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Interview with Fred Wieland (FW)

Conducted by Vern Wieland
22 July 1999, Streeter, North Dakota

Transcribed by Jayne Whiteford
Editing by Lena Paris


Interviewer: This is July 22nd; we are talking to my father, Fred Wieland, who was born, April 16th, 1901. I want you to tell me about prohibition a little bit.

FW: I don’t know too much about it because I never made any home-brew. But the stills had to be hid out in the country, in the badlands, where they made home brew. When the law caught up with them, they would destroy all of the brew and the brewery equipment. The home brew was made from rye, sugar, and some molasses. You put it in and let it cook by itself. Then they would put it on a hot fire, the steam that came out of a small pipe was the alcohol. They would go out in the hills where they would make a cave in a straw pile. The people that would go by; thought it was a straw pile when it was really a still. They sold it at a very high price; home-brew cost about twenty to thirty dollars a gallon. When the government got a hold of them, they were fined very heavy. The stills never had a name on them so the government wouldn’t know whom it belongs to. There was once offered fifty dollars to anybody that reported a brew building. Then there was a house that was going to move into Streeter. They went around the hills and searched for the road. There was a man in the bunch that found a still there. They all knew whose it was, but there was no name on it. They brought it to the sheriff, and the sheriff came out and found it was a still, and then he got twenty-five dollars for reporting the still. They also destroyed it.

Interviewer: Who were some of the people that made the whiskey around the Streeter area? Who were some of the people who sold it?

FW: The person that made it sold it too.

Interviewer: Yes, I know but, who were some of the people.

FW: That was Cane and Swikay (48 SP)

Interviewer: What Cane was it?

FW: 49

Interviewer: And they sold it too. How about when you stored some stuff, you said a while ago they wanted you to store it.

FW: Yes, they did. They would always steal it when it was lying out on the ground. They followed the track, and I bet there was ten gallons up there. They would store it in my basement. I had a big house with a lower basement, which I did not use. He was a likeable man, Tom Swikey . He was my neighbor. He asked if he could store some in there, so I let him. He stored the whole thing full.

Interviewer: Remember our old breaking plow. Could you tell a little bit about how you were helping with that old breaking plow and you remade which is in the barn now? Were you sad in what you did when you was little, when you came over?

FW: We had the first breaking plow. My dad bought it for twenty dollars. It had the wheel in front to set the plow deeper and higher. So I had to sit on there all day. I remodeled it and made it look exactly like it was bought new. It is an old breaking plow and it is a nice piece of machinery.

Interviewer: What year did you buy that?

FW: In 1910.

Interviewer: Do you remember the name of the company?

FW: I don’t know.

Interviewer: How about your old shotgun; how did you get that old shotgun?

FW: Well, my dad bought an old shotgun the first fall when we come here. It cost three dollars. Know I got that shotgun and used it quite a few years. Now that I quit shooting with it, my son owns it. Its old but we still got it, and it was bought for three dollars in 1910.

Interviewer: How about that fur coat, the wolf coat?

FW: Well, many people had wolf coats because they had to go as much as fifteen miles to town in the winter. They had to have good clothing to get groceries and coal, whatever you needed. And then there was a rich man who moved to California, and they had an auction sale. My dad bought that coat on that auction sale. He used it until he retired and moved to town. He would rather have a small coat for around town and go to church and keep that coat on. They had just the coat that he needed. It was a warm coat, but it was leather hid and I didn’t like that too well. But he took that coat in trade for his fur coat. So, I used the wolf coat to go to town with a team for seven years and now my son owns it. Whatever is left of it. And my dad was so glad to have a nice coat.

Interviewer: About how old do you think that wolf coat is?

FW: We had it in 1909. How long, I wouldn’t know.

Interviewer: Oh, I see.

FW: There were no cars; each person would go with a team of horses and a buggy. In town they would keep the horses in the barn. They had to go on county visits with the horses; there were no cars.

