| Interview with Barbara Weigel (BW)
Conducted by Dale Davis (DD)
16 July 2004, Aberdeen, South Dakota
Transcribed by Amanda Swenson
Edited by Linda Haag
DD: Can you tell me your name?
BW: Barbara Weigel, it was Barbara Senger. My maiden
name was Senger.
DD: Senger, and where are we at today?
BW: In Aberdeen.
DD: Okay. Because what I’m doing is trying
to check the sound here. So it won’t blow out the sound.
So, can you talk a little bit about what you were doing today,
BW: I was finishing Barbara Canyon’s afghan.
Now I have to clean house.
DD: Okay. Now I’m going to play this back
and tell me how your voice sounds. This is something that we try
and get. I’d like to get information on your mom and dad.
And I’ll ask you again what your name is, and you tell me
it is Barbara Senger Weigel. Then you can say that you were married
DD: Your husband’s name. Then you can say
well for the last so many years, your father was, your mother
was, that type of thing. This afternoon, I, my name is Dale Davis
a graduate student at Northern State University. My graduate program
is to interview the people from Germans from Russia Heritage that
have ancestors that are Germans from Russia. Today I have with
me, Barb Weigel. Barb could you tell me who you are?
BW: Barb Weigel. Senger.
DD: Your name was Senger.
DD: Who was your, who did you marry?
BW: Frank Weigel.
DD: And when were you married?
BW: In 1936.
DD: And when were you born?
DD: What was your birth date? The day?
BW: May 23rd.
DD: 1914. And what was the name of your father and
BW: Ludwig Senger, and Mary Senger-Schmidt.
DD: Your mother’s maiden name was Schmidt.
Was that S-c-h-m-i-d-t? Do you remember when your father was born?
BW: In 1889, December the 8th.
DD: And when did he die?
BW: That I couldn’t tell you. That’s
DD: Do you kind of remember?
BW: No, I’m, we were growing up, and we were
moving the hay roller. But I just can’t think of it, it
was in August. I just can’t think of the year.
DD: What about your mother, when was she born?
BW: The same [?032] she was born in January and
he was born in December.
DD: Okay, so your mom was a year apart.
BW: December, January the 8th, 1889, and he was
December the 8th, 1889.
BW: The same thing, 1889.
DD: Okay, so she was born in the beginning of the
year, and he was born in the end of the year. Okay. And do you
remember when your mother died?
BW: In April, but I just can’t think of the
day and year. What a shame. Neither one. We lived down here and
over there. My husband was dead already.
DD: Where was your father born?
BW: In [?41] North Dakota.
DD: Where was your mother born?
BW: In Russia, Odessa, or whatever they call it.
BW: I think she was 21 when she came over, and he
was born here.
DD: Okay, so your mother taught you a lot of things?
BW: Oh yeah, yeah, she did.
DD: Okay, where was your father buried then?
BW: He what?
DD: Where was your father buried?
BW: In [?046]
DD: Where was your father and mother buried? Do
you know what the cemetery is? Mary’s, St. Mary’s?
Is that a Catholic cemetery?
BW: Oh yes. We were up there this fall, this spring
DD: When did your parents get married?
BW: In 1910.
DD: Do you know where they were married?
BW: St. Mary’s. She was the first one with
the long dress on and stuff. They got married in November, they
came over in April, and she got married in November. They were
hired out right away you know. And she was hired out to my dad’s
DD: And that’s how they met?
BW: Yeah, I think so. He never said anything to
much about that young stuff.
DD: Okay, that’s probably all he had was when
she was hired out, that’s kind of how my grandmother and
grandfather got to know each other by working out.
BW: Oh, yeah. They all, I think, worked out earlier
at age, or whatever it was. When we grew up we never worked out.
We all lived on the farm, they need us. We always had so many
cows and [?059].
DD: How many brothers and sisters did you have?
BW: Two brothers, but they were so young.
DD: They were the youngest in the family?
BW: Yeah, see, I was the third one to get married
in June, and I was [?064-065]. And they had none then until 1918.
DD: So four years difference?
BW: Yeah. And they had four more.
DD: Would you be able to name your sisters and brothers?
BW: [?068], Theo was one, she lives in Bismarck.
Ella, she was married to a Wolf, but she’s dead for a long
time. And then it’s me, Eva, fourteen to eighteen, then
Rose was born. Then the twins, then Mary then Mike.
DD: What were the twin’s names?
BW: Sebastian and Dorothy. They were named after
their Godfathers and Godmothers in the earlier days. They had
such ideas. And then you got baptized.
DD: Were you named after your grandmother?
BW: I was named after my Grandma. They had things
like this too, either you were born or baptized by Grandma’s
or something, or like your mother.
DD: So you were named after your?
BW: Grandma Senger.
DD: Grandma Senger. Interesting. You wouldn’t
happen to know what her maiden name was?
DD: Schumacher. Yeah. What would be her husband’s
name? Did you know his first name?
DD: Michael Schumacher. Okay. When did your, you
said your father was born in this country, but your mother was
born in Odessa. Do you know when she came over?
DD: How long, you were telling me earlier about
the story of when they came over, could you tell that to me again?
BW: She say’s they left in February, and I
think it took about the whole month until they got to it. And
then Grandpa Schmidt, I don’t know how the country was over
there; they must have had a nice place. They talked about reva,
or grape vines and all that stuff. He spit on the floor and stamped
his feet and said this is where we both lived. Well, he was just
starting to grow up. There used to be jobs there, the railroad,
and grocery stores and stuff, hardware stores. Now there’s
nothing anymore, those little stores, the little towns, I think,
are vanishing out.
DD: Yes, that’s the sad part about this area.
BW: Yes, they built that new church in 1929, and
the other one burnt down. It was one of the nicest churches that
DD: It’s still there today?
BW: Oh yes.
DD: St. Mary’s?
DD: Do you know, or have any idea where your ancestors
came from in Germany? Or you don’t know that for sure? I’m
not sure what ancestral village Odessa, or the area, you know
it’s from Odessa there. Okay, you were talking about your
father and not wanting your grandfather about having the grape
vines and stuff. Did you say, could you tell a few more things
about what your mother had and what your grandparents had? What
life was like over in Russia?
BW: Oh, I think it was rough, yeah. They hired out;
she was hired out, three months hired out. She said the hired
help stamped the wheat up and then thrashed it out. She says they
came home, the hired help, and they had to wash out in the [?099]
to get into the house. They got milk and if it was sour, all they
got was bread. And that’s how they turned into being mean.
That’s what they said once. I don’t know if it’s
all or not, but that’s what I heard. They were the hired
help, got to be mean.
DD: So they hired out two Russians?
DD: And they worked for the Russians wouldn’t
BW: She did, my mother did, yeah.
DD: Okay, when you were (interruption). In your
childhood did you speak English at all or was it German?
DD: When did you start to speak English?
BW: Well. We went to the country school, and I don’t
know if you knew what they were. The country school had sometimes
27 in one room and one teacher.
DD: It was out in the country, close to where you
BW: We go off in the winter time, we’d go
in the sled, and in the fall and the spring we walked. It was
a little over a mile and it was not too bad.
DD: Do you remember what your teacher’s name
BW: Oh no. We had quite a few teachers. I know one
was Katie, and I actually don’t know any other.
DD: Did you have more women teachers or more men?
BW: I think we had more women teachers.
DD: Do you know where some families would board
the teachers? Do you remember who boarded the teachers?
BW: Oh yeah. She got married to the son.
DD: And what was their names? Lipp?
BW: Howard. Katie, she was a Lipp. She was our teacher
and she got married to Howard. That’s his name. Raymond
DD: Raymond Howard. That was the [?120]
BW: They had about three children, I think, some
girls and two boys. Some of the boys lived in Bismarck. We have
to go to Bismarck this week. Uh, that seems like a long distance.
You don’t get up there too much, when you were much younger
than I was.
DD: So she was a fairly young woman when she was
BW: Katie was a young woman. She married that Ray
Howard, and they was the richest people there because they only
had two kids. They had quite a bit of land and stuff.
DD: Did she continue to teach after she got married?
BW: I don’t think so. They had five children.
