Conducted by Betty (BM) and Chris Maier (CM)
4 October 1996, Linton, North Dakota
Transcribed by Erica Nelson
Proofread and edited by Peter Eberle
BM: My name is Betty Maier, and I’m a volunteer
interviewer for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
at the North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo. It’s
my pleasure to have Kathryn Gefreh Vetter in Linton, North Dakota
for our interview today. First of all, what is your name, your
birth date, and where were you born?
KV: My name is Kathryn Vetter. I was born in [A07
Marie township] in 1924, and my birthday is April 26th.
BM: What is your father’s name? Do you know
where he was born?
KV: Joseph; he was born in the United States around
the Hague area.
BM: Do you know when and where he died?
KV: He died in St. Michael’s, [Marie district],
and he’s buried there.
BM: What’s the last name? Would you spell
that for me?
BM: What was your mother’s name?
KV: Marian Mattern.
BM: Was she born in Russia or the United States?
KV: She was born in Russia.
BM: Do you know what village?
KV: Elsass, Russia.
BM: Do you know where she died and was buried?
KV: She died in [A18 Marie township] in Linton
BM: I guess we didn’t get when your father
KV: He died in 1945 on the farm.
BM: How many brothers and sisters in your family?
KV: I have two brothers, Adam and John, and I
have one sister, Mary.
BM: Which ones are older?
KV: Adam, Mary, John.
BM: Do you recollect any of your mother’s
stories she might have told from south Russia, where she came
KV: She didn’t say too much because she
was only five years old, so there was really not that much that
she could tell us.
BM: And her mother?
KV: Her mother died when I was a little better
than 2 years old, so I really don’t know.
BM: Your father was born here in the United States,
but did he pass on any stories at all that he may have gotten
from his parents?
KV: From his mom and dad, yeah. His mom passed
on quite a few stories.
BM: Where were they living?
KV: She lived in the Hague area until she died.
BM: Do you remember any of the family stories
about how they had grown up, or conditions where they grew up,
or how they came to the United States?
KV: I would know some from what my mom said, but
not from my dad because my dad was not born in Russia. But what
my mom said when they came over was they had no home. They had
to live with their uncle, which would have been her dad’s
brother. They lived there until they found a little place for
them. Then they made a little house. She used to tell us how
scared she was. She was the second oldest girl in the family.
They all went out to work and she had to stay in—and how
scared she was because there was nobody around. She said, “Oh
I was so scared.” She couldn’t wait sometimes till
they came home.
And this story she said about when they left Russia:
her grandma and grandpa were there when they bid them goodbye,
and she said how her grandma cried. She said she cried. She
said if I would have been the boss, we would have never come
over. She would have said we’re gonna stay, but she said
grandma and grandpa just took all and left and that was it,
and grandma screamed and bawled and she said I’ll never
see you again. And that was it; they never saw each other; they
never wrote to each other. I don’t think they could write.
None of them could write because they didn’t write. But
later they found out from somebody when they died. But that
was a sad story for you.
BM: Yes, that would be hard. Now, they spoke German?
BM: Those were hard times not only leaving over
there, but also when they came here.
KV: I don’t know what they wanted here.
BM: The reason they left over there then was…
KV: for freedom
BM: For freedom. To get away…
KV: from being soldiers. They all had to join
BM: So they didn’t receive any letters then
from the old country?
KV: Not as far as I know.
BM: So they almost divorced themselves….
KV: from the family, yeah.
BM: Did you learn German then as a child?
BM: Do you know which dialect that you speak?
KV: Must have been the Dutch.
BM: What were some of the childhood chores that
you enjoyed doing?
KV: Mostly feeding the chickens—they were
kind of easier—and gathering the eggs.
BM: What were some that you didn’t enjoy?
KV: Pigs. They threw you over.
BM: So you had to do outside work. How about the
kind of work inside?
KV: Scrubbing, carrying water and coal, fill the
kerosene lights, kerosene stove, milk cows, separate, feed the
calves. I never worked in the field much, just chores.
