Interview with Helmut Hille (HH)

Conducted by Allen L. Spiker (AS)
July 15, 1979

Transcription and translation by Marvin L. Hartmann

Allen L. Spiker Oral History Dialect Collection

AS My name is Allen Spiker and today's date is July 15, l979 and I'm just south of, do you say Kulm?

HH Kulm.

AS Kulm, North Dakota, and speaking with Helmut, do you say, Hille?

HH Ja. Det, det, desh iss recht. Mein nom (unclear) Helmut Hille. Mei fawter hat hie lant aufyenommn un ah ik vohn noch im house vo mein fawter hat yevohnt, det iss in der achtzig yohr haer. Of course, ik vahr nich yegeboren in det hause, aber zwee von meine schvester waren hie yeboren. You better stop it.

Trans: Yes, that's correct. My name (is) Helmut Hille. My father homesteaded here and I still live in the house in which my father lived... that's some eighty years ago. Of course, I was not born in that house but several of my sisters were.

AS I have plenty of tape so we'll just let it go .

HH Well, I don't know, you wanted more of my....

AS Ya, how about something of the Kaschuben here?

HH Oh.

AS You were mentioning where they...

HH Oh, OK. Sie sind von Russland yekommen, von Kulm, Russland......... Bessarabia. And mei fawter var siebtzen yore alt wo er die vereinigten Staaten yekommn Un er hae aerst in Parkston , Sud Dakota, vo vohnt velche fon seine freind da un von doh , un fon doh iss er uff gekommn, noch Kulm, Nord Dakota, un
hatt land uff yenommen. Und wir, ik vohn noch off der farm vo mein fawther hatt land uff yenommn un sinn nimme mehr Kachuben vo heir vohnen in Kulm. Un ik hab ein Schwaben veib un sie kann nich Kachueben verzaehlen. Ha. Un ik hob kaene frein heir rum any.. vo die Schprach, Kachuebish verzaehlen kinn. So muss mier verzeihen fer, menche fer, wenn ich verleicht nicht ganz recht sage.

Trans: They came from Russia, Kulm, Russia...Bessarabia. My father was seventeen years old when he came to the United States. He stopped first in Parkston, SD, where he had some friends and from there he came up to Kulm, ND, then homesteaded some land. And we still live on the land that my father homesteaded but there are not many Kachubish people left in Kulm. My wife is Swavian and can't speak Kachubish. And I don't have any friends around here with whom I can speak Kachubish. So you have to forgive me if I misspeak.

AS One thing, about, do you have any idea how many people in this area were Kachubish, maybe half or a the Kulm area? What are the other people around here? Are they Schwabs?

HH Schwabs, ya, Schwabs. And , and, und Schwaebs, viele, nort fon Kulm, sinn fiele Schwaeben un ik daet sagen sie sinn vielleicht fufzich familichen hie vo Kachubish, Kuschieben vorn aber die Kachiebishe veryssen .... die yingere leit, die, die alten zinn wekgeschtorben un yingern die kinn nimme, die verzaehlen nie mol Kachuebish, nimme.

Trans: Swavians, yes, Swavians. North of Kulm are many Swavians and I would guess there were fifty families that were once Kachubish but have forgotten it. The older ones have died and the youth can no longer speak Kachubish.

AS What do they talk then?

HH Ah, die verzehlen the Englische sproach. Ya, die, die, verzaehlen nimme Kachuebish, die verzaehlen die Englische schproach.

Trans: They speak the English language. They don't speak Kachubish any more, only English.

AS Do any of the Kachubische here speak the Schwoabishe sprach too?

HH Ya, die kenn die oak verzaehlen. Aber kaene Schwoaben kenn the Kachuebische schproach raeden.

AS I know, they're always telling me they can never understand...

HH Ya, die Schwoaben die sinn so dumm, die kenn die Kachubischen nicht raus kriegen, Ya. (Laughs)

Trans: Yes, the Swavians are so dumb they can't express themselves in Kachubish. Yes.

AS Do you happen to know where your ancestors came from in Germany before they went to Russia?

HH Ancestors, no I can't answer that.

AS What were some of the other Kachubischen families here?

HH Hildebrandt, ya, a Doehring. Mei onkel, der Ludwig Doehring, unn die Kuehn von Sud Dakota, von Parkston, Sud Dakota. Daniel Hildebrandt. Und det, det. Ich kann nich, ik kann kaene andre nu nich dran denka. Aber dess varn fon unser freinschaft hie.

Trans: Hildebrandt, yes, a Doehring. My uncle Ludwid Doehring and Kuehn from South Dakota, from Parkston, SD. Daniel Hildebrandt. I can't think of anyone else. That was our circle of friends.

Voice: Helmut, Simon Schulz

HH Hah?

Voice: Simon Schulz, my grandfather here.

HH I didn't even know him. He was Kachuebish?

Voice: He farmed up you know where ....east of Kulm, there, about six, seven, eight miles.

HH I don't know.

AS You said there were forty of fifty.

HH Oh yes, ..... vo in der friendschaft vorn. Ya. Vo Kachuebish verzaehlen varen.

AS Um Kulm?

HH Ya, rumm Kulm. Ya.

AS A lot of them went to New Leipzig.

HH Ya, un een war alter Martin Haas war ah Kachueb, un Schulz, Schulz,

Voice: Robert Schulz.

HH. Robert Schulz vahr a Kaschueb.

Voice: John Schulz

HH Ya, John Schook. I....some of those are way back...old timers that I barely remember the name of ..ya.

AS The Kachueben here were ...Lutheran?

HH Die varn fersheeden. Viele varn Kongraeser un Luthaerisch . Ya, Luthaerisch un Kongraeser.

AS So a lot of the Congregationalists went to New Leipzig and Mott?

HH Ya, Ya, daet iss recht.

AS Do you happen to know any stories or songs when you went to school here? In your language?

HH Die sinn zu draeckish vass ik vaes. (Laughs)

Trans: Those I know are too dirty!

AS We're interested in hearing them....

HH No, I can't ....No, I really don't know..

AS A story you can't tell on tape.

HH I really wouldn't...

AS Or any songs?

HH Ik vaes nich vas det bedeiten soll, dass ich so trauerich binn.

Trans: "I don't know what to make of the fact that I am so sorrowful." (Loralei Song)

AS What I could do is ask the word list and maybe you can think of something afterwards. We're just interested in hearing you speak it the way you did in the beginning when we just sit and talk about something.

(Here followed a standard series of word lists which Spiker used with almost every interviewee. It is omitted here because it follows the same pattern as other interviews.)

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller