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Interview with Rosina "Rose" Roesch Lang (RL)

Born in Glueckstal, South Russia

Conducted by Bernadine Lang Kuhn (BK) [Granddaughter of Rosina Rose Roesch Lang]

June 1989
Napoleon, North Dakota

Transcription by Ann Grausam
Editing and revising by Bernadine Lang Kuhn, further editing by Jane D. Trygg


RL: I can remember I was five years old, when my little brother died (third sibling); he was only nine days old. I know the funeral route and everything. Went up to church. My grandma held my hands. Mother wasn’t there. He was very sick; he was nine days, then died. There were no doctors to do something.

And then we lived there until I was eight. We went to grandpa’s house many times, mother’s parents. They had a vineyard out in the field. And mother was working all day, filling the barrels with grapes and grapes. Grandpa was there cutting, and they were going around the bushes, and everything had to be cleaned. And then the next day, we made the wine. We had to stomp it with our feet. We washed our feet clean, and then go in and step and step, and got tired. Then my sister went in, after a while. And the wine went down to the cellar. Whenever we came to grandma’s, she came down to the cellar, and got a dipper to give each of us a glass of wine.

And grandpa had to hoe the garden. They had some sweet wood [white daikon radish]. And they had to dig some for us, we liked the sweet wood so well. It was roots like rhubarb. Way down in the ground long sticks, and that was good stuff.

And then we had an auction sale to go to America. It was in 1905. Then we left. Then I stayed with grandma, mother, and we took Rose Dutt with her mother and father. My mother had an uncle, my Uncle Franz. And we stayed over night, and in the morning we said goodbye, and he cried so hard. I never forget this in my life. He couldn’t go out, he was laying down on the floor. I don’t know how grandma cried, I don’t know. I was away a block, and I could still hear him cry.

Then we got on the train to Germany. We stayed eight days in Germany.

BK: Do you remember what town in Germany?

RL: I don’t remember what it was. Bremen, the train came there. Then the ship come there, in the ocean, from America.

BK: I bet it was Bremen maybe. There’s a shipyard in Bremen.

RL: Yes, Bremen it must be. Dad knows it better, your dad. He told me many times, but I forget it.

And then eight days we were there, and I went out and there was a big zoo. We went to the zoo to see everything. We enjoyed it. And they furnished the meal, you know. We had buns for eating. We never made buns in Russia, you know.

BK: First of all, where did you live in Russia, we didn’t get that yet.

RL: Glueckstal. I was born in Glueckstal, South Russia. It was sixty miles from Odessa. Then [at Bremen] the ship came, we had a passenger ship. Then we all marched in. The band was playing, there was music. There were a couple hundred people in there on the ship. And then the ship started going, and then we had lunch there on the ship. And we went up deck, and there was wind. We always looked, then there was no land anymore we could see. It was way in the ocean going and going further away. And then the ship came to a place, where the water was so wild. A storm came up. Then the ship, a wave came up, a big water wave, and dumped on the ship you know. It went down, and the doors were open. It went down there. There was about a foot of water down in our rooms. Our suitcase started swimming. Oh, people hollering. I tell you: they were afraid we were going to drowned.

BK: It sounds scary.

RL: It’s kind of dangerous. Then they took the water out, the shipmate’s, I don’t know what you call them. And then it was all dry, good. My mother, never; she was always in bed. We girls, dad took us everyday up to the deck on the ship.

BK: Did your mother get seasick?

RL: She was kind of pregnant. She couldn’t take it. She was always laying there. We couldn’t eat in the ship either. Whenever they cooked stuff, the stink came into the other room there; and we said, “Close the door!” You don’t have the door open with the food so smelly. We just nibbled. We had some pretzels we baked in Russia, and dried them, and took them along. And we had some tea. Sometimes we drank a little beer. Eleven days we were on the ship. Then we came to New York. We couldn’t drive to New York there, like now. We had to stand a block in. Then they put us in little boats.

BK: They couldn’t bring the big ship in?

RL: Not to the harbor. And we went in they had boards and we walked in there nice, in Germany. But in America at that time, they didn’t have any.

BK: I bet they maybe didn’t have a port big enough to bring the big ship in yet.