BM: When do you remember starting to cook?
KV: I cooked more for my aunt when I was about
eight. They lived at the same place that we lived, and a little
ways off, and they lived in our house. They had two children.
I cooked more for her then I did for my mom because Mary was
older than I was. I cooked for my aunt more; that’s where
I learned a lot.
BM: Who is your aunt? What is her name?
KV: She was Julia Wolf; she died.
BM: Wolf, is that her maiden name or her married
KV: She was a Mattern, she was my mom’s
youngest sister. I learned a lot from ma too, but I really didn’t
have to do it alone then. But my aunt would just take advantage
of me. She’d go out and do something and said well you
do this and by the time I come in. I really had to do it—like
BM: You were eight years old then.
KV: I was about eight years old. I remember when
I made my first cake. It was a cream cake.
BM: Did it turn out?
KV: Yah, it wasn’t so bad. They ate it.
BM: What other things did you cook?
KV: Let’s see, I made potatoes a lot, probably
chicken. I know we butchered them, and I suppose I had to cook
them too by the time she came in.
BM: We’ll talk about the food a little bit
later. Did you go to school?
KV: Went up till the eighth grade.
BM: What was it like to go to school? Did you
go to a one room school?
KV: We had a one room school with all grades.
I remember one time we had 40 children in school. Then they
decided to make a double room. They made a double room and in
about two or three years there were hardly any left any more—kids
BM: Did you have hot lunch?
KV: We had a hot lunch program.
BM: Did you bring your own potatoes, is that it?
KV: Well, first we started that way; we brought
our own potatoes and laid them on the stove. Then later on we
had N.Y.A girls that came in to work—National Youth Administration
girls. They had to work like in schools, so they got their hours
in. So they did the lunch program. They made lunch. Sometimes
they made it at home and brought it. I don’t think there
were very many things that they made there because they had
no stove. They must have brought it and served it to us. They
had pea soup; sometimes we got meat stew and cooked prunes.
I know it tasted good. All we had to do was bring our bread
or whatever we wanted, but then at least we had one hot dish.
I think they made hot beans too sometimes.
BM: I have not heard of this program before. Who
sponsored it then? Was it a government sponsored program?
KV: Yeah, that was a government thing. The county
agent had to deal with the national youth.
BM: Apparently the girls were involved with some
educational programming along the way.
KV: Yeah, they were.
BM: Were they neighbor girls?
KV: Yeah, they were all from the same area. There
were about six girls, and they could only start working for
that program when they were 18. In the summertime, they would
clean the schools, the desks, the windows. And the boys would
do the bathrooms outside—they had outside bathrooms. Or
if they had something to do in the school like if something
was broken, then boys would do that kind of work.
BM: Did they take care of the school yard then?
KV: Yah, little bit, except they didn’t
cut the school ground. They auctioned that off; somebody else
had to do that. That was not done by the boys.
BM: Did you have a barn on your school ground?
KV: We had a little barn. Some people came with
their horses, and they had to put them in. Evenings they went
back home again.
BM: How did they get hay for the horses there?
KV: I think they had to bring it along. They came
with a wagon, and they had their own hay along, and maybe their
own water too, because there was no water in school at the time
when I went to school.
BM: You didn’t have a pump in the ground?
KV: No, we always had to carry water.
BM: Do you remember any playground experiences?
KV: Towards the end we played volleyball already
in school. That was pretty new. I don’t think we had anything
else. We played baseball—that was our main game. We went
over to the pasture, and we had baseball games over there. There
were so many kids, we could play anything.
BM: With 40 children from first to eighth grade.
KV: Yeah, they had all grades. We played like
Andy-over—that was over the barn with a ball. And Pom-Pom
Pull-away and tag; we played a lot of games. Usually our teacher
would come and play with us, which helped.
BM: Do you remember any of your teachers during
KV: My first teacher was Morlane, and then my
second one was Paul Schneider. We had him for two years. Then
we had [Art V.] for two years. Then we came back to Morlane
again, I don’t know how he made it back again, but we
had him another year.
