In Touch with Prairie Living
By Michael M. Miller
The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the NDSU Libraries
in Fargo reaches out to prairie families and former Dakotans. In
various ways, it affirms the heritage of the Germans from Russia
is an important part of the northern plains culture. As the holiday
season approaches, I wish to share in spirit of the Yuletide holiday
season. May I extend special "Weihnachten" greetings.
I am pleased to announce the completion of two new books published
by the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection. Homeland Book
of the Bessarabian Germans includes 356 pages with many photographs
of the villages. The book will be of much interest to Dakotans with
Bessarabian German heritage. The new publication shares the story
of 126 years of Germans families in Bessarabia. Later thousands
of these Bessarabian Germans immigrated to North America from the
1880s to the early 1900s. Many families homestead in central North
Dakota and South Dakota as well as the western Canadian prairie
provinces. Included are extensive indexes, lists of Bessarabians
who died in WW I and WWII, agricultural practices, as well as village
life and customs.
Cities and townships in North Dakota were named after these villages,
including Kulm, Beresina and Leipzig. Village histories and photographs
include Akkerman, Alt Elft, Alt Posttal, Arzis, Borodino, Brienne,
Dennewitz, Eigenfeld, Eigenheim, Emmental, Friedenstal, Gnadenfeld,
Hoffnungstal, Katzbach, Klöstitz, Krasna, Lichtental, Mariental,
Paris, Sarata, Seimeny, Tarutino, Teplitz and Wittenberg.
Tender Hands: Ruth's Story of Healing is authored by Ruth
Weil Kusler with Peggy Sailer O'Neil, both of Beulah, ND. Ruth was
born on January 9, 1908, nine miles south of Beulah. Her mother,
a midwife and faith healer, taught her daughter the family's healing
methods and home remedies. Ruth followed her mother's footsteps,
massaging and caring for the sick throughout her life. She feels
blessed that God gave her such "tender hands." Ruth dedicates her
book to her mother stating: "To my mother, who taught me the importance
of praying and caring".
Pauline Neher Diede of Hebron, ND, author of pioneer books, writes
in the preface: "You, Ruth, have serviced during an era of the twentieth
century as a follower of your dear mother's steps - that of helping
people that hurt! Your parents were immigrants from Russia who settled
the wild and undeveloped land of North Dakota. There was barely
a doctor available anywhere. Any kind of human need depended on
the intuition of a midwife -- for the birth of babies as well as
her practical use of herbs, setting broken or fractured bones, and
the touch of "Brauche", a spiritual meditation. Your mother held
the touch of healing, Ruth. And she passed on her aptness to your
tender hands and healing prayers."
Persons interested in securing Homeland Book of the Bessarabian
Germans or Tender Hands: Ruth's Story of Healing, may
contact me at the address below.
As we celebrate this holiday season, may I suggest that you review
the GRHC website page "Ein Bessarabisches Weihnachtsfest".
There is a wonderful story of how German families celebrated Christmas
in Bessarabia. At the website page, are traditional Bessarabian
German holiday recipes including Pfeffernüss, Golden Carrot Pie,
Rum Fruit Dumplings, and Red Beet Wine Hot Punch.
Christmas traditions and memories are shared at the GRHC website
page "Christmas" (http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/history_culture/textile/textilescollection.html)
with wonderful stories. Mary Welk Mitzel born in 1913 at rural Orrin,
Pierce County, ND, tells about the "Belzenickel" bringing "Christkindl"
along to their home on Christmas Eve. Wonderful holiday memories
are shared by Janice Huber Stangl, Hosmer, SD native; Bonnie Zeller
Whillock, Heil, ND native; Jim Heilman, Eureka, SD native and Virginia
Becker Chapman, Herreid, SD, native.
The Germans from Russia video documentary premieres on Prairie
Public Television in early 1999. The one-hour documentary explores
the history and culture of this unique ethnic group. The videotape
can now be secured and will be sent in March, 1999, to all persons
ordering the video. This limited-edition version is available to
those who order their request before January 1, 1999, and will contain
special footage not seen in the general documentary. For further
information, call toll free: 1-800-359-6900 or contact me.
For further information about the two new books, the Germans from
Russia television documentary, the Journey to the Homeland Tour
to Odessa, Ukraine and Stuttgart, Germany for May 18-31, 1999, and
German-Russian heritage, contact Michael M. Miller, NDSU Libraries,
PO Box 5599, Fargo, ND 58105-5599 (Tel: 701-231-8416; E-mail: Michael.Miller@ndsu.edu;
GRHC website: http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc).