This is the complete original story by Rose Clausen-Mohr about
Her mother Maria Deutschlander
OF OUR MOTHER
How shall I here her placid picture paint
With touch shall be delicate yet sure?
Soft hair above a brow so high and pure
Years have not soiled it with an earthly taint.
Walking tranquilly in self denying ways
Asking for strength, and sure it would be given:
Filling her life with lowly prayer, high praise
So shall I see her when we meet in heaven.
Louise Chandler Moulton.
All things are beautiful when passing time impels the lips to whisper "long ago".
A few days after our beloved mother had passed away, father gave me her prayer and hymnbook, given to her by her father. As I reverently turned the pages, yellow and worn with time and use, I thought to myself, "These pages, with their daily fingerprints, are the history of hr life". Then I thought of the many tales she had told me of her youth and childhood, and sadly I knew, that as the years passed, I would forget them more and more. But I didn’t want to forget them; I wanted to remember them as long as I live. There was but one way I must write them down. So I wrote these pages that those who loved her may read – and not forget.
The record of a generous life runs like a vine around the memory of our dead, and every sweet and unselfish act is now a perfumed flower.
Illustrated by Dorothy Gruenke
Mimeographed by J.C Clausen-Mohr
Written by Rosa Mary Clausen-Mohr
In days of long ago in the country then known as Russia, in the country of Rowno, Province of Wolhynia, among the pines, nestled the village of Berestowitz, a village perhaps not differing greatly from the surrounding villages, but to me its beauty surpasses that of any other, because it is the birthplace of my mother, Maria Deutschlander.
The village street ran east and west, and with the exception of two, the shuttered houses were on the north side of the street facing the warm southern sunshine. They had thatched roofs of rye straw giving them a quaint picturesque appearance. The walls were made of heavy planks and some were plastered, while floors were made of clay. Picket fences enclosed the yards, which in summer were gay with flowers.
On the south side of the street stood the church, the heart of the village, with its cross pointing ever upward.
North of the village the crystal waters of the Ritschk wound in and out. On its shady grassy barks the children played and the cattle grazed. The air was filled with the warbling of birds, and the gentle breezes wafted the fragrance of myriads of flowers.
At the western end of the village was a road running north and south at right angles to the village street. This road, wide enough for four teams side by side, had been built by Napoleon in his attempted conquest of Russia. Across Napoleons road was a mill whose great wheel was turned by the Ritschk. Further on were more mills, some turned by the Ritschk and some by the greater waters of the Horn.
The friendly village houses were all much alike, but one was perhaps a little more prosperous looking than the average, and the yard a little neater. Along the walls past the shuttered windows grew stately hollyhocks. On each side of the path were fragrant pasturiums. Beyond these, perfumed sweetpeas twined, tousled asters nodded in the summer sun, and the brilliant larkspur mingled its beauty with that of the surrounding blossoms. Near by the fruit of the three pear trees were turning golden.
In grandmother’s garden the hollyhocks
Row upon row lifted wreathed stalks,
With bloom of purple, of nearly white,
Of close frilled yellow, of crimson bright.
Here lived Gottlieb Deutschlander, a man whose delight was in the law of the lord, and who loved and served his fellowmen. He and his wife Dorothea, nee Kreg (Krag), with their three little girls, Karolina, Julianna and Paulina had come from Kalisch Province, county of Lentetz, Poland where they were born, but their forefathers came from Germany.
On a winter’s day of February 9, 1866, twins were born to the Deutschlanders, a boy and a girl. The boy died, but the little Maria lived and thrived, growing strong and strait in body, fair of face, and pure of heart.
Two years after Maria’s birth quite gentle Susanna was born on March 10, 1868, and became Maria’s constant playmate. Six years later on February 3, 1874, a brother, Christian was born. What a happy childhood the children had together Light as the down of the thistle, Free as the winds that blow, They roved there the beautiful summers, The summers of long ago. Like the other village children Maria and Susanna herded geese when they were around six and eight years of age. One day Maria, whose little heart overflowed with love toward every living thing, was attacked by an angry gander. Bewildered and frightened she pleaded with the heartless bird: "Don’t bite me, I like you so much". But the cruel bird beat her tender body mercilessly, and before her father rescued her, she was more dead than alive. When next she saw her enemy he was headless and featherless and ready for the pot.
How Maria loved the lilting murmur of the silvery Ritschk! Many a happy hour in summer was spent on its grassy banks under the shady trees. In its crystal clearness grew the cattails and the calamus, a water plant with leaves broader that the cattail. This has a yellow flower and was noted for its rich perfume. Amongst its roots in the water the crabs, which were hunted by the boys, hid. On the mirror-like surface of the water rested the lovely white waterlilies with their round flat leaves spread about them. Here and there a long legged stork stood like a statue catching fish and frogs for his hungry family, while above in the tree tops the summer birds poured forth their beauty and fragrance and melody remained in Maria’s heart as long as she lived.
In this part of Europe dogs were often afflicted with hydrophobia, hence mad dogs were also a menace in Berestowitz. They not only bit animals, but humans as well. Then alas the poor people in their ignorance resortet to sorcery. One day when Susana, aged seven, and Maria were playing together, a mad dog appeared unexpectedly and bit Susanna. She was at once taken to the teacher who wrote some magic words on a piece of paper and repeated the Lord’s prayer. She then had to swallow the paper. Presumably, as a result of this, there were no bad effects from the bite.
When Maria was seven she started to school. Girls were not taught to write in case they wrote to the boys. Hymns and passages from the Bible were memorized, and reading was taught from The Scriptures. Once the teacher assigned a very long hymn to be memorized. Next day he asked little Maria, who was a favorite of his, to start reciting it, "Oh" she replied happily and innocently "I haven’t looked it up yet".
The teacher had no word of reproach, and next day, with a twinkle in his eye he asked "Have you looked it up yet"? "Yes", she replied cheerfully "Today I know it". And to the teacher’s surprise, she did every word of it!
Maria loved nature with her whole heart. Every season of the year was a delight to her.
The first heralds of the spring were the stately storks. These usually arrived about St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, and built their nests on the same thatched roof which they has occupied the year before. The villagers welcomed the storks gladly and encouraged them to build nests on their roofs for this was considered a good omen, and besides the storks fed on snakes, adders, and mice.
Later the cuckoo called from the woods and the earth awakened from its winter’s sleep to life and beauty. The fruit trees and shrubs – pear trees, red and black cherries, several varieties of black berries, apples, plums, and on the ground the strawberries became a mass of bloom, filling the air with the luscious fragrance that only spring can bring. At night the stillness was broken by the haunting melody of the nightingale. The plumage of the male and the female was alike, but the male alone sang. When the female had hatched the eggs his melodious song ceased. Then one by one the other birds returned from a warmer clime and twittered and warbled and sang for joy, till all nature blended into a riotous harmony of sound and scent and colour.
At Pentecost the church and houses were gaily decorated with green branches, while the earthen floors were freshly sanded. The rich perfume of the calamus branches filled the houses.
