Conducted by Michael M. Miller (MM)
18 August 1993, Bismarck, North Dakota
Editing and Proofreading by Jay Gage and Beverly Wigley
MM: This is Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russian Bibliographer
at North Dakota State University in Fargo, and it's June 19, 1993.
I'm in the home of Kathryn (Katie) Ternes, who I remember as a
child when I would go to visit their home, the John and Kathryn
Ternes' home, in Strasburg. And it's a real pleasure Katie to
be in your home this evening and to visit with you about your
life, your heritage as a daughter of our German?Russian people.
So what I'd like to have you do is tell us your full name and
when you were born Katie.
KT: I was born in St. Anthony, North Dakota, August
MM: What was your maiden name?
KT: Katie Ehli.
MM: And how did you spell the Ehli?
MM: And your father's name, Katie?
KT: Thomas Ehli.
MM: And do you remember when he was born?
KT: He was born May 24, 1884.
MM: Where was he born?
KT: In Sulz, Russia.
MM: In S-u-l-z.
MM: That was probably a Black Sea Colony in the Ukraine
and I'm assuming they were of the Catholic faith.
KT: They were Catholic.
MM: Right, and your mother's name?
KT: Regina Heiser.
MM: And she was born in what year?
KT: She was born on October the 6th, 1884.
MM: And where was she born?
KT: In Kleinliebental, close to the Black Sea.
MM: In the Black Sea [area] of the Ukraine, Kleinliebental;
very interesting. And how many brothers and sisters did she
KT: She has two sisters and two brothers from her mother.
Then her dad remarried after her mother passed away and they
had six more children.
MM: And how many of the children from the first marriage
and the second marriage came to America?
MM: Your mother came though.
KT: My mother came with my dad and one brother. He was
a year old when they came to
MM: And how old was your mother? What year did she come
about, do you remember?
KT: In 1909.
MM: Your mother came in 1909, so she had memories then
of living in Kleinliebental.
KT: Oh, yes! Yes.
MM: And your father, he was how old when he came to
KT: He was the same age; they were both the same age.
MM: They came to the United States and settled where?
KT: In St. Anthony.
MM: And that's located -
KT: Twelve miles south of Mandan.
MM: In Morton County, North Dakota.
KT: Morton County.
MM: And that's where you grew up of course.
KT: Well, they lived with their uncle in St. Anthony.
Then they moved to the farm - to his cousin's and they stayed
there for one summer. Then he moved to Flasher and started at
the Flasher railroad as an assistant agent because he could
talk German and there were a lot of Germans around Raleigh [and]
Flasher that couldn't talk or understand the English too well.
So he was kind of the interpreter.
MM: And this was about what year?
KT: In 1911.
MM: So let's go back to the villages in the Black Sea.
Did your parents, first of all your mother, did she talk much
about living in the Kleinliebental village?
KT: Yes, she talked quite a bit about it.
MM: What did she say, for example, what did her parents
do as an occupation?
KT: My mother's dad worked in the bank. My mother was
a homemaker; she was a seamstress. She did a lot of sewing for
people. There was a man living in Linton by the name of Anton
Senger which you know real well, Rose's Dad.
MM: Yes, right.
KT: And when my mother came down to Strasburg she met
him and he says, "Oh, I knew your mother real well because
she used to sew those bustles which," he said, "we
called asses in German." "And I was a little boy,"
he said, "and one day, one of the women came out from your
mother's house and she lost one of them. I ran after her and
told her, "You lost your ass!"
MM: And this was in the village in Russia or Ukraine,
KT: That was in Russia yes, yes.
MM: Very interesting. What else did they used to talk
about in Kleinliebental, your mother first of all.
KT: Oh, she used to say how Mr. Klein that also lived
in Strasburg -
MM: What was his full name, do you remember?
KT: Nicholas Klein. He had a store in Strasburg and
she got to know him. When she met him she says, "I knew
you from Russia because you used to come to our house many times
with my dad."
MM: Very interesting. Did your mother talk much about
her brothers and sisters?
KT: Well, my mother's brothers they both went to college.
She said, "It was funny because they got the education
and we didn't. We got 8th grade. I was the oldest one when my
mother died." And she had to take care of the children.
And then one day one of her sisters - she was popping corn -
and she went on top of the stove and her dress caught fire.
She got burned so bad that she died in the hospital.
MM: This was in Russia.
KT: That was in Russia after my grandfather was widowed.
Then this nurse that was taking care of my mother's sister,
she was single and she was a non-Catholic. She took real good
care of my aunt, I would say. And my grandfather married her
then and had six other children. And she never knew anything
about cooking. Then my mother told me one day she asked her,
"What do you put in soup for seasoning?" My aunt said
then, her name was Mary, "Put in sugar." That's what
she put in instead of salt. And when she served it to my grandpa,
"Well," he said, "well, what kind of soup is
that?" "Well, Mary told me to put in sugar."
She told me that story.
MM: It's interesting. As long as we are talking about
foods and so forth, did your mother ever talk about what they
used to cook in the Ukraine in the village?
KT: Oh, they made their own sauerkraut and they lived
in the vineyards and they had a lot of wine. Instead of milk
or coffee or what, they had wine with their food. They did a
lot of meats like pork, sauerkraut what the Germans usually
- Bauska, they made that for Easter.
MM: What was Bauska?
KT: Bauska was the Easter bread.
MM: How was that made?
KT: Well, they used a lot of butter and they put in
coloring, saffron, to color it and it was sweet bread. It was
almost like a roll bread and that was their Easter. Their stoves,
they were made out of bricks, and she said that made the best
MM: Did she ever explain how they made the bread?
KT: Well, out of the yeast, and they had their yeast,
MM: Did they make a lot of Kuchen too?
KT: They baked Kuchen, yah, they had Kuchen.
MM: What about your mother, [she] was a good seamstress?
KT: My grandmother was.
MM: Oh, your grandmother.
KT: My grandmother was a good seamstress, yah.
MM: Did your mother learn that?
KT: My mother sewed too, yah. She sewed all the dresses
for five girls when we all grew up on the farm here in Fallon
MM: Here in Morton County, right. Now your mother was
how old again when she was in Kleinliebental? When she left,
how old was she?
KT: She was 21.
MM: So she has good memories of when she came over to
KT: Oh yes, yes.
MM: Did she have to work out in the field?
KT: No, my mother never worked out in the field.
MM: So your grandmother always saw to that she worked
mostly in the house.
KT: In the house. Well, see, they had one cow on the
farm in Kleinliebental and the cows were out of town. See they
lived in the village and then they had to go out to get that
cow to milk her and bring her back in again.
MM: Did they have any other animals?
KT: No, huh uh, there was no other animals.
MM: What about going to school, your mother went to
school in Russia?
KT: My mother went to school up to the 8th grade. She
had a good handwriting.
MM: Did she learn Russian too?
KT: Oh yes, she could talk the Russian language. And
when my stepfather - when they didn't want us to understand
anything, they talked Russian.
MM: Over here?
KT: Over here, yes.
MM: That's interesting. So when they came to North Dakota
they could speak Russian and German?
KT: Russian and German. Then my mother, in Flasher,
she learned how to talk English. She didn't know how to go grocery
shopping and how to ask for things. So this one storekeeper
(she was a woman) she said, "Why don't you get a catalog
and then just look in the catalog [for] whatever you want and
bring it to me, point it out. I know what you want then."
Because years ago you could get garden seed, patterns to sew;
you could order all those out of the catalog, out of the Sears
MM: Ah huh, very interesting. What other recollections
did your mother talk about of life in the Ukraine?
KT: Well, she had a pretty good life there. She enjoyed
her life. She said they went swimming a lot of times in the
MM: So she came over to America in the early 1900s.
Why did she leave Russia?
KT: Because my dad was suppose to be drafted for the
MM: He was about how old then?
