Interview with Rosina ‘Rose’ Roesch Lang (RL)

Some dialogue by Mr. Theodore Lang (TL) Son of Rose Roesch Lang

Conducted by Erica Lang Wangler (EW), granddaughter of Rose Roesch Lang
Theodore Lang Farm, the Roesler Homestead
Tappen, North Dakota, 11 January 1987

Transcription by Ann Grausam
Proofreading and Editing by Erica Lang Wangler and Linda Haag

EW: This is the live story of Rosina ‘Rose’ Roesch Lang as told by her on January 11, 1987. Where were you born?

RL: In Glückstal, Russia.

EW: On what date?

RL: On December 24, 1897.

EW: Can you tell us something about your grandparents?

RL: My mother’s father was Franz Rott. And her mother was a Dutt, Grandma Barbara. And then on my father’s side, the Roesch side was Grandpa John Roesch, and grandmother was a Bieber.

EW: Do you know what their occupations were?

RL: They were farmers.

EW: Around what area did they farm?

RL: They farmed around and outside the Glückstal area.

EW: Who were their children, starting with your grandma on your mom’s side?

RL: There were two brothers, one sister, and my mother. They had four children. They had more children, but the other little ones died.

My mother’s sister was a farmer too. She had three or four boys and a girl. Her husband was deaf and dumb, but he was a good farmer.

EW: Which child was that?

RL: That was my mother’s sister, Rosina Rott. Her husband was Rott too, but there was no relation between them.

Then on my father’s side there was John Roesch Sr. and Barbara Bieber. They were my other grandparents.

EW: How many children did they have?

RL: They had four boys and one girl. There was Fred, Christ (Christian), John Jr. (my father), and I think there was George who stayed in Russia.

EW: Were they all farmers too?

RL: Yeah.

EW: Did they all live around the Glückstal area?

RL: They all lived in the village. They went to the same church and the same school.

EW: On your mother’s side, who were the children of your grandparents?

RL: My mother, Christina, Aunt Rose, and Uncle Franz. He could never walk in his life.

EW: Tell us about Rose. What did she do?

RL: They were farmers.

EW: Did she have any children?

RL: Yes. She had three boys and one girl.

TL: There also was a Rose Roesch, your dad’s sister.

RL: Yes. On my father’s side, he had a sister who was a Rose too, Rose Roesch. She married a Walth. I don’t remember his first name.

EW: Tell us a little bit about Franz. You told me an interesting story about him earlier.

RL: Yes, he was lame all his life.

EW: Was he born lame?

RL: No, he had convulsions for a couple of weeks and then he got lame. He was a big man, but his mind was good and everything.

EW: What did you have to do to help him or who took care of him?
RL: Oh, the grandparents took care of him. The grandparents were there all his life. They took him down to lie on the floor during the daytime and at night took him to bed. He had a little dog too. That little thing!

EW: When did he die then?

RL: Later on, he was 49 years old, and died one year before his grandparents died. So the grandparents were satisfied. There were no homes to take the crippled children then, so they had to raise them all at home.

EW: So your grandparents took care of him all the time until he died?

RL: Yes. And he died before his parents died.

EW: Tell us about your parents, what did they do, what were their names and what was their occupation?

RL: My father was John (Johann) Roesch Jr. And my mother was Christina Rott. He was in the army for seven years before he married my mother. So he was kind of aged when he married. Then he came home and they married in 1896.

EW: Did he live in Glückstal when he got out of the service?

RL: Yes, everybody lived there.

TL: They were landowners.

EW: Did they farm for themselves or for the government?

RL: They farmed just for themselves.

EW: They got married in 1896, and you were born in 1897.

RL: Yes, I was born December 24, 1897.

EW: Tell us about your dad.

RL: Well, he was not too well, when he came home from the service; he was still good for working. He got worse the last six months. He got more sick and then died in June 1898. I was a half year old when he died. He had tuberculosis.

And my grandpa Roesch died three weeks before my father. I don’t know what sickness he had.

EW: Did Grandma Roesch still live on after that?

RL: Grandma, Rose (Bieber) Roesch lived there with the two boys she still had at home, Fred and Christ.

TL: They (Fred and Christ) moved later to Tolstoy S.D. in America.

EW: Tell us about your girlhood years. How did you go to school, and where did you go to church. Tell us some things about the old country?

RL: I didn’t go to school much in the old country. A couple of times I went to Kindergarten. That’s all I remember. I can remember the church better.