As the weather turned warmer it was time to wash the sheep. One by one the timid animals were led into the Ritschk and gently washed. Then the water was carefully squeezed out of the wool as the sheep were led out. Next skillful hands sheared the sheep with large scissors, relieving them of their heavy winter coats. Later the wool was gently pulled until all the knots and lumps were removed, and then combed between carders. It was now ready for the spinning-wheel where it was spun into fine threads, which in turn were twined together to form yarn. This was knitted into warm articles such as socks to be worn in the wooden clogs.
In summer the fields and woods were brilliant with flowers, and the front yards of the village became a mass of bloom. The blossoms on the fruit trees gave way to yellow, red, and purple fruits. The grain fields turned from green to gold. The laborers sang on their way to work, and they sang when their day’s work was done.
Amidst all this beauty of nature, hidden under the grass and leaves, was an ancient enemy of mankind – the serpent. There were two kinds of adders (a type of snake) and two other kinds of snakes, all poisonous. None of these reptiles attacked unless disturbed, but how easy to step on a snake unawares – and then beware! When bitten, the victim needed attention immediately. The poison either had to be sucked out, or a red-hot coal placed on the bite, burning the poisoned part.
In fall the ripened fruits were dried for winter use. The grain which had been put into the sheds to dry was gradually brought out and threshed with flails in the late fall and winter months. Although most of the birds went south for the winter, the Stieglitz remained and sang the whole year round.
Flax was an essential crop for every family because it produced the linen for household use. The fields of blue flowers were lovely to behold later, when it was golden, it was pulled up by the roots instead of being cut with the sickle. Then it was placed in water to bleach. When this was completed it was spread on grass to dry till the straw and the fibre began to separate. Now it was formed into small bundles, the size of a hand, taken home and put in a dry place. When dry, it was broken up into smaller pieces, then formed into larger bundles of sixty handfuls, a strand of flax being twisted around each bundle. Then these bundles were placed in a warm spot again. Next a swinging block of very hard wood was used to get rid of the chaff. Then it was put through a comb to clean out the last chaff and to make the fibre finer. Sacks were made of the coarser waste fiber. The finer fibre which looked like hair was spun on the spinning wheel with a distaff attached. The resulting thread was woven into cloth on the loom. If desired, cotton thread could be bought in two grades and added when weaving, if there wasn’t enough linen. The cloth was then removed from the loom and bleached. It was now ready to be cut and sewn into garments. If the mothers of the present younger generation had to go to all this labour to produce clothes for the family I expect new dresses would be few and far between.
The little Deutschlander girls liked to watch their mother spinning and weaving. Spinning could be done during the long winter evenings by the light of the fireplace. To produce a better light
The little girls had to take turns at putting wood, such as pine and fir roots, on the fire, because these contained a great deal of resin thus giving a whiter light. The lamps of that time gave a very poor light, being mere coal-oil containers with a wick and no glass.
Weaving was done by daylight because artificial light was not strong enough in the evening. Little did the mother think, as she worked the treadles on the loom, sending the noisy shuttle back and forth, that some day over sixty years later, her cloth would still be in use in a country beyond the great western sea.
Much of the winter work was done in "bees", that is, neighbors worked together in groups at threshing with the flail, stripping feathers, or any other work that could be done in larger groups. Then there was singing of hymns and folk songs. There was story-telling-there were ghost stories that made hearts beat faster in fear; there were tales of olden days, of love, of courage and adventure; there were jokes that filled the house with laughter.
The church building served a three-fold purpose, being divided into three parts – church, school, and teacher’s residence. In the church there was no heating system, but the heavy pews were comfortable and well made. Above the lovely altar was the picture of the lord’s supper. The teacher performed the work of a minister, except for confirmation, marriage and communion services, which were performed by the minister, who came once and later twice a year. Besides preaching and teaching, the teacher wrote letters for the villagers, many of whom could not write.
The greatest festival of the year was of course Christmas. How Maria looked forward to the lovely candlelight service on Christmas Eve and the shining Christmas tree. The bright-eyed children looked very festive as they were saying their recitations, the girls with carefully braided hair and long white frocks, the boys with white shirts and long pants.
Grandmother Dorthea Deutschlander, like most of the people of her day, was very superstitious. There were so many things that brought good luck, and still more things that brought bad luck. And woe to the child that disregarded these omens. One superstition was, I think, rather beautiful. No one was allowed to throw water out after dark for fear of wetting the wings of the angels who guarded the house. Yet, in spite of all the superstitions in this home, Maria grew up not at all superstitious.
In those days there was no yeast, so a bit of dough was saved from each baking to be used the next time. Most of the homes had outdoors ovens where bread was baked in the summer, but of course in winter it was baked indoors. A good fire was put into these thick brick ovens. Then thoroughly heated the fire and ashes were wept out, the oven quickly cleaned, and the loaves without pans put in and baked, for the brick kept the heat a long time, so they did not need separate compartments for oven and firebox.
The houses inside were furnished very simply, having only bare necessities. Many homes had no chairs, only benches to sit on. The walls were white washed and the floors were earthen. The fireplace was used for heating and cooking, kettles being hung on hooks above the fire. At night the embers were carefully covered with ashes so that there were live coals in the morning, for matches were very expensive. Sometimes, if the fire did go out, a child was sent to a neighbor to get a few glowing embers rather than use a match.
As the Deutschlander girls grew older, their mother taught them all the household work, cooking, spinning, weaving, laundering and sewing. Their mother was very particular and exacting, and in sewing every stitch had to be perfect.
But they learned what was still more important from their father, Gottlieb Deutschlander. He taught them Christianity in word and deed. He was ever ready to help those who needed his help. He lent money without interest to the needy. He gave to the poor. His heart and his home were open to all. He conducted daily family devotions and in his spare time he sat and read and studies the word of God because he loved it.
Grandfather Gottlieb Deutschlander had two brothers, Johann Deutschlander and Michel Deutschlander, and two sisters, Mrs. Krause and Mrs. (Christoph?) Hoppe (Marianna?). Johann Deutschlander had three sons, Julius, Ferdinand and Gustav. The latter came to grandfather’s home as a boy and lived there until after Gottlieb Deutschlander died. The whole family was very fond of young Gustav.
The teacher prepared classes for confirmation. Then when the minister came he examined the children and confirmed them the same day. Up till this time the children had worn wooden clogs but now for confirmation they were given their first leather shoes, to be worn only on Sundays and on very special occasions. Those who were very poor borrowed shoes for confirmation. So on a fair summer morning Maria’s confirmation day dawned, for Pastor Wasem had arrived, and from every house the people thronged towards the church. Maria’s heart beat high, as with her loved ones, she entered the church.
The church within was adorned, for this was the season
When the young, their parent’s hope, and the loved ones of heaven,
Should at the foot of the altar renew the vows of their baptism.
Tuned to the choral of Luther; the song on its mighty pinions.
