SHSND Home > Archives > Archives Holdings > Manuscripts > Oral Histories > 10157
To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or

OCLC WorldCat Logo

SHSND Photobook - Digitized images from State Archives

Digital Horizons

2019-2021 Blue Book Cover

Federal Depository Library Program

Chronicling America

Manuscripts - ND Oral History Collection - 10157 - Sheridan County

Sheridan County

Region 12
Mr. and Mrs. William Lasher – Estella Lasher, McClusky
Jacob Vietz, McClusky
Frank Swendsen, McClusky
Fred and Lydia Schindler, Denhoff
Mrs. Leota Mertz, Denhoff
Marie Mertz, Denhoff
R.E. Martin, Goodrich
Louise Dokter, Goodrich
Rosie Gries, Goodrich
Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Zweigle, Bismarck
Mrs. Anna Fandrich, Bismarck
Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Allen, Goodrich

Portions of the following interviews pertain to Sheridan County:
Gust Jenner, #1, Kidder County
Fred and Adaline Mehloff, #2, Kidder County

Tape #1 Mr. and Mrs. William Lasher and Estella Lasher (McClusky)
000 – Introduction
020 – Mrs. Lasher read a written account of family and area history; Their homestead near McClusky
153 – Nationalities in the area and early settlers; Sod houses; Her mother’s liking for homestead life; The trip from South Dakota to McClusky
249 – Small towns and post offices now gone; Lincoln Valley, ND
286 – Finding good water on the homestead; Early settlers in the area; Their sod house; Self-sufficiency on the homestead; Burning manure in the stove
439 – Home life; Prairie fires; Getting established on the farm
507 – Area midwife
530 – Hunting to provide wild game for the family; Supplies purchased in town
605 – Her mother’s tenacity on the homestead; Attending rural school; Planting trees
718 – Businesses in early McClusky; Early ranchers
755 – Neighborliness of people; Peddlers who walked from farm to farm; Early farming methods; Threshing
833 – Popularity of the NPL
872 – Estella’s cooking for threshing crews in a cook car; IWW men on crews
971 – Hard times during the 1930’s; Feeding thistle to cattle; WPA projects; Morale; Cut worm infestation; Soil erosion
133 – Decline in the number of farmers; Changes in land prices; Getting REA service; Rural telephone
307 – Start of the Farmers Union in the county; His opinion of government involvement in farming; New Deal programs; Thoughts on coal development and life in ND
439 – End of interview
Comment:  Mrs. Lasher and Estella are sisters and they do most of the talking in this interview.  Homesteading, farming, the family history are the better portions.

Tape #2 Jacob Vietz (McClusky)
000 – Introduction
020 – Immigration from Russian to Canada to ND in 1900; His parents homestead near Denhoff; Building the stone house; Getting a well on the homestead
229 – Prairie fires; Early ranchers and their relations with homesteaders; Early area MD”s and midwives
284 – Working for ranchers to help his folks make a living on the homestead; Early farm machinery
329 – The trip from Russia to Canada; Horse power threshing machines; Furnishing in the homestead shack; The stove they made of mud bricks; Burning dried manure; Getting coal at Wilton
534 – Getting established on the homestead; High interest rates on loans; Expanding the farm acreage
575 – His marriage and farm and children; Midwives
635 – Importance of the railroad; Isolation on the farm in the winter
679 – The flu epidemic of 1918
745 – Businesses in early Denhoff; His dislike of large scale farming
804 – Diversified farming in the early 1900’s; Preserving meat and vegetables
896 – The failure of the NPL and Farmers Union to help the farmer, in his opinion
993 – Farming during the 1920’s; Poor grain prices; Hard times during the 1930’s; Working on the WPA; Morale; Grasshopper plague
064 – Businessmen in Denhoff; His first tractor; A farmer’s telephone line
138 – Feeding cattle during the 1930’s; Working on WPA
187 – End of interview
Comment:  Anyone interested in the history of the Germans from Russia in North Dakota would find the first half of this tape useful.

