Auto Biography of Lydia Schiermeister Grenz
On February 20, 1898, I was born. We lived in the
village of Ananov, Russia; where I was baptized into the Lutheran faith.
When we immigrated to America, I was two years old. We arrived in the port
of Portland, Maine in the United States on a vessel named the Dommin Line
arriving October 20, 1901. We then went by railroad to Winnipeg, Canada
for about 30 days. We spent a month in Canada because some of us were
sick. Later, my parents and family arrived at Eureka, South Dakota.
I believe we spent one year there before we finally settled at our new homestead
about 12 1/2 mils southwest of Hazelton, ND. My parents had a difficult
time homesteading on the prairie. A house had to be built which was made out of
sod. We had to go to the neighbors for drinking water until a well was
dug. We kids all had our chores to do and of course in the winter how do
you keep warm? The neighbors went together to have prayer and Bible
reading at the Reimer house, until a one room school was built. When I ws
seven, I attended the 1st grade. Anna Gustine was my teacher. We
couldn't speak a word of English, but we learned. When I was 14, I
attended Catechism at Peace Lutheran Church in Linton which prepared me for my
confirmation. One March 9, 1913, I was confirmed by Pastor H. Wiegand.
I stayed home and helped with much of the work that had to be done around the
house. In 1918, my mother gave birth to a baby boy, he was named Robert.
He lived only 9 days and he died. My mother wasn't doing well taken to the
Bismarck Hospital where later she died. I still had younger brothers and
sisters at home to be taken care of. We had another tragedy, my sister
Frieda drowned in a stock tank in 1914.
There was this bachelor that lived 61/2 miles southwest of our
place. He owned some land and had built a small house. His name was
Godfrey C. Grenz. He also had been born in Gildendorf, Russia - on Nov.
13, 1892 to Gottlieb and Christine Hogue Grenz. On March 20, 1919; I
became Mrs. Godfrey C. Grenz and moved there. He had also purchased a
steam engine and a threshing rig, one of the first in the county and did custom
work. So when harvest time came, he was gone usually through December or
until the threshing was done, whatever the weather allowed. My first child
was a girl we named Frieda and other girls followed - Alma, Minnie, Anna and
finally a boy, Leo, in Oct. of 1925. the farm was growing just like the
family. I got a bigger house that some homesteads left about a mile north
of our place. Godfrey moved it to our place. Two years later we had
another son Edwin but because of some health problem, he died a short time
later. That was in June of 1927. We buried him in the Gimbel Cemetery.
In1923, Esther was born in July. during the later twenties, farming was
doing better, land prices were climbing and interest rates were also climbing.
Even the railroad was planning on building a bridge across the river west of our
place but later they changed their minds and nothing happened. Finally
prices fell on everything. Banks started to close, there wasn't a price
for grain or livestock. Godfrey sold a bunch of wheat to make a land
payment. He put the money in the Temvik Bank and the next day he went to
get the money and there wasn't a bank. From 1929 on things were real
tough, we had some very bad years from too much moisture to none at all.
1936 was the worst year. so very dry, the men went all the way to the Red
River Valley to put up feed and shipped it back home by rail so our milk cows
had something to eat. The grasshoppers were really bad; the kids and I
would go out and chase them out of the garden so they wouldn't eat up
everything. When the shade would be on the north side of the buildings the
hoppers would climb the walls, we would chase the turkeys to the side so they
would pick them off and eat them. Godfrey irrigated out of the river to
raise our garden food so we could have something for the winter. (Up north
in the Kyes bottom, they would set up a big community garden and irrigated out
of the river for food, so people