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Interview with Anton "Tony" Metz (TM)

With comments by Celestina Metz (CM) Conducted by Brother Placid Gross (BG)

17 November 1998, Dickinson, North Dakota

Transcription by Margaret Templin
Editing and proofreading by Lena Paris and Beverly Wigley


BG: Today is November 17, 1998. I am Brother Placid Gross [a volunteer interviewer for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection of the North Dakota State University Library in Fargo, North Dakota]. We are at the home of Tony Metz in Dickinson, North Dakota.

BG: What is your name?

TM: My name's Tony Metz, and we lived in Dickinson 26 years.

BG: Your date of birth is - when were you born?

TM: 1912, the 19th of December.

BG: Where were you born?

TM: I was born out on a farm six miles north of New Hradec.

BG: What is the name of your wife?

TM: Celestina Metz.

BG: When did you get married?

TM: 1934, July 10th.

BG: You got married in the middle of the hot season. What was your father's name?

TM: My father's name was Joseph Metz and my mother's name was Margaret Haag.

BG: Do you know when your father was born?

TM: No, but I can look it up.

BG: Do you know where they [your parents] came from in Russia?

CM: They came from Russia, didn't they go to Germany and then to South America? They came here over here from South America.

BG: They came from Russia to South America. Where in South America, Argentina?

TM: Argentina.

BG: You don't remember what town in Russia they came from?

TM: No. You know I had a stroke and ever since that I can't remember hardly.

BG: Okay. What was your father's occupation?

TM: [He was a] carpenter.

BG: So in Argentina he was a carpenter?

TM: In Argentina, yah. In Russia, I guess he must have been a farmer.

CM: He went to Argentina quite early when he was quite young.

BG: You say your father was born in Russia or was your father born in Argentina?

CM: He went from Russia to Argentina. That I remember.

BG: Do you know how old he was when he went to [Argentina]?

TM: No.

Break in dialogue

TM: …started and he caught afire. He seen him come and put him in the water tank to get the fire out.

BG: And he was what, two years old?

TM: About two and a half years old.

BG: And his name was Ben, like Benedict or Benjamin?

TM: Benjamin.

BG: Where is he buried?

CM: Out in that cemetery out north of town.

TM: Well, it's St. Anthony's Cemetary, but it was out in Roshau's yard. It's the cemetery.

BG: In whose yard?

TM: Roshau.

BG: Roshau. Is that - that's a farm there?

TM: Yah, that's a farm there.

CM: Yah, that was northwest of the church.

BG: Oh, but that was everybody's cemetery?

TM: Yah, that was his cemetery. Mr. Roshau made the coffin and the cross.

BG: We should put that on again how they came to - What you read there before when they left Russia. Okay, that's [about] Tony's parents now or is it just the mother?

CM: No. That's both of them. You see Ma [Tony's mother] came over from Russia at the age of sixteen. She went to Argentina [South America]. They were married there in Argentina. See, Dad had been over there. They lived there until 1909, when they came to the United States. They farmed in Dunn County until 1922, when they moved to Stark County. They lived there until they retired due to ill health.

BG: And then they moved into Dickinson?

TM: Um hum, then they moved to Dickinson.

BG: And they got buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery?

TM: Yah, they belonged to St. Joseph's right away when they moved in.

BG: Then your dad was smaller when he went to Argentina?

CM: I had heard, too, was he 19? No?

TM: He was 16, wasn't it?

CM: Ma was 16. I had Dad's history, too, when he moved over there [to Argentina].

BG: Both went of them went with their parents to Argentina?

CM: No, Ma didn't. Ma went over with her sister.

BG: Oh, with her sister. So, your ma's parents are buried in Russia? Then she [Ma] came to Argentina and then to North Dakota. Your dad came up here but his parents -

CM: His parents had moved to Argentina and he lived there few years, while his folks stayed there. Just Dad came over here [to North Dakota].

BG: So, the folks are buried in Argentina, like his grandparents?

CM: Yes, um hum and brothers, I mean, Dad's brothers.

TM: Two of my dad's brothers had sons that were priests.

BG: But your grandparents are buried in Argentina.

CM: Yah, the Metz grandparents are buried in Argentina.

BG: Did they talk anything about Argentina? Did they tell you what it was like down there?

TM: No. We never seemed to.

CM: They raised sugar beets down there. I remember Dad talking about sugar beets - that they ate the sugar beets down there.

BG: So your dad could talk Spanish.

TM: Yes.

BG: And German.

TM: And German; and he could talk American after he was over here.

BG: But he could not talk Russian, huh?

TM: I don't know if he could talk Russian.

BG: Was it warm down there in Argentina? Did they have winter also?

CM: I don't remember him talking about that.

TM: It seems when the older ones knew, they used to talk when they first came over about it, but I guess after we grew up, we never talked about it.

BG: What made them come to Dickinson or to North Dakota?

CM: Well, some of Mother's brothers and sisters were moved over here. They came over here from Russia, and so they came up here too. They lived right next door to one another, his mother's brother, only about a block apart.

TM: Where we lived was about one block from my mother's brother, John Haag, in North Dakota on a farm north of Dickinson.

CM: Yah, there was a lot of relatives over there.

TM: One of my mother's sisters was married to Anton Armbrust. Have you heard of Anton Armbrust? There was two of them. One they called "The Red" and one was "The Black." See, ah, "The Red" (or the other one) was sheriff in Dickinson. And mother's brother-in-law, Anton Armbrust, he lived right next to St. Joseph's Church.

BG: Your dad, did he have brothers and sisters here too?

TM: No. The only Metz, as far as I know, was him.

BG: Oh, your dad's brothers and sisters stayed in Argentina? And his parents stayed in Argentina?

TM: Um hum.

BG: But, now your mother came over here and some of her brothers and sisters? Did all of them come over here?

TM: No, not as far as I know.

CM: I have it here that he [Dad] went to over to Argentina at the age of 15.

BG: Ah, so he was 15 when he went to Argentina, okay. But how many of your mother's brothers and sisters came here?

TM: There's about two brothers that I know, and a sister, but there was more than that [in the family]. But most of them come over.

CM: I don't think that any of them went to Argentina. I think all that came over, came here.

TM: Some of them came here and one of them moved to Seattle [Washington].

CM: And one sister they lost track of.

BG: They don't know where she went? Did she maybe stay in Russia?

CM: Unless she came over from - that was the one that who went to South America with Ma. But where she went from there - I guess they lost track of her.

BG: Oh, she stayed in South America probably.

CM: They don't know. Anyway they lost complete track of her.

BG: One sister went to South America and all the others came here. Then the others came directly to North Dakota?

CM: Well, I don't know if they all came over or not. That I don't know, because Mother couldn't write so she didn't write [what happened].

BG: Did you get letters from South America?

CM: No. I don't remember that we ever got anything.

TM: Yes. They used to a long time ago. They did - from Russia, but from South America, I don't remember if they got any. I know my mother she wouldn't talk American. When someone talked American to her she answered them in German. Dad was different. Dad tried to talk any language.

BG: So your mother never really learned a lot of English?

CM: She didn't care to either!

TM: She couldn't read or write as far as I knew. I never seen my mother had a recipe of anything, you know, to cook. And she was a good cook and cooked a lot of things but she never had a recipe as far as I know. I never seen her write.

BG: Well, they didn't need any recipes!

TM: When they went to town and she needed some groceries, she told Dad, "Write this up and this and this." She was afraid she wouldn't remember it but she couldn't write. She was almost as bad off pret' near as I am. I can't write nothing either. I went to school until seventh grade and then I went out north on the farm. We had one farm six miles north of New Hradec and one six miles southeast of New Hradec. I went out there; was out there most of the time. I didn't have a pencil or paper or anything to read or write [with.] So, I forgot most it that I had learned. But I could figure arithmetic, I could figure before I had that stroke, I could find out how many bushels was in a bin or anything they wanted me to. I could figure anything but reading and writing I was no good.

BG: You always talked German when you were young, right?

TM: Well, yah, but actually when we went someplace we talked American. Then we talked [German] till I was married and the oldest one went to school, Lester. Then he had to learn the American. So we decided we had better learn the American, so when the rest go to school so they [would know how to speak English.]

BG: So then you started talking the American language then you didn't talk much German anymore? You could still talk it now if you had to?

TM: Oh, yah!

CM: Oh, yah! I don't think they could sell us.
BG: No, couldn't sell you now. But your folks did not speak Spanish here either?

TM: No.

CM: I guess Ma didn't.

TM: Ma didn't but my dad -

BG: Your dad could but there was nobody to talk with.

TM: Nobody to talk with. We went up West and we stopped at my sister's daughter. She was married to a Spanish [man.] He said after he left, he said that for as long as Dad's over here, he didn't think anybody would remember as much Spanish as he talked. My dad had a good memory.

BG: Was there any connection with you and the Shafers - that Nick Shafer came up from South America or his parents?

TM: I don't remember.

CM: Yah, they used to live up at Subiaco Manor, didn't he?

BG: He still is there.

CM: Is he?

BG: He is not at Subiaco now, he's at the Evergreen, but Ida Shafer lives near the hospital. They came from Argentina so they must have known each other down there already.

When you were young, what chores did you enjoy doing? Or what farm work?

TM: I enjoyed all farm work. I could milk cows. We had pigs and everything. I always used to run the binder and the header. I enjoyed the horses.

BG: How many horses does it take to run the header?

TM: Four. Some of them put on six but we always only had four. There would be horses behind the header to kind of push, you know. When you turned the corner, you'd have to turn out to pull them around.

BG: When those two horses went out, how could the other two go around? Sideways!?

TM: Well, they just had to -

BG: I mean, I know two horses had to kind of to go out -

TM: When them two pulled - when you turned them two away from the header that pulled the back end over, and the back end, the others had to come over to them and line up straight.

BG: It was something how they could make those sharp corners. They could go -

TM: Yah, he'd make a sharp corner and up to here, through the wheat, and you turned them two out sharp and come in right this way.

CM: The second day after I was married I was out in the header box! That was my honeymoon!

BG: For a honeymoon you went out headering.

CM: With my father-in-law!

BG: What did you have to do on the [header] box?

CM: I drove the horses and he put the grain away; he drove the header.

BG: Then you helped unload it, I suppose, or did you set the stack?

CM: No, I don't think I had to help him. Dad set the stack. I just had to drive the horses.

TM: No, I unloaded it. Dad set the stack. And the horses, well, if there was somebody there - they had a gentle team on. Sometimes they were slow so that helped to chase them. The horses, if you had made a round, they'd follow the tracks you [made from before].

BG: The horse could walk in the track of that big wheel?

TM: Yah. I'll tell you, horses are smarter than people always think they are. I handled enough, I know how smart they are.

BG: Did you break horses, too?

TM: Oh, yah. I broke lots of them. I enjoyed that.

BG: You raised your own horses?

TM: Well, we raised most of the time, yah. Sometimes I traded a lot. I traded the horses, you know, I broke a horse and got a little money to boot for a wild one.

CM: That's what we lived on when we were first married, horses that he traded and broke.

BG: Did you break horses for riding too?

TM: Well, I wasn't a good cowboy but I broke them to riding. I broke most of them to ride. I didn't go out and ride them and let them buck, cause I wasn't good enough. But I went out and I calmed them down. We traded one from Max Hecker and he never had a rope or a halter on and he was five years old. It was my brother Julius' son's horse and Old Max didn't have him. All he did was chase cattle. Julius couldn't hook him up. Julius was scared of him. So I went over there and caught him and hooked him up and in two days I came over there with him bareback.

When I came over, Mrs. Hecker and the girls, they never come out if someone come in the yard unless they knocked on the door, [then] one of them answered. So when I come over there, they all come out. I came over in front of the house and I turned around, threw the lines out and I turned around and slid off the back. They were so surprised. He never lifted his back leg or anything. I was never scared of a horse.

BG: How many horses did you have on the binder?

TM: On the binder, four.

BG: Well, headering was hard work, but the binder -

CM: What wasn't, years ago? That was all hard labor!

BG: I mean to drive the horses and run the binder. That was a lot of stuff to do there.

TM: Never bothered me. That's one thing my dad always learned us boys, how to run the binder. I never remember him running a binder. But, if there was one loose bundle, he stopped us and set that binder. That binder didn't have to make no loose bundles. He could set that binder just so.

BG: Did you have a binder right away, I mean, when you were growing up, did you always have a binder?

TM: Oh, yah, always when I grew up. When Dad come over, I guess the first year he didn't have a binder.

BG: They probably cut it by hand or with a scythe.

TM: Yah. I don't remember, but I remember then they used to have to thresh and they put it in sacks. And they had to carry it - put the sack on their back and carry it in the granary and dump it.

BG: Carry it into the granary?

TM: Yah. That's hard work. Not everybody can take a sack of wheat, take and pick it up, and throw it on their back and walk in there.

BG: How heavy would be a sack?

TM: A sack about - 2 ½ bushels would be about 150 pounds, 160, depends on the wheat.

BG: 150 pounds; that would be pretty heavy.

TM: When I was single we had a grinder upstairs and Steve and Dad filled the sacks and I took them and carried them over in the barn upstairs. Barley and some rye, and the rye weighed just about as heavy as that - and it was about half a block to carry.

BG: Yah, that would be a lot of work.

TM: I could pick up a sack of barley or - and throw it on my back [and carry it].

BG: Then you plowed with the horses?

TM: Oh, yah, plowed and dragged. To drag you had to walk after it.

BG: Walk behind it.

TM: We also drilled.

BG: How many horses were on the drill?

TM: Four on the drill.

BG: Four on the drill, four on the plow.

TM: Yah. Well, we used sometimes plow five. To plow we had five on, usually two in the lead and three in the back. Then gas - we had a lot of horses and I couldn't hardly afford to buy the gas. So I plowed with a tractor plow; I had seven [horses] on there. And I disked with a tractor disk; I had eight on there.

BG: Eight horses?

TM: Four in the lead and four behind.

BG: Oh, that's a lot of horses to hitch up to get ready. When you plowed with seven horses, you said, how many plowshares did you have?

TM: [We had] three.

BG: I'll bet that was cold sometimes sitting out there all day, huh, sitting on the plow.

TM: Well, on the tractor plow I had to stand on. There was no seat made for the tractor; the same with the disk.

BG: Did you have enough warm clothes?

TM: Oh, yah. I can take a lot of cold.

CM: He wonders sometimes why he's got arthritis now!

BG: How many cows did you milk when you were young, your folks' cows, I mean.

TM: Five, six. Oh, my folks, they usually had about ten, twelve, fifteen cows. It depends on how many were fresh.

BG: Did you have a cream separator all the time?

TM: Oh, yah, all the time.

BG: Or did you have to skim it?

TM: No, no. They have to skim it now but not then.

BG: What did you do with the cream?

TM: We separated it and made butter and then we sold some cream to the creamery.

CM: That time they had the Dickinson creamery yet.

BG: Oh, you brought the cream to Dickinson?

TM: Yah.

BG: Were you able to keep it cool?

CM: Well, you sold sour cream. It was sour but they bought it.

TM: We had a good root cellar. When we moved in here to this place, Dad built a root cellar on here. You could get down from in the house. You could keep the potatoes down there, from the time you put them down until you got new ones. And out there, at the other place, we used to have a good root cellar too.

BG: We talked a little bit about school already, but tell me again, how long did you go to school?

