Conducted by Betty and Chris Maier (BM/CM)
9 August 2000, Linton, North Dakota
Transcription by Beverly H. Wigley
Editing by Betty Maier
BM: August 9th, the year 2000. I am Betty Maier, a volunteer
interviewer from the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at
the North Dakota State University Libraries in Fargo, North Dakota.
And its a pleasure to visit with Paul P. Welder in Linton
where this interview is taking place. And Chris Maier is here too
and hes running the tape recorder right now but in a little
while youre going to hear from him. So were going to
get started with some of the very first basic questions. What is
your name and the date of your birth?
PW: My name is Paul P. Welder and I was born April the 14th,
BM: And where were you born?
PW: I lived in McIntosh County which would be three miles
north of Greenway, South Dakota, but I was born in North Dakota,
one mile into North Dakota over the state line.
BM: So did your folks live in Greenway then?
PW: They lived in North Dakota over the state line; three
miles north of Greenway. We were in the Berlin township.
BM: And what was your fathers name?
PW: My fathers name was Paul Welder.
BM: They didnt change it much, did they? What does
the P stand for in your name?
PW: Phillip, Paul Phillip.
BM: And where was your father born?
PW: My father was born in Russia. Elsass, Russia, as far
as I know.
BM: So he was in that village. Did he die there?
PW: No, he died in Zeeland, North Dakota.
BM: And when did he die?
PW: He died in February the 26th, 1947.
BM: Comment: Pauls looking in a big, thick family
book thats called Joseph Welder Heritage from 1680-1976. And
so hes finding the exact date.
PW: He died February the 26th, 1948.
BM: Okay. And hes buried where?
PW: Hes buried in Zeeland cemetery, St. Andrews
BM: So you know pretty much the next question Im going
to ask you. Im going to ask you what your mothers name
PW: My mothers name was Catherina Welder.
BM: And when was she born?
PW: She was born in November the 10th, 1878.
BM: And where was she born?
PW: She was born in Russia.
BM: In Elsass?
BM: And she died here in the States?
PW: She died in Zeeland, North Dakota.
BM: And shes also buried there then?
PW: Shes buried in the Zeeland cemetery. Zeeland Catholic
Cemetery, St. Andrews.
PW: When? She died March the 26th, 1966.
BM: Now when and where were your father and mother married?
PW: Married? They were married in the St. Johns Catholic
Church which is 5 miles north of Zeeland, October 1, 1898
BM: Thats closed now but its still there?
PW: Yes, its closed but its still there. The
cemeterys there and thats where Grandpa and Grandma
are buried, in St. Johns.
BM: Now when you talk about Grandma and Grandpa thats
your mother and
PW: Its Welders.
BM: The Welders?
PW: Welders. The Weigels are buried in south North Dakota.
Edthun and Carolina Weigel; buried in south North Dakota.
BM: Okay. How many brothers and sisters did you have in
PW: I had eight brothers and seven sisters.
BM: Well, youd better look up the page where it has
them all listed because I want them in order.
PW: Ill give them to you; youll get them in
BM: Okay, lets start with the oldest one then. (Comment:
See page 46 of Welder Book)
PW: Caroline is the oldest one. She was born (November)
August the 29th, 1899. She got married November 1, 19 hundred and
20; died July the 27th, 1947. She got married to Conrad Mattern,
which I havent got the date.
BM: Thats all right.
PW: Ive got the date, November 1, 1920. She got married
November 1, 1920. I remember the date.
BM: Lets just go through the list of brothers and
sisters in chronological order and you know what? I think Ill
just copy that page and put it in your file. So, we dont have
to read all that.
PW: Barbara was the next one. Oh, you dont want you
to give them all the way down?
BM: Yes, just give me them in order. Barbara was next.
PW: Barbara was born April the 23rd, 1900. She got married
November the 26th, 1923. She was married to a John Welk, a cousin
of Lawrence Welk.
BM: Oh, really?
PW: Catherina was born April the 11th, 1903. Got married
November the 25th, 1922 and she died February the 28th, 1995.
BM: She was quite old then.
PW: She died in Sun City, Arizona, and was cremated and
is buried in Strasburg, North Dakota on top of her husbands
grave, Fred Mattern.
BM: Hm, the ties always come back to North Dakota.
BM: And the next one?
PW: Thats Mary and she was born June the 20th, 1904,
got married November the 4th, 1925 (she was still alive at that
time). She got married to a Gabriel Welk, cousin of Lawrence Welk.
BM: Two ties to the Welk family men.
PW: And, ah, of course she was not dead yet at that time.
Then the next one is Bernhard Welder and hes got Grandpas
name. And he was born December the 10th , 1905, got married in 1935,
and was still living at that time but his wife was Agnes Leibel
and she was born 1910 and died November the 23rd , 1968.
Magdelena Schmaltz, she was married to Ollie Schmaltz born March
the 31st, 1907, got married November the 14th, 1927. Anton Welder
got married to a Barbara Mitzel and he was born January the 13th,
1909, and he got married November the 17th, 1931. Joe Welder married
to Helen who was born October the 19th, 1910, and he died December
the 4th, 1943. No excuse me, he got married November the 4th, 1943.
He was still alive at that time.
Paul P. Welder was born April the 14th, 1912, and he was married
to Phyllis Wald. She was born the April the 2nd, 1915. They were
married November the 4th, 1943. John Welder got married to Stella
Burmem and he was born November the 2nd, 1913, got married October
the 20th, 1942.
And Anna Welder got married to Andrew Schatz. She was born August
the 28th, 1915, she got married October the 22nd, 1937. She was
married to Andrew Schatz. He was born December the 13th, 1913, and
he died May 1, 1971.
Peter Welder got married to Lillian Schatz and he was born November
6th, 1916, got married December the 27th, 1945. Lillian Schatz was
born September the 26th, 1918. Frank Welder born April the 5th,
1918, got married June the 7th, 1947, was married to a Pearl Olson.
She was born April the 13th, 1925-Norwegian. Mike Welder
BM: I wont say anything.
PW: Mike Welder, ah he was born May the 23rd, 1919, and
he got married June the 17th, 1946. Barbara Zahn was his wifes
name. She was born March the 1st, 1919. Rose Gabriel, the 15th one
in the family. She was born September the 30th, 1920, and she got
married November the 4th, 1941. And John Gabriel was her husband
and he was born September the 27th, 1914.
BM: My goodness, what a list! Fifteen children and they
PW: They all lived. Well, Caroline was the first one that
died. Oh yes, they all lived.
BM: And they were born between the span of
PW: Twenty-one years.
BM: Twenty-one years, goodness sakes.
PW: Twenty-one years, 15 and 21 years. And when my mother
passed away she was 86 years old and she had 273 descendents and
there was not one with a physical or mental impairment.
CM: Great, great.
BM: Thats wonderful. They were well cared for.
PW: And my mother was 86 years old, and three weeks before
she passed away I visited with her and she still knew the birthday
of everyone of all her descendents plus the names. Of everyone.
And then she knew most of the neighbors birthdays.