EW: Tell us about your church and some of the special things about it.

RL: Oh, there was a big nice church. The girls always sat in the balcony.

TL: The Glückstal church in Russia had a balcony. That’s where the young people were.

EW: Oh, the parents sat separate from the kids?

TL: Yes.

RL: We had no fire in the church in winter. Everybody was dressed good and warm then.

EW: Were you baptized in that church?

RL: Oh, yes. My parents married in the same church too. And we were all baptized there too.

TL: Who were your sponsors?

RL: Oh, my Aunt Rose Roesch and my mother’s sister, Rose Rott.

EW: There were two Rose’s. So you were bound to get the name Rose!

RL: I was baptized on the second day after I was born, the second Christmas day. They took me off to church to be baptized. I was baptized on the 26th.

EW: That would be the 26th of December, not Christmas Day.

RL: No. They had Christmas for three days in Russia.

EW: Oh, they celebrated Christmas for three days! What did you all do?

RL: We had the holidays and company, lots of food and church. It was everyday for three days.
EW: That is something I did not know before. Did you have a Christmas tree or any decorations like that?

RL: We did not have many decorations in the house and not many had trees in their houses. The church and the school had Christmas trees.

EW: Did you get presents as children?

RL: Oh yes. I had three grandmas then and each of them gave a present.

EW: Oh, that’s special. You said that you did not go to school much except for kindergarten sometimes. What languages did you learn?

RL: Oh, German. There was no Russian taught at that time.

EW: There was no Russian language that you were taught.

TL: They taught Russian an hour a day in Friedenstal and one half day German and one half day Russian in Glückstal later on, when that finally came along.

EW: Okay, that’s good to know. Now tell us about when you left for America. You did not have to leave, but tell us about how your parents made the decision to leave. How did they get to the train and to the ship? Just tell it in your own words.

RL: Well, they did not have enough land in Glückstal. They thought that if they went to America they could get free land. They started it out by having an auction sale and selling everything. For the last night we were we stayed with grandma Rott, the girls, grandma, my mother, and myself. My father went over to his folks. In the morning we started out with a goodbye to Uncle Franz. He cried so hard I could hear him out in the street. Then we left on the train and went to another city.

EW: Do you remember which city?

RL: Kishniew? , I am not sure though.

TL: What uncle?

RL: Uncle Franz, that lame one, he cried so hard. I do not know how grandma reacted; I cannot remember that.

TL: You went to the cemetery before you left, too.

RL: Yes. A day before as we left, we went to the cemetery and walked around there.

TL: You visited your grandfather and your father.

RL: Yes. They had one headstone together with John Sr. and John Jr. on it. The graves were side by side.

And then we went on the train to Germany. I don’t know how long it took. We waited eight days in Germany for the ship to come in. We walked around and went to the zoo. They had a big zoo. We had a good time there. There were all kinds of animals at the zoo in Germany.

And then the ship came in, Kaiser Wilhelm [Der Grosse] (168 – name of the ship). A few dozen families from Glückstal went along with us. The ship had wide boards where we all walked in. The band was playing too, some music.

EW: It was like a party almost.

RL: Oh, yes. We went on the ship and had dinner right away, I think. Then when dinner was done, the ship started going to America. After a while if you were standing outside looking you couldn’t see land anymore, it was all water. In a few days, we saw a big whale. All the kids went out to see it. It was a big deal, you know how kids are. And the ship kept going and going, and then we got sick.

EW: How many days into the trip did you get sick?

RL: We were on the ship for eleven days total. Then we couldn’t eat anymore, after one day. 11 days = (edit) Ted Lang said it was 7 days.

EW: Do you know what port or city the ship came from?

RL: Bremen, Germany. And the ship went on and on. Then we passed England, on the north side.

EW: You went up that way. The year was in October 1905. How old were you?

RL: I was not quite eight years old.

And then we drove on. There was a place in the ocean where the water was very wild. It was kind of like a storm. A big wave of water wave came up on the ship. The door was open, and the water came there. The water was a foot deep on the boat already. And the people were hollering. My mother never got up though. She was always in bed.

EW: Was she too sick to get up?

RL: Yes. We were already up on the deck. Father took us girls to walk around, and see the sunshine, and to get fresh air.

TL: She was pregnant with brother Jake.