TM: Well, the first year I went to school, I went to school five months and she [the teacher] got sick so we didn't have any [school.] The next year we moved in here and we had eight months school to nine. Two years we had double grades, you know. I had the second and third, and the fourth or fifth and sixth, I think. I know there were two years. And then in my seventh year, I went to school when I had the seventh grade and I usually had to stay home in the fall to help. In spring, too, I had to stay out of school early because I had to help in the fields. That's why I say I ain't got much education but I manage.

BG: How old were you when you quit school, were you thirteen or were you younger?

TM: I think I must have been, I couldn't tell you.
BG: Because if you went to seventh grade, you would have been thirteen, if you went two years at one time.

CM: About fourteen or fifteen maybe, probably didn't start at six [years old.]

BG: So you didn't know any English until you started school?

TM: Well, we learned some English because the older brothers and sisters, they could talk German or American. And my dad could tell you anything. Because I remember when we went to school all the kids come and ask the teacher how to do one problem. I didn't [ask] and she couldn't get it. Finally she said, "Tony, did you get your arithmetic?"

I said, "Yah."

She said, "Did you get that problem?"

I said, "Yah."

She said, "Could you come on the board and do it?"

I said, "Yah." Went up and did it. She looked at me a little, she looked at it [the problem], and she said, "Well, that's right." I had the right answer so she said, "Who helped you?"

I said, "My dad."

"Well," she said, "you have a good dad because (she said) I couldn't figure it out until you showed it to me."

BG: That's good. Did you have good teachers? Where did the teachers come from?

TM: At that time, even after our kids went to school, one of my nieces come down [to teach].

CM: They only had high school, and taught school after they got out of high school. They didn't have to have college.

BG: No, I was wondering if they were good teachers?

TM: Oh, some of them were good! The one that couldn't get that problem, she was a good teacher! She had twenty-seven kids in every grade.

BG: All eight grades?

TM: Yah, so she must have been good.

BG: Now, your church, was that in German when you went to church?

TM: Yes, church was German.

CM: I think that time they had more Latin. The sermon was probably German but everything was Latin.

TM: They had Latin, but well, I could never talk Latin. I was Mass server but I could never talk Latin.

BG: When you went at St. Anthony's Church, did your parents help establish that? Did your parents help build that or -

TM: Yah. They, ah, everybody offered so much, to give so much to the church.

BG: I mean to help build it, when they first started that church.

TM: Yah, when they first started it, yah. I wouldn't know about the first church they builded but the second one I know they did, because the first one burned down. They had a parish house there, and a schoolhouse there where the kids had to go to Sunday school or learn for this or that. I remember that.

BG: Do you remember funerals from when you were little? Were there funerals?

TM: Yah.

BG: What did they do? Did they have a wake in the house?

TM: They had the coffin in the house.

CM: Yah. I remember that too.

TM: When my brother Martin died, why, he got killed up in Yakima [Washington]. Dad paid -sent two tickets to come down, his wife and him on the train, take him down. They had the funeral in Dickinson. They took him [Martin] out to my folks' place and someone was up by it [the coffin] day and night and every so often said the rosary.

BG: Why did they stay up all night?

TM: Well, that was - that was their tradition.

CM: I guess that was their tradition. I remember when we were home that they kept wake all night long.

BG: Were they thinking that maybe the person is going to wake up?

TM: No. Someone was there and prayed for them all the time. Every so often they all got together. Oh, some of them played even cards, you know. They couldn't all sit there all the time. There was a lot of them that played cards and then every so often they said the rosary.

I know when John Haag died out there, I remember that so good because I was just a kid. Whenever I come over, I seen him in the coffin.

BG: John Haag, was that your uncle?

TM: Yah, that was my mother's brother. He got killed.

BG: He got killed? How did he get killed?

TM: Well, he was a person - he was always in a hurry. He bought a threshing machine from Schmidt's and Schmidt's threshed all the rest. Then he bought the machine and was going to thresh himself. He was so much in a hurry, he didn't take time to hook the thresher machine on solid, you know, where the pin was suppose to be hooked on with a little chain. He was sitting on the tractor and at one place it went just a little bit down hill. The machine went just a little faster than the tractor went and squeezed him.

BG: It ran into the back of the tractor?

TM: Yah. He wasn't dead right away but he was in the hospital I don't know how long. But Schmidt went to work and took the machine threshing back and threshed [for] him and took it [the machine] home.

BG: You said your brother got killed out West?

TM: Yah, two of my brothers. Both of them got killed in a car accident.

BG: Two at the same time?

TM: No, no. Martin got killed in -

CM: '31, I think.

TM: And Bill got killed in a car accident, when was that?

CM: Hm, I don't remember when Bill died.

BG: So Martin is buried here at St. Anthony's?

TM: At St. Joseph's here in Dickinson.

BG: The other one is buried out West?

TM: Yah. Steve was buried here and Martin is buried here. We will be buried here in Dickinson at St. Joseph's Cemetary because we have -

CM: Bill died in 1971.

BG: And he's buried out West?

TM: Yah. And Jack is buried in Spokane [Washington]. And Julius is buried in Dickinson, but he's buried on the Hecker cemetery, Hecker lot. My folks bought a lot of eight and that is where the folks [are] buried and Martin and Jack and Al - that's my brother's and his wife's baby died and she's buried on there. Me and my wife will be buried down here and Steve and his wife over here. There's room for eight, that's all.