CM: Remarkable, remarkable.
BM: When did your family originally come over from Russia
to the United States? Do you know?
PW: Yes, they came to the United States in November the
4th, 1885, aboard the ship Fulda.
BM: The SS Fulda. Then did they land at Ellis Island?
BM: I dont know if Ellis Island was named that then.
PW: It was.
BM: And then where did they settle?
PW: They settled and took out a homestead
in Berlin Township, McIntosh County. There they farmed until till
Grandpas death. He was 76 years old when he passed away and
my grandmas name was Schumacher and she passed away when she
was 73 years old and they were both buried in the
St. Johns cemetery north of Zeeland, five miles north of Zeeland,
you remember any stories that they told you about Russia?
PW: Well, ah, Grandpa sometimes did.
He talked about horse thieves mostly because horse thieves over
there were like bank robbers in the United States. That was one
of the biggest crimes theyd commit and horses was their source
of power and they were very, very much in demand for stealing. And
a lot of them were stolen. Some of the farmers over there had some
big chains - they called them chain dogs tied to the
barns so they couldnt steal the horses. But they would saw
out the back end [of the barn] and steal the horses anyhow. That
was a big trade over there.
BM: If they were caught, I wonder
what the punishment was.
PW: Oh, they were beheaded.
BM: They were
PW: Yah, there was no jail and no
penitentiary. They just butchered them.
there any other stories that your family told about?
PW: Well, I can remember him (Grandpa)
telling me how they thrashed over there. They would take the grain
and they would cut it with scythes and bring it in a pile and then
they would trample the horses on there. And trample it out and then
they would take the straw off. And on a windy day they would go
up even on a little building and kind of threw into the wind. And
separate it and let it drop on blankets and separate it and then
they put it into sacks. If they had six sacks of wheat they were
BM: Hm, doesnt sound like much
today, does it?
PW: It sounds like nothing.
BM: But I think theyre a little
more frugal than we are today. Going back one more generation,
do you have any records of when your family left Germany and went
to Russia? (Looking at Welder Family Book)
PW: Yes, yes, I have Im going to have to go to
the Welder Family Book. Welder pioneer family families in
Russia recently came from the village of Plittersdorf in the district
of Rastatt in Baden, Germany. So they moved about 1808. They
left Germany and were in Russian census 1811.
BM: Yah, Plittersburg, Germany. That is Germany then.
PW: In 1600.
BM: Yup, 1600. And R-a-s-t-a-t-t, Germany.
BM: And you said that your parents didnt talk too
much about the villages...
BM: and where they came from.
PW: No, especially they didnt. Either he was bitter
or he just well, he was nine years old when he came.
PW: but he didnt talk about it much. Hardly
nothing at all. And Grandpa of course, Grandpa and Grandma they
were in a little house only about two blocks from the house where
I was born and raised in. There was not that much conversation with
Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa and Grandma raised my sister Catherina
from the time she was two years old until she got married.
And when Catherina got married and then I lived with Grandpa. We
slept in Grandpas house but we ate in the big house with the
family. So he talked about a few little things but not much, not
much. And Catherina already got married in 1922 so I slept with
Grandpa in 23 and in part of 22. And then in 23
we built a new home so we moved, Grandpa moved to our new home that
Dad built. And, ah, I slept with him there for two years yet. And
finally I got too big so I went upstairs with the rest of them.
In 1923 we built the house and I helped to haul all the material,
my brother and myself. Joe was a year and a half older. We hauled
all the material with wagons. We made four trips a day to Greenway,
South Dakota. And we hauled cement, hundred pound sacks and took
them home and piled them into a granary until the day that the basement
They had two mixers and about 14 people and my brother, Joe, and
myself hauled all the cement to the site plus the water from the
pond. We had six-50 gallon barrels and we would fill them up, the
pond was just a hundred feet from the house. And wed bring
them up there and then wed fill those barrels all the time
so the mixers could get going. It was a big house and a big basement.
This was the house on the farm.
CM: Describe the house.
BM: This is a two-story house and its got a sort of
a projection out on one side thats the front porch.
PW: Sun porch.
BM: I dont know, what direction is that it looks
like it should be facing south.
PW: South, south.
BM: Okay. And how many bedrooms is there?
PW: There was five bedrooms, one downstairs and four upstairs.
Then there was the bathroom upstairs and what we called the porch
BM: Is this house still standing?
PW: Oh, yes, somebodys living in it.
BM: Is it being well kept?
BM: My goodness, its beautiful. (Looking at photo)
PW: We got married in 1943 and in 1946 I put the running
water in there. And we had two full bathrooms and one half bath.
BM: So you and your wife then lived there?
PW: Yes, we lived there from 1943 until 1982.
BM: And the house was built what year?
PW: In 1923.
BM: In 1923. My goodness. That was a lot of work but its
still standing; that means it was well built.
CM: Beautiful, beautiful home.
PW: Beautiful farm; Ill get the picture out. The farm
where I was raised - the picture was taken from the air. My daughter-in-law
is a photographer. (Looking at photo) And there was two pole barns
that are not on here. But it was a big yard and we kept it clean
with lawn mowers and stuff. We had a lawn mower like the highway
department has behind a tractor, one rider, one bagger and one for
the shelter belt. And then we had a self-propelled lawn sweeper.
BM: Now, theres water behind the house that you said
you had drawn water from there.
PW: Yah, there was a lake right behind the house, a pond.
A nice, big pond.
BM: Does that have a name?
PW: No, it was just a pond that was put in. A creek dammed
off. We put a big shelter belt in on the north side.
BM: When you first moved there were there many trees?
PW: Not very many, only right behind the house. The trees
behind the house, we put in. They were seedlings from the railroad
track and they were put in there in 1924. They were just cottonwood
trees. And then in 26 Dad put in some fruit trees. We had
some plums and crab apples but they didnt do too well.
BM: What language did you grow up with?
PW: Deutsch, German.
PW: We spoke German. When I went to school I could, well,
my English was just nothing at all. I hardly couldnt speak
English when I went to school. Of course, my brothers and sisters
a lot of them were older. Eight of them were older so I picked some
of it up but very little.
BM: I suppose because you always spoke German at home.
PW: Everybody spoke German. The dogs even barked German.
BM: There was one other question I wanted to ask about.
Did you ever receive letters from Russia, from family back there?
PW: No, no.
BM: Never did.
BM: Did you send letters over there?
PW: I can recall to where I think they tried one time and
nothing happened. No, we didnt. I know that we didnt.
BM: So did you read newspapers?
PW: Well, we had the Staats Anzeiger was German and of course,
and the Farmer from Aberdeen, South Dakota. Dakota Farmer something.
We had that and then of course we had newspapers, local papers.
BM: There was a newspaper, The German Press that kept quite
bit news. Did you get that?
PW: Staats Anzeige, yah, um hum.
BM: When did you start speaking English then?
PW: When I went to school, I was seven years old.
BM: You had to speak English then.
PW: Yup, well, we could speak German when we went out of
the school ground which we did sometimes during the lunch hour.
you remember your first school teacher?