BM: Apparently he was a little different in his
KV: Then we got a couple—by this time we
had a double school. Then we had Mr. and Mrs. Edmund [A132 Luge].
They came from Oakes, North Dakota. They were a married couple.
We had them for two years, and by that time I was almost out
of school. I had my brother for a teacher the last year. I was
in eighth grade then. Those were the only teachers I had.
BM: Where did the teachers stay? Did they stay
at the school, or did they go boarding?
KV: They boarded at my aunt’s place. Like
Paul Schnieder, and [Art V], and Marlane, they stayed at where,
like I said, I worked. Then Mr. and Mrs. Edmund [Luge] started
out, we had a store building that was empty. We had a little
country store that by that time was closed. They lived in that
for a year. It was so cold in that building that the next year
they moved up to [A137 Kuntz’s] store and lived there
for a year. That was all.
BM: That was it. So what did you do after you
graduated from the eighth grade then?
KV: Stayed home.
BM: You stayed home and worked and helped on the
farm. So how old were you when you got married then?
BM: So you....
KV: Helped a lot at home. But then at home we
had a lot of things going—like we had 4-H and in the church
we did a lot of things that they don’t do now. We had
discussion club every week. We had choir practice every week.
There were more things going for you out there.
BM: So was religion and church an important part
in your upbringing?
KV: Oh yes, we were looking forward for those
nights. The discussion club was your religion, we had the bible.
BM: What language were the church services and
KV: The church services were Latin. Then after
we were married, the Mass was in Latin and the prayers were
in German. Then later we got English prayers and English Mass.
BM: Do you remember approximately what date?
KV: What year that it was? Let’s see, it
was when we had Fr. Zelder, wasn’t it, when we started
going in English?
BM: Were your parents still alive?
KV: My mother was.
BM: How did they feel about that—such a
KV: I guess they didn’t understand the Latin
either. The German prayers they did. But then Father kind of
explained it to them. He said, “You people that know your
German you just pray what you know. We have to do it for the
younger generation.” That’s why they went in English.
So I really don’t think we had too much gripe about it.
BM: So you were Baptized and Confirmed out there
then. What church was this?
KV: Saint Michael’s Church. I was married
BM: That’s where your roots are.
KV: Far down.
BM: Were there any special activities when you
KV: I still remember when we were Confirmed. It
was not really special, but it was a celebration because I still
remember it. Everybody went to their home after Confirmation;
they went to their homes with their relatives or their family.
They ate at home. It’s not like now when they go to a
hall. We had no hall at that time. Everybody went home, and
the same way with First Communion. But we always made it a little
bit [special] that we remembered it because we went over to
the parish house. Then Father would give them a picture in the
house, like a certificate, and we usually ended up with a candy
bar. You remember that when you get a candy bar. That was so
BM: Do you still have your Confirmation certificate?
KV: I don’t know if they had Confirmation
certificates, but they had First Communion [certificates]. I
think I still have it somewhere. We never framed it because
there was no room in the house to put them.
BM: In those days the certificates were so much
bigger, weren’t they?
KV: Yah, and where did you hang them, you had
not enough walls.
BM: Were your parents and grandparents involved
in founding the church out there?
KV: Yes. My dad, after they were married, they
started building St. Michael’s Church. And he donated
money already because Grandma and Grandpa had bought them the
land up at St. Michael’s. They knew that was the church
they were going to go to, so they had to put money in to start
building. When they came up, then they built the church.
BM: Did the people around there build the church?
KV: They all helped.
BM: How did your family deal with death?
KV: It was sort of a sad thing.
BM: Were your grandparents living in the home
with you, or were they living someplace else?
KV: My grandma used to come to live with us because
that was when we only had one grandma that I know. My grandpas
were dead before we were born. And then my Mattern grandma died
when I was two. So we only had this one grandma. She did come
and live with us for a couple of weeks, and then she’d
go to a different place again. She really had no home. She rotated
around with the children. She died at her daughter’s place
BM: Where is she buried?
