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.
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?
PG: Susanna Forster
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.
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?
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
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?
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?
PG: Did they ever get letters from the old country?
PG: So they didn’t have any relatives over here if they didn’t get any letters.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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
PG: When a lady would pray over you and put her hands on you.
(End of interview)