PW: No, I dont but I remember
some of them.
BM: Some of them?
PW: I definitely remember one by the
name of Hunter and he taught us something that I never forgot from
up until today. To put the days in the calendar in order down the
line like Sundays, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. I mean like, for
instance, Sunday would be the first day. Sundays would be 1, 8,
15, 22, 29. Mondays would be 2, 9, 16, 23, 30. Tuesdays would be
3, 10, 17, 24. Wednesdays would be 4, 11, 18, 25. Thursdays 5, 12,
19, 26. Fridays 7, 14, 21, 28.
BM: And you still use that method
PW: Yes, I still do.
BM: How about that. Sounds like good
organization. What others teachers did you have?
PW: Well, we had one by the name of
Freda, Freda Breitling. And she was only a small teacher but she
was a tough one. Yah, but we had one other teacher and he was a
real meanie. If we didnt know our spelling, he would put a
little ring on the blackboard and a dot there and wed have
to stand there and put our nose against it. And sometimes we had
to kneel on corn. I was fortunate enough I never had to kneel on
corn. I was a good boy.
BM: Ah, speaking of language, do you have a prayer that
you can repeat for us in German?
PW: I got many of them.
BM: Just one. Were going to run out of tape today.
PW: The Lords Prayer?
BM: Yah, that would be a good one.
PW: Vater unser dass du bist in Himmel
Geheiligt werde dein Name
Dein Reich komme
Dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel so auf Erden.
Gib mich heit unser tägliches Brot
Vergib uns unsere Schuld, wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern.
BM: Thank you.
PW: That I know, I know.
BM: When you say youre daily prayers do you still
do it in German?
PW: I sometimes add them in when I lay in bed and pray.
I still say some German prayers.
BM: So, do you use German yet in conversation with some
of your friends around here in Linton?
PW: Yes. And when my children come, especially the oldest
one and the one that lives in Bismarck, we talk German. They want
to talk German.
BM: Oh, great.
PW: And they all talk, we can all talk, we talk German when
we get together sometimes. We talk German just to do it. And my
grandchildren all can understand German and some of them can speak
BM: Okay. You know, I think we havent talked about
your family. You told us that you married Phyllis Wald.
BM: Wald. W-a-l-d. And how many children did you and your
PW: We had four children. We had one daughter and three
BM: And can you give me their names? The oldest is the daughter?
PW: No. Jim is the oldest and then three years later Bernadette
was born, three years later, Raymond, and then three years later,
BM: And where do they live?
PW: Jim used to live in Florida for a long time but now
he lives in South Carolina but he works in North Carolina. He works
in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a contractor for a big, big
concern. Great big, big right now they contracted ten computer
buildings to the tune of $5,500,000 a piece. Theyre building
two right now, one in Los Angeles and one is someplace in the Carolinas
but theyre going to build ten of them.
BM: Whats his profession?
PW: He is the chief over the contractors. I dont know
what youd call him.
BM: Did he go to college?
PW: He went to college in Bismarck, North Dakota. Not long.
But he started many different jobs already, but when he worked in
Florida he worked in the banks. He was also in finance there. And
he foreclosed things and he contracted things and what have you.
BM: And the second one?
PW: The second one is Bernadette. And she is married to
BM: Thats okay. Germans and Norwegians get along just
PW: Yah and I like him. Hes a wonderful man.
BM: Ah, and where do they live?
PW: They live in Hastings, Minnesota. Bernadette manages
a bank and is the vice president of the bank. And her husband, Lionel
Esteson, is the chief over all the federal and co-op banks in St.
BM: Theyre all responsible people.
PW: They are very, very, very successful. They do very,
very good and they have two children, a son and a daughter. The
son is married. Ive got a great-grandson and the daughter
is going to get married in September the 9th so Im going to
BM: Ill bet youre going there!
PW: I am going to Chicago June the 9th to see my grandson.
BM: And son, youre child number three.
PW: Child, thats Raymond. They had two sons and theyre
both married. And his wifes name is Anna. He and another guy
have a big cabinet business and his wife, Anna, manages labs. Shes
a lab technician and she manages four labs for somebody. So she
travels back and forth. And her oldest son, Joey, manages one lab
under her. And then the next son, is a physical therapist and his
wife is a high school teacher. She teaches English.
CM: Where do they live?
PW: They live in Crystal Lake, Illinois, 28 miles from downtown
Chicago in a suburb. Beautiful home and beautiful cabin and what
BM: And your last child?
PW: The last one is Danny. He lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.
BM: Hes a close one then.
PW: Yah, he sells insurance. Hes with American Republic.
And Dannys wife is an artist. She does a lot of artwork and
works in south Bismarck.
BM: Very good.
PW: And they have two daughters but theyre still both
single. And one of them is in Montana right now. In the wintertime
she works in Big Sky but she still goes to college. And the other
one works in Bismarck in the summer and goes out to Big Sky in the
winter. Shes an instructor out there.
BM: My theyre busy people! They sound like talented
PW: Theyre talented. Theyre more talented than
BM: Well, you live in different times than they do. They
have a lot of opportunities. And weve got a lot more than
educational systems now than when you and I were going to school.
By the way, where did you go to school?
PW: I went to school in Berlin Township only three-quarters
of a mile from where we lived. And I went to the school to the 7th
grade and then I had to stay home and help with the chores at home.
We had as high as 28 horses and one stud horse all the time and
was a lot of work and only one brother at home so I had to stay
home and that was it.
BM: What was your favorite chore and what didnt you
like to do?
PW: I didnt like to pick rocks. And the favorite chore
was, well, I kind of liked to do work with the machinery out with
the horses. You know like plowing and raking, and mowing hay and
stuff. That was kind of my favorite.
BM: If you didnt do your work, were you disciplined?
BM: You were?
PW: Very much so.
BM: How were you disciplined?
PW: Well, if Dad said go it was go and if he
said stop it was stop. There was no in between. And
there was no back talk.
BM: Who was the disciplinarian in your house?
PW: Well Dad more so than Mom.
BM: Even with the girls?
PW: Yes, with the girls too.
BM: Oh, really?
BM: Were there other nationalities in your school?
PW: No, no.
BM: They were all German?
PW: No, they were all German.
BM: They were all German, huh?
PW: But all different religions. We were the only Catholic
ones that went there for awhile. We had Baptists, EUB, Reformed,
Lutheran, and Seventh Day Adventists to the south.
BM: My goodness.
PW: We were almost the last Catholics east of Zeeland. So
we were raised with Protestant people and they were wonderful neighbors.
When my dad and mom moved to town it was hard, but not as hard to
take as when my neighbor moved because we were together every day
and he was a good Reformed.
BM: What were some of your neighbors names?
PW: Neighbors names, okay. One was a Russian, was
Yeninsky, and then there was a Bender to the north and northeast
was Schnagel and then straight east was Hartze, that was the last
Catholic there. And then there was Augermans and Jahraus and Jung
and Hartze and then to the west there was, well, there was Solweit
and Schermeister and Stern.
