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Theodore Lang

Completed by Theodore Lang
Bismarck, North Dakota

Interview Questions Part I


Family Identity

1. What is your name, your date of birth, and where you were born? Theodore Lang. Birth date: October 17th, 1916. Born on a farmstead 15 miles northeast of Napoleon, ND.

2. What is your father’s name and where was he born? If he was born in Russia do you know the name of the village? Frederich Lang was born on October 28th, 1893 in Friedenstal, Bessarabia district.

3. When and where did he die? Where is he buried? He died June 23rd, 1974, Wishek Hospital, Wishek, North Dakota. He is buried at Glückstal Lutheran Church cemetery, South of Tappen, ND in Kidder County.

4. What is your mother’s name? Where was she born? If she was born in Russia do you know the name of the village? Rose nee Roesch Lang, in Gluckstal Russia. December 24th, 1897

5. When and where did she die? Where is she buried? Died April 5th, 1993 in the Napoleon Senior Center. She is also buried at Gleuckstal cemetery in Peace township, 137-71-Sec. 18.-NE ¼.

6. When and where did your mother and father marry? December 30th, 1915 at the Kidder County Courthouse in Steele, ND.

7. How many brothers and sisters did you have in your family? Can you give their names in order of birth? 5 brothers and 6 sisters: Theodore, Leo, Ellena, Edwin, Reuben, Rose, Adella, Gilbert, Laura, Gertrude, and Martha (stillborn).

8. When did your family come to North America? Do you know why they came to this country? My mother was 8 years old in 1905. My father came with his parents when he was 13 years old in1907.

9. Do you know how they traveled to this country? Rail to Bremen, Germany then by ship. The ship my mother sailed on was named the Kaiser Wilhelm #2.

10. Where did they settle? Did they homestead? Where? My parents did not homestead, but my grandparents did in1905. My mother’s family went to Tripp, South Dakota then by rail to Napoleon, ND. My father went to Delmont, S.D. in 1907 then to Streeter N.D. by rail in1909.

11. Lets go back to your ancestors who came from Russia. What relationship were they to you? (If the previous generation didn’t come from Russia go back to the generation which did come. Then ask the same questions about birth, marriage, death and burial location).

12. Do you know where your ancestors came from in Germany? The Langs were from Grönau, Germany.

13. When did they leave Germany and live in Russia? The arrived in Friedenstal, Russia in 1833.

Memories from the Homeland


14. Do you remember family stories your father and/or mother told about ancestral German villages in Russia? Yes! School fights between Friedrich Lang and classmate John Wieland. Friedrich Lang’s first job at age 7 was geese herding, and he was also an errand boy. Grandmother Elizabeth (Humann) Lang told of Sunday afternoon dance get-togethers in their dorf.

15. Did your grandparents talk about how life was in the villages? Such as social events, stories about other family members, nicknames of people or villages. A popular nickname in Russia was Hans Georg and it meant John George. It was used to distinguish John’s son, if he was also named John.

16. Did your parents or grandparents or other relatives ever say they wished they were back in the “old country”? I remember my mother Rose Lang saying that she particularly missed the abundantly available grapes from the vineyards and the other fruits like apricots, pears, plums, and apples, but did not say that she wished she would ever be back in Russia. Grandmother Christina Roesler was very homesick for her family back in Russia according to my mother, and would, no doubt, have loved to go back to visit. Homesteading and ownership of land was a big drawing card to come to America and to stay. My cousin Emil Lang, son of Jacob Lang, told me that Grandpa Karl Lang, upon Emil’s first visit to the Karl Lang homestead, was proud and happy to state, “This is my land”, as they walked the land, admiring the expanse.

17. Do you recall your family receiving letters from relatives who stayed in Russia? Yes! My father’s sister Elizabeth-Zimmermann and step-grandfather Christian Roesler’s 2 brothers wrote to us.

18. What language did you speak at home? Did all family members speak German? German, Yes.

19. Do you know the name of the dialect? Friedenstal, Gluckstal, Worms, Neudorf, Kassel.

20. Can you still speak this language fluently today? Yes, and I especially understand the German as spoken by pastors that studied in Germany.