RL: Oh yes, they have it made now.

BK: Now they do, but at that time they didn’t have a port made big enough.

RL: That was in 1905. They filled those little boats. They filled them up. The water was just a foot down from the top of the boat. Those little boats, I was sitting there waiting for that thing to tip over. I thought we would drown in that thing.

BK: Did you have a lifejacket on?

RL: I don’t remember. Then we came to New York, the ship did, then we went out there. Then we had to each take a bath. There was a house, they put all the women and the children in. They had a shower and tub and everything with the water down. And the clothes they heated up. So there were no germs coming from Russia.

BK: They wanted to make sure you were bacteria free!

RL: Then we had a shot there too and checked by the doctors. Then when it was over we took the train to South Dakota. We went there in October.

BK: First of all, let’s back up. Is there anything in New York that impressed you?

RL: Well, we didn’t see much in New York. We just rode on the train right away.

BK: Did you see the Statue of Liberty?

RL: Yes, we drove side of England; we drove by. There was a wahl too. Yeah, the daytime you were on the deck; and they showed us when the whale was not far away. Then we came to the Statue of Liberty, and we come to New York. Then we were on the train to South Dakota.

BK: Who did you go to in South Dakota?

RL: My mother had an aunt there. Neumiller’s was their name.

BK: They helped put your family up.

RL: Then we stayed a week there, no it was a month. And father and mother helped. It was October and they helped break and harvest thecorn. They helped a little bit there; and in November we left for North Dakota, on the train again.

We had no coats. I was not cold in Napoleon when we came here, there was no snow. We had kind of big shawls around. And then was a Henry Brenneise from the flat over here; and he was in (town); and we drove out with him to my mother’s uncle, Rott.

BK: What was his first name?

RL: Joseph Rott, and his son was Joseph too. They had quite a few boys, six boys and four girls, six children. Then they couldn’t keep us. The house was not so big, only two or four rooms or what. They were grown up children.

Then my mother lived over there at Wittmeirs. Two miles from down. She said, “Well, you can come to my house. I will keep you over the winter.” She had big sod house, and she gave us a big room there, and the neighbors gave some beds and everything. Then we moved over there. Stayed eight months with them, no rent paid. And they had a big kitchen. My mother cooked in the same kitchen, like our cousin. Baked the bread there; and Uncle brought one-hundred pounds of flour there and a bag of peas, and a bag of dry beans; and the neighbors brought some meat; and so mother had to cook. And dad worked out a little bit, had to help the neighbors. Build an upstairs hay in the winter.

BK: When you say dad, who was your dad?

RL: My dad, Christ Roesler. He helped the neighbors.

BK: That was more like your step-dad though right. You lost your father.

RL: My dad was John Rosech Jr. My father died in Russia. When I was six months old. He had tuberculosis. He came back from the Army, and then he married. He was only married only a year and a half. Then I was six months old when he died. And my grandpa died three weeks before my dad.

BK: With tuberculosis also?

RL: I don’t know what he had. They put them in one grave, they had one stone. We visited the stone before we left from Glueckstal; we went up to the cemetery.

BK: Then your mother remarried.

RL: Yes. And then now they put the graves [grave stones] along for sidewalks in Glueckstal, is there such a thing? The Russians plowed the cemetery up now-a-days. There was a Miller over there a couple years ago. He went over and took a picture of his grandma’s house, and he went to the cemetery, and there was no cemetery. They got all the gravestones in for sidewalks, laid there. And there was a car jacked up in Glueckstal, when he was there. And it had four stones under the wheels, jacked up. Gosh I can’t believe how they treat us. (The German People)

My mom had a sister there, and she was buried in Siberia. She died there. And my uncle that couldn’t walk he died, I think, in 1939. He was 49 years old.

BK: Could you write letters back and forth quite frequently, correspondence?

RL: Oh yes, we were writing. I did, I did.

BK: So you knew what was going on all the time.

RL: Oh, yes all the time. All the time they would write. They were very good at writing letters. Then, there was no home for the crippled children. The parents had to take care of them. And the parents, my grandparents, were kind of old. And they couldn’t be with that lame boy, you know. And he died one year before they died. So they were glad they didn’t have to worry about him anymore.

