Reuben Goertz, Speaker
Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention
Fargo, North Dakota
July 10, 1993
Transcription and Proofreading by Jane D. Trygg
Introduction: Our speaker this afternoon is a graduate of the Freeman
High School and Freeman Junior College during the World War II.
The U.S. Army sent him to the University of Indiana to learn Polish.
And after that, all that hard training they sent him to serve in
Iwo Jima. Now he is a life long member of the Salem Mennonite Church,
member of the South Dakota Historical Society, the South Dakota
Archeological Society and various county historical societies. He
has served on the Board of the AHSGR and is presently a member of
the National Advisory Council for a sector of Center for Western
Studies at Augustana College. He and his wife Florence are parents
of four children and the grandparents of ten children. After that
introduction, I give you Reuben Goertz.
Reuben Goertz: For those of you who have never had the opportunity
to stand behind a podium before a large audience, yes, it is a honor,
yes, it is terrifying and especially when you see the road up here
is stewed with pitfalls. My good friend Daha Prathmartel (16) Prof
Arnaed Marzolf asked me over a year ago whether I would be here
at this dinner to talk to this group about the Hutterites and the
Mennonites and the difference between them; how you can tell one
from the other. Since I had a talk like that prepared, I agreed
to do this.
This Spring I get a letter from a certain Victor Knell in North
Dakota, informing me that he is a co-chairman of this thing, and
I should keep it light. That was a (23) Note that I
I felt now that Mennonites are being equated with beer and you can
have your choice of light or regular. And I wrote to both gentlemen
protesting that my subject if it was assigned to me is not light.
Mr. Knell wrote back and in a very convincing manner and Prof. Marzolf
walks with a big stick, you notice. But Mr. Knell writes with a
voice of authority.
And he said, and I quote from his letter, "Surely there must
have been times when the Mennonites and the Hutterites used humor.”
Even the proverbs and folktales used by them to teach their children
and to make a point for instance with sometimes a dry whit.”
And of course Victor was right, but Victor made it very clear by
that letter that he had never read James Michener, because James
Michener in his book Centennial spends a little time writing about
the Mennonites. I am sure if there would have been Germans from
Russia in Pennsylvania, he would have included them as well as just
the Mennonites. I want to read just three short paragraphs from
"In most other parts of the world the Mennonites would have
seen them possibly wrenched, but when compared to the Amish they
were down right frivolous. For they indulged in minor worldly pleasures,
were experts in conducting business and allowed their children other
choices than farming. An expert in conducting business. I've known
your ancestors as well as I knew mine. My father was in business
on Main Street of Freeman and your people drove just as hard to
bargain as any Mennonite that I knew. Some Mennonite children even
went to school, but when they did farm they did it with vigor and
were wonderfully skilled in extracting from the soil its maximum
yield. When this was accomplished, they became uncanny in their
ability to pedal it at a maximum profit.
Mennonite women in particular were gifted in selling. They knew
to a penny what they could demand of a customer, giving him in turn
such a bargain he was likely to come back.
And I've known a lot of you who are not Mennonites and your women
too have conducted big sales and provided the stuff for the auction
sale, an uncanny ability to raise money, and they are not Mennonites.
So it makes me sort of bristle. When the Scotch are thrifty, they
are canny. The Yankees are shrewd and even you fellow Germans from
Russia, you are considered quite the sparing, but prudent in your
business deals, but the Mennonites they're accused of being down
right geizig. The merchants in Sioux Falls and Yankton, and they
shudder when they see a Mennonite coming. They start laughing and
they say "Here come the Mennonites, a ten dollar bill in one
hand, the ten commandments in the other and a firm resolve in their
hearts not to break either.”
I want to read just one more paragraph of Michener and I won't
finish it. But if you can just substitute your family name from
Mennonite, you will see how hard it is to tell the difference between
you and me and consequently big stories which are just truly Mennonite.
Michener goes on, "The Mennonites of Lancaster County were
a lusty lot. They were by no means prudish and their language could
be most robust with words that would have shocked ordinary Presbyterians
or Baptists. They particularly liked to use barn yard terms”,
and he goes on to describe those so vividly that I would be embarrassed
to read them in front of you and mixed audience.