KT: Well, he was 21 by that time, no, I am taking that
back. She was 20 when she got married and they were 23 when
they came to America. My brother was a year old when they came
MM: So that was your brother that came to America?
KT: That was my brother.
And your mother came to America in what year again?
KT: In 1909.
MM: And she came directly to North
KT: They both came to North Dakota.
And they landed in Mandan and then somebody picked them up,
took them out to St. Anthony, North Dakota.
MM: So that was your father who
came to America because he wanted to avoid the draft.
MM: And so he, of course, left
some of his brothers and sisters over there.
KT: Yes, and his parents.
MM: And his parents and your mother's
KT: Yes, and they both said, "We
know we're not gonna come back again." This was just like
a live funeral when they left.
MM: Did they ever reminisce about
that when they left? Was it difficult?
KT: Oh yes, it was hard for them.
My mother told me a lot a times she would sit out on the well,
they had wells you know with the covers on. She would sit up
there and watch the sun go down and cry how far away she was
MM: Did they ever talk about wishing
they could go home again?
KT: No, never.
MM: Never brought that up.
KT: No, my uncle was gonna come over to visit her on
the 4th of July. He said he would be at Flasher for dinner.
And he got as far as New York and they closed the - he couldn't
come over anymore. He had to go back. He was in New York.
MM: And had to go back to Ukraine.
KT: Had to go back again, yah.
MM: So your father, of course, came to Morton County.
But through those years in the early 1900s, did they have correspondence
then with their brothers and sisters and parents?
KT: Yes, they did. They did write to each other.
MM: Do you remember what they wrote about?
KT: No, I was too small at that time to be interested
MM: Right, and what about going back to Russia? Did
your mother ever talk about the kinds of houses they built in
the villages? Did she ever mention how they built those houses
or how many rooms were in the house?
KT: The way I understood my mother when she talked,
there was a front room and the kitchen was in the middle and
then the other rooms was the bedrooms. It was almost like they
have at Strasburg. When I moved down there, there was a lot
of houses built like that.
MM: What about the kind of fuel they used over in Russia?
What did they use to keep warm?
KT: To keep the heat, I have no idea.
MM: Did they use manure at that time?
KT: I wouldn't know that. I never did ask about that.
MM: You never talked about that. So when they came to
Morton County, they had already gone to school and so forth.
And then your mother was, to be sure now, was she married then
already when she came to Morton County?
KT: Oh, sure!
MM: They had been married how long?
KT: Yah, well, they had my brother that was a year old.
MM: So they only had one child at that time. So they
came [over] together and had gotten married over there. Did
she ever talk about her marriage?
KT: No, she never talked about it.
MM: Never talked about the marriage ceremony or anything.
What about celebrating holidays, did she ever talk about how
they used to have Christmas over there?
KT: Not much, not much about the holidays.
MM: Not so much about that. The life in Morton County,
were they always living on the farm or did they live in town?
KT: My dad and mother always lived in town. After he
got on the railroad he was transferred to different towns. From
Flasher he was transferred to Golden Valley, from Golden Valley
to Killdeer, and then to Mandan and that's where he passed away
MM: Your father passed away in 1918.
KT: 1918, of that big flu we had.
MM: I see, so he was quite young.
KT: Yah, he was sick eight days. He got pneumonia and
MM: And your mother was left with how many children?
KT: Four children, she was 33 years old at that time.
MM: And you were how old?
KT: I was nine.
MM: Do you remember some of that?
KT: Oh, yes! I remember real well.
MM: And did your mother then remarry?
KT: My dad died in October; my mother
remarried in January, the same year. And she married a man with
four children then and she had four.
MM: And what was his name?
KT: Adam Frees. And she moved out the farm then and
that's where I lived for seven years until I got married. I
remember we lived on Main Street in Mandan where Hardee's is
now, that's where our house was. When
my dad died, we all had the flu; everybody except my mother
was up and around taking care of us. When he died they didn't
want to take him through the living room where we were laying
with the flu, so they took him out of the window, the undertaker
MM: Really, interesting.
KT: And nobody was allowed to
go to the funeral. My mother couldn't go to the funeral. He
was laying in the undertaker's place for eight days waiting
for my mother to get better. She was also sick; they thought
she could get out but everybody said, "Stay in, don't go
out," because the flu was terrible. In 1918 so many people
died. Then they buried him without [her]. There was a Negro
woman that took care of us. She was our 'grandma' and she took
care of the funeral. Nobody went to church either.
MM: Nobody went to church.
KT: People were afraid of getting
MM: Right. So how old were you when you got married?
KT: I was 17.
MM: You were 17 when you got married and you met John
Ternes. He was the son of whom?
KT: Nicholas and Odelia Kopp.
MM: Was it a long-term courtship or how was the arrangement?
KT: I met John at a wedding over in Raleigh when he
was best man and we got acquainted. And then we corresponded
for about a year and then we never heard from each other until
'25. And then we started writing again and then in '26, he wrote
me he was going to come up to see me and that's where we got
closer. Then on October 25th we got married, in 1927.
MM: After '27 where did you live?
KT: Out in Grassna, on my in?laws' homestead.
MM: And that's located where?
KT: Seven miles south of Strasburg.
MM: South and west of Strasburg.
KT: Southwest of Strasburg.
MM: So you lived with his parents.
KT: His parents moved to church and we lived alone.
MM: Moved to where?
KT: Over to Grassna, to the Trinity Church.
MM: Nearby there.
KT: Um hum. They built a house. When they heard that
John was getting married they said, "Now we are going to
build and move closer to church." John and I and Nick,
his brother, stayed on the farm with us for a year.
MM: How did you find, Katie, when you grew up south
of Mandan and so forth, and then living in Mandan, and then
going over to Strasburg by Grassna, did you find it a little
KT: Well, I think our part of the country was a little
bit ahead with farming. We had tractors earlier than they did
down in Strasburg and I think we were a little further ahead
MM: What about English speaking?
KT: English, too.
MM: Were you already speaking English at that time?
KT: Yes, we spoke more English. When I came down there
I spoke more English than I did after I was down there for a
few years because our German language, my German language, was
high German. My stepfather was what they call the low German,
so I had a mixture of German then. Then when I moved to Strasburg,
that was different again, so I just kept on talking more English
MM: And you lived how long out on the farm?
KT: Seven years.
MM: Seven years, and then what happened with the farm?
KT: We rented the farm out to a Baumgartner.
MM: When you were on the farm there, were you still
using horses or tractor?
KT: Oh yes, we had horses.
MM: Still had horses.
KT: Still had horses, we never used a tractor - had
MM: On the farm, what kind of social life did you have?
If you wanted to visit, what kind of activities did you do?
KT: Mostly was name's days and we did go out for picnics,
like with your folks and us. We were real close. We lot of times
went out to the Missouri River. And there was a fellow out there,
he always caught the fish for us and we had fish fries out there.
We would sing and dance, had our own parties. A lot of times
we got together and oh, there was single kids with us and some
of the men would dress up as the ministers and they'd marry
a couple with the Sears Roebuck catalog. That was our own fun
MM: Interesting. Was there a lot of dancing in those
KT: Lot of dancing, lot of dancing especially on name's
MM: And who was the orchestra?
KT: Max Josek, he had the accordion. The one room was
cleaned up, took all the furniture out and one table was set
by the corner and a chair on top and there's where the musician
was sitting on. Then one time we had a big name's day party
at our place. Your folks was out and Speckie Keller and Charlie
Richter. Charlie played the accordion and Speckie played the
trombone, I guess. We had to make our own entertainment.
MM: Some barn dances too?
KT: Down there not so much, but up home whenever somebody
built a new barn or a new granary there was a dance. My folks
built a new barn at one time and my mother said, "We're
not gonna have a dance. We're gonna have the priest come and
bless that barn." Anyway, my brothers and I, one Sunday
we got a bunch together and we had a dance. Even Father Gustin
was in the seminary at that time, and he came. Father used to
be out at the prairie -
MM: Yes, talking about religion and so forth, was the
church quite important in your family?