BM: My goodness, you have a good memory to remember all
CM: How many children were average in your country school?
PW: It would be maybe say approximately eight to ten average
to a family. And as a rule in our little country school which was
maybe, ah, 18' by 32', we had as high as 28 children in there sometimes,
24, more all the time, from the 1st to the 8th grade.
CM: One other thing. When you didnt obey at home,
what form of punishment did you guys get from your father?
PW: It was not all that bad but we got spanked on the butt
with an open hand.
BM: Did you have discipline problems in school? Do you remember
PW: No, there was no such a thing those days. When the teacher
said sit it was sit and when they said you do
this there was very little problems in school. Very, very
little to be exact because we were - it seemed like in our school
we were all well-behaved children because I think we had stricter
BM: You went to church then that was close by? Was there
a church to attend?
PW: We had to go to Zeeland which was seven miles by team
but before Zeeland and before I was born, before Zeeland started
they had to go to St. Johns which was 13 miles by team. And
BM: And they went.
PW: They went. And Zeeland we went to Christmas Mass many
times, Midnight Mass, seven miles went in to the church. The Zeeland
church was first built in1904. My brother Ben was the first child
that was baptized in there in 1905.
BM: Hm, thats exciting. Were the services in German
PW: The services were in German until 1911. Sermons were
German and the reading was in Latin until 1925, 26 and then
the Mass was still in Latin but the sermons were in German and English.
Father Greiner was German. And he had a short German sermon and
a short English sermon and he started there in 1923. And he first
started that English sermon maybe in 1926 or 25.
BM: And was it English from then on?
PW: Later about 28 then it was English more so but
sometimes still a little German up until the 30s.
BM: So your family went to church every Sunday.
BM: Did you have confirmation out there then?
PW: Oh, yes, um hum.
BM: And holidays? How did you celebrate Christmas?
PW: Christmas was really something we were looking forward
to. We were always scared of the Belzenickel and the Christkindl,
but it was something to look forward to because there was oranges
maybe for Christmas and a lot of cookies and peanuts and nuts and
almonds and candy and Christmas was a big thing to look forward
to. But we always had a Belzenickel and he was mean. He come sometimes
even with chains and he was mean. And the Christkindl was always
kind with a sheet over her and you didnt see much of her face;
she was a little better but she was mean too.
BM: Did you have that celebration with your children too?
BM: No, why did you stop?
PW: No, just one time; just one time Santa Claus came and
that was it. We didnt allow it anymore. We had two children,
Bernadette and Raymond, and the Belzenickel came and they were so
scared that we were out in the barn milking the next morning and
they came out to the barn with their pajamas on. So we took them
in and we said no more. It was scary.
BM: Were your parents involved in founding the church there?
PW: Yes, my dad. Yes, yes, he was involved in that.
BM: St. Johns?
PW: St. Andrews in Zeeland.
BM: St. Andrews.
PW: St. Johns no, St. Andrews in Zeeland.
BM: Did you have daily prayers then at home with the family?
PW: We had daily prayers before every meal and before bedtime.
And down on our knees and during Lent, the Rosary every evening.
There was no such a thing as were going to miss Tuesday evening.
That was it.
BM: And you said earlier, I think, that you did a lot of
PW: Yes, we did a lot of singing.
BM: With all the children I would imagine you had a choir.
PW: We did a lot singing and my brother, Joe, could play
the organ and my sister, Rose, still played till the last three
years. Of course she played for the German singers in Bismarck.
Not [reading] a note. All by ear and beautiful.
BM: So what kind of songs did you sing then?
PW: A book that Rose made up for me. Well, she used it and
then they made new ones. And theres so many German songs in
here and English; I can sing a lot of German songs. All kinds of
BM: Do you sing German here at the senior citizens
BM: They still do.
PW: I sang songs way before that and a lot of them are in
here (in his head) and so I can sing this one all the way down,
I mean without even I close the book.
BM: Do you sing with any other groups here in town?
PW: No, no, just with the German singers here at senior
BM: Who taught you to sing then or who directed you or who
got you guys going together in your family?
PW: Well, out in the family, Mother. Mother could sing a
lot of German songs and her family and her aunts and what have you
and cousins, they sang a lot of German songs. Theyd get together
and sing German songs.
CM: What other holidays did you observe other than church
PW: There was none excepting Easter and Christmas and then
Pentecost, you know, Pfingste-Pentecost and Christi Himmelfahrt-Ascension.
That was about it. Well, no. Those Three Kings from the Orient-Dreikönige.
Yah, that was a big day too.
CM: And how about Fasenocht? (Fastnacht-Tuesday before Lent)
PW: That was too sometimes. There was some headaches the
next day because they drank that home brew, you know and there were
some headaches. There was some hangovers and a hangover is a head
that wasnt used the night before.
BM: So, Names Days?
PW: Names days, yes.
BM: Did you celebrate those?
PW: Even after we were married Names Days were still pretty
BM: Did you guys dance?
PW: We danced, we danced.
BM: Where did you dance?
PW: We danced in granaries and in barns and in those dance
halls and in houses and you name it, we danced.
BM: And did the neighbors come then?
PW: Oh, yah, wed get together you know, at barn dances
and wed play in neighbor granaries, Gutenbergs and some of
our local guys.
BM: Well, and you had Joe that was playing
PW: Well, Joe really didnt; my brother, Joe, really
didnt play at dances. He just played songs, you know, like
the German songs and what have you. He could play them.
BM: Where did you meet your wife?
PW: I knew my wife by the time she was seven years old.
She lived only seven miles from our place. But actually when you
say, Where did you meet her? it was at the dance.
BM: It was at a dance too.
PW: At a dance. And I was only 32 years old before I got
BM: I bet she proposed.
PW: Well, I think we both did at the same time. It was World
War II and everybody was being drafted. My brothers were drafted.
I worked for the highway department from 1939-1942, but three of
my brothers were drafted and then I went home and started farming
BM: Okay. I want to go back to the dancing. What kind of
dancing was it?
PW: Oh, well, waltzes and polkas and what have you.
BM: German dances.
PW: Yah, sure, Deitsch. Then the fox trot came out but that
was later and that was about it. Then the two step.
BM: When you got married, where did you get married?
PW: We got married in St. Johns Church which was five
miles north of Zeeland.
BM: Tell me about the day. Did you have a just one-day celebration?
PW: Yes, and Ill tell you why. My brother-in-law died
shortly before that. He was buried October the 26th and we got married
November the 3rd and we could not have no wedding or nothing. You
didnt dance when a relative died, sometimes for almost a year.
So there was nothing. We just got married and went home, and right
in the house
BM: And no dance.
PW: That was it.
BM: Did you have any contact with all the community people?
Did you get together at socials and what was the center of the community
that you grew up in?
PW: On, the best socials we had was when we had those Names
Days. Sometimes three, four of them would get together. And then
we would have a big party in the hall in Zeeland and we had a lot
of people that attended. And we had red eye and of course
we gave them lunch and always a pretty good orchestra. Somebody
that played the accordions and what have you, like the Jung brothers
played the accordion and different instruments.