But I have heard some of the jokes that you people tell. You gay
Schwaben, don't poke fun at my Mennonites. How do I know that they
are gale fusich because I know there is another kind, which I will
not mention here.
So as I learned as a young boy this afternoon that "Warum
sollen wir nicht lustig sein, wenn unsere Katz' hat Junge. Sie hat
aber keine Schuld daran, der Nachbars Kater hat sie dazu gezwungen
". For those of you that don't know German it says, "Why
shouldn't we be jolly because our cat had kittens, but she didn't
have any blame for that at all, the neighbor's tomcat enticed her.”
Now I grew up thinking this was a Mennonite poem that all little
Mennonite boys learned, but I'm wondering the older I get, if that
is a common generic German Russian story. It is not just confirmed
to the Mennonites.
Just yesterday at this time the gentleman one of the gentlemen
behind the microphone here was talking a little bit about Adam and
Eve and had a little joke about them. Well, I grew up with one,
and I thought it was strictly Mennonite, now I'm not so sure. I'm
probably going to repeat one here that you know that all of you
know and relate to. Even yet editorial, interpretation of the thing,
I think would strike a little tone of recognition with some of you.
“Adam hat sich hingelegt im Paradies und schlaft und dann
hat Gott von ibm ei Frau erschafft.” Adam laid down in Paradise
one time and slept, then God created a Woman from him. 0, d arme
Vater Adam, du, dein erster Scb1af war seine letzte Ruh'".
Oh you poor old father Adam you, your first sleep was your last
rest. So I don't know again is this a Mennonite poem or is this
one that you have all heard before. It's hard to tell. It makes
it awful hard for me to be up here.
Family, important, the most important ingredient I think of our
ancestors' lives whether you are Mennonite or not. And I think all
of you have experienced in your family history something that quite
a few of the Mennonites had experienced in the past when they lived
in their little closed communities in Russia. Even in their first
adventures in South Dakota, they lived in their little tight knit
community .And it was not all that uncommon that on occasion, first
cousins got married. I see it in other groups around Freeman, beside
Mennonite groups. I see it in the Kasslers and the Schwaben and
then the Heilbronner. There are first cousins, married and now all
of a sudden we have been, like the entire world, afflicted with
divorce. And now that has raised a question in some Mennonite circles.
Once this couple is divorced, the one of the first couples was a
set of first cousins that had gotten married. And the question now
would plague the community was this: we understand they are no longer
man and wife, but are they still first cousins?
As all the other people, the Mennonites took care of their young,
their infirm and their disabled, their mentally handicapped. And
I don't think that was peculiar to the Mennonites either. Now, there
was a couple that lived on the highway 81, four miles north of Freeman.
And I might say here that highway 81 to Mennonites, is a holy highway.
A Mennonite's idea of a trip to the Holy Land is to get down to
Oklahoma, and get on a bus that is going north on highway 81 through
many of the little towns, Mennonite towns that lay along side the
highway 81 in Oklahoma. And then they get into Kansas and they get
up there to (133) McPherson and to Bethel College, North Newton
and the Mennonite printing establishment and boy that's almost a
Mecca to them. And to keep going north on 81 and they cross into
Nebraska and just a few miles off the 81, is Henderson, Nebraska
with the second largest Mennonite church in the United States, the
biggest being in burn. (SP burn) Berne Ind. And to keep on going
and then they get to my home town of Freeman, which is right on
the 81, and we are the biggest Mennonite and Hutterite community
in South Dakota.
They might make a little detour up to Mountain Lake, Minnesota,
which is the biggest Mennonite community in Minnesota. And they
come back to the 81 and they come right through Fargo here within
in few blocks of where we are meeting, and they keep on going to
Winnipeg, which has the largest Mennonite population of any city
in the World. So this is the Mennonite holy highway.
Well, north of Freeman about four miles there lived a family who
had a retarded son. If we could still call him a retarded son at
that time. They took good care of him, and his nickname was Billy
Matz. In town our sheriff for a long time had been Jake Hoover,
and he was also in the construction business and some of you from
Freeman remember Jake Hoover .