Tape #3 Frank Swendsen (McClusky)
000 – Introduction
020 – His parents move to ND from Illinois in 1908; Why some homesteaders left; Rural post offices now gone; Alta post office and store; Skogmo Store
115 – His parent’s farm; Finding good water; Ranchers in the area
182 – Nationalities around their farm; Relations between tenant and landlords; Family history; Making a living on the farm; Preserving vegetables; Sewing clothes for the family
304 – Renting a farm; Buying land and losing it in the 1930’s; Prairie fires
400 – Social life; Baseball teams in the area
499 – Children’s work on the farm; Sources of income; Picking rocks; Burning manure
690 – Popularity of the NPL
769 – The flu epidemic of 1918; Midwives; Landlords and tenants
934 – SIDE TWO – High interest rates on loans; His education
971 – New Deal farm programs; Declining number of farmers since homestead days; Soil erosion; Grasshopper plagues; Morale during the 1930’s; WPA projects
159 – Banks in McClusky and their consolidation; Credit problems in the 1930’s
190 – Prevalence of bachelor homesteaders
239 – Family life on the farm; Wildlife on the prairie; Early Christmas celebrations
368 – His opinion of large scale farming; Local views on the McClusky canal; Coal development; Life in ND
549 – Bootlegging and home brew during prohibition
643 – McClusky’s opera house; Early motion pictures
753 – Transients, gypsies, and Syrian peddlers; A Syrian settlement and Jewish community
871 – End of interview
Comment:  The information on this tape is mostly of a general nature.  Mr. Swendsen’s memory extends back to the 1910’s in the Alta area.

Tape #4 Fred and Lydia Schindler (Denhoff)
000 – Introduction
020 – His family history; Coming to ND from South Dakota in 1902; Their sod house; Burning manure; His parent’s satisfaction with homestead life
169 – Gardening and preserving vegetables and meat; Making sauerkraut and pickles; Smoking meat
295 – Traveling to Harvey for supplies; Sources of income on the homestead
342 – Prairie fires; His parent’s homestead; Horsepower threshing machines; Seeding by hand broadcast
400 – Cooperation of neighbors; Business in early Denhoff and the move of many of them to McClusky; Children’s chores on the farm and the little schooling he was able to attend
504 – Their marriage; The flu epidemic of 1918; Working on steam threshing rigs; IWW workers
666 – Getting his own farm during the 1920’s
695 – Farming during the 1930’s; WPA work on roads and sewing projects; Morale; Social life
805 – Getting fruit in the early 1900’s; Canning food; Making coffee out of roasted barley
869 – Their admiration for Bill Langer; Changes in people’s attitudes toward politics and the importance of money
930 – Getting supplies for the winter each fall; Making clothes flour sacks
985 – Family life; Early Christmas celebrations; Washing clothes early machines
057 – Thoughts on life in ND and large scale farming
155 – Reasons for the growth of the Seventh Day Adventist Church; Early churches in the area
227 – New Deal farm programs; Destruction of livestock; Surplus commodities
414 – End of interview
Comment:  The Schindler’s are congenial people with excellent memories.  The tape is particularly outstanding on the topics of homestead life and preserving food.

Tape #5 Mrs. Leota Mertz (Denhoff)
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Her parent’s farm near Denhoff; Story about a horse thief; The Davis Ranch
273 – Business in early Denhoff; Discussion about her old photographs
411 – Her first husband and his background; Dishonesty among early settlers; Family history
553 – Her parent’s farm house; Sod houses; Mertz family history
638 – Milking 39 cows by hand; Hard times on the farm during the 1930’s
718 – Nationalities in the area; Teaching rural school
799 – Popularity of the NPL; Social life and entertainment; Langer’s moratorium on foreclosures
883 – Lincoln Valley, ND
970 – Blind pigs and bootlegging during prohibition; Business in Denhoff
059 – Her opinion of large scale farming; Selling cream in Lincoln Valley and Denhoff; Flour mills in the area; Home remedies for illness
225 – Traveling peddlers; Feeding threshing crews; Smoking meat; Washing clothes
377 – Hard work in the good old days; Changes in the pace of life
430 – End of interview
Comment:  The tape contains rather general historical information about the Denhoff area and her personal life.

Tape #6 Marie Mertz (Denhoff)
000 – Introduction
020 – Coming to ND from Russia in 1903; Family history
112 – Meeting her husband; His family background; Beginnings of the area Lutheran church; Her parents; Nationalities in the area
175 – The sod house she and her husband had; Gardening; Threshing; Her children, delivered by her husband or a midwife
264 – Sewing clothes
293 – Family history
312 – Learning to speak English from her children; Baking huge quantities of bread for the family; Burning cow manure in the cook stove; Hard work on the farm; The church in Russia
434 – She sings a hymn in German and then in Russian; Work she did for a wealthy family
545 – Preserving vegetables prior to canning; Feeding her family
645 – Early settlers in the area; Driving horse and wagon to Goodrich; Jacob Mertz
718 – End of interview
Comment:  Mrs. Mertz has some vivid memories of German settlements in Russia since she lived there until she was age twenty.  Her accent and manner of speaking make this tape priceless.

