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Interview with Hubert (HS) and Clara (CH) Stoeling

Interview by Larry J. Sprunk (LS)
Hazen, North Dakota
2 October 1975

Transcribed and Edited by Linda Haag



LS: This is Larry Sprunk and the following is an interview that I had with Mr. Hubert Stoeling of Hazen, North Dakota. The interview was held at the Stoeling home in Hazen on Thursday, October 2, 1975. It began approximately two o’clock in the afternoon. The interview with Mr. Stoeling is complete on this cassette.

LS: Well, tell me when your family came to North Dakota?

HS: Well, they came in 1906. My father came out ahead of the family. He hired out and managed the lumberyard at the town of Expansion, which never really incorporated. There was a post office and he hired out to run this too. Mickey Baker, Issac Baker from Bismarck at that time, was the banker at Bismarck. I don’t know how many towns he could have built elevators. In these towns, I know there was one at Deapolis. That’s where the power plants shut off. I think he owned one at Mannhaven and the one at Expansion.

Also lumberyards, my father managed the lumberyard at Expansion. And as the country was developed, there was such a demand for services. Like people who, that were taking up plain or land, well, naturally they wanted some service. So there was a store in Expansion, a big mercantile store. And of course, they wanted a place to buy lumber and other merchandise and a place to sell their grain. So, then they started another town. My father more or less supervised that, building a town in the Fort Berthhold Indian Reservation.

At first they called it Stoelington, it was an awkward sounding name, so they changed it to Reed. And there they had a lumberyard, elevator and of course, eventually there were two stores and even a bank there. Then they built another elevator further west in the Berthhold Indian Reservation. That was called “Crow’s Heart” to some Indian. I don’t remember ever getting there, but my father used to go there periodically to see how things were going. All these river towns anticipated high hopes of the Northern Pacific Railroad following the Missouri River on west. In fact they had a right of way acquired, just how they acquired it, I don’t know. I know they had a right of way all the way as far as Expansion.

The town of Expansion was practically straight north of Hazen. With the railroad, the thinking of the people would be where the railroad would go. It brought in various people that wanted to be there on the ground floor. I was six years old when they started it.

About that time, a year or two year later, there was a bank started in Expansion. That was the Security State Bank. The manager was, cashier was Walter Kiesz and later on his brother Ed Kiesz came. Walter eventually left and operated a bank some other place. Then another bank was started in Expansion, First State Bank. The man that was cashier of that, his name was Peter S. Schaffee, Pearl Schaffee. He came from the eastern part of North Dakota. They had a place they called it a Hotel. It was a family, a quite large home. So, they had rooms for rent, people come there, could stay there. It was a small hotel.

Of course in my father’s lumberyard, he sold farm implements, wagons and buggies; seemed like he was getting an awful lot of business. He would even take in horses in trade for lumber from people, in purchase for building a home or barn. He shipped towards Wisconsin. That’s where my parents came from originally.

I don’t know how many carloads of horses he shipped. One time he asked me if I cared to go along, which I did. We shipped three carloads of horses from Garrison, ND; which was the closest railroad on the Soo Railroad. I know that he had shipped a carload at a time. Imagine he could make a little money selling horses in Wisconsin; do more business and that way taking bills in on trade.

LS: Your family moved from Wisconsin to North Dakota then?

HS: Originally my parents were married in Wisconsin. My father’s post office was Sheboygen. My mother’s was Plymouth. My father was a college graduate and had a Bachelor of Arts Degree. From there, I forgot what year they were married, about 1898. From there they went to Chayler, Iowa, where my father ran the newspaper business, newspaper office. I think they only lived there about a year and a half or two. That is where I was born. Then from there they moved to Buffalo, North Dakota, where he published the paper and also was Superintendent of Schools for several years. That’s where they lived before they moved out here.

My father came early in spring, in April sometime. My mother and, then there were three of us. She came in June, first part of July. They came by train to Garrison. Had to get a delivery man with a team to take us on the north bank of the Missouri River, where we hooted and hollered until my father came with the row boat. He took us over to our new home. He was building a house, but it wasn’t complete, so we had to stay with some other people for awhile until our house was finished.

LS: How did your dad meet I. P. Baker?

HS: Well, the way I, seems to me the rumors I heard, I. P. Baker was advertising for a manager to take over the lumberyard. My father answered the advertisement and that’s how he got to meet I. P. Baker.

LS: How was he as a man to work for?

HS: I. P. Baker?

LS: Yah.

HS: My father seemed to get a long very well. Baker seemed to be pleased the way my father handled his business.

LS: Did Baker own the steam boats too that would supply Expansion and Deapolis?

HS: Yup. Baker had these boats. There were only one or two steam and the others were gasoline, powered boats. I always remember us kids would expect a boat. Like the store man would say, “Well, I can expect a boat today to bring some more merchandise.” We could see four or five miles east. By the river there was kind of a bend, we could see the boat come around there and we would all guess which boat it was.

Well, there was one called the “Washburn” that had two smoke stakes, that was a steam boat. There was one called the “Expansion” with steam, one called the “Frane”, one the “Benton”, named after Baker’s children. One the “The Far West”, I think was a steam engine. So the boats would come quite often during the summer and would bring lumber, which they would unload at the boat landing. I also remember I was still a kid of nine or ten; my father had me and another boy with a team and wagon load that lumber and haul it up to the lumber yards.

LS: Hi!

HS: That’s Mrs. Stoeling. Mr. Sprunk.

LS: Talking about the old days.

CS: You the guy that’s going to ask all the questions?

LS: [Laughing]

CS: Every chance he gets, he talks about those olden days. I tell yah. He might not be old enough.

HS: I wish we had some pictures? But a, we had a flood one time, where we live now, and it ruined so many pictures. I have an old atlas here. You probably have seen it.

LS: We have one of those at the museum, too.

HS: Here’s a picture of my father.

LS: I was more interested in the conversation than the pictures. The pictures are not as important as what you’re telling me right now, is what I came for. One of the fellows at the museum told me to find out as much as I could about those four towns, Reed, Deapolis, Expansion and Mannhaven.

HS: Yeah, now like the Corp of Engineers have a map showing Lake Skakawea and the base and they have them named. I was so discussed, I wrote a letter to the Corp a couple years ago telling them they had missed named some of those. They have what they call “Expansion Bay”. To get there, I have to go west of Hazen and then two miles and then go straight north. So, I wrote a letter and told them that it was missed named. That “Expansion Bay” to be any where nears the town of Expansion would have to be straight north of Hazen, even a little east yet about ½ mile to be where the town of Expansion was. What they made Expansion Bay should be called Morris Bay or [?109] Weekly Bay. Some of those German Russians that use to live out there, have it named after them.

So one day this man Robinson from Garrison came to see me. See, I was county auditor for fourteen years; I retired this spring. He came to see me in Stanton. He says, “Stoeling, so do you think it would make much difference [?100-101]?” I told him I didn’t think it would, really. I said it was too bad it was missed named because many many years from now, people will say, “Well, this is where Expansion was.” You are at least six miles west of where the town was. “Well,” he said, “It would cost quite a bit to change!”

