Interview with Wendelin Vetter (WV)
Conducted by Betty Meyer (BM)
October 16th, 1995, Linton, ND
Transcribed by Jessica Rice
Edited and proofread by Peter Eberle
BM: Will you first give me your name and birth date and where you were born?
WV: My name is Wendelin—and I use a J for an initial—Vetter, and I was born in Emmons county on October 3, 1922 on a farm east of Linton in section 132-74.
BM: What is the name of your father, and in what village in south Russia did your father’s family once live?
WV: My father’s name is Joseph, and his grandfather and dad lived in Selz, south Russia.
BM: Where did he die?
WV: My dad died in the Linton hospital in 1980.
BM: Where is he buried?
WV: St. Joseph’s cemetery, seventeen miles east of Linton, close to the Vetter farm.
BM: What was the name of your mother, what village did that family come from, where did she die, and where was she buried?
WV: My mother was born in New Baden, south Russia. She was born in 1902, and she came to the United States in 1912, and she died July 20th, 1963 in the hospital in Bismarck.
BM: Where is she buried?
WV: She is also buried in St. Joseph’s cemetery.
BM: How many brothers and sisters did you have in your family? Can you answer in the order that they were born? That’s quite an order, because I don’t know if I could do it. [Laughs]
WV: There was thirteen children. I’m the oldest, then Mary, then Elizabeth, John, Katherine, August, Christine, Valentine, Adam, Joe Jr., Benjamin and Tony and Leo.
BM: Do you have any recollections of your mother or father telling you stories from the old country?
WV: Well, my dad was born in the United States, but my mother was born in the old country. She told of some of the things; how they lived in a little village; how they would take the cattle out to graze in the day, and then bring them back in. She remembers some of the trip coming over on the boat. She said they had a lot of fun, but her dad was always sick. He was sick from the day they got on until they went off. One day she got a little bit too close to the edge and she fell over and a lady grabbed her by her clothes and pulled her back in. Otherwise, she probably would have been lost in the ocean, and she remembered where they buried one person in the ocean on the way in.
BM: Were there times when your ancestors wish they were back to the old country or the homeland?
WV: I can’t remember anybody saying they would rather be back, but I think my grandfather on the Wanglers side was never very happy here.
BM: Because he was the only one, probably, that came over?
WV: No. He had about four or five that never came and his mother stayed back too.
BM: What was the name of your grandfather Wangler?
WV: It was Wendelin, just like my name.
BM: And they didn’t come over until 1912?
WV: 1912 is probably right.
BM: They were among the late-comers, then. Many of the people came before that, too. What language did you speak as a child?
WV: We always spoke German, and I was able to say the one-two-threes in Russian. [Laughs] My mother taught me how, and my grandpa…to count in Russian.
BM: What was the name of the dialect?
WV: Gee, I really don’t know [A64 blut Deutsche] [Laughs].
BM: Now, with thirteen children in that family, you must’ve had some childhood chores that you had to do, some you enjoyed more than others, some maybe you did not enjoy. Can you tell us a little bit about those?
WV: There were all kinds of chores, but I can’t really say what I didn’t like at all. I think the hardest thing maybe was to go out and pick corn when there was snow on the ground. I never liked to go outside when it was dark.
BM: You were the oldest one, so you must’ve had quite a bit of responsibility. What would happen if you didn’t do your work? Were you disciplined?
WV: I think we were, but I don’t think we got lickings. I suppose we were told we better get going.
BM: Who was the disciplinarian in the house, your mom or your dad?
WV: Well, I suppose when Dad said something, it meant a little bit more, because Mom was around with us more.
BM: What was it like? Did you go to school?
WV: Yeah, I went to school. I started school when I was six. I went to eighth grade, and then I stayed home for two years, and then I studied high school for one year. So I went as far as ninth grade in school.
BM: And you went to a one room school?
WV: A one room school with maybe 25 kids sometimes. I went to school in Linton and boarded in town for that year.