Took every living soul, and lifted it gently to heaven,
And each face did shine like the Holy One’s face upon Tabor.
Simply and solemnly now proceeded the Christian service;
Singing and payer and at last an ardent discourse from the old man.
Many a moving word and warning, that out of the heart came,
Fell like the dew of the morning; like manna on those in the desert.
Then the examination. The boys on the right had their places,
But on the left of these there stood the tremulous lilies
Tinged with blushing light of the dawn, the diffident maidens
Folding their hands in prayer, and their eyes cast down on the clay floor.
Now came with question and answer the catechism. The fathers and mothers
Stood behind them in tears, and were glad at the well worded answer.
"This is the faith of the Fathers, the faith the Apostles delivered,
This is moreover the faith whereunto I baptized you, while still ye
Lay on your mothers’ breasts, and nearer the portals of heaven.
Slumbering received you then the Holy Church in its bosom;
Children no more form this day, but by covenant brothers and sisters".
Knee against knee they knotted a wreath round the altars enclosure.
Kneeling, he read then the prayers of the consecration and softly
Asked he the peace of heaven, a benediction upon them.
There before the altar of the humble village church, Maria, with overflowing heart and trembling lips, gave her promise to her Lord and Saviour that she would be His and continue steadfast in the communion of his church. And she kept that promise, through youth and old age, through life until death.
About this time, at the age of fourteen, Maria was expected to take her place among the adults. Soon her slender girlish figure was seen cutting grain with the scythe. But how hard it was! Whatever she had undertaken in her childhood, she had to be first. However now she and young August Dreger were left behind by the older hearvesters. This was more than Maria could bear. She wept and cut, and cut and wept. Before long a day came when she was no longer left behind! Two days after the grain was cut, it was tied into bundles with strands of grain and stocked. About a week later it was put into the granary to be threshed in late fall or winter.
Now Maria too took her place on the threshing floor and threshed with the flail. It was indeed hard work. Once, the day before New Year, when Maria was seventeen years of age, she and Susanna and their father were threshing. In the house their mother, Dorthea, sat at the loom. Christian, too young to thresh, was in the house with her. Every little while he looked out down the road, for it was customary at this time for the teacher with a group of boys to come and wish everyone a "Happy New Year". As Christian looked out again, he though he heard a muffled scream. Then he noticed something wrong at the threshing shed. The frame work above the threshers on which the sheaves were stored had fallen on the three below. Grandfather Deutschlander was struck by a pole and badly hurt, were buried under the sheaves and had to be helped out too. Grandfather was put to bed, and it was many days before he could work again.
One Sunday Maria and Susanna were left home alone. Maria noticed that their dog, of whom they were very fond, looked rather odd, and she was afraid that he might have turned mad. Alarmed, the girls called a neighbor in to look at him, but they were told that he saw quite well. However, in a short time he was out biting whatever got in his way before he was caught and killed some of their cattle had been bitten. The terrible bellowing of these poor demented beasts was horrible to hear. In later years as Maria retold this tale she still shuddered as she thought of this sound.
The girls and women of this time wore very full skirts, tight fitting waists, and aprons even to church on Sundays. The girls wore kerchiefs or shawls on their heads, and the married women little black bonnets and on Sundays white bonnets. Large shawls were used in place on coats. All summer long everyone went barefoot even in the fields, and in winter they wore clogs and woolen stockings. However, to church the adults wore their leather shoes summer and winter.
In this same vicinity of Russia, in the village of Postena, municipality of Drasna, county of Rowno, Province Wolhynia, lived August Remus and his wife Wilhelmine nee Harward (Haarwardt). They were both born in Germany, but were married in Russia. On March 28, 1868, their first son Wilhelm Friedrich was born to them. Six years later (1874), with two smaller children, August and Rudolf, they moved to Berestowitz. When Wilhelm was eleven years old (1879) the Remus family moved to Nisopol, but returned to Berestowitz again when he was fifteen (1883), occupying the third house from Deutschlanders. Dregers and Ohnts lived between them. Maria came home that day and announced to her mother that she had seen little Wilhelm Remus again.
This was a very sociable home. Grandmother Wilhelmine Remus was ever ready with a story for adults or children. But woe to the child who didn’t behave, for off came Grandmothers wooden clog to be applied ably and effectively to the culprit! Since Grandmother had fourteen children, ten of who grew up, this was certainly a fortunate talent.
Grandfather August Remus was a carpenter, although he had tried several other trades too, without much success. This was the first home here to have a coal oil lamp with a glass, because Grandfather needed a better light for his work. Many an evening Wilhelm and August took turns at holding the lamp where the light was most needed by their father. Wilhelm, being the oldest, had a great deal of responsibility on his shoulders. Often Grandfather Remus sent him on long business trips. Once, when August Remus embarked on a most unsuccessful butcher business, Wilhelm was sent to collect the many debts from the customers. How he abhorred this task! Fortunately his father soon had to change to another trade again, much to Wilhelm’s relief.
However, Wilhelm did not lack the joys of boyhood. Many a whistle he made when herding cattle with other children. Many a wrestling match he enjoyed, proving his strength. Many a crab he caught in the Ritschk. Many a night when moonlight gave a mystic beauty to the dark colonades and corridors of the great woods, Wilhelm, with other young lads, herded horses the whole night through when feed was scarce.
One day Wilhelm and August were herding sheep. Two large grey wolves crept out of the woods, seized a lamb and made off with it. The boys shouted to their father who was chopping wood nearby. He came running with his axe, but the wolves were gone. There were many wolves in the surrounding forests, and occasionally geese, sheep and horses were killed by them, but fortunately they did not kill humans.
The Russian government had signs put up at the edges of the forests, forbidding people to smoke, for fear of starting forest fires. The signs consisted of a picture of a pipe and bundle of switches, which meant, "If you smoke you will get the switch."
Thus Wilhelm, much in the grand outdoors grew up sturdy and strong.
In her twenty-second year (1888), Maria Deutschlander experienced her first great sorrow. Her father, Gottlieb Deutschlander, passed away. How his family missed his kindness, his spiritual guidance, and his tender love! Karoline, Julianna, and Pauline were all married, so the house seemed very empty.
Maria had now blossomed into a fair young woman. Of the suitors who came to her door only one was welcome, and that was Wilhelm Remus. He, with his perceiving eye, saw not only her beauty, her cleverness; her skill in her work, but also her warm heartedness.
We wandered where the river gleamed
‘Neath oaks that mused and pines that dreamed,
A wild thing of the woods she seemed,
So proud and pure and free.
And oh her happy queenly tread,
And oh her queenly golden head;
But oh, her heart when all is said,
Her woman’s heart for me.
July 29, 1888, was their wedding day. The minister, Pastor Althausen, came to Lisuch this day, but not to Berestowitz. Susanna Deutschlander and August Patzer and seven other bridal couples were married that same day, but not at the same hour. Maria and Wilhelm were married in the morning.