21. Can you repeat a story, poem or prayer in this dialect?
(A) Grandma Elizabeth Lang told a story about a young man who lived in the village of Friedenstal who socialized with friends by going to weekly Sunday afternoon dances. The young man sang a song while the dancing was taking place and it was this: Heute ist mir wiesele wohl, morgen (Monday), wann ich a schaffe soll, sagt mein Vater, gell du fauler Hund, gesteren wars dir wohl. This little song meant in English:

Today I am jumping around dancing, tomorrow (Monday) when I’m supposed to be energetic at work, then my father will say, see you lazy dog, yesterday you were jolly and happy , today it’s a different story.
Some prayers I learned were the: “Das Uater Unser”, which is the Lord’s Prayer and an evening prayer, “Mude bin ich geh zu ruh, Schlieze meine Augen zu, Vater lass die Augen dein, uber meine Bette sein. Hab ich unrecht heute getan, sieh es lieber Gott nicht an, Deine Gnad und Christe Blut, macht ja allen Schaden gut. Translation of evening prayer:
Being tired, I go to sleep (or rest). Please, Heavenly Father, close my eyes and keep your watchful eyes over my bed (resting place). If I sinned today, please dear God, do not look upon my violations. Your mercy and Christ’s blood, will nullify my all my wrongs (sins). Other prayers:
As I am entering this worship (service) place, I petition God (the Trinity) that He will open my heart, that the Holy Spirit (may) can enter therein the above prayer was taught by Elizabeth (Lang) Zimmerman to her daughter Berta Gehres, my cousin. Bertha told me about this prayer when I visited her in Germany in 1983.
Another prayer that was taught to me by my Grandmother Elizabeth Lang was: Mein Gott, ich bitt durch Christie Blut, Machs, nur mit meinen Ende gut. This means in English: My God! My petition is that the grace given to me by the shedding of Christ’s blood, and by His suffering and death, will grant to me a peaceful and happy death.
Another prayer:
Ich bin klein, mein Herz ist rein. Soll niemand darin wohnen, als Jesus allein. I am young (small), my heart is pure. No one shall dwell in my heart, but Jesus alone.
A prayer upon entering a worship (church) place
In die Kirche tritt ich. Gott den Vater bitt ich. Dasz er mir mein herz auf tue und den Heiligen Geist eingiesst!

22. Is it comfortable for you to speak German in conversation? If not, can you still understand it when spoken? Yes and yes.

23. Have you taught your children or grandchildren to speak German, such as phrases, rhymes or prayers? Yes.

24. Were there other dialects spoken in your home by other family members or married-in spouses of German from Russia descent? Mother, Glückstal. Father Friedenstal. Neighbors and school folks, Neudorf, Worms, and Kassel.

25. What were some of your childhood chores, which you were responsible for? Which ones did you enjoy and which ones did you not like to do? Herding (watching) cattle and getting them over a busy section line (road), a 3-way intersection, this was 80% of the time; also getting the horses ready for a day’s work, taking care of them in the morning and evening. I particularly liked to trap gophers. This was not necessarily a chore, but was a needed activity to control the gopher population and the damage they caused to crops and gardens. There was a bounty paid for the amount of gopher tails that were brought into the county court house.

26. When you did not do the work that was expected of you, how were you disciplined? The moving of cattle and horses across a section line was a “Johnny on the spot” ordeal, because the cattle could have gone in three different directions. The penalty for not be vigilant was having to bring them back 3 miles, and the running (physical exertion involved was more or less, discipline enough. Father Fred rarely did any physical disciplining, and mother sometimes would swat me on the backside if I did not obey after about the third or fourth warning.

27. Were girls and boys disciplined differently? Who did the disciplining? No.

Memories about School

28. Where did you go to school? Grant School District No. 3, Peace Township, Kidder County, N.D. It was a one-room school.

29. How many years did you go to school? 8 grades.

30. Did you go to school the full school term or did you have to stay home at times to help with work? No! Full term, which was 7 months.

31. Were there students of other nationalities at your school? No, only German/Russian; about one third of the students were my first and second cousins and the other two thirds of the students were from two Roemmich families.

32. What are some special memories about your childhood school? My mother had American schooling from age 10 years old and on, where as the other students only had German taught to them by their parents. My father went to night school in America which was taught during World War I. Our school day started at nine o’clock and ended at four p.m. and we had one hour for noon break. We walked three quarter mile to school. For lunch we brought our lunch in gallon metal syrup buckets and we usually had “rahm Brot” or butter bread and some fruit, which was usually an apple.

