Home History Culture Oral History Transcribed Interviews

Interview with Eva Baer (EB)

Conducted by Brother Placid Gross
11 December 1997, Richardton, North Dakota

Transcription by Joy Hass Stefan
Editing and Proofreading by Jane D. Trygg

PG: Today is December 11, 1997 at the Richardton Health Center. I am Brother Placid Gross and we are going to talk with Eva Mischel (sp) Bauer. When were you born?

EB: I was born July 25, 1901 on the farm.

PG: When did you get married?

EB: October 14, 1919.

PG: What was your father’s name?

EB: Ferdinand Mischel

PG: Your mother’s maiden name?

EB: Susan Forster Mischel.

PG: Was your father born in this country?

EB: I don’t think so as far as I know.

PG: He came from Russia, right?

EB: Yah, they were married over there.

PG: Your parents were married in Russia.

EB: Yah.

PG: Do you know your father’s parents?

EB: Well I didn’t know him, but his name was Sebastian Mischel.

PG: What was grandma’s name?

EB: Well he was married to three wives. Now I don’t know how they all died, but one was a Gardner as far as I know and the last one was a Jochim.

PG: And your father’s real mother?... You’re not sure which one it was?

EB: No, I am not sure. He had three wives. I’m not sure.

PG: We were talking about the grandpa, right? Did grandpa have three wives or your father?

EB: My grandpa Mischel had had three wives as far as I know.

PG: But he died in Russia.

EB: Grandpa Mishel? No. He had cancer and I think he died in Richardton, but he got sick in Kansas and my dad went down and got him.

PG: What was he doing down in Kansas?

EB: I guess they tipped the buggy over and his wife broke her leg and then he took her to another country – thought she’d get better.

PG: You said at Kansas. Were you living in Kansas?

EB: Yah, I don’t know how come they lived in Kansas.

PG: They come from Russia to Kansas?

EB: They come from Russia to here in Richardton.

PG: How did they get to Kansas?

EB: I don’t know how he got to Kansas.

PG: Maybe they went to Kansas first. Maybe they went from Russia to Kansas and then up to here.

EB: Might all be, I’m not sure.

PG: What about your mother? She was a Forester.

EB: Yah, she was a Forester, and her parents lived up there beside the church, the one that went down. They bought that and that’s where they lived.

PG: The house was real close to the church? That was a stone house, huh?

EB: Yah, that had steps on each side where the house split or something so it fell over.

PG: What was your mother’s first name? Did we say that already?

EB: Susanna.

PG: Susanna Forster

EB: Yah.

PG: What was Susanna’s parents’ names?

EB: Jacob Forester and her name was Friez.

PG: Do you know grandma’s first name?

EB: (A45 Mary Eve) they called her.

PG: Do you know what village they came from in Russia?

EB: I’m not sure. (A48 German)

PG: There is a Karlsruhe and that sounds right. What did you do all of your life, what work did you do?

EB: Farmed. A little of everything – had a few sheep, cattle, few horses, pigs.

PG: Did you have turkeys?

EB: Oh yah, I had a lot of turkeys. Not many geese, I couldn’t raise geese – I don’t know why. I had ducks and turkeys and chickens.

PG: Did your mother ever talk about the old country?

EB: Oh yah. They all had to go out to the field and take a kettle of soup along out, and they ate all from that soup. They had to work in the fields too.

PG: The women worked in the field too, didn’t they?

EB: Yah, they all did. They cut the grain by the scythe and then they made from the grain to make the buns.

PG: What other work did your mother do over in Russia?

EB: I guess just help out in the field

PG: Did she milk the cows?

EB: In Russia or over here?

PG: In Russia.

EB: She never said nothing about that.

PG: Your mother and dad were married in Russia, right.

EB: Yah.

PG: So they were adults already when they came over here

EB: Yah, they never had any children yet. The children were all born over here.

PG: They got married, and then they left over there and came here.

EB: Yah, they went with dad’s parents. See, they come over and then they stayed by Foresters. He was from Russia too.