KV: She’s buried in Saint Aloysius. That’s
the place where they lived—the Hague area, St. Aloysius.
And my dad died at home.
BM: You said he was buried at Saint Michael’s.
KV: My other grandpa, Gefreh grandpa, is buried
at St. Aloysius too, both of them, and Mattern in Strasburg.
BM: Are you familiar with some of the wrought
iron crosses? Did they have those at the cemeteries where your
forefathers are buried?
KV: There are some there, but my grandma hasn’t
got one. There are a lot in Saint Michaels, but those are all
that died before my parents died.
BM: I know you celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary
here this summer. What are some of the heirlooms and sentimental
things that maybe have been passed down? Maybe your family didn’t
save things. Maybe they couldn’t. Can you think of anything?
KV: You mean like my mom? Really not. You mean
like what I have from my mom? Well, I have a [A214 Grishhalschdo],
a blanket that you put on like when you went on the car. They
never went without a shawl. They call it a [A217 Grishhalschdo]
in German. That’s what you called it. It’s a shawl
with dresses on. That’s all I had. And then my other sister
had a few other things. She didn’t have too much; her
older things just wore out.
BM: Do you know the origin of that shawl? Was
it something she brought…
KV: No, it was from here.
BM: What were Christmas celebrations like with
KV: Well, they were kind of plain. There was not
too much. We knew it was Christmas and we were waiting to get
a little sack of things to eat, but there was nothing like the
gifts they have now days—those big gifts; they don’t
even care for anything to eat anymore.
BM: Was it an important part in the church?
KV: Oh yeah. It was a big celebration in the church
for Christmas Eve—and probably the next two days. It was
a longer Christmas than now, in church.
BM: And with family too?
KV: And with family.
BM: What were the Easter activities like?
KV: They were about the same. They were not too
big either. You got your little Easter basket and then you went
to church. I suppose you had special things to eat for Easter,
but that was not like now, you didn’t get that little
BM: You didn’t have any special activities
as a child when Easter was there?
KV: Not really.
BM: How about marriage ceremonies. Let’s
talk about yours, since you celebrated your 50th. You were married
in the church then?
KV: We were married in Saint Michael’s Church
and then we went over to Wendlin’s folks. We had dinner,
like soup and kuchen and chicken. Then they always had a supper
yet too. The supper consisted of like sausage, potato salad,
KV: No, the chicken was for noon; that was the
noon meal. Then they had homemade bread and kuchen. That’s
BM: Did you have the dance?
KV: Oh yeah, then we went to Napoleon for the
BM: What kind of music did you have there?
KV: We had Larry Fischer playing with the accordion
and two other guys. Drums and the horn—it was a three
BM: How many days did this wedding celebration
KV: Just one day.
BM: Was there any singing of songs?
KV: Yeah, like Wendlin’s uncle, I think
they sang the marriage song. The [A256 Ish don song] they would
call it. They sang that before we had dinner already, or was
it before the supper?
Right after dinner they would sing that German wedding song.
Then we danced a little in the afternoon at the house.
BM: Did you have a chivaree?
KV: No. They left us go.
BM: You snuck by, huh? [laughter] He didn’t
have a wheel barrel to carry you from the barn to the house.
How did you two meet?
KV: Well, St. Michael’s and St. Joseph’s
were close together, and when St. Joseph’s didn’t
have as much church as we did because we had the same priest;
we had to share him. So they came over to church a lot at St.
Michael’s—like for Christmas Eve or…when was
it Wendlen? When did you come to church?
WV: May devotions.
KV: Oh yah, we had May devotions in May and in
June—for two months—every Sunday night. He was usually
alone when he came to church. Then at wedding dances we saw
each other. We knew each other maybe already when we were about
12 or 14.
BM: How far did your families live apart?