The bridal procession on the way to Lisuch was a colourful sight. First came the "Brautdiener", who was gaily bedecked and beribboned, and who rode on a prancing steed, also bedecked and beribboned. Both horse and rider were well aware of the dignity of their position at the head of the procession.
Next came the wagon with the musicians, who at intervals filled the air with music of claronet and fiddle and drum.
Then came another wagon, richly decorated, whose driver was indeed highly honored, for he had the privilege of bearing the bride. There sat Maria Deutschlander in wedding gown of rich brown with tight fitting bodice and full skirt. On her head was a wreath of dainty white cloth flowers twined with myrtle. Her golden brown hair shone through her veil, which fell in soft folds below her shoulders. But lovelier than her gown or the flowers in her hair, was her face. In her eyes were dreams of the future, and her heart was filled with a melody sweeter than the warbling of the birds or the music of the musicians before her.
The next wagon carried the young bridegroom, with joyous face, proud of his conquest, for had he not won where others had failed!
Then followed more wagons filled with relatives and wedding guests who sang to the music of the musicians. As they passed through the village of Masalin, the people paused in their work to watch the bridal procession pass. They looked in kindly admiration at the sweet face of the bride, and smiled at the happy face of the groom.
Then after having travelled four miles they reached Lisuch. There before the altar they were joined in holy wedlock. Thus Maria Deutschlander became Mrs. Wilhelm Remus, and in the years that followed – our beloved mother.
Right after her marriage, mother was taken to the home of August Remus. There the first daughter-in-law was welcomed with open arms. Her heart, which gave love so freely, received it again from each and every member of that large family. They came to her with their joys and with their troubles. She was the favorite of the household.
At this time Aunt Pauline Boggs lived about forty miles from Berestowitz. Once before her marriage mother had walked this distance with a group of friends, walking there one day and returning the next. Sometime after her marriage a German from Berestowitz and a Muschik wanted to go to this village and asked mother and father to go with them for company. The trip there was pleasant enough, but next day the return trip was not as satisfactory. Mother was not overly tired, but father developed a sore ankle. Then, to top this trouble, the other two men stopped at a tavern and became drunk, especially the Muschik. Father was thoroughly disgusted, for the Muschik was so bad that father had to lead him. At one place they had to wade through the River Horn for a distance of about two blocks. Here father really had a difficult time with the Muschik, who insisted upon lying down in the water. Then, when they still had fifteen miles to go, evening was upon them. Father was worried about losing his way, for the road was only a trail through the forest which branched off occasionally. Once, when the Muschik lay down again, father said in disgust "Let him lie there", and was almost at the point of leaving him. But mother said "No, we cannot do that. During the cold night we do not know what may happen to him, and we would be responsible". So wearily father got his drunken charge on his feet again and on they went. Finally, to their great relief, they reached home.
Mother was always terrified of snakes. One day, when father and mother were haying, father heard her give a shriek and was her run. She had accidentally disturbed a snake and it took after her. Father seized a stick and finally succeeded in killing it.
On September 29, 1889, mother’s first child was born to her, and she named him Reinhold.
In the fall of 1890 books began to circulate secretly in these German villages – books describing America, how homesteads could be obtained, and how people could own their land instead of renting it as they did in Russia. Where these books really came from father did not know, but he thought possibly from the minister. Grandfather Remus, who was ever plagued by the Wanderlust, and a few other families, became fired with enthusiasm to go to that wonderful country of freedom. Here in Russia at this time the German people could not won land unless they became Russian citizens, and to become Russian citizens they would have had to give up the faith of their fathers and adopt the faith of the official church of Russia. Throughout this winter plans were made by those desiring to go to America and in spring their possessions were sold. Only cloth, clothes, bedding, and smaller objects which could be packed easily, were kept. Among the families who sold, were – Biedermanns, father’s cousin Reinhold Biedermann, Fritz Schultz, whose wife was father’s cousin, (both of whom went to Leduc, Alberta) Ludwig Schultz, father of Rudolf Schultz, August Podjan, father of William Podjan who lived in Emerson, Karl Jeske, father of Paul Jeske of Brunkild, William Jeske, father of Dr. Colert, William Krautz, uncle of the Detiller Krautzes, August Schwark, father of Gustav Schwark, August Schmidke of Grand Forks, and Grandfather who was the oldest man of the party. Ludwig Schultzes took along a spinning wheel which Maria later bought, and which is now owned by her oldest daughter Matilda (Tillie).
It was in the Month of April 1891. The day of departure came. Only necessities had been packed and put in the wagons that were covered with homespun canvas, like gypsy vans. The nine wagons lined up and the courageous little band of adventurers prepared to leave their homes. Hand clasped hand for the last time. There was a last embrace of loved ones left behind. There were sobs and tears and anguished looks. The wagons started and slowly, slowly they moved in gloomy procession into the west, ever west, to be seen no more.
The heart of our mother with her two year old babe clasped to her was heavy with grief. Never again would she see spring in Berestowitz with its fragrant buds, or hear the lard at morn pouring out his melodious soul. This day the glistening morning dew drops were tears, the gentle sighing of the spring breezes was a mournful lament ion, the silvery song of the crystal Ritschk was a gentle sobbing, and the lilting warble of the birds became a poignant throbbing of farewell.
But God in His infinite wisdom knew that Berestowitz would not forever remain a scene of happy idyllic peace. He knew that within our mother’s lifetime two wars would pass through Berestowitz. Its houses and woods mowed down by cannon, leaving desolation, silence, sadness, shadow, ruin, and death behind. Our Heavenly Father in His great mercy took her away from Berestowitz to spare her this, and to give her a future beyond her wildest hopes and dreams.
On and on into the west they drove. This road was wide and well built because on it, before the advent of the railroad, huge freight wagons traveled, whose eight to ten inch wheels all has brakes. At regular intervals along the roadside were inns with immense barns, where horses could be fed and watered, also huge fireplaces where weary traveler could prepare their meals. Grandfather had a team of very fast army horses. One of them however, was very vicious and bit terribly, so great caution had to be used when tending him. They passed through the city of Warsaw, through Slupca where the German boundary was at that time, through Posen to Scharnachau. On Sundays they rested and observed the Lord’s Dad. One Sunday in Germany a woman, observing their devotions, said "Ah, my people, if you continue like this the Lord will not forsake you". At Scharnachau they sold their horses, and hired teams to take they to Schneidemuhl, then continued by train to Hamburg.
At Hamburg they embarked on a little ship to go to Hull, where they took the train to Liverpool, and obtained passage on a ship to America.
Finally they were out on the vast rolling waters of the infinite Atlantic. They traveled steerage, under very primitive conditions, because it was the cheapest way. There was no privacy, there being but one large section for the women’s sleeping quarters and one for the mens’. One by one the passengers turned seasick, but mother was one of the very few who remained well. In spite of discomforts and worry over the unknown future, the time passed not too unhappily.