PG: So, your dad’s parents came over here too.

EB: Yah, both parents come over here. They said the ship was rough and a lot of them were seasick and they had to throw-up and everything went back and forth.

PG: Do you know how long they were on the water?

EB: No, I don’t know; must have been on the water a couple of days.

PG: Yah, two weeks maybe.

EB: Maybe, yah. See my grandpa Mischel married a young women and then they had a child – do you know Adam Mischel?

PG: Yah

EB: Well she was by him. See grandma was a young bride, and she didn’t want to take care of that child, so my mother had to take care of her.

PG: Grandpa Mischel married a woman that had a child.

EB: No, they had a child.

PG: They had a child. But she didn’t want to take care of it.

EB: Well, she was just a young bride. So my mother had to take care of it.

PG: You don’t know anything else about the ship coming over?

EB: Well they talked about them sharks I guess

PG: Sharks?

EB: Well, great big fish how they come against the ship.

PG: Maybe a whale

EB: That’s what I mean, yah.

PG: Did your father ever talk about the old country? Did he say anything?

EB: No.

PG: Did your parents start to talk English over here?

EB: Mother didn’t know too much but father could talk pretty good. He learned by himself. He says when they looked for some horses they wrote a name on a piece of paper looking for some horses; they couldn’t talk English so they give him the paper.

PG: Did they talk about the church in Russia and what is was like?

EB: No, not that I remember, but they had church over here in the schoolhouses and once she said that there was some firebugs, and then they thought the Indians were coming; then they rolled around and (A105 tape cuts out) so they could protect themselves, and they were just firebugs.

PG: Did your mother get homesick for Russia?

EB: No, I don’t think so. She was so busy all the time I guess.

PG: She did not have time to get homesick.

EB: No, I guess not.

PG: Because your mother’s parents were over here too. How about your mother’s brothers and sisters, were they all over here?

EB: Yah, as far as I know.
PG: And your dad’s brothers and sisters, were they over here?

EB: I guess they must have come along over.

PG: You think they all came over, your dad’s brothers and sisters?

EB: Yes.

PG: Did they ever get letters from the old country?

EB: No.

PG: So they didn’t have any relatives over here if they didn’t get any letters.

EB: No.

PG: Did you get German newspapers over here?

EB: They got the Aberdeen Herald. (A121 German Der Folks Fried)

PG: That was printed at the Abbey.

EB: Yah, dad I guess learned himself to read German.

PG: Do you know any German poems, in German?

EB: (A126)

PG: Do you know something like (A127 German)

EB: No, (laughter). My mother used to sing a baby song, but I forgot it. (A129 German)

PG: (A130 German)

EB: (A131 German)

PG: You don’t remember that one, huh?

EB: No.

PG: Did you talk German to your children? Did your children learn German?

EB: Oh, yah. They were kind of (A134 stubborn) about it but they all can talk a little bit.

PG: But when they were little they could. When they were at home they talked German.

EB: Yah.

PG: Did your parents talk Russian?

EB: We had to Russian hired men and they could talk to them.

PG: So, your parents could talk Russian?

EB: Oh, yah.

PG: What kind of work did you have to do when you were little?

EB: Oh my God, everything – outside and inside. I run every machine that’s on the farm, even the header. My husband had to work in PWA and there was grain – barley or oats – and I told him if he harness up the horses I and the boys would do it, so we cut that and by the time he got home we had that cut.

PG: Good. Did you wear pants when you went out to work or did you wear a dress?

EB: No, I wore pants.

PG: Did you milk the cows by hand?

EB: Oh, yes, all the time. We never had no milk machine.

PG: When you were little you had to milk too. You probably started when you were six or eight years old?

EB: Yah, I guess so. I know we had a cow that had such a big udder; you put the pail under and it was in the pail – kneeled down and milked her.

PG: When you were little, what work did you like to do?

EB: I liked to ride the horse; took care of the cows.

PG: Did you have a saddle?

EB: Oh, yah, the horse’s name was (A155 Fannie)

PG: What work did you not like to do?