LS: Now you were here early enough to remember before the railroad came in and the string of towns along here that were established, I was wondering, Hubert, how far would those river towns bring produce from? I mean, was there a lot of traffic through those towns?

HS: To those towns at that time, oh, yes. See, the railroad didn’t get to Hazen until 1913 and got to Stanton 1912. And soon to Hazen, and it didn’t take to long, it was built as far as Killdeer. But I still remember before the railroad came. Of course the boats and river gave quite a bit of service, bringing merchandise and taking back wheat and so on. Then in the winter, if the ice was about right, they could drive across with a team and wagon and go to Garrison and get the supplies. Other than that, they had to drive all the way to New Salem, which was about sixty miles one way. It would take two days to go and two days to come back, about 1 week to make around trip.

LS: So, Expansion would pull farmers and producers about thirty miles south?

HS: Pretty close. I suppose some of them would come at least twenty-five or thirty miles and the others would go south to New Salem.

LS: Did the boats have a regular schedule?

HS: Well, I wouldn’t know that. If I remember, they wouldn’t always come a certain time, depending how much of a load they had. They usually wait till they had a boat load before they’d come. If I reckon right, the first boats that came, one of the captains that came was Grant Marsh. He use to come and my parents got to know him quiet well. My mother would tell me that Grant Marsh is the captain; you tell him that we have some fresh buttermilk, which he liked so well. We had a couple cows and we churned our own butter. If it was Grant Marsh, I’d tell him to take my hand; our house wasn’t too far from the boat landing. He’d drink a glass or two of buttermilk and visit with my mother. He was a very nice, congenial, and caring man.

LS: He was getting to be an old timer by then, I imagine.

HS: Yah! He was. He retired not too many years afterwards, he didn’t show up anymore. Then there was another captain, I think his name was Bell. If it was a windy day, they’d have trouble landing the boat. And he let out a string of cuss words. Later on there were some Leech Boys. There were two – brothers. I think one of them married one of the Baker’s daughters. They live not to far from crossing the bridge between Mandan and Bismarck. My father took me one time when we shortly crossed the bridge and made a left turn. That’s where this one village was.

LS: Did they have any snag boats at that time? I talked to a fellow at Scheel’s and he said that he had lived on the east side of the Missouri, south of Bismarck, in the early days down by Winona. He said they used to have a snag boat at that time to pull trees off the sand bar and keep the river clean. Do you remember if they had a boat like that?

HS: There was a boat they claimed would do that. They called it a Government boat. It was a fancy looking boat. It would come up the river and it would go on past Expansion and all the way, I don’t know how far, west it would go on. They claimed that’s what they would do. There was something that was obstructing the current where the boats landed. Well, they would fix that up, so they could go with out any trouble. We call that the Government Boat. They claim it came all the way from St. Louis.

LS: Ah, is that right. Did the river look about the same than as it does now below the dam, between the dam and Bismarck or was it higher, would you say?

HS: It looked about the same. Some parts of the year there would be sand bars showing up and of course we always have the June rise, where it would get high; many times flood the river bottoms. Then in the spring when the ice would break up, there would be a blockade or an ice block. And then it would flood all the river bottoms, even get up to the town of Expansion.

LS: Was that built on a pretty high rise?

HS: Expansion?

LS: Yeah!

HS: Yeah, it was. You see further west of Expansion there was low bottom land, much lower than this land at the elevation of Expansion. My father eventually bought quite a bit of land. He had all that bottom land. He must have had two hundred or three hundred acres of bottom land or more. He eventually bought the lumberyard from Isaac Baker.

When the railroads came, then of course, the river towns began to deteriorate, people started to move out. They wanted to go where the railroad was. There was another inland town between Hazen and Expansion by the name of Krem. So the bank, one bank from Expansion moved to Krem. They had a bank there for a number of years. The owner of that bank, Security State Bank, was from Deapolis and his name was McGregor. My brother-in-law was cashier there. He started out in Expansion, married my sister and was cashier of the bank at Krem for several years, till he went back to his former home in [?140], Minnesota, where he still lives now.

My father eventually sold out the lumberyard and he bought quite a bit of land west of Expansion. He started a ranch. You can see by the atlas, he owned at one time, 3,600 acres.

LS: Oh, is that right.

HS: It wasn’t all paid for. He got to be county commissioner, superintendent of schools for awhile and he farmed. He bought a big 4,880 acre (?) tractor. He farmed seven hundred to eight hundred acres, some thing like that.

He started a cattle ranch. He sent me out to learn the cattle business. I went out in the spring of 1915 and stayed at a ranch, Tom Christianson’s Ranch. My father took me out there in April and I went all through the roundup; each rancher, they were all together round up each rancher’s cattle. They go from one ranch to the other and that round up for all those ranches took until close to the end of June before they got through. So, I had quite a bit of experience.

This Tom Christian had some relatives in this area, there were four other boys. They were all related to Tom or his wife. I was the only one that was not related. Each one of us had two saddle horses. We’d ride one till noon, then the wrangler would bring another saddle horse. Then we’d have to rope another saddle horse, which we’d ride all afternoon. That’s the way it kept up all the time.

LS: Where was his ranch located?

HS: Christianson’s?

LS: Yeah.

HS: Northwest of Killdeer, right on the Little Missouri. Have you ever been up in that country?

LS: Yeah.

HS: You go through the Death, they call it at Stockdale. And then you had to cross, Crosby Creek. I think that’s what you call it, about a mile or two from there, right on the banks of the Little Missouri.

He had three girls, Addie, Agnes, and Flossy. One of them married a fellow by the name of Murray, who took over this ranch. The other two girls they were kind of wild, so they took off. Tom eventually went to live with one of them in California. He had Asthma so bad; he died. His wife died before he I think. She was a Smith from the Hessler Country; related to Delia and Hardy Smith. They were out there, too, the same time I was there.

The Bay boys, George and Bert; Bert was from Center and George is still out west. Bert died about a year ago. This Murray, he married Agnes. He lived quite awhile and then he died. I don’t know who owns that land now, Agnes owns some land right out of Grassy Butte, a little east. I’ve got to stop and see her someday; kind of catch up with the history of the family. I understand that she raises cattle, Angus cattle.

LS: Before I forget to ask, what was your dad’s name?

HS: Benjamin.

LS: Benjamin Stoeling. Well, you came back from the Christianson Ranch ready to go into in the cattle business or not?

HS: Dad had bought about three hundred head of cattle from Tom Christianson. Then I had to sort of be in charge. That was in 1915 and got along swell. My dad made money. He’d ship a car or two each year to Chicago.

Then in 1917 and 1918, it was such a tough winter, he lost about, better than a third of the heard. He ran out of feed, they had to haul hay and straw all the way from Underwood, up the river on the ice, out to our ranch. Then the cattle got this lung disease. It’s hard to see something like that. The cows got so poor they had trouble having their calves; it was a mess that spring. He kept giving me a lot of hell. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I ran away from home the spring of 1918.

I left in March and rode horse back to this Tom Christianson’s Ranch. I told him I had troubles and it sounded like he sided with me. He said, “You can only take so much.” So he bought my horse and we both rode horse back to Watford City. And then I bought a ticket to Calgary, Alberta, and I worked out there all that summer.