KT: Oh, yes. Yah, we never missed a Midnight Mass or
MM: Was there a lot of German singing?
KT: Yes, there was mostly Latin in church at that time.
I still have my Latin songbook.
MM: But when you were at weddings and so forth when
they would sing songs and so forth, was it in German?
KT: Yes, that was in German.
MM: That was in German. Also when there was a funeral,
for example, they'd have some German hymns?
KT: That was German, too, yah. And then we had this
Father Zellder, which was really a German. He came from Germany
and that was more German than either Father Niebauer had or
MM: Father Zellder served what parish when you were
KT: St. Peter and Paul.
MM: Oh, this was in Strasburg.
KT: No, no that was in Fallon. He was in Fallon before
he came to Strasburg.
MM: I see.
KT: That was his first parish when he came to America,
MM: Father Zellder was a German-German.
KT: Yes, yah.
MM: And he spoke high German, of course.
KT: He spoke high German.
MM: Did the German?Russian people accept him?
KT: Oh yes, oh yah.
MM: And they got along well?
KT: Yes, yah.
MM: Did you ever find moving over to Grassna that the
Bessarabian people had different kinds of foods than you had?
Did they make different kinds of borscht or did they cook a
KT: It was about the same, yah; the food was about the
same. Some named them a little different than we did, like for
Gholodets we called Gholorei.
MM: And what was that in English?
KT: Pig feet, pickled pig feet.
MM: And what else did they make, do you recall? Did
they make any liver sausage or any kind of head cheese and things
KT: Oh, yes, Leber sausage, Blutwurst, Schwartenmagen
and pigs in blankets. They called [that] down there Halupsy;
and in our area they called them Hulooptsi.
MM: They had a little different ?
KT: A little different dialect, yah.
MM: Yes. So you grew up making all those kinds of things.
KT: Oh, yes; yah, learned how to make that.
MM: And then you lived in Strasburg from what years?
KT: From 1927 to 1933.
MM: Just six years you were in Strasburg.
MM: Then in 1933 - from 1927-1933 you were -
KT: We moved to Strasburg.
MM: Oh, you were on the farm from '27 to '33?
KT: Yes, yah.
MM: In 1933 you moved to Strasburg until what year?
KT: Until '57 we moved up here.
MM: To Bismarck.
KT: Um hum.
MM: So '33 to '57 was a long time in Strasburg. Of course,
you lived in Strasburg during the depression.
MM: And then of course during World War II - and got
to know a lot of the people. What were some of your memories,
first of all, during the depression years? Do you remember some
of those tough years?
KT: Yes, those were pretty tough years. Sometimes we
didn't have much to eat on the farm. And a lot of times we'd
just have chokecherry jelly and coffee and canned sausage probably
for a main meal. And then for the cattle there was nothing.
That's when we left the farm because we just couldn't make it
MM: In '33.
KT: In '33, and we borrowed money from John's mother
to start the bar. Your dad was the one that came out and told
John that bar was for sale.
MM: In Strasburg.
KT: In Strasburg. Then we went in and checked it out
(Jake Mastel owned that bar) - what he wanted for it. Then John
went to his mother and she gave us the money. We had some money;
we had an auction sale, we sold all our furniture. Not the furniture,
our machinery, and kept our land though and moved in. And we
done real good in business.
MM: This was in Strasburg until '57?
KT: We had the bar for 10 years. Then John went into
the sales barn, opened a sales barn and he didn't like that
- working with cattle. Then he started hauling grain; well,
that wasn't his job either. So then we decided we're gonna move
out of Strasburg and look for something else. Then we came up
here [Bismarck] and he started working for the Eagles and worked
for 10 years until he retired.
MM: Let's go back to the farm and your life there. How
did you find living on the farm, because you didn't grow up
on a farm?
KT: I didn't like it; I never liked it. I didn't like
to go out to my stepfather either. I didn't want to go. He promised
me, oh, you know I was nine years old and I said, "My dad
said I can take piano lessons, which if I move out on the farm,
I can't do that." He said, "You can take organ lessons.
There's nuns down in Fallon and they give music lessons."
I did for a few months but I had to ride down horseback every
time or stay after school when the kids went home. I didn't
go for that. I never did like the farm and I was pushing for
MM: So you were always a town gal?
MM: What did you find in Strasburg during the 30's and
40's, what kind of social life did they have? Of course they
had name's days and they had church celebrations. What in the
church were some of big events?
KT: Oh, like the church fair and ordinations of priests.
We had several of them. And St. Peter and Paul was a big day,
which I am enjoying much better than the farm - living in town.
I made a lot of friends in Strasburg.
MM: And did the women get together with different clubs?
KT: Yah, well, we had Homemakers
MM: Through extension service they had - Homemakers
was quite active. Were there any crafts that they did?
KT: Oh, yes! Your mother taught me a lot how to crochet
and embroider. We quilted; we got together a lot of nights and
Tell me a little bit about quilting. That's interesting for
a listener to hear about. When you made these beautiful quilts,
how was that all organized?
KT: Well, each one made their
own quilt and finished them. And then when the quilt was sewed
together, like if it was at your mother's place, well, she would
invite her friends to come - "Well, we're gonna quilt tonight."
There was sometimes about 12?14 women sitting around one table
and everybody was sitting and doing their work. We had a bowl
of candy in the middle. Then around 11:00 or so -
MM: In the evening.
KT: In the night, yah. We did
some quilting - some during the day. Lot of times I went when
it was at your mother's place or Mrs. Biegler's, I'd go in the
afternoon. Then she'd fix supper and then the husbands would
come for supper. Then there was also a big lunch prepared for
about 12:00 for us women all who quilted and we had fun then.
MM: How long did it take to make
KT: Sometimes we quilted one in
two evenings or two, three days. One night when, I don't
know if you remember this, Donny got real sick and he was rushed
to Bismarck to the hospital. John and your dad took him up.
We thought they were gonna come back or they were gonna call
and let us know what was going on with Donny. We stayed up all
night and quilted at my house, and they stayed up with Donny
MM: So you got a lot of quilting done that night.
KT: A lot of quilting done.
MM: Of course you were wondering what is happening so
you did quilting.
KT: Well, we just stayed up. We were wondering if they
were coming home or if something was going on.
MM: Right. A church fair even today is quite important
in the community of Strasburg and some of the other communities,
but what was a church fair like? Tell me, what kind of food
did they prepare for a church fair?
KT: Well, the afternoons it was chicken soup, rice dressing,
coleslaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, and then the chicken that
the soup was boiled in, and always the dessert pies. That was
dinner. And then for supper we usually had fried chicken and
dressing, mashed potatoes again and cakes, I guess. Cakes were
for supper. Then the next day, it was always during hunting
season so there was always a lot of hunters coming around, and
then they usually stopped there for dinner. It was a big dinner
the next day and that was vegetable borscht.
MM: This is on a Monday.
KT: That was on a Monday; it was always a two-day affair.
Those cooks that did the chicken soup, they had to go down there
at 4:00 in the morning.
MM: Who were some of the cooks that you'd remember,
some of the main cooks?
KT: Lizzy Schreiner was one that went up and Mrs. Bauman.
I never had to get up that early because I lot of times worked
on the coleslaw, mixed the coleslaw. But we had big turnouts
for those dinners. And then there was raffling going on and
each one made crafts, took them down to sell them.
MM: Then there was bingo of course.
KT: Bingo, nickel bingo with corn on [the cards], yah.
MM: Very interesting. What about the holidays, you know,
of course during those hard years you didn't have too much for
holidays, but how did they celebrate, for instance, Christmas?
How do you remember Christmas as a child?