Tape #7 R. E. Martin (Goodrich)
000 – Introduction
020 – Coming to ND by covered wagon from South Dakota; Emigrating from Russia to the US; Learning to speak English; How the family wound up in ND
198 – How the Germans treated the Russians in Russia; His father’s blacksmith shop in Russia
285 – German churches in South Russia; Life in South Russia; Jewish businessmen; Discrimination against Jewish settlers in South Dakota
382 – His parent’s liking for ND; Building material used in homestead houses; The trip by covered wagon from South Dakota
630 – Getting started on the homestead with $15.00
720 – End of TAPE A
000 – Introduction
020 – The homestead quarter his father chose; The Hurd Brother’s Land Company; Anecdotes about early settlers
143 – Cooperation of early settlers; Poverty on the homestead; Threshing; Anecdotes about horses
250 – Hauling flax to Bowdon and buying supplies; Hard times on the homestead; Hunting to get meat
358 – Difficulty finding good water on the homestead; The first cow they had; Getting established on the homestead
550 – Selling vegetables to the railroad construction crew; Anecdote about life on the homestead; Development of crop acreage on the homestead
719 – Attending rural school; Popularity of the NPL; Dishonest elevator men
860 – Early banks and high interest rates; Working in the elevator; Finishing eighth grade at age 16 at the Academy in New Rockford
995 – Attending school in New Rockford; The Congregational and Methodist churches
128 – Working in the bank in Goodrich beginning in 1912; The “Bank Holiday” in 1933
438 – End of interview
Comment:  Mr. Martin is an articulate man with an excellent memory and a real ability to tell a story.  The tape is laced with anecdotes throughout.  The portion dealing with family history and homesteading is outstanding.

Tape #8 Louise Dokter (Goodrich)
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Her parent’s emigration from South Russia to ND by way of Eureka, SD; Her first marriage to a son of Jacob Mertz
116 – Sod buildings on her parent’s homestead; Family history; Children’s chores
165 – Early settlers in the Ashley area; Digging water wells by hand
192 – Her marriage to Mertz and move to Goodrich area homestead; Her husband’s family background; Working out as a child
335 – Getting flour at the Kulm mill; Midwives; Early ministers; Marriage and her children
419 – Nationalities in Mertz township; The Mertz family; Preserving food
521 – Social life and religious devotion; St. James Lutheran church and German language service
615 – The 1918 flu epidemic
669 – The Hurd Brothers Land Company; Popularity of the NPL; Emotional politics
732 – Hard times on the farm during the 1930’s; Digging lignite coal
797 – Getting coal at Wilton after they got a truck
824 – Early dances in homestead shacks; July 4th celebrations; Baking bread; Stone ovens
948 – Christmas festivities
967 – End of interview
Comment:  Mrs. Dokter has a good memory and a pleasant German accent, but she does ramble a great deal.

Tape #9 Rosie Gries (Goodrich)
000 – Introduction
020 – Her parent’s emigration from South Russian to ND via Eureka, SD in 1905; Life in South Russia and reasons for leaving
168 – Poverty on the homestead; Sources of income; Her mother’s work as a midwife in the area
328 – Attending school infrequently; Teaching school
380 – Burning cow manure; Hardships on the farm; Happiness of people; Selling the farm and mobbing to town; Her mother’s strength of character
533 – Hard times in her life
596 – Her marriage and children; Hard work she did to support the family
718 – SIDE TWO – Anecdotes about teaching school
827 – Early Goodrich; General conversation; Teaching school; Her health and cure by prayer
965 – Neighborliness of people; Family life
023 – Furnishings in her parent’s farm house; Preserving meat
096 – Making a living during the 1930’s; Her children
152 – The 1918 flu epidemic and local deaths due to the flu; Her mother’s work dressing the dead for burial; Her mother’s present dreams and religious faith
437 – End of interview
Comment:  This interview is largely a person story of hardships she has borne and contains very little historical information.