33. What are some playground memories, such as games and recess times? Some games we played were “Pum-Pum Pull Away,” “Antie I Over” and “Hide and Go Seek”, “Kick the Can”, sledding in winter, and playing baseball using the small sized coal shovel for a bat.

34. How did you travel to and from school? How far was it to school? Ninety-nine percent of the time it was walking since, it was only ¾ of a mile away. The other times were catching a ride with the Roesler uncles who traveled with a horse and sled.

35. What memories do you have of your teachers? I was taught for 5 years by an older homesteading woman named Flora E. Harrison. Some other teachers were Ann Whiteness, Esther Olson, and Helen Rada.

36. What type of discipline was used, when someone did not behave during school? The birch rod and ruler were used, also being grounded during noon hour lunch and recess! Writing 50 to100 times repeated sentences was also used as discipline.

37. Did you change schools or go on to a town school? If so, what were some of the differences between the country and town schools? I never changed schools.

Spiritual Upbringing

38. Was religion and church education important in your upbringing? If so, did this influence your family values? It was very important. It very much influenced the values we carried, because it was based on Bible and Christian teachings.

 

39. What were some of the religious activities you experienced in your daily family life? Table prayer, morning devotions, and if we were unable to travel to church, a sermon book was handy and it was read at home on Sundays.

40. In what language were church worships and prayers? German until the1940’s, then English services were conducted.

41. Approximately when did these worship services switch to English language? In the 1940’s.

42. How did your parents feel about this change? There were pros and cons, in German it was said as, “Fur oder wieder”. My parents weren’t contrary to the change, however they would have liked to have their first-learned language preserved in some ways.

43. Can you tell about when you were baptized and/or confirmed? What special meaning did it have for you? I was baptized on January 7th, 1917 and confirmed on June 26th, 1931. At that time, it was more like a ceremonial rite of passage.

44. Were there any special festivities for these events? Who and where were these held? Did you have a framed certificate of these events? Yes. For confirmation a 5 point parish service was held. I had 25 total classmates. There was also an outdoor tent service in Streeter, ND. There was a forenoon and afternoon service and for the noon meal, the Streeter church members who were host families to the confirmation students, invited the confirmed and their family to their home. The students boarded for the five week instruction period, at host families, because of the distance and travel time it would have taken to get the students to their classes.

45. Were your parents and grandparents involved in founding a church or did they join a neighborhood church? My grandparents came to homestead in 1908 and they did help organize Glückstal Lutheran, which was at first a sod church built in1908. The sod church was built on land Simon Albrecht donated. The wooden frame church, still standing there today, was built in 1913 on land Jacob Werre Sr. donated, located in the northeast quarter of Section 18, in Peace Township.

46. How did your family respond and react toward death? Really just normal ways. My brother Edwin died when I was 14 years old, and my grief response wasn’t as severe as it was when my grandfather Karl Lang died. Both deaths were expected, however, because I was only eight years old when my grandpa died, I didn’t understand dying as well and it was much more grievous for me.

47. Were Holy Scriptures, such as psalms, recited during times of trial or stress? Not really, because daily devotions were very routine.

48. How did people express their grief? Respectfully and solemnly.

49. What traditional funeral songs were sung? Are you familiar with wrought-iron crosses as grave markers? The song that was chosen by my grandfather Karl and his wife, before he died, that was to be sung at his funeral, was hymn number 577 from the official Evangelical Lutheran Hymnbook. This hymnbook was published by the General Council Publication Board Philadelphia, PA in 1908. The family gathered for a prayer service and a departure blessing at the home of the deceased before the funeral processed to the church. The hymn was titled, “Geht nun hin und grabt mein Grab”. I believe 3 verses were sung in church. One verse appears below with the translation to English following.
Geht nun hin und grabt mein Grab. Ich bin des Wanders mude. Von der Erde scheid ich ab. Denn mir ruft des Himmels Friede. Denn mir ruft die süsze Ruh. Von den Engeln droben zu.
So go now and dig my grave. I am tired due to my wandering in my pilgrimage. From this earth I have now departed. Because heavenly peace has (is) calling me. Because sweet rest is calling me, by the angels from heaven above.
At the grave site, while the coffin was lowered into the grave, this song was sung: Wo findet die Seele, die Heimat, die Ruh? The English translation is: Where Is the Home of The Soul To Be Found?
The song sung at my brother’s (Edwin Johann Lang) in September 1931 was Zeuch. #573 in hymnbook EIN FESTE BURG IST UNSER GOTT. This is the same hymnbook that was used for the song sung at Karl Lang’s funeral.
*Regarding the iron crosses, I know of three iron crosses, two in Gluckstal cemetery rural Tappen, ND, and one in Peace Lutheran cemetery, rural Streeter, ND.

