Interview with Fred Wieland (FW)

Conducted by Vern Wieland (VW)
26 July 1990, Streeter, North Dakota

Transcribed by Jayne Whiteford
Edited and Proofread by Jane D. Trygg

VW: My name is Vern Wieland, I am talking to Fred Wieland, my father. Fred was born April 16th, 1901. This is July 26th, 1990. Tell about those wagons in (8).

FW: There were four wagons, each with a team of horses. They were driving to the depot to take the train to (11), Germany, where a ship was waiting for us. That is all I go to say.

VW: How did they get the three seats and stuff for John and Andrew?

FW: There were three seats, and then there were some shorter wagons with two seats instead of three. That was just for driving people in that shorter wagon. Sometimes in the longer ones there would be a little corn and grain or something like that. It would go into the wagon all sacked. The shorter wagons were just for passengers.

VW: Describe your feelings when you left grandmothers place?

FW: I was not old enough to read or anything, but I think I was kind of sad to go to move. But I would never believe that we would never come back. Because it was so far, I thought a year or so and we would come back. I didn’t believe that we would never see them again. But just then it was only three hours with the team, and just in a few years we would come back again. That’s the feeling I had.

VW: When you saw her house, when you went by.

FW: I went out into the street and the house was gone. The house was behind a six foot wall, you couldn’t see much of the house.

VW: How far was your trip to Germany with you wagons?

FW: How far was the trip?

VW: How far was it, or how long did it take?

FW: I think it was about till noon we ate lunch, we had bread along and sausage, with the people before the train got there. That’s all

VW: What do you think would have happened to your family if you would have stayed later, if you wouldn’t have come into the United States?

FW: I give a little more than myself, if I am thick enough I (033) him again, my old house, the older you get the more you go away. Your little grandkids are big and they don’t know you anymore. It’s not much fun to grow up.

VW: What I mean is as far as war was concerned, why was it good that you left in 1909?

FW: That was my fathers business. He thought if we stayed then Stalin starts the army, they would have to serve for four years, and when he was done then (040), would have to serve, then Emanuel, then Jake, then myself, and it just goes on, and then the war broke out and so many got killed. We were under a lot of hardships, when that war broke out, and they were glad that we were here then. Every day it got better.

VW: Your (043), What do you think happened to your (044) after the war?

FW: My what?

VW: Your (044)? Your village, what do you think happened to your village during the war?

FW: Well, many things, we were traded to Romania, that south Bessarabian, they run us through the land, after the Romanian’s went to war with Germany. And then when the war was over, then the wars court decided that no body won. The Germans had to go back to their homeland through France, and they were far in Russia. Back to Odessa, and they all old us we had to go back to our own border. But the (052) couldn’t protect us the Bessarabians and Romanians, But then he had control over the Bessarabia, and then in a few years, When the (055) gets strong enough, and then he asked for that piece of land back, because that was the best land in Europe, that part, and the Romanians couldn’t move against the Russia, because they know they were licked before they started. So the Russia got all the land back, and then Hitler talked to us Germans, and moved into Germany.

VW: Now that was a trade between Stalin and Hilter?

FW: Yes, that is what they came back for their second load, of clothing, and wire, furniture, they were glad to leave, because almost (063) all the animals, and all the dogs they couldn’t take along, and they were howling, it was pitiful because they needed food and comfort. I know there were more than 100 or maybe 200 dogs, and we had two, but our little dog was with us and he was howling because he knew something was going on, but he couldn’t speak.

VW: When did they shoot all those dogs?

FW: Right before they were gone. Before they left to go to Bessarabia. They only came back twice, and they took cattle along and their horses, and they loaded all the wagons, they could come back once. What they couldn’t take in two loads stayed.

VW: And then the moved back into Germany then?

FW: Yep

VW: So then all of your relatives would be in West Germany today or would they be in west Germany today? What do you think?

FW: Well I think they are settled in East Germany

VW: They were settled in East Germany.

FW: They were right across the border. They were settled on that land that the Germans took from the Poland’s. See they were far in Russia. As I said before, they had no were to go, there was even our leader, President Roosevelt, out there to help settlement. So it was (084), (084). And they couldn’t claim no land at all, they had to go back to their own borders. There was just too many people. My dad always said there were too many people. That’s why they shot, that’s why the started a war.

VW: That could be, That could be.

FW: And there was a (089), I heard there was a number one’s was in the 40s that got killed.

VW: During the war?

FW: Yes, there was a native boy and two negro’s, they got killed. You know (092) and then they had (093) boys, one was as old as I was and the other was more. So we go, At that time if you think back, it hasn’t gotten much better.
-----Interrupted by telephone----

FW: I don’t know anymore

VW: Your mother was, your mother was how old when your mother and dad when we came into the United States?

FW: How old?

VW: Yes.

FW: Well I think my mother was 36 and my dad was two years older. So I was young yet. I had a lot of other things to think about.

VW: I would say as a family, moving away from your relatives like that would be the hardest thing.

FW: Well sometimes. A lot of the times, but not always. Friends are pressed through sometimes.

VW: Now in Brehmen you went on the ship, what was the name of the ship?

FW: Karlsruhe the second (120). They usually how they welcomed us. They had one of the biggest bands in the world. The marched right on the ship, there was a bridge built going up, because the ship was higher than the ground you know. I bet it was 30 feet wide, and that was one hell of a beat, and they had the biggest band playing all kinds of music. As long as we marched in there. I was standing outside on the deck on the second class and you could see there were all dressed in white and had caps on. The steer on the top would stay out flat yah know, I could hear that band yet how the played. They had big bass’s, just slammed it on them, and it echoed off the water. And you didn’t see any water or nothing, because it was all closed up on the sides, and there was a guard from Germany, and he traveled with us. He was going to New York. His name was Hanker, Hanker and he knew all about traveling. And we went down in the ship, went down about too flights. And Hanker came down and grabbed us by our necks, with all he had, and drug us up to the first flight. And you would have all the fresh air coming in from the outside, and my mother was so glad that he took us up there, and I think he went up to the top of the deck, I think he and his wife spent all their time up there. See the top deck is where we sleep. It looked like a house, except it was built of steel.

VW: You remember that pretty well, Sailing in?

FW: Yes, There was another old lady that went along with us, and she warned us. She said lay down in the bed, because when the ship starts to move, you will get sick. Then lay in bed, and then my dad said he was going to go up and see when they were going to start. But he couldn’t’ see anymore land. We were that far away that the land was gone. We were all waiting for the ship to start.

VW: What things do you remember bringing into the United States from the foreign countries?

FW: Each community came to the United States, and each family had a tank to carry. They were full of pots, you know we needed pots. High chair and a pouring thing, made out of glue, that you made the coffee in. That’s what I brought, (164-167). And we stayed at their house for 6 weeks, that house out on the country. I remember my mother being so tired. Somebody had to sleep on the floor, 3,4 in a bed cross ways. It was hard very hard.

VW: yah, I can about imagine with a big family like that. So there was (176).Who was this (177)?

FW: Adam Intzfringer, he had one child, the other girl, and she died from pneumonia. And the doctor said if they would have listened to my mother the girl would have been saved. They put her in wax paper and ice, wax cloth in a bed and ice, and my mother said they should put warm, you know hot those crocks little one, you know they wrapped cloths around to make it hot, because they didn’t have heating pads. The doctor said the girl got weaker and weaker and died. Adam’s son had a hired girl and they were driving with a load of lay, and lighting struck the wagon and started the wagon on fire, and killed the boy and the girl, the hired girl. The horses were running with the fiery wagon, running like mad, and then it started to rain, and took it out. That’s how he lost his only son. And then the girl they lost a year later, and then the doctor from Streeter, and a doctor from Edgely came over late one evening and the next morning they went home. And they had a hospital in Edgely. They took her down to the hospital. They treated her with ice, to stop the fever, and the killed the girl.

End of interview

Next it begins another interview with his father.

Interview with Fred Wieland (FW)

Conducted by Vern Wieland (VW)
September 8th, 1990

VW: My name is Vern Wieland and I am talking to my father Fred Wieland. This is September 8th, 1990, and we are going to be using some phrases of modified wanker sentences with the curiosity of Professor Paul Shuk.

VW: ok say the dry leaves.

FW: (208)

VW: The hot milk

FW: (208)

VW: the cold weather.

FW: (210)

VW: the good man

FW: (211)

VW: Her daughter
FW: (212)

VW: You old ape

FW: (214)

VW: my dear boy

FW: (215)

VW: such bad times

FW: (217)

VW: the new story

FW: (218)

VW: this evening

FW: (221)

VW: a half pound of sausage

FW: (223)

VW: an entire loaf of bread

FW: (226)

VW: a little bit of cheese

FW: (227)

VW: a nice time

FW: (228)

VW: his younger brother

FW: (230)

VW: some white soap

FW: (231)

VW: hurry up, supper’s ready!

