Consider the Hills
Presentation by Pauline Neher Diede, Hebron,
Germans from Russia Heritage Society Convention
Transcribed by Shelly Rolandson
Edited and proofread by Janel Wald and Linda Haag
A full moon and then a moonrise, this is a sight. A portrait in
gold, framed in her light, suspended in space; ageless and timeless
in beauty and grace. The moon repeats the cycle of ages untold.
Its course is a mystery, never to unfold. North Dakota, of the United
States of America, with its buried landscapes: hills and bales,
buttes and creeks, rivers, lakes, plains and the country hills.
A starry night, often considered to influence mankind. Everything
in nature invites us to be what we are. A man’s life should
star in some field or art, to bring forth a shine among many stars.
From the rise of the sun there begins a day of hard work; an opportunity
toward resourcefulness. North Dakota halberds on the threshold of
a new and greater era for progress, that which will bring more of
the good things of life for its entire people.
The nineteen eighties, the book writing years, is sod house product
Pauline Neher Diede, discovered that life is a challenge for the
changes; welcomed the break from old familiar ways. The change may
be the most important course on your road to destiny. During the
roaring twenties, the farmstead was home, alive with family and
animals. Where no one was spared from work, as when food was made
from scratch. Those were the generous years. Oh ye time honored
home, where now the rolling hills foster range cattle.
Here in western North Dakota stretches the sculptured land of silent
spaces where the forces of nature have shaped curious beauty. Where
there is a variety of wildlife and where the buffalo is a comeback.
From the North Dakota badlands comes one or two ye friends, let’s
go up the hilltop to find us a place away from the crowd. Let’s
meet with the setting sun, near the glorious cloud. Let’s
ponder and bow to the rainbow’s nod. High on the hilltop we
meet in rapture with God.
Just the theme, “Consider the country hills”, has an
effect on us. The forked creeks, the stony spread, here’s
where the immigrant settlers sized up with a look in their eyes,
“This is mine.” But was it really his? Nay, it belongs
to the generations.
The glittering grab of free land: the Homestead Act of 1862. People
came form all parts of the world with strange names and strange
ways. They brought with them bare belongings and built a dugout,
an earthen room that had a dirt floor; a frontier home. When settlers
had time and the means, they built a shack out on the leveled prairie
or near an elongated hill. There about begun the cycle of plowing
up the land. The plow was pulled by horse and guided by man.
Parallel trails, called “the prairie road”, meandering
about on the rugged land. The basic road dipped and disappeared
into a valley, a draw, then uphill. The horses, a good part of the
habitat, swung into an easy trot. Yet visible still are a few winding
dirt roads of nature’s eminent detours.
Memories, once mind lets go of a thousand reminders, the years of
learning by back breaking work, as in clearing the fields of its
stones, we the kids and Jack, the horse, hitched to a stone boat,
the job was endless. Many decades later the earth gave way to a
tree creeper. Oh, what profound life long lessons, as children caress
the hills and creeks of natures domain. The books were scare in
school for reading, writing and arithmetic.
The Diede country home; stone cemented, white washed, built buy
the sweat of the brow. Now the swallows mold nests into the corners.
Trees tell the tale of time. The richness of such a life is past.
Beautiful, blue sky, there’s magic in the familiar, sturdy
fence post. With many a sound of the clickidy-clock whirring sound
of the old windmill, not pumping anymore, who gave many, reminisces
of company to the farm woman. .
Under the whipped cream clouds, a warm prairie wind blows over the
historic Custor’s lookout. We witness grain fields that are
stitch and look like a machine made carpet. When the grain was loaded,
and a horse hitched to the wagons, we drove on a dirt road to the
smallest close elevator town, like Antelope. It had its own significance;
a store to pick up the essentials as well as the mail. Farmers met
for discussion, often argument. The early day Antelope running (2)
stuck to the village name.
A kind of a pride arose among farmers for bigger homes showing signs
of prosperity. Here at the stating farm demonstrates the symbol
of family unity, as they ate meals together, did chores, and milked
the cows by hand.
An early model car, Frank Fischer proudly takes his new bride for
a honeymoon. A romantic drive to show his new woman how lucky she
is and what he can do to keep that wheel staying in that rugged
The hetter days when four horses were hitched behind a reaping machine,
pushing the mechanism along the ripened grain, while a man stood
on back platform, gauging, guiding. Reigns around the neck, with
an eye on horses and hetterbox, a taxi job, yet better then the
sye cutting. Those where the roaring twenties, as when car and tractors
The transitional years; a tractor pulls the disc. Mr. Fischer was
a farmer of note. Having reached the centennial age, he commented,
“It was a satisfying life, it was real life.”
The binder; it too exhibited prosperity, used for a higher crop
stand for to shape them in to bundles, casting them out into rows.
Here’s where the kids were taught to shock. In one convenient
shock was hidden a gunny bag jug of water for thirsty shockers.
The thrashing rig days, when neighbors crewed together, bundle racks
for gathering shocks, or the pitching’s from stacks into the
machines devour. The show of straws spoon out forming a straw pile
as the red grain spurted into the grain box. A loud call was heard,
“time for lunch.” At last, a modern change to a one-man
combine with no more company.