50. If so, do you know if the various shapes had special meaning? Did your family have a design? Our family did not have iron crosses.

51. What kind of markers were used, if not iron crosses? Iron crosses were used before any other kinds of markers were used. Two of the iron crosses (the ones at Gluckstal) were crafted by blacksmith Konrad Lang, in 1913. The iron cross in the Peace Lutheran cemetery was also made in 1913. One of the iron crosses that Konrad Lang made was for his own infant’s grave and one was for John and Martha (Lang) Neumiller’s infant’s grave. An aside: Many of the remains from surrounding burial sites were moved to the Gluckstal cemetery when it was founded as a more permanent burial site.

52. Is there anything else about spiritual upbringing you would like to tell us? My parents and I attended other inter-denominational meetings and bible study groups.

Holidays and Festivals

53. How was Christmas celebrated in your family? Tell us about what Christmas was like during the war or Depression times. Always, on Dec. 24th, there was the evening church service, that consisted of the children’s Christmas program. All the children were to recite a memorized recitation, which was usually a Christmas poem. There was always the tolling of the church bell for the opening hymn titled, “Suszer die Glocken nie Klingen Als Zu die Weihnachtszeit”. The English translation is: Sweeter the bells never toll, than at Christmas time.

54. What do you know about “Belzenickel” and “Das Christkindel”? A bag of goodies (e.g. various nuts, candy, and usually an apple) was given to each child at the church. Our tradition did not celebrate Santa Claus in a secular way.

55. How did you celebrate Easter? My parents colored Easter eggs when we were sleeping the night before Easter Sunday. A bowl or bread pan was filled with colored eggs, jelly beans, and nuts. This was hidden under the children’s beds to surprise them on Easter Sunday morning. Easter Sunday services were attended; services were also often attended on Easter Monday and Tuesday with Holy Communion.

56. When you or a family member was married, where did it take place? How long did the festivities last? Tell us about the reception, music and dancing. My parents Rose and Fred got married at the Kidder County Courthouse in Steele, N.D. by the county justice of the peace. Louise and Theodore Lang were married at the Lutheran parish parsonage in Streeter, N.D. The celebrations only lasted one day. For Fred and Rose Lang’s wedding, my grandmother, Elizabeth, and my aunt, Margaret Lang made a special meal after Fred and Rose returned from the ceremony. The day of the wedding, Fred and Rose and their attendants went to Dawson, ND with the horse and buggy, left the horses in the livery stable, and caught the train to Steele, ND, which was about 10 miles from Dawson. Their attendants were Konrad Lang and Jacob Winkler.

57. Were there money dances for the bride and groom? If so, explain how this was done. No, none of that.

58. Did wedding guests get together to sing German songs? Do you recall any of these songs? No, not at ours, but at Conrad and Hannah (Buchholtz) Stadel’s wedding, there was wedding related singing and some hymn singing. They had a dance in the summer kitchen and Gotthilf Lang played the button accordion.

59. Did you participate in a “chivaree” for the married couple? What did the people do? No.

60. What foods were served at special events? Were there special cured meats, hochzeit schnapps, homemade beer, etc.? Not at our family weddings, but I know of weddings in our area where beer, homemade wine, and hochzeit schnapps were served.

61. Who helped with the food preparation? Usually family and friends of the bride did the food preparation. Sometimes men got involved by e.g. pail carrying water from the well or feeding the guests’ horses.

62. Explain the bridal clothes, decorations, ribbons and flowers of the wedding. Was there a “liebsband” sash? I remember as a child, when I attended a wedding, the bride and groom were dressed in some type of wedding attire, this usually was a veil for the bride, sometimes a wedding dress, and for the groom, they would wear their best suit available with a ribbon boutonniere. At the time my parents were married, it was actually some time after the actual wedding day, they made a trip to Streeter, ND, to have a wedding picture taken at the John J. Hochhalter studio. At the studio the photographer had wedding apparel available for the bride and groom to use for their picture taking, e.g. a bridal veil or the ribbon boutonniere.