BM: Was there a great difference between the country school and town school?
WV: [Laughs] There was big difference; many more kids and nobody that I hardly knew. There was maybe one or two that I knew in the whole school.
BM: Let’s go back to the one room school again. Do you remember some of your teachers and was there discipline and what are some of the games that you played?
WV: I remember my first teacher was a old man. During noon hour, he would walk a mile and a half to get the paper and get the mail. He was a good discipline teacher. We had some that weren’t that good, but I suppose we didn’t learn that good, either. Of course, the language was a problem sometimes. We didn’t know how to speak English, so we had to start talking English.
BM: Were you allowed to speak German when you were in school?
WV: No, not when the teacher heard it; some of the earlier teachers [allowed it], maybe, but after about third grade, we had some teachers that wouldn’t let us talk in German.
BM: Could you speak it out on the playground, then?
WV: No. Well, I suppose we did, when the teacher wasn’t around. [Laughs]
BM: Do you remember some of the games that you played during recess?
WV: Oh, yeah: Pom-Pom Pullaway and Andy-over, and we played a lot of ball, especially when we got a little older.
BM: Was religion and the church a part of your upbringing?
WV: For us it was. For one thing, we only lived a half a mile from the church, and it was one of the places we could get together, too.
BM: So, what language was the church service and the prayers in?
WV: It was in Latin; the church was in Latin, the Mass was; the rosary was German and the prayers were in German.
BM: When did it switch to English, do you remember?
WV: The changes were maybe in the early ‘50s. Then later on the Mass became English also.
BM: Your parents would’ve been living when the changes came about. How did they feel about those changes, leaving the German language and going to English?
WV: I think that my folks accepted it pretty well. It wasn’t too hard for them; they could read in English, maybe better than German.
BM: Were you Baptized at St. Joseph’s church then and how about Confirmation?
WV: I was Baptized in St. Michael’s church, which was where the pastor was, the priest, and the Confirmation and First Communion was at St. Joseph’s church.
BM: Were there any festivities when you were Baptized and Confirmed?
WV: Yeah, there were some uncles and grandparents there, especially during Confirmation and First Communion.
BM: Were your parents or your grandparents involved in the founding of a church out there?
WV: Yes. My great-grandfather donated the land where the church was built, and they helped build it. It was just a half a mile from the farm place. For us it was kind of handy because we were able to walk to church from then on, where before they had to go eight miles. That’s probably why St. Joseph’s church was started.
BM: Now St. Joseph’s is a Catholic Church out there?
BM: How did the family deal with death? Was there any special way that people grieved during those times—for example, funerals?
WV: I think it was much harder, because for one thing, the dead people were not embalmed and sometimes it didn’t work out that good. I think most people fear death because of that.
BM: Were there any iron crosses at that cemetery?
WV: There used to be four, I guess, and then later on one was replaced with a marble marker.
BM: So there’s none left at St. Joseph’s out there, then? They’ve been removed?
WV: There were four and now there’s three.
BM: Do you know anything about those? Do the shapes have a meaning to them?
WV: Not necessarily, they were all the same style, and they were molded iron, I would say. They were not made by hand, like a blacksmith would put together.
BM: It wasn’t a family design then?
WV: No, I don’t think so. I think they were ordered that way with their name on it. In 1919, during the flu epidemic, my dad was telling us how one person had died, and in the mean time, another one died. They had one grave dug, and they just dug into the side of the bottom and moved one coffin over and then put the other one down. So there was two people actually buried in that one grave. They were not related.
BM: We’re going to switch subjects a little bit, unless there’s something else that you recall about the grieving and death.
WV: Yeah, I think families that had somebody who died would mourn for a whole year. They wouldn’t dance for one thing, I guess, and they would wear black, if I remember. One thing I remember, when people were buried, there was no undertakers; they just took some leather lines and that’s how they put them down into the grave.