The fashions of the 1920’s: three Antelope community ladies
were: Madam Swinler, Kuffman, and Fischer. Summertime dress wear:
hat, sleeved blouse, full skirt, petty coat, long stockings, high
buttoned shoes; a mode to keep a woman’s body well covered.
The Christian Diede family, who were ethnic people of the Germans
from Russia, is the area majority. The Diedes, very originally,
came from Poland, settled in south Russia, and then immigrated to
America. The sod house was where the family lived for some time.
The Diedes, a proud industrious family, soon laid claim to farms
for their sons. Schools needed teachers, grown up sons needed wives.
Gottlieb Diede married Anna Capits, an ethnic bohemian. This wise
school teacher, wife and mother influenced the intellectual of the
The celebration of silver wedding anniversaries was for Dave and
Lid Diede, and the Reverend, Henry and Frita Rifsneider. Lydia Capits
Diede shows her exuberance of good will to all. A teacher, a talker,
a stitcher, a community and church leader; she kept the vital candles
of community and family life burning.
Antelope school number five had a school picnics. Families were
large, children were raised on simple but ridged terms; dress in
the same clothes for a whole week. Lunch buckets contained a hunk
of bread, sausage, sometimes an apple for a treat. School number
five; newly built after fire destroyed the first one. Not only used
for school session, likewise, for meetings, elections and programs.
The school bell told the children on to higher education. NDSU extension
service symbol signifies the life of Custer Lookout Homemakers Club
as well as the Sister Circle, The Antelope Homemakers Club; and
a home economic enrichment.
The Dirty Thirties had seven years of drought. The nation’s
devastation spasmodic showers caused fields to burst into foliage,
as grasshoppers devoured every green leaf, the Frank Fischer corn
field. Little two-year-old Darleen Diede, during the extreme heat
of 1936, the child could not tolerate the ground heat under her
bare feet. We placed the rug there. Everything suffered; leaves
parched or grasshoppers chewed it.
Life goes on; the passing of the thirties. People mustered strength
and character. A mother of a two year old holds her own child; the
symbol of a fourth generation. Oh, for the hardy pioneers, Gross
Father and Gross Mother Diede. Baby John Buluike grew up. He chose
a life that spelt, “free to be me”; way out of tradition.
His wider travels took him to East Berlin, behind the weird wall.
John got scared. In accordance, USA caressed his instinctive love
for nature’s animals. A shift to a little town of Antelope
has peeked of progress for several decades. The area farmers met
for discussion, blunt with one another, believing honest hard labor,
makes the United States of America.
The towering emblem of every town, next to the water tower and the
church steeple, the grain elevator generalizes the loaf of bread
that sustained mankind. Horse drawn loads of grain supported the
Antelope oxidant elevator. The Antelope store building provided
postal services as well, so eminently sounding with life. The old
building was moved to the Meyer farm where memories creaked as the
wind blows. All that remains of Antelope are a few trees, disclosing
its own fragment of its story. You guess the rest. Here abundant
ethnic culture and fields tilled according to conservational methods.
A once sturdy stone house, cool in summer and warm during the wintertime.
Oh, for the hospitality of family life, where we prayed and ate
together and heard the news from the radio, that Japan bombed Pearl
Harbor, December 7, 1941.
The fork hillside and prairie landscape, where native trees follow
a vein and a stream. When chokecherries, June berries, and wild
plum spare their astringent fruit, we witness the last wildness.
We can gaze for long moments over the distinctive beautiful horizons
while sitting on a colossal stone. . It’s hard to be agnostic
toward a stone There’s a sentiment about cow herding days
and my aged days, as I sat on it and God spoke, “Why sigh,
go and write the prairie land story”.
Along the Golden Valley road in Mercer County, we see an abandoned
farm home where once a young family sought a livelihood; when life
was simpler yet full of hardship. Today, we give it a reminiscent
look. We walk closer to the once inhabited home where the man plowed
the fields and the woman, subject to a thousand demands, struggled
for identity. Are women forgotten of their sacrifices? No. Mothers
of the prairie knew how to pray. We offer a laud and tribute to
the pioneer woman.
The town of Taylor was a forefather’s hand that planted the
trees, now towering over favorite house and barn. Leave that old
tree and forget not its grateful shade. Oh man, do not cut down
a tree! What history in this grantor of a home.
The Matt Crawly ranch home, built in 1915; the best of the time
was a place of education for a better life. The natural beauty of
a ranch setting behind a barn, we look at a clayish butte amidst
the hilly country. The early day farm or the rancher’s barn
was a brilliant red. To this day, unless painted red, the barn has
no character. A modernized version of the pioneer Crawly ranch boasts
with Dakota pride, as the Prairie Diamond Ranch, anchored by Clarence
and Mary Ann Unbreau, its spectacular symbol of progress.
Oh, for those spacious hayloft barns, where horses were the status.
How happy were that horseback riding times at the Crensel farm,
which were the standard pastime of the era. A sleigh ridding party,
a winter sport, the horse drawn sleigh filled to capacity, slid
along to the Crensel home for a hardy, good old-fashioned kettle
of beef stew. What wholesome Sunday afternoon family fun.
