Mathilda Brost “100” Years old

"Mathilda Brost “100” Years old." Dickey County Leader, 25 November 1989.

About 65 relatives and friends gathered at the Ellendale Nursing Center Sunday afternoon to help Mathilda Brost celebrate her 100th birthday. The last couple of years she has reminded her family that she is the same age as the state of North Dakota.

Mathilda Herman Brost was born at Beresina, Besserabia in South Russia. Her ancestors had migrated from Germany earlier. Mathilda was only eight years old when she came to America but could recall vividly the kind of life and homes they had in Beresina.

Her father was a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade but that did not help him build a sod house in North Dakota.

The family homestead about seven miles east of Kulm near the Soo Line railroad. Mathilda recalls that her mother used to gather coal along the tracks. Sometimes fireman would throw extra coal out for her. They used slough grass and buffalo and cow chips for fuel since there were no trees for wood.

There were no schools in the area until Mathilda was 13 years old, by that time she had become her father’s helper on the farm. She was the oldest in a family of twelve children. She was able to attend school for only a few months.

However, with her fathers help she had learned to read and write in the German language and became an avid reader. Later when her children went to school she would pour over their text books at night and become self educated. She was especially interested in history and geography and never seemed to have enough time to do all the readings she wanted to.

She also became an accomplished seamstress and before she was married, spent part of the winter months with relatives and neighbors sewing for their families and teaching their children to play the organ.

Mathilda was united in marriage to John P. Brost December 6, 1909. They purchased a farm five miles east of Kulm. Seven children were born to this union. John died in 1936, but she continued to farm with her children during the drought and depression and managed to hold on to the farm and buy additional land.

In 1965, she bought a home in Kulm and continued to be an enthusiastic gardener. She liked trying new varieties of vegetables and flowers. At age 90 her garden was still the envy of her neighbors.

When her eye sight was almost gone she became a resident of the Manor St. Joseph at Edgeley until she suffered a stroke last March, since that time she has been at the Ellendale Nursing Center.

In the last few years, Mathilda has received birthday greetings from three U.S. Presidents and North Dakota Governors.

Her living children are: Esther Goehner, Santa Barbara, Cal; Lillian Heinrich of Dryden, Wa.; Rose Merkel, Ellendale; Ronald Brost, Kulm; and ElRoy Brost, Dryden, Wa.

Reprinted with permission of The Dickey County Leader, Ellendale, North Dakota.


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