BM: Did they make their own coffin for the family members?
WV: There was one person in a community that usually did that. And some people, maybe for the little ones, probably did their own.
BM: Okay, we’re going to move on and talk about some of the things that were handed down in your family. Was there anything such as heirlooms and sentimental objects that were in your family that was handed down?
WV: I don’t know very many, but I think my sister has a black shawl that was passed on. She got it from my mother, but I think my mother had gotten it from her mother-in-law. I’m not too sure, but I think that’s the way it is.
BM: Do they know where it originally came from and what line and what generation that it came through?
WV: I believe it was my grandmother’s, but I’m not too sure. I think there’s some other families, maybe, that have some, but I don’t know of any other ones.
BM: Was Christmas celebrated in your family?
WV: Oh yes, very much so. We always had a Krist Kindel. Before Christmas came, there was always a sign that it’s coming, because there would be some, maybe, peanuts or something that would be scattered around the yard. My mother really made a big effort to have the dolls clothed every year with new dresses and so on. I remember I had a little boy doll. I haven’t seen one since, and it was made out of tin, and she would dress that up, too, every year. I’m still looking for that. [Laughs]
BM: You’re still wondering who has that little doll, huh? Okay, what other celebrations did you have during Christmas?
WV: Over Christmas, when Krist Kindel came—of course there was also a Belzanickel outside, but we had a Krist Kindel and a [A198 eisel]. In our family, the children had to sing. Some places they had to pray when the Krist Kindel came. Then, there was little donations that we gave to the Krist Kindel and asked that they come back next year again. Some of the other celebrations, as far as during Christmas vacation, we would go to all the neighbors—there were as many as five families living in our yard. We would get up early and we’d go and wish them Merry Christmas and, of course, expected to get a little something. Then, we had other neighbors, the Wolfs; they lived about a quarter mile [away], and we would go to see them, also. Then for New Year’s, we’d do the same thing. Each family wanted to be the first ones there.
BM: Did you do a lot of singing at Christmas time and/or Easter? Can you remember some of the songs?
WV: Oh yeah. We got together; we’d sing all kinds of songs, like ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Come All Ye Faithful’ and then some English songs later on, school songs.
BM: Do you have any German songs that you sang?
WV: Yeah, we had some name’s day songs, all kinds of church songs. We sang when we’d get together; we would sing a lot. New Year’s, after the families were scattered out, we’d go one day, during Christmas, to visit Grosses and then went to see the Werner’s the next day. Next day we went to the Wolfs and the next day went to Baumstarcks. We’d go either with sleds or with horses. We celebrated for a whole week.
BM: Now that you had Christmas, what kind of Easter activities did you have? I’m sure that must’ve been centered around the church?
WV: Well, first of all there was Lent for 40 days, and then there was no dancing and not much other fun things to do. We would have weekly devotions, and then holy week was at our parish; my dad would have the services during holy week. Later on when we started going to St. Michael’s, then we would have Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Holy Saturday at St. Michael’s. And at St. Joseph’s we had Holy Saturday resurrection celebration on our own. One thing, as far as celebrating, with the kids when they were small, they actually go from family to family and made ourselves some little nests for the Easter bunny to lay. I still can’t believe what we did; we used the patching remnants that each one of the mothers had, and we made ourselves little nests, and on Easter day, we’d run and get what was in those nests.
BM: Were there eggs in there?
WV: There were eggs, mostly eggs, and nothing in candy. [Laughs] I suppose the closer you were, if one was your godmother or something, then you would have maybe two more than the other ones.
BM: But not too much candy, huh? That’s why you all have good teeth.
WV: Well, for the beginning of Lent, we had Ash Wednesday, but before that, we had a day before that that we had what we call [A252 fausinacht] and there was maybe some special kind of [A253 fausinacht keekle]. It’s kind of strips of dough, deep fried dough. We probably had a little bit better food than we did during Lent. Well, we would have ice cream and then, of course, during Lent, we probably usually had ice cream on a Sunday only.