KT: I remember the first Christmas that I really can
remember is when my dad had died. We didn't have any - anything,
you know, no money to buy anything. My mother was poor at that
time. They had just bought a house and were making monthly payments
and that time the railroad men didn't make what they do now.
So that Christmas we were invited to some friends of my dad
that also worked on the railroad. They had no children; they
invited us and we got a lot of Christmas gifts when we were
there. We were just shocked. I still have a iron that I got
from those people. Then when we came home there was a big box
in front of our house that I guess the Salvation Army or some
organization brought for us for gifts as we were left alone
just in October.
MM: This was in 1917.
KT: That was in 1918. Then when we moved to the farm,
Christmas didn't mean too much out there. All we got for Christmas
was probably a hanky and a bowl of peanuts, nuts and a orange
or apple. It was not a big deal out there for Christmas.
MM: What about Easter?
KT: Easter, like I say, there was Easter eggs made and
that Easter bread. Then you'd go to church on Thursday, Friday.
MM: Did you learn a lot of cooking from your mother?
KT: Yes, because I was the oldest of the five girls
and I had to do a lot of cooking.
MM: How many again were in the family?
KT: Eight, three boys and five girls.
MM: So you had to do a lot of cooking.
KT: I had to do a lot of cooking. And when my mother
and [step]dad married, there was two children, the babies were
four years old, both of them were four. They were just like
four sets of twins: two were six, two were nine, two were eleven.
And my mother washed clothes from morning till night lot of
times - by hand. She baked bread every other day. We also had
a hired man that time, a year-round hired man so there was 11
in the family all year round.
MM: So at the dinner table there was a lot of people.
KT: There was 11 people and she was not used to cooking
for so many people. It was hard for my mother.
MM: Was there a lot of canning?
KT: Not much at that time no, no, not much canning.
No, the meat was preserved in salt brine. There was enough food
though. There was always enough pork, chickens and potatoes,
apples. My stepfather would go out to town - and they knew when
there was a carload of apples coming into town, a train carload.
And then he went out with the wagon box got a whole wagon box
full of apples because it took eight apples a day for us kids
to put in our lunch baskets. Each one had a apple a day.
MM: And did you go to country school?
KT: Went to country school.
MM: What was that like going to country school?
KT: Oh, there was about - I have a picture of everybody
that went to that school one year. There was about 14 kids.
MM: Now, did you walk to school?
KT: No, we drove by horses; in spring we walked - two
MM: How many months did you go to country school a year?
KT: Seven months the first years.
MM: You went through the 8th grade?
KT: Then it got to be nine months.
MM: Did you have to take an examination in the 8th grade?
KT: Oh, yes, you had to take exams. Superintendent came
out to check on the schools. I just can't remember what his
MM: Did the teacher in the country schools speak only
German or only English?
KT: English and they were mostly teachers from Minnesota.
MM: So the children were forced to speak English.
KT: Oh, yes, yes!
MM: Were there some children that couldn't speak English?
KT: Well, the only Germans that went to that school
where we went to was our family, the rest were all Scandinavians.
MM: Oh, so you had to speak English.
KT: We had to speak English. We spoke English when we
moved out to the farm. I started school in Mandan. And then
we came out there, well, we went to a parochial school for six
months and then it got too much for my dad, my stepfather. It
was 50 cents a month we had to pay, and for eight kids that
ran up to $4.00. And $4.00 was a lot of money at that time,
where we could go to public school for nothing. So we went to
MM: And then you had catechism in the summer.
KT: Ah, we had catechism - not too often; just when
we went to first Holy Communion - about a couple of weeks.
MM: Do you remember your first Holy Communion?
KT: My first Holy Communion I made at Mandan. At that
time, it was you had to make your second Holy Communion. I made
that in Fallon, and I got confirmed in Fallon. My first priest
that I went to first Holy Communion was Father Clemens; he later
on went to Strasburg. The year I got married I said, "Oh,
good. There's somebody in Strasburg that I know." But by
the time I came down he was gone.
MM: You were married where?
KT: At Fallon, St. Peter and Paul Church, by Father
MM: The years growing up in a large family and your
mother being left alone and then remarrying and so forth, as
your mother grew older - how old was she when she died?
KT: Eighty-seven [years old]. Later when they retired
they moved to Mandan.
MM: But what I'm interested in knowing is, your mother
as she grew older, did she talk much about those years living
in the Ukraine?
KT: No, no. After she grew older she never talked much
about it. Most of the time when she talked about it was when
she was sewing and I was sitting next to her probably ripping
something. She learned me how to embroider. I was closest to
my mother because my other two sisters - they had partners,
you know, like the ones that were four were two girls and the
ones that were six were two girls so they were more out playing
and I was stuck with my mother more.
MM: You did a lot of housework; you learned to do a
lot of things.
KT: Yes, I learned how to do a lot of things: scrubbing
and cleaning house. My folks used to go to a lot of name's days,
weddings and I was the one that did the cooking. That's why
I didn't like the farm! We had a big family.
MM: Well, I remember you and my mother as both having
some of the best meals; and, of course, they'd have lots of
people over there. And like German?Russians, there was always
extra food if they needed it.
KT: Oh, yah.
MM: Of course, when you reminisce about those years
thinking about growing up in a German-Russian family, what do
you think about some of the fondest memories? There was, of
course, tough times but what do you think about when you talk
to your children or you visit with other German?Russian people
and they reminisce? What kind of memories that they like to
KT: The good times we had and the parties we used to
throw; and we'd get together and we would do a lot of fun things
MM: Like what?
KT: Like dress up and go - like Halloween, going to
other peoples' houses. Or like New Year's, they would at 12:00
- they would come to one house and wish a Happy New Year's.
"Well, now you get up and get dressed and go with us to
the next house." And then there was always food there.
Everybody prepared a ham and, you know, what you had for Christmas
and New Year's. Some nights we were out all night; we went from
house to house. We'd pick up as many as - like Ernie Boyer's
folks, and Kleins - Bieglers never went along. He was a little
different, he didn't never - Or we played tricks on - I remember
one time, Pius Kraft - they made the best pickled watermelon,
the home pickled watermelon. And Margaret Klein (your aunt)
she says, "Let's go and steal some watermelon from them
(from Krafts)." At that time nobody locked the doors. So
Kleins and us - her and I went down the basement; we knew where
the watermelons were, got some watermelons out, took them home
and ate them and they never found out.
Or one time I was making soup - that was a lot of fun in the
morning when we had the bar. Sunday mornings that was cleaning
morning and then some of the friends would come and help clean.
They'd have their drinks, and one time I put on the kettle of
soup. We lived in the back of the bar at that time. (At that
time we always had dinner.) Mrs. Klein and Eugene came and they
went out in the bar and they seen that soup boiling and it looked
so good to them. So Margaret said, "I am going to take
some of that soup out and pour some water in. She won't even
find out about that, that soup isn't as good as it should be."
We told each other later on [about] the tricks we pulled.
MM: And that was when you were young and, you know,
there wasn't television or all those things so you probably
spent a lot more time with a group together than today.
KT: Right, right, yes.
MM: Today people watch things.
KT: We were closer, much closer then.
MM: I would have to say that's true; I even remember
the closeness. I would come home and they would send the children
upstairs and they'd play cards and so forth and there was a
lot of closeness.
KT: Yah, the men would play cards; and we would sit
in the back and do either embroidering or we'd be crocheting.
Then there was always a freezer full of ice cream made. We'd
have ice cream and cake for lunch. Your mom always, ah, I don't
think there was hardly a day she didn't make ice cream. Then
towards the end they had the electric ice cream freezer, which
we never had, we turned our own.
MM: But, of course, then in the early 50's television
came onto the scene.
MM: You were stilling living in Strasburg then.
KT: We still lived in Strasburg, yah, but that didn't
bother us too much - television at that time. No, we never got
together and everybody sat in the room watching television and
not visiting. No, the television wasn't that big.