RL: Mother was pregnant with Jake. Then we came to New York City, but New York was so funny. They did not have any boards to walk out on. They brought these little boats by the ship and we had to go down the ladder. The boats filled up, quickly! Another boat came in and we filled it up. The water was near the top of the little boat, I was so scared, and I thought the water would come up. The drive to New York from the ship was maybe about a quarter mile.

EW: Did you see the Statue of Liberty?

RL: Yes. We saw it before we got to New York. We were out on the water, and they told us that it was the Statue of Liberty. I can remember that too.

EW: Did that have any meaning for you at that time?

RL: It was a nice thing to see, that is all we knew about it. Then the little boats took us into New York. When we got there, the girls in the house gave us warm baths. Everybody had to have a bath. Some people must have had lice or germs.

TL: That must have been Ellis Island New York.

RL: All the ladies and the children were in a big room. The water came running down out of the shower spouts. They also steamed our clothes in the other room, heated them up, so everything was good and clean. The clothes came in, and we dressed ourselves up. Then the trains started out. We went to South Dakota.

EW: From New York City you went on a train to Tripp, South Dakota. Did you know where you were going?

RL: Yes. Mother and Father had an uncle there. They knew we were coming. They were waiting for us.

EW: And what month was this?

RL: It was not cold. We arrived in South Dakota in October. The folks out there were breaking corn. The kids had so many sunflowers; we were chewing sunflowers all day.

EW: Did you have sunflowers in Russia too?

RL: Oh yes, but not as many as they had. We stayed there a month, and the folks helped them with work.

EW: So that was through November?

RL: Yes. Then when November came in, we took the train again. Mother had two uncles here in North Dakota. So in November we took a train to Napoleon. We came here, and there was no snow. I had no coat; I just wore a big shawl around myself. We drove out with the wagon. Henry Breneise took us out to the flat, to our uncle’s place.

EW: Which Uncle?

RL: Uncle Joseph Rott, my mother’s uncle. They did not have any room for us; they had grown children there. So my mother had a cousin, Mrs. Friedrika, nickname Rika, Wittmeier. Phil Whitmeier Sr. was his name. There were two Wittmeiers, this was the old man. My mother’s cousin, Rika, said she had room for us. She had a big house, made from mud. She gave us a nice big room on the west side. But we had no beds there. I don’t know who brought the beds. We stayed there eight months with our cousin. There was a kitchen cook-stove and we all cooked together. And Uncle Joseph Rott came over and brought beans, peas, a bag of flour, and the other neighbors gave meat. Mother cooked with her cousin there, they looked alike, too.

EW: So the eight months that you stayed with your cousin took you from November to June?

RL: Yes. Then father took the homestead in January 1906. In the spring, June, he bought four horses. They were for breaking up the land up there. The Wittmeier neighbors worked with him up there until June. Then we moved over to the Kapp’s for a few weeks. They got the wood to build a house from Dawson. Then all the uncle’s and cousins came and built up the two-room house.

Mother’s uncle from South Dakota, sent up a cook stove, a plow, a drag and a roll out bed to help us out. He sent it by train from South Dakota and then we had the house. The stove was sitting outside for a few days until the chimney was ready. Then we moved in and settled. That was the first summer in that home. Then father went out working to help neighbors, all over.

EW: What did he do? What did he help with?

RL: Oh, haying, harvesting and other things we got we got ready for winter. They made coal. They went over to horses and sheep, and gathered manure for burning for winter. Then father worked and worked until the fall came. Mother had six cows to milk and four kids. She was busy all the time.

EW: Who were those four children?

RL: Christina, Pete, Jake, and I.

TL: Jake was born on January 6th at Wittmeier’s place.

EW: You, Christina (1899) and Pete (1902) were all born in Russia. You all made the trip.

RL: Yes.

EW: How old was Christina and Pete when you left Russia?

RL: She was six in November and I was eight in December. We were all two years apart.

EW: Then Pete would have been four. So then you were probably already nine years old when you came over onto this homestead land.

RL: Yes. I was going on nine and had a party at Whitmeier’s.

Dad would milk the cows and help at Whitmeiers sometimes. So we got milk from Whitmeiers the whole eight months. We also had free rent, there was no charge.

And we moved over here and had an outside cellar made out there at the farm. Mother planted a row of potatoes, I don’t know how long, but it was a long ways. In the fall mother would take all four of us kids and drive eight miles over there to dig out all the potatoes. I think we had a half wagon full of potatoes. She put them all outside in the home cellar that evening. She also drove eight miles on the horse everyday to get the manure ready for the winter; fuel dump to fuel up to make a nice stack.