One morning he was going out north on the Mennonite highway to
a construction job. And a little ways ahead of him on the road he
saw there was something large in the ditch that he had never seen
there before, and as he gets closer he saw that right close to where
Billy Matz lived, somebody had gotten too close to the road shoulder
with a hayrack full of hay and the hay rack tipped over. And on
the top of this load of hay was hayrack wheels pointing up and on
top of this whole mess sat a very disconsolate Billymatz. So Hoover
Jake stopped his car and he says, "Billy Matz, was is do passiert?”
And Billy Matz was very glum and he says that "Der Heuwagen
is umgestiirzt". The hay rack tipped over!
“Well I see that, Jake Hoover said, “but do denkst
du net, daB sollst dei'm Vater sagen. Don't you think you ada tell
Nein , Vater weis, der Vater is unterm Heu. But there does, oh
for those of you who don't understand the German, he didn't think
it was necessary to tell his father because the father was under
that load of hay.
But there does come a point, I think where we can now start, we're
old enough with the Mennonite community, and we can start pointing
out differences. And I want to point out one big thing, and that
was words that we were not allowed to use that you people use in
daily conversation. They were denied to us.
One that was very important, because it was in the bible twice.
Once in Matthew 5:37 and again in James 5:12. "But above all
things my brother and swear not neither by heaven, neither by the
earth, neither by any other oath, nor let your yeh be yeh and your
nay be nay lest thee fall into condemnation." So that, as far
as the Mennonites were concerned, is was an absolute because it
is very explicit, it's in the bible twice and it says let your yeh
be a yeh, so in my daily conversations, as a child, I was not allowed
to use words like " sicher und gewill " certainly and
positively and absolutely, because that far exceeded the parameters
of yeh and nay.
Also, we were not allowed to swear, take an oath, like in court,
of course you weren't supposed to go to court in the first place,
but we were not allowed to swear an oath. We could affirm, but we
could not swear an oath. When the taxman assessor came around and
took your tax, you could affirm that what you have said was the
truth and so on.
Well next on the list of forbidden words was the word "God,"
depending entirely how you use it of course. Thou shall not take
the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold
him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. If I got hurt outside
by playing and if I said, "0, God." My elders would pounce
on me with a vengeance. My grandmother, who was my staunchest ally
when I got into trouble, would pounce on me like a plain old common
crow and holler at me. That was not allowed. Still these older people
would use "God" in a way that mystified me then, because
they were talking about "God", they used "Gott."
And they did it with impunity.
This is probably the only story I had that were told by colony
Hutterites. One of their ships when they were coming from Russia
had one Hutterite, who was absolutely terrified of the ocean. He
was petrified and every time the ship rolled a bit, every time a
little breeze came by, he would run to the captain, "Oh captain,
my captain are we going to capsize or are we going to drown, are
we all going to our death."
And the captain soon saw he had a very paranoid Hutterite on his
hand. And he told him, "We have not been endangered, I don't
anticipate any danger, but if we do get into serious trouble and
you come and bother me with your questions, you will distract me
from my attention, and add to our danger." He said, "If
you really want to know if we're in trouble, the next time you think
there is even a chance of being in trouble, you go down to the bottom
of the ship where those guys are stoking the furnaces." He
says, "There are a wild and tough bunch and they've been all
around the world and they know the world going backward and they
know the ocean. They can read its moves and they know when we're
in trouble, but I must caution you," he says, "They're
a lusty lot and they swear terrifically, but that's all right because
once they stop swearing, you know they are scared, then you can
start your prayers.”
It didn't take long and along comes another little (231) Zephyer
and rocks the boat a bit and this paranoid Hutterite, down the ladder,
down into the boiler room where these guys were stoking the fires
and all his friends, the fellow Hutterites, they gather around the
hole where he went to see what his reaction was when he comes back.
And it doesn't take long and he comes scrambling up that ladder
and he's gray and he's shaken and he is scared, but he clenches
his fists together and he passed his eyes heavenward and he says,
"Gott sei Dank, sie fluchen noch". The Lord be praised,
they're is still swearing. " If someone used the name of the
Lord in vain, and he wasn't a Mennonite. It wasn't so bad. We could
talk about it.