I didn’t come home until that fall, or early part of November. I had saved quite a bit of money. Well, my dad was a peculiar person. What ever he tried, he had a lot of get and go. Even though he was a college graduate, he learned how to shoe horses. He could do blacksmith work and he could do most anything. But he had made up his mind.

I was the oldest in the family and that Hubert was going to take charge of that ranch someday. He didn’t need a high school education. He did send me, after I graduated from the 8th grade from Expansion, he sent me to Duluth, Minnesota to take a business course. My sister next to me, she took her first year of high school. So, I went to Duluth Business University. Then came back and the next winter he sent me to Fargo. I went one year to the AC, one winter and took an Animal Husbandry course. But when I came back, I said to dad, “I’m going to go to high school come hell or high water.”

By that time they had moved their house from Expansion to Hazen. [?113]. They tore the house down, so I can’t describe it. Any how you made up your mind. You can have people rent it out instead of paying me rent for the house. You’ll get free board and room. So, I went to high school then, started in 1919 and graduated in the fall of 1922. I made it in three years, but by that time I was twenty three years old. This was not a classic school. It was called a consolidated school. We had to write examinations, which I didn’t mind. I got enough credits in three years. So, I finished my high school year, which was a long time ago, too.

LS: Yeah. What happened then? You got me interested; I’m involved here.

HS: Well, then there was such a demand for teachers. They were hiring teachers as high school graduates. I went out and applied for a school right west of Hazen there, about two or three miles from Hazen. I got a contract and I was teaching school there. My wife also came from south of Valley City, from the town of Nome. Her father brought her out here and she got a school in the Mannhaven District. We met at a teacher’s convention. So, we taught until 1924, we were married then.

Then we applied and got that consolidated school in Oliver County. She taught the lower grades and I the upper grades. The school burnt down a few years ago, its way down towards Mandan. But it was quite an experience. I always enjoyed teaching, even though I didn’t have much education beyond high school. I got along just swell in all the schools.

And after we were married, I farmed with my father, until he was about to go broke. He had a big sale and soled out. Then my brother and I rented a thousand acre farm in Montana, in Dawson County, northwest of Glendive. I think it was three miles from McCone County Line, where Circle is, seventeen miles east of Circle. We shipped two carloads of machinery, loaded them on flat cars and shipped this machinery out to Lindsay, Montana. Then we had it hauled over to Sheep Mountain Divide, about fifteen miles from this land we rented.

Mean time my brother had written for a mail driver, an examination out of Hazen and a rural route and he got appointed. I had to run the farm there all by myself. My wife wasn’t raised on a farm. She knew nothing about milking a cow or anything else. So, I had quite a chore to take care of all this. I stuck it out for three years. I farmed there until the fall of 1930. The crops were poor and the price was bad; at time I lost everything I had. I borrowed ten dollars from the store man, where I got my mail at Mink. Mink was the inlet town. He had a little store and post office. I borrowed ten dollars from him to get back into business.

By then we had one girl born at Circle, so we had three children by that time. So then I had to start from scratch. I had a truck that I had part paid for, but I traded that with a farmer out here for an older one that was all paid for. Then I hauled coal for a living one winter. I’d go to Buelah, underground at that time. I loaded it, plus I’d have to pay one dollar a ton for coal. And I’d haul it to Hazen and get two dollars, but I could only haul about three tons. I’d make about three trips a day then. Then they were rip wrapping like down at [?289] the banks of the Missouri. I traded that truck for a Model A.

I went out, that was the next fall, in ’31; I went out and hauled sugar beets out at Savage, Montana near Sidney. When that was over, I came back here and hauled rocks to this rif raf. But then I had to apply for a job mining coal at the Buelah Mine. That winter I could haul and truck it. By gully, if I didn’t get it, get hired. And they would pause, usually every fall they would put on extra help. They had more coal, so they put on more help. So I mined coal.

LS: So this would be the winter of ’31? ’32?

HS: Winter of ’31. I came back from Montana in’30.

LS: Yeah.

HS: In ’31 I bought this Model A car. That fall I mined coal, and in the summer I did some trucking, but in the fall I worked again. The Buelah mine was underground then, no stripping. In the evening; I had a box car also.

LS: Is that right.

HS: In the evening I stand out here at six o’clock. If they were going to mine, there would be a long whistle. In the morning I’d have to drive. There were a couple of other guys from Hazen that also worked there. We’d drive up there. Each one of us had our own room. We’d blast and load up the coal out and build a track for the coal cars. I worked there two winters. They will start in the fall, usually the later part of October and we work until spring. That worked pretty good until [?221-223]. By then we also had another child born. I think by then we had four. So, that was ’32, ’33. When Franklin Roosevelt got in, things were really rough. Then they started Federal Emergency Relief Administration Setup. He hired me as a bookkeeper, an accountant. He called me, at the court house in Stanton.

In the fall of 1933, the spring of 34, I think I started. So I had to solve also some other positions that were filled by fellows from Hazen. There was a man who had to look after loans for crops for seed grain. There was about three of us and we changed off driving. We’d all go together in one car. I worked there until 1936. That’s when WPA was in and kind of eased up a little at the office, sort of phasing out. Then they put me in as of the Recreation Administrator of Hazen. I had to start soft ball teams, girls and boys. Take some of the kids swimming down to the Knife River; kept me pretty busy. Until 1936 I had that job. Again there was such storage of teachers, so then my wife and I hired out and signed contracts to teach school again.

LS: Here in Hazen?

HS: No, out in the country. All we had was elementary certificates, so we went out, and each one of us taught country school the first year. Then they hired us to teach the consolidated school north of Buelah, Krontal School. She taught the lower and I taught the upper. We taught there three years until the spring of 1940.

The manager of the Farmer’s Union Oil Company from Buelah and one of the directors that lived out there came over and talked to me about managing the Farmer’s Union Oil lease. Well, I told him it sounded it good, but I had no money. See at that time, teaching, I forget, it was about $6 an hour. Well, I would sure like to have you. So then I took over the Farmer’s Union Oil here. In March 1940, I had to furnish a truck. I had an awful time to raise enough money to buy, make a down payment on a truck, but some how I made it. That was sort of a turn in my life.

I was instructed not to sell anything on time. I knew all these people north of Hazen because I had grown up with them; I was confirmed in their church and everything. I knew these people. By gully, a lot of them I sell on time. I sold more than any manager had; that’s when the crops got better, too. The auditor from the Central Exchange from St. Paul came out. I had to raise that money. But I was a good friend of the banker, old Bob Straut. He loaned me the money to pay off the Central Exchange. Gully, the money just rolled in, I mean good money. That’s when I built this house, paid for it in three years.

I had so darn much money coming in so fast, I am going to make it faster yet. I bought one half interests in a bar up town, The Kitchen Bar, $15,000. I bought one half of that interest and had a partner. That was a mistake. I would not want to do that again. I was in there three and a half years. I finally sold out to my partner for what I had paid. That was in 1946, and then the fall of ’49, I sold out to my partner, Ervin Hollinger.