EW: How come it was eight miles away?

TL: Under the flat.

RL: Uncle’s horses were southeast of us. Everyday she went down to pick the manure up and she for it ready then. We had a little garden that year too. Dad, Bowden and Harvey were threshing all over; where they could get a job. I don’t know where they went.

We had to make hay too. We had horses then. And we also took four cows on shares, from Enzminger’s. Two of the cows the neighbors gave to us, so we had six cows.

TL: You had sheep later too.

RL: Oh, when I got married, I did. When I was at home I had sheep on share from the Osborns. I was watching the sheep.

EW: What did you do with those sheep? Did you use them for food or wool?

RL: We could butcher or do whatever we wanted. We sheered and sold the wool, like they do nowadays. We sheered them and a company came and made blankets out of the wool.

TL: It was Albert Osborn Sr.

EW: Did you have chickens?

RL: Oh yes, we always had chickens. We had our own eggs.

EW: So, you had your milk, eggs, meat, and a garden. That is how you survived.

RL: We didn’t eat much meat when I was at home. We always had fruit. We lived on fruit. The cheapest fruit was sent in from California: Dried figs, prunes, and raisins. We had fruit everyday. In the winter, a carload of apples came in on the train. Father took the wheat in and brought home big wheat sacks full of apples. We had apples everyday.

EW: I think we missed something, let’s go back into Russia. When did your mother marry (Christian) Roesler?

RL: She married Christian Roesler in 1898. My father died in June, and she married Roesler in November.

TL: When they came to the homestead, there were no fences.

RL: No, it was all ranch free. (free range)

EW: Did you have to do a lot of herding?

RL: No, the steers were all wild (389). In the daytime the cows were around the farm. The milk cows never went far away that first summer. Then we made a fence later. Jasper Gilfillan took the stuff out there…

TL: And made a fence?.

RL: Yes, then we had our cows alone.

EW: Who was this Jasper Gilfillan?

RL: He was a big rancher. He lived two miles west of our old place. He had hundreds and hundreds of cattle and horses.

EW: So he fenced the land for his own benefit?

RL: He had the land all free roaming before we homesteaded it. When a homesteader came in he had to move his cattle out.

TL: He had to put up a fence to protect the homesteaders.

EW: Did the homesteaders have to do any fencing?

RL: No he did it; he had to do it himself.

TL: He had to protect his stock.

RL: His steers were too bad. They were big animals.

EW: Tell us where the homestead was.

RL: It was eighteen miles south of Tappen, seventeen miles west of Streeter, fourteen miles from Napoleon, and twenty miles from Dawson.

EW: So the house and the land that Ted Lang, my dad, is on right now was Christian Roesler’s homestead?

RL: Yes, and Gilbert’s land, that was Karl Lang’s homestead.

TL: Talk about when Gilfillan was fencing. Do you remember that?

RL: Well, he put a section of that eastern section out there. And then he got the southwest section.

TL: Section one.

RL: Yes and Jacob Kapp’s was there in the south that was fenced out.

TL: And then he fenced section thirty-three and section five.

RL: And Andrew Fischer came next year 1907. He had the homestead.
Jacob Winkler and Mary (Lang) Winkler, and daughter Mary (Winkler) married Gottlieb Zimmerman in 1913.

RL: Zimmermans and Langs came in 1908.

TL: The Roeslers came in 1906.

RL: Andrew Fischer came in 1907. He was a bachelor.

EW: Where did he homestead?

RL: He came from Friedenstal and he homesteaded on Zimmerman’s place presently. And then he got married to a girl from south of here. She was a Knodel. He married there; lived there a couple of years.

EW: Well, how did the Zimmermans get onto that land?

RL: They bought it. Oh, when the Langs came, that Fischer was still there. Langs lived in the barn over the summer. Grandpa Karl Lang and Jacob Winkler, who married father’s sister, Grandpa Karl Lang and Jacob Winkler lived in the barn for the summer time. They were building a sod house and stuff there for the homesteaders. They lived all summer in the barn there with the cook-stove outside.

TL: The Langs lived in the barn by Fischer. The Winklers stayed in their little covered wagon.

RL: They came up with the covered wagon, Winklers drove the wagon, and Carl Lang had the buggy horse, an old horse.

TL: They drove with one horse until Eureka, South Dakota then they got another one.

EW: Who helped them out to get started? You had an aunt and uncle and a cousin. Who helped them?