BG: Your son [Willard] is buried out West?

CM: Yah. He's in Oregon - Albany, Oregon. He is in one of those mausoleums.

BG: Today is November 17, 1998. I am Brother Placid Gross [a volunteer interviewer for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection of the North Dakota State University Library in Fargo, North Dakota]. We are at the home of Tony Metz in Dickinson, North Dakota.

BG: What is your name?

TM: My name's Tony Metz, and we lived in Dickinson 26 years.

BG: Your date of birth is - when were you born?

TM: 1912, the 19th of December.

BG: Where were you born?

TM: I was born out on a farm six miles north of New Hradec.

BG: What is the name of your wife?

TM: Celestina Metz.

BG: When did you get married?

TM: 1934, July 10th.

BG: You got married in the middle of the hot season. What was your father's name?

TM: My father's name was Joseph Metz and my mother's name was Margaret Haag.

BG: Do you know when your father was born?

TM: No, but I can look it up.

BG: Do you know where they [your parents] came from in Russia?

CM: They came from Russia, didn't they go to Germany and then to South America? They came here over here from South America.

BG: They came from Russia to South America. Where in South America, Argentina?

TM: Argentina.

BG: You don't remember what town in Russia they came from?

TM: No. You know I had a stroke and ever since that I can't remember hardly.

BG: Okay. What was your father's occupation?

TM: [He was a] carpenter.

BG: So in Argentina he was a carpenter?

TM: In Argentina, yah. In Russia, I guess he must have been a farmer.

CM: He went to Argentina quite early when he was quite young.

BG: You say your father was born in Russia or was your father born in Argentina?

CM: He went from Russia to Argentina. That I remember.

BG: Do you know how old he was when he went to [Argentina]?

TM: No.

Break in dialogue

TM: …started and he caught afire. He seen him come and put him in the water tank to get the fire out.

BG: And he was what, two years old?

TM: About two and a half years old.

BG: And his name was Ben, like Benedict or Benjamin?

TM: Benjamin.

BG: Where is he buried?

CM: Out in that cemetery out north of town.

TM: Well, it's St. Anthony's Cemetary, but it was out in Roshau's yard. It's the cemetery.

BG: In whose yard?

TM: Roshau.

BG: Roshau. Is that - that's a farm there?

TM: Yah, that's a farm there.

CM: Yah, that was northwest of the church.

BG: Oh, but that was everybody's cemetery?

TM: Yah, that was his cemetery. Mr. Roshau made the coffin and the cross.

BG: We should put that on again how they came to - What you read there before when they left Russia. Okay, that's [about] Tony's parents now or is it just the mother?

CM: No. That's both of them. You see Ma [Tony's mother] came over from Russia at the age of sixteen. She went to Argentina [South America]. They were married there in Argentina. See, Dad had been over there. They lived there until 1909, when they came to the United States. They farmed in Dunn County until 1922, when they moved to Stark County. They lived there until they retired due to ill health.

BG: And then they moved into Dickinson?

TM: Um hum, then they moved to Dickinson.

BG: And they got buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery?

TM: Yah, they belonged to St. Joseph's right away when they moved in.

BG: Then your dad was smaller when he went to Argentina?

CM: I had heard, too, was he 19? No?

TM: He was 16, wasn't it?

CM: Ma was 16. I had Dad's history, too, when he moved over there [to Argentina].

BG: Both went of them went with their parents to Argentina?

CM: No, Ma didn't. Ma went over with her sister.

BG: Oh, with her sister. So, your ma's parents are buried in Russia? Then she [Ma] came to Argentina and then to North Dakota. Your dad came up here but his parents -

CM: His parents had moved to Argentina and he lived there few years, while his folks stayed there. Just Dad came over here [to North Dakota].

BG: So, the folks are buried in Argentina, like his grandparents?

CM: Yes, um hum and brothers, I mean, Dad's brothers.

TM: Two of my dad's brothers had sons that were priests.

BG: But your grandparents are buried in Argentina.

CM: Yah, the Metz grandparents are buried in Argentina.

BG: Did they talk anything about Argentina? Did they tell you what it was like down there?

TM: No. We never seemed to.

CM: They raised sugar beets down there. I remember Dad talking about sugar beets - that they ate the sugar beets down there.

BG: So your dad could talk Spanish.

TM: Yes.

BG: And German.

TM: And German; and he could talk American after he was over here.

BG: But he could not talk Russian, huh?

TM: I don't know if he could talk Russian.

BG: Was it warm down there in Argentina? Did they have winter also?

CM: I don't remember him talking about that.

TM: It seems when the older ones knew, they used to talk when they first came over about it, but I guess after we grew up, we never talked about it.

BG: What made them come to Dickinson or to North Dakota?

CM: Well, some of Mother's brothers and sisters were moved over here. They came over here from Russia, and so they came up here too. They lived right next door to one another, his mother's brother, only about a block apart.

TM: Where we lived was about one block from my mother's brother, John Haag, in North Dakota on a farm north of Dickinson.

CM: Yah, there was a lot of relatives over there.

TM: One of my mother's sisters was married to Anton Armbrust. Have you heard of Anton Armbrust? There was two of them. One they called "The Red" and one was "The Black." See, ah, "The Red" (or the other one) was sheriff in Dickinson. And mother's brother-in-law, Anton Armbrust, he lived right next to St. Joseph's Church.