FW: (233)

VW: Little birds

FW: (234)

VW: the brown dog

FW: (236)

VW: his heart

FW: (237)

VW: a headache and a cold

FW: (239)

VW: tomorrow morning

FW: (240)

VW: wait one more minute


VW: the warm water

FW: (243)

VW: the thin ice


VW: the talk too much

FW: (246)

VW: up in the air

FW: (247)

VW: in the oven

FW: (250)

VW: with the busht

FW: (251)

VW: with the wooden spoon

FW: (252)

VW: with a horse


VW: from the young women

FW: (258)

VW: for a little girl

FW: (258)

VW: with out salt or pepper

FW: (262)

VW: the last word

FW: (262)

VW: across the pasture

FW: (264)

VW: behind our house

FW: (266)

VW: on the stone or brick wall

FW: (267)

VW: to stay here

FW: (269)

VW: his own child

FW: (270)

VW: ok now here are some words and I want to tell you what they are in German.
(Please listen for the German words from 272-

Red cabbage:
Boggle Cork:
Money purse:
Two Cows:
Nine Tree’s:
Twelve houses:

Now Count to 15 in German.

Now Say the days in the week the way you would say it.

Now Say the Seasons of the year.

Now say the following

I have:

----Switch to side two----

He has:

She has:

You children have:

They have:

We have:

I am:

You are:

He is:

You all are:

We are:

They are:

Now we have some sentences I would like you to say in German.

I like vegetable soup.

Put the meat on the table.

The farmers were very angry.

We went to church every Sunday.

He acted as if he was sleeping.

They will eat at the neighbors place.

Nothing but cream, cakes, and noodles.

They heated their house with coal.

They heated their house with wood.

We had bought a new car already.

Let me tell you, my feet hurt.

How much do you want to have?

We don’t understand you.

Who stole the money.

Where are you going?

I was too tired.

VW: Michael wants you to talk a little about Elis Island. Can you tell us something about that?

FW: All I can remember, we came in a big ship in the New York harbor. And the law is that all the immigrants must be examined for several days before they are allowed to come into the United States. Then they took a small ship. I sat outside on the porch, and hung my feet in the water, while the ship was going to Elis Island. And then there was more people there and they were all bunched with their families, and they had a room, no beds. You had to sleep on the floor. They gave you food, and they arrived on Elis Island, they come to the shore. A white dressed man and a wagon behind him. And he had cookies and pumpkin pies, and cheese. They gave us free each got a present. And we stayed there about three days, and then they took us with a little ship to New York, and then we took the train and went on. That’s all there was.

VW: ok, what did the doctors examine you? Tell what it looked like. Didn’t you have to stay there an extra day?

FW: No, The next day my dad walked around and looked for a railroad, but everywhere he looked there was water. If they had a railroad we wouldn’t be using this little ship yah know. That was quite a big island. And that was all, now there is no more elis island, just the memories.

VW: Well what did you see on Elis island? What kind of buildings were there or whatever?

FW: I don’t remember, they had so many flowers there. Right where you looked there was flowers. I don’t remember the buildings.

VW: Didn’t you say you had to stay an extra day at Elis Island because someone was sick?

FW: No. That was out in the old country we had to stay longer because of Jake and Landels eyes. They had to heal first. That was out before we got on, before we had to go. Elis Island was all clear.

VW: ok, Then who hauled you to the railroad from Elis Island? What happened there?

FW: Well, they took us on a little ship back to New York

VW: Did you then get on the railroad right away?

FW: Oh, we walked stairs, we walked up and up and up and when we came up, There was the train, on top of the building!

VW: Were there a lot of tree’s on Elis Island?

FW: Not a lot of tree’s but a lot of flowers. I don’t remember seeing on tree.

VW: The white man came and gave you free stuff?

FW: He was all white. White cap, suit white, box and crackers, and pumpkin pie, and American cheese, and boy did we gulp that down.

VW: So was it fun, when you slept on the floor of this room?

FW: No

VW: Was there a Mattress?

FW: No we had quilts, most of our bedding we had along. We had a big sack with bedding and quilts.

VW: How many families do you think stayed in this one big room?

FW: Well, there were petitions, each family had a petition, it was just like walking through a cow barn. And we were all standing there, and holding their little (475) so they wouldn’t get lost.