MM: Wasn't that important yet at those early days.
KT: No, huh uh, no.
MM: But do you remember the first time of listening
to a radio?
KT: We were one of the first ones out there in Grassna
that had a radio. When that came out there was a lot of people
that came to our house to listen to the radio. We had a big
console radio and it was a Temple. And we traded that in for
a car; I can't remember who we bought it from, but we had a
second car. We traded that in; it was Schumacher or somebody
was selling it.
MM: You're talking about a car radio now.
KT: No, no the radio. We had a car - we didn't have
enough money so we traded the car in as part of the payment.
Break in dialogue
MM: At Grassna when you were out there on the farm and
when the radio came into the scene, what programs were those
early programs that people would listen to?
KT: Oh, one was "Little Orphan Annie" and
"The Guiding Light" was on at that time already on
MM: They were like soap operas.
KT: Soap operas only on radio and I was listening to
those and he's on radio now yet. What was his name? I can't
think of him.
MM: Paul Harvey, was he on then?
KT: No, no.
MM: He was not that early.
KT: No, no, it wasn't that early. I just can't remember
MM: But you must remember the radio and how important
it was during World War II, to listen to the reports?
KT: Oh, yah, listen to the reports of the news.
MM: The boys were gone and so forth. Do you remember
some of that when the boys would leave the area of Strasburg
and so forth? You were living in Strasburg at that time.
KT: Oh, yes, yes.
MM: Was there a big celebration when they came home?
KT: Oh, yes! When those boys came back - in fact, some
of our boys that worked for us in the bar had to go like - Mike
Lipp had to go, and even John was supposed to go yet.
MM: Your husband.
KT: My husband John, yes.
MM: Even at his age?
KT: Right. Ray Biegler, Matt Fisher - they had the Blue
Room and they had to either go to service or go into defense
work, so they closed up their bar and both moved to Milwaukee
to work. And we were also supposed to go and we had the date
set when John was supposed to sign up for draft. Mike Schumacher
was on the draft board and we had everything arranged that John
was going to truck during the week and Saturdays we'd open up
the bar. We'd keep our bar but we'd open it up Saturdays because
that wasn't a working day. So Mike Schumacher said to us one
afternoon, "You come over. I want to talk to you, John."
So he come over - we went over there and he said, "John,
just keep working." Don't go up and sign up for the draft.
We were the lucky ones.
MM: You were the lucky ones.
KT: Yah. And like Matt and Ray, they had to move and
stay there until war was over. Then they came back and sold
MM: What were some of the other businesses in Strasburg?
Briefly just tell me who had what businesses in Strasburg?
KT: Oh, there was, ah, Junie at one time there had a
bar, Junie Nicholas, A.J. Baumgartner, Fisher?Biegler and ours.
MM: There were five?
KT: There was five bars at one time. Joe Bauman had
the bowling alley and that burned down at one time. And there
was a lot of clothes; he picked up the clothes for the cleaners
and there was a lot of clothes that were burned. I know John
had a suit burned in that. And then there was a craft store
and John Ternes had a grocery store. There was butcher Pete
had the butcher shop.
MM: Was there a barbershop?
KT: There were two barbershops at one time. There was
Schreiner and Abel, I guess was his name. [He] was a Hollander.
MM: What about the Blue Room, was that important?
KT: Oh, yes! Oh, yes! That's where we had our wedding
dance in. That was always a big dancing place, the Blue Room.
MM: Do you remember some of the orchestras that played
the Blue Room?
KT: Oh, the Mastel boys played. There was a lot of them
came down from Bismarck: Otto, Don and -
MM: Do you remember Mike Dosch?
KT: Mike Dosch played - not too often. The Mastel boys
were some of the ones that played the most down there. And Frank
Biegler had a band.
MM: Do you ever remember John Schwab?
KT: Oh, yah! But he never played in the Blue Room much;
he was more for name's days and weddings.
MM: More private parties.
KT: More private parties, yah. Yah, he played for the
MM: What kind of dances were they there?
KT: Oh, there were the fox trots and the square dances,
polkas, waltzes mostly.
MM: As long as we are talking about music, of course,
to North Dakota and Strasburg Lawrence Welk was important. Do
you remember Lawrence Welk as far as in your youth?
KT: No, I never heard of Lawrence before I got married,
but I met him about three days after we were married.
MM: And how did that happen?
KT: Well, our wedding was in my home out in Fallon.
MM: And what year again was that?
KT: In 1927. Then we borrowed - that was the custom.
Nobody had enough dishes to serve a big wedding. It was small
comparing to now. So the store always borrowed us some dishes
but what we broke we had to pay for and the others we could
return. So then John and I, two days after our wedding, we returned
those dishes to Flasher to the store. Fred Weber had the store
at that time. We heard out there that Lawrence Welk was playing
at Raleigh, North Dakota, which was about seven miles out of
Flasher. So John said, "Let's drive out. I know Lawrence
Welk. His sister's married to my brother." So, here John
and I drives out [and] here was Lawrence playing his accordion,
had about a five [piece] band. The place he played in was probably
about 100 feet by 50, just a small dinky place. Then I didn't
meet him until we lived on the farm and I had Art already. One
night, just before milking time, here comes a car driving -
a sports car driving into the yard.
MM: This was about what year?
KT: 1929, I would say.
MM: And you were out at -
KT: At Grassna.
KT: Yah, and this car came driving up with the top down,
nice car, and there was a man and a woman and a baby in that
car. I went out; John was still in the field. And they asked
me who lived here. Well, I told them, "John Ternes and
I'm his wife." They said, "Do you know where Anton
Ternes lives?" I says, "Yah, that's my brother?in?law."
"Well," he says, "Anton's wife is my sister and
I want to go visit them." So it was Lawrence, Fern and
Shirley was a baby.
MM: Well, that's interesting.
KT: And then I told them were they lived; they only
lived about two and a half miles from us. I gave him the directions.
At that time, I drove the car so I knew how to go. I drove the
Model T. They said, "Why don't you come back tonight?"
He knew John because John and him grew up together. So we went
to visit them that night, Lawrence and his wife. And that was
the only time I've seen Fern and then Lawrence came back later
on. I know one time he came to Strasburg to play. Well, we prepared
for a big crowd. And John thought, well, the next day the band's
gonna come over and spend a lot of money in the bar. I put up
a counter in the back serving hamburgers and pop. The next day
he came in and he bought a 5¢ bottle of pop. That's all
MM: Yah, Lawrence wasn't too much for that kind of thing.
MM: Where did they have the music? The orchestra played
where, the gym?
KT: No, at the Blue Room, and then the next day -
MM: This was what year about?
KT: Oh golly, that must have been in the middle 30's,
because we lived in back of the pool hall yet. We didn't move
up there till '33. Then he told us the next day he's gonna play
at Ellendale. So a bunch of us got together and went down to
Ellendale to listen to him play because we didn't hear him play
when he played at Strasburg.
MM: So at that time he probably was traveling up from
KT: Could be, yah, because he was with the bus. Then
we stayed overnight and the next day we went to a restaurant
to eat; and here comes Lawrence with his bunch and they all
wore overalls, not their suits.
KT: They said, "We don't travel with our suits
on because we couldn't afford to pay for the cleaning."
So they were saving on their suits.
MM: Do you remember when Lawrence would come on the
farm and visit you and so forth? Do you remember that time when
he came, did they speak English only or German?
KT: He asked in English, yes, where Tony lived. But
when they got to Tony's, that was German. And Fern and I had
the same language so we could talk with each other. You know
we talked the Beresaner language.
MM: What was that when you said Beresaner, what does
KT: That's just like Grassna or Liebentaler. You know,
like the way you talk German, they call that Liebentaler and
out where John was raised that was Grassna.
MM: And where you grew up that was called what?