Interviewer: Do you remember the first radio that you every heard? And what you listened to? And what the radio looked like? Do you remember that?

FW: Well, people talk and in the Drug store they played the radio. There was a man, a professor, at the school that built one himself. It had hotshot battery on it, and there was a headphone. That was the first radio that I ever remember.

Interviewer: Do you remember what you listened to?

FW: No. I couldn’t understand anyhow. We could understand the music but the talking wasn’t so clean.

Interviewer: Do you remember the first radio your dad ever had?

FW: I guess my dad never owned a radio.

Interviewer: Didn’t he ever have a radio in the house? Never did. And then when was the first radio you bought?

FW: That was Denzer (156 SP) Store radio that ran full on batteries. I had to put a wire across the land from the house to the ground input. Then that was a pretty good radio. I bought it from a Denzer Store. There was a Denzer Store in Streeter and it was cheap too. I paid thirty-five dollars for it. And then when it was older, the battery was dead and the speakers went out. Then I found a radio that I could put a six-volt battery around and have the wind charge it. It would charge the battery and the battery was powerful. That radio is still in a nice cabinet. You can see it if you wish to.

Interviewer: About what year did you think that you bought your first radio and when did you buy that Zan?

FW: I think it was in 1936. Emma was teaching school then and she talked us into buying a radio.

Interviewer: Emma did? What do you remember from your first car that Grandpa Weiland bought and the first car that you bought?

FW: The first car that I bought was a little Snipe. Tucker wrote and it was a seven passenger with three seats. It was a very big car. We could fit as many as ten in the car to go to Fourth of July celebrations or Christmas Eve at church.

Interviewer: Can you remember what you bought after that little Snipe?

FW: You mean my dad, what he bought after that?

Interviewer: Yes.

FW: It was a Baby Overland, which was enclosed with glass.

Interviewer: And then after that?

FW: Nothing.

Interviewer: Okay, how about you, what was your first car?

FW: My first car was a Model T Ford Coupe Sedan second handed.

Interviewer: What year?

FW: A 1925 model and I bought it in 1970.

Interviewer: Do you remember what you paid for it?

FW: I paid two hundred and eighty-five dollars.

Interviewer: What was after that?

FW: It was a lot of money. I traded it in for a Model A Ford and paid two hundred and fifty dollars for that Model A Ford. It was a demonstrator in the garage. I got a hundred dollars for my old Model T. My brother went to Jamestown with me and when they had that Model T Coupe he bought it for fifty dollars.

Interviewer: Which brother?

FW: Jake.

Interviewer: What place did you buy that stuff in?

FW: The Ford garage in Jamestown.

Interviewer: Was that Stout, R.N. Stout or who?

FW: I think it was Stout.

Interviewer: What was after that then?

FW: A new 1940 Plymouth. And after that it was a Chevy, and another Chevy. After that I got a Pontiac, which was a 1967 model and it still runs very good for and old car. It was nice in color and the interior is in very good shape yet.

Interviewer: What are some stories that you remember when you and grandma started farming?

FW: We started farming like anyone else. I plowed with a tractor and worked with the horses and cut with a binder. And grandma shucked as much as she could and I shucked the rest. We would thrash it in our thrashing machine. We have owned the machine since 1925. I had my own thrashing machine and I would thrash the neighborhood for twenty-three years. I always had enough help except the last year when I was cutting down on my own. There were so many rounds and then I didn’t have quite enough help. But we managed it. We used a swebreak and a tractor. I had a man on there and he brought in about as many bundles as three teens can haul. Then I was standing there and pitched him all of that stuff. It went in both ends of the machine.

Interviewer: How many cows did you milk in the early days?

FW: Six.

Interviewer: Did you have anything other then cows, like chickens, or geese?