BM: Okay, with thirteen children in there, there should be some weddings. Was there a special marriage ceremony? Should we talk about yours?
WV: Well, for our wedding, our wedding was at home. Well, the wedding was at church, of course, at St. Michael’s. Katie and I knew each other from maybe when we were about twelve years on. It was maybe because of the church that we went to. Then later on we had discussion clubs, and we knew each other during dances and wedding dances.
BM: When were you allowed to go to wedding dances? How old were you, do you remember?
WV: Maybe at sixteen, or it was some time close, and then eighteen after that.
BM: What kind of music did you have?
WV: Accordion and clarinets and banjo and drums. At our wedding, there was just an accordion.
BM: Do you remember who it was that played the accordion?
WV: Yeah, Larry Fischer was the one that played for our dance. For the dance, he also had drums; we went to Napoleon for the dance, but the wedding dinner was at my folk’s house. I suppose the one reason was because our house was bigger. Of course, they had to clean out the front room; that’s where the dance was during the day. There was two front rooms of our house, and at the other end was where we had the dinner.
BM: How many days did this wedding last?
WV: Ours lasted one day only. Next day was clean up, the day before was getting ready, but there was no celebration. It was right during harvest, or during threshing, and next day, they all went back to threshing. But the day of the wedding it was real windy, so most of them had to stop the threshing anyhow, so they came to the wedding.
BM: Was there a chivaree?
WV: Not at ours.
BM: What kind of food was served?
WV: Chicken soup. There was potato salad and chicken meat for the afternoon, and in the evening there was sausage, and I suppose there was some roasted apples, maybe, and some more potato salad. [Laughs] And of course kuchen and there was some schnapps and maybe some beer.
BM: Did you have a wedding cake?
WV: Yeah, there was one, not as big as they are nowadays.
BM: Did you get a new suit for your wedding?
WV: Yes, I had a new suit for my wedding.
BM: And the bride had a white dress and a veil?
BM: Do you have a picture?
WV: Yeah, we have pictures and we have a wedding dress.
BM: How did you meet? You already told me that…
WV: We met a long time before we got married, but we actually started dating on December 8, and we decided the following August, the 15th, that we were going to get married on September 16th, and that’s about as long as it took.
BM: If I could ask something about your parents, though. You two met, so that wasn’t arranged; you chose each other, but was there any—for example, your father or your mother—were they selected by their parents?
WV: No, my dad knew my ma from her dad. My dad did some threshing for my mom’s folks and then my dad got to know my mother, because she was cooking. He thought she was a good cook. And he must’ve known her from some other places, because he knew she was good singer. I think they only knew each other for maybe a year. They met in October, and the following October they got married.
BM: Did your family do a lot of singing? Was there anybody in your family that played accordion or other instruments?
WV: My dad played the organ, and he played the church music. He played everything by notes, and he wanted us to learn the organ, too. Nobody really did get very far.
BM: But you all sing beautifully, and I saw Ben playing the accordion. I also saw him doing this coffee can trick, so they must’ve learned. Did they learn that later on in life?
WV: Well, when they went in high school, I suppose. Some of them went to high schools, and they took it up. And, of course, I suppose they did a lot on their own at home, too. When I left, those guys didn’t play, but afterwards, I know now…I think all the boys play accordions or a piano or organ.
BM: Did they play by ear, or do they learn the notes, too?
WV: Some by notes, but mostly by ear. In our family, when they get together, they sing instead of fight, I guess. [Laughs]
BM: Well, I’ve heard you and Augie sing, and I know that there’s a lot of harmony going on in your family when you sing. When did you learn how to dance?
WV: I was nine years old when my uncle got married, and that’s the first time I danced, I guess.
BM: What were the dances?
WV: Waltzes and polkas and square dances.
BM: What kind of an attitude did the older generation have towards these dances? Were they for them or were they against them?