BM: Did they have any games going?
PW: No, not after we got out of school.
BM: Did you have some in school?
PW: Oh, yes, we did.
BM: What did you play in school?
PW: Well, pump-pump pull away, and fox and geese and then,
well, we had different games and then we jumped the rope and different
things. Oh, we had many things. And we had a lake right close to
the school so there was water there. Wed go skating sometimes
but not too long because noon hours we had to go down and come back.
We did different things at school. We had games. And at home we
played checkerboard and dominos and cards and we had puzzles that
we set together. Made things out of wire and they were quite unique.
CM: Did you have a neighborhood baseball team?
PW: Oh, yes. Out of five neighbors, we had enough boys to
make a full baseball team. Five neighbors that wed get together;
we had a lot of baseball teams out there in the pastures. And sometimes
you slid into something what you thought was third base and it wasnt.
CM: I wonder what youd find as third base in a pasture?
BM: How did you get from school and home to school?
PW: We walked most of the time. We were only little better
than half a mile. We walked most of the time. On a stormy day they
would take us with the sled but other than that we walked. Rainy
days theyd take us with a team with the wagon.
BM: Do you remember being sick when you were younger?
PW: Yes. I remember that real well when we had the measles
and even when we had the flu. I wasnt so bad off but my sister
and one of my brothers were not expected to live. But they made
it through in the flu.
BM: Did somebody come to help?
PW: Dad was kind of sick but didnt go down and one
of my sisters, then the neighbor came and helped sometimes but the
rest of us were all sick.
BM: Was there folk medicine being used?
BM: It was drank; Albekreiter (a liquid high in alcohol
PW: Well, Albekreiter was one that they bought but then
you know, well, it would be like, homemade things. Well, chicken
soup was one of the things that you got and, of course, for medicine,
well, there was liniment, two different kinds of liniment. One you
could use for rubbing your sore and the other one was that you would
take internally and mix it with water and take it, red liniment
and white liniment.
BM: Do you think theres more sickness today than there
BM: Do you think there is more sickness today than there
PW: No, no. When there was sickness, it was bad because
there was no doctors, nothing. When we had the measles it was in
the summertime and it was hot. And I remember we had to go into
a room and all the shades pulled and what have you and it was hot.
It was 100° outside and it was really bad. I was not all that
sick but two of my brothers really were sick with the measles. There
was a lot of times when you had the flu but in 1918 it was bad.
I was six years old then and it was bad. A lot of people died then.
BM: And it went through the whole family then?
PW: It went through the family. My dad and my sister, one
of them didnt have it, the rest of us all had it.
BM: When somebody died, as you said your grandfather had
stayed with you. Did he stay with you until he passed away?
PW: Yes, he passed away in the big house that I just showed
you. Yep, in the bedroom, and of course it was - we grieved more
then, I mean it was a sad thing. And there was a lot of praying
going on. Wed pray the rosary many times during that time
and it was just different.
CM: Where was your closest doctor?
PW: Eureka. For a while, then later, at the time that Grandpa
died, well, we had a doctor in Zeeland, seven miles - Dr. Grace.
He was in Zeeland. But for long, long time before 1921 the doctor
was out of Eureka, Dr. Gurtis. And there was very many of the children
born around there with midwives, very, very many of them.
BM: That was general rule, wasnt it?
PW: Yep. Um, hum.
BM: Was the midwife paid?
PW: Oh, yes. They would maybe buy her some material for
seven cents a yard, three yards and she could sew herself an apron.
That was big something like that, yes.
BM: Maybe some food?
PW: Well, everybody had chickens and cream and butter and
food. Everybody had that I mean. Food was not a big treat then because
everybody had it.
CM: Ah, how about farm accidents and so forth?
PW: Ah, actually, there was not that many that I can remember
that were real [bad]. Well, my dad was bucked off a horse and was
in bed for about a week. And thats about the only accident
that I can remember in a farm accident in our area.
CM: Did you have broken bones and so forth?
PW: Well, not too many of them. I broke my big bones right
below the knee in 1948. Yah, I broke my leg and I had to go to Eureka
to the doctor and I was in a cast but, ah, it didnt heal up
quite when spring work started; I got a hired man and it didnt
work out so I was out there on the Minneapolis Moline new tractor.
I left the crutches in the gas tank and took that tractor and went
out there and plowed from 5:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night.
If I had to get off out in the field, I had to roll myself. But
I plowed. I was standing on one foot all day long. The Minneapolis
Moline was new and had a nice big platform back there and I didnt
have to sit down. I couldnt because I was in the cast from
my ankle to way up to my hip. Twenty-one days. My brother seeded
then and dragged and what have you but I plowed, I did the plowing.
CM: In your childhood did you have any saddle horses?
PW: Yes, we had saddle horses. You know the big bigger the
better. I had a real good saddle horse, a real fast one. We had
CM: And were there Sunday afternoon races with the neighbors?
PW: Well, there were so many boys sometimes you had to use
some of those that you had at the plow before, but that was all
right too, we got them. Sunday afternoon races, youre right.
BM: Do you remember when you went from horses to mechanized
PW: Oh, my gosh, yes! I do, I do. I plowed with horses from
the time I was nine years old until 19 hundred and well, up to Dad
bought the first tractor in 1940 that we used to plow but we had
big tractor to drag and to plow. Yah, and I used that, I started
plowing then you know with a tractor and a plow.
CM: What kind of a tractor was it that you had, the first
PW: It was 1530 International, with a three-bottom plow.
And thats what we used. And then in 1943 when I got married
I bought an M-114 tractor (note: International), brand new M tractor
for $1,385; I got a barrel of oil with it yet.
CM: Then that was the first rubber-tire tractor?
PW: That was the first rubber-tire tractor.
CM: And from there on how did you progress?
PW: Well, then in 1942, I bought that tractor I went back
to farming. My brother-in-law and myself bought a combine together,
and we started combining. I had the first combine in 43, I
bought my own combine, and we separated. But I had the first combine
in that area. I did custom work, $4 an acre. They had to haul the
grain and furnish the gas, and I did real well with it. Then in
1944, I bought a tractor, brand new, $1,680, and a Baldwin combine
that combined up from Nebraska for $1806. I had two combines and
two tractors. I did custom work. Could do about 100 acres a day,
$4 an acre. They had to furnish the gas and haul the grain. Made
good money. Paid for my equipment.
BM: I guess one thing that impresses me is that you were
so willing to work.
PW: I worked day and night almost.
BM: You know there was those family values of working that
seemed to come through.
PW: Well, as long as we worked with the horses, wed
get up at 4:00 in the morning and brush those horses down and feed
them and get them ready and by 6:00 we went out in the field. We,
my brother and myself, we had to harness about 24 horses because
we sometimes worked four teams. And sometimes five teams. We had
harnessed 28 horses.
