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Manuscripts - ND Oral History Collection - 10157 - Hettinger County

Hettinger County

Region 4
1 Mr. Oscar Austin, New England
2 Mr. Ortho B. Harding, New England
3 Mr. John Schmidtgall, Mott
4 Mr. John Bakos, Mott
5 Mr. William Grosz,  Mott
6 Mrs. Della Wangsvik, Mott
7 Mrs. Ed Kjos, Mott
8 Mr. John Boknecht, Mott
9 Ms. Enid Bern, Bentley
10 Mr. Ernest Wangsvik, Mott
11 Mr. William Bosanco, Mott
12 Mrs. Mary Christopherson, Regent
13 Mrs. Marie Johnson, Regent
14 Mrs. Pauline Heinle, Mott
15 Mrs. Leona Schlenvogt, Regent (Housed on Side #1 Tape #23 Stark County)
16 Mr. Oscar Buehler, Mott
17 Mrs. Mae Newby, Regent

Tape #1 Mr. Oscar Austin
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Thoughts on large farming operations; Father and mother meet on Red River Valley farm
093 – Father comes to Hettinger County in 1905; History of the farm Austin lives on now; Hauling grain to Dickinson; Location of Father’s homestead
142 – Towns in area in early days (Havelock); Growing up in sod house; Nationalities in area
229 – Family gets established in farming; Father goes into milking; Early methods of farming
277 – Big ranching operations when father homesteaded; Land agents and homesteaders; An agent swindler
355 – More on early towns; Coal mining operations; Havelock mine; Early strip mines; Conrad Albright mine; An early mining accident  
535 – Personal mining experience; The area in bad years; Quality and thickness of area coal veins
600 – Quality of water wells; Using river water for homesteads; Comparison of river water then and now
682 – Mr. Austin’s schooling; Current large farming operations; Early school busses; Busing currently; Teachers in the early schools; Havelock’s early schools
948 – Picture talk; Threshing talk; Early threshing machine owners; Methods of threshing; Recollections of the camaraderie of threshing; Labor for threshing; Daily schedule for threshing; Size of crew
168 – Grain elevators; Protein discrimination by grain buyers; Grain hauling versus grain storage
230 – Comparison of changing social life; Dancing as a pastime; Country school socials; Musicians who played for dances; Types of dances
297 – Fights; Dances and bootleg whiskey; Havelock – New England rivalry
333 – Teenage behavior then and now; Stills and bootlegging; Recollections of uncle’s still; Social moves regarding public drinking and behavior; Characteristics of different towns during that period
463 – Skiing; Sledding; Tobogganing; Skating; Roller skating; Movies; Baseball; Basketball; Attendance
552 – Politics; NPL and the Catholic Church; Political awareness in early 1900’s; Farm Holiday Association; Townley
701 – Bank closings; Farmers leave in late 20’s and early 30’s; Current land prices; Current mineral rights
824 – 30’s; WPA; CCC; Morale in the 30’s
895 – End of interview
Comment:  This is generally a good interview.  Mr. Austin did not go into any great detail on any particular point but included interesting anecdotes regarding NPL, home brew social life and early area mines.

Tape #2 Ortho B. Harding
Tape A
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Mother buys relinquishment and family moves from South Dakota in 1910; Good bull story for building herd; Raising cattle in the teens; Pioneer Creamery at Midway
135 – Dairy problems in the early days; More on family background; Family comes to United States rather than Australia; Neighbor goes to South America rather than United States by mistake
232 – More on mother’s background; Site of mother’s homestead; Getting settled in ’11; Anecdote about unloading houses from immigrant car; Loading immigrant car; Importance of railroad; Homesteading pattern in area
398 – Current state of home place; Area nationalities; Area small town and post offices; Sheffield; Midway; Railroad buys land for rail lines; Harding buys it back in 60’s
572 – Leasing land for oil; Coal; A recent conversation with coal leasing man; 1909 law affecting mineral rights
704 – Farming with his mother; Personal history; Experiences as farmer in 30’s; Grain prices; Livestock prices; Quits farming for mail route
784 – Picture talk; Trip to Badlands for firewood and posts; Abandoned Sullivan ranch north of Amidon furnishes lumber, posts, and firewood; Cowboy Jed Lebo shows up at ranch
970 – Band and good years from 1911 on; Looking for a homestead in 1913 in Montana; Threshing in Montana; Recent travel talk; Army talk; Experiences in army of occupation living with German family; More picture talk
274 – Clarke ranch in the Badlands; More picture talk
379 – End of Tape A
000 – Introduction
020 – Crops in the 20’s; More on the family; Making it in the 30’s; Keeping cattle alive in the drought
173 – Morale in the 1930’s; Reasons for leaving the farm in the 30’s; Going without money; Where people migrated to from North Dakota
257 – Politics; NPL; Opinion on the League and Townley; Socialism; A friend’s train trip with Townley; Langer
445 – Farm Holiday Association; People’s involvement in politics
526 – Social life; Dances; A typical house dance; Travelling with horses; Types of dances
752 – Sociality in the early days; Bootlegging in the 20’s; A bootlegging anecdote; Controlling bad booze at a dance; Women not drinking
871 – Electricity; 32 volt outfits; REA comes in; Telephone; Water quality of wells in early days; Layers of coal found in drilling currently
973 – Coal used for fuel in early days; Strip mines
049 – 1911 wildlife and wildlife through the years; Coyotes; Rattlesnakes destroy horse in Badlands
180 – Threshing rigs; Harding buys a steamer; Swaps work for water tank
456 – End of interview
Comment:  Good stories on a bull the family had, why his grandfather came to the United States instead of Australia, good comments on politics and early social life. 

