said, “What are
your children writing?” I said, “They got a big
blizzard in North Dakota. They called it cattle killer.”
I listened to the radio in the evening, and they said that North
Dakota got a “cattle killer.” I didn’t know
what they meant. But later I found out. It was a big blizzard.
Marie always asked what my children would write.
WL: Where were you the winter of 1936?
RL: We were at home. We had hay and everything. We had lots
of fuel; we never drove to town to get coal that winter. Some
people were out of coal that winter, but there was a little
left. The house got cold; in August we put coal in the basement.
Then when we got to town to get coal. They always got coal when
they got back. We never had trouble, no, because we put the
coals in the basement. We had enough for all winter. It was
left over. We had some manure and some wood. We never saved
no fuel. It was there all the time. We had two thousand pounds
of flour upstairs. You could bake what you want.
WL: How about the summer of 1936. It was really hot too, wasn’t
RL: Yes, it was. But we made it. The turkeys made it too. They
would’ve died if we didn’t put them in the shade,
and made them wet, and so they made it. And Reuben was watching
the cattle, he had the hardest time, what in the world. He had
said, “The days were so long, he couldn’t believe
it.” And it was ten o’clock, and he was eating dinner
already. Edward Gums comes driving by and, Reuben had no clock
you know, and he said, “What time?” He said, “Ten
o’clock.” “I ate dinner already,” he
said. He couldn’t pass the time.
I was watching the sheep too, when I was about fourteen years
old. Down here, there were the sheep. Then I lay down; I could
sleep in the sun. I had my bonnet on and by the stone I slept.
I woke up, and the sheep were gone, and I walked home for dinner.
They always went home too, because it got so hot, you know.
They wanted to get in the shade and water.
WL: Do you remember when they drilled the first well on this
RL: They didn’t drill any. We dug it by hand down here.
WL: How far was that from here?
RL: I could walk down.
WL: How deep was it?
RL: It was about twenty feet maybe.
WL: And you had to haul and carry the water up by hand.
RL: Yes. Then one day we had a pump down there. Just for the
house we used it. It was kind of better water. It was kind of
lakey water down there. That water is still there. there is
a little house isn’t it?
WL: Dad put one in again many, many years later. Is that the
one you used for cattle?
RL: Yes. It wasn’t real good water though. And the Langs,
when they moved up there (to their homestead), there was no
well. It was so deep. And then they brought the horses sometimes
down to the Roeslers, and the cows when it was nice days. Let
them drink here. Margaret Gross, when she was like thirteen
years old. They (The Langs) had no well.
That one winter was a hard winter. There was a lot of snow,
and the cow wasn’t out of the barn that whole winter.
Everyday she carried three pails of water and hay to the barn
for that cow. She worked hard, and she was ninety years old
in January. She is still living. Addendum (The Langs had their
first drilled well on Lang Homestead in 1913.)
WL: So who dug the well here first?
RL: Oh, grandpa Roesler.
WL: What year was that?
RL: 1906 we came here. (Hand dug well, 8 ft. deep)
WL: How about the one that was out here?
RL: Oh, Ted built it. They dug it up. (Ted Lang moved on the
Christian Roesler homestead in 1941.)
WL: Or is that where Jake Zimmerman lived, and he made the
first punched/drilled well (99 feet) on the Christ Roesler Homestead
RL: He didn’t dig no well. Maybe he did, I don’t
know. We only had one well, until I got married. That’s
all I know.
WL: The only well you ever had was that one down there, (By
Roeslers). Later a second well was dug 25 ft. deep.
RL: Yes. Two wells were hand dug before I was married. You
know, one day the folks were gone, gone a couple of days (they
were in Jamestown); and I woke up and got water for cooking.
And Grandpa Roesler came in and tasted the water. The water
is not good anymore he said. We have to clean the well. He went
down and took the water out, nice and cleaned out.
There was some gophers in it! He smelled it, and the water wasn’t
good. Then he cleaned it out, and then the water was good again.
I will never forget that. They fall in by the side. And they
never could get out. But grandpa noticed right away; he said
we had to clean the well; the water is not good. You could smell
it and taste it.
We drank so much tea. We cooked it always; Postum we drank
EW: Postum. That’s that old coffee, you can still get
RL: No, it is in a big box and made of oats and wheat and everything.
WL: You can get it, I have seen it in Grand Forks.
RL: I was raised up on that and my kids too. If you cook it
good, it really has good taste. But you have to cook it a long
time, longer than coffee. The more you cook it the better it
tastes. It is kind of healthy too. I think it is better than
coffee. Some people say that coffee is not good, some say that
it is good. Oh, they make the coffee like tea now, there’s
no difference. You can drink it all you like. Years ago they
made good coffee, that “sagory” (chicory): German
pronunciation was as said, it was kind of dark. It had a good
EW: What was that made out of?