CM: So, 28 horses and how big of a herd of livestock did
PW: Well, we would have the horses and maybe at the very
most 12 milk cows as long as Dad was still operating and then some
stock cows but not too many stock cows. It was horses. The horses
got the good grain and the good hay. And my dad bought one stud
horse in 1921 for $2800 and in 1922 - the first one my dad and the
neighbor bought together - but in 22 Dad bought one for $2200.
CM: That was more than a tractor.
PW: That was. I remember when we would breed as high as
120 mares a year and if a colt was born and stood up and walked
they had to pay for it. It was $25.
BM: That was big business.
PW: Oh, that was big. My dad used to sell a lot of horses
and hed sell some for $325- $350 a piece. We had as high as
12 to 13 colts a year.
BM: What kind of horses were they?
PW: They were mostly Belgians. The one stud horse was a
Percheron. We didnt have him long when he died on us. But
he was insured, we had life insurance on him.
BM: When did your dad start selling insurance?
PW: My dad started selling insurance - Im not too
sure but I would say maybe in 1924.
BM: Oh, really.
PW: Um, hum.
BM: Do you remember the company that he worked with?
PW: Yes. Northwest Mutual Insurance Company out of Eureka,
BM: They are still in business?
PW: Oh gosh, yes!
BM: Did you sell for them then?
PW: I sold insurance for them for 27 years. I was a director
for them for 24 years and I was adjustor for them for 22 years.
I had three titles at one time.
BM: Like I said, you were a worker!
PW: And many a time I would start driving from home at 5:00
in the morning and go to Dickinson, North Dakota. Theyd still
be in bed up there because they were an hour later. But I got paid
by the mile and by the hour, with an open expense account. I made
hay when the sun was shining. I had many, many, many weeks in the
summertime with 70 some hours.
BM: Well, what was your first car?
PW: My first car was a Model A, a 1930 Model A, bought in
it 1933. I got it from Aberdeen, South Dakota, and it cost me $285.
It was a real good car.
BM: Did you furnish your car then for your business?
PW: Yes. I refused to drive company cars because it wouldve
been a hassle and I made more money driving my car and getting paid
by the mile.
BM: When electricity came and your family built that house
in 1923, was there electricity in it?
PW: It was wired for electricity and the plumbing was roughed
in. No, no appliances. But in 1925, no, 1924, Dad bought a light
plant, a 32 volt light plant and in about 26 Mother got the
first electric washing machine. So we had electric lights from 1924
on until REA came. When I farmed, I still farmed with the 32 light
plant. We had milkers; we bought milking machines in 47. We
had milkers with the light plant, with the 32 volt light plant too.
BM: Oh, you did?
PW: Um, hum.
BM: When did REA come in then?
BM: In 1949. How about telephone?
PW: Our telephone came in a little later. But years before
we had telephones on fence wires and from neighbor to neighbor.
We could call in to central because we had go to a farmhouse then
wed get to Greenway then we could call any town. And then
that kind of wore out then. It didnt exist, then for a while
we were out of telephone. But telephone came later; it was after
REA that time we got telephone.
BM: One of the important things that I forgot to ask about
was water. You said you had that pond behind the house. Did you
have wells that you had dug?
PW: We had real good wells. Dad had a well before and then
he dug one in 1920, lets see, 1922 I think, nope, it was 1924.
He dug a well, real good well and then when we got married we put
in running water into the place in 1948. We plumbed it and put in
BM: Did you have windmills out there then?
PW: Yes, but the windmill was before my time, that was long
before. Windmills were a necessity and they were in there long before
BM: But you maintained them through the years.
PW: Yes. And then when we got our running water we put a
system into the well and then later we drilled another well and
so I had two water systems and a peddle pump in the pond for the
wifes garden. And she had the best garden in the county.
BM: Did she have an irrigation system?
PW: Well, yah, we could use whatever you wanted.
BM: Did your mother do any outside work?
PW: Yes, she did some, you know, but not after I was born.
What she did that I can remember is she would stack the haystack.
BM: Did she milk cows?
PW: Oh yes, oh yes, Mother could milk cows. Oh, yes, she
BM: And I suppose you had chickens?
PW: Chickens and turkeys and geese and ducks. I remember
one year we had 124 ducks, and about some 30 or 40 geese and then
always only a few turkeys. And we had pigs. And we would butcher
and we would cure our own hams and our side pork and we had hams
and side pork till the new butchering time came again. Enough cured.
Had a big smoke house and we smoked and cured.
BM: And did you have a root cellar?
PW: Yes, we had a beautiful root cellar. We kept a lot of
stuff in the root cellar. We maintained it yet after that; finally
when we got our deep freeze and our fridge and then we finally bulldozed
BM: Yes, with a large family like that you had to have quite
PW: Oh yes, it was in 1923 when we built the house it was
all donated labor. Dad was the carpenter. He had somebody to help
him a few days but not many days. My sisters and my mother used
up 5,200 pounds of flour in 1923.
PW: Baking bread and noodles and cakes and pies and all
kinds of dumplings and strudels and you name it. All those used
all that flour.
BM: And feeding the volunteer help.
PW: Feeding, and, of course, the big family. We were 13
in our family.
BM: What were some of your favorite foods?
PW: Oh boy, oh boy. Favorite foods was maybe, well, I liked
chicken very much and fried chicken which I dont have no more.
I cant have anyhow, and cookies and pies and there was a lot
of chocolate pie and lemon pie baked in those days, not too many
apple pies. But a lot of chocolate pie and lemon pie and you name
it. And Mother baked a lot of Kuchen and what have you, I mean,
it was different. It was mostly raised dough. My sister, Mary, when
the year we built the house she did most of the baking. She would
bake; she would maybe bake bread three times a week, as high as
18 loaves at one time. Three loaves into one big pan and then there
was six pans of it. And she would bake that. And you know what they
used for fuel? Cow chips in the summertime. And if it rained it
was sad but we always had enough cow chips picked and in storage
for rainy days.
BM: What kind of stove did she have?
PW: She had just a range.
BM: Just a range stove.
PW: And that was in the summer kitchen in the summer, but
in the wintertime we had the range and we had a coal stove - potbellied
BM: Now, Im skipping around a lot I guess. Did your
sisters go to school too? Did every member of your family go to
PW: Up to the, well, the oldest ones I dont know whether
they went to the seventh grade but then Lena, and Im sure
she went to the seventh grade, eighth grade maybe even and then
four of my brothers went to high school and to college and four
of the brothers farmed. See, my brother that was just older than
I was, he went to high school and then I had to stay home. And then
my oldest brother went to high school and to college.
BM: You know I just think of the logistics of raising a
large family like that. The laundry that must have been - and food
I can understand, you know you can spend time on that but clothing,
did you wear hand-me-downs?
PW: Yes, there was hand-me-downs and of course Mother sewed
a lot of our overalls
BM: Did she sew?
PW: and shirts and stuff and underwear was bought,
long johns and you had two pair of jeans every week. That was it.
And you had your overalls you wore to school. Well, later they were
bought but earlier I remember where Mother sewed our overalls.
BM: I wonder where she got the fabric?
PW: Fabric was easy.
BM: Did she mail order?