Tape #10 Mr. and Mrs. Emmanuel Zweigle (Bismarck)
000 – Introduction
020 – His family history; Her parents, their emigration from South Russia, and their homestead near McClusky; Early settlers in the area; Burning cow manure or “Mischt”
087 – Attending rural school; Learning to speak English
107 – His parent’s homestead near Harvey; Early settlers in that area; Sod houses; Attending a rural Mennonite Church near McClusky; Lay preachers
254 – Social life; How they were reared; Neighborliness of people and cooperation; Cooking for threshers
339 – Her father’s large farm; Horse powered grain elevators; Threshing
409 – Preserving vegetables; Making sauerkraut and pickles; Salting pork; The flour mills at Anamoose and Harvey; Everlasting yeast
487 – Their marriage in 1917; The 1918 flu epidemic; Their farm
551 – Their children; Delivering babies at home; His work on the railroad beginning in 1922
668 – Hard times during the 1930’s; The benefits of living through hard times
799 – Reasons for McClusky’s growth; Account of Lincoln Valley, ND; Bank failures in McClusky; Their liking for Franklin Roosevelt; Destruction of livestock during the 30’s; Their support for Bill Langer
930 – Thoughts on life in ND
943 – End of interview
Comment:  Recollections of homestead life compose the most informative portion of the interview.

Tape #11 Mrs. Anna Fandrich (Bismarck)(Foster County)
000 – Introduction
020 – Emigration from Romania to ND with her parents; Their homestead near Kief; Her mother’s homesickness for the old country
080 – Happiness of early settlers; Social life; Business in early Kief; Nationalities in the area – mainly Russian – and their churches; Balfour’s Dr. Stone and an operation he performed in their home
221 – The 1918 flu epidemic; Scarlet fever epidemics; Midwives that delivered her children
297 – Women homesteaders
350 – Prairie fires; Finding good water on the homestead; Digging wells by hand; Digging out coal; Burning cow manure; Kerosene stoves
447 – The rural phone line out of Kief
490 – Moving to a farm near Carrington; An amateur veterinarian near Kief; Poor crop years; Difficulty of finding feed for cattle during the 1930’s; WPA work; Canning meat in Carrington; Bank failures
679 – Churches, nationalities, and schools in the Kief area; Merits of the rural school
789 – Early settlers in the Kief area
831 – Wind chargers for electricity; Carbon gas lights; Langer’s moratorium on farm foreclosures
943 – End of interview
Comment:  Mrs. Fandrich has a good memory and a pleasant manner of relating recollections.  This is a generally informative interview.

Tape #12 Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Allen (Goodrich)
000 – Introduction
020 – Father immigrated with mules and covered wagon from northern Missouri in 1886; He settled in Emmons County first and later moved to Sheridan County; He lived in a dug out at first; Isaac was one of the first white children born in Sheridan County; Other early settlers
148 – Area post offices and stores; Father raised sheep and cattle; Prairie fires; Wildlife; Enormous amount of prairie chickens
214 – Hired help to make hay and feed 400 to 500 head of cattle
245 – Blind pigs; Cattle rustlers; Shipping cattle
287 – Spring water on the homestead; Burned lignite coal from Wilton area for fuel
335 – Returned after the war in 1920 and started farming
376 – Wintering the cattle; The winter of 1888 was bad; Grazing cattle on school land rented land for hay
422 – Attending school in a homesteader’s shack; Nationalities of the area was mostly German-Russian
452 – Dances in the area during the winter
484 – Her family came later and bought a relinquishment north of Denhoff
520 – Mother was a midwife for daughter
547 – Married in 1927; He had a good start in farming; Horse farming; Raised and sold some horses; Good flax crop in the 20’s; Planting clover and fertilizer; Raised corn; The first combine in the county
718 – Poor hay crop and high temperatures in the 30’s; Russian thistles for feed; High centered with thistles on a country road; Dust storms so bad you couldn’t see where you were going; Discouragement and hope for the better; Clouds of grasshoppers
776 – WPA; Building roads and outdoor toilets (Roosevelt’s white houses)
795 – Rearing children in the 30’s; Making payments and when no money was available other arrangements were made; Land in later years sold for $1 an acre; Changes in sizes of farms
896 – People were more concerned for each other in early years; Families visited families; Children had responsibilities at early ages; Work for 50 cents a day; Rock picking
977 – End of interview
Comment:  A generally informative interview regarding agriculture.

612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
Get Directions

State Museum and Store: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F; Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
We are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
State Archives: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F, except state holidays; 2nd Sat. of each month, 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Appointments are recommended. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at 701.328.2091 or
State Historical Society offices: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. M-F, except state holidays.

Contact Us:
phone: 701.328.2666

Social Media:
See all social media accounts