There used to be an Evangelist from (245) Mitchell, SD, by the
name of (245) Rev. Krauch. Some of you might be old enough to remember
when he used to come and Freeman on lecture nights and hold the
bible meetings. In the hall, he would rent off of main street and
he would get the people down there and try to get them down the
sawdust path. Well, [in] Freeman we didn't have the term then 'homeless
people' but we had such a guy. He might have been like have a designated
hitter in baseball, now we had a designated homeless guy, he was
a (252) Bill Bruchlucker, a derlict and he would pick up scraps
off the street. And he didn't have a regular sleeping place.
And one night it was bitter cold and he came into this hall where
Reverend(254) Krouch was holding his revival meetings and Reverend
(254) Krauch was elated to see Bill come in there and he stopped
his service and he looked at Bill and he says, "Brother welcome
are you seeking the Lord?" And Bill said, "Golly is he
lost!” We could tell that because it wasn't a Mennonite telling
it and it was in the English language, so it wasn't too bad. But
in church we could talk freely about the mishaps that happened on
our daily pilgrimage to perfection. And that is why I had to change
my topic title after I got my letter from Victor Knell, because
those are the things I'm going to have to concentrate on. Those
(266)Prat falls that these people took on their imperfect travels
on a road to a perfect life. So we could laugh about the things
that went wrong.
And one of the favorite subjects I never knew that gentlemen who
died, when I was still a youngster but it was my wife's paternal
grandpa. Oh, grandpa (271) Gering. (272) Hanzul was a character.
He was not very tall, but he was quite stout. And he was very much
a man of firm convictions. And he was a realist and he went up town
to buy some clothes, it really aggravated him that he had to pay
as much for a suit of clothing or overalls as a fellow that was
6'4” and weighed 300 pounds. That fellow obviously needed
much more material for his clothes and he had to pay as much as
that fellow did. Why should he pay as much for a size 7 1/2 shoe
as that big fellow with the size 12 shoe. It just didn't make sense.
So consequently he bought the biggest clothes he could wear without
losing them. It was his way of retaliating. He was not going to
be victimized. Consequently he was not a bold (283) Beaubraummer
of the corn field. He was the most shabbily dressed fellow in East
One Sunday morning he was sitting in church and the fellow was
sitting beside him, nudged him and pointed down. Here amongst that
superfious cloth there were a bunch of unbuttoned buttons. He had
forgotten to button his trousers and as badly as they fit, he never
even noticed till now in church and the guy sitting beside him points
out those unbuttoned trousers. So he bided his time and at that
time our people still knelt to pray.
We have gotten too sophisticated for that now; we no longer kneel
to pray. But at that time they knelt to pray. And when the congregation
knelt to pray and everyone had their hands folded in prayer, he
was busy with his hand, matching unbuttoned buttons with unused
button holes. Finally, the prayer is over. Amen is said and everyone
gets up to sit down except my wife's grandfather. And he stands
there like a guy with a HexenschuB. He couldn't get up. All of a
sudden, he gives a mighty lurch and bing a button hits the ceiling.
What had happened was his vest hadn't been buttoned either. He had
buttoned the vest to the trousers.
Now stories like that were legitimate game for humor. Another time
we had foot washing in our church. I remember that well. It dropped
out in the thirties. About the time we switched from the German
to the English in our church service. But after communion they would
have foot washing. And the girls would bring the water and the big
basins. And then the fathers first would go up in front, two by
two, take off each other's shoes, and wash their feet. As an act
of humility, as Christ did with his disciples after the first communion.
This is always done after communion.
Now the same grandfather, my wife's, was not quite up to the spirit
of things, he was not about to wash feet with anybody. So he would
loiter outside the church until either grandpa Schwartz or grandpa
Senner came to church. Then he would go in with them so that he
could wash feet with his best buddies. This particular Sunday morning
his children told me Grandpa Schwartz came to church, grandpa (327)
Gering was waiting for him, and they went in together, find it was
their turn to wash feet and they go up in front. And grandpa Schwartz
takes off grandpa (329) Gering shoes and friends will whisper to
him, but it was such a loud whisper carried all over the little
church but he said, "Ei, ei, ei, das ist aber notig".