FW: Well, we had chickens and we had some geese and turkeys. We could sell the turkeys and chickens. But the depressions cleaned up everything. We would sell eggs for five cents a dozen, in the depression. We had so many chickens, and got as many as forty dozen eggs a week. We took them to town and sold them cheap. Five cents a dozen was not very much. A hen was twenty cents. The wheat was twenty-six cents a bushel, in the depression. There were no jobs and in seventeen years we didn’t get any crop. We just had to live on little things. We raised our own meat; had a few pigs and chickens. And we had our own potatoes so we didn’t buy much. We did drink a lot of tea because coffee was too expensive. We drank tea, milk, and water. We had our own milk. We made butter, so we didn’t buy much. My wife made most of the clothing; she was very good at patching. She would patch everything she had, until her death. She would patch all of the time. So we did as good as the average. Couldn’t make any money. The banks went broke, lost the money in the bank. So there was nothing to buy. It was very hard to see your few dollars go. I didn’t loose much, about fifty-two dollars, that’s all.

Interviewer: Did your dad loose any?

FW: I guess not. He was in town and never had money for the bank in town.

Interviewer: I see.

FW: Whatever he had, he took care of the house.

Interviewer: What do you remember of your dad when he died?

FW: Well, he died in 1934 and was 64 years old.

Interviewer: When did he get sick?

FW: Oh, it was about that time he had prostate trouble. They weren’t very successful in those days. I know there was a prostate patient that came back dead. His was cancer, I believe.

Interviewer: What do you think he died of then? Just of cancer or heart attack?

FW: We had a town doctor and he always kept him under. He was sleeping all of the time so he couldn’t feel the pain. He didn’t want to go to the hospital. It was a lot of expense and he could not be saved. So he died in his home.

Interviewer: Were all of the kids there then?

FW: I don’t know who all was there. He died at night. We all stood around a bit. There was no undertaker available so, a right hand dealer man, a good friend of my family, was the undertaker. He took care of him. He caste him while we four boys went to the harvest land at midnight. We paid sixty dollars for the coffin. Very nice looking gray coffin, trimmed with sliver and gold. That old man packed it with ice so that it would keep him for the funeral and he had a truck. We wheeled him to the cemetery, which was only a half of mile out of town. He didn’t charge anything, he did everything free.

Interviewer: Who was the man?

FW: Berwick Wolf. The coffin cost sixty dollars, and that was all of the funeral expenses we had.

Interviewer: Do you remember who the minister was and who the pallbearers were?

FW: I don’t know if I know who all of the pallbearers were. The minister was Rev. Girdle. The pallbearers were Jacob Strawgly, Tabby Gife, Paul Wibee, Elvis Terror, Peter Gavalt, and Andrew Fisher. (435-439 SP) They were not far from church, and carried him over to the church.

Interviewer: They carried him over to the church; because that was right where the house was. That house is still there, isn’t it? Or was it torn down?

FW: They built a new house there. You know where Jake Buck used to live?

Interviewer: Yes.

FW: Down where in that house was my dad’s?

Interviewer: Albert Zinc lives in Jake Buck’s house.

FW: No, Albert Zinc lives in Louie Buck’s house. Jake Buck’s house is across the street from Scott Libeler’s house. The first house that was my dad’s they tore it down. Harry Wolf built his house on that lot. He built a new house that looks like an auto shop. No windows on the east side. All of the windows were on the south side.

Interviewer: Who were all of the old time farmers that you remember?

FW: The old time farmers.

Interviewer: Where your folks were, could you go up and down that road and remember all of the farms that were there?

Yes, there was the Gross’s farm, Henry Boone’s and his family.

Interviewer: What direction?

FW: South, a half of mile. Then half a mile west was the Molson Family. East from us was Bill Hernster and then west was a bachelor, Fred Sweggy. He had just a little shack; a half a mile north was Bill Helguy.

Interviewer: Whose farm is that today?

FW: 505. And then there was Martian 510. Another bachelor was John Franks. A quarter of a mile away was Carl Swagey also a bachelor.

Interviewer: Are those still there?