MM: And so Fern Renner was a Beresaner. Did you know
KT: I knew Fern, yes; but she was quite a bit older
than I was. I knew who she was and I knew some of her nieces
better. One of her nieces went to Strasburg to St. Peter and
Paul Parochial School. She boarded down there, yah.
MM: So then, after that time you went to see Lawrence
play in Ellendale in the 30's, and then did you ever see him
again perform like in the late 30's or 40's?
KT: He came to Strasburg then again and then he played
down in the church basement and all the proceeds went to the
nuns. That was the last time I think he came to Strasburg with
his band. Then when one of Tony Ternes' boys got married he
came to that wedding. Then we didn't see him until we lived
up here in Bismarck in '59, we went to Escondido. Yes, we had
MM: Was that '59 or was that later than that?
KT: That was '59.
MM: What about Lawrence Welk and the television program,
do you remember those early years when he started on TV?
KT: Yes, we watched him the first time down in Kansas
MM: And what was that like watching a hometown boy that
you knew; a lot of people anxious to see that?
KT: Yah, well, we were at - Delores and Bill went to
school down there and they had a TV at that time and that was
the first time we seen Lawrence Welk on. John new him real well
so he was real excited to see him.
MM: Did you ever go out to visit the Welk family, you
know, when they lived on the farm - Lawrence's parents?
KT: No, we didn't visit with Lawrence's parents.
MM: Did you know any of the other members of Lawrence's
family - brothers and sisters?
KT: Oh, I knew the whole family, yah, like Mike and
John and Louie. We visited a lot with Louie.
MM: Do you recall, did they also play instruments?
KT: John did. I never heard John play but I knew that
John played the accordion. Now Mike was kind of quiet, he never
was outgoing. Mike got married after we did. I never went to
the wedding; I was pregnant, quite big at time so I didn't go.
John went to that wedding. He got married to a Hager and then
when she died that was the first time I was out at the Welk
home. They lived on the homestead then. Then Strasburg, the
Welks and us didn't live too far apart, I'd say about two blocks.
MM: That was Lawrence's parents when they moved to town
- and that was in the 40's right?
KT: Yah, we bought the Schumacher home and they lived
across the street from Kleins.
MM: Do you remember when Lawrence Welk's parents passed
KT: Yes, I was there for both the wakes for Lawrence's
mother and the dad.
MM: Of course, the Welks had a modest life. Do you remember
going over and visiting the Welk home?
KT: No, no, huh uh, never.
MM: Was Eva living in town with them then at that time?
KT: Yes, yes, Eva lived with them.
MM: You got to know Eva.
KT: Oh, yes, I got to know Eva, but she didn't live
there with them too long then she went to Aberdeen. See, because
Agatha and I knew each other real well, like my sister?in-law.
They were kind of - they were real plain people, I guess, with
eating and everything cause Agatha - like Selma her daughter
said when she was here the other day, "My mother was never
a good cook."
MM: Interesting. What can you think of going back to
your growing up in a German?Russian community like Strasburg?
Of course you were married then. Did your children learn to
KT: Ah, Art and Delores did because my mother?in?law
wanted me to teach them German so she could talk with them.
She even bought me German prayer book, which I couldn't read
for Christmas one time.
MM: So your mother?in?law never learned English?
KT: Never did learn English, no, and she said, "Be
sure to teach your children how to talk German so I can talk
with them", which I did.
MM: And they can still understand today?
KT: Oh, yah. Art can talk German good and Delores but
Diane can't. Diane talks probably like you do. She never did
bother; by that time Grandma Ternes was dead.
MM: And your parents learned English?
KT: Oh, my mother was real good in English! And she
read English papers. She read that magazine - gosh, what was
it called? Every paper she got a hold of she would read. She
was a great reader.
MM: They probably subscribed to North Dakota Herold?
KT: Yes, she had that - they had the Weisefreund and
she had the Flasher Record or Tribune or whatever it was called.
MM: That was in English, what about the German papers?
Do you remember Der Staats Anzeiger, did she have that?
KT: No, no, she never had that.
MM: But the North Dakota Herold was very important to
KT: She did have the Staats Anzeiger; my mother?in?law
never had it. She had the Josefsblatt, my mother-in-law but
my folks had the Staats Anzeiger and the Herold and there was
always a story in there - a continued story that she would read
when my dad had company. They didn't want to read but she read
MM: What were the stories about?
KT: Gosh, that I wouldn't remember, it was a continued
MM: Did your mother or father through the years have
correspondence with anyone over there in the Ukraine?
KT: Not that I know of. I am sure she did write because
she got some letters, a few letters that I know, but I don't
remember her writing. But she did write when I got married.
That was a daily letter, I mean, a weekly letter and if I didn't
write probably every other week or two, she'd send me a letter
that had a stamp in there so I would write to her.
MM: For you?
KT: For me.
MM: Right. What about the uncles and aunts of yours
that stayed in the Ukraine? You had no correspondence with them
- your mother's brothers and sisters. Because your mother came
with your one brother, the rest stayed. Did they ever find out
what happened to them, those who stayed in the Ukraine? Did
your mother ever talk about that, what might have happened?
KT: I wouldn't know. Well, she never found out much
either because the brothers had to go and serve. And one of
the sisters wrote that the parents starved and the rest of the
family was sent over to Siberia. And two of the girls, these
two pictures that I showed you, they married Polish guys.
MM: And there was no contact at all since the 30's until
KT: Since the 30's. Oh, yes, there was when they lived
in Mandan. I would say that was in - when these last pictures
were sent in '27 or '29, I think it was when they were sent.
She had letters from home but then nothing very long so she
didn't have too much contact with them.
MM: So it could be today there may still be children
or grandchildren living.
KT: That could be. I always think there should be because
there were some that were older, especially her half sisters
or brothers. There should be some because there was one was
born in '23, because he was two years old when he sent that
picture. He was a Heiser, George Heiser; that must have been
her brother's son.
MM: Your mother died in what year again, do you remember?
KT: I'd have to look that up.
MM: Was it in the 30's?
KT: Oh, no! My mother died since we've been living up
here. I would say in the 70's, yah, I'd have to go back and
look. Yah, she became 78. She was in the nursing home for two
years; the rest of the time she lived in Mandan by herself.
MM: She, I'm sure, had some fond memories of this life
coming over here, you know, when she was a young woman.
KT: Oh, I am sure! Yah.
MM: And then seeing what it was like - things changed
so dramatically; there was electricity and then there was a
vehicle. Do you remember the first time when there was an automobile?
KT: Oh, yes! I remember driving in a car I'd say when
I was about seven, eight years old, because my godmother lived
out in St. Anthony and they'd come in with the car and I would
drive out with them and stay for a couple of weeks with them.
MM: That's the first time you'd seen a vehicle.
KT: Yah, my parents never had a car. My dad died young
and then when we moved out to the farm. My stepfather had a
Reo. Have you ever heard of a Reo?
MM: What was that?
KT: A car - that was a big car, one of the ugliest cars
that was made I guess. It had a big round back on it. They were
ugly looking cars. And we'd shine that car up sometimes.
MM: You were real proud of that. You'd go to town with
that, go to Strasburg? I bet they'd show that off!
KT: At that time, now see, that was the first car I
remember. Then my stepfather, he was a little man, but he always
had big cars like a Maxwell Overland 6. One time I know he had
a Phyllis. What was that name starts with a P? Anyway, he always
had big cars to drive. Well, there was a big family; he always
had to have - Phyllis Overland, Phyllis still isn't right. Baby
Overland, that's what it was. Baby Overland, you don't remember
those anymore. Yah, always had those bigger cars.
MM: What about the 4th of July? Did they celebrate 4th
KT: We went to Mandan for the 4th of July when we grew
up; went to the rodeos, fireworks in the evening.
MM: What about when you got married west of Strasburg
there, did they have a 4th of July?
