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Interview with Fred Wieland (FW)

Conducted by Vernon Wieland
No date, Streeter, North Dakota

Transcribed by Callista St. Michel and Jayne Whiteford
Editing by Jay Gage and Acacia Jonas


Interviewer: This is an interview with Fred Weiland who was born April 16th 1901. We’ll begin with him telling about his parents over in Russia.

FW: I don’t know anything:

Interviewer: Well, tell me the names of your brothers and your dad. Also the maiden names of your uncles and aunts that you had.

FW: My dad just one brother and one sister. His brother’s name was Jake. He says his name was Frueka. (9 SP)

Interviewer: Frueka?

FW: Frueka.

Interviewer: It says his name is Fred Frueka. And what about your mother?

FW: Their mother, I don’t know their mother’s name, but the father’s name is Carly, just like my father’s. My father’s father was Carl.

Interviewer: But you don’t remember your grandmother? Can you remember some of the uncles you had?

FW: On my mother’s side, there was Uncle Fred, Uncle Henry, Uncle Emmanuel, and my mother had one sister, Katharina. She was married to Jack Sandau.

Interviewer: Jack Sandau; where did they live?

FW: As far as I know, they lived in Katzbach.

Interviewer: They lived in Katzbach.

FW: All who was (27).

Interviewer: What was life like in Russia? Tell me about the place where you were.

FW: You mean our farm?

Interviewer: Yes.

FW: Well, we built houses, large, long, and straight. We had the house in front, and then there was the horse barn. Then there was a machine shop, where we put machinery. And further there was the cow barn, after the machine shop. At the end was the sheep barn.

Interviewer: What were some of the customs you had, which were different than in America?

FW: You mean the clothes?

Interviewer: Yes, clothes, or customs, or things they did.

FW: It’s not much different then here.

Interviewer: You told me one time about making cheese with lambs stomach [rennet].

FW: It’s hard to believe. The neighbors were always together to butcher the lamb, and then wrap the meat. They starve the lamb at night, taking him away from the old sheep. Through this way, his entrails were clear, empty. They forced the young sheep to suck the old sheep; as soon as he got all of the milk out of the old sheep, they butchered the lamb. Then all women in the neighborhood came with a tablespoon and got a piece of the stomach. They put the rennets in fresh milk that they saved from the cows the night before and the morning within a day the milk was cheese. And then they squeezed out whey in a sack and hung the sack up on a tree until cheese dripped empty. Then they cut cheese pieces. Cheese would last for two months.

Interviewer: Did they do that all the time?

FW: During the summer, yes.

Interviewer: They did that just in the summer, not in the winter?

FW: No.

Interviewer: How did you butcher over there?

FW: Well, they butchered similar here. They had a butcher and a sausage maker with a sausage stuffer. It looked like it looks with air, it had to be against the table and the table against the wall, and we pushed up the ends. We pushed up one end of cylinder to press this pork sausage out in the other end. They also made side pork, he called it bacon; which we could eat raw in the summertime.

Interviewer: And side pork stayed good. Side pork was not salty.

FW: They made pork sausage like they do here. They only butchered meat in the fall and freeze the meat. The sausages hung in the stove chimney. The stove chimney was about five feet either way, so could fit for the man who went up and cleaned out soot. All of the fuel which was burned was mostly twisted straw, so smoke went up the chimney and smoked the hung sausage.

Interviewer: But that’s how they smoked it? With their own heat from their house kitchen. They burn twisted straw bundle in Russia.

FW: The chimney did smoke the hanging sausages.

Interviewer: Yes, and they burn straw.

FW: Isn’t that clever. They had an adobe clay stove about seven feet tall and about four feet wide. They fired that stove up from the other room. Those walls were real hot, that was what kept us warm through the night. We could go and sit around there and lean back against the stove, that was a thick clay wall.

Interviewer: What materials was the wall made of?

FW: Dirt.

Interviewer: It was all sod or dirt.

FW: Clay.

Interviewer: Is that what your house was made in Russia, clay? Do you remember when you moved over, how hard life was when you lived in Russia?

FW: You mean the lonesome days?

Interviewer: Well yes, just living there among the Russians?

FW: Well, when you have been taken away from life long friends, that hurts my heart very much. My idea was in first days that I was here: when I prospered, I’d return to Russia; but I never prospered enough.

Interviewer: You never prospered enough! Going back to Russia, you told me one time about the (114).

FW: (115).

Interviewer: Watch dogs; which you tied on the wagon, so the Russians wouldn’t steal the wagons.

FW: Oh, they would steal anything that would move.

Interviewer: The Russians would. Tell me how you trained those dogs.

FW: The pigeons, you mean?

Interviewer: The attack dogs, how did you train them?

FW: They were not trained. They were just ordinary dogs. If you had a chained dog, we didn’t have any. They would just take a hold a little chain and kill it.