PW: No, no. We had general merchandise store right over
three miles from home and one in Zeeland, seven miles.
BM: Oh, okay.
PW: When I worked in the store in 1924, if a family got
a baby theyd come and maybe buy 10 or 15 yards of flannel
at seven cents a yard. And then they would make diapers. There was
no throw aways, no nothing. They had to be diapers and they were
made from flannel. They had striped and dark flannel for everyday
and then on Sundays they had some white flannel ones. And the good
material in 1924, like that the women made their dresses from, was
maybe 27 cents a yard. Gas was 12 cents a gallon. And butter, there
was no butter for sale and no bread. They made their own butter,
but cheese I remember real well came in five pound blocks and it
sold for nine cents a pound.
BM: Did they make cheese too, like cottage cheese?
PW: Oh, yes, a lot of it, a lot of it. They also made cottage
cheese and then they made one - they let the cottage cheese ferment
then they cooked the cheese which was real good. I mean, it was
almost like boughten cheese only a little softer.
PW: And what I liked the best was the crust that was in
BM: Oh! Could you beat all the others to it?
PW: Well, it was divided.
BM: Oh. What other kinds of work did your mother do?
PW: A lot of knitting
BM: A lot of knitting.
PW: A lot of knitting and a lot of reading. And, she made
a lot of shawls. See, they would buy that 16 ounce French serge,
black serge and make big, black shawls and she made those tassels
around the outside, buy that thread and make those tassels. She
would tie them and there was little squares and all those tassels
hanging down then. And everybody that got married got one, not just
in our family, other families too. Well, everybody had to have one
of those shawls. That was the thing.
BM: Does you daughter have one yet?
PW: No, no but my wife had one but I dont know what
happened to it.
BM: You dont know what happened to it?
PW: She, ah, I think she had her mothers or somebodys,
but we had one in the house for a while. Yep.
CM: How did your families dress when you went on sled rides
to church or wherever you went to town - on Sundays when you all
went to church, the whole family?
PW: Well, you know in the wintertime we probably only eight
of us went to church. And we were dressed, we were warm; we had
blankets in the sled and what have you and we had good horse blankets
and we had some ropes made from horsehide and then some from cowhides
and there was a lot of blankets there and stuff and we had good
sheepskin coats and overall shoes, and caps and mittens and we were
CM: Did you ever heat any rocks and stuff like that?
PW: Yes, but not too often. Yes, um, hum. I remember well
when they heated rock when Dad and Mom went to Names Day party on
January the 20th. And that was six miles. And yes, they would and
other times George Schumacher and Sebastian Wald, they had red
eye. Didnt come home until it was light and time to
BM: Did you have a lot of rocks on the farm?
PW: Yes, we had rocks; picked a lot of rocks, we had rocks.
BM: Was your soil for farming pretty good?
PW: Oh, yes, we had good soil, but we raised a lot of cattle
and horses. We needed pastures; our land was pretty much 50-50 uncultivated
and also the land that Ive got now is still the same. I rent
out pastures, my dad at one time had 14 quarters of land.
BM: My, it was a big farm!
PW: Well, see, he had six quarters in all, in Dewey County
in South Dakota; Glencross and Trail City. We had two farms over
there. Two of my brothers lived over there.
BM: Of your family members, who do you respect and sort
of use an example?
PW: Well, an example you might say, Tony was older, but
I think John was the one that was younger. We were kind of raised
together, brought up together. I think we were together the most.
I think I treasure him the most. Hes still living. He lives
in Utah now. Joe was older but he went to high school right away
so I mean he was out of the picture but we two used to chum around
together and what have you. I mean we were together. Tony was older
and then he was already gone.
CM: So when your mom and dad would go to town and so forth,
would they come back with any treats?
PW: Oh, oh, oh, always candy!
CM: Always candy?
PW: Always candy! And then the sacks were so large you got
so many candy, I mean each one got. They would maybe bring two ten-cent
little sacks of candy and that was pretty big sacks you know. And,
of course, I stayed with Grandpa then and I even got apples a lot
more time and I got candy too up there and wed run to Grandpas
house and he had candy too! Yes, we were pretty fortunate. I must
say that, compared to some of the families around there. We had
more candy and more better clothes and more things and my dad was
real successful. And we had better things than some of the families
around there, more meat and more chicken and more what have you.
I mean we just had more of that stuff.
CM: More than any others?
PW: And we had, you might say, I almost shouldnt say
it but almost better dress clothes too.
BM: Is there something else now that we didnt ask
that you would like to share with us?
PW: Well, I can tell you, I mean if you want a little bit
of my life history where I started and went through it. I can put
it out pretty good. When I started going to school I was seven years
old. And, of course, by the time I was in the seventh grade I had
to stay home from school. And I had to be the hired man for the
neighbor a lot because they didnt have no boys. So I worked
up there a lot. They were just three quarters of a mile from us
and they were Hartzes and I was there a lot.
And then after I grew older, I mean, during thrashing time and
stuff like that, well, once I was big enough to work the thrashing
machine, I helped my dad run a thrashing machine and we did custom
work for 23 years. After that we quit custom thrashing, I still
ran a thrashing machine. I had a combine and I still thrashed for
the neighbors. Wed still binder later and then we thrashed,
But then the time came along, the 30s came and I put in the
crop for myself already but I stayed with Dad in the same place.
But I couldnt harvest. I put in three crops, never took one
off. So we would go West. Wed go out to California and wed
start in Modesto and then wed go up to Stockton and then we
would pick cherries and then wed work for a big outfit. It
was Speckmann and I run the first RD2 Caterpillar tractor that was
on track, on the experiment farm; and almost the first swather.
And then from California wed go to Washington and we would
work in the harvest fields there. I was a field boss for two years
for a big outfit that threshed peas. We would mow with the mowers
and bunch them and then we would haul them to six-header boxes and
take them to a threshing machine that had automatic feeder and one
would feed up, to feed them in there and then they had some sacks
sewers that sewed the sacks.
But one year I drove, I pulled a combine by Colfax, Washington,
south of Spokane, 72 miles. I had 21 horses on there to pull a combine
on the hilly area but then later we only had 16 on there, two-12s
and one-four but before it was three-six and one-three. And up the
hill the land was so hilly that sometimes I didnt even see
the horses, just the ears in front of me. Those combines that -
everything was sewed into sacks. And when we went round the hills
and round and round, when we got way up, when they opened that shoot
theyd always have five sacks in a shoot then theyd open
it. Some of them rolled a quarter of a mile down the hill. Thats
when the sack haulers picked them up down by the bottom of the hill.
BM: The lower part.
PW: The lower part. And then of course after wed finish
combining and threshing beans and stuff, peas, then we would go
to Yakima and pick hops. And then after hops wed pick apples
and wed pick apples, maybe start in Yakima and Dryden and
Chelan and then wed come back to Montana and I had a beet
contract with old Bouxbaum for three different seasons and wed
top beets. I was the chief, and I had a contract. And then I had
to cook for 12 people sometimes. Well, we changed off but I was
the chief cook and I was the contractor and but I topped beets also.