Okay, I am in North Dakota now. We came off the train and lived with Wittmeiers and then at spring dad, my step-father, bought four horses. $300.00 for two of them. Then he worked for the neighbor. He plowed up new land. “Breaking up,” they called it. He worked a month there, at the neighbors. We still lived in Wittmeiers place.

BK: Where was Wittmeiers place at? Who is living there now?

RL: It is not a farm anymore. There is a bridge going by there, and I could find it; but there nothing. It is about eight miles west of Streeter.

Then June came. Father was plowing a whole month in May. Then June came; and he took up a homestead in January already, my step-father.

BK: He got the papers going for a homestead.

RL: He went up to Steele, and there was some land there, and he took it up.

BK: I suppose he went to the court house in Steele to find out what land was to homestead.

RL: And maybe some people know it. They lived it. The Lang’s place was there too, to the north. They came in three years and took it up, Karl Lang. Then they went over with the horse; and they got the wood from Steele ND, for the house. And then my uncle came over; and the cousins and my mother’s Joseph Rott, the young and the old. And they build the house. The two room house. Then in South Dakota, my mother’s aunt, she sent a cookstove up by freight. A cookstove and a plow, a two horse plow. And a bed, you could stretch it out, fold it out, wooden bed. A fold-out bed [“parade-bett”].

BK: Do you suppose she ordered it in the catalog and then sent it out.

RL: I don’t think, it wasn’t new; but it was a good bed still. And then we moved in the house. A few days, they got it up. But there was no chimney right away.

BK: It was summertime anyway. So you didn’t really need a chimney.

RL: It was warm. So we had stove outside. We were eating, sleeping, and living in there already. And mother cooked on the stove outside, and we eat, and the house was ready, and so it went on.

When I grew up there, I was eight years old then. I started school when I was ten. There was nobody who talked English. Oh was that hard, when you went to school.

BK: You talked German the whole time.

RL: Then there came two girls, English. We learned a little from them. And so we went to school.

BK: Where was your school? What was the name of it?

RL: Just a mile northeast by Kemmet's. First winter, we had at Kemmet’s house school.

BK: Oh, they had a classroom right in the home.

RL: They had a sod house too. They had a big room with some school seats there. And the teacher was from Dawson ND, he boarded there. Mrs. Kemmet cooked dinner for them.

BK: Was the teacher a male?

RL: He was a man, he was English.

BK: Do you recall his name?

RL: It was Robert, I don’t know what the other name was. He was from Dawson ND. Then I went to school until fifth grade. I was big, there was big guys, twenty five years old who started the A, B, C’s like I did. That was a first class, I tell you. Learning the English language, and starting learning the A, B, C’s.

And there was one girl who had English; she was in fifth grade already then. She was the leader there.

BK: She helped out. She was like an assistant teacher.

RL: We watched her careful to get a little English. So I was growing up then I married. The Langs came up in 1908, and grandpa Fred came up in Christmas 1910. Fred Lang, my husband, he worked two summers here. Then he stayed home. And they farmed a little, and Margaret was still home there, and then we got married in 1915, December 30. And there was no pastor around so we went to Steele and got married at the courthouse. There was a nice court county judge, he was a Christian man you know. We drove up to Dawson ND with the buggy, there was no snow.

BK: On December 30, no snow!

RL: And I made my wedding dress. And then we drove up to Dawson, and took the train to Steele, and got married, and then took the train back to Dawson again, and hitched the horses, and then we drove to the homestead, to the Langs. And then Margaret Lang was home, she made a good supper. Oh, there was no restaurant to go, we didn’t eat anything the whole day. Short days, but we were kind of hungry.

She had noodle soup, and chicken, and apple pie, and Jell-O, and everything. She made a big supper for us.

BK: Who made that supper?

RL: Margaret Lang Gross, my husband’s sister. She died last year. Born 1-21-1897. Died 1-6-1988.

BK: That’s Ruth’s mother. I see Ruth just about every summer when she comes.

RL: She was here again this year. Stroh was here to visit me. Art was up too this summer, I saw him. And Ruth’s daughter Christina was here too. She’s a Stroh you know, with that one boy. Stroh’s had their 40th anniversary this year. They came for that, so they were all up.