Interviewer: Yes, what is a chained dog? How do you train those?

FW: Well, they were kept about four years underground; they wouldn’t see any other people but their own family; they would see no sunlight, nothing. When they would come out, they’d jump on anything and tear it to shreds. My father said that his father had one of those dogs, which would fight all night long. Then he went down to the sheep with a tined fork until he saw something standing there. He thought that it was a dog. Then he threw the fork at him, and he stopped quick and looked back, this dog was a bit dangerous. He threw his fork away, stepped back. A steppe wolf looked at him, and finally he started to growl. The wolf had killed a dozen sheep.

FW: There was a man from my town, who had one of those really big chain dogs. One morning he came outside, there was a pile of sheep lying right by him. Then the man thought that his chain dog was loose from the chain. Then he got his gun and shot his chain. He hauled the dead sheep away, and found under the dead sheep there was the steppe wolf, the big chain dog killed the steppe wolf, then carried the dead sheep out to cover up the dead wolf. That man would give one thousand dollars to bring that dog back to life.

Interviewer: Any other stored like that? What kind of people had chain dogs like that?

FW: Well there wasn’t really many chained attack dogs, they only had them to deter the Russians. The Russians got smart: they brought some meat and tied it up with rawhides. Thus the dogs ate the meat when the Russians were stealing. The dogs wouldn’t bark because they were busy with the meat. Thieves had their tricks, too. They stole my dad’s wagon. There was a man a few blocks away from us; he had a beautiful black horse team. They stole that horse team, too.

Interviewer: So the Russians like to steal horses and wagons?

FW: Then they could really drive fast in flight. If you chased the Russians and he arrives in his town first, you’re out of re-compensation. You must go to the police there and tell them of the theft. The police would listen and ask you a few odd questions. Then he’d tell you that you can leave, my people don’t steal. If your stolen horse was tied up in front of the Russian Police building, you couldn’t recover your property.

Interviewer: You couldn’t? So that’s why Germans hated the Russians so bad?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: Did every German hate the Russians?

FW: Most of them, because we could never live out in the country, they would kill you the first night. They would kill you for one dollar.

Interviewer: The Russians would kill the Germans?

FW: For one dollar. They once killed a Jewish boy for thieving fifteen cents. That’s how they are. Then they wrote on a slip and put in little boy’s hand; and they broke his clasped hand open. He only had fifteen cents.

Interviewer: Did the government ever tell you what to do when you Germans were farming there?

FW: From the beginning, yes, they called us over there because the Germans were the best farmers. Keiser died, and then his wife Keiser Castilian, she was the Keiser. All the Russians were stealing and killing horses. They couldn’t farm. They couldn’t raise the crop, but they had good soil. Then Catherina attracted German farmers over there. They didn’t conscript to the war, and they didn’t pay taxes for a term of years, just with purpose to teach the Russians how to farm. Then the Germans came over there. They were blacksmiths. They made plows from steal. The Russians had a tree beam with a sharp pick to scratch the virgin sod open. Then the Germans came to farm there and prospered. Then the Russian’s would demand that it was their land. But, they couldn’t farm well, and they didn’t use it.

FW: My dad knew the man that went and told the banker, “Tonight I’m going to steal our bank. He was such an honest man around the public that you wouldn’t believe that he would steal. Sure enough the bank was stolen. And they had such big hideouts; they would run full speed and disappear in front of your eyes, run into caves. And then they had a big cover; it was sod on top it camouflaged with the ground. They would ride down the entrance with the horse and wagon. After they entered, they would close the gate up. Then the pursuing Germans couldn’t find them nor location.

Interviewer: That was the Russians? Who were the nomadic Gypsies/Romanians?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: Well, did they start swindling some of the land away from the Germans then?

FW: No. Some could sell their land if they wanted. My dad sold all his land to a young man who lived across the street. Dad said he was a rich guy who bought my dad’s place.

Interviewer: Do you remember the name of the guy?

FW: Jacob Sullivan

Interviewer: Jacob Sullivan?

FW: No, it was Jacob Whoman (227 SP)

Interviewer: Do you remember how many acres it was?

FW: I think that it was one hundred acres of farmland; it was large. We also had the cattle herd on grazing land. We chased cows out onto steppe, a pasture. Then the horses. When they need them they were out on the steppe.

Interviewer: What do you call a cattle herder in German?

FW: (238) Kuhenhirtz

Interviewer: I was just wondering what you would call him.

FW: Those cows wouldn’t get lost in a circle; they all knew their feeding place. They went in a stall. Where they belonged. They had a feed trough standing there with some ground feed. They were tied up over night on the barn. You’d milk them in the morning. They walked right to their feed trough. We never had to gather in our cows. We only had four cows; they came by themselves.

Interviewer: Did they have dogs that brought them in, or did they just come in?

FW: The dogs were not trained to sic cattle; they were trained to frighten and attack people.

