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Manuscripts by Subject - Religion - #10206

Title: Henry G. Dralle Papers                     
Dates: 1891-1950

Collection Number: 10206

Quantity: 25 feet                         
Abstract: Consists of correspondence, notes, printed material (partially in German), and financial records relating to personal, business, and ministerial activities.

Provenance: The preliminary inventory to this collection was completed by Lotte Bailey in February 2005. Erlys Fardal created the biographical sketch in February and March 2010. Emily J. Ergen created this inventory in April 2010.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.
Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.         
Access:  This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation:  Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.                                       

Reverend Henry Dralle, missionary pioneer for the German Lutheran Church, was a man whose life was filled with adversity. Dralle was a prolific writer, and his papers at the North Dakota State Archives contain hundreds of pages of “autobiography, biography, and self biography.” The reader of his papers will gain insight into Dralle’s character, disposition and passions for the ministry. His papers also shed light on his views of pioneer life, his neighbors, and the beginning of the German Lutheran Church in central North Dakota.

Henry George Dralle was born on March 16, l866, in the small town of Immenson (Hanover), Germany. At age six Dralle started first grade, and in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, he became proficient in Bible stories and teaching. He excelled in writing, but later admits that he was poor in arithmetic. In l880, at age 14, he attended confirmation school at Steinweder-Alizse Immenson Church, learning the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther. At age 18, he became an apprentice shoemaker, and was employed in the trade at various towns near his home. For a year he worked as a clerk in judicial court. During harvest season he often worked on his father’s farm. He was ordered to serve in the German Army for three years and was stationed in Berlin. Henry Dralle was 25 years old when he was released from the army and began to contemplate his future.

Dralle chose to attend Preparatory Mission School at Strackholt, Eastfriesland, Germany. Although his writings do not reveal anything about his immigration to the United States, two years later Dralle was a seminary student at Wartburg Seminary, a German Lutheran School, in Dubuque, Iowa. He was preparing to become a minister or missionary. After graduating, his first assignment was in Dows, Iowa; he was to organize a congregation. After two years he was transferred to Harvey, ND. He soon left Harvey and traveled to various German communities to start mission churches. He wrote that “when I had to resign, upon which I forthwith got in still greater difficulties and distress right after my arrival in Harvey, ND.” Dralle never explains what caused these problems, but they continued to plague him throughout his lifetime.

The purpose of Dralle’s mission was to establish stable congregations for the German Lutheran Church. He was employed by the Mission Board of the Iowa Synod, and his work covered a large territory in central ND; he served in Hebron, Old Leipzig, the Medina area, Langdahl, and as far south as Kulm and west nearly to Mott. He conducted church services, baptisms, confirmations and all other ministerial duties. His means of transportation was train, walking, and horse and buggy – if one of the members came to get him. He writes that the biggest travel obstacle was crossing the rivers. Dralle was not very successful starting a congregation, and a group at Hebron split over the proposed location of the church. One of the members of that group would later become his father-in-law.

While serving in the rural Medina area some of his members talked him into filing a homestead. He was having some success in his mission in this area, so in 1902 he filed on a homestead claim in Stutsman County south of Medina. He thought this would be a nice spot for a church when the time came to build. Dralle built a house on the claim and lived on the property.

A year later, just as his mission was doing well, a member of the Mission Board arrived at his home and told him to leave the area and become the minister of a congregation in Iowa. This news was a shock to him since his work was going well at the time. He decided not to leave his homestead or his present mission work even though he would be without an income from the Synod. (John) Henry George Dralle proved his homestead claim on September 28, 1908. In spite of the withdrawal of financial support, Rev. Dralle continued to serve the mission churches and also supported and worked toward growth of the German Lutheran Church. He vowed to start a Lutheran Church whenever and wherever it seemed appropriate.

Dralle’s problem at the time was lack of money for daily living. Fortunately, a school near his homestead, Meidinger School, needed a teacher and the neighbors asked him to take the job. He traveled to Jamestown to visit with the County Superintendent of Schools, was tested, and issued a teaching certificate. Although he knew that he was not fluent in English, Dralle’s students were all German. Dralle wrote that his teaching principles included “drill, drill, drill,” and making the students work constantly. He believed that if he used books to teach, then the books were doing the teaching and not the teacher. He spent only one year as a teacher.

Sometime in 1904, Dralle received a book of poetry from an uncle in Germany and decided to write poetry. He turned some of his poetry into sermons and published and distributed a book of his writings. The synod did not look kindly on this activity because they thought he was doing it to make money, whereas he made little or none.