Tape #3 John Schmidtgall
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; South Dakota background; Neighbors north of Heil; Livestock and equipment brought up from South Dakota
133 – Picture talk; Children born with a midwife delivering; Making it through the 30’s; Picture talk; Heil in early days
267 – Water on homestead; Gardening; Crops in early years; Threshing machine owners; Children built rock pile on top of hill; Rattlesnakes
383 – Little fishing talk; Brother homesteads in North Dakota; Mining coal in the early days; Hauling hay in the winter; Township jobs; Talks about family; Baseball
608 – Church and religion; Politics; Picking corn with horses and by hand; More family talk; Hunting prairie chickens
900 – End of interview

Tape #4 John Bakos
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Background in Austria-Hungary; Virginia to Ohio to Michigan to Chicago to North Dakota; Homesteading near Heil
108 – Building sod house on homestead; Getting established; Farming with horses; Crops in the first years
188 – Early Heil; Threshing in early years; Sociality and neighborliness in early years; Breeds of horses
300 – Family talk; Water on homestead; Burning coal for home; Area mines
402 – Gardening; Root cellar; Creamery and milking; Farm size in early years; Electricity and telephone
484 – 30’s; Grasshoppers; Potato bugs
538 – NPL; Making it in the 30’s; Blacksmithing on the farm; Stone barn; Horse and oxen farming; Butchering; Smoking meat
707 – Getting wheat ground into flour; School; Coyotes; Rattlesnakes; Wife’s first impressions of Chicago; Travel now and then
843 – Marketing cream; Making ends meet
894 – End of interview

Tape #5 William Grosz
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Movement from South Russia; Homesteading near Old Leipzig; Father loses all his money in bank closing
121 – Bill’s schooling and early years; Growing in a poor family with sod house; Bill’s work out to help family; Bill marries; Wife’s background
216 – Old Leipzig; Borrowing 75 dollars to marry; Getting started after marriage; Working for Birdsall Elevator in New Leipzig; Getting started as a butcher in Mott in 1929.
282 – Personal history briefly from 1912 to 1950’s; Learning the butcher trade; A typical day; Butchering in the depression; Shipping butter West; Collecting customer’s excess stamps in the 30’s
412 – Credit problems in the 30’s; Buying up land in the 30’s; Managing farm and business; Digging rocks
473 – Ice and electricity for keeping meat; Type of butcher-grocery store Bill ran; Family talk; Trusting people for credit
575 – Appearance of country in 1895; Outward migration in 30’s
634 – Price of meat in 30’s; Butchering in the field; Skinning a hog; Beef and hide prices over the years; Aging meat; Making sausage; Nationality of Mott area people; Religious groupings in area
829 – Changing religious feelings; Civic and business leaders in Mott; Competition between butcher shops
904 – Working for Sam Birdsall; Selling coal through the elevator; Stripping coal
939 – Early threshing outfits; Prairie fires; Brother-in-law burns out in 1910; Cross country by wagon or sled to Hebron or Glen Ullin
040 – New Deal programs in the 30’s; Food stamps in the 30’s; Earning money for home by working out; More on butchering; Meat items shipped in that sold well
206 – Morale in the 30’s; WPA
224 – End of interview

Tape #6 Mrs. Della Wangsvik
000 – Introduction
020 – Personal background; Homesteading as a single girl; Della recites table prayer; Small talk
077 – Living in a sod house; Early winters; Religion in early years and throughout her life
156 – Norwegian food; Small talk
239 – End of interview