DD: Do you remember any of the other teachers now?
BW: If you’d say, my mind is gone today. But
uh, I just can’t think of their names, who they were.
DD: What do you remember best about country school?
BW: I liked it.
DD: What did you do?
BW: Oh we had all kinds of arithmetic and everything.
Then I remember they said a state, you had to run up to the blackboard,
point to it and name the state. I made it every time,
except once. Washington D.C. I missed, that I didn’t know.
I was sitting way in the back.
DD: There were students there from 1st grade to
BW: Sometimes 27 kids and one teacher.
DD: Did you have any kindergarten?
BW: Nah, uh.
DD: Some people say they did?
BW: Primary or whatever they call it, yeah.
DD: Did you, the older students treat the younger
students pretty good, or did they pick on them a lot.
BW: No, I think we all played different games, the
older ones and the younger ones.
DD: Do you remember some of the games that you played?
BW: Tag, and what was that, you had to run behind
the building, and they had to catch you.
DD: Any games different than that, in the winter
time, versus when the ones with snow on the ground? Different
games being played then?
BW: No. Then we had to stay in and we didn’t
DD: When it was too cold, you’d stay in.
BW: Yeah, it was too cold. Too much snow that time.
DD: What was the inside of the school house like?
BW: It was a general country school.
DD: Oh yes, I’m just asking.
BW: Yeah, there was nothing but desks, and when
you came in there was a big stove.
DD: Was the stove in the middle of the building,
BW: No, right by the door. There was the library,
and here was the stove. It was a big round stove. When you came
in the morning, you all stood around that stove.
DD: Would it burn wood, or coal?
BW: Coal, it was hauled in. I don’t know if
they got much money for it. The county or whatever they would
get the money for the um, coal.
DD: Did you teacher stoke the stove, when you got
there, or did everyone do that?
BW: No, she was there, before we all came. I think
we always had nice teachers or whatever. I guess they have a job
or something like this. Nowadays, I don’t really think it
went. The teachers would haul the coal in. Well the coal was here
and the stove was here.
DD: What, did you have to go up to the blackboard
and write like detention or [?160] a lot of stuff on the blackboard?
BW: Mhm. Right here there was a blackboard. One
time I stood there for two minutes and tried to get that subtraction
written, and finally got it. I had always good grades.
DD: Do you remember some of the other subjects that
BW: Spelling, you had to do reading, and I don’t
know what for, but you had to do reading. You had history and
geography, and all that kind of stuff.
DD: Did you read out loud a lot?
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: Did the older students like those in 7th and
8th grade, did they help kids in 1st, 2nd grade?
BW: Nah uh, not too much.
DD: They didn’t help them much; they had their
own studies to do?
BW: Because there were a lot of kids. Earlier days
I think people had more children than now.
DD: Families were always bigger back then.
BW: Yeah. Because we had eight, our uncles that
lived, they had 8, and we all went to the same school. In [?172],
their mother died. I can’t tell you how. The children didn’t
get to school much. And they came in the morning late. They got
caught in the wire. Then there were [?175]. Their dad was a drunk.
They got out of the window and came to school. Their grades dropped.
If you remember that stuff you know, [?177]. Well nobody was that
rich anyway. But they were so many children, and like I said,
all the boys pick on the girls. Oh, were those boys [?179] and
in a three room house. Nowadays, they would be, but I don’t
know what they would do now, in a three room house, with so many
children, where they would all stay. They didn’t have a
bed each one, I’m sure they didn’t.
DD: Did you raise the flag and stuff like that and
say the “Pledge of Allegiance?”
DD: Did you have any prayers you said in school?
BW: Well sometimes, because there was so many different
religions in our school. The Heaps, they were Non-Catholic, and
most were Catholic.
DD: Then you can’t say the prayers.
BW: Yeah, and Heaps, I think it was strict, their
DD: Is there anything else you can remember about
the comings and goings of the country school?
BW: Mm. No. I remember we walked, not always in
the winter time. We had a sled and one horse. The little kids
had to sit in the back and they were covered up. Helen was the
driver, and I knelt there. The snow was blowing up my knees and
I was cold. But we made it and we liked it.
DD: Can you tell us some of your chores as you were
growing up? What type of chores did you have? You said you were
the oldest, and then the boys came later, so I’m sure you
had some chores.
BW: Clean the barn, get the hay. Everything, what
a boy used to do.
DD: So did you do chores in the house and help your
BW: The ones that worked outside didn’t help
mother in the house. Two had to work outside. When you were done
with the milking, you took it in and separated it. We had the
separator in the house. During the summer we didn’t. They
took the milk out again and gave it to the calves. You ate breakfast,
and then you let the cows out.
DD: Did you do all of that before you were going
to have breakfast?
BW: No, you separated and all of that, but you didn’t
let the cows out until we were done eating.
DD: So you got up, did the milking, the chores,
separated the milk and then you went and had breakfast. What was
the typical breakfast for you then?
BW: Oh gee, always sausage, homemade sausage and
stuff like that.
DD: Did you have the separated milk too, or did
you have the whole milk?
BW: No, we drank milk, the whole milk and coffee,
too. We were glad when we got to drink coffee.
DD: That was more of a treat then?
DD: Did you have sugar and cream with it?
BW: Oh yeah, always cream.
DD: Always cream.
BW: Now days, that’s not the thing anymore.
That wasn’t how it used to be. You would set the sugar on
the table. You did not have to put it by a sugar cup or a sugar
DD: When you were a child?
DD: What were, could you explain the routine of
the milking? What did you have to do? What you did when you got
up and you went out?
BW: We went out and I don’t know, they were
in the barn and all night, the cows.
DD: They were in the barn all night?
BW: All tied up, with the chain you know, and then
just lock them up or whatever, I did it so many times. Then you
clean off the board, and then you milk. Then you take the milk
in and separate it, and then you take the milk out and give it
to the calves. And what’s left over you tear down to the
DD: So got the calves separated milk. Did you pour
the milk in a big trough or a barrel?
BW: Barrel, and then seed or feed and you know grinded
up feed. In the evening and they got that in the morning. In the
morning you made that mashed up, they got that in the evening.
DD: I’ll bet it smelled by the time you were
BW: Yeah, but we were quite a ways from the barn.
We had no trouble. Because we lived on the side of the creek and
the water was running, springs through. We had a well just next
to the kitchen. One where you know you had to pull up and one
went down and one came up.
DD: So you had a rope and pulley system for your
BW: For the pigs. But for the drinking water we
had a pump. You know then we had made Janice, they were called.
She had many children; they didn’t know how to water. Nowadays
I don’t know how people would live. And we were so glad
when they came over. Everyday they came over and got water, and
we all went down to the pump.
DD: Where did you keep the separated milk from the
BW: We had a cement cellar, and it never dries out,
it never soured.
DD: So you separated in the?
BW: Morning and the evening.
DD: In the cellar.
BW: And then we carried the cream down the cellar,
and gave the milk to the pigs. Yeah. And uh.
DD: Is that where you saved the cream too? Or did
the cream go into the well house or something like that?
BW: No, no, down in the cement cellar.
DD: It was pretty cool?
BW: Yeah, see we lived so close to the water, so
it never dried out. Like my uncle, they all had cellars too. But
the potatoes started to grow and everything, but ours didn’t.
So many came and got the water to wash and clean. We always ran
around the water, took our bath or whatever you would. Went off
and had a box and went down and took a shower, or whatever you
would call it.
DD: Okay, so you had pump in the house, or outside?
BW: Then you would pump your water and carry it
inside. How long does it take a pail to, if you watered two chickens
or so, to go and get another pail full? We usually had two pails
filled. When you were bigger you got to carry two pails. We had
one here and one for the pigs here.
DD: And that’s also how you watered cattle
DD: How did you, do you have a pretty good sized
BW: Oh yeah.
BW: We had more than one. The barn was in the middle,
the big barn. And here was a shed where the cattle where we milked.
And then here was the shed where feed went.
DD: So you had several buildings on the farm then.
BW: Oh yeah. A little house and a big barn.
DD: So you had a [?276] house then?
