Home Articles

Together forever: Kulm couple, married 75 years ago Sunday, say marriage is a matter of give and take

By Gail Hogan, Family/Life Editor

The Jamestown Sun, Jamestown, North Dakota, November 9, 1996, Pages 1 and 2

Fred J., son of John and Eva (Schneider) Goehner, was born on November 24, 1900, in Dickey County, ND. Christina, daughter of Katherina and Christoph Rath, was born on August 3, 1902, in Albota, South Russia and came to the United States when she was ten months old. Christina and Fred were married on November 10, 1921. The Goehners are active members of the First Congregational Church in Kulm. Fred's parents immigrated from Beresina, Bessarabia. The Goehners were engaged in farming for 45 years and enjoyed many blessings and hardships together. They sold their farm in 1965 and moved into Kulm, where they still reside in their own home. - Michael M. Miller, Germans from Russia Bibliographer North Dakota State University Libraries, Fargo.

KULM - In this day and age, it seems many couples take their wedding vows lightly.

But when Fred J. and Christina (Rath) Goehner said, "I do," 75 years ago, they meant it.

"When we got married," Christina said, "I never thought of being apart. I thought right away, "That's forever.`That's what I'm going to do.'"

The Goehners, with a combined age of nearly 190 years, will celebrate their 75th anniversary Sunday with an open house at their home in Kulm.

"So, you think that's quite something," Fred said. "Seventy-five years..." Quite something, indeed.

Christina is 94, and Fred will be 96 this month. The couple still lives at home. They have hired someone who helps them. She brings them their mail, cleans house and just generally keeps an eye on them. "She does anything we want her to do," Fred said.

They have two sons, Norman, Minneapolis, MN., and Vernon, Spearfish, S.D., nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

The two are in fairly good health. Christina uses a walker because she has broken her leg three times in recent years. Both, understandably, are hard of hearing, and both speak with a German accent.

"Oh, yah. I'm in good health," Fred said. "But, I'm old. I've worked hard all my life."

Fred, the son of Johannes "John" and Eva (nee Scheider) Goehner, was born in Dickey County Nov. 24, 1900. Christina, the daughter of Christoph and Katherine nee Kungel Rath, was born Aug. 3, 1902. Both lived on farms near Kulm.

"She come after me." Fred said, and Christina shook her head signaling she remembered otherwise.

She said their courtship was certainly different than those of today.

"We didn't go with cars. We sat and talked," she said, "and maybe kissed a little," she whispered.

How did he propose?

"I was bashful," Fred said.

"We together decided we were going to get married," Christina said.

She was 19 and he was 21 when they got married Nov. 10, 1921, at her parents' home.

"It wasn't much of a wedding," Fred said. It was cold and relatives traveled across the snowy fields by horse and sleigh for the event. "The next day, we packed up and she moved out to my house."

They lived on the farmstead he inherited from his parents until 1965, when they bought a home in Kulm. They have lived there since.

Christina said she is astonished at the high divorce rate in America. "I sometimes can't understand what's wrong!"

And, although their relationship may not be as romantic as it once was, the sweetness remains.

"Why sure I love her." Fred said. Christina smiled. "I scold her more often though, because she does things that she shouldn't be doing."

When asked if she loves him, Christina nodded once, matter-of-factly.

Any advice for wedded couples today?

"Well," Christina said, "they should be like one. They have to help each other, and sometimes, it's hard, but they have to give in. That's what."

Fred said that he has a pat answer for any man complaining about his own wife. "I always say, `You married her, didn't you?'" he said. "She is not you. You are not her. You are different people. You have to give in sometimes. You can't expect to be right all the time. She has just as much right as I have." he pointed to his wife.

He explained that their marriage is still not perfect, and that couples shouldn't expect their relationships to be easy all the time. As an example, he told of a recent disagreement the couple had about which bedroom their children and grandchildren would stay in when visiting for the anniversary celebration.

Despite any disagreement, with perspective, the couple has made it a long way together. They are like one.

"If she died, what would I want with another wife?" Fred said. "Or her another man? We get along better than anyone could. If she is gone, I would want to die, too. There would be nothing good in life anymore. It is God's blessing we are here that long."

Fred summed up his view of the relationship.

"When she was younger she was good" he said, "when she was old, I was old, too."

Reprinted with permission of the Jamestown Sun.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Library
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel 701-231-8416
Fax 701-231-7138
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
Site Design: Tyler Simonson
Site Editor: Web Editors
North Dakota State University Library North Dakota State University North Dakota State University GRHC Home