RL: Oh, there was not much help. She got some chickens and eggs from Grandma Lang and her brother, Jacob in Eureka, SD. Langs took along some chickens and eggs. They got milk from the Fischers. They bought an old milk cow from Enzmingers.

TL: Daughter Margaret Lang said they could have it; and if the old cow died, it was free. But if she lived, they had to pay $12. But the horse they got in Eureka along the way.

RL: They were building houses at the Langs there.

EW: Was that the sod (earth rammed) house?

RL: Yes, two sod houses for the Langs and the Winklers.

EW: Who helped build their houses?

RL: The Winkler’s (1 girl Mary) and (the Lang’s girl Margaret) their two girls (meaning 2 girls total came, 1 from each family). They didn’t have a well, but they dug a little well by the lake and got their water. They didn’t have a well for the first winter. They still had that old cow and the horses. She brought them down some mornings to our place for water, to the Roesler well.

Then in 1909 grandpa came up (Christmas 1909 to Streeter, Grandpa Fred Lang).

EW: Grandpa, my grandpa Fred Lang (Friedrich)?

RL: Yes. They (Fred and Martha Lang) worked in South Dakota. The folks (their parents came to ND first in 1908) went up and they (Fred and Martha) had worked out there in SD. She was a hired lady (Martha).

TL: And Margaret came along.

RL: Yes. She had to build a house, Winkler and Zimmerman they were builders.

EW: So Grandpa didn’t come right away the first year.

What town did your (Christian Roeslers) parents come to from New York?

RL: Tripp, South Dakota.

EW: Okay, now I am going to ask you a little bit about Grandpa Lang’s family. What were his parent’s names?

RL: Karl and Elizabeth Lang.

EW: What was Elizabeth’s maiden name?

RL: She was a Humann.

EW: And they were married in Russia, right?

RL: 1873, I think.

EW: And grandpa was one of the children that came over from Russia with the Karl Lang’s family. They had several children that were also born in Russia. Can you name the ones that were born in Russia?

TL: I’ll name them. Mary (Lang) Winkler, Elizabeth (Lang) Zimmerman, Katherine Lang, Mrs. Adam (Lang) Gross or Schickel, “Jake” Jacob, Gottlieb, Benjamin, and then a couple died.

RL: Then grandpa, Fred. And then was Martha, Margaret, and Christina, she died. They had about thirteen children I think.

EW: And these children were all born in Russia.

RL: Yes.

EW: Grandpa’s parents left from Russia in what year?

RL: May, 1907.

EW: So they also crossed the ocean. Did grandpa ever tell you about his trip?

RL: Oh, yes. They had the freight ship. They were on the ocean longer than we were.

EW: You had a passenger ship and he (Fred) had a freight ship.

RL: The freight ship didn’t wait for the passengers, the ship just came and it went on.

TL: They were on the ocean for fourteen or fifteen days.

EW: So they were on a few days longer than you. Did he say what harbor he came into?

RL: It was the same harbor as mine, the same old thing. They went into New York there and took the train to Delmont SD. Jake was over here already.

EW: One of the sons?

RL: Yes, two of the brothers and Aunt Katie were over here already when they came over.

EW: Tell us when they each left Russia.

RL: The first ones left in 1900, Jake and Katie. And the others, Ben and Gottlieb, left in 1904. Then the other folks came. They had to go into the army, before they could go to America.

EW: Did they go to the same German town, as you, to get to the train and the ship?

RL: Yes, the same road.

EW: And they came by train to Delmont, South Dakota. They had some relatives there.

RL: There was Katie and all the brothers in South Dakota. They had a good start by staying with them, three sons and a daughter.

TL: Let’s talk about the Zimmermans in Russia and Germany. John Zimmermans had to stay, why?

RL: Oh, John Zimmerman was the only son in Russia, and he had enough land. He said he wouldn’t go to America; there were too many churches in America. They always wrote that there were so many churches here. Gottlieb and them wrote letters and sent them by freight. John had enough land there so Elizabeth, his wife, stayed there. All the other ones left. Not this here, Zimmerman. It was the John Zimmerman in Russia.

TL: They are the people who are in West Germany now.

EW: Were they afraid of getting mixed up in different churches?

RL: John had all that he wanted there. There were many churches here (all kinds). He thought maybe they would turn him around or something. I don’t know what he had in mind.

EW: But he stayed mostly because he was settled and comfortable. He had no reason to leave.