And I bought Mobil Oil, an independent franchise. I had that better then ten years, almost eleven years. Well, by that time I was getting up to sixty years of age. So, I tried for County Office. I ran against George Sagehorn, who had been county auditor for many many years. People always said that I wouldn’t have much of a chance to beat him. But by gosh, I ran for the office and I don’t remember if there were other candidates in the spring or not, but at least I was on the fall ballot. Then I went out and worked pretty hard. And I beat him by about forty votes in the county. I was elected County Auditor in 1960.

Then I sold out my oil business. I drove from here everyday. I was reelected until I didn’t run again this last year. Even though my house was good, there is a time for everything. Not that I was rich, but I had made up a little money. I thought, now I’m going to do this, what I want to and not have to take orders. So that’s what I have been doing. Now I go out and golf every forenoon. Now you kind of spoiled my afternoon golf.

LS: Well!

HS: Which doesn’t matter, but I have another retired man, a couple of them. One of them sold out his store at Carson and his son has a Super Value Store here. They both own the Bottle Shop, but he is more or less retired. We go out at eight o’clock every morning, golf nine holes, and come home and do what ever around home. And then we go out again in the afternoon if the weather is nice. We golf eighteen holes.

LS: Well, there’s a whole bunch of questions I’d like to ask you. Going back to Expansion, can you remember who some of the business men were in Expansion in the hotel for intense?

HS: The hotel was run by the name of Julius Craiglau. They had several. I forget how many children, three, four, and five. His wife was a lady, girl from Otter Creek, south of Hazen here, by the name of Alwine. He had a brother-in-law, who clerked the store part of the time by the name of John Bohrer. His wife was the sister of Mrs. [?336].

So when we first came to Expansion, that’s where we stayed, was at John Bohrer. There was a young man that stayed there also, who took over running the elevator by the name of Fred Kraus, the father of Edwin and his [?342]. This John Bohrer was from the Mannhaven Country. His sister, Rose, Rosie they called her, came from the state of [?347]. She and this Fred Krause cuddled up and got married.

Fred was quite a character, quite well known in the state. I think he was the head one of OPA. And wasn’t that the name of some government set up one time, Office of Price Administration. He had an office in Bismarck. He and his son, Edwin, started, bought this store in Carson. Fred was also State Senator of Grant County. He was kind of a well known person. Well, then the bank, this Pearl Schaffee had the First Bank. He was just married when we came there. The two Kiesz brothers, they had the Security State Bank.

LS: So, there were two banks in Expansion?

HS: Hm, Hm. This mercantile store, they handled everything from soup to nuts. Too, it was owned by John Bohrer. His son, Ernest Bohrer, got to be quite a rancher out by Mannhaven. He had to sell out when the Garrison Dam moved in. His son, Duane Bohrer, is a rancher east of Bismarck, around Menoken. My father eventually and Mike [?373] bought the store. And they had the store.

We both were busy. Mike [?376] was farming and my dad, of course, had all his other business interests, so he, they hired a man to manage the store by the name of Hugo Tom Hanser from Wisconsin. He came from [?381], Wisconsin. My mother had some sisters. This one sister, Sophie, came out to visit my folks. And she fell in love with Tom Hanser and they got married. One of her other sisters, Martha, came out and she married C. B. Heinermeyer. That’s why I was part of [?388].

LS: I see.

HS: These Hansers had two children. The first one born in Expansion, died in infancy and buried in the cemetery south of Expansion, where the church use to be. And the other boy was Robert. See everything died out in Expansion. Eventually my father and Mr. [?396] sold out to a Jew, who had several stores in the county, Morris S[?397]. He had a store in Beulah, Hazen and a store in Krem. His brother-in-law was running that.

Then he bought the store in Expansion. So this S[?403] went west and had a store at Columbus, Montana. From there, what’s the town before you hit Bozeman? Anyway, it doesn’t make a difference. This son of his went to the College at Helena. He got a Law Degree. Up until this last July, for about ten years, he was President of the University of Montana, at Missoula. The same boy that was [?416] in Expansion. What an oddity?

LS: When do you suppose was the last year the boats supplied those towns on the Missouri?

HS: Well, off hand, I would say 1917. By the time World War I started. Some where in there; I think that’s when they quit coming.

LS: Frank would have been running the store then?

HS: Yes, I think then they hauled the merchandise in from Hazen. See, by that time they had been established well for many years before establishing a mail route. When I was a boy, it use to come out of Stanton. I don’t know how they did it, but they’d make a round, well, they’d change horses around Expansion. They’d make a round trip every day. But after they had a post office in Hazen, there was a rural route that would come out to Expansion from Hazen.

LS: Now, Stanton was a town that was there before the railroad came?

HS: Yes, that’s the first town in Mercer County.

LS: What nationality of people settled south of Expansion or around that area?

HS: Well, I’d say about ninety percent of German Russian. It seemed to be a little variation in certain localities. Now, right west of Expansion, well, from our ranch next place is a German Russian by the name of [?437]. All along that river bank, before you got way down the bottoms, the first one was Tom Dalea, who was a Norwegian. The next one was Charlie. No the next one was Lawn Barnes. Mrs. Barnes was a mother-in-law of Micky Baker.

LS: Oh, is that right.

HS: She had a bachelor for a son named Lawn. When I was seven, eight years old, my dad was quite a musician; he wanted me to learn to play the piano. So, he would send me there once a week on horseback to take a piano lesson from Mrs. Barnes. So there was Barnes. Then the next was Charlie Tucker. See, these were all Yankees. They could be German Russians [?341]. Then there was John Day. Then his son, Herb Day was next. Then there was Malcolm or Max Smith. Then there was Ranch Jones. None of these were German Russians.

SL: Were these all ranchers for the most part?

HS: Well, not really ranchers, but they had taken up land, a quarter of land. And that’s what they lived on. They farmed and had a few milk cows, so they could sell a little butter, chickens to sell eggs. Barnes, he raised hogs; he had Yorkshire. They were running all over the country.

LS: [laughing]

HS: Kind of a bacon hog. Eventually, west of Expansion, there were some people that moved in from the east, Staley(s)’, educated people. Van D[?363], he was an attorney. He got to be State’s Attorney. He’d come horseback to Expansion to the county seat. Then the Erickson’s, they were kind of by themselves. All the other country was practically German Russians, who were not Yankees.

{Counter at 380, 0}

LS: Did the Yankees get a long with the Germans?

HS: They seemed to get along all right. At times they would have trouble. When one would ever get mad, they call them a “God Dam Russian.”

LS: [laughing]

HS: Which the Russian didn’t like. They were people that had migrated from Germany to Russia.

LS: So, they weren’t really Russian?

HS: No, they weren’t really Russians. They didn’t like to be called that either. They liked to be called Germans. We always called them Germans. They were real good people; hard working. So, eventually they would buy out these Yankees, these Americans. There weren’t any left by the time say by 1925, 1926. They were practically all gone from that area. See Clare and I, we took over this one Day place in 1926. My dad paid down an option on a nine hundred some acre place, mostly river bottom. By then there were only about two other families left in that area, Smith family and Jones [family]. Then they followed later to Washburn.

LS: So, those people cleared out even before the Depression came?