Interviewer: You mentioned something the other day that I thought was so interesting. You said that your dad had a first wife, and she died young.

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: What is the name of his first wife?

FW: Grosshans. She died during childbirth.

Interviewer: That was their first baby they had, and the baby died, too.

FW: See there were no doctors, nothing but old women, midwives. We had a doctor; we had to pay him. But just for emergencies such as a broken arm or leg, he could set it free. The bigger towns had hospitals.

Interviewer: All of your brothers and sisters were born in Russia except for two.

FW: Emma and Mary were born here.

Interviewer: What if somebody got sick; whom did you call? Who did you call when grandma was having a baby?

FW: That old woman that had medicine. She knew just as much as a doctor. I know they took people to the hospital, and the doctor couldn’t help. My dad’s cousin, he took one of his boy’s to the doctor; the boy died before the dad reached the hospital; and the dad came back with his boy dead. There was no hearse: the pallbearers carried the dead person for a mile on their shoulders. Six mean carried each coffin.

Interviewer: You mentioned something about a Frunk on your dad’s family side. What is that?

FW: Frunk? Well, my dad’s sister married Michael Frunk.

Interviewer: Okay, that’s what I was wondering. Your dad’s sister got married to a Michael Frunk. Now that was the only sister that your dad had?

FW: One sister and one brother.

Interviewer: Do you remember any of the men that your mother’s sister’s married?

FW: My mother’s sister was Kathrina she married Jacob Sundace (269 SP).

Interviewer: Did she have any other sisters?

FW: No, just one.

Interviewer: How come they were such small sized families? The German-Russians always had big families.

FW: Not all of them. My dad had only three siblings in the family. And my mother’s family had four boys and two girls. They all didn’t have big families.

Interviewer: But your dad had such a big family, and your grandma Wieland had a big family. What was the nearest town?

FW: The nearest town? What do you mean, where we could get a railroad? Atlantic.

Interviewer: Was that a pretty big town?

FW: I don’t know. Then we had a town not quite as far as that one, which was a big town, they had a big hospital. We had to go there [Odessa] to exam our eyes before we came to the United States.

Interviewer: Atlantic

FW: No, that was the other town. I was just going to mention it. Atlantic is by where we sat on the red painted wood.

Interviewer: Was that Odessa?

FW: That’s what it was. It was close to the Black Sea. When we came down there was a team of horses, we had the whole family in one wagon. Then we unhitched our team of horses under a mulberry tree, and they horses were all in the shade. They were huge trees. First we had our eyes examined; then we would delay two weeks on account of Manuel’s and Jake’s eyes. They had infection in their eyes.

Interviewer: Where did you stay then?

FW: Well, we stayed in our house.

Interviewer: You drove back home again?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: That is hard driving. How far were you from Odessa?

FW: It might have been about forty miles.

Interviewer: About forty miles.

FW: We drove there and back in the same day. But we had good horses. When we went home, the horses were much faster than the opposite way. They had high speed horses that they could chase for miles.

Interviewer: Now, Grandpa Weiland came from 349, right? Grandma Combia came from where?

FW: 351

Interviewer: Were their home villages right side by side?

FW: No, there were several villages between them.

Interviewer: Do you remember some of the other village names around there?

FW: There is 357, where my uncle lived.

Interviewer: What was his name?

FW: Michael Frump. Uncle 360, which is my father’s brother.

Interviewer: His name was what?

FW: Jake. I couldn’t really remember anybody. There was another town, 366, which is a Russian name, I think. When the war went over and the Germans were all sent to Russia, that...

Interviewer: What war are you talking about? [First World War]

FW: The Russians gave this German territory [of Bessarabia] to Romania, if Romania would join the war against Germany. Then they lost the First World War. They took all of those [Bessarabian] Germans out of South Russia. There was a guy in the Romanian Army, he was German. He wasn’t in the Russian Army. They went through our town and camped over the cemetery on the hill. A big cemetery, they had all of the grave stones removed and had the cattle grazing up there.

Interviewer: The Russians did. Now, Russia promised Romania to Germany. Say that again.

FW: The Russians gave this part, South Russia, where all of the Germans went to Romania. When they joined the war against the Germans. Then they did. The treaty was never broken until the next war came. Then the Russians were much better equipped.

Interviewer: So you actually were in Romania.

FW: Well, Bessarabia was owned by Romania when that happened.

Interviewer: Yes, but your area of Bessarabia was Romania then.

FW: No, it was German colonies; Bessarabia that is what they called it.

Interviewer: That is where you came from then. Okay.

FW: The Romanians were going to keep that piece of land [Bessarabia] and the Russians came with their big army tanks. They surrounded Romania, the King Fatmen stopped the war and gave them that land back. That was the heart of Russia. You could raise all kinds of food there except the mandarin oranges and bananas. Other fruit; pears, grapes, cherries, apples, peaches all there.