RL: Yes. He had enough land. He was the only boy in the family.

EW: Tell us a little about how and when you met grandpa (Fred).

RL: Well, he came up in Christmas 1909; and we were neighbors there. Sometimes we got together, that’s all that really mattered.

EW: Before, you told us a story about a little note he left you, tell us about that.

RL: Oh, you mean the postcard with a rose on it. He was working down south for Jacob Rau that summer. He would sometimes ride home on a horse and would ride by here. Our boys were always out and he would stop and talk there for a little bit. So Christina and I went out there too and talked a little while. He was on the horse and he gave me this card. And he wrote on it, “You are my sweetheart.” I didn’t know what a sweetheart meant. I thought, “What in the world!” We never talked about sweethearts and things like that.

EW: Was it written German or English?

RL: It was written in English. Then he left. We didn’t talk or anything. I was wondering what this card was for and what he wanted with it. I thought maybe he liked me or something. I couldn’t tell my parents or anyone. So I went and forgot about it.

EW: How old was you, when he wrote this note to you?

TL: It was in 1910, when he worked for Rau (age 12).

RL: Then in 1911 he worked for Jacob Kapp.

EW: So you were about thirteen.

RL: Yes, I knew him five years, before we were married. Then we went to school together in the winter. We had first graders that were twenty years old and fifteen years old, all ages.

EW: They were all first graders.

TL: Then grandpa (Fred) also went to night school during the war, World War I.

EW: Was the night school, there at the same school?

TL: Yes.

EW: Why did they have night school?

TL: They had it because of the war; it got the children to know their English language.

RL: Nobody could talk English. Parents couldn’t help young school kids, it was very hard.

EW: I am sure it was very difficult.

RL: There were two English girls who helped us out.

TL: What were their names?

RL: They were the Blackmore girls, Anita and Paulina, I think.

EW: So they kind of helped tutor you.

RL: We talked to them at recess and caught up a little on our words.

EW: That was good that they helped you.

TL: What about that fast horse that was bought from the Blackwell Ranch? The Langs bought a horse from them, the fast horse. The Blackwells would ride that horse to Iowa, to get other horses and bring them up to ND.

It had twisted legs from cutting, it was a cutting horse. They tore so short; it twisted its legs, so it was kind of a lame horse; but that was grandpa’s speeder.

RL: Gilfillan had lots of hired men. He had good horses riding around the fences, watching his cattle all the time. But Gilfillan, his father was a rich man, he was from Texas. He sent all the cattle up from the south. There was free range in Texas.

TL: No, Gilfillan’s dad was a district judge in Hennepin County, Minneapolis.

RL: But on her side, her father was rich. She would get $100.00 for her Christmas present.

EW: So, these ranchers were rich people to begin with.

RL: Her father helped them out. That is why they came up here.

TL: He was a boxer too, this Gilfillan. That’s what Gabriel Poverud had said. So settlers had to watch out for him.

RL: He was kind of a big cowboy.

EW: So they kind of watched out for themselves, because he was probably a pro-boxer!

RL: Oh, they were not scared though.

TL: He was six feet tall too; I got to know him well.

RL: They were nice people too. We liked them.

EW: Tell us a little about when you were first married. Where did you live, when you were first married?

RL: We lived with grandpa (Karl) and grandma (Elizabeth) Lang in the little house for four years.

EW: In the sod house?

RL: Yes. Ted and Leo were born in the sod house, which had no room anymore, so they moved to a little house from the Norwegian, west of Lang homestead, Ole Hermanson land. We moved that little house in there, so we had more room.

EW: Was that the one with the summer kitchen?

RL: No, that was a white house there south. Then we moved into that house in the 1919. We moved it to the south side of the trees, and then we moved over there.

EW: And you lived in that house until 1931. And at that time you did what?

RL: We had all the children, we had no room in that house either. So we built a new house.

EW: Who helped build it?

RL: There was carpenters who came from Streeter.

EW: So you pretty much raised your family in that house.

RL: We had Edwin until he was nine years old. And then we built that house; and just before we wanted to move in, he died. Oh, that was 1931.

EW: Just a few months before you moved.

RL: That was hard. I sent away for a single bed for him from Montgomery Wards. The bed wasn’t even here, and he had already died.

So it was kind of hard for us (grief), but we still moved. We had lights, electric lights then, by having a motor going.

EW: When did you get your indoor plumbing and all that, later?

RL: No, we never had that in that house.

