The Old Country
From the Old Country, Odessa, Russia to the New Country
By Bert Schall, Devils Lake, North Dakota
When we got married, we didn't go out dancing anymore. I stayed at home and raised a nice beautiful family, but once in awhile my sisters came over and we went dancing. We just loved to dance. My mother, Magdaline, was a good dancer, also. We had a good mother and a good father. We got little older, but we were still spry and so were my sisters!
"I cooked and baked," she said. "When my birthday came I had a house full with my children and grandchildern. I also baked Kuchen, Bluchenda, and made home made egg noodles," she also said.
Carolina Miller (Schall) and her sister, Annie Kirchofner grew up in Odessa, Russia in an alien land. Magdaline Miller, Mother Schall, Mother and Kathern Schoon and her son Johnny came to America. Their father came also to escape the draft into the army service in Russia.
Carolina, my mother, still remembers Odessa on the Crimean Sea in Russia. In fact, its been 95 years since the sisters came across on the Kaiser Wihelm # ship. It might be longer now.
"We used to raise grapes," mother said, "there were stone wall around the house in Odessa to keep robbers out. Our houses were built by hand. We took manure and mixed it with straw to dry it out, then we cut it into chunks. After it was rolled even by rollers dragged by horses, it was dried in the sun. It was used to make the walls for our homes. The roofs were made from grass found down by the water, and they never leaked. The homes were warm."
The floors of the old houses, she remembers, were made of manure mixed with straw and covered with fine sand. The blocks of cow manure were put into the stove for fuel to keep warm. When we made bread you pushed it in the stove. Then all you had to take out was the ashes.
The Russian government began demanding the Germans to serve in the army. We sold our land, cattle and everything to save money to come to America, otherwise, we probably never could have come to America.
My mother's mother and her five children and her husband took off for Bremen, Germany. My mother's father caught a bad cold and took sick at the hospital and died, there. We just didn't know what to do, so we had to leave my father there to get buried. We didn't get to see him at all. It was very, very hard to leave our father. We stayed in a hotel for 21 days and then we all caught the ship, Kaiser Wilhelm #, for America. We came to New York and got shipped out of there. We came to Rugby, North Dakota on a train, in God's World. We didn't know where we were taken!!
Uncle Joe Volk, always wrote us about coming to America. Otherwise, we would have never came. He said, "Come to this beautiful land of America."
We, the young Miller girls, were not very happy. We were scared and we weren't used to it. It was a very strange country. We got to Rugby, North Dakota on the 8th of December 1909, on a Holy Day, The Day of the Immaculate Conception.
We remember Rugby was just a town, there was nothing in Rugby. The sister's remember the Jacobson store and a little post office and also wooden sidewalks.
My sister Annie Kirchofner remembers the 30s were the toughest years! In 1934 and 1935, it was so bad there was nothing but thistles to feed the cattle. Wheat at that time brought a quarter ($0.25) a bushel and oats $0.08 per bushel. A dozen eggs brought ($0.05) a nickle.
We used to take a can of cream into town and it would bring enough money to buy our clothes. The shoes were only $1.50 a pair then.
We sisters became American citizens at Rugby. We took the test and passed it. They were't much for questions and we had to have witnesses too. That was one thing they said that was different from the way it is now.
The children used to listen better in the old country, there was more respect for older people and for the priest. Now days the 12 year olds are the boss. They have no respect for their fathers and mothers at all they said.
The Miller girls miss the way everybody used to sing all night on their birthdays, mostly in German.
Many, many things have changed in 95 years---it's longer now, I'm sure. Since we came to America, many times we sister's think back to our old country, Odessa.
I really don't know how my mother Magdaline Miller made it here to Rugby alone with five children by herself. She must have been a SAINT!!
The Miller sisters from the Old Country
From Chris Burkart
My sister Jenny and I are trying to put together the stories remembered and also the names of all the immediate living relatives so that we might be able to pass on the history of these great people. I have found cousins I never knew existed, thank goodness. I wouldn't be able to put much together without them. I am looking for Burkart and Fuchs as immediate family, and then Noels, Frohlichs, Sulsbach, Tuchscherer and Meier. After that it ranges into Trenkenschuh, Essert and Bach (variations are Buck and Back. So little is known...
From Ronald J Vossler
From Louise Norton
As a child we all had to promise Dad that we would NEVER go back to Russia for any reason...no given reason for the promice but one we have all honored until this day. I now wonder why. It makes looking into ones own history so very difficult..I would suspect like many others he was a draft dodger as well, but he never mentioned it. How sad.