History Culture Lawrence Welk
Armstrong, Mark. "Welk Homestead." Emmons County Record,
7 August 2001, 2.
Up until this past weekend, the thought of driving
to Strasburg to visit the farmstead of Lawrence Welk was never
on our family's list of "Things We Must Do." It never
occurred to us that we might learn something by visiting the place,
we have seen farms and old sod houses as we drive back and forth
across the state, and so what could the Welk farm possibly offer?
It took a magazine assignment for my wife, Patti, for us to make
the venture down, and what a pleasant surprise it was in so many
We live in a much different world today than the
world of immigrant families like Ludwig and Christina Welk, Lawrence
Welk's parents who emigrated from Odessa, Russia, as one of the
many Germans from Russia families who fled seeking a better life
in America. Speaking no English and settling a hard land at the
turn of the century these families that built sod homes and struggled
without electricity, running water or adequate heating or cooling
systems lived in stark contrast to those who complain today when
a storm knocks out their cable T.V. for a few hours. Life for
families like the Welks was tough and harsh, with a family of
four boys and four girls crammed into a small home that has about
as much square feet as an average living room today.
Did they complain about their life? Did they blame
God for all their suffering? No, they built wonderful churches
like Sts. Peter and Paul in Strasburg. A huge brick structure
consecrated in 1910 with beautiful stain glass windows, statues
to scores of saints, beautiful hand-painted murals on the ceilings
and a deep sense of what was really important and sacred.
Then there is the story of Lawrence Welk, a boy
who gets an accordion and then follows a dream to play and entertain
with his music. For 30 years crisscrossing the Northern Plains
and Midwest, playing in a different small town every night, before
landing the television contract in 1951 with ABC that changes
his life forever.
I have to confess I had no idea how impressive the
story being told at the Welk farmstead is. Not to mention the
two wonderful women, relatives of the family, who take the time
to patiently answer questions and offer insight as they tour you
around. If Strasburg has not been on your list of places to visit,
then make sure you put it on. Bring your family, bring your children
and let them see how the Welks lived and maybe, just maybe, they
might think twice about complaining when batteries die out on
their Nintendo games. With Insight, I'm Mark Armstrong.
Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County
to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested
by contacting Michael