Then one day the sky darkened and the wind became wilder and wilder till a tempest raged. No one was allowed on deck lest the angry water sweep him away. The little company huddled together, children clinging to their parents in terror. Faces that had already been pale with seasickness became still whiter with fear. Seconds were minutes, minutes were hours, and hours were days. One day and one night passed, and another day and another night and still the great ship rocked. Then at the dawn of the third day the winds began to subside and the angry waters became calmer. Grandfather August Remus, impatient to see sky again, opened a porthole prematurely to look out. Instantly a large wave dashed through, missing Grandfather, but completely soaking Uncle Karl Remus, causing much merriment. After the terror of the past days it was a relief to laugh again. When the waters had calmed sufficiently, father and Uncle Biedermann sent on deck and looked out across the great expanse. To their delight, quite near they saw two whales on the surface spouting streams of water high into the air.
As the days wore on they longed with all their hearts for solid land. They were weary of seeing only the dome of sky above and the turbulent ocean below. Then, lo, one day at noon, faintly, faintly in the distance lay the shores of the New World. Then pain, and weariness, and discouragement were forgotten. There were shouts of gladness and tears of joy. Heavy hearts grew light and lips that had forgotten to smile brimmed over with laughter. They gazed and gazed as if they could not see their fill. By evening they wore on the St. Lawrence. After having spent eleven days on board ship, they landed at historic Quebec on June 2, 1891.
The journey continued by train. As a special treat to the weary travel-worn immigrants, the train stopped at intervals, permitting the passenger to alight and pick wild strawberries probably to a shorter summer season, the strawberries were not a sweet as those of their old home. On and on moved the train, through pleasant French villages, through cities, past mirror-like lakes, through wooded hills and lust green valleys – and at last, on June 5, 1891, they arrived at the Canadian Pacific Railway Station in Winnipeg, seven weeks after they had left Berestowitz.
How different that Winnipeg was from the Winnipeg of today; west and north of the Canadian Pacific Railway Station lay the vast stretch of endless prairie. Main Street was paved with wooden blocks, but no other streets were paved. Streetcars were drawn by horses. The travelers were taken to a large immigration hall to remain there till definite plans were made for their future. Here, one day in the laundry room, mother was moved to hilarity. Two women had started quarreling over their wash tubs and ended up by hitting each other with the wet clothes.
The immigrants were much disappointed in Canadian soap. It wasn’t any good, they thought, because it curdled in the water. Later they found out that the fault lay, not in the soap, but in the water.
The newcomers attended service at Pastor Streich’s church on their fist Sunday in Winnipeg.
From Winnipeg the immigrants were scattered like snowflakes in the wind. The long journey was behind then, and the new life with its possibilities and difficulties to be overcome, directly before them. There was a new language to be learned; there were new customs to be adopted; there were new methods of earning a living to be studied and tried. What courage it took to do all this!
A Mennonite from Plum Coulee hired father and mother for a year. He and his son were kind and considerate, but his wife was cruel, unsympathetic, and extremely dirty. In fact her mental condition could not have been quite normal. Poor mother! Wherever she had lived before, she had been welcome and loved, but this woman gave her not one kindly look or one gentle word. Father was outside all day in more congenial company, but mother’s only adult companionship was with this woman. The unfamiliar prairie was bleak and harsh. She missed the verdant woods, the fragrant flowers, the winking river, the symphony of bird-song, and above all the wealth of friends. She was homesick – Homesick. I have heard her say she wept more than she ate that year, and that if she had been able to walk back to Berestowitz she would have done so. Only those who have experienced the poignant, gnawing pain of homesickness, can understand the aching longing that filled our mothers tender heart for her for her old home, where all about her loved her, in the beautiful land of the nightingale. Her one great solace was the prayer and hymnbook given her by her father, and sometimes then nights were bright she even read it outside by moonlight. Through it, when her heart was filled with depression and blank despair, God spoke words of comfort and courage, and through her tears she saw a rainbow.
Harvesting methods differed greatly from those of Berestowitz. The binder, much like the binder of today, except that it had no bundle carrier, replaced the scythe and the sickle. The portable steam engine, that is one pulled by horses or oxen, together with the separator, replaces the flail. Father did not like to work with oxen, for in the barn were two good horses that were fed and watered by not worked. It irritated him that he had to work with stupid oxen instead of with intelligent horses.
On March 24, 1892, a second son, William, a lovely baby, was born to mother. Neighboring Mennonite women with whom she had gradually become acquainted, were very kind to her, and even made a layette for the new baby. Mother never forgot this kindness.
On August 19, 1892, Father and mother went to North Dakota to work for Fritz Vollrath, who was a bachelor. He was kind to mother and the two little boys who loved to tag after him. Neighbors too, were kind and friendly, so mother became much happier. Father had been more cautious this time and had make an agreement for only two months in case they didn’t like the place. However, both he and mother liked this place so well that they stayed over four years.
Reinhold’s childish prattle often caused laughter. One evening, when mother was milking, and he as usual was with her, the cow turned her head towards him and lowed loudly. With a frightened gasp Reinhold asked, "What did the cow say to me?"
While at Vollraths, Kuballs arrived in 1893, from Germany, and now mother, to her great joy, had her sister Julianna close. They had left Russia and gone to Germany, but they could only earn enough for a bare existence there, so they too came to America. However, they did not stay long at Neche, but took up a homestead at Wales, North Dakota, where, like the other early settlers on the prairie, they lived in a sod hut at first.
The time came for Reinhold to start to school. He took his lunch in an empty tobacco tin, and off he trudged the long weary way to school. One morning when he was about half way there, he fell down and his lunch pail opened, and there on the road lay, not his lunch, but father’s tobacco! Tearfully he returned home for his lunch, but mother let him remain that day, for he would have been very late.
In March 1896, father and mother moved into a log house that they had rented together with Uncle Rudolf (Remus?). While here, father worked at Frank and Louis Morise’s and did carpentry work for miles around.
Next winter the snow piled up in huge bands around the log cabin. Steps had to be cut up the side of the snow band in order to get up. One day a rabbit came down and couldn’t get out again.
Once when father and Uncle Rudolf were out cutting cordwood, Uncle’s axe slipped and cut a gash in father’s forehead. Mother was so frightened when she saw him coming home with the blood gushing from his head, and the little boys cried in fear.
When June 1896 came, a cloud burst caused the Pembina River to overflow its banks. The whole country was one big sea, Father made a dam to try to keep the water back from the house. Will and Reinhold spent many a happy hour wading in the water. An old well which had not been filled in, was also covered by the flood waters. Little Will accidentally stepped into this while wading, and down, down he went. When he came up Reinhold seized him and pulled him to shore. Will was unconscious for some time. But for Reinhold’s presence of mind, mother would have lost her wee son that day.