KT: Yah, we went to the 4th of July in town.
MM: Was there any kind of music in Strasburg?
KT: Yes, they had a bandstand in the middle of town
and there was a band playing at night. And during the day they
would just [be] moseying around. Yah, I remember my first 4th
of July was we went to town.
MM: And what was the name of the band or who was in
the band do you remember?
KT: Oh, the Klein's played. I remember them being in
the band and - See at that time they were all kind of strange
to me yet.
MM: Because you were out on the farm.
KT: Yah, we were out on the farm, but I remember the
Kleins because the Kleins and us got friends when we lived on
the farm yet.
MM: What was their full name?
KT: Eugene Klein and Margaret.
MM: And Leo Klein, do you remember him?
KT: Oh, yes! Yah, I remember Leo. Yah, he went to school
at that time. I remember when Phil graduated that year, I guess
when we got married; Phil and I are about the same age. Then
they put on a play one time around Christmastime and we went
into that play; we must have been married about a year and a
half because I had Art already by that time.
MM: What else can you think of that was kind of special
to you in your early years, holidays or customs, or anything
that you used to do that we haven't talked about? Can you think
of anything else?
KT: Well, one thing that I enjoyed when I moved down
the farm was I had a real good friend in Mandan that we went
to school together and we were neighbors; that she'd come out
and stay with us all summer, and then I got to go to stay with
her for a few weeks at Mandan. Then another time I got a vacation.
See I always planned as soon as I'm old enough I'm gonna go
to Mandan and go to school, which I never did, I got married
instead. And after harvest time my dad and mother said, "Well,
now you can have a vacation." So he took grain to Mandan
with the wagon cause it was higher there than at Flasher. So
that day he said, "Now today you can drive along with the
team to Mandan." I packed my little black suitcase then
went along with a load of grain and stayed for eight days and
that was one of my best times I had.
MM: You were how old then?
KT: I must have been about 14, 15.
MM: You went in with the horses.
KT: With the horses and we stopped down the elevator
and he didn't want to drive with the team and horses through
town, and I walked from the Mandan elevator up to where the
Mandan High School is. That's were my step-aunt lived, and I
was close to my step-aunt. I stayed there for a week and that
was the time I crossed the Missouri Bridge; that was new at
that time too. They took me over and showed me the bridge crossing.
MM: Did you have much contact with the Native American?
KT: Well, when I was a little girl I still lived in
Mandan, we had those fairs and the school kids got off those
days when the fair was. Then we walked down to the fairgrounds
and I bought some candy. I don't know if I bought them uptown
or down there at the fairgrounds; those candy were like dollars,
in a tube. I went around to the tents and gave those little
kids that were in the tents - gave them some candy and I didn't
get home until it was getting close to dark. My mother was out
looking for me. We lived way uptown, you know where Hardee's
is now. The fairgrounds was quite a bit for me but I walked
from that place. It got dark but I got a good scolding for staying
Yah, I knew a lot about the Indian. They would come - see, we
lived on Main Street and they would come like from Fort Yates,
Cannon Ball, just caravans of wagons with their belongs on,
their tents and the kids. There was just a whole line and we'd
sit out and watch them come in. So I wasn't scared of the Indians
We had no grandma, but about three houses from us there was
a old Negro women living. She dressed about like the Germans
from Russia, long dresses and up to the neck and she couldn't
remember how old she was. Her hair was just as short and curly
as the perms are now and we called her Grandma Kopperud. She
was the one that was invited for my mother's wedding dinner
when she got married the second time. She took care of us, brought
us food when we were all sick with the flu. We didn't know the
difference that she was black or not. I mean, we knew she was
a Negro but she was just one of the best friends.
MM: So you survived the flu, but many others didn't?
KT: A lot of them didn't, no. When my dad died the doctor
said my brother and me were not going to make it because we
had such high temperatures. So my mother bought a whole lot
then for all four of us in the cemetery. Then she kept them
until when one of my sisters died and was buried right next
to my dad then. Yah, that was a terrible flu; not just in Mandan
- out in the country and all over. My stepfather's wife and
my dad died seven days apart and then the priest, Father Clemmons,
got them together. He knew my stepdad and he knew my mother
and he had said, "You each need help." It worked out!
MM: Yah, everybody got along and they made the best
of it and you have had a pretty good life. You've been alone
now how many years?
KT: It's gonna be nine years on September 3rd that I
MM: And you are how old today now Kathryn?
KT: I am going to be 83 in August.
MM: You're living an active life here. I see you have
a wonderful garden just like you had at Strasburg on the farm.
You've got a beautiful garden, a beautiful yard and are very
active. And I'm glad you kept up your heritage both in cooking
and all kinds of things and you have a lot of wonderful memories
of all those years. And we are going to close our conversation,
but perhaps you'd like to leave a message with those of us who
might listen to this conversation years in the future about
this German?Russian heritage, and your folks having been born
in the Ukraine and came over here, and so forth, and made a
good life. Are there any messages you'd like to leave with us?
KT: Well, I am glad they did come over because if they
wouldn't have, we'd have probably had to go through that Bolshevik
war too. I am sure we'd have been in with it - wouldn't be here.
MM: You'd be probably somewhere in Russia or Siberia,
but what we need to do is help you in perhaps finding relatives
because there could be a possibility of that.
KT: Yah, I would really, really, really like that too
because I have nobody. That's the way my mother was when she
came here - she had nobody. My dad had cousins from both sides
but she had nobody.
MM: It must have been a lonely feeling.
KT: It was. She said she a lot of times sat and cried.
She cried a lot; I can remember my mother crying an awful lot,
yah. All she had was us four children. Sure, she had four stepchildren
but I am sure it's just like with me, when my brother and sister
died I could feel it, you know, the hurt. I had two stepbrothers
die and a stepsister. Sure, it's hard, but it's not the same.
MM: Not the same, not of the same bloodline.
KT: Huh uh, it's not the same. It's funny; and we grew
up together. For seven years I lived with those [stepbrothers
MM: Your mother had to start a new life, lost her husband
so young, came over here and had to leave her brothers and sisters
and parents and so forth. She could write quite a story.
KT: She had an awful rough life. Oh, yes, she could
write a book. Even from home she lost her mother young, and
with a bunch of kids. She was like a mother to those kids then
for a whole year. Because she was ready to get married and her
dad said, "Why don't you stay another year with me and
help me out?" She did and then she lost her fiancé
or whatever it was at that time. She found my dad, and she met
him at the church. She always said, "That's a good place
to meet your husband is on the church steps."
MM: And she led a good Christian life and, of course,
you have led a good Christian life. I think it was faith that
kept a lot of these people going.
KT: I would say, yes, and I learned a lot from Strasburg
people. I got to say this to you, Mike, I learned a lot from
your mother, a lot of cooking. Your mother and I were close.
MM: Well, that's real good because I think the people
down there are good, wholesome people are still close today;
they would help each other out if they had to.
KT: Oh, I guess, but she learned me a lot how to paint.
I never knew how to paint and, like I say, a lot in cooking
MM: What did you learn that was different than what
you knew in cooking?
KT: Well, she learned me a lot making different noodles
and her filling for the turkey or chicken, whatever she filled,
that was different than what we made. I learned that from her.
Her pig feets were different and, like I say, there was a lot.
When we'd paint she'd ask me to help her and we'd paint together.
MM: By the way do you remember making your own soap?
KT: Oh yes, yes.
MM: How did you make your own soap?
KT: Well, they took and melted a gallon of fat, one
quart of water - Well, first you would take one quart of water
and a box of lye. Then you stirred that up and then you'd melt
your lard and pour that in until it was thick like fudge. Then
you'd pour it in a box and let it set overnight and cut it the
MM: Good soap?
KT: That was the soap we used to wash, yah that was
MM: Your clothes were nice and white.