RL: It was coffee and that sagory (chicory) was kind of darker.
It was kind of pressed together and different. It had good taste.
There was a long red rose, (on the package) like this. Round
(tube) like a broom stick handle. Then we had some that was
wrapped in silver, it had a foil or like a cake.
Grandma, Elizabeth Lang, when she cooked the coffee, she put
lots of coffee in, so it got strong too. She never wanted stale
coffee. She wouldn’t drink the stuff like you drink now,
no, no. It is too weak. Too weak, it doesn’t even smell
like coffee. She wanted coffee with cream and sugar; it all
She got eighty-two years old. We had a Bible reading every
morning, and we prayed.
EW: It didn’t help to worry either.
RL: Put your trust in the Lord, what else can you do. Do your
work and live day by day. Sunday was Sunday. There was no baking
and things like that. It was Sunday. Only milk the cows.
WL: Do you remember celebrating the Fourth of July ever?
RL: Oh, yes. We went to Streeter. When I was home, there was
no Fourth of July celebrating out at (the Roeslers) our folks.
When I was married, Grandpa Fred liked the Fourth of July. And
then we sometimes went to Napoleon or Streeter or whatever.
WL: You would load all the kids up.
RL: And then the last years, there was bigger ones, kids. And
it was a long day for me with the little kids you know, two
years and four years old. I said, “You go, I’ll
stay home. Take the big ones along and go wherever you want.”
Then I stayed home and was patching, sitting in the shade outside
in the summer kitchen. Zimmermans drove by one day; and they
said, “She made a good deal, she was all day home sitting
in the shade, and they were out in the sun.” Years ago,
there was not that much shade in the town. Not trees like there
is now. The children got tired. And so I kept two or three home
and the others left; I sent them away.
WL: Did Roesler, your step-father, go to the Lutheran church
RL: Oh, yes.
WL: But he turned Seventh Day Adventist, when he came here.
RL: His ma had an uncle; and he went to this church. She had
an uncle that was Lutheran too. But he started that here. About
ten years I went to the Advent Church, when I was married. Well,
I said too, my grandparents were Lutheran, everybody so I went
to Lutheran for all the years. Ma was always Lutheran too, she
said. She knew how her parents were, all their lives. But grandpa
liked that so much, she gave in. They never had any fights.
Not like nowadays. The parents now make so many fights. You
never heard about divorce either. I never said to my parents,
never wonder what divorce was.
WL: Do you remember the first people you knew that got a divorce?
Do you remember who that was?
RL: No, I’d have to think pretty hard.
WL: Is there anything that you remember about my dad, Theodore
Lang, that, when he was a little kid, what he was like?
RL: Oh, he was like a running kid. He was into everything.
He thought he knew everything. Too much learning and learning.
Like when Myrle (son of Theodore and Louise Lang) was little,
they lived in the house over there for a year, I think. And
Louise always washed clothes in my basement. There was the stove
and a washing machine and she took the clothes over (to our
house) and Myrle was inside. (Ted’s house) (Addendum:
The Fred and Rose house and the Ted and Louise house were about
500 feet apart.)
One morning it was October or April, there was some snow. And
she left Myrle inside, closed the door; and he had no shoes
on. And when she was over, in the basement; he went out without
shoes in the snow. Come running over to our house. I looked
out and I said, “Ella, Myrle is coming there. He’s
barefoot.” Take a blanket and then Louise went home through
basement route (door). She got home; Myrle wasn’t there.
No, he is in here, came running barefoot through the snow. He
wasn’t freezing. He wanted to go to my place. He was already
there (he had been there before and wanted to visit Grandma)
And that one died you know, Wesley. That summer was kind of
a hot summer too. And I said she can bring him up; I baby-sit
for him. It was too hard for her out in the field. With the
baby out there all day, you know. He was nine months old. And
then she brought him up. One week here and one week took him
to Grandma Gums. And that one week that he died; he was at Grandma
Gums. I took him always over to the house. There were no flies;
and he went to sleep. And when he was awake in the summer kitchen,
he was kind of scared, when he woke up in the house, and looked
around, and everything was so empty. Nobody was there. I had
to watch for him when he woke up; he got scared over there.
WL: Were all your kids good students in school?
RL: Oh yes. A’s and B’s. There was correspondence
school. Rose went three years correspondence. She would have
been valedictorian, but she didn’t go to school. And the
last year, she went to Tappen; she graduated. And Reuben went
two years correspondence. Graduated from Napoleon High School.
WL: What would you do different if you had a chance to live
your life over again?
RL: I think, I don’t know. I did whatever I knew; Grandma
taught me so much. I did the best I could, but maybe there were
some changes. I don’t know. But the kids listened pretty
good. Grandpa only said it once. They never got a licking. One
time, dad (Ted) got a licking.