Interviewer: In Bessarabia?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: So you actually had fruit trees in your back yard. Do you remember what kind you had?

FW: Apricots. When they were ripe they would fall off. They were so sweet and tree ripened. All of the fruit you get here in the American supermarket is picked greet.

Interviewer: Yes.

FW: Then three were loganberries [similar to mulberries]. There was red fruit and white fruit. Do you know what they are?

Interviewer: No.

FW: You can buy then here in the store.

Interviewer: Loganberries?

FW: Yes. You should know that. I bought some already. When I was still in Streeter.

Interviewer: Cranberries?

FW: Loganberries.

Interviewer: I don’t know what that is.

FW: Mulberry.

Interviewer: Mulberry.

FW: Off of a mulberry busy, don’t you know that song?

Lady Speaking: No, I have never bought any.

FW: They were very tasty to eat. They were a cluster of small kernels. They had white fruit and red fruit. We stole the white loganberries from the doctor’s yard. We were out riding on the horses. We had food along and ate dinner there, under one mulberry tree.

Interviewer: I see. Bessarabia was the name of your area.

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: Can you remember names of other people in your village other than what you have mentioned already?

FW: Our neighbor was Russ Berwick 456-461, Busch...

Interviewer: Busch?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: Busch, like our President Bush?

FW: Yes. 465-476. That is all I can remember.

Interviewer: You remember quite a few. You remembered many of them.

FW: Colleen Kiser from 480-482. I couldn’t remember. Ratzbach Village was two miles long.

Interviewer: Did you have churches there? What do you remember from your churches?

FW: Just the Lutheran church, that is all I know of. There was no other church in that village.

Interviewer: So everybody in your village went to the Lutheran church?

FW: When someone was Baptist, they didn’t go. They went to the next town, Alt-Posttal or Tarutino, where there was a little Baptist church. Our church was a huge church. They built a new one so that they could use that old church for a school. My dad already had masonry-dressed old rock. He had dressed rocks so square that they looked cut like a brick. They were about a foot square and about two feet long. He could slice them good. [splitting rock in dressed masonry]

Interviewer: So the church walls were made of rock.

FW: Yes, that kind of work was done by the Russians. They were half the waged price and much better masons than the Germans.

Interviewer: Why?

FW: It was very hard work, and the Russians knew that. Our neighbor, Jacob South, built his house all of the bricks. Then he built a roof with bricks (ceramic tiles), glass bricks, that was just like sunshine upstairs.

Interviewer: Where did they get glass bricks?

FW: They made them.

Interviewer: They made them?

FW: I don’t know. They just had only the names. The glass bricks [roof ceramic tiles] would glitter half a mile.

Interviewer: How many people would fill into that church?

FW: On Christmas Eve, children under fourteen were not allowed to go to church.

Interviewer: Why?

FW: Too many, they had all recitations of Christmas poems from the old children. In the day time, the young children could enter the church just to see the Christmas tree.

Interviewer: Did they have candles on the Christmas tree?

FW: They had fire candles on the tree, yes. They had candles far apart so that they wouldn’t touch the Christmas tree.

Interviewer: Did everybody go to church every Sunday.

FW: Yes, they could attend worship. I never did. It was just like here, some of them go to worship, and some of them don’t.

Interviewer: How about our family, did they go to church every Sunday?

FW: My mother and father did, but us kids didn’t.

Interviewer: The kids didn’t have to?

FW: There was no Sunday school, so we learned the religion in school. There we had one hour or religion taught in school everyday. Just think what they would do if they had a thousand or fifteen hundred kids in Sunday school. Then they would need many teachers, and they couldn’t do that.

Interviewer: In your school, they used German always when they taught religion?

FW: Yes, they did; and you had to study some too. You had German religion books too. The Russian teachers didn’t teach religion; just teach the Russian language.

Interviewer: Oh, they taught you Russian and German then?

FW: A half-day was German school, while the other half was Russian school when they taught us government songs.

Interviewer: The Russians made you learn government songs. I bet you didn’t like that too well, or didn’t it matter?

FW: What difference does it make to kids? We didn’t care much. They had this one German choir that wished the people happy new year. We would go around and sing for people. One grateful man gave us each twenty-five nuts. That was the reward for singing; and he was so glad that we came and sang for him. Grandma [Fred’s wife] would sit down with tears in her eyes; and the kind children would yell and sing all kinds of songs, both Russian and German.

Interviewer: Do you remember some of those verses that you had to sing?

FW: No, I don’t think so.

Interviewer: Do you remember that saying that I always had to say?

FW: It’s German.

Interviewer: Where did you learn that?

FW: From my mother I guess. I spoke that to the people.

Interviewer: Can you say that?

FW: Yes. When grandma and I were married then she was tell me that 626-642 (In German)

Interviewer: That is pretty good.