HS: Oh, yes. Yes, even then it was kind of a depression. We had so much adverse weather for good crops. I remember about 1915 when we had such infestation of grasshoppers. Oh, it was terrible! They use to drive like a binder platform and had kerosene in there. Drive along and the grasshoppers would go in there and kill them that way. Besides they had places like [?23], where they could mix brand with poison. Farmers would come get that and spread around their fields to kill the grasshoppers.

LS: This was already in 19...?

HS: 15.

LS: Is that right?

HS: If I remember, I think even later on they had trouble with grasshoppers.

LS: Were all these Yankees that you mentioned, did they all live on the edge of the river or down on the river bottom?

HS: Well, they lived about like on the same formation and bank of the river bottom as the town of Expansion was. You see, that’s before you get down into the bottom.

LS: I see.

HS: That’s where they all lived by the boats. From there below this was this nice bottom land, which was very fertile. They use to raise some wonderful crops from there. Practically ever year that bottom land would get flooded. That seemed to be the same as putting fertilizer on that land. Gully, we use to talk about sixty to seventy bushels of oats an acre, even at that time already without using fertilizer. But they all lived along there except these people south of Hazen. About six, seven miles south, there was a little community, like I said, the Staley(’s), Van D[?37], Erickson(‘s), and so on had an area of their own. They were no German Russians.

LS: Was there any timberland along that river bottom?

HS: Timber?

LS: Yeah!

HS: Oh, yes. That bottom was all brush and timber.

LS: Cottonwood, I suppose mostly?

HS: Yes, you see, I don’t remember that. I think they had a saw mill down in the bottoms west of Expansion. They sawed Cottonwood trees and made lumber out of it below Stanton for a number of years. Then of course we would cut posts in the winter, ash post. Post that doesn’t rot so easily.

LS: Boxelder?

HS: No, they rot to fast. You know this, not Elm, but...

LS: Not Maple, Oak, Cedar?

HS: No, they make these walking canes out of them.

LS: “Diamond Eye” Willow, you mean.

HS: That’s the one. Yeah. We cut, that was our post if you cured it right. It last for years, years, and years. Be just as good as a “Bad Land” Cedar. When I lived up there, Clare and I, she taught school. For two winters I would cut fence posts. I would take them to Buelah and Hazen and sell them, four or five cents a piece for them. It seems to me it was more than that. It was up to eight cents a piece for the Ash posts and the rear. Because of the Willow I’d get more, maybe ten, twelve cents. So, that’s what most of them would do along the river bottoms in the winter, cut posts for their own use and to sell to these farmers out in the area. They didn’t have that.

LS: Did you guys, down there along the river, did they burn wood or did they burn coal, too?

HS: They burnt coal. On our ranch we had a coal mine, an underground mine.

LS: Is that right?

HS: Only two hundred yards, three hundred yards from the ranch buildings. My dad use to hire a miner and they would use silicone, the farmers in the area. Many farmers on their own land would strip off the third, would have their own coal. A number of farmers would get together and do that.

LS: How did Expansion compare with Deapolis, Mannhaven and Reed as far as size and amount of business they did was concerned? Was Mannhaven bigger or Deapolis bigger, Reed?

HS: Well, Expansion and Mannhaven were comparatively about the same size. Mannhaven had only one store and one bank, but I think there were few more people living there. It was a little older and had been settled a few years before Expansion. But Expansion, once that one started, it grew up very fast, those two towns, Mannhaven incorporated. They had the city all planted. Deapolis never mounted to anything. That little store there, a post office, the elevator and the lumberyard; that’s about all they had.

Reed, that grew quite fast too. They had two stores there. A Jew started a store besides the other. I think they had a school house, a bank and a lumberyard. But in Expansion, we even had a blasting shop.

LS: Who was the black smith?

HS: Black smith, my dad owned the shop. He hired a man by the name of Fred Reinhardt. He’s dead now. They had a Blind Pig.

LS: [laughing]. Who ran the Blind Pig?

HS: I don’t know, but outside they called him “Mickey.” I don’t remember the first name. I was a young kid, I don’t remember if they had anything else besides beer or not. But I think they did.

Mrs. HS: What about the “Yellow Dogs”?

HS: That was Mannhaven. They started a club, “Yellow Dog” club. That was Charlie Bohrer, some more of those outlaws up there.

LS: Is that a drinking man’s club, you mean?

HS: Yeah, a drinking man’s club.

LS: What kind of a crew did they have on these steam boats? Were they men from the south?

HS: I just don’t know. They seemed to me just like people who needed jobs from the area and got a job. They would, you’d see those same men from year to year. If they did their work well, they would be rehired again in the spring before field work started.

LS: Now, if they take grain from the elevator in Expansion, would they take it down to Bismarck and transfer it to the railroad, is that how worked?

HS: Yes, it was there or I think they also had a, maybe I’m wrong. I thought, they maybe they had a plan to unload at Washburn too. I’m not sure. Maybe most of it did go to Bismarck. Then they would unload it on two box cars. But you see, the grain would be loaded in the boats with a chute from the other. Well, when I was a youngster, some how, somebody had opened the chute. The grain had gone into the river and piled up as high as the chute was out of the water.

LS: Is that right?

HS: I don’t know how many thousands of bushels? That happened at Reed too. So, then my dad hired a watchman, an Indian by the name of Streety(?) Horn. So that didn’t happen again.

LS: Did your family or any of the people of Expansion have any experiences with the Indians being that close to the Reservation?

HS: Well, the only experience we had, they would come to Expansion to do some shopping. I know my folks had a man and his wife, who couldn’t speak English, there for a meal or to, Patrick Starr and his wife. They were all right. My dad got well acquainted with a lot of those Indians, one, a half breed, Jesse Mason. He used to come see my dad. They would talk about various horses. My dad was in the horse business; real nice man. We never had any trouble with the Indians.

LS: The relationship between the Whites and the Indians were pretty good.

HS: Oh, yes, real good.

LS: Did you go to school with a lot of German Russian kids then in Expansion, when you were in grade school?

HS: Well, some. There were only about two or three families of German Russians there. Well, I suppose that’s what you could call most of the kids, were German Russians, you know. I graduated from the eighth grade in the spring of 1915, I think it was. Then dad wanted me to learn more German. He wanted me to be confirmed in German, so he sent me to a German school that summer, east of Expansion, between Expansion and Mannhaven. I stayed with the Isaac family, August Isaac family. I went to summer school there.

LS: Was that a Parochial school?

HS: Parochial school. We had about two miles to go to this school house. We’d walk, about four of us from this Isaac family. The teacher was a hunchback man. We learned to read and write. We’d read bible stories, learned songs in German, religious songs most of them. This was quite an experience. Isaac’s, well, they have a reunion every other year. We’d meet here, Hazen or Center. We use to have a store there. I don’t know if you knew that?

LS: No.

HS: This year they had me give a talk on my experiences I had, living with the Isaacs for one summer. They asked me and I didn’t know if I should or not. I said you know people, that at sixty, over sixty years ago. Well, do whatever you can, we’d really appreciate it. So, I gave them a talk. They said it was all right. We had this meeting at Center. I don’t know how many years they had this. The Isaac relationship was a big family; about thirteen children. Those children all got married and had big families. I think now there are three hundred and eighty direct descendents from that August Isaac family. They usually come, if it at all possible. They come from Montana and all over.

