Review by Vi Kruckenberg Schielke, Beulah, North Dakota
Tweton, D. Jerome and Everett C. Albers. The Way it Was: The North Dakota Frontier Experience: Germans from Russia Settlers. Fessenden, North Dakota: Grass Roots Press, 1999.
Vi Kruckenberg Schielke is a life member of Germans from Russia Heritage Society and has served on the GRHS Board of Directors for nine years in the past and continues to serve on their various committees. Vi is co-author of Mercer County Cemetery Index published in 1990. She is also a self-taught family genealogist and has contributed to many published articles and family history books.
This book is 103 pages of family histories of the Germans from Russia taken from the WPA interviews during the late 1930s. These eighteen interviews are not just interviews as the editors took the liberty to recast them back to first person story forms. They did an excellent job as I read each story with interest. I felt like I was in the room visiting with that family. The book also includes pictures and maps.
These families settled in ten North Dakota counties including: Wells County - Gottfried Kurtz family; Pierce County - the Balzar Thomas and the Max Keller families; Morton County - the Philip Mosbrucker and the Morris Weisgarber families; McIntosh County -the Gottlieb Isaak and the Johann Miller families; Logan County -the Johann Gutschmidt family; Foster County - the August Leitner family; Emmons County - the Franz and Johannes Baumgartner, Jakob Fischer, and August Flegel families; Dickey County - the Simon Hille, Christian Maier, and John Sperling families; Cavalier County - the Spenst family. All these counties and families makes up a diverse collection of where they came from in Russia and their religions. All have stories worth sharing.