Consider the country hills: snow had drifted altering the landscape.
Over many parts of the world snow has fallen silent and soft. Let
us go up the hill and behold the glory of God. A wondrous scene
no brighter view unfolds as the morning sun shines over the shelterbelt.
Cattle feed and bask to the sun’s warmth. The rancher says
it plainly, “its ranching refined”. The Hoff purebred
Hereford herd bound for the home yard for the season’s end.
Pony and rider pause to get the herd a temporary graze. Why hurry?
Actually, there’s too much rush as it is.
The geets and Holstein calves, the pedigree of black and white looked
as though each had a fresh bath. were naturally the benefits of
a 4-H project. The claves lay basking in a summer afternoon semi-shade.
A country church in 1987, St. Clemmons Catholic church of Haymarsh
community, observed the historical significance of one hundred years
of faith. The hardy pioneers reflect an inspiring record. Still
active, neighbors come to mass.
The buggy days; a special team of horses hitched to the carriage,
the man awaiting for family to crowd together into confined space
for a drive to church, to town, or to the neighbors. The gentle
team animate horse sense-- a Zimmerman picture.
A tree grew tall and lofty near a county road. Cars speed by, hardly
aware of its wistfulness, sadly transpiring for attention, “Go
slowly ye driver, a story the tree can share.”
“I have watched as a young boy many a distressing scene,”
recalled rancher Jim Crawly “as travelers crossed the unpredictable
Knife River. For which reason I call it the million-dollar bridge,
what progress!” exclaimed rancher Crawly. Country town streets
too have taken on stately look. With seasons natural beauty and
mans innovation, we sense a town’s hospitality, the town of
Richardton with its historic significance.
Onward we drive on superhighway I94 for a little natural scenery
repose. We enter the well-designed rest area west of Dickinson.
Here’s the grip of natures rustic, the emblem of Dakota County.
A modern country home where there is the soils of open space. There’s
something about the prairie hills that bestows the feel of freedom
away from city clamor. How would have the pioneer woman reacted
to such a display? She’d have been shocked to a dead silence.
A modern country mailbox with a wagon wheel symbol, the gabber of
metal, so forlorn when empty, but what a large part of life passes
into it and out again; words of love or sorrow, newspapers, magazines,
bills-- just getting the mail, what’s new today?
Cuddled in a ring, the thrash machine spoors, offer a last kiss
to each other. The historic monster processed millions of bushels
of wheat, now dotting the countryside as relics of an age gone but
Oil gushers were discovered in Tioga in 1951. North Dakota oil wells
averaged nearly one mile in depth. Oil is the inherent potentiality
for development, and likewise the natural gas resource. We travel
highway 10, leading to Hebron. Look at the glories of a cloud, a
vision of a thunderstorm, a little apprehensive of what such a cloud
will do to the golden grain field. Yet, it’s hard to be agnostic.
Man has long marveled at lightning; it was the ultimate weapon of
the gods of ancient civilization; lightning kills. Man is warned
to take shelter. As lightning flares, the thunder follows with a
rumbling roar. The most destructive part of a thunderstorm is the
tornado, a violently rotating column of air, which descends from
a cloud system. In an average year, tornados claim many lives and
cause enormous damage; the sign of horrendous power.
We meet the apprehensive colorful aurora of Dakota nighttime, the
grantor in the March of night. A breathless hush as we behold the
northern lights. Nature may seem to be fickle and unpredictable,
yet there’s a certainty about her. After the stillness, it
rains; perhaps in sudden bursts and follows a follows a rainbow
so beautiful and somber, a promise. We worship the creator God,
who gives sunshine, rain, and a promise. There are special moments
of nature when wildflowers burst into bloom after a rain. We see
a hillside eye catcher and a bit of unspoiled nature on the Diede
The Combland-Diede coal mine is next to the prairie hill. It was
the fuel resource for early day settlers; a reminder of torturous
work for both man and horse. In view of progress ought we not to
challenge the inevitable? Across the hills dry weather will come,
we know it’s a semi-arid land. Fortunately, a natural spring
flows from the earth and hill. For it not for this spring, there
would be no water for the range cattle. A conservation project,
a wildlife refuge, the water pit is dry where ducks could waddle,
where birds and animals could drink from. Oh, that the cloud overcast
would let it rain.
Leaders are all about us, as Phillips Brooks Spade, find your purpose
and fling your life out into it. And the loftier your purpose, the
more pure you will be, to make the world richer with every enrichment
The Rod Diede family of Bowman, North Dakota is an average modern
family townhouse; Direnda Diede gives the yard a creative arrangement.
Rod calls it the mortgage hill. Yes, every generation should have
a process to struggle. Man was made to be active and he is never
so happy as when he is a working man according to the master’s
The rainbow; it has a magic all its own, a promise for a good life.
There’s a tie that you can’t dissever in the spender
of Dakota land. The glory of a sunset, over hill and sod, bids to
bow ones head in homage, in gratitude to country and God. Thank