LS: They wouldn’t haul cattle on these boats, would they?

HS: No.

LS: and lumber?

HS: No, the cattle, when my dad was ranching, I remember, we herded the cattle to Hazen. Right out here, there was no people living out here, kind of ride guard all night long, living, and breathing sixty head. We would put twenty, twenty-five in a box car, about three box car loads of cattle we’d ship. That would be in the teens around 1916, 1917.

LS: Were there any other big ranchers around Hazen, Beulah, and Center?

HS: Well, the, there were, not close to Expansion. They were almost all small, diversified farmers, but when you get down toward Hebron, big ranches. South of Beulah there were the K[?129], the [?130] and the [?131]. They all are big ranches. I remember one year, we took in a bunch K[?134]. [?135], he brought a bunch of cattle down to [?135]. They had a bunch of feed, so he wintered them there, couple hundred head from our river bottoms. That was a wonderful place to raise feed. We always had many acres of Alfalfa. But this one year something happened to the crop. We didn’t have enough feed when they had to haul it so far. That’s when they lost so many cattle.

LS: It was the winter...

HS: ’17.

LS: Yah!

HS: and ’18

LS: Yah! Which brings to mind another question, was the flu epidemic bad out in that area around Expansion in 1918, the flu epidemic?

HS: Quite bad, yah! I remember I, by then dad had some renters on the ranch. They had to move to Hazen from their home in Expansion. I got so sick. I had a little bedroom. Oh, I was so sick and I laid there for a couple days. Dad came out from town and then I think he brought me into Hazen. I got over that anyway.

By that time we had some buildings on some other land that dad farmed about four miles south of our ranch. He had bought two sections of land up there and had some buildings. There was a hired man we had by the name of Herman Zable(?). He lives in town here now. He’s older than I am. He had worked for my dad many years. We hadn’t seen Herman. “Where’s Herman?” somebody asked us. And there he lay in bed in one of these old buildings. He had been there for about four days; no one to look after him.

LS: But he pulled through.

HS: He pulled through.

CH: Another good source of old history would be to get a hold of those old Hazen Stars. That’s where your dad used to run that series of articles about when men hauling grain from New Salem, picking up buffalo chips for fuel.

HS: But how would you get a hold of those, Clara? It’s hard to get a hold of those.

LS: I think they probably have those on microfilm over at the museum too. See, by State Law, when North Dakota was established, they passed a law that every town that published a newspaper, had to send a copy of every issue to the State Museum. So they probably got those on microfilm at the museum.

CS: They are really old.

LS: Yah.

HS: See, my dad, when he quit ranching, I went out to Montana. He bought the Hazen Star here.

LS: He went back to publishing a paper, huh!

HS: He published that paper from 1928-1940. That’s the year my brother went out to California and started the flower ranch, they call it.

LS: I wanted to ask you, you and your wife both taught school. Where did the early school teachers come from? Like when you were in grade school in Expansion, were those people from the community or were they teachers from Iowa or Minnesota, or Wisconsin?

HS: They were teachers from other states. The teachers I had in Expansion, one I remember quite well, she was from Indiana. The other teacher, see, my dad was Superintendent of Schools. Many times these teachers would come to our home to find out about certain things about teaching. Most of the teachers, I’d say about two thirds of them, were girls from Minnesota, or eastern North Dakota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. Locally, these people, most of them were quite illiterate. As they got better off, they would send their children to school. But to start with, there were very few that had more than second or third grade education.

LS: Was education stressed by the German Russian people, or not, as strong as it might have been with the Scandinavians?

HS: Not as strong as the Scandinavians. These German Russian didn’t seem to think too much of schooling. They would stress was do a lot of hard work and that’s all you need. You didn’t need education.

LS: With that being such a predominately German area, were there any feelings against those Germans doing the First World War? Do you remember, Hubert, that people would...

HS: Well, there was some, yes. I remembered they’d point out certain fellows. They would say he’s pro-German. They were kind of looked down upon because it was stressed that Germany was in the wrong, that we were right. There weren’t many of those that were up holding Germany. I always remember when we were teaching, my wife and I at this consolidated school. We had about three Hoffner families, children going to our school. The one family, Theodore, “Ted”, they called him. He had been in the First World War in the Army. They would invite us to their home for Sunday dinner. Right over their kitchen table, he had a large framed picture of the Tsar and his family, right over the kitchen table.

LS: Is that right?

HS: I could not quite understand that! He was really proud of that picture.

LS: (Laughing). Another thing, ah, area that I wanted to ask you on, you worked in the Buelah Mines for two years, ’31 and...

HS: ’32, ’33.

LS: Were there any unions in the mines at that time or any attempt to establish a labor union?

HS: Yes, the reason now I remember was why I discontinued mining, because a number of the miners that I got acquainted with in my area of this underground mine, they started to talk about joining the United Mine Workers of America. We’d all get together, eat our lunch and speak together. Those were the things we’d discuss. So, they talked me into coming to a meeting at the Legion Hall in Buelah. One Sunday there was going to be a man there from the United Mine Workers. All these fellows, they were in favor of joining because the conditions in the Buelah Mine were very poor at that time.

We had to walk all the way into our shaft, our mine, rooms, that we were mining. We had to carry our lunch, drinking water, tools, and our blasting powder. If our auger would get dull, we’d have to carry that out and take it all the way down to the Tipple at Buelah. See, this was out of Buelah where we worked. About two miles north and a little east of Buelah, that’s where we parked, I parked my car. Then we had to walk in, all the way in; maybe a mile underground.

LS: Is that right?

HS: So then, it sounded pretty good about joining. I went to this meeting. By gully, I signed up with these other fellows. About a week later, I had a letter to stop in at the mine office, down right east of Buelah there. So I did. And they said, “Well, Stoeling, your next pay check is your last pay check. We no longer need your services.” Everyone of us that had gone to that meeting and signed up, we got canned.

LS: Is that right?

HS: Then they formed their own union. Buelah did, which they still do. They don’t belong to any other. I think that most of these that got canned, they stayed canned. That’s how I got out of the mining business.

LS: When did they form their own union then? Was that much later or...

LS: Well, I think it was, see, in order to convince these miners that they shouldn’t join the United Mine Workers and stick with them, they were going to offer them some better working conditions just like the United Miners had promise them. I think that about when they started there own.

LS: Oh! The management started the union for them.

HS: Yes, yes. The management started. They hold out a certain percentage of their wages even now yet, which goes toward a pension, some kind of insurance and so on. They started it about the same time. All of us that had signed up, we got fired.

LS: I know that you didn’t keep working in the mines after that, but were there any major strikes in any of these mines a long this line here of coal towns?

HS: Well...

LS: In later years, I mean?

HS: Yes, you see, there was quite a major strike at the Zap Mine, 1945 and 1950; one of those years. That’s when, I’m sure they have a record of that down there at the museum. Where even these two women, Mrs., whatever they are, they’d even lay down on the tracks, so the train, the locomotive couldn’t go. They finally got all the mining stopped for quite awhile, until they got better conditions, some how or other.