WV: Oh, I think the older generation, most of them danced. I was told that my grandfather Wangler was a really good dancer; my mom was, my dad was. I don’t remember of my grandpa Vetter ever dancing. Of course, he was quite a bit older than we were.
BM: Did you have barn dances?
WV: Not in our area that much. There were some, but most dances were in houses or in some buildings.
BM: Did the young people in the community have a special place to meet?
WV: No. Sometimes we met at school houses, I guess, and there was some places in town that we did dance. Where young people got together you mean?
WV: We got together at the school sometimes, and we had discussion clubs, which was religion discussions. Then we’d get together, and then we’d dance afterwards.
BM: Were your parents and your grandparents superstitious of certain aspects of life?
WV: I don’t think my parents were that much, but there were people that were more, I think. My dad wasn’t superstitious, I don’t think.
BM: Did he plant according to the moon or anything like that?
WV: He would mention it, but I don’t think he went by it.
BM: Were there any specific healing techniques that were used in your family?
WV: There were a lot of home remedies. There was [A405]. Well, they used different herbs, like chamomile and wormwood. For boils they would make some hot…put bread in the milk, and then they would put that on and that would help draw it out, I guess.
BM: Was there brauching?
WV: Yeah, there was some brauching, but not too much my family, I don’t think. I really don’t know if my dad or ma ever went. I went with my aunt one time, because I had a ringworm. It went away, but I had to keep on putting pork rinds on everyday and rub it; it went away.
BM: Do you think that there are different illnesses or sicknesses today as compared to the past?
WV: I’m sure there is, maybe, but we didn’t know at that time; maybe then there were just as many.
BM: Were there midwives? Do you remember if your mother, since you were the oldest, were you delivered by a midwife?
WV: Yeah, I think with all eight oldest ones there was a midwife there. For two other ones there was a doctor that was called, and the two youngest ones were born in Linton Hospital.
BM: Was a midwife paid? Are there any stories told about that?
WV: I suppose they probably got a little money and maybe something else, I don’t know.
BM: Did your parents use any expressions in other languages, like in Russian or German?
WV: I really don’t know. I remember my grandpa used Russian words. Being we were German, I suppose we started using English ones.
BM: Do you remember, was there a newspaper in your home? Was there a German newspaper in your home?
WV: I remember two of them: one was North Dakota Herald and the [A450 Statsenzieger]. Maybe there was some others, but I don’t know, I don’t remember.
BM: What kind of information did they get from these newspapers?
WV: Well, I suppose like most newspapers. I know the Herald used to get some letters from the old country; there was some of those in there, that I remember.
BM: I suppose obituaries.
WV: Yes, that’s one thing that’s just like now; I think that’s the ones they looked at first.
BM: Were there any funnies or any comics in it?
WV: Not that I know.
BM: Do you remember when your family got modern day conveniences?
WV: Oh yes, we got electricity before my folks did, actually. Well, they went from kerosene lamps to finally we had some gasoline lamps, and then sometimes the candles were used, and then we got electricity in ’29. My folks got it in the same year, but we got it a few days before they did.
BM: How about your first car?
WV: The first car my dad had was in 1919, [A478]. Then, they had a truck in 1925, a Ford, and then we had a 1929 Model A, then I can’t remember. The Model A was bought in ’29 and I got mine in ’46, and that was the only car I had for three years.
BM: Do you remember when you got a telephone?
WV: I don’t remember when we got it, but we had it when I was young, maybe seven years old when I remember the telephone. It was a community telephone; not too many people on, but they had an outlet that they could call to a station, and they would call into Napoleon, and then they could get the message that way.
BM: I’m not familiar with that one. Do you remember the early days of radio?
WV: Yeah, we must’ve gotten one, a battery radio, maybe in ’37, but not too many people had them at that time.
BM: What were some of your favorite programs, do you remember?
WV: Amos and Andy, maybe, and…some of the music.[can’t think of name]
BM: Do you remember when television came in?