BG: Your dad, did he have brothers and sisters here too?

TM: No. The only Metz, as far as I know, was him.

BG: Oh, your dad's brothers and sisters stayed in Argentina? And his parents stayed in Argentina?

TM: Um hum.

BG: But, now your mother came over here and some of her brothers and sisters? Did all of them come over here?

TM: No, not as far as I know.

CM: I have it here that he [Dad] went to over to Argentina at the age of 15.

BG: Ah, so he was 15 when he went to Argentina, okay. But how many of your mother's brothers and sisters came here?

TM: There's about two brothers that I know, and a sister, but there was more than that [in the family]. But most of them come over.

CM: I don't think that any of them went to Argentina. I think all that came over, came here.

TM: Some of them came here and one of them moved to Seattle [Washington].

CM: And one sister they lost track of.

BG: They don't know where she went? Did she maybe stay in Russia?

CM: Unless she came over from - that was the one that who went to South America with Ma. But where she went from there - I guess they lost track of her.

BG: Oh, she stayed in South America probably.

CM: They don't know. Anyway they lost complete track of her.

BG: One sister went to South America and all the others came here. Then the others came directly to North Dakota?

CM: Well, I don't know if they all came over or not. That I don't know, because Mother couldn't write so she didn't write [what happened].

BG: Did you get letters from South America?

CM: No. I don't remember that we ever got anything.

TM: Yes. They used to a long time ago. They did - from Russia, but from South America, I don't remember if they got any. I know my mother she wouldn't talk American. When someone talked American to her she answered them in German. Dad was different. Dad tried to talk any language.

BG: So your mother never really learned a lot of English?

CM: She didn't care to either!

TM: She couldn't read or write as far as I knew. I never seen my mother had a recipe of anything, you know, to cook. And she was a good cook and cooked a lot of things but she never had a recipe as far as I know. I never seen her write.

BG: Well, they didn't need any recipes!

TM: When they went to town and she needed some groceries, she told Dad, "Write this up and this and this." She was afraid she wouldn't remember it but she couldn't write. She was almost as bad off pret' near as I am. I can't write nothing either. I went to school until seventh grade and then I went out north on the farm. We had one farm six miles north of New Hradec and one six miles southeast of New Hradec. I went out there; was out there most of the time. I didn't have a pencil or paper or anything to read or write [with.] So, I forgot most it that I had learned. But I could figure arithmetic, I could figure before I had that stroke, I could find out how many bushels was in a bin or anything they wanted me to. I could figure anything but reading and writing I was no good.

BG: You always talked German when you were young, right?

TM: Well, yah, but actually when we went someplace we talked American. Then we talked [German] till I was married and the oldest one went to school, Lester. Then he had to learn the American. So we decided we had better learn the American, so when the rest go to school so they [would know how to speak English.]

BG: So then you started talking the American language then you didn't talk much German anymore? You could still talk it now if you had to?

TM: Oh, yah!

CM: Oh, yah! I don't think they could sell us.
BG: No, couldn't sell you now. But your folks did not speak Spanish here either?

TM: No.

CM: I guess Ma didn't.

TM: Ma didn't but my dad -

BG: Your dad could but there was nobody to talk with.

TM: Nobody to talk with. We went up West and we stopped at my sister's daughter. She was married to a Spanish [man.] He said after he left, he said that for as long as Dad's over here, he didn't think anybody would remember as much Spanish as he talked. My dad had a good memory.

BG: Was there any connection with you and the Shafers - that Nick Shafer came up from South America or his parents?

TM: I don't remember.

CM: Yah, they used to live up at Subiaco Manor, didn't he?

BG: He still is there.

CM: Is he?

BG: He is not at Subiaco now, he's at the Evergreen, but Ida Shafer lives near the hospital. They came from Argentina so they must have known each other down there already.

When you were young, what chores did you enjoy doing? Or what farm work?

TM: I enjoyed all farm work. I could milk cows. We had pigs and everything. I always used to run the binder and the header. I enjoyed the horses.

BG: How many horses does it take to run the header?

TM: Four. Some of them put on six but we always only had four. There would be horses behind the header to kind of push, you know. When you turned the corner, you'd have to turn out to pull them around.

BG: When those two horses went out, how could the other two go around? Sideways!?

TM: Well, they just had to -

BG: I mean, I know two horses had to kind of to go out -

TM: When them two pulled - when you turned them two away from the header that pulled the back end over, and the back end, the others had to come over to them and line up straight.

BG: It was something how they could make those sharp corners. They could go -

TM: Yah, he'd make a sharp corner and up to here, through the wheat, and you turned them two out sharp and come in right this way.

CM: The second day after I was married I was out in the header box! That was my honeymoon!

BG: For a honeymoon you went out headering.

CM: With my father-in-law!

BG: What did you have to do on the [header] box?

CM: I drove the horses and he put the grain away; he drove the header.

BG: Then you helped unload it, I suppose, or did you set the stack?

CM: No, I don't think I had to help him. Dad set the stack. I just had to drive the horses.

TM: No, I unloaded it. Dad set the stack. And the horses, well, if there was somebody there - they had a gentle team on. Sometimes they were slow so that helped to chase them. The horses, if you had made a round, they'd follow the tracks you [made from before].