Then we lived there four years.

BK: When you were married where did you live, where did you make your home?

RL: With the folks.

BK: With which folks?

RL: Karl and Elizabeth Lang’s. And that’s the one, I said, she has got five pastors in the family. Elizabeth was the oldest. She got a daughter Elizabeth, she lived in Russia and never came to America. She was buried in Siberia. Four years, we lived with the folks. Then we moved the house there. We had two boys; Ted and Leo was born there. There was no room anymore. Then we moved the house there. We thought it was kind of big; it had four little rooms. But nine years was just too small too. Had to build a house in 1931, you know.

The bank closed just before; there was two banks closed, to Streeter and one in Napoleon, closed the same day. We didn’t know if our bank closed. And then in the evening, the neighbor came over and told us about that; and the neighbor left; and grandpa Fred said, “Well, you’re still young. You can make it. If the bank is closed that’s okay.” We had that money saved for the house. Then the next day, we found out that our bank wasn’t closed. So we built the house, in 1931. So we were glad for that.

BK: Was it a bigger house?

RL: It had an upstairs, 2 bedrooms, and had the big kitchen there, and a bedroom down there, and the basement could wash the clothes.

BK: Did all the neighbors come over and help build the house?

RL: No, we got a carpenter from Streeter. We dug the basement, the neighbors helped with that. But they came over and put the house up; we paid them. And then the kids were going out and growing up; and so Ted went away, married. Married one by one.

BK: Can you tell me how many children you have?

RL: I had eleven children; one was stillborn.

BK: How many grandchildren?

RL: I got thirty-four grandchildren and thirty-six great-grandchildren. One-hundred and thirty now in my family.

BK: You keep close count.

RL: I do. And then what else. Then we went to California in 1959. To visit Grosses. That was a road to come down. Fred come down to see if he would like it in California. And then we went down before Christmas. It was a nice Christmas down there. Their kids we were eating outside, and grandpa enjoyed it too. Then Gross says, “You better buy a house.” I said, “No, we got a house in North Dakota. We’ll go back to North Dakota.” Gil was not married, you know. I would not leave him alone in the summertime, in the winter he could do it. Then we were there, I don’t know how many weeks, and then I said to dad, “If you want to buy it; buy it I don’t care.” And he bought it. It was rented out. Then we went back in spring. We stayed with Gil. Then the fall came; and we went always down, six winters to California.

BK: Oh, six winters you went to California.

RL: Grandpa, when the cold wind came in November, he said, “You better pack the suitcases!” He liked it there, walking around, going around every day, so nice.

BK: Did you drive down or did you take the train?

RL: We took the train. And sometimes cars were driving down, and we rode with somebody. One time there was a couple from South Dakota, we rode down with them one time. And Gil drove one later down. And back, we always had rides. We always filled up. In April, we always came back in April before the planting time, field work. In the summer I had a garden.

BK: All the baby calves came; and you helped them with that, make hay.

RL: There was a garden, I cooked everything. I filled the refrigerator when I left. We butchered; put meat in, and bread, and kuchen for Gil for the winter. We had a big fridge, eighteen footer. And so I was not worried for him.

And then Dad was not so well anymore. He could not eat good. But then they enjoyed it there so much; Gross, I enjoyed, when they came down. His sister Katie, she and George Schickel (361), Fred had two sisters there. They were there every Sunday; they were in Church there; and Pastor Adams from Valley City was pastor. We enjoyed it. And then we were one winter there; and the next year, Gross died of a heart attack. But we came back anyway. Katie was there. And then Dad didn’t feel so good anymore, and he didn’t eat much. And I was afraid. I said, “We go back to North Dakota now. What are we going to do,” I said. “Here's the house for sale?” Dad didn’t care anymore; he was not caring to buy it. And I told the neighbor there, Banks; she went to church always with us. We walked to church, it was only two blocks away. Dad was always in church there. When that evening service, we always went to church. And Dad told me, “We have to go to North Dakota.

