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100 Years of Faith 1897-1997: St. Anthony Catholic Church, St. Anthony, North Dakota

Compiled by Elfreda Miller Ziniel

Published by Image Printing, Inc., Bismarck, North Dakota, 1997, 515 pages, hardcover.


The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to make available this important North Dakota community history book, 100 Years of Faith 1897 - 1997: St. Anthony's Catholic Church, St. Anthony, North Dakota.

The author, Elfreda Miller Ziniel, presents a visually outstanding community and church history covering many subjects. She pays tribute to Father Florian Fairbanks who served the parish in 1997 for twenty-nine years. Elfreda provides a good history of the church focusing on the Germans from Russia including valuable photos and documents reprinted.

The chapter, "Our Heritage" describes topics of guest writers such as the "Dirty and Dusty 30s - No One Will Forget Them;" "The Secret to Longevity" - Nick Helbling of St. Anthony lived to be 94. His wife Anna Marie was 104. What was their Secret?; "Grandpa and Grandma" by Phyllis Hilfer Fairaizl; "The Schatz or Apron;" "Special Memories of Rose Bullinger Knoll;" "The Neighborhood Midwife;" and "Churches of Morton County."

The chapter, "The Homesteaders' First Homes provides valuable and detailed information "The Prairie Sandstone House," "The Sunbaked Clay Brick House," "The Mud Mound Igloo Dome House," "The Cave House" and "The Round Rock House."

A history of the church, school and the town of St. Anthony, North Dakota, from 1897 to present is chronicled in this informative and easy to read book. The first 250 pages offer a historical summary on this German-Russian community, discussing aspects of life in a small rural Catholic North Dakota town.

Photographs are one of the highlights of the book. Historical photos included are one of priests, nuns and altar boys past to present; students participating in communion, confirmation and graduation ceremonies; the old church and cemetery with its wrought iron crosses; and the village of St. Anthony through the past 100 years.

The last half of the book takes a look at the parish families with their accompanying stories. Here one finds family names including Babel, Bender, Berger, Boehm, Bullinger, Fleck, Gangl, Gustin, Helbling, Klein, Knoll, Lauinger, Leingang, Miller, Reisenauer, Renner, Ressler, Schaff, Schmidt, Steckler, Volk, Weigel, Wetsch, Zander and Ziniel.

Born on a farm near St. Anthony was Fern Renner Welk (August 26, 1903). Her parents immigrated from Catholic German villages of the Beresan District, South Russia (today Ukraine). There were eight children born to Matthew and Elisabeth Renner. She married Lawrence Welk in 1931.

The section on "Ethnic Cooking" includes recipes and excerpts of a past rural life. One finds old-fashioned recipes for Plachinka, Hulptzie, Borsch, Fleihkuckla, Zukerkuchen, Kolace and Schopffnoodle.

The value of the book lies in the preservation of the history of St. Anthony, the parish and convent, its societies and its families as well as its culture, foodways and folkways.

Review by Jocelyn Renner Tang, a native of St. Anthony, North Dakota. Jocelyn is a 1998 graduate with an undergraduate major in American Studies from Moorhead State University, Moorhead, Minnesota. She is a volunteer oral history interviewer for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries, Fargo.

The members of this group are all from the Nick Leingang family. They were confirmed in 1916, when Father Augustine Fox was the pastor. From left to right are Nick, Anna, Francis, Clem, Eva and Tony. Nick married Frances Gerhardt. Anna married Jack Helbling. Frances married George Hoffman. Clementine married Joe Fleck. Eva, one of the twins, married William Willenman. Tony, the other twin, married Rose Froehlic.
Peggy Reynolds also took this photograph of a large portion of the St. Anthony Cemetery, which is located just west of the church building. Adjacent to the cemetery are corn and grain fields, as seen on this picture. To date, there are 772 people buried in the cemetery. Seven-hundred-ten people have had their funeral services at St. Anthony Catholic Church.
This was the home of Mathias and Elizabeth Renner, where Fern Welk was born. Mathias died in 1907. Elizabeth then moved to town.
Anton G. and Margaret Leingang
Lawrence and Fern Renner Welk Family
(from left to right: Donna, Fern, Lawrence, Shirley and Lawrence Jr.)
Phillip and Emilia Wetch


100 Years of Faith 1897 - 1997: St. Anthony's Catholic Church, St. Anthony, North Dakota

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Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
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