BG: The horse could walk in the track of that big wheel?

TM: Yah. I'll tell you, horses are smarter than people always think they are. I handled enough, I know how smart they are.

BG: Did you break horses, too?

TM: Oh, yah. I broke lots of them. I enjoyed that.

BG: You raised your own horses?

TM: Well, we raised most of the time, yah. Sometimes I traded a lot. I traded the horses, you know, I broke a horse and got a little money to boot for a wild one.

CM: That's what we lived on when we were first married, horses that he traded and broke.

BG: Did you break horses for riding too?

TM: Well, I wasn't a good cowboy but I broke them to riding. I broke most of them to ride. I didn't go out and ride them and let them buck, cause I wasn't good enough. But I went out and I calmed them down. We traded one from Max Hecker and he never had a rope or a halter on and he was five years old. It was my brother Julius' son's horse and Old Max didn't have him. All he did was chase cattle. Julius couldn't hook him up. Julius was scared of him. So I went over there and caught him and hooked him up and in two days I came over there with him bareback.

When I came over, Mrs. Hecker and the girls, they never come out if someone come in the yard unless they knocked on the door, [then] one of them answered. So when I come over there, they all come out. I came over in front of the house and I turned around, threw the lines out and I turned around and slid off the back. They were so surprised. He never lifted his back leg or anything. I was never scared of a horse.

BG: How many horses did you have on the binder?

TM: On the binder, four.

BG: Well, headering was hard work, but the binder -

CM: What wasn't, years ago? That was all hard labor!

BG: I mean to drive the horses and run the binder. That was a lot of stuff to do there.

TM: Never bothered me. That's one thing my dad always learned us boys, how to run the binder. I never remember him running a binder. But, if there was one loose bundle, he stopped us and set that binder. That binder didn't have to make no loose bundles. He could set that binder just so.

BG: Did you have a binder right away, I mean, when you were growing up, did you always have a binder?

TM: Oh, yah, always when I grew up. When Dad come over, I guess the first year he didn't have a binder.

BG: They probably cut it by hand or with a scythe.

TM: Yah. I don't remember, but I remember then they used to have to thresh and they put it in sacks. And they had to carry it - put the sack on their back and carry it in the granary and dump it.

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BG: Carry it into the granary?

TM: Yah. That's hard work. Not everybody can take a sack of wheat, take and pick it up, and throw it on their back and walk in there.

BG: How heavy would be a sack?

TM: A sack about - 2 ½ bushels would be about 150 pounds, 160, depends on the wheat.

BG: 150 pounds; that would be pretty heavy.

TM: When I was single we had a grinder upstairs and Steve and Dad filled the sacks and I took them and carried them over in the barn upstairs. Barley and some rye, and the rye weighed just about as heavy as that - and it was about half a block to carry.

BG: Yah, that would be a lot of work.

TM: I could pick up a sack of barley or - and throw it on my back [and carry it].

BG: Then you plowed with the horses?

TM: Oh, yah, plowed and dragged. To drag you had to walk after it.

BG: Walk behind it.

TM: We also drilled.

BG: How many horses were on the drill?

TM: Four on the drill.

BG: Four on the drill, four on the plow.

TM: Yah. Well, we used sometimes plow five. To plow we had five on, usually two in the lead and three in the back. Then gas - we had a lot of horses and I couldn't hardly afford to buy the gas. So I plowed with a tractor plow; I had seven [horses] on there. And I disked with a tractor disk; I had eight on there.

BG: Eight horses?

TM: Four in the lead and four behind.

BG: Oh, that's a lot of horses to hitch up to get ready. When you plowed with seven horses, you said, how many plowshares did you have?

TM: [We had] three.

BG: I'll bet that was cold sometimes sitting out there all day, huh, sitting on the plow.

TM: Well, on the tractor plow I had to stand on. There was no seat made for the tractor; the same with the disk.

BG: Did you have enough warm clothes?

TM: Oh, yah. I can take a lot of cold.

CM: He wonders sometimes why he's got arthritis now!

BG: How many cows did you milk when you were young, your folks' cows, I mean.

TM: Five, six. Oh, my folks, they usually had about ten, twelve, fifteen cows. It depends on how many were fresh.

BG: Did you have a cream separator all the time?

TM: Oh, yah, all the time.

BG: Or did you have to skim it?

TM: No, no. They have to skim it now but not then.

BG: What did you do with the cream?

TM: We separated it and made butter and then we sold some cream to the creamery.

CM: That time they had the Dickinson creamery yet.

BG: Oh, you brought the cream to Dickinson?

TM: Yah.

BG: Were you able to keep it cool?

CM: Well, you sold sour cream. It was sour but they bought it.

TM: We had a good root cellar. When we moved in here to this place, Dad built a root cellar on here. You could get down from in the house. You could keep the potatoes down there, from the time you put them down until you got new ones. And out there, at the other place, we used to have a good root cellar too.

BG: We talked a little bit about school already, but tell me again, how long did you go to school?

TM: Well, the first year I went to school, I went to school five months and she [the teacher] got sick so we didn't have any [school.] The next year we moved in here and we had eight months school to nine. Two years we had double grades, you know. I had the second and third, and the fourth or fifth and sixth, I think. I know there were two years. And then in my seventh year, I went to school when I had the seventh grade and I usually had to stay home in the fall to help. In spring, too, I had to stay out of school early because I had to help in the fields. That's why I say I ain't got much education but I manage.