BW: For the horses. And then we had another big
barn for the left over cattle, they were the milkers. There was
another barn. And another was for the bull. You didn’t get
to go around or fool around with him. He was tied up. Not tied
up, but he was separate. All year long.
DD: He’d been separate?
BW: Yeah, but he got loose sometimes. And then they
had a big shed where the [?283] and you never.
DD: So you had an [?284]. Can you explain that?
Some people might, may not know what a [?284] was for.
BW: Oh that was a big car. And with the, we had
a bucket too, a nice bucket. I know for Easter once, we went to
church with a bucket [?288], or whatever. And you know they came
home, and at 10:00 they went again. I don’t know.
DD: In the winter time did you go?
BW: With the sled. And they covered you up with
blankets; they covered you up over the head. And we went to church
with the sled 10 miles away.
DD: Ten miles? Is that the only time you drove the
gasoline in the summertime when it was nice out.
BW: When there was that much snow.
DD: Let’s get back to the chores part. You
said the cows were in the barn, so they had to be fed in the barn.
Where did you get the hay from?
BW: Oh we had a lot of hay. We had a big lake and
it would dry out. That wasn’t a barn upstairs. This side
was the cattle, and the middle was the horses, and this side was
the feed. You know they grinded the barley and oats, they grinded
on this side.
DD: Help get the hay into the barn then?
BW: Oh yes, you got out to the hay stack, load the
wagon and go down to the barn. You drove the horses to the barn,
and then you put a rope over the hay. You hitched the horses on
the other side, and then you unloaded it.
DD: So when you took the wagon and the horses out
to the hay field, you had what was called a sling?
DD: That’s what those ropes were?
BW: Haul it home, and.
DD: Pitch the hay on top of that, haul it home,
and then you hooked up the ropes to other ropes, pulleys, and
the other horses pulled it through the barn and this went up into
the hay loft.
BW: Or the hay stack. That was some load to like
it. We had a big lake, and it dried up sometimes, a hay lack.
And sometimes we had always a lot of hay.
DD: You mean, you girls cut any of the hay?
BW: Oh yes. Ella my sister she was a year older
than I was.
DD: Do you remember how they cut the hay?
BW: With that machine you know, there was a knife
going up this way and when you started cutting, you stepped on
a button and it went down and it cut. Did you ever see it?
DD: Oh yes.
BW: And the rake was.
DD: Okay, did you have a tractor for the mower?
BW: Not when I was, but later they did.
DD: Oh, that was with a horse drawn mower. When
you bring it up, ready to cut it stripped and fell down and it
was mowed. What happened if the horse stopped?
BW: Actually I never cut hay. I hauled it.
DD: You did the hauling.
BW: Loading it. We stayed, once stayed out and took
the box home and would come with another box.
DD: How old were you when you started to help with
BW: I was at least 14 or 16 years old.
DD: Okay, so you didn’t do any haying when
you were younger, until you got older. So was it your dad that
did all the haying?
BW: And my mother.
DD: You mother did help with it?
BW: Oh yeah, she was out in the rake, raked it in
rows. First day I seen her rake it in rows, and then the next
day they came and raked it into piles. I don’t know the
people, and they ate three times a day too. Nowadays you get it
done. You wouldn’t think you would get it.
DD: So your mother [?344], do you remember?
BW: She didn’t get up when we were growing
up. My folks didn’t get up until it was breakfast. It was
cooked and everything already, when they got up.
DD: So who did the cooking, or whoever?
BW: You put it on, and went out milking. If you
didn’t go milking, you had to stay in, watch it, and set
the table and everything.
DD: And your folks got up after that?
BW: Then he hitched the horse up for us to go to
school, and then he ate breakfast. We always drove in the winter
time, with our sled with one horse on it. Us kids.
DD: So all of you kids went out and milked cows,
and dad and mom were still in bed.
DD: When you’re older.
BW: When we were getting.
DD: So they were getting worn, they probably had
to do that all the time before, so they got to sleep in a little
BW: Yeah, he got up and he got the horse ready for
us to go to school.
DD: Do you know how many cows you normally milked?
BW: Twenty-five was the most.
DD: All year round?
BW: No, no, no. But we always milked.
DD: You only had some cows milked.
BW: We were one who sold the most cream at the cream
station, not that I’m bragging, because we had the most
D: Well you had quite a few cows.
BW: See we had four quarters of fence, you know
what that is? And well there was some land worked up, but not
too much. The Beaver creek ran through like this, and we never
had trouble with water. And there were a lot of trees, you name
it: apples, and plums and cherries. In the south field, when we
were up here this summer, it was bare, not a tree.
DD: Does it make you a little sad when you go by
your old farm?
BW: Yeah, if you had a sod house, you know what
that is? That was the first main house.
DD: Is the house still standing?
BW: Falling down.
DD: But it’s still there? It’s still
BW: Oh yes, I was going to go upstairs, but I thought
maybe the steps would give out. You know there was a smoke house
up there, in the upstairs, in our sod house. It was built right
off the [?387] the stove where we heated one front room with coal,
and where we smoked meat or sausage. Not too many brought their
meat from town to have it smoked. My uncles, about 15 to 20 miles
away, brought their meat from town and we smoked it.
DD: Okay, what time of the year did you do that?
BW: In the fall.
DD: In the fall. After harvest was all done?
BW: Yeah, in the fall. Around I think Thanksgiving,
we started to butcher. And I don’t know if you ever saw
the meat into big barrels. Then they salted it for so long and
then smoked it. They hung up the meat all year round. Never spoiled
DD: What did you salt with, fine barrels, and?
BW: Salt, pepper.
DD: And then when you took the meat off they started
out with [?405].
BW: Yeah. Put it up in this little cup. And then
it was smoked. It was smoked through a heating stove, smoked through
the heater. And you couldn’t burn no coal, you had to burn
wood or [?407]. Yeah. And that’s how it is smoked, and it
took about three or four days.
DD: Smoking was a pretty long process, so when they
started to smoke the stuff, it was still not cold enough where
you had to worry, but then not warm enough where you overheated
the house. Was it comfortable?
BW: Oh yeah. Because then my uncles, who were about
15 or 20 miles away, brought their meat, because they liked how
it was smoked. It wasn’t smoked too fast or whatever it
was. I don’t know they brought their meat. And we smoked
DD: Do you remember if they brought their own wood
BW: No, we had more wood than we should.
DD: Okay, so there were trees around?
BW: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You name it.
DD: Father cut the wood. Do you remember what some
of the trees were?
BW: Oh there were box celdar, the plum trees, the
cottonwood, cherries, and also buffalo berries. They were sometimes
so loaded and we were right by the creek. The two berries they
were the first ones.
DD: So when you were kids and younger did you have
to do a lot of the other stuff or did you have to go and pick
berries a lot?
BW: No, no.
DD: Did your mother make up quite a good amount
of preserves and that?
BW: Jelly, oh yeah, we made a lot of jelly. Chokecherry.
DD: And some of the other?
BW: That was it.
DD: So you, what would you have [?434] you said
you had sausage for breakfast. Did you have homemade bread?
BW: Homemade bread and sausage, and homemade butter
and homemade jelly.
DD: Who got to turn the butter?
BW: The one that was next to oldest.
DD: Okay. (laughs) So you all kind of had.
BW: Had a job.
DD: Then you kind of took turns and?
BW: I know Saturday, I remember, first you made
the butter, then you did the coffee drop. Beans you know, coffee
beans, you name it. You grind it before you put the bean in. And
then you look in the little box, and if you’ve got a lot
of it, then you’ve done pretty good. Oh yeah.
DD: Now, what were some of the German names of some
of the dishes that your mother made? Do you remember those? Did
you have kugle?
BW: I had kugle, oh yeah we had kugle, we had [?451].
BW: Uh, all kinds of stuff, you know we didn’t
buy too much.
BW: My dad didn’t like it.
DD: He didn’t like it.
BW: He didn’t like, and I liked it. So we
didn’t have it too often.
DD: How about strudel?
BW: Nope, we never did eat it.
DD: Well your mother made some [?458] didn’t
DD: No, she didn’t make any of that.