VW: And you were in the petition, did you get all your family in this petition? Was it big enough? How big was the building?

FW: Big that’s all I know. I didn’t know how many feet or yards or that stuff, but it was a big building. You could look down and you couldn’t make out if there were people down there or cattle.

VW: Did everyone from the ship go on there, to that building?

FW: I guess so, because they only had a day because more ships were coming in. We all had to go there.

VW: They all had to sleep there. And you had to sleep on the floor, everyone slept on the floor? And they brought your food? So the federal government fed you, all of you that came in?

FW: Yes, I guess so.

VW: Where did you wash? Did you have outside bathrooms?

FW: There was water inside, but we didn’t’ take water baths, because we thought we didn’t get dirty. There wasn’t even water on the railroads. It was in front of the railroad station, and then (493) filled with water and that’s what you took on the train, and then we drank that water as long as we were on the train, and we had to wait for another station to get more water. I think they had some kind of chemical that was stored within the railroad cars.

VW: How about in Elis Island, what kind of bathrooms were there?

FW: You could sit down on a seat, and you would all sit in a row. There were about twenty of us that could sit in a row.

VW: They were all open!

FW: all open, (500)

VW: (500)

FW: (501)

VW: Did you go out to play at Elis Island, or what did you do during the day there?

FW: We had to stay in the room. My dad walked around and looked everything up. You had to be careful because they were stealing kids yah know. There were bad people too. If they got a little far they could tie his mouth shut right away, and hide them and you wouldn’t know. You could walk right by them, but they couldn’t make no sounds.

VW: You mean that went on at Elis Island, where they would steal little kids?

FW: Well, that’s why we had to stay together by the mother or the father. See we couldn’t run around, that was not allowed, they told us stay together. And then dad went to look for a railroad station, and he walked all over (514).

VW: (516)

FW: (517) and then he stayed with us, and they told us, they steal children, you have to watch on the ship and on Elis Island. The railroad wasn’t too bad, but the ship was too big, you could go three, four stairways down, you would never find them. See the ship had great big stair ways, you could just run down there, there were about three flanks where people were just sitting. But we were from the deck, one stair way down, and from there the stair way was all open. Out on the deck, and we got all that fresh air, but the people who were two flanks down, they didn’t get that fresh air, they had to open the little windows, round windows that were all around the sides of the ship. Not big ones, so that nobody could crawl out, or be thrown out or something like that, not big ones, just little ones, oblong windows, so that’s all I can remember about the trip. And then we came to Streeter, and the train was running and good, and a quarter of a mile out of town, Adams Enzminger jumped on the train and he stood looking in the glass door, and then Andrew said to me (538). The train was still going.

VW: Well how did he go, Did he leave his horses there at the place or what?

FW: He lived in town. He lived right were we went to him. That was my dads (543) in the old country. See?

VW: Why did you call him (544)?

FW: That was the old country style. There was real good man, and the kids were taught to call him (546). And everybody did it out there.

VW: Maybe you can name some of the things that you brought into the United States that you brought from Russia. Like the kettle you mentioned, what are some of those things that you brought to the United States with you?

FW: I don’t think we brought anything in.

VW: oh, well you talked about the thing were the cheese was in, and were the teapot was in, wicker basket.

FW: We didn’t bring anything but a few clothes, that’s all, and the pot. See little kids, they had to go quite often. That was (561), See they used the pot and then threw it out the window. On the ship we had water.

VW: You told me one time that you brought blue stuff. The tea kettle. And then you had the little basket that you said you brought from Russia.

FW: Yes we brought that in. Baskets? Yes we had several where we had clothes packed in. One basket we had was a big one. Andrew carried it where there was food packed in. Bread and stuff like that cookies, whatever we could get by on on the road we packed it in there. And on that little basket there was something packing into it, but I don’t know what. John always carried it under his arm. It had a collar on. That’s all, we didn’t bring in anything. A few clothes. I know I borrowed my dad’s coat, it was a dress coat in the old country. My mother used it in the bottom of a box to warm up, and my grandmother washed it once and it never turned out to look like a coat. So I said I will burn it then.

VW: I see. I also know that you had that little blue thing that you had cheese in. that I got from Manuel

FW: Yes we had sheep cheese in it, but we never ate it. And when we came in here the (585), they ate it like hot cakes.

VW: What is sheep cheese?

FW: Cheese. From the sheep milk, that is the richest cheese you can get. Sheep and goat cheese.

VW: And your mother made that?