And we contracted them. Then wed come home around November.
We hauled the beet tops to the farm for the cattle and then wed
come home. Then wed spend the winter at home and do the same
thing next year.
BM: Now you made money at that.
PW: When I picked apples, I picked 2,600 boxes of apples,
624 boxes in the carload so I picked over three carloads. I got
five cents a box; I made $8.00 a day and better. Thats more
than the governor made out there at that time. That was real good
wages. In the harvest fields we only got $3.00 a day to pitch header
box or what have you all day. In 1933 we had a real short crop.
We went up to Harvey, North Dakota, to work in the harvest fields
because thats where all my relatives are you know, in Harvey,
the Weigels and what have you.
And I worked in the harvest fields up there for $2.00 a day I started,
but I was fortunate. My bosss son got sick. He run the threshing
machine and the engine and so I had to do that and I got $3.00 a
day but I pitched headers box too but I got $3.00 a day. And after
we finished up there and came back to Linton, North Dakota, I went
into Petries store and I bought an overcoat, which is called
cashmere now, and I brought Brownbuilt shoes what are Florsheim
now and I bought a felt hat and either hankies or socks for less
BM: My goodness.
PW: So after that
BM: Things have changed havent they?
PW: Yah. After I finished being a bum I came home and in
39 I started working for the highway department and I worked
four years for the highway department. I first lived in Wishek then
I moved to Ashley. I lived and worked out of Ashley. I used to run
the snowplows through Linton here and I was in the maintainers and
then I was, well, they called me an assistant district engineer
for a while because I took care of the snow fence crews and of the
guys that had to mow the ditches with horses then see. So I was
kind of the chief there, made a little money. The first month I
worked the highway department I made $172.00, at the same time 80
men at Ashley worked on WPA that got $82.00 a month.
BM: Now what year was this?
PW: This was in 1939.
PW: And then I started making more money and I worked, well,
I worked six days a week. I went south of Ashley which was only
a half a day to the state line then went east to the Dickey County
line was 18 miles, that was until 3:00 I was back home. But when
I went to the Emmons County line, that was 26 miles. I would leave
Ashley at 6:00 and come back at 6:00.
BM: Hm. When did you retire? Did you ever retire, have you
PW: Well I, yes, I did retire in 1980; I only did part-time
yet. I did part-time yet but I retired. I took full Social Security
and I did part-time.
BM: And how old were you then? In 1980 you would have been
PW: I was 69, going to 69. And then in 1981 when we built
the home in here (Linton) and then in 82 we moved in here
and I still did part-time but not too much. And then I quit. And
we built the home in 82, moved in January the 29th and in
84, October the 6th, the wife passed away. So we were only
in that new home for a little better than two years.
BM: And you lived there until
PW: Until 94 and then I sold. Then I moved to Bismarck
for four years, but I came back the day after Thanksgiving last
BM: We were sure glad to see you come back here.
PW: Well, Im here!
CM: Ah, lets go digress a bit here and go back to
some of the olden days when you say, I remember when
PW: Oh, okay. I remember when some of the boys were drafted
into World War I. They would come to our place. We were only one
mile from the railroad crossing, the Milwaukee and Sioux railroad.
They called it Madra, South Dakota. That doesnt exist for
a long time already. The last thing was moved out already in 1933
and that was the elevator and the rest was all gone. And ah, but
when those boys came from the Napoleon, Wishek, Ashley area, they
would have to stay with some farmer around there by Madra because
they had to catch the train to go to Minneapolis the next day. So
they would come, and the Napoleon boys and my dad was well-known
in the area so some of us came up to the Welders. And then theyd
stay there overnight and I remember some of those guys staying there.
I can remember ones name, Lawrence Gridel. He came there
to our farm. Lawrence was his brother. And he came up there and
stayed there overnight and the next morning he helped to clean the
barn, you know, and he was a big boy the way he could throw that
manure. And I remember that. I was standing out in the barn, six
years old. And then I remember Dad hauling them to Madra with the
And I remember when I was four years old when my Uncle Frank Weigel
died. And my neighbor, Joe Jung came riding into the yard with a
gray horse and Dad was standing by the windmill. And I was standing
by Dad. And when Joe told Dad that Uncle Frank died, see they could
call to Greenway and then he came on horseback. He was our neighbor.
And when Joe told my dad that Uncle Frank died, Dad said Lieber
hat Gott im Himmel (Oh, my God in heaven) and
this is why I remember that. And then he went to the summer kitchen
and started whining and I remember that like yesterday. We went
in and told Mom, yah, 1916 and I can give you the date. Its
in here (the Welder Family Book).
BM: In that wonderful book.
PW: Yes, in that Welder book. Okay! What have you here,
okay. Catherina Welder got married October the 29th, 1900, and her
husband died in 1916. Frank died July the 16th, 1916.
BM: So thats the day.
PW: Thats the day.
CM: Then when you were working in the grocery store, what
were the prices of some of the things there?
PW: Okay. The best thing I remember is like a big box of
corn flakes was 27 cents, a small one was 11. A pound of cheese
was nine cents, gas was 12 cents and, well, like in dry goods flannel
was seven cents a yard. And then the better cotton was maybe 11
cents, 17 cents was some of the better stuff already. And I remember
getting some dress shoes in (it was a general merchandise store).
They were nice gray shoes with a long strap that wound around the
ladies ankle and they were $4.00. And then one of the ladies came
in and said, well, she saw some in Mobridge, South Dakota, they
were almost the same but they were higher price. So my brother-in-law
said, Well, I can get them too. So he took them and
set them aside. So a few days later she came and he sold her the
same shoes for $6.00 ($5.95). That was top price. Overcoats, real
nice overcoats for $11.00. And nails were six cents a pound.
CM: Nails were
PW: Nails were six cents a pound, staples six cents a pound.
And eggs were 12 cents a dozen. And on a Friday, Thursdays and Fridays,
I had to set in the basement of that store and I would nail egg
cases together as high as 30, 60 dozen cases. I had to nail them
together. They came in great big packages, wood packaged together.
And then they had a form to set them in there and Id nail
them together and Id have to have as high as 30 and 32 boxes
for Friday and Saturday business that came in because they bought
eggs in the store. And they bought cream as high as, well, 28 and
30 and maybe more, 10 gallon cans of cream a day.
CM: And what were they paying for cream in those days?
PW: Cream, that I dont know, but I know they got between
$3.00 and $4.00 a can. I dont know exactly what the price
was for a pound.
CM: How about a ton of coal?
PW: A ton of coal, a ton of coal that we bought, that my
dad bought that was Montana Round-up coal, $6.00 a ton. And lignite
was cheaper. In 1940, I rented a truck from Greenway, South Dakota,
from the elevator and I went over to haul coal over there for my
brothers-in law and the store and for some of the people that I
knew there and I got $6.00 a ton, laid in the basement. I think
I paid $3.00 out there, something like that, for coal in Firesteel,
South Dakota, about 20 miles from Glencross.
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