And Grandma Lang, she was there for twelve years. She milked her two cows; that was her income. One year she had an $85.00 cream check for those two cows. She had a few chickens and a garden too. In 1924 Grandpa Lang died. She stayed there until 1927, I think. Then she moved in with Margaret, and she died up there in January 1937.

EW: Now, is she the grandma that had sugar diabetes?

RL: No. That was my mother, Grandma Roesler. She died in 1933.

EW: And what did this other grandma die from?

RL: Oh, she was much older, Grandma Lang. She was twenty years older than my mother. She was 81 when she died. My mother was only 58 when she died.

EW: When did Grandpa Lang die, Karl?

RL: In October, 1924. He was 68 years old.

EW: And where is he buried?

RL: Here in the Glückstal cemetery. (South of Tappen ND – 15 miles)

EW: And grandma (Elizabeth) Lang?

RL: Grandma Lang, she’s in Tappen. My grandma Roesler is buried in Napoleon ND.

TL: Grandpa Christ Roesler got money from the Roesch inheritance in Russia from the Roesch estate.

RL: They had a sale when my father and my grandpa died. They made a sale there, right at the place. They sold some of grandpa’s stuff, and my mother sold some of her stuff. So I got a share. I got the same share of the Roesch’s estate as the other children. And ma, she got a half and we got a half. They put it in the bank until I was 18 years old. They also kept some land there for me, and rented it out all these years. Then I went to America, and then the war broke out in Russia. I was only 17 years old. And then we sent out papers for collecting the money, but the Russians didn’t send a penny out. They kept everything.

EW: So you didn’t get your inheritance?

RL: No, but at least, we had bread all these years. Thank the Lord for it.

TL: But they got enough out for Grandma Rose’s, passage over.

RL: Oh, yeah they took out $100.00 for the trip to America. They could have taken more out, but it was just for the trip. They saved, you know. They took a little out then, but they were a Roesch family.

TL: That was all she got out of her estate money.


RL: We got married in Steele, ND. And we drove up on the buggy in December with no snow. We went to Dawson, and we a got checkup by the doctor. Then we took the train to Steele. It was in December but there was no snow.

EW: Did you have to get a checkup from the doctor to get married?

RL: Yes. Then we went to Steele, and there was a judge there. He was kind of like a pastor too. And we got married there. We took the train back to Dawson, took the horses out of the livery barn, and drove home. It was a nice day with no snow. Konrad Lang was also along.

EW: Who was Konrad?

RL: He was a cousin to Karl Lang; he was a witness. There was a lady in the courthouse who was a witness also, we knew her well.

TL: It was foggy though.

RL: Yes, it was a little foggy; but no wind. When we got home, Margaret had apple pie, noodle soup and everything fixed up. She was still at home. Then it was the 30th, and then came New Year’s Day. Mary and Jacob Winkler wanted to come to the Glückstal church and sing a song on New Year’s Day. Then Mary got sick. We were up in church waiting and waiting and nobody came. Then Margaret came over after dinner and said Mary was sick. And by the 4th of January she died already. She was buried on the 6th. It was 20 degrees below zero. Boy oh boy, was that cold weather then.

TL: It was in January.

RL: That was our honeymoon then.

EW: Because you had to go to a funeral?

RL: Yes, right away. We were over there, when she died. She said, “Goodbye, our loving brother.” She shook hands with everybody. Grandma and grandpa were also there. Then she started singing songs and then she lay down.

EW: This was grandpa’s sister.

RL: Yes. She was young, only forty years old. She had only child, Mary Zimmerman. That’s the only girl she had.

EW: One time you told me about how Jacob Winkler died, her husband. Can you tell me about that?

RL: The next year in January he died. Grandpa (Fred Lang) had trouble with his tonsils. And Jacob drove into town. It was January I think. He drove into town, and grandpa took the train, and went to Bismarck to get his tonsils out. Grandpa stayed a week in Bismarck. Winkler got a blizzardy day, and he couldn’t make it home. He stayed with a neighbor there. He slept the night; and in the morning he got up and said, “I’m going home,” and put his coat on. And Frank Ryan said, “Don’t, you better eat something first, a cup of coffee or something.” Frank made coffee; and Jacob went in the other room, and lay down (by Leo Wald’s place), and died of a heart attack. It was January. Grandpa wasn’t home at that time.