FW: I learned that when I was five years old. I was so proud of myself that I could go along with other boys. I even speak ahead. See you tell that to some people, they wouldn’t believe that I can still remember that from when I was five years old.

Interviewer: You can remember those things better now than ever. It makes you think doesn’t it? How cold did the weather drop in Bessarabia?

FW: The coldest weather which my folks could remember was twelve degrees below Celsius. That didn’t stay very long. You should have seen them; I can still see them. My dad went out once in the first snowfall. Everybody had a horse sled to ride. We couldn’t go far from your home; otherwise, there is nowhere to go. Then they chased about twenty dogs after them and the snow was flying. The dogs chased the horses back into home corrals.

Interviewer: The dogs chased them too.

FW: Well, the dogs came dashing out; and every home had two dogs, some had three. They would hear the noise, then go out and join the excited company. When the horse sled was gone then the dogs started fighting up.

Interviewer: There were always dogfights? All of the dogs were mean [ill-tempered] you say.

FW: Not really all of them. When there were kids that played with them, then they weren’t so brutish. We had a big, young dog and a lady wrote in. He was going to take grandma along but she wouldn’t go. She got a place here and there is where I want to stay. She died in the poor house and is buried with her husband, on the former cemetery, where the cattle feed. If she would have come along with us, she could have lived a nice life with us.

Interviewer: You mean the German cemetery was already a feedlot before you left?

FW: No, after Second World War.

Interviewer: After the Second World War, the German Cemetery became a feedlot.

FW: They use the former German Lutheran Church for a cinema theatre.


SIDE TWO

Interviewer: Well, could you tell some of the first things that you dad did when he came to the United States?

FW: He came in the fall and didn’t do anything but build.

Interviewer: What did you build?

FW: We built a house and a little barn for two horses and a cow.

Interviewer: That’s all?

FW: That is all we had.

Interviewer: You didn’t have any chickens or anything like that?

FW: No.

Interviewer: Who are some of the neighbors there when you came in?

FW: There was Bill 13.

Interviewer: Where was he living?

FW: Where 14 and Henry Boones was down the road a ways and Charlie 15 was were Benny 16 and then there was the Swikey’s. They were all around there.

Interviewer: How did you eat that winter? Did you have enough money to eat?

FW: Well, we bought a three hundred pound hog and bread. That is all we had.

Interviewer: Bread from the wheat?

FW: Yes, we had to buy the potatoes and everything else for food.

Interviewer: How much money did Grandpa Weiland have when he came over?

FW: He had four thousand dollars.

Interviewer: Four thousand dollars.

FW: He bought land, and thought he paid a thousand dollars down. The three agents kept the thousand dollars for their profit. Then he built the house, two stores, four rooms and a small basement boxed out with wood. That cost him six hundred dollars.

Interviewer: And all of the kids were in that house?

FW: We used more of the downstairs because winter was too cold upstairs. We had a hard coal heater that would burn steady in the winter.

Interviewer: Did you burn coal or wood?

FW: Hard coal, self-feeder.

Interviewer: What were some of the businesses in Streeter when you came?

FW: They had everything that a rural town had. They had two lumberyards.

Interviewer: Who had the lumberyards, do you remember?

FW: The North Star and the Prautz or Brosz. Those were the names of the lumberyards. They had four grocery stores.

Interviewer: Who owned them?

FW: Well, the Sidwell brothers, Henry Graf, Dagwood Graf, and Pete Dietz.

Interviewer: What other business did they have?

FW: They had a hardware store, machinery business, and an old garage. 53 started the first garage in his back yard in his little bar. We had a blacksmith.

Interviewer: Who was the blacksmith?

FW: Jake Dockter was his name.

Interviewer: Of all those people that you came to into Streeter, did you know any of those that were in the old country?

FW: The Swinger’s were all from our Bessarabian town of Katzbach.

Interviewer: Friedenstal, Bessarabia

FW: Adeline Swinger was the worst one to get us in. There was Mike Eastland, he knew us. Chris Spoon.

Interviewer: Mike Eastland knew you. I thought he was Edwin Eastland’s father. Were there any other Eastland’s that came in other than Mike?

FW: Yes, but they were farther down. Mike Eastland’s dad was living a long time there in his own house, on the place where his son lived. There was a little house and he lived by himself. Then this lady would come in, and Chec Grosshans came in later.

Interviewer: So many of them wanted to immigrate to the Unite States.

FW: They were all from our town.

Interviewer: Did you ever get letter from them when they were in Russia?

FW: Yes, they wrote many letters.

Interviewer: When do you think that they moved into Germany again? When you talked to them after World War II and shipped packages to them?

FW: Oh, then they moved from Russia.

Interviewer: Yes

FW: I think that they mostly had a hard luck story. Everyone is a millionaire in the United States, and they thought that they would get money just by asking. When we had old clothes we shipped the old clothes. I never saw millionaires. The only one I know is that John Frunk and he was like ten years older than I was. He isn’t living anymore.

