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Pritzkau Holds Book Signing in Napoleon

Schwartzenberger, Terry. "Pritzkau Holds Book Signing in Napoleon." Napoleon Homestead, 15 October 1997, 1.


Logan County native, Philo T. Pritzkau, 95, author of Growing Up in North Dakota: A Memoir revisited his home area of Napoleon this past week hosting a few different book signing engagements in Fargo, Napoleon, Bismarck and Jamestown.

At his stop in Napoleon, Sunday, Mr. Pritzkau captured an audience of about 25 people who stopped by to have books signed and listen to some of his tales. "It is wonderful to be home," is how Pritzkau greeted those gathered at the Wentz Restaurant Sunday afternoon. "I miss the open prairies and rolling pastures. I want to return to this land once more, where I have so many fond childhood memories. This is why I wrote the book - to share my memories about growing up on a farm in a German-Russian family on the North Dakota prairies."

Growing Up in North Dakota is Pritzkau's vivid memoir of the "pioneer" period of North Dakota's history.

Philo, who was born in 1902, told a few stories of his younger years and reminisced with those in attendance at his public book signing. He told stories of how hay was cut and stacked in the early days. He had an early years threshing story, where the workers put in long days and worked until sun down to hopefully complete harvest before the arrival of winter. He told a few stories relating to the horse and buggy days andd then also the introduction of the automobile.

In addition to autographing his book, which is in its third printing, Pritzkau was accompanied by a niece, Donna Pritzkau Turner of Hunter, who read a few passages from Growing Up in North Dakota and Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia Bibliographer, NDSU Libraries, Fargo.

In his book Philo recalls attending the country elementary school where many of the rural children spoke German, with English as their second language. He was one of the first students to attend Burnstad High School, with an enrollment of 18 students in 1918. He then attended the University of North Dakota for one semester and returned home to Logan County, teaching in a country school near Napoleon, from 1920-1922.

Philo was born in a sodhouse built by his German-Russian immigrant parents near Burnstad. He started his education in a one-room school, and went on to complete his doctorate at Columbia University, before retiring in 1972, when he was the professor of Education at the University of Connecticut where he was the director of the Curriculum Center. Pritzkau now resides in Massachusetts.

As a philosopher, Pritzkau says, "We need to be in connection with knowledge and thought. We also need to have children become our teachers, because they see so much that adults can't see."

To wrap up his question and answer session in Napoleon, Pritzkau spoke of his children and grandchildren. Probably most nationally known is his daughter, Patricia Pritzkau MacLachlan, an internationally acclaimed children's author of the Newbery Award winning novel, Sarah, Plain and Tall as well as its sequal Skylark, which were both later produced as "Hallmark Hall of Fame" television programs.

Reprinted with permission of the Napoleon Homestead.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
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