LS: Was that, what was the name of that mine? Was it just the Zap Mine or... Who ran it?
It wasn’t “Lucky Strike”, was it?

HS: No. See, “Lucky Strike” they quit before. There were several [?320] in “Lucky Strike”. This was Zap [?321]. This is an American Coal Company now. That was bigger. See, all the other smaller mines seemed to quit. This American coal was the main mine up there. They had a little mine town south of Zap. I think they even had a little store out there, if I remember right. Most of the miners, a good share of them, lived out there. They went on strike. The head one of the mine was Ralph Richardson. He was the superintendent.

We had Jim [?336] from Bismarck, he was an engineer. His father used to be county engineer. But these miners went against their policies. I remember it made them pretty dog on disgusted the miners. Then you have the people that, they hired from Buelah. So now, a good share of those Zap miners, are in Buelah. It was quite a turning point. It hurt the city of Zap. These officials didn’t patronize Zap anymore like they had before.

LS: Were those pretty bad living conditions in those mining towns. I mean not in Zap itself, but you mentioned this community of houses outside of Zap, where the miners lived. Were those pretty bad living conditions? Were the sacks pretty shoddy?

HS: Well, not too bad. They were all owned individually. They weren’t mined owned.

LS: They weren’t?

HS: No. The people themselves would build up their own home out there. It was real handy for them to go to work. By living right they could go to work right there. No, the conditions weren’t too bad.

LS: Did you like mining, Hubert? Was it...

HS: No, I never did.

LS: Money making proposition or was it just enough to keep your mind and soul together?

HS: Just to keep my family going.

LS: Yah!

HS: If you had the experience like I have. In those days it was much different then now. If you were hard up, you couldn’t go and get food stamps or you couldn’t go to a Welfare Office. There wasn’t nothing like that. Well, what were you going to do? You had to get help some place. Go to your relatives. I was too headstrong to do much of that. I always battled my own way. A fellow had to get out and work. You had to do something to make things go or you were known as “a no good son of a gun.”

LS: Hm, hm.

HS: So I would do most anything. But I never liked mining. I wasn’t too strong of an individual. I used to weigh about one hundred and seventy-five pounds and quite muscular. It was awful lot of hard, it was hard work. And at that time, if I remember right, we got forty-two and half cents a ton mining that stuff. They would run these coal cars and the cars would hold about three ton. Seldom did we get cars what we knew what to do with them. We’d only get three or four a day. Well, you’d see them take four, it would be twelve ton. Man, we used to put on a little more; say twelve times forty. That wasn’t much money, was it?

LS: No, four dollars, four and half, five dollars.

HS: four eighty, another half of twelve, would be sixty cents. We’d make a little over five bucks a pay period. Some days we ran out of cars, some days we only get maybe three cars. We’d also work till one o’clock, we’d go home earlier. Pay check was never very big.

LS: Was it dirty in that mine, dusty, a lot of coal in the air?

HS: No. It wasn’t. It wasn’t bad. You see, when I was past as a coal miner, I had my own entry way, my own room. I would lay my track up to the face of the coal. Then to start with, I would drill three holes in the top layer and put in my shots. Then the cutting machine, when I’d leave, they’d come in with a machine that would cut that much coal between the upper layer of coal. When they were through with that, they would back the machine up and one man would light these fuses that we had put in. They would shot. That coal would drop down that much. The next day would load that coal off of the top of the small layer onto the cars. That next night again we’d put shots in again in the bottom.

LS: I see.

HS: Then they hollered at each other, every body ready to shut, all ready, light it, fire in the hallway tower; everybody run out into the main entry way. Then it boomed, boomed and boomed. Then the next day we can load up that coal again. Get that all loaded out, than we had to extend our track again up to the face of the coal. And start all over again.

LS: Were there any cave-ins or did you leave enough lignite on the ceilings that you had good support?

HS: Usually we’d leave enough, but occasionally it happened, one or two miners got killed up there by the ceiling caving in. We’d leave enough and then after we were all through, they had some specialized miners that would go in and pull the pillar, pillars in between the rooms.

LS: That was kind of tricky, wasn’t it?

HS: That was tricky. You see all those cave-ins now there, north of Buelah. Otherwise they would leave so much good coal. They would pull that out, but they were specialized and knew how to go at it.

LS: So, that whole area a long that highway that runs from Buelah to Hazen, where those pot marks are out, that was all underground?

HS: Even north of the highway.

LS: Yah, Yah.

HS: We had to go into that entry way south of there, and had to walk all the way out there. See that was all under mine, that whole area.

LS: Did they have that lit, or did you just have lights on your hat?

HS: Just lights on our hats, carbide. Years after I quit, then they got electric lights. We carried little battery on the belt. When I was there, we all had carbide be lights. We had to carry a can of carbide with a little water. I don’t think we carried water because we always had drinking water. See, that carbide that we put in and we had to put a little water in the top. Soon as that water hit the carbide, gave it the gas and that would burn.

LS: I know you weren’t farming at this time, but being educated and teaching school. I was wondering, could you tell me whether Mercer County was pretty strong for the non-partisan league in the teens, twenties and thirties or was it the IVA? Were they strong for the IVA?

HS: Well, they were strong, non-partisan, even my father was. The IVA was not much different really, non-partisan league either. They were called Republicans. There were very few Democrats in Mercer County. They used to have an awful time to get a Democrat Judge at these Precincts.
Like at Hazen, there was Old Mike Keely(?). He was about the only one here for many years. This county I would say was ninety percent Republican.

But then you see after my father had the paper, John Moses, was the attorney here. He had been a Republican, he switched to Democrat Party. They had a meeting and he got this Fred Krause and Harold Miller, who owned the Hebron Brick Plant, to kind of go along with him. So, they came to my father and said, “Ben, we want you to put John Moses’ picture on the front page of the Hazen Star, as a Democrat for Governor.” My dad says, “No, I’m not going to do that.” “If you don’t, we’ll work against you. We’ll work for the Buelah Independent.” My father said “You go a head. I’m not going to change my politics for John Moses.” He didn’t. My dad didn’t do it anyhow. Moses was elected.

LS: Was he a popular Governor in Mercer County, would you say?

HS: Yes, he was. To the people he was quite common. He wasn’t one of these people that let the position go to his head. He always treated just as common and as he did before.

LS: How about the Farm Holiday Association, did it have an active county association?

HS: Well, I don’t remember too much about it. That’s when they had a moratorium on foreclosures and so on. I remember I went with the sheriff [?13] and they stopped this Farm Holiday Association. They stopped the sale [?16] at Golden Valley. I don’t think they had too much of an organization in Mercer County, but I think they were organized. They had a small nucleus of people that belonged to that. I think they did stop some of these foreclosure sales.

LS: Were they considered a radical organization?

HS: Yes, I think so. That’s about the time when Wagert got to be all of his notoriety.

LS: Now, your dad joined the NPO, did he know Conley, Langer, [?25Lempky], Frazer or any of those?

HS: Oh, yes. When we lived in Expansion, I remember L. B. Hannah. He came and stayed with my folks a day or two. He came to see my dad about politics. I was too young to know what it was all about. He got to be governor and I think he was Republican.

LS: That goes back quite a ways.