WV: We got ours in ’56. Some other people had had some before that.
BM: What were some of the first television programs that you watched?
WV: Lawrence Welk, maybe. It seems a long time, I can’t even remember. [Laughs]
BM: Which family member do you remember best and which person did you look up to?
WV: I think I remember them all, but I suppose maybe I looked up to my dad more.
BM: Well, is there anything else, now, that you‘d like
to say; anything that I have missed, stories that you’d
like to tell us?
[end side A]
[side B begins 65]
BM: I know there’s a lot of stories you could tell us, Wendelin, but let me give you a little clue here. What are some of the ways that your family has kept your family history alive for the next younger generations and maybe for some of us older generations, too?
WV: Well, the Vetter family, being there was so many living on the same place, they did a lot of celebrations and get-togethers and that’s probably what led up to…we still get together every fourth of July. It’s been pretty much since about 1939, I guess, that we meet. In earlier years, my great-grandpa was still alive, and people would come from Canada. They had some daughters living in Canada, and they would come down, and then the whole community was invited, and that’s pretty much still that way when some people come. That’s the way it was in my dad’s time; when somebody would come, they would gather there because it was a home place. And since ’37, we get together on the fourth of July all the time. First it was my cousins, and now it’s my nieces and nephews and my brothers and sisters and their families. We get together on the fourth of July every year.
BM: How many did you have last year?
WV: This last year, I think we had close to 300. It depends, sometimes, what time and what time of the week it is. If it falls on the weekends, we have bigger crowds, and everybody brings their food. There’s some of the nephews, and they prepare the meat. Sometimes it might be roast pork or it might be barbecue beef, sometimes turkeys or maybe a combination.
Every year we try and do something special, so the young kids can understand how life was. There are times when we went out with a plow and plowed the field, and we would go with a cultivator, and some of the years we had horse races, and the kids have all kinds of games during the day. The last twelve or fifteen years, we usually have started with Mass. We used to have a Mass at St. Michael’s church, and then we started having it right on the farm. We have a tent that we use where the priest has the Mass. Some of the younger people, like my nieces and nephews, they just absolutely think we have to keep on doing this, because of the good times that they’ve had, and they want their kids to experience the same kind of celebrations.
The creek is right close; some years they go boating, and they have all kinds of things, like target shoot and things like that…a tractor pull [Laughs]…see how many men it takes to hold a little John Deer tractor back, and all kinds of things you might think of. We go and visit the cemetery sometimes. Most of the time there’s some buggy rides, and the kids that don’t get off get more rides than the other ones. One of our granddaughters said, “I got lots of rides,” and I said, “Well how did you do that?” She says, “I just never went off.” [Laughs] I suppose there’s a lot of kids like that. I have 96 nieces and nephews, so if half of those come, that’s enough already for a celebration. Now in Katie and my family when we’re all together there is 50 of us; we have 30 grandchildren.
BM: How many children do you have?
WV: We have ten children.
BM: Can you name those from the oldest? We maybe better have Katie do that. [Laughs]
WV: Mary Kay, Verna, Joe, Theresa, Josephine, Elizabeth, Anita, Diane and Leonard and Gerald. They all live in North Dakota, except one lives in California, and she usually makes it home once a year. The last three years, we’ve been going to see her once a year.
[unidentified speaker]: Give us a little bit of history on the founding and the starting of the prairie bells.