KV: It was only maybe seven miles, but that was
far at that time, especially when you belonged to a different
BM: So you got acquainted when you came to a common
KV: Yeah, then to wedding dances—there were
more dances than there are now—and ballgames sometimes
on Sunday afternoons. See each other a little bit. Just knew
we existed. [laughter]
BM: Well, it wasn’t arranged by your parents
KV: No, no. That was—we knew each other.
We dated before, maybe two years before already but then it
kind of—my dad got sick and he was sick for over a year.
I didn’t have much time to go anywhere. Everything stopped,
and after my dad died Wendlin came over to visit me, which was
so nice, we needed company. That is when it really started I
BM: And by this time you were probably old enough.
KV: Then I was old enough—I was 21. Then
I had time. I knew I didn’t want to stay single all my
BM: Was there any entertainment in your home?
Did you have anybody play organ or accordion?
KV: No, nobody played anything.
BM: What kind of German foods did you start preparing
then when you helped your aunt? Kuchen?
KV: Well, we made that cream cake a lot. I don’t
think we made Kuchen.
BM: How about bread?
KV: They made their own bread. Oh, yah, they made
Kuchen out of the bread dough. Then they put cream on and eggs,
you know, a custard—every time they baked. They made cream
noodles. They’d roll them out and then they put cream
and sugar and cinnamon on and then they’d roll them up
again and bake them. Sometimes they would put cottage cheese
in too—Cheese noodles. And they made blachenda, with pumpkin.
You know what that is?
BM: Yes, but I can’t make it. I’ve
tried but doesn’t taste as good as it should.
KV: We usually had them by the time we came home
from school. My mom would have made blachenda, and then maybe
a pot of potato soup or bean soup.
BM: So that was your snack when you came home?
KV: For supper. Usually supper was ready then.
BM: Did you have homework to do when you came
home from school?
KV: Studying? Oh, yeah. We had to do that after
BM: You had chores to do first before it got dark.
KV: Then you could always study.
BM: Did you do any dancing?
KV: Yeah, we did barn dancing—whoever had
a shed that was empty—Sunday nights.
BM: Who provided the music?
KV: Mostly harmonicas. Somebody who could play
the harmonica was a musician.
BM: What are some of the people that came to the
KV: Neighbor kids. By that time I was grown up
more. Like when we closed our country store we had several dances
in there. That was for the public. We even had little orchestras
there. That’s where the people met then to have a get-together;
they didn’t go to town for dancing.
BM: Did this include children too and families?
KV: No, mostly the ones who started going to dances—maybe
from age 15-16. And maybe some older people would come—fresh,
newly married people.
BM: Were the children permitted to go with the
parents to different places?
KV: Oh yah. At my age, if they had children they
could go along.
BM: One of the celebrations I can think of are
KV: They hardly never took them along because
there were just for older people then. They had to stay home
for name’s days or birthdays.
BM: Did your parents object to the public dances
like at the stores?
KV: Not really. I think they were kind of glad
that they had something going for the young people because they
couldn’t afford to go to town. It was a nice get together.
Later on it got stricter; you weren’t allowed to have
them anymore unless you had a permit. So that’s when stopped.
It got stricter.
BM: Were your parents or your grandparents superstitious
about any different aspects of life? Did they talk about hooting
owls? I know you mentioned that your mother was the youngest
in the family.
KV: The only thing I know they believed was there
was a light. They called it the [A346 alischt]. The [A356 alisht]
would be a light that’s lost—a lost light. Did you
ever here that?
BM: No, I haven’t heard of that one.
KV: They were so scared of those. And then they
made people believe that they were there, but I don’t
think there was anything like that. I think it was a reflection
of the moon or something that they saw and got scared.
BM: Was this out on the prairie?
KV: Yeah. Then some just had a real head strong
belief that there really is a light that went after the people.
It never did anything, but if the light followed them. But I
think that’s what it was, a reflection.
BM: Can you identify any specific healing techniques
that were used during those times?
KV: There was a lot of brauching done.
