The Way It Was: The North Dakota Frontier Experiences
Book Four: Germans from Russia Settlers

Edited by Everett C. Albers and D. Jerome Tweton

The Grass Roots Press, Fessenden, North Dakota, 1999, 93 pages, softcover

The Germans from Russia Heritage Collection is pleased to announce publication of Germans from Russia Settlers. Everett C. Albers has served as executive director of the North Dakota Humanities Council since 1973. D. Jerome Tweton was a history professor at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, from 1965 to 1995. Both are well known North Dakota authors and editors.

The back cover of the book shares these comments: "Here are the stories of the hardy North Dakota pioneers who came to North Dakota in search of land and an opportunity to live in freedom in the last part of the 1800s and early 1900s. Record in the middle of the 1930s by interviewers working in a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, those who settled the land tell "the way it was" for them when they came to the frontier. Gleaned from over 5,000 stories which are stored at the State Historical of North Dakota, Germans from Russia Settlers, Book Four in a series of memories of the frontier experience., collect eighteen of the personal histories of those who came to that endless sea of grass that challenged their strength and spirit as they broke the sod and farmed the land."

The attractive book's cover shares the important historic color drawings of Germans from Russia at Eureka, South Dakota, from the July 11, 1896, Harper's Weekly magazine. There are maps and photographs found throughout the book. Indexes include places, origins, conditions, travel, churches, schools, land claiming, farming, homestead houses and households, disaster and weather, death and seasickness, trouble with creditors, and recreation.

D. Jerome Tweton writes the first chapter, "In Search of a Better Life: The Germans from Russia," while Everett C. Albers authors his reminiscing chapter, "Arbeit Mach das Leben Süss."

Other chapters include, "Finding an International Language: The Franz Baumgartners"; "Fighting the Worst of Prairie Fires: The Johannes Baumgartners"; "Hardship and Heartaches on the Homestead: The August Flegel Family"; "When a Volksdeutsche Marries a Reichsdeutcher: Minnie Sperling Freitag"; "Searching for Good Land in Logan County: Johann Gutschmidt"; "From Bessarabia to North Dakota: A Family's Journey: The Gottlieb Isaak Family"; "Looking for Water: From the Hague Settlement to Buffalo Lake: Max Keller"; "Teaching in Russia, Farming in McHenry County: The Saga of a Wolyniendeutsche Couple: The Adolf Klebes"; "Working the Land and Working for God: The Gottfried Kurtz Family"; "Farming with Oxen"; "From Germany to Russia, to Turkey, to Rumania (without moving), to Canada, to America: Dobrudschadeutsche: The George and August Leitner Families"; "A Colony in Search of a Better Life"; "Fining Prosperity on a Plains Homestead: Philip and Eva Mosbrucker"; "The Mennonite Experience in Cavalier County: The Spenst Family"; "From Selz to Selz and Trouble with Creditors: Balzar Thomas"; and "A Second Boom Homesteader: Morris Weisgarber."

The Franz & Margaret (Thomas) Baumgartner Family. Franz was the church organist in Strassburg, Russia, and later at Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Strasburg, North Dakota. Taken from the book, The Johannes Baumgartner Story and Genealogy Bicentennial Edition, 1774-1974.

Seven coaches of German-Russian emigrants arrive in Eureka, SD., 1892. Photograph from the book, Eureka: 1887-1937.

A prosperous German-Russian Dakota farmer. The home of Gottlieb Isaak had a brickmaker construct for him, had walls a foot and one-half thick. In this case, the homemade bricks were whitewashed. Not only were such homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer, they were virtually fireproof. Photograph from Harper's Weekly, July 11, 1896.

Germans from Russia Settlers


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