Photograph taken at Walter ssig's 100th birthday on October 31, 2007 at Bismarck, North Dakota. Walter Essig sitting with his Children (left to right): Kay, argaret, Robert and James.
Text prepared by Margaret Aman Freeman, Redondo Beach, California, longtime colleague and friend of Walter and Alice Riedlinger Essig
When contacted this week, Walter said that he seemed to be able to do nothing about his age or the length of his life, so he is relaxing and just allowing it to take its course.
He was born on the Essig family homestead, went to high school in McClusky, ND, and had an office job (banking, and he also taught school) when he and Alice were married in 1931. Then he took over the farm from his parents and his parents lived with them while he farmed.
At the age of 14, he found his first arrowhead on the old Indian Trail between Bismarck and Devils Lake, and then later found many things lost as the Indians traveled that route. He was aware of railroad routes as they were built to service the farmers, adding he did not know much about them because his work never had anything to do with the railroads.
When he and Alice moved to Bismarck, having sold their farm to buy their house, they both became very involved with the Germans from Russia. Alice donated her services in the office for the early years, where she personally annotated her own copies of Jubilee Books and many obituaries by listing several earlier generations. Walt recalls that as a labor of pleasure for them both.
Walt and Alice had four children: Bob, Jim, Kay Bennett, and Margaret Pretzer. They were married for 66 years before Alice's death in 1997. Walter's descendants include 13 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren.
Walter maintains he is just a plain North Dakota dirt farmer, adding that there was nothing special, just an enjoyable life, farming the North Dakota dirt.
Happy Birthday, Walter Essig!
If you wish to send birthday greetings, the address is:
1453 12th Street North
Bismarck, ND 58501.