BW: When you baked the dumplings from the bread
dough, or the [?461] you fried them in shortening and they were
about the [?462]. Then we rolled them up with garnish and ate
them. Oh I think they were good. I wish they had something like
it today. I could make bread too, it was good, you just had to
take a loaf and you wouldn’t have to make the bread dough,
just buy a loaf and thaw it out. You could make some muscles.
But then you heat up the shortening for fried dough. Did you make
that a lot?
DD: Yeah, we had some. It just depended on the time
of year also.
DD: And then I remember [?472] because my mother
would make strudel and uh it would be so thin. If the humidity
was high, it was always tougher. The weather made the difference.
Whether it was good or not so good.
BW: How many were there in your family?
DD: There was five boys and four girls. They’re
all almost [?478]. Now did any of your sisters or brothers go
through 8th grade and graduate?
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: And did um.
BW: Not my oldest sister, she had to stay home,
I think at the 6th grade.
DD: Did any of them go farther on into high school?
So the farthest in your family went up to the 8th grade. And then
we had uh, finals and had to be tested before you got your certificate?
DD: Do you remember any of that?
BW: Yes, I had 88. My point was 88.
DD: Okay, that’s pretty good.
DD: Do you remember some of what the?
BW: I know who she was and everything. And none
of the kids could come to school that day, except the ones that
had to write this.
DD: So the ones that weren’t through the 8th
grade they were the only ones that weren’t there. Do you
remember some of the questions that were asked?
BW: No. I didn’t want to.
DD: But it means geography that you had and grammar
that you had?
BW: And one state I missed.
DD: So you had your English and did they allow you
to speak German in school, or not.
BW: Some of them didn’t and some of them did.
And we’d go out with [?504] or whatever it was called, fox
and the goose during the winter time. I don’t know if it’s
still allowed or not. (laughs). Yeah.
DD: But you weren’t punished for speaking
BW: No, I don’t think so.
DD: Now is there any memories that you have of your
mother telling you how she was raised in Russia. She was twenty
one when she came over here. Do you have any of those stories
that she told you?
BW: No, she said, I think, you think, each kid has
his own bed. Nowadays they’ve got such ideas. I didn’t
know they had so many kids, and I didn’t know. A three room
house or whatever they said, and they lived in the front and the
horses were in the back, because they had to watch someone because
they were stealing horses.
DD: Okay, so someone over there was stealing horses?
DD: Do you remember was, it was all one building
DD: Okay. And so the family in the far end of it,
BW: The barn was in the other end.
DD: Now did she ever say anything about a summer
DD: She never said anything about that.
BW: She just said when she worked outside, how it
was hired help. Now I sometimes think, they had it coming. The
hired help when they came home from the fields, they had to wad
and stem the weed out. And they came home and they had to wash
themselves off by the trough by the well. And they got milk or
sour milk. That was their food. And here we do our best for the
hired help. And she said that’s how it started. One man
was driving home from town and he got killed because he was so
mean to the hired help. That started it.
DD: Is that a Russian, or?
DD: So someone killed the Russian because he was
mean to the?
BW: Help. So uh.
DD: Did she say anything about [?550]. Did she ever
say anything about the way the family life was, like on Sundays,
go to church?
BW: Oh yes, oh yes. Well I think what they’re
End of tape, side one.
DD: Did she ever say anything about how the family
life was, like on Sundays, go to church?
BW: Oh yes, oh yes. Well I think what they’re
I think they lived not far from the church or whatever.
DD: Now were they a Catholic family over there?
BW: Oh yes.
DD: So on both sides of your family they were all
DD: Okay, so they had to have come from Catholic
BW: My dad was born in America, but.
DD: But his ancestors did.
BW: Yeah, I see. I never heard too much from them.
How they grew up. But my mom’s side came over here with
so many kids. Grandma and grandpa lived in a little house. They
cut some meat on Saturdays. We never ran out of meat or something.
Cut a piece off for grandma and took it in. I don’t think
they had too much after they came over here. They had two beds.
Well, nowadays you didn’t each have to have your own bed.
But nowadays each has its own bed.
DD: Do you remember much of your grandmother’s
BW: Oh yeah. Grandma Schmidt, Grandpa Schmidt, they
used to take care of us, while my mom worked outside. You know
BW: She was one who made the stags or something.
And then grandpa and grandma were watching us when we were smaller.
I still remember when we had a big house. Long, big house, a sidewalk,
and a fence and oh it was all trees to the fence. When the chickens
came on the sidewalk, my grandpa got so mad and always got after
DD: Because they left something on the sidewalk.
DD: We were raised that way too with chickens running
around. They’ll leave something on the sidewalks.
BW: You know nowadays I don’t think too many
farmers have too many chickens.
DD: Probably not.
BW: Like earlier days you raised chickens from a
cluck. I don’t know if you remember it.
DD: Oh yeah, I remember handling the eggs and all
BW: Yeah, chickens, and then that’s all, we
had 100 chickens for the year.
DD: Did you run out?
BW: Well we never ran out of meat. We always had.
DD: So you always had quite a few chickens laying
BW: And laying eggs, and pigs, and we always had
enough. Remember how they made the smoked ham.
DD: How’d you make it?
BW: In barrels. When it was butchered, it was put
in barrels, then water, salt and garlic was put in. I don’t
know how many days it has to be in that salt water, and then it
was smoked. See, here was our front room and there was a hole
like this upstairs. There the smoke came up and.
DD: So it would go upstairs.
BW: In that smokehouse. It was all made of mud.
I should have gone up, but I was afraid when we went through there,
if that smokehouse is still up there. And a lot of them brought,
plus my uncles brought meat over to smoke, and oh, I hated it.
We always had to carry it otherwise it burned.
BW: Or wood.
DD: Or wood. Okay, do you remember how the manure
BW: Well now the fence would get it.
DD: Okay, well did it smell real bad?
BW: No, no, no. Not after it was dry.
DD: Well some people would think, well it’s
going to smell. But when it was completely dried you put it in
the stove. And that was.
BW: And you know you had a coal stove. Do you remember
DD: Did you always have water? Did your cook always
BW: A tank in the back. And you could cook and have
hot water, and you could bake and everything on one thing.
DD: That was one big stove.
BW: And oh my, I remember you had to polish them.
With black polish, and but that’s long, long before I was
born. Then they got an enamel one. Enamel and chrome. Oh yeah,
yeah. They came for the parties. And all came out to see that
stove. There was so much chrome on it that you had to work hard
to get it shining. And it was sixty-five dollars.
DD: That was a lot of money back then.
BW: Yeah, it must have been. But we had that stove
for a long time. But it didn’t have it in our old stove,
I remember it had a thing in the back you could put water in and
you had hot water all. This one did.
DD: You did have any so many burners on it and a
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: Did it have a separate bread oven?
BW: Nah uh. The oven was right underneath here.
There was a time when on Name’s Day’s,
they had parties, and the people came over to see the new stove.
And we had electricity too.
DD: Do you remember when you got electricity?
BW: Oh yeah. Now I remember but I mean.
DD: So your folks always had electricity?
BW: Oh yeah. But they had to run the motor to charge
up the battery.
DD: So they had a wind charger?
BW: Nope, the motor was down in the basement, and
the batteries were next to it, a whole table.
DD: Then you got to change the batteries.
BW: Then they charged them up, otherwise it was
all wired to the barn and everything.
DD: The barn was pretty fancy? And the barn lit
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: That wasn’t that common in those years.
BW: Years ago with the lantern before we start milking.
We milked, I think, we milked twenty-five cows by hand.
DD: You didn’t have any milkers; it was all
three or four of the girls milking? What about the boys, when
did they start to milk?
BW: Let’s see they came so late. The youngest
one was a boy. They first had three; then it took four years before
they had four or five more. They had twins. And about that we
all grew up, we ate three times a day.
DD: What did you have for supper most of the time?
Was it pretty much the same stuff, or does it vary? Like nowadays
there’s so many variations.
BW: Ham was mostly, and we had head cheese, I remember
[?074] made head cheese. I wasn’t very fond of it, but it
was something different. Then we had chicken, we always had a
lot of chicken. We ate a lot of chicken too. We had an outside
celler where we put our canned pork and beef. See some had cellars
that could not keep cold. But we were so close to the water, so
our cellar never dried out.