My, oh my, oh my, but this is necessary." Grandma was so embarrassed,
she didn't go to church for two weeks afterward. She just couldn't
stand to face the other ladies.
With their music they had quite a bit of fun. Here again, I don't
know if these are generic tales told by all Germans from Russia
or if they are just Mennonite tales because this one was one that
they accused my great grandfather of. Until a couple of years ago,
I found Hutterite minister in the colony and I told him about it
and he says, "Oh but that happened in the colonies long before
your great grandfather was around." So here is the same story,
and it comes from two different places so I don't even know if it
originated with the Lutherans or the Reformed or the Catholic. I
But the deal was that according to the story at home, my great
grandfather (347) Blein Andraes Graber was a Vorsinger, which meant
he had the song book with the words. They didn't have enough books
around, so he would get up and he would read a line and the congregation
would sing. Then he would read another line and they would sing
some more. And he got up that morning and he announced that they
would sing" GroBer Gott, wir loben dich". So now the tune
is fixed in the congregation's mind. And gets out his book to look
at the words and my goodness.
They had cracklings. They used to grind cracklings up and spread
them on their bread like peanut butter. Do any of you remember that?
Well they had ground up cracklings for breakfast and he had gotten
some on his fingers and got his glasses so greasy he couldn't see
the words and he takes off, after announcing the tune, he takes
off his glasses. "Was ist denn los mit meiner Brille, sie ist
mit Fett beschmiert"? "What's a matter with my glasses,
they're so smeared up with fat."
And the congregation starts out singing. "Was ist denn los
mit meiner Brille?" He said, " Ach liebe Leit', seid doch
stille, ich spreche nur von meiner Brille." "(373 German
this repeats).” I don't know how they ever did get that thing.
My Hutterite friends would tell me of an instance that happened;
now this is a Prairie Hutterites, so I'm not talking about the colony
Hutterites here. A farmer had a cow which had got twin calves, which
was very unusual at that time. It is not so unusual now anymore,
these multiple births, but at that time this cow had twin calves
and it was really quite something. And he and his family were so
overjoyed they decided that one of those twin calves was the Lord's
calf and the profit they made from that calf would go to the Lord.
Low and behold, one of the twin calves died. Guess which calf it
was. But that's how the cookie crumbles, you know.
Sunday they went to church. They were just in the process of getting
some English hymn books and the choir was singing some of the new
songs that they would be learning. And imagine his surprise when
all of a sudden the choir starts singing a song, I'm sure that some
of you know. I don't know how many of you may not be that familiar,
but the 'Half Has Not Been Told'. Do you know that song? Great!
Well somebody knows, and then they know I'm not making this up.
So the choir is singing in English the 'Half Has Not Been Told'
and he is listening and he doesn't know English very well and he
says to himself, "My goodness. They are singing the calf has
not been sold.” And he got very disturbed and his family was
disturbed. The choir sang all the verses in English, as every eye
in the choir was on him. So he went home and the family was in anonymous
agreement that that was indeed their calf that had died and the
calf that was still living was the Lord's calf.
Then the church discipline was very strict. This goes back to the
Matthew chapter 18, verses 15, 16 and 17. "Moreover if thy
brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between
thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou has gained a brother,
but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more
than an in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word mat be
established and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it onto the
church, but if neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee
as a heathen man and a publican. Four little stories to illustrate
They had to take witnesses. If the two guys couldn't settle their
difference, take a witness with him and go and try to reason with
the oppressed fellow. So this one man took two witnesses and one
was the chief witness. And they got the two contestants together
and the first man presented his side and the chief witness says,
"Bruder, du hast Recht". Boy you got a convincing case.
You are right! “But then he turned to the other guy, he had
to be fair.” Well what do you have to say? “And this
guy was equally convincing and he turns to him, "Lieber Bruder,
du hast auch Recht". But brother you are right, too!"