Side Two:

Interviewer: Tell me where Archie Swikey lives? Who is living there now?

FW: It was his dad’s farm. Dick Swikey who had two boys and a girl. The girl is died, one of the boys lives in Montana, and the other boy, the oldest, born in 1906, lives on the family farm.

Interviewer: What was the name of the original person on that farm?

FW: Dick Swikey. And then south from that lived the old man Swikey. He was the father to Dick, Carl, Hans, Fritz, Sophie, and Maiden. Those were his kids. Then south of there was a big ranch. Peter Hanson had a thrashing machine that had a 170 engine. The machine had a snow blower. He had an elevator in the back, something to guide the feeder in the machine; that went straight up in a straw field in a pile. They had to rake it over with a fork so that they could put more straw in a pile. When they moved the machine they could fold the straw elevator down lower. He always had up to four hired men; also had a lot of cattle and plowed with his tractors but not with the cylinder.

Interviewer: What was the name of the man?

FW: Peter Hanson. His farm is now where Gary Donor lives.

Interviewer: How about Kermit Slack, who was living on that farm?

FW: That was my dad’s farm.

Interviewer: No, where Kermit lives by that Shower. What was that Showers name? Didn’t he buy that?

FW: That was Paul Wibee’s farm. Where Merrill Slack lives that was my dad’s place, but there are different buildings now. That Pete Erinson had two or three hired men the whole year around. He was a mechanic, and he had his own blacksmith. He would shoe the horses for the people when there was ice so that the horses wouldn’t fall. He had a big shop upstairs and downstairs where he had his thrashing machine and other machinery. He was a very nice man to work for; two of my brothers worked there, and that is about all.

Interviewer: You said that Emma worked in Streeter for a while.

FW: They never lived in Streeter. My sister Emma you mean?

Interviewer: Yes, she worked in Streeter and in that area for a while.

FW: She worked in the store one year and she taught school seven years.

Interviewer: Whose store?

FW: She stayed with us, Maggie and I, and we charged her seven dollars a month for room and board. Then she taught two years by Edmond Lang on the farm. No, it was not Edmond. He is the one that lives in town.

Interviewer: Now, Yes.

FW: It was Edmonds brother; I forgot his name though. He was married to Tillie and then Gus Lang lives in California. Emma went down to California and got a job and then ended up marrying Gus Lang.

Interviewer: How about Bertha; what jobs did she have in Streeter?

FW: A truck store.

Interviewer: How long and who did she work for?

FW: She worked that job so many years.

Interviewer: All right grandpa, I want you to tell me about your wedding. Who were the people that stood up for you, the flowers girls, and that kind of thing.

FW: That is a funny story. Maggie’s uncle died.

Interviewer: Who was her uncle?

FW: Chris Stalwart (94 SP) and they had four boys and they were always together. Then Maggie came up to stay with them just to help with the grief. That is how I got to know her. She was just at the right age to leave the nest. So when she left I followed her and that fall I got married to her. She was my wife for fifty-six years.

Interviewer: What do you remember from your wedding?

FW: The minister was one of the best this country has ever seen. It was Rev. George Webler, the minister from the Ashley Lutheran Church. A nice great big church and the two that stood up for me was, Bertha, my sister and George Stole, Maggie’s brother. We had a church wedding and when we came in the church, the church was packed like on Christmas Eve. So many people came and we only celebrated with the immediate family. We had a little dinner and a little celebration. Maggie didn’t want her folks to spend much money on her.

Interviewer: You only had Bertha and George to stand up for you.

FW: Yes

Interviewer: Did you have any flower girls or anything like that?

FW: No.

Interviewer: Did you buy a wedding suit?

FW: I bought a suit.

Interviewer: How much did that cost?

FW: I think I paid forty-five dollars for it. It was one of the best suits he had in the store. A Copenhymer (128 SP), I burned it up when I burned up clothing. It was so weatherworn and it wouldn’t look good anymore. I burned some old coats from grandma’s and stuff like that.