DD: Did you have a good size garden then?
BW: Oh yeah. Good size garden for the whole town.
They came and got stuff. We always had to work so hard, and they
came and gave you maybe a nickel or so.
DD: Do you remember some of the stuff you made in
BW: Watermelon, pumpkin, [?82],cucumbers, tomatoes,
and oh, tomatoes. You can’t believe it. And that’s
what we mostly used at that time. What would you think of raising
DD: Oh I was just wondering, you know, today you
raise a lot of different things.
BW: And we pickled a lot. Fifty gallons of watermelon
DD: Pickled crocks?
DD: Do you remember how that was done?
BW: Oh yeah. That’s all water, onions, garlic
and the old red peppers.
DD: Put the cucumbers in there and filled it up?
BW: See we had an outside cellar; this side was
nothing but jars, and the corner was the watermelon barrel, this
side was nothing but cucumbers and tomatoes. We kept ten gallons
of this tomato stew in the jars.
BW: In the pot, in the barrels. And this was potatoes.
They never grew or never in the spring dirt, we had to take them
in and put them in the house under the pot to grow.
DD: So the potatoes were they in a sack or were
they in a pile?
BW: In a pile. It was fenced off. Yeah.
DD: And carrots?
BW: Oh and beets.
DD: And those stay pretty good in your cellar?
BW: Yeah, and see nothing, yeah. And the meat was,
canned meat of your own and you got shortening or fat that never
molded. Some you couldn’t use during spring or summer because
it was too warm, it got soft. Our cellar didn’t. Not that
I’m bragging but you can’t go up. But I’m afraid
to go in, you never know with the holes nowadays or what, I’m
afraid to step in there. Then once in a while there was a snake
or a lizard.
DD: Well we’re going to take a break here; I’m going
to switch the tape here, so just hold on.
Tape ends. [Side two]
Tape Two: Counter started over
DD: Okay, we’re going to start again now.
This is the second tape. With my interview with Barbara Weigel.
You were talking about the family being Catholic, now when you
were growing up and going to St. Mary’s, you said, what
was Catechism like? When did you have Sunday school?
BW: Every morning, Sunday morning before Mass. We
oh, geez, they gave you something to know by the next Sunday.
We sit in the barn in the morning, and see if we knew it.
DD: So when you were milking and stuff like that,
you were practicing your stuff for Sunday school.
DD: Did you have nuns then?
BW: No, no, no, Father Nickel.
DD: Father Nickel, he was your priest. What was,
did you read services in German?
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: Do you remember how long they were?
BW: Oh Father Nickel was long, he was hard to understand.
He came from overseas.
DD: He came from Russia [?013].
BW: He went home to many years ago, he was, and
I think, 39 or 36. He went home to the country where he was born,
and he died, dropped dead at the depot. That isn’t too many
DD: Oh. Okay, so he went back to visit where he
came from, somewhere in Russia, and then he died there. Now what
were some, what were the burying services then to today, what
is the difference, what was a typical mass like back then?
DD: Oh it was long; it wasn’t any 45 to an
hour. You wouldn’t get out of church.
BW: No, no, they wouldn’t, go to church now,
anymore. Tell you how our church was at St. Mary’s. First
the Catechism down in the basement, then the rosary, then mass,
then benediction. And then you left. That’s long.
DD: So you probably had three hours worth of church
in the morning? And then when you left, it was definitely time
to have breakfast, or.
BW: Lunch. Every Sunday, we didn’t miss one.
DD: And the service was in German?
BW: In German.
DD: Could you say the Hail Mary in German?
BW: I knew it real good.
DD: Do you remember it?
BW: Yes. [?027]. Didn’t you ever learn it?
DD: Oh, I learned German in college, so I don’t
BW: Oh, were your folks not German?
DD: Well my grandmother was. My father was half
German. But uh.
BW: Well they, do they speak?
DD: Well they would speak, but my grandmother never
wanted to teach us children. Why I don’t know. That’s
part of the reason why I make documentaries. I want to learn more
about the heritage, and what comes from the Russian area. So what
was it like, when I remember a Catholic service set in Latin?
DD: Now when did it go from German to Latin in your
BW: I don’t know.
DD: You don’t remember, okay.
BW: They were Latin. Uh, it was Latin. We had Father
[?036] for thirty years.
DD: Now while he was still there, was it still set
in German, or while he was there, did it change to Latin.
BW: I don’t know. He was still there when
DD: So when you left to get married, it was still
set in German?
DD: Okay. And when did you get married?
BW: In 19 uh, 1936.
DD: In 1936 it was still set in German then.
DD: When you were married, you were probably married
in St. Mary’s church there?
BW: Evolved to St. John’s church, but it was
all the same.
DD: Can you describe your wedding? Your wedding
BW: Oh I guess it was just like any ordinary day.
(laughs) I think we went to church, and Mass was at 10 o’clock
in the morning. Then you went home and [?048] long and stuff.
And then in the afternoon there was so much sitting around and
gabbing. At 3 o’clock you had coffee and cake. Now they
didn’t believe in coffee then. Then you had a big supper
like chicken and all that stuff. You went to the dance and after
dance you actually went home.
DD: Now during all that time, when did you get married?
BW: I think at 10 o’clock in the morning.
DD: So you got married during the Mass.
BW: In the morning, yeah, the Mass, yeah. Then you
went home and you made breakfast, then you had lunch. Soup and
all that stuff at 10.
DD: Did you get married on a Saturday, or a Sunday?
BW: Oh, no, no. A Tuesday, Saturday’s seem
you have to clean house.
DD: So most the time you couldn’t have anything
done in the church on Saturday and Sunday, because of the church
DD: So you got married on a Tuesday.
BW: Nowadays it’s all because of [?057] if
they get married always on a Saturday. But at that time, you usually
got married on a Tuesday, not usually on Thursdays, because that
was too close to Fridays. See we didn’t eat meat on Fridays.
DD: Did you still have to fast all on Fridays?
BW: Yeah. No, we didn’t eat no meat otherwise.
DD: You’d eat fish.
BW: Whatever you had.
DD: Did you have to fast before Mass, how long did
you have to fast before Mass? Do you remember that?
BW: Well, we never, we went to communion, we didn’t
DD: Now, is communion different than it is now?
BW: See at that time, they didn’t give communion
at high Mass. And here you get communion at high mass, and everything.
At that time you had to go to the early Mass, and by the time
you had to count all, it was always too late to go to communion,
so you went to the later Mass.
DD: Okay, so you only did communion...
BW: Certain times of the year, you know, yeah.
DD: Now did you have summer bible school at all?
BW: Mhm. Well we lived 10 miles out of town.
DD: You just went all through the year to Sunday
school, like now they have it, summer bible school. When I was
growing up they’d have summer bible school.
BW: Yeah, we did too. Then you went to communion,
got your veil and all that stuff. Otherwise, we didn’t go
to Catechism school, and all. Fourteen days, it was not good,
you got to go away, see we lived 10 miles away from town. We never
got to go to town. That time we were about to stay in with out
aunt. She does Catechism for two weeks, and then we were educated.
DD: Okay. In two weeks time, you were to know everything
DD: What did your parents say about change from
the old, or didn’t they talk much about that?
BW: I don’t know. I think when they were in
Russia, it was stricter than when they were over here. So she
was kind of.
DD: She didn’t talk a lot about the services.
BW: Nah uh. I think that they were a lot tougher
over there than they were over here. Or more religious or whatever
it was. It was different I think.
DD: Do you think it was because everything is more
spread out here than it was then?
BW: Yeah, for me it seems like they live in they
hay with the horses they lived here, all in one.
DD: Everyone lived in a village.
DD: Instead of individual homes and stuff like here.
So that’s probably part of what they had to adapt to.
BW: I think that’s what you, she didn’t
say too much about, she said it was tough. I mean, they were mean
to their [?088]. She said where she worked, she was hired out.