Well then the second witness grabbed the elder by the arm and he
shook him and he says:" Aber Bruder, sie konne nicht beide
Recht haben". But brother they can't both be right." "Bruder,
du hast aber auch Recht." "Brother, you are right, too!”
My grandfather got caught playing pool, so he had to apologize
to the church or take the consequences of being expelled. Those
of you who heard Father Sherman yesterday afternoon, he was telling,
you try to translate being behind an eight ball in German: Well,
now the preacher was in the same predicament as my grandfather.
How do you translate shooting pool into German? Because ya see shooting
pool was a Yankee indiscretion and it had been told to him that
my grandfather had been shooting pool. So my grandfather admitted
it, so Sunday morning after the service the preacher calls the congregation
together for this matter on the matter of discipline and he says,
"Es ist uns gesagt worden" it had been called to our attention,
"daB der Sepp Schlag" that Joe Schlag," my grandfather,
"took bull schieBen ". He is shooting the bull."
There was a lady, a very old lady, had three sons and one of the
sons built a home for her across the road from where he lived so
that they could look after her in old age. And this one Sunday afternoon
this old lady looks out of her window and what does she see? Here
come a group of Mennonite boys carrying guns on a Sunday afternoon.
They were hunting. What to do? Well, there is only one thing she
could do and that was to tell the church fathers about it so that
they could take disciplinary action.
I must inject here that Parker, South Dakota, is a county seat
to Turner County and there was a lot of anti-German feeling there
during World War I, and it was just a place of ill repute as far
as Mennonites were concerned, but they would have to go there to
do some of their business dealings and at the Court House.
When here comes these boys and this lady has to report them to
the church authorities so proper actions can be taken. But she doesn't
know who they are. So she steps out on the front porch, her arms
rolled up and her apron, ya know and she says, "YOU who! Bube.
You who, boys! Was sin mer dann? "Who are you?" And little
old Charlie who was right closest to the house, he was sharp and
knew what she was after. And he says, "Mer sin Englische von
Parker". Oh, we are some English dudes from Parker and she
said: Ach Gott sei Dank, gehen euch. The Lord be praised, go on
And then my very last one and my favorite one and it takes a lot
of these things into consideration. When I was a young man, I'd
hear my dad and my uncle Julius and sometimes they would be working
together one or the other would say, “(500 German)Zennzeli
Vil Baem baom”
And they would both grin and I would say, "What is that all
Ah that is something that happened so long ago we had forgotten
about it." And they refused to tell me. Came the time that
I married my wife and we both had relatives, distant relatives in
Kansas. We went to Kansas to introduce one and other to our distant
kin. We had to go meet her grandmother's brother, John P 0. Graber.
If any of you are from Hutchinson, Kansas or (510) there is a Graber
furniture store, which (511-512) he started-John P.O Fetter
And I had to go meet him and he says, "So you're from South
Dakota." And I says Yep."And he says, "The home of(514)(Zenngeli
vih bam bom) And I says, "You know that."And he says,
"Why sure doesn't everybody?"
And I say, "Well would you sing it for me so I can write it
And he was honored and flattered that I would ask him. And he gave
me that poem.
So we came home and I'd go wait till my chance is alright, when
Uncle Julius and my dad were together. And I say, "Have you
guys ever heard this?" And I sang the first verse and they
"Where did you get that?"
And I say, "Well, John P. 0. Graber told me. And I think it’s
really remarkable, here is a man old enough to be her father and
he remembers every word and you guys said it was so long ago you
can't remember it."
They said, "He isn't that sharp he left out a whole verse.”
So I said, "He can't cause this whole story is here.”
So they sang it for me and I wrote again. Now what had happened,
my people were of the Amish background. They were just making the
transition when they came from Russia in 1874, and they became members
of the General Conference of Mennonites, which is the most liberal
outfit, so now they started getting instruments.