Dralle met a young girl named Katie Barth when he was just beginning his mission in ND. Katie was the daughter of German parents Jacob Barth and Katherine Ripinrich Barth, born May 13, 1882 in SD. After seeing Katie a few years after their introduction, he started to think about her and about “getting a wife.” He was 39 years old at the time, 16 years older than Katie. They became engaged in the spring of 1905 and were married September 5, 1905, at Mott, ND. Problems began plaguing the couple early on. On their wedding day, Henry found out about legal problems Katie was having over her homestead. Making the situation worse was the fact that Katie’s father, Jacob Barth, thought Dralle was no good and had no money; the latter, of course, was true.

Henry and Katie settled on their primitive homestead in Stutsman County. They experienced the many hardships of pioneer living, including prairie fires. Rev. Dralle wrote extensively about these hardships and included information about all of his neighbors and details of events on his land. He continued to visit mission churches, but he had no stable income at the time. In 1909 Henry heard that there may be an opportunity to form a mission church in Bismarck, so the family moved. Although he held a few meetings north of Bismarck, the mission congregation was never organized.  Money problems continued, but Katie was a dressmaker and began using this skill to help support the family. She would also become one of the early Avon representatives in Bismarck.

In 1910, a new bank opened in Mott, ND, and Dralle was offered the position of assistant cashier. Henry had no experience and was not good in “arithmetic,” but the family needed money, so they decided to move to Mott. After working at the bank only a short time, he was fired and called dishonest because of a check he wrote that the bank officers would not honor.

Since Katie’s family lived in the Mott area she stayed there for the summer while Henry left to preach wherever he was needed, and eventually returned to Bismarck. In Bismarck he found work on farms during haying season, earning $20.00 per month. In the fall Katie joined her husband and they rented a home in south Bismarck. In the spring, their home was flooded out during a Missouri River flood.

Two significant events occurred in 1911. Dralle was told that his name was “stricken” off the list of the Synod; he was accused of “wickedness and idolizing his own humility.” He stated that he had always kept his vows, but difficulties were arising and increasing all around him. In spite of no longer being recognized as a pastor of the synod he continued to preach and support the synod, sending funds when he conducted services.

At about the same time, Katie received $400.00 from her father, money he owed her from the homestead dispute. The Dralles bought a lot in north Bismarck and Henry built a home on the site. Katie continued working as dressmaker and Henry served as German Lutheran Pastor at St. John Congregation south of Mandan, ND, from 1911-1916 and again from 1923-1927. The church closed in 1927.

Henry Dralle became a wage earner sometime prior to 1920. He worked as a laborer for the Soo Line Railroad. He also did carpentry work and purchased some lots in north Bismarck to raise gardens and sell produce. The latter was not successful because of lack of water. It was during the depression years of the 1930s that Dralle did most of his biographical writing. He also wrote letters to various companies and political figures, and numerous letters to the welfare board trying to understand why he could not get old age assistance. His collection contains copies of the letters and articles he submitted to the German Newspaper.

Henry and Katie Dralle moved to Sacramento, CA, sometime after 1945. Henry died there November 1, 1946, and Katie died there November 4, 1948. Henry and Katie Dralle raised three children, Ernest, Elsie, and Herbert. The collections contain letters to and from the children as well as documents and other information about them.

The oldest child, Ernest Dralle, was born July 21, 1906 at the Dralle homestead in Stutsman county. He worked as a carpenter and a Works Project Administration Supervisor. On December 24, 1930, he married Edith Gertrude Christian. They moved to California in the mid 1940s. Ernest died August 22, 1986, in Sacramento California. Elsie Dralle was born March 21, 1908, at the homestead. She lived in Bismarck and worked as a clerk and beauty operator until she moved to Louisville, Kentucky. She was married in Kentucky to a Mr. Mock (first name unknown). Letters written home suggest that her work included travel and was a well paying job. Elsie died in l988. Herbert, the youngest son, was born in 1912 in Bismarck. He married Vivian Forella Bargess on June 20, 1940. Herbert worked as a clerk and later moved to Washington. His death date is unknown. There were grandchildren, but little information in known of them.

During their Bismarck years, the Dralles made their home at three different addresses, according to the city directories. The first home is listed as 323 13th Street; the second at 1309 Rosser; and their final home was at 1311 Rosser, where they lived from 1928 until they left Bismarck sometime in 1945. This home was owned by daughter Elsie during the later years in Bismarck.