Tape #7 Mrs. Ed Kjos
Tape A
000 – Introduction
020 – Family background; Homesteading near Mott; Hauling water for homestead; Digging a well by hand with windlass
112 – Reasons for staying in North Dakota; Anecdote about a storm; Homesteading practices around Mott; Sodding up around frame house to protect it; Sod ban on homestead
219 – Initial reaction to North Dakota; Friendliness of early homesteaders; Prairie flowers
257 – Nationalities of early settlers; Boarding rail bed construction workers; Arrival of train in Mott; Walking to Mott for groceries; Drinking water straight from Cannonball River
357 – Early Mott; An early Mott celebration; Early town businessmen
457 – Second wave of settlers; Early community Ladies Aid; Early education; Effect of railroad on Mott
510 – Picture talk; Country school teaching routine; Coal and cow chip fuel; Area mines; 1907 farm beginnings; Halfway House to Richardton
702 – Talk on family; Picture talk; Early Mott
745 – Husband’s family and background; Family talk; Marrying and getting started in farming in 1920
859 – The depression in Mott area; Morale in the 30’s
000 – Introduction
020 – More on depression; WPA; Surplus commodities; Canning meat for schools; Making ends meet; Gardening; Anecdote about windstorm; Canning; Putting up ice
168 – Jobs and farms her husband worked at or rented; Watering the garden; Putting up boarders for meals in Mott; Electricity; Telephones in area
290 – Home life in 20’s; Social life; Friendliness and neighborliness in the 20’s and 30’s; Farming with horses into the 40’s
358 – Threshing machine owners; Small talk; Area doctors; 1918 flu epidemic
446 – Social life in early years; Sewing for the boys in the army; People’s attitudes about World War I; Small talk
549 – Mott businessmen; Religion in life in early years and now; Mott’s “blind pigs”; A couple anecdotes about early Christmases; Dust storms in the 30’s
704 – End of interview

Tape #8 Mr. and Mrs. John Boknecht
Tape A
000 – Introduction
020 – Family background; Immigrating from Indiana; First impressions of North Dakota; Nationalities in area; Building up a farmstead; Immigrant car
129 – Getting started farming in North Dakota; Population decline; Size of farms then and now; he town of Burt’s decline; Burt businessmen in early days; Horse farming and breeding; Importance of milk cows; Chickens
276 – Importance of neighbors; Sociality then and now; Neighbors helping each other; Threshing time; Local mill in Mott; Breaking up prairie; Importance of horses and horse care; Selling cream and butter
460 – Quality of crops prior to the depression; Climate changes from early years; Perfecting of seed varieties; Grain prices after World War I and during World War I
591 – Changes in water table level; Area water supplies; Sentiment about World War I; World War I experiences
000 – Introduction
020 – 20’s in farming; Feelings about banks closing; The 30’s; Morale in the 30’s; Social life through the years; Pace of life then (20’s and 30’s) and now
134 – The 40’s bring change; More on social life and musicians; Family life over the years; More on summer entertainment and baseball; Area small towns that have disappeared or died down
223 – More on baseball; Spectator enthusiasm; Equipment and practice; Quality of players
450 – Home brew and bootleggers; Fights and dances; Winter entertainment; Radios and their effects
572 – Electricity; Carbide and Delco plants; Wind chargers; Telephone comes into the area; Flu epidemic 1918
704 – Area doctors; Differences in medical practice then and now; Home remedies
769 – Catalog ordering; Farm magazines; Politics and the NPL; Popularity of the League; Community interest and involvement in politics; Farmers Union; Co-op movement
872 – Comments on farm organizations; Opinions on coal development; Family talk
955 – Martha Boknecht’s family background; Homesteading and getting established; Winters then and now; Anecdote about a winter storm; Storing flour
122 – Root cellars and storing vegetables; Planting by the moon
181 – End of interview