John P. 0. Graber could tell this story because he had been kicked
out of church for playing a trumpet solo, and now, he was a Presbyterian,
so he was no more bound by the rules of our Mennonite church. But
what had happened, these people were now leaving the Amish, and
they were becoming General Conference Mennonites, and they were
kicking over the traces and the started a Swiss Choral Society .They
started getting instruments in church, and they started a Literary
Society to give budding young artists and writers a chance to show
We had two people. One was Johann Muller, who's nickname was (556)Zennzeli,
and he despised it. The other was John M. Schlag who's nickname
was Schimmel Johann and he was quite a poet. (561)Zennzeli was going
to get married.
He had to go to Silver Lake, north of Freeman on the Mennonite
highway, four or five miles north of town to get sand to mortar
two (565) field rocks together for a chimney and some for a small
foundation for his bride's home. As he was going for that sand he
drove by a David Hofer, a Prairie Hutterite, whose dogs came out
harassed, the team, he thought he would lose the harness and the
wagon. He had to go back again with the wagon loaded and it was
more of a disaster. And he dreaded coming back on the next day.
So he borrowed a muzzle loading shotgun, and he said he had loaded
with corn. Some guys thought it was rock salt and now he came. The
dogs came out again. He shot, injured the dog and oh terrible things
And here John M. Schlag has to write a poem for the Literary Society
and he depicts his whole topic and he was such a skillful poet,
he wrote it to the meter that could be sung to the tune (582 German)
Ich bin der doctor der Eisenbahnt
and he sang it and it caught on and it caught on but he was so embarrassed,
he went to the church Fathers and complained, and they had Schimmel
Johann apologize to (588) Zennzeli
in public and he apologized and the people had to promise never
more to sing that song. So my dad and Uncle Julius were honor bound
not to let it out. And I wouldn't have heard it if Uncle John wouldn't
have tooted his horn in church and got kicked out and wouldn't have
In case you want to hear the song here is how it goes, the first
verse just recaps the whole thing, as everyone knows (598) Zennzeli
drove after sand and he took along his gun to shoot dogs where ever
he might find them and what really got Schimmel Johann keeps repeating
that despised nickname.
Wie es an allen ist bekannt,
Der Zenngeli fuhr einmal nach Sand ,
Er nahm mit sich ein' kleine Flint,
Zum HundenschieBen wo er find.
Now the next verse he gets to David's house and actually dogs came
out! And he didn't think long at all, just all of a sudden "bang”
he let it fly.
BeEin David war das erste Haus,
Da wirklich kamen Hunde raus,
Der Knab' hat sich nicht lang' bedacht,
Auf einmal hat es losgekracht.
That he had loaded with corn. That poppy cock. This is Schimmel
Johann's writing again. It had to be a bullet. It penetrated the
dog from, hit the dog in the rear and penetrated all the way to
Es kam dann gar nicht an den Tag, daB er mit Kom geladen hat,
ein' Kugel muBt's gewesen sein,
von hinten flugs ins aug hinein.
Now you really get to see Schimmel Johann's ability as a poet.
David Hofer was a Prairie Hutterite and he now in the next verse,
it says David heard that shot, he immediately got on the trail of
this animal, but he is too lazy to walk, so he takes a horse. Well
my Schweizer people they say "RoB" for a horse, the correct
German word I guess is "Pferd"; the Hutterisch people
say "Gaul". Well, this is a Hutterisch horse, so it had
to be Gaul.
Und als den David das eufhr
Macht er sich gleich dann auf die Spur,
Zum laufe war er doch zu faul, und setzte sich auf seinen Gaul,
Terrible things now happen, he comes to the wagon. He takes the
gun away from the boy. He smashes it over a wagon wheel into a thousand
pieces, crooked and straight.
Als er zu dem Wagen kam,
und gleich die Flint vom Knaben nahm,
und schlug sie auf das Wagenrad,
auf tausend Stiicke quer und grad.
Now the last verse you have to sing with (670)Pathos, pianissimo,
legato. Because (673)Zennzeli now this wrecked gun on his hand.
He's got to make restitution for it. He more takes quick inventory
of all his worldly possessions, mortgages, both of them and still
doesn't have enough money left to pay for it.
Dann war der knobe doch sehr besorgt,
denn er hat die Flinte nur geborgt,
Don fer srtzde ehr sun hund und ku
und das reicht ihm noch lang' nicht zu.
Thank You .