The Dralle Collection at the North Dakota State Archives contains 21 boxes including Henry Dralle writings, books, documents of family information, sermons, hymns, photos, and assorted other items.


Bismarck (Burleigh COunty, North Dakota) City Directory: Including Mandan. St. Paul, Minn: R.L. Polk and Co., Publishers. 1914-1915,1924, 1928-1929, l923-1933, 1940-1941. St. Paul, Minn: R.L. Polk and Co., Publishers. 1914-1915,1924, 1928-1929, l923-1933, 1940-l941.

United States Census, 1920 and 1930.

California Death records.

Social Security death records.


Box 1:   
Correspondence, German and English

Box 2:
Correspondence, German and English

Box 3:
 Correspondence, German and English

Box 4:
 Correspondence, German and English                 

Box 5:
Correspondence, German and English

Box 6:
Correspondence, German and English

Box 7:
1 Biography notes, 1936               
2 Biography notes                           
3 Biography notes, 1931-1936    
4 Biography notes                           
5 Autobiographical, 1931
6 Biography notes, 1935               
7 Biography notes, 1903               
8 Biography notes to Staats Anzeiger, 1933, 1936-1943
9 Biography notes
10 Biography notes

Box 8:                                                                                                                                   
1 Letters to Elsie
2 Correspondence, Elsie              
3 Correspondence, Elsie
4 Memorandum, Quit Claim-Elsie, 1939
5 Paper dolls, Elsie
6 Fashion Magazine articles, Elsie, 1917?               
7 Correspondence, Elsie
8 Financial log on Fort Lincoln, Ernest
9 Correspondence, Ernest
10 Birth Certificate, Ernest
11 Correspondence, Ernest
12 Form, US Labor, Herbert
13 Form, Workers Comp, Herbert            
14 Correspondence, Herbert, 1936
15 Herbert's troubles
16 Correspondence, Herbert
17 Correspondence - Elsie, Herbert, Henry
18 Forms, WPA related 
19 Clippings, Obituaries - part 3 
20 Clippings, Obituaries - part 4 
21 Clippings, 1929-1930
22 Clippings, NPL
23 Clippings, Sitting Bull, 1929
24 Newspapers, German language about Kaiser, 1912, 1914        
25 Clippings

Box 9:
1 Correspondence, Katie Barth Dralle
2 Correspondence, Mott, North Dakota               
3 Advertisement, Wm. Brown Company
4 Letters, Mott - 1910 (Love letters, 1905), 1905, 1910    
5 Financial, Katie Barth Dralle, 1920         
6 Letters from Mott
7 Postcards, greeting cards - some North Dakota
8 Correspondence, Homestead - Katie Barth Dralle - Mott, 1910               
9 Greeting cards              
10 Letters to Katie Barth Dralle
11 Letters to M/M Dralle             
12 Letters to Katie Barth Dralle
13 Letters to Katie Barth Dralle & Barth inheritance quarrel, 1910              
14 Correspondence, Katie Barth Dralle, Mott North Dakota
15 Letters from Mott and other places Katie Barth Dralle
16 Letters, Katie Barth Dralle, 1905-1910               
17 Letters to Katie Barth Dralle from Jacob Barth on land disagreement
18 Letters, Katie Barth Dralle
19 Patterns and material swatches, Katie Barth Dralle
20 "’Year of Disaster’ J. Barth daughters suit against estate," 1910            

Box 10:
1 Sermons, Parish notes
2 Journals, sermons, songs, notes, 1905               
3 History, Oliver County Lutheran Church, 1901-1092      
4 Religious matters                         
5 Sermon notes
6 Songs, School collection # 23 on Prohibition
7 Sermon notes, poetry, songs - German Language
8 Sermon notes
9 Notes, English style of language            
10 Diary
11 Diary transcribed for Mr. Ludwig
12 Articles on socialism, 1922     
13 Note cards                                                    
14Letters to pastors and other identified topics               
15Letter from Reverend Fetch                                                   
16 Sermon notes, 1912 
17 Note cards from parishes - financial or attendance?  
18 Winzerda & Frankford 1887-1888 - parts 1-3, 1887-1888           
19 Correspondence, Reverend Heppel, 1930-1932           
20 Sermon notes, 1896-1898      
21 Religious matters                      
22 Missouri Plot, 1915   
23 Missions, mission settlements                                             
24 Fort Lincoln North Dakota Congregation-Mandan, 1912-1914
25 Hymn collection, 1897             
26 The Dinky Contest                    

