The House on the Knoll: My German-Russian Family

By Marylyn (Pousson) Diebold, LaVergne, Tennessee, 2010, 95 pages, softcover.

William and Regina Biberorf, October 31, 1909

For many years, I’ve searched my family’s German-Russian history. My grandfather,Wilhelm Otto Biberdorf born on July 23, 1883 in the village of Eigenfeld, Black Sea province of Kherson, South Russia (today Ukraine), was barely twenty when he left his family in Russia and sailed across the huge ocean to find freedom in the United States of America.

In north central North Dakota, William built a farming enterprise that continues to this day. I am still in awe of my grandfather and of what he accomplished. However, he could not have done it without Grandma Jean. Although her education was limited, Grandma had ‘smarts’ that helped the family through the bad times, especially the depression years.

The Biberdorf house in the late 1930s or early 1940s

The first part of the book dwells on history pertaining to the German-Russian people and then to William. The second part contains short stories. Some are humorous, while others related the struggles, and the terrible hardships that befell the family. Yet, they preserved and went on, always trusting that things would work out for the best. I am a second generation of German-Russians born in America.

The Biberdorf house in 2006

The authors share in the Introduction: “When I was younger, I didn’t understand how Grandpa Biberdorf could be born in Russia, and not be Russian, but German. History describes the German-Russians as tenacious and highly industrious people. My mother described my own tenacity as “bullheadedness.” In 1929, my grandparents bought the farm and the house on the knoll. I grew up in that wonderful old house. Within its walls, I felt safe, secure, and totally unaware of the great sacrifices my grandparents made for that security. The love that poured out of that big white house on the knoll still touches me and continues to bless me.”

About the author

Marylyn Diebold and her husband, Wayne, farmed and now ranch in north central North Dakota. They have a son, a daughter, and four grandsons. Ironically, five years ago when they moved into a large white square house that sits on a knoll with Willow Creek flowing a short distance from their yard. The setting is similar to where Marylyn and her siblings were raised in Willow Creek Township.

Marylyn was always interested in writing, but became serious about publishing her work since her involvement with the Prairie Rose Writers of Rolette, and the Lake Region Writers of Devils Lake. She is especially grateful to Lake Region member Huck Krueger for his help.

Along with other writers across North Dakota, the groups have published two anthologies: Whisperings from the Wheatfields and Winter Whispers.

For 32 years, Marylyn worked as a station manager for First National Bank & Trust of Bottineau, ND. She continues to work part-time.

She is busy writing her first novel, Secrets Along Willow Creek. Diebold’s writings depict her faith, her love for the North Dakota prairies, family life, and her German-Russian heritage.

The House on the Knoll: My German-Russian Family

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