BG: How old were you when you quit school, were you thirteen or were you younger?

TM: I think I must have been, I couldn't tell you.
BG: Because if you went to seventh grade, you would have been thirteen, if you went two years at one time.

CM: About fourteen or fifteen maybe, probably didn't start at six [years old.]

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BG: So you didn't know any English until you started school?

TM: Well, we learned some English because the older brothers and sisters, they could talk German or American. And my dad could tell you anything. Because I remember when we went to school all the kids come and ask the teacher how to do one problem. I didn't [ask] and she couldn't get it. Finally she said, "Tony, did you get your arithmetic?"

I said, "Yah."

She said, "Did you get that problem?"

I said, "Yah."

She said, "Could you come on the board and do it?"

I said, "Yah." Went up and did it. She looked at me a little, she looked at it [the problem], and she said, "Well, that's right." I had the right answer so she said, "Who helped you?"

I said, "My dad."

"Well," she said, "you have a good dad because (she said) I couldn't figure it out until you showed it to me."

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BG: That's good. Did you have good teachers? Where did the teachers come from?

TM: At that time, even after our kids went to school, one of my nieces come down [to teach].

CM: They only had high school, and taught school after they got out of high school. They didn't have to have college.

BG: No, I was wondering if they were good teachers?

TM: Oh, some of them were good! The one that couldn't get that problem, she was a good teacher! She had twenty-seven kids in every grade.

BG: All eight grades?

TM: Yah, so she must have been good.

BG: Now, your church, was that in German when you went to church?

TM: Yes, church was German.

CM: I think that time they had more Latin. The sermon was probably German but everything was Latin.

TM: They had Latin, but well, I could never talk Latin. I was Mass server but I could never talk Latin.

BG: When you went at St. Anthony's Church, did your parents help establish that? Did your parents help build that or -

TM: Yah. They, ah, everybody offered so much, to give so much to the church.

BG: I mean to help build it, when they first started that church.

TM: Yah, when they first started it, yah. I wouldn't know about the first church they builded but the second one I know they did, because the first one burned down. They had a parish house there, and a schoolhouse there where the kids had to go to Sunday school or learn for this or that. I remember that.

BG: Do you remember funerals from when you were little? Were there funerals?

TM: Yah.

BG: What did they do? Did they have a wake in the house?

TM: They had the coffin in the house.

CM: Yah. I remember that too.

TM: When my brother Martin died, why, he got killed up in Yakima [Washington]. Dad paid -sent two tickets to come down, his wife and him on the train, take him down. They had the funeral in Dickinson. They took him [Martin] out to my folks' place and someone was up by it [the coffin] day and night and every so often said the rosary.

BG: Why did they stay up all night?

TM: Well, that was - that was their tradition.

CM: I guess that was their tradition. I remember when we were home that they kept wake all night long.

BG: Were they thinking that maybe the person is going to wake up?

TM: No. Someone was there and prayed for them all the time. Every so often they all got together. Oh, some of them played even cards, you know. They couldn't all sit there all the time. There was a lot of them that played cards and then every so often they said the rosary.

I know when John Haag died out there, I remember that so good because I was just a kid. Whenever I come over, I seen him in the coffin.

BG: John Haag, was that your uncle?

TM: Yah, that was my mother's brother. He got killed.

BG: He got killed? How did he get killed?

TM: Well, he was a person - he was always in a hurry. He bought a threshing machine from Schmidt's and Schmidt's threshed all the rest. Then he bought the machine and was going to thresh himself. He was so much in a hurry, he didn't take time to hook the thresher machine on solid, you know, where the pin was suppose to be hooked on with a little chain. He was sitting on the tractor and at one place it went just a little bit down hill. The machine went just a little faster than the tractor went and squeezed him.

BG: It ran into the back of the tractor?

TM: Yah. He wasn't dead right away but he was in the hospital I don't know how long. But Schmidt went to work and took the machine threshing back and threshed [for] him and took it [the machine] home.

BG: You said your brother got killed out West?

TM: Yah, two of my brothers. Both of them got killed in a car accident.

BG: Two at the same time?

TM: No, no. Martin got killed in -

CM: '31, I think.

TM: And Bill got killed in a car accident, when was that?

CM: Hm, I don't remember when Bill died.

BG: So Martin is buried here at St. Anthony's?

TM: At St. Joseph's here in Dickinson.

BG: The other one is buried out West?

TM: Yah. Steve was buried here and Martin is buried here. We will be buried here in Dickinson at St. Joseph's Cemetary because we have -

CM: Bill died in 1971.

BG: And he's buried out West?

TM: Yah. And Jack is buried in Spokane [Washington]. And Julius is buried in Dickinson, but he's buried on the Hecker cemetery, Hecker lot. My folks bought a lot of eight and that is where the folks [are] buried and Martin and Jack and Al - that's my brother's and his wife's baby died and she's buried on there. Me and my wife will be buried down here and Steve and his wife over here. There's room for eight, that's all.

BG: Your son [Willard] is buried out West?

CM: Yah. He's in Oregon - Albany, Oregon. He is in one of those mausoleums.

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