Box 11:
1 Notes, Biography (very dirty material)                                                               
2 Notes, Biography                          
3 Notes, Biography - Staats Anzeiger      
4 Notes, Biography                         
5 Notes, Self-biography, 1912-1916         
6 Notes, Biography, 1941             
7 Biography notes/articles Tribune & Staats Anzeiger, 1941-1945              
8 Notes, Autobiographical - Dawson North Dakota, 1900-1902    
9 Relief matters, 1932   
10 Manuscript notes, 1936-1937               
11 Notes, Biography, 1937-1938

Box 12:
1 Books, Composition                                                    
2 Books, Composition                                                    
3 Notes, Self-biography                               
4 Notes, Biography & poems, songs, hymns
5 Notes, Self-biography, 1926-1928         
6 Notes, Self-biography                                
7 Notes, Self-biography                                
8 Notes, Biography         

Box 13:
1 Bills (financial)                                 
2 Letters from Hitchcock Hill, 1928-1929
3 Diatribe sketch, 1929  
4 Fort Lincoln Congregation-Mandan ND-Treasurers Report, 1928            
5 Letters to Ray Landgrede, Elgin ND, 1931          
6 Letters - several parties, 1903-1908     
7 Correspondence with synod colleagues, 1902-1915     
8 Personal affairs, 1913-1919      
9 Social matters, 1926    
10 Notes in German on Revelation 12                    
11 English language study                                             
12 Letters relating to business     
13 Notes, German language and several publications
14 Notes, Biography                      
15 Writings                                          
16 Composition books  
17 Mortgage, 1914          

Box 14:
1 Account book, Fischer addition, 1920  
2 Cash book, 1919           
3 Daybooks and journals, 1902-1919       
4 Spelling words and school papers from Will School
5 Letters                                             
6 Correspondence, Median book, 1906-1909      
7 Correspondence, Financial and unorganized                   
8 Notes, German language, 1897-1899  
9 Notes, Medina and Dawson, 1900-1902             
10 Sermons                        
11 Biography - minor stuff                           
12 Letters, Business related       
13 Writings                                          
14 Financial                         
15 Items of interest
16 Biography     

Box 15:
1 Letters while in Germany before 1861               
2 Letters and articles     
3 Letters                                             
4 Letters, personal                                          
5 Correspondence, loose items                                
6 Correspondence, loose items                                
7 Correspondence, loose items                                
8 Correspondence, loose items                
9 Correspondence, loose items
10 Clippings from various newspapers and some correspondence           
Box 16:
1 Journals                                            
2 Note cards, Self biography                        
3 War sentiment-war excitement, 1915
4 Diaries and journals                    
5 Religious matters, 1934             
6 Notes
7 Clippings, obituaries, celebrations, & anniversaries - Part 1                       
8 Clippings, obituaries, celebrations, & anniversaries - Part 2                       
9 Arena North Dakota, Soo Freight, 1917-1918- Patterson Hotel 1923      
10 Biographies  
11 Patterson Lunch Room (notes are written on the back of the menus)
12 Notes about parishes - Medina area?
Box 17:
1 WPSA, in research cabinet                                        
2 Correspondence, States Attorney       
3 Articles to Tribune, 1928, 1930               
4 Articles to Tribune, 1933           
5 Letters to Tribune, 1938            
6 Letters to Oberlander and to KFYR                       
7 Legal/financial (I.P. Baker), 1905, 1920
8 Receipts, 1920               
9 Taxes (in Bismarck)                     
10 Bank statements                                       
11 Correspondence, copyrighted             
12 Stock, Common                          
13 Policy, National Life Insurance             
14 Financial                         
15 Letters, Business
16 Financial, Hitchcock Hill
17 Contract, Medina North Dakota
18 Letters and postcards                              
19 Songs                                              
20 WTCU literature                         
21 Notes on grammar, 1900-1910             
22 Writings by Dralle - Commission on Country Life          
23 Arena and Tuttle, 1919            
24 Constitution of the Young Men's Association in Iowa, 1896    
25 Medina and Bismarck                                              
26 Memoranda, Dralle, 1911      

Box 18:
1 Letters, Viava Company - to Mrs. Dralle                                                              
2 Letters, Viava Company - to Mrs. Dralle                                                              