Tape #9 Mrs. Enid Bern (Bentley)
020 – Introduction
075 – Family background; Reasons for coming to ND; Wisconsin group moves to Bentley area; First impressions of ND; Moving down from Richardton; Halfway houses and prairie trails
178 – Early neighbors and area settlers; Nationalities in area; Nationality compatibility
216 – Early ranchers in Bentley area; Grazing practices after Bern family came
266 – Homestead buildings on Bern place; Prairie fires in early days; 1910 prairie fire incident; Mother encourages father to stay after homestead destroyed by fire
363 – Starting over after fire; How fires were started on the prairie; 1910-11 crop failures
513 – Area small towns; Post offices; Watrous, Willow, Odessa
577 – Enid’s education; Early inclinations toward teaching; Teachers in area; High school in Mott; Moving from country school to town school
700 – High school enrollments; Enid begins teaching; Schooling and teaching in 20’s
759 – A boarding experience in Verendrye; Later experiences in teaching; Shortage of teaching jobs in the depression; Enid’s inclination toward and education for mechanical drawing
027 – Enid returns in 1936 to teach in Burt; Interesting incidents from her teaching experience; Boarding experiences
194 – Cost of boarding; Morale during depression among students; Quality of education during depression
256 – Observations on changing education in ND; Community attitudes toward teachers; Teacher’s responsibilities in 20’s and 30’s
301 – Teacher’s salaries and making do on them; Contractual limitations on teacher’s private lives; Living conditions for teachers; Community scrutiny of teachers
377 – Teacher’s entertainment responsibility to the community; Changing parental attitudes regarding teacher discipline; One particular incident; Personal attitude of disciplining
472 – Physical disciplining; Personal reaction to a recent book burning at Drake; State course of study for curriculum
540 – Cash certificates instead of money; Textbook purchasing procedures
595 – End of tape

Tape #16 Oscar Buehler (Mott)
000 – Introduction
027 – Family history; J.C. Buehler; Anecdote about scalping a White man; Parents live at Sterling; Nebraska; Move to Wisconsin; Brother homesteads
123 – Reasons for coming to ND; Parents leave Nebraska; Condition of 1900 North Dakota farmland; Explanation of Relinquishment; Father desires to stay in ND
200 – Family trades; Military service; Goes to Nebraska; Comes back to ND; First job; Steam engine and plow rig; 1911-15 crop years
309 – Making hay; Works for farmer; Livery and Feed Stable; Driving doctor for children deliveries; Horse team
360 – Story about driving doctor in for; Agents selling products such as oil and pictures; International Harvester Company in area; Brands of oil
427 – Works for dray line; Kinds of freight handled by dray line; NP branch; Milwaukee Railroad
477 – Horses on a dray wagon; Pounds hauled by dray wagon; Location of mines; Hauls coal; Salary; Lignite coal used by steam engine; Straw for threshing fuel
507 – Kind of mines; Coal plentiful; Photo description of Burt; Bridge south of Mott
569 – Social life then and now compared; Baseball; Bands; Neighborliness then and now compared; Oscar’s lifework
628 – Religious strength; Religions; Church clubs and functions; A Sunday’s activities in Mott; Summer and winter social activities; Description of Chautauqua; Chautauqua ticket prices
695 – Prices then and now compared; Compares past and present alcohol drinking consumption; Early 1900 law enforcement; County is organized; Main law enforcement officials
722 – End of interview
Comment:  Oscar’s discussion of the dray line and products hauled are two of the more outstanding topics in this interview.  This interview is shorter than many in our collection because Mr. Buehler’s wife was ill and present in the home at the time of this interview.

Tape #17 Mrs. Mae Newby (Regent)
000 – Introduction
021 – Comes to ND; Family history; (Father, Grandfather) build sod shack; (Father) files homestead; Kinds of freight brought in immigrant car; The rest of family and her transportation to ND
091 – Description of seeing ND for first time; Doctors; Measles in their home; Homestead location
119 – Description of sod house; Father builds house; Winter stove fuel; Cow chips for summer fuel; Mosquito prevalence; School terms
183 – School problems with students not speaking English; Kinds of books used in school; Teachers live with parents; Teachers’ salaries
214 – Winter food and storage; Gardening; Canning; Dried fruit; Preparing homemade sauerkraut
266 – Cooking for threshing crews; Father’s acreage; Sowing seed methods; Description of breaking plow
315 – Dances; Musicians; Kinds of dances; manes of songs for dances; Church in schools; Ministers; Marketing at Gladstone; Regent originates with Milwaukee Railroad
394 – Her marriage; Husband homesteads; Homesteaders stay for six months and leave; Neighbor homestead ranch; Homesteader and rancher conflicts
444 – Cattle grazing; Fences; Crop yields; Grasshoppers; Description of the 30’s; Their cattle
507 – Living status of people in 30’s; Roads before 1940; People leave during 30’s; Women’s Suffrage activities
582 – Sewing clothes; Begin using catalogs; WCTU activity; Comparison of neighborliness then and now
617 – Midwives; First doctor at Regent; Regent’s growth; Lighting before electricity; Wind chargers in area; Gas lanterns
659 – Graver Post Office; Preserving meat; Parents positions at Graver Post Office; Graver’s location; Gladstone mail carrier
725 – Post office in family home; Mail route from Regent begins; Freezing beef; Preserving pork; Pork brine
Comment:  One of Mae’s more outstanding topics is her discussion of Graver which no longer exists.

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