BM: Anyone in your family do it?
KV: No, not in my family. But I know my folks
went to the brauchers.
BM: Do you know who they were? Were they neighbors?
KV: I don’t think we had anybody in our
community. But they went to Wishek, where there was a lady that
brauched. I don’t think we had anybody in our community
that did it.
BM: Did it really help?
KV: Yeah, I suppose.
BM: Do you remember any of the special techniques
that were used? Did you ever talk about it?
KV: Yeah, when they had ringworm, they had to
put some [A365 Schpeck] on, like bacon.
BM: [Schpeck] being fat.
KV: Yeah, they rubbed it in. While they were there
the lady would pray over it. Then they had to come back maybe
three or four times and by that time it was gone. I think it
was the prayer that probably healed it. Like when they had an
infection in their finger they would call a [A374 varm]. Did
you ever hear that? The [varm]. We figured it out later on that
all it maybe was was a fingernail infection. Why don’t
they get in now anymore? But nothing helped except brauching.
Oh, they would look so terrible. My sister had it. Even meat
would come out of it on the side—you know would grow out
of it. It was so bad already and she was so in pain. There was
a lady here in town that brauched. She came in and she stayed
over night. She put a prune on that night. I don’t think
it was a cooked prune, maybe a raw prune and then she prayed
over it. She came home and she had to come maybe another two
times, and that darn thing healed. Didn’t need a doctor,
nothing. I’m sure if she would have gone to a doctor he
would have cut all that meat off, trimmed it.
BM: Did they pay her then?
KV: Yeah, probably brought a little food. She
was my cousin, so she was glad maybe to have company.
BM: So you think there are different sicknesses
today as compared to back then. Probably because of the use
of soap, huh?
KV: Maybe the dirt that was in there caused infection.
Had a little sore there, then it got inflamed. I don’t
really know. But they got it in the toes too.
BM: Do you remember any roles about the midwives?
BM: Did they deliver?
KV: They delivered the babies. I remember my aunt,
the one I used to work with, her second and her third child
were midwived and then the fourth one too. There she had a different
one then. The other one had died by that time or moved away.
And they had a different one. They liked them.
BM: And they were paid?
KV: They were paid a little, 5 dollars. I still
remember when they said they paid her 5 dollars. But they had
to get her and take her back, and she probably stayed a couple
hours longer just in case something would come up.
BM: Did you get Newspapers at home?
BM: Do you remember which ones?
KV: The Herald, [A414 The Landmund], that would
be the Land Man in English, the [415 Statsonzier] what was that?
The State’s Reporter—I think that’s what it
BM: How about the Dakota Free Press? Did you get
KV: No. Those are the only three I remember. Well,
maybe other people got different ones, but that’s all
BM: What kind of information did your family get
from these newspapers? Did you keep track of families?
KV: It was something like a tribune now. There
were a lot of headlines in there about things that had happened.
And maybe it was old stories too, like that had happened before
already. Letters from the other country that they would write
KV: Debts probably. Or maybe ones that wanted
to let them know you’re still living.
BM: Were there any funnies or comics, do you remember?
KV: See, I didn’t read them. We couldn’t
read German, we could read a little bit, but not in a newspaper.
We read in our Catechism. I could read pretty good German, and
we had little bible stories; there I could read.
BM: So when you were going to the country school,
you were learning strictly by English then?
KV: That German was during the summer when we
had like CCD here—we maybe had three or four weeks of
religion. We had more than they have now.
BM: You didn’t speak German at all when
you were growing up?
KV: You weren’t supposed to, but we did.
We got a lot of punishment, and I’m glad to this day that
we did. If we talked German and then we had to come in and sit
down and write maybe a hundred times, “I will not talk
BM: Did your teachers speak German?
KV: We had some that spoke German, but then we
had some that didn’t—some that didn’t even
understand. Those were the strictest ones, but that’s
maybe where we learned the most.