FW: She packed it in that little (591), and salted it and packing it in tight. And she tied a solid rag around it, and then she put the cover on and tied it down. And we traveled 17 days, and the sheep cheese didn’t stink anymore than it did in the old country.

VW: What kind of food did you eat on the ship?

FW: We got very good bread. It was like buns. A little bigger than a bun, and they had about three in a row and about eight in the other, on a pan. They were stacked on the bread house way up, and they took home. When they were all sick yah know, all they eat is bread. And there was and old Sailor his name was (608), and then we went out and give me a whole pan full of that bread, I was the only one that could walk good. The other ones would tumble down the stairs. And when we got that we ended up eating on the bread all the time, and drank some water. The coffee they didn’t like. The tea they didn’t like. And the meat that was no cooked like if a wife would cook it yah know. They cooked it in big quantities, and that doesn’t taste as if a wife would cook it in here alone.

VW: What is the name of the ship again that you came over in?

FW: (619) We were going to go on (624), but we were late. We were three days late, and then we had to stay three days before we could, before that ship started. And then we found out, the telegram came back to Brehmen that they ran into a big fish and it stopped the ship, and the sailors they had a mess. They went down there to see if they could cut off some of the meat of the fish, and they said that he knocked his tail so hard against the ship that they thought he would knock a whole in the ship. Them (634) fish are big buggers, and he finally got away, and the run spears in him and spears in him, and they thought they would kill him. But he got away. He kill him with spears, they had little boats, they are called lead boats, if they are full of water, they won’t go down, they will stay up. And they had very sharp spears and the (642) fish would come to the surface and they would throw these spears all they could, the air was full of spears, and then he got away. He probably died sometime, but very seldom would they stop from the spears, his meat was so thick that it wouldn’t reach the heart, because that’s the only way it would kill him. If they had guns, but the guns were not allowed, and so my mother was so glad that they didn’t get on that ship, because she was always so scared.

VW: She was scared of the water. Could you explain how much sickness you had on the ship at that time, and why the people were so sick.

FW: Well that’s just the water, that made the people sea sick. Actually, my whole family except me, I was just as alert as I ever was. They had to have somebody to get them their food. They couldn’t walk. They would fall. They would fall down the stairway, all they would do was throw up. Eat a little, and then they would throw up. And not just you would throw up, there were others throwing up, because it was a double deck. There was the throw up stuff coming from the other deck.

VW: When you had to sit at Brehmen from three days, where did you sleep?

FW: On the floor.

VW: Was there a building there?

FW: Oh yes, there was tables to eat, just like a church. The tables would sit with two sides. And they would come up and they would slide the food down and you would have to catch the food. And there was a room in that restaurant, and plenty of food there before we went on the ship, that’s were my mother packed all the left over stuff that she could save. She packed that basket that we could back, just like everybody else that goes down for waste.

VW: Could you remember what kind of food you had there?

FW: There was potatoes and meat and I don’t remember. But when we walked around, we had two women to guide us around town, Brehmen is a nice town. All nice streets. And there was a great big dog, the biggest dog I have ever seen, laying in front of a two wheeled cart, little wheels, and the top was on, the top was put back and the dog was laying down, and we were around there, and we were going to wait until the man came out. We waited to see the man tell the dog to go. The man came out, but he didn’t say anything. He just got in his wagon, grabbed the reins, and went and the dog followed. They had a photograph playing, and we looked in there and we thought someone was in there playing, and everything, and them to ladies held us all together. They always said come here come here! (709)They had guards there all the time.

VW: Do you remember what kind of food you got at Elis Island? Was it the same thing you got every place?

FW: I don’t remember the food. The most interest to me was if I could only get something to eat. They couldn’t talk, and we stopped once in Canada our railroad went through Canada. A lot of Germans could talk German, and then we met an old man, and the big people in New York. Then he asked my dad where we came from. Dad he goes back home, that’s no good in America. And my mother started to cry. Then my dad said you all stay here, I am going to look for some bread, and then he walked by a door and there was bread you could taste and cheese. Then he went in there and took four loaves of bread, and he laid it all together and two packages of cheese, long packages, and then a man came up to him and said something to him, and then my dad said yes. And he give him a big money bill and that man gave him some change, and well that man knew he wanted that bread, and when he came down with those four loaves of bread, they were gone in no time.

VW: That’s why you were in New York waiting to leave.

FW: No that was in Canada. See we had to change trains in Canada.


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