We got no children here; and if something happens more, I am afraid. We got all our children in North Dakota, and we gotta go back there.” They said there’s somebody that wants to buy a house, a young couple. They are from Bowdle, South Dakota. And so I told his mother and they came. I had the sale paper out, “For sale by Owner” by the roadside. There was a road going by the house. I put it out Monday. That sale paper cost 25 cents. And then Friday, the buyer came already. A young couple.

The lady was from Bismarck, married to that; they had two girls. And he came down the evening; and he looked around, he liked the yard. There was a gate to drive the truck in. There was kind of a black smith shop in the back. And the lady came into the house, and she was sitting there with her daughter, and she looked around the house. And I sold the furniture to her too. We had a nice davenport, and bedroom set, and table. I would have been a big job to move it, so I sold it with the house. We bought it together and sold it with the house.

And he came in and he said to his wife, “How do you like the house?” “Oh, I like it,” she said. “Okay,” he said, “I got the money.” And dad said, “What, you sell the house, we have to go.” It was not quite August, you know. And I said, “You let us live in it until the fall, you know.” He said, “Yes, you can stay in it till fall. When school starts we will move.” Then we got a ride home again. Rembolt was his name. It was relation to my mother; his mother was a cousin. We drove here with him.

And then we came home, for our golden wedding anniversary celebration in 1965. And that week he was with Adella, and he didn’t feel so good. He looked kind of sunstroke or what he had. He said you have to take him to the doctor on Saturday. But he was outside going around I said, “No, tomorrow the children come for our golden wedding anniversary celebration, he can take you today.” Then he waited.

He was not so happy at the wedding either, but he talked. Then on Monday right away, they took him to Jamestown. Ted took us down. He had; I don’t know what kind it was. And then the doctors said, “Don’t come for a week, just leave him here.” And then we left him a week; and then, that Sunday he was up and okay, happy. I couldn’t believe it. Laura went down; Jerry was a little baby; [he] took the baby and walked around there, in the room. And we were sitting in company; and oh, he was so happy; and everything was so good. It was 1965.

Then we went down again, another year, to California. Then this house was sold next year; and we came back and stayed here. We came to Napoleon. We came to Bismarck; I told Ted to call the kids. We want to have some place in Napoleon, an apartment. Gil was married. And then we came to Bismarck to Gertie; and that man he wanted some beer, he was kind of drinking. And I said, “Maybe there was a can of beer in Gertie’s fridge here.” And Gertie came out. “Do we have some beer,” I said. She said, “Yeah I think there’s some.” And Bert came home, and sometimes came home, and drank a beer, sometimes. And now he don’t drink anymore. “You better go down then, go in the house,” I said to the man.

And he went in to get a can of beer; and Gertie said, “You have to leave your suitcase here.” “No ,we are going to Napoleon,” I said. “No, that’s not open this week. This apartment,” she said. Pete Wentz owned it. And then they lived in Bismarck too. She was baby sitter; and he was a sales man for the newspapers. And then Gertie called her up; and she said, “No there’s somebody in there now.” They are here for hunting. Then we stayed there, until the weekend Pete came home from selling the papers.

Then he said, “They are moving out today, Saturday.” “Okay,” I said. Then we go down and see it first, he thought. I said, “No, I am satisfied with what it is.” We go down Sunday; and Bert and Gertie came to take us down with our suitcases, you know. And we came here to Napoleon. I never was fussy you know. What ever we get, I live in.

BK: Do you remember what year that was about?

RL: In 1966, a year after our golden wedding. Then we moved here and there was a fridge here, and stove, and the bed was in the wall.

BK: It was kind of furnished.

RL: Yeah, so Ella brought some chairs you know. We got along okay.

BK: Everybody helped you out a little bit.

RL: This chair is August’s chair and those two are Harry’s.

BK: So you have lived in Napoleon ever since?

RL: Yes. Then in 1974, grandpa died. And I have been here, 15 years alone now.

BK: Well, I think, we will end the tape now. So thank you very much.

RL: I am going to sing a German song.

BK: Oh, that would be nice.

RL: German singing “Gott ist die Liebe,” “God is Love” ” (German dialogue 486-492)

BK: Okay, thank you.

RL: And I want God to bless my children, all, and keep the good works up, and read the Bible everyday, so we get along. One day we see each other again in heaven. That’s my prayer.

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