BM: Do you remember when your family got its modern
KV: I know when we got our first Maytag washing
machine with a motor, and that darn thing wouldn’t start.
But still when it did start it was good.
BM: Still better than scrubbing it with a scrub
board and ringing it by hand.
KV: A washing machine where you rubbed it.
BM: I don’t know what you’re talking
KV: You never had any like that?
BM: No, we sure didn’t.
KV: It was a washing machine, but you had to do
it by hand. You pushed it and that would rub your clothes, but
when it was standing it wouldn’t do anything. The kids
had to take turns doing it. Then after that we got one with
BM: So you had no electricity yet then?
BM: So what was the next thing that you got that
KV: I still remember when we didn’t have
any kerosene stove. We got a kerosene stove and a little oven
to put on that we could bake bread in. You didn’t have
to use your wood stove. That was a big accomplishment in the
BM: Do you remember when you got electricity?
KV: We were married, and we had two kids already.
That was great. The first thing we did was put our washing machine
into electric; we put a motor on it. We still used the same
washing machine. Then we got an iron right away. We had kerosene
irons before. Then we got an electric motor on the milk machine.
We had milk machine, but we had to do it by gas motor and then
we changed it into electric. That was a great thing. The separator
we changed to electric. We had water in the basement, and we
had to pump it, so we got an electric motor there that pumped
our water—a sump pump.
BM: Did it change your lifestyle any, for reading
and doing things at different times of the day or anything like
KV: I think it saved a lot of time. We had a little
more other time to spend with the family maybe. And it was easier
on us, too.
BM: How about the radio?
KV: We got our first radio, we had battery radio
and then we got electric and then afterwards a number of years
came television. We really didn’t have the first television
in the community, we were kind of behind. A lot of people had
it before we did.
BM: Now you were already married by that time?
KV: We had maybe six children already by the time
we got television.
BM: So what were some of the first television
programs that you watched?
KV: The fights were really—the wrestling.
BM: Did you watch the Lawrence Welk Show?
KV: Yes, always. What else? Days of our Lives.
BM: What family members do you remember the best?
Think back generations.
KV: Well, my sister and her husband lived really
close so we were together a lot, and Wendlin’s folks didn’t
live too far, so I knew some of his brothers and sisters.
BM: Where did you farm then? Did you have a farm
of your own?
KV: We lived on my mom’s place when we were
married. When my dad died, my mom didn’t want to move
to town, so we moved in with her, and later she moved in with
us when we bought the land. She lived us almost 33 years, till
BM: Now they go to the nursing home don’t
[end side A]
[begin side B]
KV: We had 11 children. Mary Kay, she was born on June 23rd,
1947; Verna, March 7th, 1949; Joe, May 5th, 1950; Theresa, October
7th, 1952; Josephine, January 5th, 1955; Elizabeth, August 1,
1957; Denita, June 21, 1959; Diane, January 4th, 1961; Leonard,
July 29th, 1962; Gerald, February 22, 1967.
BM: Wow! You didn’t have any spare time,
KV: That’s why I say I forgot the years.
BM: I don’t think we recorded when you and
Wendlin were married.
KV: September 16th, 1946.
BM: And you were married in St. Michael’s
KV: St. Michael’s church.
BM: When did you move to Linton then? You had
a farm out there.
KV: We moved to Linton in—it’s 10
years now. We were married 40 years when we moved there, and
now we’re married 50. We moved in in ‘86.
BM: Were there any special members in your family
that you particularly looked up to and wanted to be like?
KV: You mean like our aunts and uncles or something?
BM: Did you have good family models?
KV: Yeah, we looked up a lot—like my uncles,
the Matterns, I really thought I could live like them. Learned
a lot. Respected them a lot. I think Wendlin had some too that
he looked up to.
BM: Is there some things now that we need to go
back to, that you’d like to say some things about? There
is one question that came up about schools that I’d like
to ask. How far did you have to go to school?
KV: A half a mile.
BM: So did you walk?
KV: We walked all the time.
BM: Even when it was cold and snowy?
