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Kief, North Dakota: 100 Years of History, 1908 - 2008

By Todd Spichke

Riverbrand Editions, Plymouth, Minnesota, 2008, 184 pages, Softcover.


Todd Spichke, the author, has published an impressive book of Kief, located in McHenry County, north central North Dakota. The Introduction states the following: "The first half is a collection of photographs and memorabilia that features the school days, the churches, farming and everyday life in and around Kief. Also threading throughout the first half is a wonderful story written by Raylene Frankhauser Nickel, which is based on her research and interviews of longtime residents of the Kief area. Then I asked a few stories of my own where I felt it was appropriate."

"The second half of the book is the individual family stories and history. Most of the stories and photos are from people who grew up in and around Kief, or still live there. The Kief area was heavily settled by immigrants from Ukraine. The author writes, "Kief was made up of some of the bravest and most committed individuals on earth at that time. People with such vision and determination that they literally uprooted themselves from their homeland in the Ukraine and traveled across the Atlantic with only a few hundred dollars (or often less), in the pocket. Aside from being free from religious persecution, the quest for a piece of land that they could call their own was enough to keep driving the men and women from the east coast to the rolling and rocky prairies of central North Dakota. The sod houses that the farmers built proved a further connection to the soil. After getting the farms established, many families would then send for  their parents in Old Country to come and join them in America."

Articles include: "Wheat Fields and Freedom" about Anton and Christina Bokovoy; "Peter & Ophina Michalenko;" "The Joys of School;" "The Freedom to Worship;" "Making a Living on Main Street;" and "A Murder hits Home."

Family history information includes these names: Bokovoy, Brandt, Donelenko, Dassenko, Demchuk,  Denich, Dislevy, Dosenko, Ebel, Fedeor, Frankhauser, Helm, Hertel, Hopka, Hornbacher, Hess, Hunt, Kankovsky, Karpenko, Klingman, Kizima, Knodel, Kostenko, Krueger,  Kvam,  Martin, Mehrer, Michalenko, Mortenson,  Popapenko, Rauschenberger, Rust, Sepehenko,  Shantel, Simbalenko, Sitch, Spencer, Spichke, Starchvick, Stromme, Suckert, Sukumlyn, Thom, Trihub, Volochenko, Yechoshenko, and Zakopyko.

"The story of Ukrainian settlement in Kief, ND, is told well, and in attractive format, by a son of the settlement, Todd Spichle. "Kief, North Dakota: 100 Years of History." Available, among other places, from the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU. The story of Ukrainian Baptists in search of religious liberty and available land. Marvelous photographs, and facsimiles of primary documents. Well done, Todd." --- Dr. Tom Isern, University Distinguished Professor of History, North Dakota State University, Fargo.

Original sod house on the Peowar homestead west of Kief.  This one has a shingled roof and an addition made  from wood. Many of the early sod houses had a grass roof.
Albert Knodel and his son Lloyd feeding turkeys, about 1934.
Carl Trihub's threshing rig and steam engine.
Children were given big responsibilities at a very young age in order for families to survive.

Kief, North Dakota: 100 Years of History, 1908 - 2008

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