In summer a Ringley Brother’s Circus came to Pembina. Father was working at Vollrath’s again and was going to see the circus, taking Reinhold with him. Very early that morning young Reinhold bravely set off alone to walk the two miles to Vollrath’s, and went along with father from there, arriving in Pembina to see the great parade. In those days a circus was a circus and every human being for miles around was there to see it. The sides of the streets were lined with horses and buggies or wagons, each vehicle with a bag of feed on the back for the horses at noon. One huge elephant in the parade was very stubborn and ill tempered, and as he walked along he decided to help himself to grain on the back of a buggy. Another elephant, seeing this, wanted the same grain, and the two large beasts began to fight, standing on their hind legs and whacking each other with their long trunks. The sound of the blows could be heard for blocks. The keepers could not separate them and sometimes the larger elephant took after the keepers on horseback that tried to separate them. Father had Reinhold by the hanad, but in terror Reinhold bolted. When father caught him he climbed up on a boxcar with him, where they were safe. Once the elephant headed straight for Mr. Drajeske, who went over the fence like lightning.
Later the elephant went to the bush, south of Pembina, and wasn’t caught for several hours. This same elephant afterwards killed a man in Grand Forks and had to be shot. It was an eventful day for Reinhold. At night he got off the buggy at Vollrath’s and headed for home and for mother – a thoroughly worn out little boy. The last stretch home seemed endless and as he neared home mother heard him crying with wonderful adventures of the day, but safe in her dear arms all he said was: "Oh mother, never again will I go so far away from you!"
One day Reinhold and Will were told that there was a large rabbit in a ditch about a mile away, so off the two boys went, Reinhold carrying a large stick, and there in the ditch, fast asleep, they was the rabbit. Cautiously the two hunters crept near. The seven year old boy raised his stick and brought it down on the head of the sleeping rabbit, who never knew what struck him. The two little boys dragged their game home in triumph. To avoid disappointing them, mother, who had never before skinned or dressed a rabbit, did it this time, for father wasn’t home.
Both boys were given a pig, Reinhold getting the larger. Will noticed the difference in size and remarked about it, but he was told that his was full of sausage, whereas Reinhold’s had bones. Mother was so amused when Will climbed into the pen, felt his pig and came into the house very indignant because he had been deceived. His pig had bones too and not just sausage!
Father had taken up a homestead at Wales. He now decided to look it over, and walked this distance of over 80 miles. When he got there he was greatly disappointed; there was no school or church and it was far from the bush. New settlers lived in sod huts. After spending two weeks here he gave up the homestead and in this same year bought the farm across the boundary from Halbstadt.
Next spring in the month of March 1897, father and mother moved onto their own land at the boundary. The house was very cold when they moved in and mother put the two boys on a bench covered with sheepskin beside the stove. Little Will shivered and said, "When I am big I am going to build a house and line my room with sheepskin". These were prophetic words, for in the year1944, when he built his new house, he lined it with rock wool, a new product of insulation, for warmth.
The yard of the boundary farm was still piled high with immense snow banks. Father hauled large loads of wood over the snow banks, and to his amazement as the snow melted, he realized that he had driven right over the binder. Fortunately it wasn’t damaged.
As time went on father improved the buildings and mother had a lovely flower garden. Often people stopped in passing to admire her flowers.
For a time a Mrs. Hopp lived with them. One evening in fall when she was helping the boys feed the horses, a threshing machine came along the road. Mrs. Hopp gaped in amazement for the engine was not pulled by horses; it was self propelled. Never before had she seen any vehicle moving without being pulled by animals. She gasped "That cannot be anything good"!
In the month of February 1899, father and Uncle Rudolf decided to go to Dresden by team, for father had good horses, so one morning when the weather was not too cold they set out. At Walhalla they rested their horses and then on they drove. When dusk fell it was snowing and they planned to spend the night at the first farmhouse they came to, for they could not ravel by night on an unknown road. When they came to a farmhouse Uncle Rudolf enquired, but he was told that there was no room. This happened three times and both men were getting desperate. As another house loomed in sight, Uncle said, "You try this time". Father was more fortunate, and they and their horses were made welcome and comfortable. Next day they arrived at Kuball’s at eleven.
That evening Uncle Kuball visited at Kern’s. In the meantime a storm started and they nearly got lost going home. Aunt Pauline had a light in the window to guide them. A terrible blizzard raged for three days, so violent that they could not even water the horses. When it finally stopped the weather was bitterly cold.
Father felt he could not stay away from home any longer, so prepared to leave. Aunt Pauline had a jug of hot coffee on the stove for them to take along but just as they were ready to go it exploded, so they were out of luck. After travelling a few hours they became very cold. They tried running behind the sleigh, but became still colder. When they arrived at Walhalla at 4:30 p.m. it was 42 below zero. They would have liked to spend the night here, but the livery barn was too cold for the horses, so on they went. The road was food until they got to Neche, but here the snow became very deep and the horses began to flounder and tire. The last miles seemed endless. Uncle Rudolf got off at his place and father reached home at midnight. He was very worried about his horses and covered them well. Next morning he was greatly relieved to find them none the worse for their trip.
In the boundary house five more children were born to mother – on January 3, 1897, Fred; September 21, 1900, Walter; August 28, 1903, to her great joy a little girl, Matilda (Tillie); in 1906 Henry, and last of all March 18, 1909, I, her youngest (Mary (Rosa) Remus).
School was a problem. One teacher was hire for two schools, which he taught turn about, but both were far away, so for a time Reinhold and Will stayed at F. Kain’s and got up at six to do chores for their board, in order to be near school.
Not long after I was born, Henry, at the age of three, took sick with diphtheria and poor mother lost her smallest son. For three years he had brought sunshine to our home.
Fred and Walter, being close to the same age, were inseparable. Their play, their joys, their troubles – all were shared.
One summer morning in 1910 there was great excitement in the boundary house. We were going to Dresden to visit Kuball’s. This time the trip was made with horses and carriage. Our carriage was very elegant, at least I thought so when I was old enough to have an opinion. At the time of this trip I was not, being only a little over a year old. The two-seated carriage had fenders and marvelous little coal oil lamps on each side. And so father and mother set out with their three youngest, Walter, Tillie, and my self. At Walhalla we had dinner in the hotel which was indeed an event in Walter and Tillies’s young lives, I still being indifferent to the social highlights of the world. After horses and passengers were rested we continued on our way. When within a few miles of Uncle’s place we met an old lady walking along to Kuball’s and she gave them the glad tidings that Patzer’s had arrived from Russia. Mother was beside herself with delight, and said she felt like running ahead of the horses to get there faster. But alas, mother’s joy was turned to dismay, for poor Aunt Susanna Patzer lay delirious with fever, and did not even recognize mother the whole three days she was there. Aunt Susanna’s baby, Linda, was cared for by an older sister, Holdina. Uncle Christian Deutschlaender, too, had come, and later visited us often, but the Patzers upon Aunt Susanna’s recovery went directly to Rush Luke, Sask.