WV: The prairie bells just happened. One of my nephews is a bell collector, and one day he decided that maybe they should put some bells up out on the prairie—he called it the prairie bells. In the mean time, that nephew, Leland, and his brother, Mike, and some more of his brothers went over the holy land and some other countries and they seen a lot of grottos. And they thought they should have a grotto. So, they bought some land from Ben, five acres, and smoothed out the hill a little bit and put up the bells, which was in the middle of the winter—they had foundation poured—between New Year’s and Christmas we put the bells up. It was twenty below zero, and the wind was blowing about twenty miles an hour. And there’s three bells up there, two of them from the Zeeland church and one is a church bell. But now they bought another bell from the Holy Trinity Church, and that bell will go up next year. The grotto was built—I think they used 35 yards of cement for foundation—and they built the grotto with all prairie rocks from the area, different farmers brought some in. Then, when Father Austin was in Italy, or in Rome, they ordered a statue of Jesus and Mary and Joseph, life size. They got it from Italy, and that was shipped over here in 1994. It was dedicated by the bishop of Bismarck and the bells are there for everybody to ring, and the grotto is there for people to come and meditate and pray. It’s on top of a hill and you can see farms around and Beaver Creek Valley, and it’s a nice place to go and see.
BM: I need to go back, Wendelin, into a greeting that we talked about earlier. Could you say it slowly and give us some understanding of it.
WV: In those olden years, when people would get together, especially when young people would greet older persons…and a lot of times, especially children to their parents, when they would get together, their greeting was, [B158], which means, praised be Jesus Christ], and they would answer, [B160], [which means] forever and ever. I remember my aunt lived about two blocks from our place. She’d come over every morning, and she’d come in the house (my grandpa lived with us) and she would say, [B163], and then she would say, [B163 Wie Gehts], and grandpa would say, “Everything is ok,” and then she would go home.
BM: We’re going through some clarification here now. Who were some of the five families that lived on the Vetter farm there that you said were close, and were they family or were they neighbors, and if they were neighbors, can you name some of the neighbors?
WV: My great-grandfather was Valentine and Francisca; she was a [B 170 hoffert] from Wishek. They lived in a wooden house that they built when they moved out. My grandfather lived in a different house and had a family, and when my dad got married, my mom and dad lived with Grandpa and Grandma and also two of my aunts and my uncle. They soon got married and then one of the aunts moved into the main house, the original house, her and her husband, so that was her grandfather, and they lived together until my great-grandfather died in ’25; my great-grandma died in ’29. My aunt was married to Andrew Werner and they had, I think, eight children before they moved to a different farm. Then another house was further back, which was Balzer Vetter, which was the brother to my grandfather and a son to Valentine, and his wife was a Job. They lived there for five years, I believe, and then they moved south of the farm to a different farm.
Then Adam Baumstarck, who got married to Julia, my dad’s sister, lived in another house (we call it the back house, and one’s the middle house). Then my Uncle Matt Wolf that was married to my aunt [B189 Cunagunda], lived a quarter mile west of the farm. Some of the neighbors living in that area were Lawrence Wald who lived a mile and a half towards the east, to the south was Duchscheres, and then further about a mile and a half west there was Anton Vetter, which was a second cousin to my grandpa, and there were Aberles and there was Millers and Schumachers. One thing I should probably mention is that for the mail that they got, they had to go two miles south of their place where there was a place where mail was dropped off twice a week, and they would pick it up; that was the Schumacher farm.
When my dad started school, there was only four children, I guess, so my aunt Magdalene, she was four years old, so they took her to school and that way, if they had five children, then they would get a teacher. The school was in my great-grandfather’s house for a number of years, and later on it was the Duchschere house, the one’s I had mentioned. And then finally they built a school a mile and a half from the farm. Later on there was another school built which was a half a mile from our farm, and that was there until about ‘60. At least the first few years they had school, it was only like four months at a time, and later on it was six months, and when I started going to school it was seven months.
BM: Who lives on your original farm now?
WV: Right now, my brother Ben, which is toward the youngest of the boys, and his wife Delphine, she was an [B215 Erhardt], and their son Andrew lives in the house where my dad lived, or where we lived. And in the grandpa’s house, there’s a fifth generation, August’s son (August is my brother) Danny, and his wife, Marie, and three children live on the great-grandpa’s place. The other house way on the other end, that’s not there anymore, so there’s only two families living there right now.