Interviewer: Oh, he isn’t. That John Frunk was married to your Dad’s sister.

FW: John Frunk was my dad’s sister’s son. My dad’s sister got married to Mike Frunk. John Frunk was his son.

Interviewer: Where was he at now?

FW: He was over in Germany. We got letters from him and sent him clothes. He had two boys in the army and said that before I sent them clothes, I bought a new coat and sent it to him. You couldn’t send more than so many pounds. I had to take the buttons off so the pounds would be right. Then he wrote back and thanked us. He took out the leather lining of the coat and put an army coat over the lining then he had two coats. His army coat was not a warm coat and that other coat that was warm enough with out the leather lining. So, that is what we sent. Mary sent some packages out, and Jake sent some out.

Interviewer: You sent them all to this Frunk?

FW: No, they had others. There was a sick girl out there, and she had to have a certain medicine. I think it was John Frunk’s girl. They had to have doctor’s permission to send that girl that medicine. Our druggist made it out. Jake, my brother, sent that girl her medicine for her health. When the medicine came the girl was dead already. It just started a few days before. They couldn’t get that medicine out there in time.

Interviewer: They said that the Germans from Russia had such a difficult time. I can see why when they came in after World War II. They had such a hard time.

FW: They had to. The Russian government ordered them off and Hitler took the refugee Germans. Hitler thought that he got help, although he lost the war altogether; and the German refugees lost everything.

Interviewer: Then there were two of them that came into the Unite States that were your relatives, but they died. Weren’t they?

FW: Two of my relatives?

Interviewer: Yes, one that went across the communist border and came in but died right away.

FW: She came but she was free to come in and then go out again. Then there was her brother; he came in, in 1911. Then Carl Wieland’s came in from Germany, and then he went back again.

Interviewer: Carl Wieland, who’s that?

FW: That was my dad’s cousin.

Interviewer: When did he come into this country and then go back again?

FW: I don’t know. They didn’t like it too well here. They had their kids out there. They wanted to go back.

Interviewer: Did Emil Wieland come into this country before or after you dad came over?

FW: He came here in 1911, and we came here in 1909.

Interviewer: When was Emil born? Was he already married, when he met her in the United States?

FW: He got married to Mantilla Schlenker from Chuck’s. He worked there on a threshing machine, and he learned to know that Mantilla. Then he married her and he has got four boys and a girl. They are all living.

Interviewer: How did you harvest out there in Russia?

FW: They cut the standing grain with a moving sickle machine. One machine had four horses hitched, and they were sitting on the platform and all took away the grain with a fork. Then you had a pile of green grain or weeds you pushed them down. Then there was another machine that there were some rakes going around instead of a reel. When you stepped on foot-latch then the rake would fall down and smooth it off. Then they would take the little bundles about four or five of them, and make perley/shocks to dry the wheat. Then they hauled the wheat perleys home to a hard, dirt floor where they would guide the horses over the wheat bundles with some stone rollers. About four feet wide and about three feet high the stone threshing rollers were carved in ridges as the stone would fall to un-husk the wheat kernels. How they unloaded the threshed grain. They would take rakes and rake the straw off: first with forks and then with the rakes to break the straw off. They had a fanning mill wheel, almost as big as the threshing machine, which they loaded up with partially hashed grain kernels. The fanning mill wheel was for cleaning. All wheat straw shafts were saved for horse feed. I threshed about forty bushels a day.

Interviewer: For bushels a day you threshed. Then you took it home and had granaries at home.

FW: Yes, we put it in a corner, almost like in here. They had a maize-kernel sheller gizmo that you would turn so corn cob shells off kernels. They had nice big corn there, due to heat and humidity.

Interviewer: Why did your dad decide to come into the United States?

FW: Because of seven boys, dad said that they weren’t to avoid the Russian army. If he had stayed a little longer, they would take John. By the time John was out of military conscription in four years, then Andrew would be conscripted. Then Jake, and then Wetzel. The family would never be able to immigrate.

Interviewer: Why did the Russians start drafting soldiers?

FW: They draft them, and train them just in case they would need them. My dad had soldier training too, but not too much, because he was the only boy left on the farm. He was only at army training for two moths. Then they discharged him.

Interviewer: You mentioned once that your uncle came home from the Russian-Japanese War. You still remember how he marched.

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: What uncle was that?

FW: That was Andrew. That was my mother’s, sister’s husband. He was a brother-in-law to my mother. He had spurs on, he was with the Calvary riders, when he walked and stepped down those spurs clicked. He had leather boots on up to the knee: real nice shiny boots.

Interviewer: You said that you remember them coming home, and they lost the Russian-Japanese war.