Here at the boundary house, father bought the first sewing machine. Mother was quite horrified at this unnecessary extravagance, for had she not managed quite well without one all these years! When it was brought in father threaded it, and taking paper he sewed back and forth on it, enjoying himself immensely. Such a waste of thread! She seized a piece of cloth, hastily cut out a garment and she sat down and sewed – an thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Will at this time had a very interesting and worthwhile hobby – photography. He kept his supplies in a cupboard upstairs. One night when all were in bed except father and mother, who slept downstairs, mother had a strange experience. As if an unseen power propelled her, she went upstairs and opened the doors of Will’s cupboard. The contents were all ablaze. For some reason the chemicals had reacted in such a way as to cause a fire. Of course it was still extinguished easily, but if mother had not received this warning, how terrible the results would have been!
At the boundary house mother and father had many friends, although I must admit a queer lot some of them were, many of them bitter enemies with each other, but kind and helpful to father and mother. How often mother spoke of the Morises and their many kindnesses to her and to her children. The Morises were already well to do, but they had a very warm heart and helping hand for those less fortunate. Then there were the Kains, the Lembkes, the Vollraths and the Fischers.
August Kain had what looked like two dimples, but they weren’t – a bullet had gone in one cheek when his mouth was open and come out the other cheek.
Mister Fischer once tried to kill Mr. Kain, but Kain screamed so loudly for help that old Mr. Machdanz heard him a great distance away and came to his rescue. However one of Kain’s eyes was gone and his back was badly cut up by a hatchet.
One night a man who had quite bit of money with him spent the night at Fischers. This man was to take the train next morning, But he didn’t. In fact he was never seen again, and in Mr. Fischer’s yard a brand new well was filled in with earth! Yet this same Fischer often came to our house with bags of fruit and candy and held Tillie on his knee.
On the Sunday that I was baptized my parents stopped in a Fischers to take his daughter and son-in-law along to church, for Mr. Nehring was one of my sponsors. Later, when they returned home, on Mr. Fischer’s table lay all the money he had, together with a note saying that somebody who had borrowed a cluck had returned it, and that they were not to look for him. The shotgun was gone. The search for the corpse began at once. Father searched too, fervently hoping that he wouldn’t find him, but he did - in an old granary on the Canadian side.
As time went on father realized that there was more money in farming than in carpentry, so he decided to buy more land, but there was none for sale conveniently close. After careful consideration he sold the boundary farm and bought more land in Canada.
On Oct. 30, 1910 father and mother moved back to Canada, five miles north of Emerson on the bands of the Red River. This was decidedly a change for the better. There was more land here, school and church were a bit closer, and people did not work on Sundays as they did in the State. Our mother was delighted with the change. After years on the barren prairie she was to live in the wooded shady valley of the Red. Here she was home – for here were trees, and here again was a river. The spacious log house was cold, but father would soon make it warm. Many a night after supper the whole family ran down to the river to sit and watch the running water, or to fish. Fortunately for mother, it was father who made and many a happy hour was spent on it. And so father and mother worked and planned – and dreams became a reality.
My first memories are of this home, so here the foundations of my character were laid. Mother believed in the nobility of toil. She emphasized many of her teachings and admonitions with proverbs such as "Jung gelernt, alt getan". Ein gutes Gewissen macht ein sanftes Ruhekissen". "Was man nicht im Kopfe hat, muss man in den Fussen haben". Often when she heard of someone’s moral downfall, instead of denouncing him or her she would repeat the Bible Verse, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, salketh about, seeking whom he may devour". One of the finest memories I have of my mother is that she would not let me say, " I hate so and so". What a different world the world of 1945 would be if the whole human race upheld this principle.
She told my that once as a little child I had thrown my arms about her and said, "How glad I am that you came to Canada, for who knows what kind of a mother I might have had if you hadn’t come". Although her coming to Canada probably had little to do with her being my mother, nevertheless I am still very grateful that she was my mother.
In 1912 a Sawyer Massey Steam threshing outfit was bought, but it didn’t thresh our own crop, for on July the 9th a heavy hail storm destroyed the whole crop, although feed grain grew after that. However all the neighbors were not hailed out, so our outfit threshed their grain, finishing in December. In 1917 this outfit was sold and gasoline thresher and small tractor were bought.
In 1914 the World War broke out and two of mother’s sisters were still in Russia in the war area.
In 1915 and Edison phonograph was bought. We listened enraptured to recitations such as an old Sweetheart of Mine" or to music of the great masters.
About this time, too, father bought a gasoline lamp, which was a great improvement on the coal-oil lamp.
In the winter of 1915 and 16 there was a great deal of snow, and when spring came the snow melted all at once resulting in a flood. The boat was tied to our back door and it was certainly a great asset in visiting neighbors, rescuing wood piles etc. Father and Walter drove to the Junction, then walked the railroad to town. Casselman’s drug store beside the bank had planks on blocks of wood on the floor because of the water. However this flood of 1916 was not as high as the flood of 1897 had been.
In 1916 the new eight-roomed house with its full basement, hardwood floors, and plastered walls was built. In it father installed all the conveniences possible at that time – a telephone, a cistern connected with a pump in the kitchen above the sink, and in the basement was a little gas engine which ran a was machine and cream separator. Here also was a bathroom containing a bathtub and a stove to heat the water, a hose for cold water connecting with the kitchen pump above. Ah, to my young eyes this new home was like a king’s palace!
In 1917 Will went to Letellier to bring home our first car – a model T Ford. I, eight years of age, went out to the highway and sat and waited in the ditch for Will’s return. My eyes were focused to the north, and at last a black speck appeared in the distance. Was it our car and would Will stop for me? It was, and he did! I sat beside him filled with utter bliss, for this was my second car ride. That evening he took mother, father and Fred to see Reinhold, who lived one and a half miles south, having married Mary Lembke three years before. Will was cautioned no to drive so fast – he was driving at the breakneck speed of fifteen miles per hour!
This fall Walter had appendicitis and was taken away to the Misericordia Hospital by Dr. Browning. This was certainly a terrible time, for operations were not yet common. Even some doctors did not recommend them. Walter’s appendix was drained twice before it was removed. In 1921 the poor boy was operated for the fourth time – this time rupture. Dr. Browning’s brother from Rochester operated him right at home. How well I remember his groans while under the anaesthetic, as anxiously we waited downstairs, and grew more worried each time we heard him.
Mother had the rate gift of keeping secrets. I remember an amusing example of this. We had our first tube of Analgesic Balm in the house, a strong ointment to rub on the throat or chest for colds. Mother, having caught a cold, decided to use this new cure one evening after we were all in bed. She fumbled around in the drawer where it was kept, applied it, wrapped up her throat and went to bed. Next morning she kept her throat wrapped up to the ears. Josie (Miss Paterson, the Dufferin teacher who later became our sister-in-law ) had spent the night at our house to give Tillie and me music lessons. She said to mother so sympathetically, "You have a bad cold". With a mysterious twinkle in her eyes mother said," Yes, very bad". A few days passed before we saw mother with her throat unwrapped. Many months later we found out why. By mistake she had taken a tube of tire cement instead of Analgesic Balm, and how that cement stuck! Poor mother tried everything even ashes before she finally got it off.