Box 19:
1 Correspondence (nice example of what is not damaged)          
2 Ephemera - business broadsides                                                           
3 Ephemera - business pamphlets                            
4 Ephemera - political (some duplicates)
5 Ephemera - business flyer                                       
6 Ephemera - religious, business, political pamphlets, invitations, tickets               
7 Ephemera? - page from publication?                                  
8 Ephemera - program from Kentucky, song sheet, political pamphlet    
9 Ephemera - broadsides, pamphlets, various items                        
10 Ephemera - RR tickets given to clergy by Transcontinental                      
11 Ephemera - religious tickets and collection envelopes                                              
12 Ephemera - letter Grand Forks KKK regarding Sorlie                  
13 Ephemera? - wrappers, Blue Ribbon Bakery (Montana) & Fashion Frock                         
14 Ephemera - pamphlet of North Dakota songs (Finney Drug)                                  
15 Ephemera - pamphlet from Four Square Revival, Sr. McPherson in CA
16 Ephemera - souvenir of Newberry TWP, Oscar Will flower flyer                             
17 Ephemera - political - Gordon Cox (various items)                                       
18 Ephemera - political, war scare & others pamphlets & flyer                                     
19 Ephemera - printed material organizations? Secret societies & NDH                                  
20 Ephemera - religious flyers for Methodist Episcopal Church meeting 
21 Photograph- Ernest and Edith Dralle wedding portrait?                                            
22 Photograph- Fred Barth WWII photo (brother of Katie?)                                          
23 Photographs- Truax Coal Mining Co. Minot ND - prints                                              
 24 Photograph- Old Stone Church at Old Leipzig, North Dakota                                  
 25 Photographs- various unidentified, some taken in Germany                                 
 26 Photographs- group, photo postcards, snapshots & news                                      
 27 Photographs- snapshot with Elsie, photo postcard by Foster Photo (MT)       
 28 Maps of park at 16th and D                                  

Box 20:
 Publications, English/German                                   

Box 21:
Publications, English/German                    

Box 22:
1 Automobile trade journal prices                                                            
2 Bear Tractor publication                                                             
3 Religious publication, German                                               
4 Pamphlet, A letter of a young Jewess to her father
5 Publications, German                
6 Book list (by Dralle)     
7 Book list (by Dralle)
8 Chinese booklet
9 Notebook and business forms, (blank) 

Box 23:
1 Correspondence – political, 1908-1950
2 Dralle’s notes – political, n.d.
3 ND politics, 1916
4 ND politics, 1924
5 Langer’s $40.00 pension account, 1938
6 Election, June 1938
7 Fight about tax laws, primary election, June 30, 1942
8 Political ephemera, including the following parties, people and topics, ca. 1898-1940: 
John M. Anderson
Charles G. Bangert
Oliver H. Bennett
Bismarck Unemployed Council                  
Alfred Blaisdell
Wesley Cochran
Communism (Burleigh County and national)
Communist Party of North Dakota
Joseph Coghlan
Constitutional amendments
Crop mortgages
Democratic Party
Dingley tariff
R. H. Dodds
Farmers Nonpartisan Political League
C. J. Fisk
R. L. Fraser
Lynn J. Frazier
Free Coinage (silver and gold)
Free Textbook questioni
John N. Hagan
H.C. Hansbrough
Warren G. Harding (Dollar Wheat), 1917
Independent Party
Independent Republican party
Independent Voters Association
International Union of Hod Carriers, Building and Common Laborers of America
William Kavanagh
William Langer
William Lemke
Local Government News (Board of City Commissioners)
F. E. McCurdy
Thomas F. Marshall
George H. Moellring
Nonpartisan League
North Dakota Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage
Gerald P. Nye (“Peace-Time Conscription,” 1940)
Organized labor (unions)
John J. Raskob
Recall election rally, October 28, 1921 (Bismarck, ND)
Recall petition for S. S. McDonald, State Senator from the 27th Legislative District
Referendum petition, Senate Bill 196: Game and Fish commissioner, 1928
George M. Register
Republican Party
Nels H. Romer
George F. Shafer
Silver bribery case (Harry Silver)
W. M. Smart (Progressive Republican), 1942
Young Communists League
9 Newspapers and clippings, ca. 1921-1933
10 Foreign language political material and miscellaneous (German and Norwegian), ca. 1898-1913

Oversize (map case drawer):
- Poster from the 1912 United States presidential election with an image of Theodore Roosevelt and Hiram Johnson (Progressive ticket) and part of a Rudyard Kipling poem
- “Uncle Sam’s Balance Sheet,” praising protectionism and the Morrill, McKinley and Dingley Tariffs, ca. 1905

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