63. Were photographs taken of the bride and groom (Brautspaar)? Who was the photographer? Where was his studio? No photographer was hired for the actual wedding day for our wedding or the wedding of my parents. Both weddings were in December, so wedding pictures were taken after the actual wedding day.

64. How did you meet your spouse? Was it arranged, unusual courtship, or lonely-hearts club? The usual courtship. I first saw Louise Gums in 1930, at Jake and Mary Kemmet’s farmstead. She was visiting there with her parents, and I was there visiting with my parents. Later, about in 1933. I rode on horseback, down to the Philip Gums residence to court Louise.

65. What social events were available to meet your spouse, such as community and church events, blind dates, etc.? There were a lot of church events, and there was general visiting between neighbors, to catch up on neighborly news and current events.

Memories of Music and Dance

66. What music and entertainment was in your childhood home? There was harmonica and accordion playing for musical entertainment, and we played cards with homemade cardboard cards. We also played dominoes, which helped my little brothers and sisters and me of course, to learn math. It was adding by five’s in the score keeping that helped us to learn numbers.

67. Did anyone in your family sing, play accordion, or other musical instruments? My father played accordion, and I played the accordion and harmonica. Many children in that time had a harmonica, because it was an affordable entertainment piece. We used to sing when my father played, and at Christmas time we sang Christmas songs.

68. Were you encouraged to play an instrument? No, mainly because there was not al lot of free time and much work to carry out, to just survive day to day.

69. Did you take lessons or were you self-taught? Do you play tunes ‘by ear’, rather than by written music? Completely self-taught, yes, and playing by ear.

70. If possible could you sing one of your favorite songs, which you sang as a child? Yes. “Red Wing,” “Have You Ever Been Lonely,” “Gott Ist die Liebe,” “Let The Lower Lights Be Burning” and “Among My Souvenirs.”

71. What styles of dancing did you learn? The two-step. For myself, I did very little dancing.

72. Were there traditional dances that survived from South Russia? Yes, polkas and waltzes. There was talk of the Russian- pronounced, “Cut’la(short a) tchook.”

73. Where did you go dancing? Our schoolhouse at Grant School No. 3 was the only school in the area that was known for dancing. Other schools were known for different types of entertainment for example, Glendale No. 3, was known more for game playing, like the game, “London Bridge Is Falling Down”, and other games. The Gold Room at Napoleon, N.D. was known for Saturday evening dance activities; and barn dances were common, because barn hay lofts were the only large spaces available.

74. Did you attend barn dances? Who attended these dances- young people, older couples and/or families? Yes, I attended dances, and it was mostly young people and young married couples that attended dances.

75. What was the attitude of the older generation towards dance halls? Pro and con.

76. Was there a community-meeting place for people to socialize, whether in town or someone’s farm or school? The Napoleon Gold Room was popular. There were food basket socials, where food baskets were auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Games, Superstitions and Mystery

77. What games or puzzles did you play as a child? Checkers, dominoes, cards, rummy, old maid, profranz, and whist.

78. What were your favorite childhood stories? Do you recall any fairy tales? Aesops Fables were popular.

79. Were there superstitions about unknowns or scary stories about bogeyman or hooting owls? The “irrt” light was a superstition like the bogeyman, if you believed in it, it was the belief that a light would confuse you and lead you astray, e.g. the “irrt” light is going to get you and confuse you even more if you already were doing silly things. It was an imaginary being.

80. How did your family view “Brauche” or folk medicine? Can you tell specific techniques that were used? Brauching was accepted by many as one means of healing, for mental or physical ailments. Massaging was often used and green drops were a medicine used for stomach and abdominal ailments.

81. Do you recall any home remedies or cures? A sweet cream and flour mixture, called a “deigle”, our dialect for Teigle, which was used to draw out infection. which I still use, carbol, camphor, and rosebud salves were used as well. J.R. Watkin’s liniments were used as a massage balm. Alpen-Krauter an herbal concoction was used as a laxative.

82. Do you think there are different sicknesses today, as compared to sickness in past generations of your family? Not really.

83. What do you remember about the role of midwives? Did a midwife ever come to your home? How were midwives paid? Midwives in the area were known to not only deliver babies, but also did some massage therapy and folk remedies. For delivering babies they were paid in cash, or sometimes their was bartering services for goods.