Well I don’t know, if they didn’t have anything. But
she was hired out, for three months. She got 90 dollars in three
months. She said when the hired help came home, they didn’t
get to go in the house, had to wash at the well. They got separated
milk, somewhat sour. She said, no wonder, it’s no wonder
they [?092] didn’t start to kill.
DD: Well did your mother ever say anything about
how they handle death and funerals?
BW: Nah uh.
DD: Well, how when you were growing up, how much
different is a funeral than it is today?
BW: I don’t think there is too much difference,
DD: Well did you go to a funeral home?
BW: No. They usually were brought to the house,
at that time. And then they came and said a rosary and stuff.
They sat up all night because nobody would take them, but they
sat up all night anyways. The next day he was carried.
DD: So let’s say a person died on Tuesday.
BW: Then maybe was buried on a Thursday.
DD: They were put in the coffin, and now did the
doctor or a coroner come out and have to verify the death, or?
BW: I have no idea. How was it at your place?
DD: Well, I’m a little bit younger than you
are, so some of the changes you know. They put the body in a casket
in the house, or in the living room or the biggest room probably.
And then they let them view the body for a while. What did the
Paul bearers do, do you remember?
BW: Just to me it seems, just got them and that’s
DD: Do you remember did the Paul bearers dig the
grave? Some places that are what happened and that’s what
a Paul bearer was for, was to help dig the grave, but organize
cemeteries and stuff like that.
BW: You know who dug the grave for my mother? My
DD: Your brothers?
BW: Yeah. But I think it isn’t like this anymore.
DD: Oh no. It’s completely different.
BW: I think St. Mary’s has got a grave digger
now. To me it seems like it.
DD: So you don’t think too much of what was
done in Russia that your mother or your grandparents would talk
BW: [?114] in Russia.
DD: Right. But you’d always remember a lot
of what they said about, and a lot of that stuff?
BW: Nope, she said the hired help was treated so
mean, that’s why they chained around.
DD: Is that where a lot of your ancestors came from?
Did they make a lot of wine?
BW: I think they did.
DD: Certain areas of the Black Sea area were better
known for that.
BW: Yeah, and they lived this end, and the horses
were in this end. Because they had to watch out because there
was so many horses stolen.
BW: Like my mom was 21 years old. She knew a lot
was different that was over there than over here already.
DD: Did your mother ever speak or learn English?
She always spoke German. How about your dad?
BW: He went to school.
DD: He went to school and he did learn English.
BW: Yeah, he went to school, and was in the 5th
grade. There was a bridge not far from the school. They went over
DD: Oh. So it was more fun to skate than it was
to go to school. Okay. But your mother never did learn English?
So you always talked German to your mother?
BW: And to my dad. But he could read, but not the
sentences like I or you could.
DD: But he preferred to be spoken to in German?
BW: He was the youngest of all, and he was born
in 1989, and they got married in 1989, so.
DD: [?133]. Okay. Do you remember the early newspapers,
the [?135] or the....
BW: Oh, we had the Aimes County Record once a week.
DD: Is that a, in English, or was that in German?
BW: In English, but my mother got, oh what was it
called? She got a German paper. But I could read good German.
But now you don’t do it anymore. You should practice or
never give it up or something, then you wouldn’t forget
it. But I could read pretty good. Well we had Catechism in town
in church, and that was in German.
DD: Now was your Catechism, like when your Baptism,
your Confirmations, your 1st Communion, was that all in German,
or was that in English?
BW: No, I think that was a German [?143] once.
DD: But you would have that? Your birth certificates,
you still have those?
BW: I think so.
DD: Okay. Getting back to the newspaper that your
mother had to read, from the North Dakota Herald.
BW: Yeah, I think they published it. Oh they could
[?147] Thursday comes to read.
DD: So you got the North Dakota Herald, and that
was all in German, and you really looked forward to it.
BW: I don’t know what it’s called. We
got the Aimes County Record then. [?150-151]. Once a week.
DD: Now were you born in a hospital?
BW: No, they didn’t, I don’t think there
was no hospital. I think you would have had to go to Bismarck
or Linton maybe.
DD: Just like a young person watching this today,
or sitting here listening to this, they know that everyone goes
to the hospital when they are born. Can you explain what it was
like born out there?
BW: I have no idea. We had 8 kids, and I think they
were all born at home.
DD: Oh yeah. Did the doctor ever help your mother?
BW: Not the first three of them. They had midwives
or whatever they call them. But I don’t know how it was
done. I haven’t got any idea, nobody ever said anything.
But from then on they had doctors; they had to come 10 miles.
And at that time, I think he was busy.
DD: Well it was a large family I suppose he’s
needed all the time.
BW: I think so, but I don’t know how much
he made, how much they would get. I think 10 dollars was the most,
I think. I haven’t any idea.
DD: Now, when the midwife would come would she come
from a distance, or was she a local?
BW: I haven’t got any idea about that. I mean,
midwife. Because my three [?167] and Dennis were born at home.
And Olivia was in the hospital on July 2nd.
DD: Who helped you with the birth of your children?
BW: The hospital. Oh, you mean the first two?
BW: The doctor, we had a doctor in town.
DD: Now how about if you got a cut, or burn, you
couldn’t run to the doctor all the time, like today. Did
your mother or grandparents have any old German remedies or anything?
BW: Not that I know. I don’t think that as
long as I was home they never went to the doctor.
DD: Would it be a type of save, or any type of potions
you would make or, that? Or when you got an upset stomach?
BW: We took raindrops.
DD: What were raindrops?
BW: Peppermint drops. Did you ever have them? We
had peppermint, and we had one that was called green drops, and
that was [?179]. That’s all we had until [?180] came around.
DD: Did you have the [?181].
BW: Mhm. And I think I still have got one.
DD: You can make any most type of [?183].
DD: Do you remember any, oh like if you had a toothache,
or something like that, any remedy for that?
BW: No, but I had a toothache, oh, and then I couldn’t
go until spring work was done. When it was done, they took me
to the doctor and I had [?186] and two pulled. It cost 20 dollars.
DD: The dentist had all that done.
DD: And you were about, how old were you when that
happened? Do you remember?
BW: Maybe I was 14.
DD: So you were.....
BW: But I still remember laying on the table, and
my cheeks getting cold [?191]. Well when the spring work was done
we went to the doctor. Well we had to go I think 20 miles. We
went to [?193-195]. Did you remember? Did you ever have your teeth
pulled or something?
DD: Oh yeah, I’ve had quite a bit of dental
BW: And they took an arm and a leg at that time.
DD: Close. Do you remember anything about any other
type of folk medicine? Does the term [?200] mean anything?
BW: What was it made of?
DD: Well did your mother or your grandparents ever
BW: I think when we grew up we had [?203 and 204].
And I still have some. [?202].
DD: What was a typical Christmas like? I’m
not talking like today when everyone goes to the store and buys
gifts and all that. What was it like when you were growing up?
BW: Maybe you got a doll, candy, and that was it.
But it wasn’t like nowadays, and you have an arm and a leg.
DD: Do you know what I’m talking about when
I ask about the [?210]?
BW: Yeah [?211].
DD: Can you explain that?
BW: He didn’t come to our house.
DD: How come?
BW: I don’t know. He was upstairs, and they
had a chain up there, and he rattled it and that was Santa Claus
coming. Go out on the front porch there he left your stuff out
DD: How about Chris Cringle?
BW: Oh yes, my sister was Chris Cringle. Oh yes,
I remember you taken old straw hats, you wear summers, at that
time you didn’t want to get brown, remember? And you had
these thick hats on, and she put some [?218] and stuff, and ribbons
all the way down. Oh it was nice, and here comes Chris Cringle.
And I was bigger already, I didn’t play the game. The five
younger ones, she brought it in and set it down, and supposed
to give it and she had a whip. They were going to come and get
it, and then she my brother said, and he was the oldest one, and
he was the only boy we had. He went and got it, and by the time
she looked, they had it on the table, the whole box to see what
was in it.
DD: But you knew it was your sister doing that?
DD: Okay, that was a nice time wasn’t it?
BW: Yeah, that was. Well we were first three, and
then four years later they started new. My older sister, and then
Aunt Helen and I were just a year apart, not even. So they did
it for four years, then the twins started.
DD: Did they have chivalries and things like that?