FW: They lost the war, yes. There was another guy in that same war, as my uncle. He said that the Japanese circled the Russians. The Russian soldiers 219-220. They must surrender then the Russians gave up. If they would have fought the Japanese would have lost; but the Japanese led the Russians around in an ambush and then they couldn’t get out. The Japanese captured the whole army.

Interviewer: He explained that?

FW: Yes. He got a wound in his finger, and didn’t go back to camp. He had a little bandage around it and kept on fighting. He got an army cross metal when he was in the United States.

Interviewer: Did he come into the Untied States later then? Where did he settle?

FW: Down by Danzig, his sons are still there. Bertha Fisher was his daughter.

Interviewer: Her daughter was Mr. Ray Wentz’s wife. I can’t think of her name now.

FW: They only had the one girl. That was Bertha’s daughter.

Interviewer: Ray Wentz’s first wife, Delores.

FW: She had three or four brothers and another sister. Hildegard was Delores’s aunt.

Interviewer: Grosshans. How about your water in Russia, where did you get all of your water?

FW: They had good wells there. They had a stone cap on top for the cover. They had a great big weight in the back that would fish out the water.

Interviewer: How deep were they?

FW: Well, some deep and some weren’t. Ours was maybe twenty feet. Where my uncle was they had to go through a rock and then the water came. It went through a solid piece of rock.

Interviewer: Everybody had water then, they couldn’t find it.

FW: They could find it. They dug the well so far enough from the yard so that young children would not play near the well. Our well was almost as far from the house as that first house down there. The well’s watering tank was all cut stone. There was no wood in the water tanks. Then we had water wells for the horses on the ranch. They would pump water with a draft horse with water wheel. I don’t know how it worked. But the horse walked around in a circle and pumped water with a water wheel.

Interviewer: I don’t know how that would work either.

FW: The horses would drink much more water, so they would have the cattle barn well, too. They had cattle there too for water. Those wells were very deep. We had a water well not far from town, because they moved the horses away from that because the town needed that room for something else. There was a shoemaker not far away. Jake run over to him and 301. The windless and the whole of the pail wee down. Then was a wooden windless with a short piece chain for the pail to turn. 307-311.

Interviewer: How strange did that kid fall in there?

FW: Well, they were playing and hungover and finally they tumbled in. That happened so often, always again and again.

Interviewer: You had many people falling in the water well over there?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: That is why even on the farm, people were fearful. There are no water wells now into which you could fall.

FW: They could put a cover on, but then needed a strong man to lift that cover off when you want water. There was one lady that would get water, but couldn’t lift that cover off. We never had a cover on that well. Old Sounder, he had one way out to the mill. I noticed it the other day when he was going to get some water and a boy coming down and then the flourmill was not far. She went up there to help him. They went down there and 333-339, and upside down comma. 343-348.

Interviewer: Just cook.

FW: Then I had a girl throw it this way. I saw it knock him out.

Interviewer: I didn’t realize that children would fall into water and wells that carelessly.

FW: They did that often 357-60.

Interviewer: What did you call it>

FW: 361 had for places and five things. We put a rope down and fished for his clothing. Then w would pull him up. They fished his clothing out.

Interviewer: Never heard of that before. When someone did die by falling into the well, were the funerals just like they were in the United States or were they different?

FW: There were no undertakers. In our town we had a flourmill, and there was some ice there. They could get a little ice and pour over the dead person. Their children put some alcohol on his face. That would hold tem for a day or two. They had to get buried right away.

Interviewer: All of the relatives are around anyway, so it didn’t make much of a difference. Most of your relatives are around there.

FW: It didn’t make any difference, no.

Interviewer: Or were they in a day’s drive. Your relatives were living close to you.

FW: Yes, when lived in a different town it was quite a distance. They could come better with a horse team.

Interviewer: How far was it do you think?

FW: I don’t know except that there was no one in town. I never knew any more towns.

Interviewer: Then their funerals were very small because I remember you telling me how they use to...

FW: Funerals were not small by us. We must have had about two hundred church members, and they would attend the funeral.

Interviewer: They were very similar to the United States. In the United States; you were telling my when your dad died, they had the body in the granary overnight.

FW: My dad was in town already.

Interviewer: Who was that you talked about?

FW: It was Chris Stabler. They had him out in the granary to keep him cool. Then they had ato watch outside for birds and cats.

Interviewer: When do the people guard the body outside?

FW: I know that they guarded my dad’s body too; Andrew, Emanuel, and John. He had plenty of ice. You could get as much ice as you wanted. You could just freeze that over. In the old country, they first had to make the casket. They had to make them; they couldn’t buy them. There was a carpenter there that had the measurement, and he made them right sized. He painted them and everything. They covered them with black sapping. Then there was a gold cross in front.

Interviewer: Was it metal or material?

FW: It was material. The box was wood. Inside there were some wood shafts and some kinds of cheesecloth. That is what they made.

Interviewer: Better than the old country. Did they ever have any grave markers? Like iron crosses or gravestones?