RL: Then we buried him. Ted was three months old. He drove in the buggy with grandma, grandpa and me to the funeral. There was not much snow then either. When grandpa (Fred Lang) came back from Bismarck, Jacob was gone.

TL: They brought him past your place, didn’t they?

RL: Yes and Frank came up right away, he was a bachelor. And he told us that Jacob died. And they drove up to what is now the John Mertz Jr. farmstead, because Gottlieb and Mary Zimmerman lived there then, and told him they had to get him. But he was down in Salem, building a house.

And then Gottlieb Zimmerman drove down and got him and the coroner (Logan Co.) was already there. Then we drove home.

RL: Jacob’s dog went along too, walking beside the sled all the way. They drove by here. You could see them driving.

EW: The dog missed Jacob. He knew something was wrong.

RL: And grandma had the light burning all night the night before. It was kind of blizzardy. She lit it so Jacob could see it from far away. She thought he would come home and see our light, but he didn’t come.

TL: That dog followed the master from Leo’s place. The dog must have gone along to town too.

EW: That was an interesting story.

RL: It was during the second year of our marriage. There was always something going on.

TL: It was the January 1917. On January 7th I was baptized; and Jacob Winkler and Amelia Hirschkorn Winkler were my sponsors. The next Sunday, a week later, Jacob Winkler was in his grave.

EW: I want grandma to tell me a little bit about the two children who were born in Russia that died, about Grandpa Lang’s brother and sister who died in Russia.

RL: John was two years old and Christina was five, she was the baby of the family.

EW: And what did they die from?

RL: Well, John had diphtheria. And Christina was kind of lame in one leg.

EW: Tell us about that little John, what did he want his mother to do?

RL: When John was two years old, the other children were kind of not feeling so well. John said, “Mother, rub their necks. And I want mine to be rubbed too.” She did it, and rubbed the same; and in a few nights, he died.

EW: Okay, thank you. Let’s talk about your brothers and sisters. You named Christina, Peter, and yourself as the children who were born in Russia. Now who were the ones that were born, while you were in America?

RL: Jake.

EW: And where was he born?

RL: He was born at Wittmeier’s place in 1906.

RL: Then Samuel was born in the homestead house in 1908.

There were the twin sisters but they died. The first twin sisters we had were a week old when they died, I don’t know how. Then was Gideon, he was the baby.

TL: February 1, 1913.

RL: He died out in Washington.

EW: The twins were born stillborn in 19…

RL: No, they were not stillborn, they lived a week.

EW: Oh they did. And they were born in 1910, right?

RL: Yes. They were well for a few days. They were so cute. We treated them like dolls. We named them and in a few days, they got sick. One was buried, and the other was sick already. Then the other one was buried soon after.

EW: How many days apart did they die?

RL: I don’t know, maybe two days. They were buried on the homestead land, by Ted’s place.

EW: What were their names?

RL: Mary and Rachel.

RL: We treated them as dolls.

RL: We always had one. I was so proud of my sisters; we had no younger sisters. We were so proud that we had little sisters now. And then they were gone again, the Lord took them away.


RL: I was always going to get the manure ready and dig the potatoes. She (Mrs. Christian, Christina Roesler) was driving the horses every day and the one day the harness was kind of tangled up. She couldn’t get it right on the horse. She took it a quarter mile down south to the neighbor, Jacob Kapp, and had it straightened out. She came back and harnessed the horses. Then we went. (This story in reference to women’s difficulties with survival on the prairie.)

EW: He helped her get it all fixed up and straightened it out.

RL: On the top there she couldn’t, and I was so dumb too!


EW: We want to add a few important points on this history interview.

TL: Grandpa John Roesch Jr. was trained as a shoemaker and a farmer. And Jacob Winkler, his trade was a harness maker and cobbler, or rather a shoemaker, while Karl Lang’s trade was a blacksmith.

And the time the two Jacob (Lang) and John (Lang that died in Russia) got diphtheria, they were living out by Akkermann, for a Bonanza farmer. These farmers hired their own blacksmiths for about a year or for the summer. And that was a ways away from Friedenstal, the dorf, the village. So they had to move out and stay there, during the time they were hired out.

RL: (ending remembrance) I want to talk to the children, and the grandchildren, and the great grand children. You all are nice together and have a long life and love each other. Go to church. Raise your families nice. And God be with you. When I am gone, one day we will meet again in heaven. I want to see you all there with me and grandpa and everybody. What a day that will be when we can be together forever and ever. The Lord is our light, so we can be happy. Amen.


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