Well like when you got married, did you get chivalries?
BW: A dance, at 8.
DD: Did you have a barn dance?
BW: No, in town.
DD: It was in a regular dance hall?
DD: Can you explain a little about your wedding
BW: Oh it was the same as any other, they had [?234].
Church was at 10 o’clock in the morning, then you went home
and had breakfast, and then at 1:30 or 12:30, you had chicken
and all that stuff. And then in the evening, you had a big dinner,
sausage and all that stuff.
DD: And then you had a dance in the evening, and
that went on for quite a long time?
BW: I don’t know, it was 1 or 2, but, we were
in a hurry to get home.
BW: I don’t know. But it snowed and it was
slippery and icy. I was October 21st. We lived ten miles from
town. You had to be careful when we went to town. There were no
grades or, the roads like nowadays, I don’t know how they
made it then with these little cars and stuff, but they made it
to church. But [?241] he was the first one to have a car, my dad.
DD: Is that right.
BW: Mhm. 1914.
DD: And you said the car was a?
BW: A Ford, unless he put the things on the sides,
because you could kind of snag them together if you got cold or
DD: So if you closed the car, they had leather [?262]
that would snap together.
BW: Haven’t you got no idea about that?
DD: Well I’m trying to have you explain it
for the people that are watching this will know what you’re
BW: What year were you born, or don’t you
DD: Oh, I was born in 1952.
BW: Oh, you’re just a kid.
DD: Yeah, I’m just a kid. But when they went
to college, now, did they have a heater and an air conditioned
BW: No, no, no, no, no.
DD: None of that stuff.
BW: No, no, no.
DD: Okay, could you explain that car a little bit
BW: Oh it was a [?273] yeah, it was a 14 model.
So you don’t remember too much of them.
DD: Well I’ve seen pictures of them, and stuff
BW: And then when it was so cold they snapped some
curtains on the side, and uh, this side where he was sitting my
dad, because we had no boys, he was the only one who drove. He
had to jump over it and it was strangling him. Grandma said, hear
it, unless he went in before she did, that was the way it was.
We had to sit in the back.
DD: Okay, how fast did the car go?
BW: I don’t know.
DD: Not very fast though, did it?
BW: I actually don’t know. But I think it
went faster than a horse and a buggy.
DD: Yeah, it went faster than that.
BW: And then we had a [?283] after that, a [?283],
that was a big, big car.
DD: Do you remember about when your dad left that
BW: Oh yeah, and was it, I remember when they carved
an all over to see the car, they went over there to the house
and they looked at the car, and it only had 2 doors, but it was
such a big car that the back could pile 5 kids, we usually had
five that went to church, and then we usually had cream pails.
DD: So your dad put cream pails in there and took
DD: Did you do that every day, or did you do other?
BW: No, we usually went, let’s see 10 gallons.
We usually went on a Wednesday, Saturday we always went to church,
or to town, and took the cream and the eggs. But sometimes we
ran out of cans and stuff, so we had to go to work in the afternoon,
hurry up and come home and eat and then take the cream to town.
Three 10 gallons, you know at that time it was 10 dollars a gallon,
10 gallons got a lot.
DD: That was quite a bit of money back then though.
DD: Did anyone in your family play musical instruments?
BW: No, I don’t think so.
DD: Not your dad or mom or grandparents?
BW: Well she came from Russia in February and she
got married in November.
DD: How about songs, was there a favorite song or
anything like that? I’m guessing your mother didn’t
talk a lot about what it was like growing up in Russia.
BW: Oh yeah, I think they had quite a few children,
like 8 or 10 or whatever it was. And they lived to me, like the
house and the farm were all in one. It was the house, and to me
it seems like there was so many horses stolen that they had to
DD: Now did she ever say that there were one or
two people having, when they’re done milking their cows
in the morning, they would let the cows out and they would go
out to the pasture and they were just herders that would go and
herd them and get them. Did she mention anything about that? Or
BW: I know when she said when they cut their wheat
they had to stand it out, there was no machine, and I think it
DD: So that’s all, that’s about all
you remember, you don’t remember her talking about something
or other stuff. Okay.
BW: And they must have had, and the horses were
stolen a lot they had to be careful.
DD: Did your mother or your grandparents bring any
photographs from Russia? [?326]
BW: Just their pictures.
DD: Now, pictures of your parents?
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: [?330] of your brothers and sisters. Did you
have any special clothes that you had for going to church? Did
you wear special clothes for church, or?
BW: Oh yes. I still do. Not like they do now. That
put them on, and come home and takes them off.
DD: So you had special Sunday clothes.
BW: Oh yes, Sunday hats and shoes. I remember that
when the ladies wore hats, my mother and the neighbor lady never
did [?339] they always wore a shawl and did tied here, and I got
the shawl. And they had them made by a certain lady.
DD: Now was that shawl made over in Russia?
BW: No, there were ladies here that made it.
DD: Now would you have any clothing or anything
of your past relatives that came from Russia, or don’t you
BW: Nope. Never. I don’t think we ever did.
She never showed us any clothes I think. When they all, they said
when we got over, and [?349] is where they landed. But her brother
had a butcher shop already; he came a couple years earlier. She
said when grandpa saw that, and he said, he stamped on the floor
and he says, [?353] he call it [?354] I don’t know whether
that’s trim or whatever it is. He said this is where we
supposed to be.
DD: So your grandfather, your grandparents probably
never learned English did they?
BW: I don’t think so, because he died fast,
he dropped dead. Grandma was 91 years old. But from this sister,
they had her. She never was alone.
DD: So then after your grandfather died, then she
[?362]. So did she live with you? For quite a while then?
BW: Not that I knew when I was small, and it was
DD: When your grandmother died?
BW: When grandpa died yeah.
DD: When grandpa died, then. Do you remember when
your grandmother died?
DD: Now this is Grandma Schmidt right?
BW: Yeah. She was old. She got married again.
DD: Do you remember who she re-married?
BW: Yes, I remember now, I was just going to say
well I don’t know it, but I was at their house when they
lived at Strasburg. They weren’t married to long, then they
died too. I think they just got married for somebody to talk to,
or.... go to church, that’s likely.
DD: Now does your grandparents [?374] too?
BW: Uh huh.
DD: So most of your ancestors that came over here
are [?376] unless he marries you, or.
BW: Yeah, and the [?378] is the first cemetery in
North Dakota I think. It was with a little church and august this
summer they burned it down. A prairie church, do you remember
DD: St. John’s Prairie Church? And that’s
where your father’s family is buried?
BW: My husband’s folks.
DD: Oh your husband’s folks.
BW: Michael. Yeah, but my folks are [?385] we went
to the cemetery this spring. And another thing I got a niece who
works in D.C. She wanted to go to all the cemeteries around. We
went all over the prairie that day.
DD: So it was an enjoyable day?
BW: Well, it was just something to do.
DD: Did it bring back memories?
BW: Yeah, she wanted to go see all of the grandparents.
She went to Hagg, where there is a big cemetery; she walked all
the way around. I sat in the car. But I knew that everybody is
DD: It brought back memories for you then.
BW: I think she should become a [?399] she would
be better at a house or at a lake.
DD: Now, are there any other special memories you
remember about growing up, that you would like to talk about?
BW: No. That was so many, earlier days, they always
BW: Oh yeah, we always did. But not selling it,
just for our own use they made it. Well they came and they heated
it up some, and you got a teaspoonful.
DD: So they made your liquor and they made your
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: How about beer?
BW: Oh yes, beer we made [?410] and set the other
one. And wine, I don’t know how that was made, but we made
wine. And liquor we always made our own liquor; it sits in the
kitchen for three days. Did you ever make that?
DD: No, I never did. My grandparents talked about
making beer, wine, and so many things.
BW: I don’t know how they made the wine, they
[?417] the grapes first, and they squeezed out juice for so many
days, I actually don’t know how it’s made, not that
I want to make some.
DD: But they would use when they have that wine
for a meal, or special occasion wine, or have a glass of beer
BW: I think so. I don’t know about the wine,
but I know, beer, when you haul hay, your so, my dad usually had
a, it was always in a bottle. He had a bottle; we all drank out
of one bottle.