Germanic Survival in America

84. Did your parents use any expressions from Russian, Turkish, Platt Deutsch or French languages? Where and when were they used? As cursing! There were several other Russian words that had filtered into the German language like the word for ducks, (Gatsche), the word Harbusz, (watermelon), Borscht (vegetable-beet soup), Halupsy (cabbage rolls), Tzaringa (lilac bushes).

85. Do you remember the German newspapers that you received in your home? The newspapers known to the German-Russians where I grew up included The Dakota Herald, The Dakota Freie Presse, Der Staatsanzeiger, and The Eureka, SD Rundschau. I read them from cover to cover, except the romances,because I was not knowledgeable of the German countryside.

86. What kind of information did your family gather from the newspaper? All the news and reports written by fellow readers, area news. We also looked for world and national news.

87. Did the family read the comics or “Funnies”? Yes. Saurumfel.

88. What do you remember most when your family got their first conveniences such as electricity, first car, telephone, windmills? I remember the Fairbanks-Morse 32- volt light plant which had a gasoline-run motor, which was bought by my parents in 1931. My parents got a washing machine and clothes iron as a package deal with the purchase of the light plant. For me the washing machine was the “biggest relief” machine because it meant, NO MORE hand-crank washing clothes, in a wooden- tub machine. My farmstead got electrical power via rural electrical service on December 20, 1950. Our service was provided through the KEM Inc.(Kidder, Emmons, and McIntosh counties) cooperative. My parents, the Fred Lang family, bought their first car, a second hand car, in 1925. It was a 1924 Model T Touring Ford car. We had a four party telephone ever since I can remember, that worked by using each party’s (family’s) barbed-wire fences. The families that shared our party line were my uncle Benjamin Lang, John Littau, and Gottlieb and Mary (my cousin) Zimmermann families. This four-party system ended when lightening struck and damaged the telephone sets in the houses in the year 1931. After approximately 25 years of no telephone service, the next system that was brought to our area was a federal telephone cooperative that included the counties of Burleigh, Emmons, and Kidder which made up the BEK telephone co-op. Windmills were a must because of the deep drilled water wells, 100 ft. or more in our area. The Karl Lang family drilled their first well and erected the windmill on December 1, 1913.

90. What do you remember most about the early days of radio? What were some of your favorite programs? John Hoffer Sr. had the first radio in our area in the year 1924. The radio had attachable headphones that amplified the sound, and this was the only way one could listen, due to poor reception out of Minneapolis and WLS (Sears) out of Chicago were the only stations broadcasting at the time. The WNAX station out of Yankton S.D., was the next station Hoffer’s could get reception for in 1924. KFYR out of Bismarck, ND. Started broadcasting in 1925. In 1925 uncle Ben Lang got a radio. Our family’s, the Fred Langs, first radio was obtained in 1934. It was a 32 volt unit radio.

91. What do you remember most during the early days of watching television? The first television I ever saw was in Kaylor, SD, when my parents, my brother, pastor Reuben and his wife Lotte, and Louise and I were visiting at the home of one of his congregation’s member. The family’s last name was Jerke. The television was a black and white screen. The broadcasting station was out of WNAX-TV, Yankton, SD. There was sound but the picture was just very snowy and one could see basic shadows of a picture. The sound was good and I remember the song I heard was titled, YOU YOU YOU , NO ONE ELSE BUT YOU! In our locality, Ed Kramer, Bert Kleppe, Robert Sand, and Edward and Lillie Wanner, had some of the first TV’s in the mid-to late 1950’s.

92. What do you remember about watching the Lawrence Welk Show? I’m still watching and listening to it! I saw Lawrence Welk in person in about 1927 at Lake Isabel, which hosts Camp Grassick, near Dawson N.D. He played a 41 piano and 120 bass key accordion, the first one I ever saw and heard. We watched the program every week.

Family Values

93. Which family member do you best remember?

94. Who do you look up to and admire for portraying life’s best qualities? My grandparents on both sides of the family. They were Karl and Elizabeth Lang and my step-grandfather, Christian Roesler and grandmother Christina nee (Rott),Roesch,Roesler. My mother, father, aunts, uncles, and other older folks were a good influence on me. I was as a child and still am, very comfortable amongst older people and I feel I related and relate well with them.