KV: Well, when it was cold our neighbors would
drive, and we would just jump on the sled and get a ride.
BM: Apparently they had farther to school then
you and came by your place.
KV: Yeah, they came by our place.
BM: Are there some things that we maybe missed
that you’d like to talk about?
KV: We mentioned this YCL. It was Young Citizens
League. And that was started in our school. I think it was really
helpful, and we had it every Friday afternoon. But once a month
we had election when we got new members in. Like the president,
secretary, and treasurer.
BM: So somebody was president one month and then
there would be another person in the school that would be president…
KV: …the next month. This way they all got
a chance to see what it was like. I think we learned a lot because
we always had a program when we had a YCL meeting. We always
had to think of something. We had songs or a little play that
we had to put on. I think it was really useful for the kids
to do something like that.
BM: Must have had a business meeting too then?
KV: Yeah, we had the business meeting too. We
had a lot of committees for working. We had a clean-up committee,
a lunch committee, outdoor committee.
BM: I suppose you had secretary and treasurer.
KV: Well, that went with president, secretary,
treasurer, and vice president.
BM: So everybody was learning certain leadership
skills. Did you just have it in your local school, or did you
go to other schools?
KV: Well, we had it in our school, but after we
had a two room school we invited the little school to come over
to participate with us during the meeting and with the program
if we had a little act or sing songs. Then they would do the
same thing, if they had something, then they invite us over.
Not every time, but maybe three times a year.
BM: Did you have county meetings with the YCL?
KV: Well, we had a YCL convention that was in
the spring. All the schools got together then. We all had to
do something. Some put on songs and plays. It took a couple
hours in the afternoon till it was all over. Then usually our
county superintendent would have something to say to all the
schools. Then our teachers would probably introduce their schools.
It was kind of interesting.
BM: I bet it was. You got the chance to meet other
kids from other schools. Some of the following questions are
specifically related to things that the women would probably
be involved in. Was there anyone in your family who had a talent
for sewing, basket weaving, textiles, bobbin lace or any of
those? And paper cut outs, and I can’t say the name in
German, but it’s there.
KV: Yeah, my aunt that I worked with, she taught
us to crochet. My mom didn’t know how to crochet but she
sewed. My mom couldn’t read so she sewed patterns by heart.
She sewed a lot of our dresses. I don’t know how she made
them, but she did it. They cut out piece of papers, made their
own patterns. Then they would sew them. They sewed all the bedding.
They did a lot of sewing.
BM: Did your sisters do their own clothes too
or did you?
KV: We didn’t sew very much. Not really.
BM: Did you have a sewing machine?
KV: We had a sewing machine.
BM: So you did mending?
KV: My mom did the sewing.
BM: Do you remember reusing old clothes?
KV: Yeah, sometimes like if there was a lot of
material she would probably make something out of it.
BM: Did your mother quilt? Did you make any quilts?
KV: No, that’s one thing she didn’t
do. She made like what you call the covers that you’d
put over quilts. Like they make flannel covers to put over the
quilts for winter time and then in the summer time they were
made of cotton.
BM: Did you have feather quilts?
KV: Yeah, we had feather [B77 ticks], and then
later we just had quilts or blankets. We never made them ourselves.
BM: Do you remember getting The Dakota Farmer
from Aberdeen, South Dakota?
KV: Oh yes, that was really something. I looked
forward to the quilt patterns in there and the recipes and the
lazy farmer, who would always have a writing in there. Then
there were news, like a lot of times from the missing people;
there was a page always in there. Then there was a page of what
they were asking for, like some were asking for certain dishes
or a pattern that was kind of hard to get. Some people would
send it in if they would have it, probably reward them a little
bit for it. That was really interesting.
BM: Now is there something that we have missed
that you can think of that you would like to share?
KV: Not really.
BM: Thanks so much Katie…and Wendlin. He’s
here to keep us on the straight and narrow.
KV: You mean that’s all already?
BM: That’s it.