DD: So it was more about having something liquid
to drink, verses having a beer, it was more of that type of tradition.
BW: Yeah, and I don’t think that’s it
DD: Yeah, nowadays you go and have a beer, where
as you were growing up, your parents, beer was more of a.
BW: Thing, when somebody came, on Sundays, we usually
had Sunday Company where we cook and stuff, and then we had a
beer or something.
DD: So did you have a lot of visitors? A lot of
BW: Oh yeah.
DD: A range of people you didn’t see very
often come on Sundays, or?
BW: No, like my dad, my brothers, my husband, my
dad’s couple of brothers, they came on Sundays. They sat
out and like now it would be nice. Our yard had 400 trees. It
was a side road way out there. They had maybe a bottle of beer
or something. But I think the sidewalk was still there when we
walked up there this summer.
DD: You had a cement sidewalk?
BW: Well, see the place was a sod house, and the
ropes were 20 to 25 pounds, and it was all fenced in with wood.
Big with all trees and we used the house.
DD: So you had a wooden fence around the whole tree
area. Can you describe the house a little bit more?
BW: Here was the folk’s room in the big sod
house. There was another where you put the pies and stuff, another
one you walked through, and then there was the one we slept in,
it was 25x25. Then there was the kitchen, it was nothing. Here
was the cupboard all filled in. Here was the table with a bench
here and a bench there where all the kids and folks sat.
DD: Okay now, could you actually see the sod?
BW: Oh no.
DD: You said you could see the cupboards, how were
they in the sod?
BW: The outside was sided and the inside was papered.
Just about every year your kitchen was papered. The front room
was papered every two years.
DD: So you moved up next the sod, and clean that,
and put the paper out.
BW: When the catalogs came, oh man, there were three
different kinds of Sears, Montgomery’s and some other kind.
Then you had to cut it out the side, with some, one side you had
to cut off and one side you painted over it. Not every year we
painted the front room or stuff, but the kitchen was painted every
year. But towards the end, it was wash-clothed towards the bottom,
and the top, was pop, painted.
DD: How was that house in the winter time?
BW: Warm, not bad, not bad. Well they were about
that thick, and here was some month’s mail here, because
when you could sit in the window sill, you could sit in there.
DD: So there wasn’t just one put together,
there was two blocks.
DD: And in the summertime was it?
BW: Cooler. You leave the doors open and closed,
you know it stays cooler. We had electricity. We had our own,
you put it in, [?504] time, not towards the last, I think we got
BW: We had the barns and everything.
DD: What about telephones?
BW: Oh yes. It was too long, or too short.
DD: What was the reason for that?
BW: It was our telephone, instead of ah...
DD: Like it is now...
BW: No, we just had two longs and two short.
DD: And where was the telephone at in the house?
BW: On the wall.
DD: On the wall.
BW: A big box, brown. [?516].
DD: That’s [?516].
DD: And that’s when you were going to call
someone, that’s whoever had three shorts and a long.
BW: No, no. You had to have the number. We had two
shorts and two longs, but somebody else’s was different.
DD: Right, so you would pick up the phone and what
would you do to call someone?
BW: Whatever their number was. If theirs was a long
or a short, or a short and a long. You had to dial their number.
DD: Did you ever have to talk to an operator? A
BW: I think uh, where we were on, there was nothing
to see, that was the doctor, so when you had a baby, you call
doctor, and then he called [?533] and then they came out. It’s
all together different. One doctor is [?535] and my other doctor,
and they decided maybe he wasn’t and maybe he was. Our neighbor’s
last name was Dockter.
DD: Oh, so their last name was Dockter.
BW: Yeah, so you had to call them, and they called
[?540]. But it was nowadays, you [?543]. All a big family and
they all got along. Did you come from a big family?
BW: Oh yeah, you said it, six, well we had eight.
DD: Now how many of your brothers and sisters are
BW: One brother, I only had two, they were twins.
Dorothy is alive. [?550] is dead. Ella and Mary, there were three
of them. I think, that would be eight. My oldest sister, she’s
no, [?557]. And there was Ella a year older than I was.
Tape Stops. Counter at 560
Side B of Tape 2- restarted counter
BW: Then they didn’t have none for three days,
the [?002] the twins, the Mary is dead and Mike is alive.
DD: Now to a little sense of, you said you don’t
speak German ever, now, when you get together with your sisters,
do you speak some German together?
BW: Very little, I think. They live in Bismarck,
both of them.
DD: Did you speak German to your kids?
DD: Do your kids know how to speak German?
BW: They kind of know what it’s about [?007].
My dad could, he went to school over here, but my Ma, see, she
came from Russia, and she was 21 years old.
DD: So she never learned how to speak English.
BW: No. See my aunt; she was next to my mom. She
got to know, but she lived in town though, but the kids you know
go to school, she learned how to understand stuff like that.
DD: Was there any, was there anything you want to
particularly talk to me in German a little bit about.
BW: What would it need to be?
DD: Well I got some questions I would probably ask.
Um, this is something, we talk about, and I’ll ask you in
German, so we can pick up on the dialect and [?017].
BW: What is that?
DD: [?018]. [?019]
BW: Well, what’s that? Say it again.
DD: What’s your name?
BW: What’s your name? [?019].
DD: [?019]. Like I said I learned German....
DD: In College.
BW: Where I was born? In [?021] North Dakota. May
the 25th, [?022] 1914.
BW: [?023-024]. Schmidt Singer.
DD: [?026]. Your brothers and sisters and father
BW: My oldest sisters name is [?027]. The other
sister was Helen [?027] but she’s dead, and then it’s
DD: How do they say your name in German?
BW: [?028]. (laughs)
DD: Alright, that has a little bit more of a roll
to it than it does in English.
BW: And then my sister Rose, well it’s [?030].
Well then the twins were Sebastian and Dorothy [?031]. Then was
my sister, Mary. She’s dead too [?032], and then Mike was
my, grandpa’s name, always, [?034] was my grandpa Singer.
That’s what you have to be named after grandma or grandpa.
I was named after Grandma Singer. That’s not anymore. You
would name your children, not that I’m saying there’s
nothing wrong after your folk’s, your mother or you dad.
It’s just as nice as anybody else.
DD: Okay, they had a, to keep a family name, the
tradition going, that’s all. Okay, well, I want to thank
you very much, I really enjoyed your time, visiting with you,
I always do. I’m sure we’ll come up with more stuff
to talk about in time.
BW: And I think the earlier it is.
DD: And this clock here, could you explain this
DD: You said it was your mother’s?
BW: My mother said when she got married, [?045-046],
and they got married in 1910.
DD: So you think, but you’re not sure, but
you think this clock came from Russia, right?
BW: I don’t know where it came from.
DD: But it’s been hanging around since at
BW: Yeah, Grandpa Singer, I don’t know he
came over from before. In 1915 they got children from [?050].
I don’t know if he, I actually don’t know if he was
one of [?051] or not.
DD: Okay. This is the end of the twelve minute tape
that’s left off of the interview in Bismarck on 7/22/04
when Filamina, Rose and Barb were being interviewed on the couch.
This is the last 12 minutes of tape; it actually goes on tape
BW: I couldn’t read the paper but I could
RS: I could read like the North Dakota Herald, I
could read the names of the towns, but everything else [?061].
DD: So your parents had that?
RS: Yeah, my mom could talk or [?062].
BW: That’s why we had to walk.
RS: This [?063-065].
BW: You know I could read the Catechism sheet, both
RS: Yeah, see well when you went to Catechism you
had a teacher. [?065].
BW: Yeah. I took two weeks.
BW: Two weeks.
RS: See when I went in we didn’t have it,
so all we had to learn was the prayers. [?066-068].
BW: And then they went to school.
RS: [?069]. You know they went to school there,
and they talked.
DD: Anything else?
RS: That’s it.
DD: Thank you very much.
RS: Don’t say girls, say grandmas. (laughs)
DD: The [?075] girls. I guess it wasn’t twelve
minutes long, but according to the tape; I had that much on video.
But this finished off the interview with the three singer girls
in Bismarck on July 22nd 2004.