95. Why did their life and personality have an impact on your life? They told of life’s experiences. I am a TRUE STORY (non-fictional Geschicte) reader. I tend to enjoy jokes and humor, especially German folk humor.

Food, Work and Activities

96. Did women homestead and prove-up their land? Yes! Maggie (Dutt) Kapp, Mary (Brown) Steinhouse, and Magdalena Oster, were homesteaders. Magdalena Oster was blinded by smallpox at age 14. She never married.

97. What were the expected outdoor tasks for women outside the house? The gardening, milking, taking care of poultry and livestock, and field work. All of these.

98. What do you remember of the special German foods when your mother or grandmother cooked or baked? My parents made mal-li, johnny cake; it was also known as mammalicka when corn meal was made into a porridge. Mal-li and mammalicka are Russian words for corn meal products. Maize (corn) originated with the Native Americans.

99. Are German foods still prepared in your kitchen such as breads, borscht, strudels, halupsy, and kuchen? If yes, have your children learned to prepare these foods? Yes and yes!

100. Have these recipes been recorded to pass down to the next generation? Yes, through cookbooks

101. Was there anyone in your family who had artistic talent and craft skills? Such as sewing, basket making, weaving, bobbin lace, and others? My step-father, Christ Roesler worked on leather for horse harnesses and Grandmother Elizabeth (Humann) Lang wove rugs, and grandmother Elizabeth (Maier) Gums sewed. My mother Rose sewed and mended. My grandfather Karl Lang was a blacksmith while he was in Russia and in America. My sister Rose writes poetry.

102. Did anyone have skills in scherenschnitte (paper cut-outs)? Yes, my cousin Gottlieb (Uncle Ben‘s son) Lang. I myself have a talent for paper cutouts.

103. Did your family make their own clothes or tailored clothing for other family members? Where did they get the fabrics? How did they re-use old clothes? Yes, we used the surrounding town’s stores, and mail-order catalogs like Montgomery Ward, Sears, and Spiegel for ready made clothes. Fabric was generally purchased in our local trading stores. My first winter coat was tailored for me by my grandparents, Karl and Elizabeth Lang. It was my coat of “many colors”, and it was made of many scraps of fabrics. My wife sewed most of our children’s clothes, especially the 3 girl’s clothes, and clothes for herself.

104. Do you recall any family member having quilting parties? Describe the occasion. No, that really did not happen in the horse and buggy days.

105. What are your memories of reading about women’s activities and food recipes from the Dakota Farmer from Aberdeen, South Dakota? Louise and I had continued getting the Farmer magazine quite some time after quitting farming in1985. There was always a lot of mechanical advice in them. Our family really enjoyed the comic,” The Song of the Lazy Farmer” and it was generally the first thing we read in the magazine.

106. How was this information used by family members? Any information about farming, cooking, cleaning hints, crop information, and other articles were applied as the need arose.

Insights and Reflections

107. Is there any topic not discussed which you would like to add? Yes, my grandpa Karl Lang was a blacksmith. Blacksmiths were the first mechanics, knowing a lot about steam engines and machinery and very knowledgeable about iron in general.

108. Are there other thoughts or observations you would like to share?

109. What things-skills, character qualities, or achievements do you want to be remembered by your next generations? One must work and play. Like they say, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

110. How is your family history and culture being passed to the next generation? We have contributed to a Lang and Gums family history book and to several local city/community jubilee anniversary books. I contributed to the Napoleon centennial jubilee book (1984) and the Streeter 75th anniversary book(1980), also to the Tappen, ND jubilee book(1977). This interview is another way I wish to pass on some of my German-Russian heritage and ways. Many photo albums have been kept, and pictures labeled and dated of relatives that lived/live in Russia and Germany. Many of our relatives have relocated to Germany from Russia since the 1970’s. Louise and I traveled to Germany in 1983 and 1988 for the purpose of visiting these relatives. The relatives we visited were the Roesch, Gums, and Lang families. The stories and facts gleaned from the relatives that we visited, helped fill in the blanks, so to speak, about what life was like for the German people in Russia, during the times after our parents and grandparents emigrated, and during the Bolshevik revolution and the two world wars. It cleared up for me a lot of questions and curiosities about what had really happened, because there were many sources and many stories about the people’s different experiences there.

111. Is there anyone else you suggest for us to interview?


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
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