EB: I didn’t like to stack the haystack. It was always sweet clover and he (A160 rolled it down with the rows all bundled up) and I had to tear that apart and by the time I had that apart he had another load. That was the hardest work I’ve ever done.

PG: Stacking the sweet clover hay; that would be hard work. How old were you then?

EB: Oh… I was married already.

PG: Did you go to school when you were little?

EB: We went to Spring Valley School, a mile from Paul’s place.

PG: How many years did you go to school?

EB: I only went to the fourth grade. I had to stay home when mother washed and when they hauled hay to make there way from the upstairs so they could pitch it in.

PG: How about your other brothers and sisters, did they go to school?

EB: Yah, they didn’t go to school too long either, they were about sixteen or so.

PG: Were you the oldest in the family?

EB: No, (Mary Behm) was the oldest.

PG: So the older ones had to stay home too to work.

EB: Yah.

PG: In your school, were they all Germans or were there other people in your school?

EB: Mostly Germans.

PG: Did you talk German in school?

EB: Well, sometimes and sometimes not.

PG: Were you punished if you talked English?

EB: No.

PG: How did you go to school?

EB: We had a horse and in the wintertime we drove and he went back home again – we left him go. His name was Jack.

PG: You drove with one horse and then you let the horse run home so your dad could use the horse at home, huh?

EB: Yah. Yah, he was a gentle horse. When they had a bronco or something to break in, to drive, they had him with old Jack, tied him on to him.

PG: In the afternoon when you went home you did not have a horse to go home.

EB: Sometimes we got a ride with the neighbors; they drove.

PG: How far was it to school?

EB: About a mile.

PG: What kind of teachers did you have?

EB: I remember one man, his name was Hasper; I think Ed was his name.

PG: Was he a good teacher?

EB: My dad didn’t like him (A199)

PG: He would shoot the kids with spitballs with a rubberband.

EB: My son was pretty good educated already and they had arithmetic so my son made it and the teacher couldn’t make it so the teacher says, “yours must be right.”

PG: So your son knew more than the teacher in arithmetic.

EB: I guess so.

PG: Where did the teachers board?

EB: We had quite a few of them that stayed at our house.

PG: Did you have men teachers or women mostly?

EB: Just that one man that I know, Haspert.

PG: Where did the teachers come from?

EB: I think they lived in town here.

PG: I mean were they Germans or were they English?

EB: I guess they were English.

PG: Did you go to church a lot?

EB: Sundays we went to church.

PG: Did you have church at home?

EB: No, the neighbors I guess; they used to go together.

PG: Did you pray at home when you were little?

EB: Sure, we always prayed before we ate and had our night prayers.

PG: When you went to church when you were little, was it church in German?

EB: Latin, I guess.

PG: The Mass would be in Latin and the sermon would be in German?

EB: Yah.

PG: When the church switched to English, was that hard on you or did you like that?

EB: Of course we liked it, but I guess my parents I don’t know, they never said nothing. My parents probably weren’t alive no more when it went into English.

PG: Do you remember when Father Gregory preached in German?

EB: Yes.

PG: Could you understand him when he preached in German?

EB: Oh yah.

PG: When somebody died in your family where did you have the body? In the funeral home or…

EB: They usually had it in the house I think. I know (A239) had their child in the house. I don’t think that they had it in the funeral home. Then I guess they took them to church after a couple of days or so.

PG: Do you still have any old things that your parents brought from Russia? Dishes or blankets…

EB: No, I don’t think so. She had a set of (A246 blue) dishes, but if she got them from Russia I don’t know.

PG: You don’t know where those dishes are now, huh?

EB: No, I know my daughter had some her grandma gave her; she’s in Alabama now.

PG: How did you celebrate Christmas when you were little?

EB: Well, Krish Kindle.

PG: The Krish Kindle came.

EB: Then the Belzenickel came with a fur coat on and come with a chain.

PG: What did the Belzenickel do with the chain?

EB: Well he scared the kids. (laughter)

PG: Scared them good. Did he come into the house too?