HS: Yea, that’s far. That’s a long ways back. My youngest brother’s middle name is Lin. My dad was a good friend of Lin Frazer. They used to talk a lot about towns he had, of course. He was a radical. I don’t think it ever got very far. He farmed, I think in the Beach country, beach area.

LS: Now I want to ask you a question about the future? You’ve been county auditor, so you would be more than passingly familiar with what Mercer County is looking into the future. How will coal gasification plants and major strip mining in Mercer County, how will that affect the county financially, do you think?

HS: Well, I think the county is going to realize some improvement in the resources. I mean they’ll be quite a bit of money floating around. Like, for instance, the county itself. We always, while I was county auditor, were barely able to make ends meet. The budget we had as, the county commissioners never had enough money to do all the road work they wanted. The result is we have very few black top roads in the county outside of the main Interstate Highway. So I think that would, with these gasification plants coming for strip mining, there is going to be more tax money coming , especially with this tax on coal.

The county will get a portion of that, so that our county is going to have a kind of a boom, to build more black top roads and a few other things that we need. See right now the county gets a tax from the parklands. The schools get forty-five percent, fifteen to the cities, and the county gets forty percent. Well, it’s always in the neighborhood of $200,000. Well, you divide, now see, the schools get almost half, the counties forty and the cities get fifteen. Really that didn’t go very far, didn’t do much good. It helped some, but. We always were short of money and in fact, I was tempted to resign several times because the commissioners would over spend their budget. They would have bills that I couldn’t pay, they never had enough money.

I used to argue with them and I’d send them a personal letter, threaten them and everything else, but they wouldn’t pay any attention. I was so sick of that. Then I had to hold bills. Sometimes I’d hold bills from August, for instance, big lumber bills, [?87] Weeler Lumber and Rich Company. Many I’d hold $30,000 of Rich Lumber bills, culvert bills. Last year I had close to $100,000 of bills I was holding, until we got new tax money coming in. Well, by the time I had those all paid, and a few little roads jobs again, then we were broke again. It was disgusting.

LS: What do you think will be the social affect of major development in Mercer County? Will it be an impact on social life, do you think?

HS: I think so. I dread, lots, what could happen. I get a paper published out of Glender, Wyoming and it tells all about the impact that these companies have had at Gillette, Wyoming and Rock Springs. Did you ever read that?

LS: No, I think I know the...

HS: I get that and I think the same thing can happen here. It’s told so much about the divorce rate has gone way up.

LS: Is there anyway that you think that can be that kind of major social effect and all of the waves that sends through family life and through religious life and crime and so forth? Is their anyway that can be lessened do you think?

HS: Well, I think that it can be lessened. The trouble out there in those places there were no previous study made of all these people moving in. They came in way a head of any planning they had done in the cities, so that they didn’t have their sewage and their water extended and places to move to and this and that. I think here all these places, like Hazen, Stanton, Buelah, there all doing quite a bit of planning. I think it’s going to be taken care of much better than it had in these other towns.

I think if they had things regulated and so forth that there is less chance of having all these family troubles. We had a lady help us with our county planning. We just finished that here about the time I left office. The county is all zoned now. We had a lady from. I guess I don’t know where she’s from. She helped various counties with their zoning. She was telling us places where she had been. She said when all these workers come in, your going to have ladies of the night coming even to Hazen. You’re going to have whores here in different places. She said it’s that way all over. Some of the [?402] said, “No, that couldn’t happen in our country, but it can. It can happen just like anyplace else.

[Counter 402,0]

LS: Are you for coal development and gasification or do you think we should have held off? What are your feelings about the whole thing?

HS: Well, I never was for it. I’m getting a little brainwashed now. After living in an area as long as I have, you hate to see all of this virgin prairie dug up. You can see all the wild life disappearing. Always this influx of people, strangers, I used to know everybody. Now I walk up town and I only know about half of them. So many strangers have moved in that work out at the plant and the coal mines. So it isn’t like home anymore.

I was kind of sorry about the whole think. I didn’t like to see it happen. I can see where we have to do something about this energy crisis we have. Making use of the coal is going to help quite a bit. If they could put the soil back the way it was before, it never will be the same.

LS: That was my next question. Do you think that total reclamation is possible?

HS: I don’t think so. I don’t think so because if they put back this top soil, but they will never get it back the way it was before. We have such small amount of moisture, rainfall from here on west. And it takes so many years to decay vegetation and build up top soil. It’s different in the eastern part of the United States or North Dakota. If they don’t get that black soil from any place, our black soil is only seven or eight inches maybe ten. You go out west farther, there isn’t much top soil. They’re going to disrupt the flow of the water and the drainage, and all of that. I don’t think it will ever be the same as it was before.

LS: Hm, hm.

HS: But they claim with fertilizer they can grow vegetation on any kind of land if they have enough fertilizer.

LS: You need the moisture there too. I have one final question, Hubert. I asked people, if they travel, if they do any traveling outside of North Dakota, what do you feel about North Dakota? Are you every apologetic when people ask you where your from and you say from North Dakota? Has it been a good state to raise a family?

HS: It has as far as my experiences have been. Now there were seven of us children in Ben Stoeling’s family. I am the only one that stayed here.

LS: Is that right?

HS: The rest all pulled. I have made a better living and raised a better family than any of the others. I’m proud of North Dakota. I think it’s one of the best states in the union. I always think back, I’ve always been a Republican all my life, and usually for many many years, we’d have a Democratic Governor and a Republican Legislature. But they never allowed our state to go in the red. We’ve always managed to run our state in the black. Not many states can say that. As far as making a living, I think a person can make a living in North Dakota just as well as any other place. All it takes is a lot of hard work. A person can make a living.

As far as area is concerned, you can’t beat it. I have had people stop at my office, at the courthouse in Stanton. They’d be from California or Washington. They would say, “My, what a wonderful area you have here?” Someone would say, “I have to go out and inhale some more of that good air, such clean nice air.”

Well, my folks, my dad sold out depending how much in 1940. See, my brother started this bar-ranch in Southern California. So about every other year my wife and I would go to California, and tell the folks back out there that I still have a brother and sister out there. I never was envious of them. They never lived as good as we did here. With all that congestion of population and traffic, if you wanted to see something you had to go miles and miles to see. My daughter and husband live [?213], suburb of Los Angles.

Every time we’d get there, he wanted to show me things. He’d take me to the Forum for basketball games or something, St. Louis [?216] or some special event. Then we’d go to the [?218] ravine for a ball game. We’d go to the stadium at Anaheim and different places. We had to drive so far always. After the event was over, it took us an hour to get out of there again. I said, “Shucks, you come to Hazen or anyplace you never had stuff like that.”

LS: [Laughing]

HS: Since I retired, my wife and I made a trip to [?230], Chicago. The later part of May we spent two weeks in Chicago. Then I went to St. Louis. I have a good friend there, spent a little over a week there. Don Brooks, he’s Vice President of, one of the vice presidents, of the Continental Telephone Company. They used to own the exchange here in Hazen and they sold out to the West River Telephone Company. This Don Brooks, he’s younger than I am. He’s a real genius. He worked himself up, so now has thirteen states under his jurisdiction.

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