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: 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
Interviewer: But you don’t
remember your grandmother? Can you remember some of the uncles
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
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?
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
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
Interviewer: Did they do that all
FW: During the summer, yes.
Interviewer: They did that just
in the summer, not in the winter?
Interviewer: How did you butcher
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
Interviewer: Yes, and they burn
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?
Interviewer: It was all sod or
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).
Interviewer: Watch dogs; which
you tied on the wagon, so the Russians wouldn’t steal the
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
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?
Interviewer: Did every German hate
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?
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
Interviewer: Do you remember the
name of the guy?
FW: Jacob Sullivan
Interviewer: Jacob Sullivan?
FW: No, it was Jacob Whoman (227
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.
Interviewer: What is the name of
his first wife?
FW: Grosshans. She died during
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
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
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
FW: No, just one.
Interviewer: How come they were
such small sized families? The German-Russians always had big
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
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.
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
FW: Well, we stayed in our house.
Interviewer: You drove back home
Interviewer: That is hard driving.
How far were you from Odessa?
FW: It might have been about forty
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?
Interviewer: Were their home villages
right side by side?
FW: No, there were several villages
Interviewer: Do you remember some
of the other village names around there?
FW: There is 357, where my uncle
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
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
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?
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
FW: Then three were loganberries
[similar to mulberries]. There was red fruit and white fruit.
Do you know what they are?
FW: You can buy then here in the
FW: Yes. You should know that.
I bought some already. When I was still in Streeter.
Interviewer: I don’t know
what that is.
FW: Off of a mulberry busy, don’t
you know that song?
Lady Speaking: No, I have never
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.
Interviewer: Can you remember names
of other people in your village other than what you have mentioned
FW: Our neighbor was Russ Berwick
Interviewer: Busch, like our President
FW: Yes. 465-476. That is all I
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Interviewer: Well, could you tell
some of the first things that you dad did when he came to the
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?
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Interviewer: You mentioned once
that your uncle came home from the Russian-Japanese War. You still
remember how he marched.
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
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
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?
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
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
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,
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
Interviewer: How far was it do
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
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
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
FW: No, they had gravestones all
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
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?
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.
Interviewer: Overnight too I suppose.
How long the wood was put together. It was probably just pinewood
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
FW: You know Fred Rau.
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
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.
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?
Interviewer: Where you taken into
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
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.