EB: Oh yah, oh yah. Kids got scared. Fur coat on and had a chain and [said] “Kids are you good?”

PG: Now when you were married and you had children, did you have the Belzenickel too?

EB: No. (laughter)

PG: What do you think of that Belzenickel? Was that a good thing or was that bad?

EB: It scared the kids too much I think.

PG: That was not too good huh.

EB: No, I don’t think so.

PG: What about the Krish Kindle?

EB: He come with a white sheet or something like that.

PG: What did the Krish Kindle bring you?

EB: A few nuts and a few candy; maybe an apple and an orange.

PG: Did you get any gifts when you were little?

EB: I guess they had a doll in a shoe box… (tape scratchy)

PG: You hung the doll on the wall. That was so nice?

EB: Why sure it was nice. It would break if you didn’t take care of it.

PG: So you didn’t even play with it?

EB: No, just look at it.

PG: So, you did not get many gifts when you were little.

EB: Beads for around [the neck] and the chain broke and the beads were gone.

PG: What did the boys get from the Krish Kindle?

EB: Maybe shoes or stockings.

PG: How did you celebrate Easter when you were young?

EB: Well they’d bake. They ate a lot of good food; maybe potato salad, and a ham, and doughnuts (A286 German - Shnaboil )

PG: (Shnaboil) – snowballs. Did you have Easter eggs?

EB: Oh, yah. They made the color with onion peels.

PG: Did they have other colors too or only the onion peel?

EB: No they didn’t.

PG: You don’t get nice colors from the onion peel do you?

EB: No just kind of yellow. Then the kids have a nest to put the eggs in, probably got some candy.

PG: The kids made a nest?

EB: Yah, oh yah, where the Easter rabbit would come.

PG: When you were married what kind of a wedding did you have?

EB: Just in a house out by the farm because his brothers died that year of the flu; they didn’t want no dance or anything; of course they didn’t have no room to dance. That was the house where Paul Baer lived.

PG: Oh, that was the old stone house?

EB: Yah.

PG: You came to Richardton to church. How did you drive to church?

EB: We had an old Ford.

PG: Then you went home to your mother’s place?

EB: Yah. My husband bought that place from my folks.

PG: Then you lived in that stone house all your life.

EB: I guess I was about six years old when they built the house. I don’t remember so much about it, but I know that they built it.

PG: Is that house still standing?

EB: Yes, that’s still standing.

PG: Did you like that stone house?

EB: Oh, yah. It was a big house; had an upstairs and a basement.

PG: Was it warm or was it cold?

EB: It was cold. In the summertime it was cool.

PG: Did you have a furnace in the basement.

EB: I can’t remember what they used to heat it with. I guess they just heated it with some kind of stove.

PG: You just had a stove in the middle of the room, I think.

EB: Yah, dining room.

PG: What did you burn in the stove?

EB: Coal.

PG: When you got married you did not have a three day wedding, huh?

EB: No, we didn’t.

PG: You said your husband lived at Halliday before he was married.

EB: About a half a mile west of the big flat.

PG: Which church did they go too?

EB: St. Martin’s.

PG: So, are his parents, the Baer grandparents, are they buried at St. Martin’s?

EB: My husband’s parents are buried down there and three brothers who died of the flu.

PG: Oh, three brothers died of the flu?

EB: In three days.

PG: Oh my, that was bad. Do you know how old they were already when they died?

EB: They were all pretty well grown up; one was married, Paul Baer; then was Nick and Tom.

PG: They’re buried at St. Martin’s.

EB: Yah.

PG: When you got married did you have a bridesmaid?

EB: Oh, yah. It was my sister and his sister were two bridesmaids.

PG: What was your sister’s name?

EB: Anna. She married Ray Brown.

PG: and his sister?

EB: She married Carl Heindert. They’re all gone already.

PG: What about the best man?

EB: We didn’t have a best man. No, we just had two bridesmaids. It was just a plain wedding.

PG: What kind of food did you have at the wedding?

EB: We had chicken noodle soup and his mother was blind already so we took some soup out to her on our wedding day.