I cannot write the story of mother’s life without paying tribute to Dr. Browning. Many a time he was called to our place, day or night, over good or bad roads, with car or horses, - and he came. Once he came, when the roads were at their worst in spring, driving horses, with a temperature of 101 himself, to bring me a new drug which had arrived from Germany that day – the drug that saved my life.
In 1924 mother had gallstone attacks, and in fall at Dr. Brownings’ suggestion, father took her to Rochester. After the operation she took pneumonia and was very ill for a long time. The doctors gave her up, but our Heavenly Father permitted us to keep her. We had her at home with us for Christmas. As soon as she was able to travel she and father went to Morris to get her sister, Aunt Pauline Boggs, who had just arrived from Europe.
Poor Aunty! What horrors he had come through! War and revolution had swept through Berestowitz. She was also among those who, during the First World War, were shipped like cattle to Siberia, suffering from hunger and cold. Many of the weaker ones died on the way. Before leaving Berestowitz they had buried the plow and some other valuables in the ground for sage keeping. On their return even these were gone. Later she went to Germany and suffered with the Germans. Yet each time when they needed money desperately and all seemed hopeless, somehow money came from America, from her son Reinhold or from my parents. Once one of her sons was to be confirmed, but this seemed to be impossible, since his ragged clothing was in tatters and they couldn’t buy him any. Again money arrived from America, clothing was bought, and the boy was confirmed. Then came her greatest tragedy. In a beautiful cemetery of Germany her husband was laid to rest, and in stark poverty she was left alone. Finally a ticket from America came. When she arrived at mother’s she gazed about her with wondering eyes and said, "Why, you live like the Lords of Russia"!
In 1925 father and mother retired from farming to spend the evening of their life in Emerson. They had accomplished what they had so ardently worked for – to give us, their children, a start in life that we need not work out amongst strangers. The boys were all farming, Reinhold now on the east side of the Red River, Will at Halbstadt, having married Josephine Paterson in 1923, Fred and Walter on the home place, with Tillie, who had been house keeper, and I was to continue my High School so that I might teach.
Their Emerson home was very comfortable. How often they sat in their rockers in the kitchen musing on the changes they had seen from the light of the fireplace to electric hardwood, from walking to powerful cars, from newspapers, telephone and radio.
Many a pleasant evening was spent with Schwarks and Stegs, old friend who too had retied from farming.
"They spoke of many a vanished scene,
Of what they once had thought and said,
Of what had been and might have been,
And who was changed and who was dead."
Here in summer mother grew hollyhocks along the walls, nasturtiums along the walk, and asters, sweetpeas and larkspur, just as grandmother Dorothea Deutschlander did in days of long ago in Russia. I wonder what great grandmother grew in her garden in Poland, or great great grandmother in her garden in Germany!
It does not matter where they grow;
Their loveliness will be
A place where lonely hearts may go
In lands of memory,
In winter we heard the pleasant drone of mother’s spinning wheel. The day of the spinning wheel was long past in other homes, but mother loved to spin, and so she spun skeins of soft warm wool to be fashioned into socks for her sons and later for her sons-in-law, and rugs for her daughters. Now that she is gone we still treasure the work of her hands.
Many a pleasant visit mother and father had from relatives and friends who had come from Berestowitz. Aunt Susanna’s first visit was in 1925. Three times Biedermanns came from Leduc, Alberta. August Dreger arrived unexpectedly on day. Father knew him at once and great was youth. When Mr. Dreger saw mother he said to her, "And what nice teeth you still have! Are they your own?"
"Of course they are mine", mother retorted. Later she laughed merrily and said, "So they are mine – I paid for them".
Ever and again they spoke of those days of long ago in Berestowitz.
The old days – the far days –
The overdear and fair! –
The old days, the lost days –
How lovely they were!
There bide the true friends, -
The first and the best;
There clings the green grass
Close where they rest.
On Sundays, or whenever there was a service she was in her place in church, for she loved the word of God and knew that her soul as well as her body needed nourishment.
On February 8, 1928 Tillie married Thedore Gruenke. Walter married Ruth Gruenke on December 15, 1928 and on October 19, 1929 Fred married Louise Gruenke.
May 3, 1929 brought a sudden and terrible tragedy to our family. Reinhold, who was on the way in his truck to visit mother and father, was struck by a train at the crossing near their house. He was rushed to Winnipeg, but all was in vain, for next day he passed away. Mother’s firstborn, the only child that had walked the streets of Berestowitz with his little hand in hers, was no more. With his death a part of mother died. The song that was on her lips often as she worked was seldom heard again. Many months later I heard her sing again for the first time, and I was so glad because I thought her joyousness would gradually return, but it didn’t.
As the years rolled on sunny days came again but the sunshine was not quite as bright, and many days were dark with sorrow as the headstones increased along life’s way.
But all true things in the world seem truer,
And the better things of the earth seem best;
And friends are dearer as friends are fewer,
And love is all as our sun dips west.
Aunt Julianna Kuball had died in July 1923, Aunt Pauline Boggs died after a few years in Morris, and Aunt Carolina Rapske had passed away in Russia. Mothers two closest friends, Mrs. Steg and Mrs. Schwark died. In May 1935, Josie, who had been a kind and loving daughter to her, passed away after a long illness.
In 1936 I married Johann Christian Clausen-Mohr and went to Alberta. Little did mother or I dream that in a little over two years I would be back to live even closer to her than any of her other children.
In 1937 Will married Sophie Manziuk, who like Ruth and Louise, was very considerate of mother. Indeed mother was very fond of her daughters in-law.
In 1942 she became very frail and has a heart attack followed by a stroke. In summer she fell from the car when trying to close the door and broke her foot, but strange to say she recovered, although each month she seemed to grow lighter and more fragile. Then at the beginning of August 1944 she took pleurisy, and a weary time followed. Some days she became better, and once more we hoped, only to be disappointed again. She was tired and weary of living, and her frail pain-racked body was a burden from which her spirit wished to be free. In October she had a stroke and Nurse Helm came to nurse her. Her faith did not weaken with her body, and when she was already too weak to hold her prayerbook, Nurse Helm propped it up for her so that she could still read it. How glad she was each day when Christian came to read to her and pray for her.
On the evening of December 11, 1944 the angel of death drew near. There at her bedside her last evening of earth, were father, Aunt Susanna, and we, her five children. When morning came, her birthday in heaven had dawned. "Her happiest hour was when at last her soul was freed."
Two days later at the church, when Pastor Heimann and Pastor Weise who had both spoken so beautifully had finished, Christian softly played, "Lasst mich gehn, dass mich gehn, dass ich Jesum moge sehn". The sky had been overcast and all was drear, but when Christian came to the second verse, "Susses Licht, susses Licht, Sonn, die durch Wolken bricht", lo, for a moment the sun shone, and in the midst of my sorrow there came a great joy. I do not believe that this was mere coincidence.
Over her grave and the graves of our other loved ones, the pines, who see the falling of so many tears seem to whisper softly of a beautiful land, where there are no more tears of sorrow, or pain.