WL: What for?
RL: He (Ted) didn’t lock (close) the barn good, and the
young horses got in. They got into the wheat box. The oat box.
They were in the barn eating so much oats.
WL: Did they get sick then?
RL: No, but grandpa told them to go to the barn and he ignored
it. And grandpa went out ahead, with a little belt. I don’t
know what kind of belt he had, a stick or what. And he was walking
behind, and he would hit him; dad (Ted) you know. And I went
out and said, “That’s enough.” Then he stopped.
I don’t know if he was crying or what he did. I can remember
that so good. I told him (Ted), and he remembers it too. It
was kind of grown up a little. “That’s enough,”
We always had a belt behind the door, but we never used it.
Then we had the grandchildren for six weeks, Laura’s children.
She went to Valley City, when we came back from California.
She always wanted to go to more college in the summer time.
And she had those four children, you know. She taught a couple
of years. And that summer I said, “Bring them down to
the farm. I will keep them.” And then she brought them
down Sunday, and to Valley City she went. And Friday evening
she would pick them up, and took them home.
And then, Jerry was eight years old and Rhonda was seven. They
went down to your place sometimes, you should remember that?
And Jimmy, I kept at home; and Joyce was only two and a half.
And then I laid, down and Joyce slept always good. And I said,
“Lay down, Jimmy too.” And I laid down with him;
and he said, “Oh, I’m not sleepy.” “Lay,
just lay quiet,” I said. Then he fell asleep. I got up
and did my work, and then he woke up after about three o’clock
or so, and he went outside. “What do you want outside,”
I asked. “Well, I am gonna go look around.”
He went out, and the dog was laying somewhere around the corner
there of the house. The dog was a good dog. But I don’t
know what he did to him. Jimmy must have touched him or something.
The dogwas sleeping. And the dog got up on him. He barked, like
the dog was crazy. It was a big dog. I was sitting in the front
house, and I hurried and opened the door right away. And I came
out and he (the dog) was sitting right by the house, and Jimmy
was down with the face in the ground, and he was sitting on
top of him and barking; he could have bit his ears off or anything.
For heaven sakes. I could have got a heart attack. I told him
to leave. He went down with the tail down and just nicely walked
off. It was Friday. Then I could see a little mark here from
the dog’s nails where the dog held on. His nose was bleeding
a little bit too. And then I got him up and washed him off nice.
Then Laura came in the evening and took them home. But that
was a miracle that the dog didn’t bite, but he was so
mad. He never said what he did; hit him or what. He made him
mad. We never had a dog that was bad with the kids. They always
go around, good. But that was the hardest job for me.
There were so many things that happened, when they (other children)
went out to their grandpa’s places. So many things. Car
accidents happen in the summertime. All over the country. And
that one time, Dora, I don’t know, was she four years
old. Gil came down with his horse, Daisy. He left the horse
outside, and he went inside. And Dora went out and on the horse.
And the horse jogged right home; Daisy went home with her. Galloping
like crazy, she went.
And Dora cried and cried. I was still outside. Then I see Daisy
coming over the hill, I looked, (Dora) she’s on there,
and Dora is crying. Then I stopped it, but she wouldn’t
stop. She went around the well and stopped there. Then I got
her down. Then Myrle and Gil came running and yelled after her.
They came out, and the horse was going. And she had a sore foot,
Dora. It was so bad; skin ripped off. I don’t know what
she had in the foot after that. She told me that after. She
can remember that, yes I can remember that. Right she said.
WL: Do you remember when Ella lost her finger in that grinder?
RL: It was a Saturday. We had that hired boy for a few days,
Jake Lang. And he always was going when we ground the wheat
and oats for the horses; he always went so far and stood up
on that thing there. Then one Saturday, it was a Saturday I
know. And grandpa was grinding oats and barley. And I had my
bread to bake in the house. I let her out, and Ella was not
quite three. I looked over, and she walked over there; and I
said to grandpa, “Take her back away from there.”
I should have took her in. It was a nice May day. And grandpa
put her back, and he went in the shed. She walked there and
she touched that thing. The horses went around, and she cut
her finger there. A little more, she could have lost her whole
arm. Then the holiday was over.
WL: Did you have to take her to the doctor?
RL: Oh, yes right away. Hitch the horse and the buggy. Went
over to grandma and she did something, about, she knows something
and she did it. Wrapped it up so the pain left a little. Then
I took her on the lap and went down in the buggy. The baby,
Edwin, we left home, he was nine months old. We went to Doctor
Simon, and he dressed it, and he said you bring her back tomorrow.