Interviewer: Then you moved to Streeter and lived there on Dixie Swikey’s farm.

FW: I lived in the Streeter vicinity for eighty years. It will be eight-one this fall.

Interviewer: What do you remember of my brother, Wesley; when he was born and died?

FW: Well, grandma believed that he was not fully mature. I wasn’t there when he died. I went home and then that morning Lydia and her dad come up to the action sale. Grandma Stole came up and bought the kitchen range and let it set there for Lydia. She was married. She told me that grandma and the boy are feeling good. Then we were eating supper and my brother came out to the farm and told me that the little baby is very sick and then I went there right away. By the time I got down there he had died. I didn’t know anything about something like that, but I thought that grandma should have an appointment with a doctor so that the doctor could take care of her. She didn’t. She had labor pains already, but she was going to see her mother. When her mother saw it, she told her right away that it is time for the birth. So the little boy was a nice little baby and had to lose his life. That is why he is buried down there.

Interviewer: Who was the minister that buried him?

FW: Rev. Spudler (180 SP). He came out and baptized him. He was still alive when he baptized him; he buried him too. That is the little tombstone. The Pioneer, that’s your brother.

Interviewer: What do you remember from Grandma and Grandpa Stole in Ashley?

FW: When Ted Stole took over he moved out…

Interviewer: Ted Stole took over their farm.

FW: Yes, and he got out and then sold everything and bought a little tractor to start farming. Then that the farm was going to be sold, and he came to Streeter on Fred Bigament’s (201 SP) farm. Then he took them off, he was not much of a farmer. He then worked for Fred Glucose (203 SP) and Pete Dighter (203 SP) in the wood business.

Interviewer: What do you remember about the Stole’s though?

FW: They moved grandpa Stole down to Aberdeen to their son, Jon. They stayed only one year; because they had big kids and were door knocking all night. They come and go and visit and visit. They stayed there one year and then Christina, their daughter, took them. Then after one year Jake Stole went down and took them over. They got sixty dollars a month for both of them. People now spend sixty dollars a day. Jake kept them until death. Grandma Stole died from a heart attack and grandpa died from cancer of his stomach, and that was the end. I know that once he was ready to go down, they only lived about three quarters of a mile from the main road. Grandma and I were ready to go down that Sunday to see them. Ted Stole came back and come to grandma and scared her. It took three days and then she was dead. There was so much snow there that they used manpower to get the coffin out to the cemetery for burial. None of the family could go along. Too much snow.

Interviewer: I remember there was a lot of snow that winter, but I don’t recall the year she died. I was pallbearer for Grandpa Stole, when he died. Didn’t Oscar and Ted both work as hired hand for you?

FW: Yes.

Interviewer: When did they work for you, do you remember?

FW: That must have been at the beginning of the thirty’s when Oscar worked for me. He was out of a job and couldn’t get any job, not even a janitor. Then I paid him a wage, not a big one, and let him work for me. One other year he was out of a job and then he could stay with his parents, but he would have to pay them forty dollars a month board and room. I took him for the thrashing machine. When he worked my machine I paid him six dollars a day and 287 stayed with us too. There were here for about two months, and then there was an open job. Ted, I had to take him away because he couldn’t get along with George at home. I took Ted up and he worked for me all summer. Then he went to live with his brother in South Dakota and went to high school there.

Interviewer: Of all your brothers and sisters that you had, what are some of the best things that you remember about them? Take Mary, what did you like about her, things like that?

FW: Nobody did anything for me.

Interviewer: No, how would you remember them by?

FW: Mary went to Turtle Lake and my bother, Gus. He wanted one of his brothers or sisters out there so he wouldn’t be alone all of time. Mary went out and worked in the restaurant in Turtle Lake and my brother, Gus, worked in the bank. They were both single. Gus found a wife out there and Mary found a man, Chet, out there. That is all I can tell you.