KT: Yes, yah, because the lye that was in it. Oh, I
made a lot of soap. That was after butchering, that was the
thing to do - make our soap for the year. Yah and we saved every
drip of bacon fat that we cut off.
MM: Lots of things you remember, of course you don't
do all those things today. But the next generation is not doing
a lot of those things because it's work.
KT: They don't believe it, I mean, that you lived that
MM: It's like a fantasy fiction story sometimes and,
of course, it's a little more real to me because I visit with
these people and I know it's real because the story is repeated
by many people.
KT: And the same thing so you know it's true. There
was a lot of times that I had to bake bread and I didn't know
where to go to find the kindling for the [oven] to bake it.
This was another thing we were ahead of Strasburg, we always
had coal because the coal mines were so close to us, so we had
coal all summer long. We burned our kitchen stove in the summer
kitchen that we baked our bread in and did the big cooking.
When I came down there was no coal; I had to go out in the fields
and pick cow chips.
MM: You remember that?
KT: Oh, yes!
MM: Tell me a little about that. I know we are changing
the subject but that's interesting for me. This was in what
KT: That was in '27 or '28.
MM: So that was quite a surprise for you.
KT: Yes, because we had the coal at home and we had
kerosene stoves to burn, which down there hardly anybody had
a kerosene stove that time. Then, I think it was the second
year, my folks bought a new kerosene stove - a three burner.
But we had a kerosene stove already in Mandan in 1918 and that
my mother took along out to the farm. So when they bought this
new kerosene stove, my mother said I could have that old one.
So John and I hauled that down with a Model T Ford; we could
take it apart. And John said, "The only time you can burn
that stove is on Sundays." Because Sundays when you work
with wood that you find around the yard or cow chips you get
dirty; and the kerosene was only about 10 cents a gallon and
we had to save that. So I was happy just to have the kerosene
stove on Sundays! If you tell the kids now they wouldn't believe
MM: You burned cow chips until what year? You started
in '27, of course you were in Strasburg -
KT: Oh yes, yes, I think we still burned cow chips when
we went into town; also picked corn cobs, you know, where the
pigs ate off the cobs. We dried them.
MM: What about the winter months because you'd need
a lot more fuel then.
KT: Well, then we had coal, yah. In the fall there were
carloads of coal come into town and
then we had coal. But just for the winter months; summers we
never burned coal.
MM: And the house you lived in was built of wood?
KT: No, that was built out of sod.
MM: So you lived in a sod house?
KT: That was a sod house covered with wood. The windows
were about this wide.
MM: So that was about two feet.
KT: About two feet wide those windows, yah.
MM: And who built that house you lived in?
KT: That was an old man by the name of Emil Kopp. There
was a Emil Kopp that had a store in Strasburg. You probably
don't remember this. He had that store when I got down to Strasburg.
Then there was another Emil Kopp that built this house and it
took him years to build this house. It just took him a whole
year to build the bricks because it was made out of straw and
manure and such. Then he moved to Canada and sold that house
and my father?in?law bought that house.
KT: That was the only two-story house beside the parish
house that was a two?story in that area out there.
MM: And that house, what kind of floor did it have?
KT: It had a wood floor.
MM: Do you remember ever a floor that was not wood just
KT: Oh, yes! There was a older house built onto that.
That was built before that and that had these floors; that had
a kind of clay they made up.
MM: So, how did they keep those clean?
KT: They just sprinkled them with water and then swept
them; that was the only way. And those houses were built out
of rocks. Now, my stepfather built his house that I lived in
out of rocks, and they also had the windows this wide.
MM: Two feet wide.
KT: He built that before he got married the first time;
he had that house built. And all the barns were built out of
that. Sure, there's still some of those buildings out there
on that farm.
MM: And at that time there was, of course, no electricity.
KT: No, no electricity. No, we moved to town without
electricity or telephone. Ah, when I was single yet, there was
a guy coming around and he was selling Delco lights. Have you
ever heard of those? That they buried the tank under the ground
and then you could get your own electricity and you could get
a iron with that, a curling iron. Few farmers got that but my
MM: What about these different sales people that come
around, they'd come around and try to sell things to you at
KT: Oh, yes! That was every fall the Watkins man came
around with a big truck. He had all the spices and all the extracts.
Then there was a peddler, we called him, he came around with
the material. He had a big van full of material; tried to sell
you material and we bought some. And I know my mother, when
the Watkins man came around, she used the tub to put the stuff
in. That's how much she bought: liniment, vanilla extracts,
cinnamon, nutmeg. All those spices we bought from him because
they were a little cheaper than the store.
MM: That lasted the whole winter.
KT: Yes, and you know with 10 in the family you needed
it. She actually took a big washtub and set it out and that's
where everything was put in as we bought it. Nectar to make
Kool-Aid, he sold all that.
MM: Any other sales people come around?
KT: Yes, there was also a guy that came around - when
I was home I liked music. Like I said, I wanted to take music
lessons. One time I begged my stepfather, "Why don't you
buy us a phonograph so we have some music in the house?"
There was nothing at that time! Well, finally, I got him. He
says, "Okay, I'm gonna order a Silvertone phonograph."
I don't know if you remember the Silvertone; that was one of
the best machines. Well, my parents had a Tom Edison. Do you
know what a Tom Edison phonograph is? It had the discs.
MM: And you had to turn it.
KT: You had to turn it and it had a big speaker on it.
And my folks had that at Flasher and Mandan; we took that along
out. Well, with eight kids you know what happened to the records
then. Pretty soon we had no more records. So from then on I
always wanted a phonograph again. So he ordered that and it
was a pretty good machine. Then they had a lot of records that
you could order from Sears. Then one day a guy came around and
he was selling Victrolas; had those all on a pickup. I could
work my stepfather a little and I said, "Why don't we trade
this one in and get that Victrola?" And he made a deal
with him and we got the Victrola. Then after that my stepsister
got that Victrola which I would have loved to have. It was beautiful
piece of furniture. I don't know what happened to it.
MM: What kind of music did you like best during those
KT: Well, at that time we had dancing music cause we
had a lot of entertainment - young kids that would announce,
"This Sunday we're gonna have dance at our place."
The parents would go in a different place and had their own
parties and we had dances. We danced to the phonograph. I can
remember when we had "Barney Googles", that was a
good one and "Why Did I Kiss That Girl?"
MM: What orchestras did you have at that time? Do you
remember some of the music? Who were some of the most popular
KT: Ah, we never did have any entertainers or any accordion
players either around our area there. It was mostly phonographs
that we danced to. What was that dance that came out that was
where we picked up our feet and -
MM: Dancing was very big at time.
KT: Oh, yah!
MM: That was a big entertainment wasn't it, more than
ever? Good exercise too.
KT: There was a lot of dancing, yes.
MM: And they were good dancers?
KT: Oh yah, yah, good dancers.
MM: Did you learn to dance just by going to dances or
did you learn at home?
KT: Just by going to home parties. Home parties, that's
where I learned.
MM: And they would teach each other?
KT: Yah and when I became about 14, 15, when my folks
were invited to weddings, we got to go along. That's where we
met a lot of the young people too then and we'd learn how to
dance at those weddings. There was accordions then being played.
MM: And these were more than one-day weddings?
KT: Ah, a lot of them were a couple of days, yah.
MM: Lots of dancing.
KT: Yah, the next day the closest family got together
and then they'd help cleanup and there was dancing again and
MM: Anything else you can think of Katie that you'd
like to mention? We've talked about a lot about different things
and, of course, music has always been important in everybody's
life and bringing happiness either in church or the home or
in a dance hall.
KT: And then on church feast days down in Fallon - that
church was also called St. Peter & Paul. And there's a big
church feast too and there always was a dance at night and we
got to go to those dances, yah.
MM: And you were already a young teenager then, so you
learned young how to dance and you danced through all those
years, and probably you are still dancing.
KT: Not much.
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