She’ll have to stay a week here in town; they had to dress
it everyday. And grandma went in with her and stayed a week
with the Sam Langs. Then they walked over in the morning with
that Doctor Simon you know; she was only three years old. She
didn’t like to go in the morning to the doctor, she knows.
Maybe something going on wrong there. Then that healed it. That
was kind of a shock.
WL: I remember Reuben telling about a time, when he got bit
by a horse in the ear. He was going up into the hay mound. Do
you remember anything about that?
RL: I heard that but I forgot that. It was little to me. Leo
fell down once from there. There was that cleaning mill, down
there, standing there, and he walks upstairs here, and here
was that thing to clean the wheat, that rolling thing, what
do you call it? And he fall down. And he got a little mark here
on the head. He still has it, I can remember that. He was three
or four years old.
BREAK IN DIAL:OGUE
RL: There was still water in the tanks, somwtimes they were
part near empty. Sit and put their feet in. When I went out
to the field; and Ella stayed home, she was the oldest. (She
was told) Take them kids away there. And Ruben was in there
once. He slipped and fell down, there was not that much water
in. He got up and he said, “Am I drowned!” I said,
“No, you are still living.” He got up quick then.
He can remember that too. He fell in the tank a little and went
up. I’m not drowning. And we drove to town sometimes,
he was kind of naughty too. He went to the roof of the barn,
to the top. And walked from end to end. And Zimmermans were
headering one day and said, “Dad must not be home. Reuben
is on the roof today.” I couldn’t watch them all,
you know. I was inside with the other ones. I was getting other
things done. They got some naughty things done.
And one time grandpa went to town, and he left over the hill,
and Adella walked on the road up there. And I came out; and
I said, “Where’s Adella.” “I don’t
know, she’s not here.” “What in the world!
We have to look for her,” I said. Gramdma (Elizabeth)
said, “Look in the tank.” I said, “I don’t
go in the tank.” I walked up the road. I thought maybe
she was up the road. Then she (Adella) walked up and went west
over the hill there. She wanted to go after grandpa; he went
to town. But I found her. It was kind of hard, when somebody
was lost. That really got on your mind. You look and look. Those
are all the little things that went on.
BREAK IN DIAL:OGUE
RL: Edwin liked school, however it was too hard (his health
problems), too much for him.
WL: Was he able to do any work at all or was he just too weak?
RL: He was outside. When we built the house, before he died.
He picked (gathered up) all the nails up. The crooked nails.
All kinds. He had gallon pails, all different, sort them all
out. Everyday he went there, sometimes (we said), "go away
there". He picked all the nails, that was his business
there. Maybe they drove him around with the wagon in the yard.
He couldn’t walk so much.
WL: Edwin actually had a heart condition?
RL: It came with his teeth. It was kind of a sickness. We should
have brought him to the doctor right away there. It was in the
wintertime. He was a weak and kind of sick.
WL: Who was he most like? If you had to compare him. Was he
most like my dad or like Leo.
RL: He was like Leo. He was kind of quiet. He liked that I
always was in the house all day. He didn’t leave the house.
Like sewing day, he was ready for that. I was with him. That’s
the way it went. When we were gone, the kids took him out with
the wagon and drove him around. He knew the kids; when we went
to town, he would boss the kids. You have to that; you have
to do that. What we told him he remembered; he mentioned it
to the kids. What they have to do, when we were gone.
WL: He knew that he could get attention?
RL: “I am like a duck,” he said. “When I
go out I see everything.” When the ducks went off the
nest they run around the yard, you know. His mind was good.
And in the night he woke up. A couple of nights when the wind
came from the east and changed the weather. His cough was worse.
Got so hot; he took the covers off. Then we had to get up and
cover him up again. Grandpa said one time, “I don’t
know in how many months; it was the first night that he didn’t
get up.” He got up every night, sometimes a couple of
His care took priority, hhen he wanted something, we first
went to him, the baby would cry in the back. We first settled
WL: Could you say he was a little spoiled or not?
RL: I don’t think so; he was not too much. He needed
attention too. But he was not spoiled. He was in the hospital
for three weeks, when he had the measles.
WL: He survived that okay though?
RL: Yes. He was all swollen up we took him to the hospital,
and the measles came out and Grandpa was down there with him
a little bit. And then the doctor said he filled up again, from
drinking so much water and stuff. Sometime, he was kind of sad.
“I shouldn’t drink so much water,” he said.
So we had pity with him, the most pity. It was hard.
END OF DIAL:OGUE
Addendum to page 38 Regarding the wells, by Ted Lang, son
of Rose (Roesch) Lang September 12, 2000.
There were 2 hand-dug wells. One was dug in 1906 and it was
8 ft. deep. The second well was dug in teens years approximately
in 1912, and it was 25 ft. deep; and it was in this well, where
the gophers were found.