Interviewer: How come Bertha never got married?

FW: I don’t know. I guess she waited too long; and then everything was still.

Interviewer: You never had any divorces in your family.

FW: Yes, there was one. My brother Andrew had to pay for it. He divorced his wife and after his divorce left her. I better not go into that though.

Interviewer: Well, that’s something, that’s history I guess. Nobody knows that.

FW: See it was a “have to” marriage and then there was an old man who thought that he knew the law. My dad had to pay a thousand dollar fine for doing that. The guy that thought he knew the law had nothing but a big mouth. He instructed my father, “if he married that girl he would get the thousand dollars back. So, he did. Then he left her, and he was in a bigger jam then before. He left his wife and kids and had to pay another thousand-dollar fine and then got a divorce.

Interviewer: Oh, I see.

FW: That is all know.

Interviewer: I don’t remember that. That’s the only one in your family. How about grandma’s family?

FW: There was Emily; she had a divorce too? Her first husband wouldn’t come home any more. He went and slept with other woman rather then go home to his wife. She divorced him.

Interviewer: What was his name? Archie was his first name but what was his last name?

FW: Archie Border, I think. Then she got married to Lebra and kept him to the end. He is buried in the Streeter cemetery.

Interviewer: Yes, right beside her. Did grandma’s side have any divorces? Who are those people in two pictures that were upstairs in the back bedroom?

FW: Isn’t one still there?

Interviewer: No, I brought them both down.

FW: That other lady is Grandpa Stole’s sister.

Interviewer: What was her name?

FW: Stole, that is all I know.

Interviewer: No first name?

FW: That is all I know. And that man was Grandma Stole’s brother. He died as a bachelor. That was Jacob Stole. He was twenty-six years old when he died.

Interviewer: Yes, we brought all of that down.

FW: Those frames are expensive frames.

Interviewer: I know.

FW: You can put anybody in there, if you have somebody nice to place in there.

Interviewer: No, I don’t want to change it, but I wanted to know who they were.

FW: That is all that I could tell you. That lady was Grandpa Stole’s sister and the man was Grandma Stole’s brother, Jacob Herman was his name. He had a quarter of land and then Chris Stevens’s wife was the sister to grandma’s mother. He gave that quarter of land to Grandma Stole because she took care of him after he had a stroke. Then she conned me out of one half of that property. She yelled so much and got so mad…

Interviewer: Who yelled?

FW: Chris Stevens’s wife was a sister to Grandma Stole. Then Grandma Stole gave us two thousand dollars. Maggie’s mother had quite a few funeral expenses and the doctors’ bills. She got just as mad, “I want half or nothing.” I gave her nothing because she did nothing.

Interviewer: I suppose that meant a lot at that time.

FW: Yes, it was a lot of money. Then we went later and run real good 444 car. It was easy to buy when you can get it for nothing.

Interviewer: I see.

FW: The neighbors wanted to come around and try to talk her into it but nope; she had her head set, either half or nothing.

Interviewer: So Grandma Stole could have owned a quarter of land up there.

FW: She didn’t pay a thing on the doctor bill and at the funeral we had to have a coffin. But the coffins weren’t too expensive.

Interviewer: I was just wondering who those two were. I needed to know the names because when you find out who they are they mean something. And you can say to people, we got those…

FW: Well, I’d say those are your uncle and aunt.

Interviewer: Great uncle.

FW: Yes, because he was grandma’s brother…

Interviewer: It was grandma’s uncle and aunt.

FW: Yes and the lady was Grandma Stole’s sister.

Interviewer: So, her last name would have been Herman.

FW: I don’t know; she was married.

Interviewer: That’s quite something. I can’t think of any other questions right know.

FW: The Stole’s lived in a sod house, and glued it all with clay. They lived in there for many years, and then they built a house from wood. Then one night it rained so much that the dirt on the roof was soaked through; come right through the ceiling.

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