PG: She couldn’t come to the wedding?

EB: No, she didn’t come to the wedding.

PG: Besides the chicken noodle soup what did you have?

EB: I guess potato salad.

PG: Did you eat chicken too?

EB: I’m sure they had chicken to make the soup.

PG: Did you have a wedding cake?

EB: No.

PG: That was not the style, huh.

EB: No, not there yet.

PG: How about Schnapps? Did you have Hokseit Schnapps?

EB: I guess they must have. I don’t remember.

PG: What kind of a dress did you have?

EB: A white one, silk.

PG: Have you still got it?

EB: No, I had it for a long time then I dyed it at made night gowns for the little kids.

PG: How did you dye that?

EB: We got dye.

PG: Oh, you could buy it.

EB: Yes.

PG: What color did you make that?

EB: Light blue.

PG: That was a nice color. If your husband lived out by Dodge, how did you ever find him?

EB: Well, it was (Kouplad). My mother was a Forester and his sister married a Forester, so it was my
uncle and aunt. (laughter) Well they thought I could work good so I guess they needed someone to work and take care of his mother.

PG: So, how long did you know him before you got married?

EB: From July to October. I knew him before, I just seen him, but we never...

PG: Was that long enough?

EB: Must have been. (laughter) It worked.

PG: Well then after you were married where did you live?

EB: We lived by his folks in the house for a few months I guess and then they moved a little house there that had a kitchen and a front room and a bedroom. That’s where we lived for a couple of years; out by Halliday.

PG: Then your husband bought your dad’s farm and you moved there?

EB: Yah, that was a couple years after [we were married].

PG: Did your dad give you something when you got married? Did you get cows from your dad?

EB: Yah, two horses, two cows, table, bed, chairs, washboard.

PG: But you got two horses too?

EB: Two horses and two cows.

PG: Usually the men get the horses.

EB: I guess I worked enough there so they gave me some. Two black horses.

PG: What was there names?

EB: One was Kate, the other one I don’t know; they were two female horses.

PG: What kind of German food did you eat?

EB: (A462 rivel milik) soup.

PG: I don’t even know what that is.

EB: That is milk soup with rivels in there. I just made them by hand.

PG: Did you make Borscht?

EB: Oh, yah; put in meat and cabbage and beans and carrots and potatoes and tomatoes, and a little cream.

PG: Did you make Halupsi? –cabbage with rice in it.

EB: Well, we made raisin and rice and you put it in a casserole and put some sugar, salt, water, and butter on and put it in the oven.

PG: Did you make Blachenda?

EB: Not too often. I did, but not my mother.

PG: Did you bake Kuchen?

EB: Yah, my mother made sugar Kuchen.

PG: Did you have music in your family?

EB: No, they didn’t have no music. Well I think mouth organ.

PG: Did you sing at home?

EB: Well when we milked the cows my sister sang when we had them in the barn.

PG: Can you still sing? Do you know the names of any songs that you sang?

EB: No.

PG: Did you dance?

EB: Once in a while, not too much.

PG: Did your parents dance?

EB: No, they couldn’t dance.

PG: Did you play any games at home?

EB: We ate a lot of sunflowers (laughter); played checkerboards.

PG: What kind of games did you play in school?

EB: Andy-Andy-Over.

PG: Over what?

EB: The schoolhouse.

PG: Did you break the windows too in the school?

EB: No, I don’t think so.

PG: Did you play cards at home?

EB: Yah, Old Maid and something else, but I don’t know what that was anymore.

PG: What did you do if somebody got sick at home?

EB: They had (A539 German gumbascmere) and (linament); steamed them.

PG: Were you able to go to the doctor when you were young? Was there a doctor?

EB: No.

PG: What did you do if you stepped into a nail?

EB: Soak it in water.

PG: Did you have Brauche? Do you know what Brauche is?
EB: No.
PG: When a lady would pray over you and put her hands on you.
EB: No.
(End of interview)

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Library North Dakota State University North Dakota State University GRHC Home