FW: No, they had gravestones all over.

Interviewer: In your area you just had the gravestones like local rock to carve.

FW: Some of them had an iron fence up, about four feet high with an iron gate. They had to pull all of the weeds by had then. They couldn’t cut anything.

Interviewer: Were the gravestones really big?

FW: Some gravestones were big, and some gravestones were small. Stone marker depends if a child was small. An adult had larger grave marker.

Interviewer: Did any of them put photograph pictures in them?

FW: No.

Interviewer: No photograph pictures were put in, in your area.

FW: He wasn’t even in the beginning. They couldn’t put any pictures in here either.

Interviewer: In our cemetery, even in Streeter there, I think that there are like one or two with old portrait pictures inserted on stone marker.

FW: They made the coffins here too from custom order.

Interviewer: In Streeter you mean.

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: Overnight too I suppose. How long the wood was put together. It was probably just pinewood banded together.

FW: Well, they had many strong broads otherwise they would sag. It would only take three boards, one for the bottom, one for the sides, and then one for the cover. The cover was 515-518. There was a cross inserted so that the cross would show. He put handles on the side to carry them.

Interviewer: So the Gross father was. Liza’s maiden name was Fryer, and Ethel’s was what? Fryer? What did she belong to?

FW: I don’t know.

Interviewer: Were they from Streeter or that area?

FW: They were German airlift. If you know where that is.

Interviewer: No, I don’t remember.

FW: You know Fred Rau.

Interviewer: Yes.

FW: Southwest there was some place in that territory. They and old Fryer and he in a 547.

Interviewer: How in the world did John ever find a woman over there? That was along way from Streeter.

FW: Chuck Go found it for him.

Interviewer: Chuck Go?

FW: You remember Chuck Go don’t you?

Interviewer: Yes.

FW: His wife was the sister to Liza’s mother. That 560.

Interviewer: Every once in a while I see Liza’s sister, which is Mrs. John Mertz. I saw her the last time she was home; she was there and visiting there.

FW: 569-572.

Interviewer: Fryer. I see. You must have had an awful large confirmation class.

FW: I had thirty-one students. 580-582. She was confirmed.

Interviewer: Oh, Barbara was. How about Rosa Develle.

FW: No, she was confirmed the year before I was. It just depends when your birthday is. Her birthday was in either February or March. Then she was fourteen when confirmation started. I didn’t reach fourteen, and that is why I had to wait another year.

Interviewer: You didn’t go with any other brothers did you?

FW: No.

Interviewer: Where you taken into town?

FW: I boarded there.

Interviewer: Where did you board?

FW: In Weiland’s

Interviewer: Oh, you stayed there. When he came into the United States in 1911, what did he do?

FW: He did farm work.

Interviewer: He did just farm work?

FW: He was hired out to Philip Meyer for a year. Then he had a red truck. He had such a big thrashing outfit, at the gas engine kit. 624-629. He was a good mechanic towards us. He could fix most anything. Much at half pay or otherwise, just so he could live.

Interviewer: That was a steam engine.

FW: A gas engine, they had big engines then. Gas engines were more powerful than the steamer. Minneapolis Tractor Company had such powerfully big engines.

Interviewer: Minneapolis Moline you mean.

FW: It was Minneapolis. Moline came in later. They wanted a machinery line so they bought the Moline. Norman 657 came into Streeter in a flat car. Back then they didn’t have any place to unload big tractors. Then Howard stood in front and just watched and waved his son how to go. When they got it off of the train car, the Schmitz’s took it to test. They had more power than a steam engine.

Interviewer: That is all the Emil Wieland did was work out for people. He never had his farm.

FW: No, he worked and then he came back to Streeter. When he moved back, Adam Esslinger hired him in a hardware and machinery store. He died in his office.

Interviewer: In Grossman’s office, of what did he die?

FW: Not in his office but he died at his job. He had a pancreas disease, and Doc Stocks didn’t know anything about the pancreas. He said that it was just wind under his ribs. He was traveling to Fargo that day to take up a lesson for piano-tuning on the side. Then he didn’t go. That afternoon he got sick, and his pancreas burst. Doctor Stocks put a tube in him to drain the pus out. Then they gave him an operation from the Jamestown Doctor in his house. And he died.

Interviewer: Do you remember the year that he died?

FW: In 1925.

Interviewer: He wasn’t in the United States long then, was he? Fourteen years.

FW: Then Militilo was standing with four children and one on the way. It was very hard.

Interviewer: I only know the three boys; Emil, Arthur, and Eddie.

FW: They had Leonard.

Interviewer: Is he still alive?

FW: Oh, yeah. He is the oldest one. He is a fingerprinting technician out in Washington. Then there was Emil, Arthur, Leonard, Eddie, and Anna.

Interviewer: Oh, Anna, that was the other one. Anna is in Jamestown.

 


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