Friday, March 26, 2021


     Recently I had an epiphany that the female side of my family also have a story to be told. There is not as much information on the maternal side but nevertheless it's important. 

     My great grandma Barbara was born in  1840 and died in 1911. She was married in 1862. She died before my Dad was born so I didn't get stories from him about his grandmother. My oldest aunt would have been about 11 when her grandma died but Aunt Martha didn't live close to us so we didn't get the stories. When my great grandma  came to Canada she brought all of her adult children. She was 65 years old when she came to the homestead.  She lived in a very small wooden house which was poorly built and very cold. She died of tuberculosis in 1911. 

      My grandma Caroline was born in 1874   and died in 1948. Grandma was a very hard working woman who survived under harsh circumstances. She never had electricity in her house and running water came in a pail from the well. So it was much work for her to raise 8 children under these circumstances. 

     Grandma had to be industrious to have enough food to last for a year. She was a skillful gardener and raised enough food to keep her family fed for the year. Her children spent much time in the garden weeding and then had to bring water by pail to water some of the plants. She had chickens, ducks and geese that provided meat and the chickens also produced eggs. They sometimes gathered wild duck eggs. My aunt told me how grandma told her to tell the difference between a fresh duck egg and one that had been hatching. She was also told to only take one or two eggs at a time. She also had a few cows so had milk and cream. Some game was also taken from time to time. 

     Very little was bought from the store...sugar, salt, coffee, yeast. Grain was hauled to a mill and made into flour. 

     Cabbages and potatoes were the main crop. The cabbages were made into sauerkraut and in that way the cabbage was preserved. 

     I remember going to grandma's house when some of her sons were there. They would talk about the good donuts Grandma made. In no time flat donuts were being made . I remember these fresh donuts and how Dad and his brothers enjoyed coffee and donuts. The family always spoke German when they were together as this was their first language. 

    At one time Grandma made all clothing for the family. It's amazing how much she could knit...socks, mitts, hats and more. They made goose down quilts. The houses would freeze out at night so a goose down quilt kept you warm. I remember Grandma and her daughter in laws making a quilt . They worked quickly but it was a lot of work. My cousin Betty sat under the frame and pushed the needles back up to the top. At the end of the day they had another quilt made. 

     Grandma was very practical. Houses were cold and she dressed for comfort and not style. She wore combinations fleece lined underwear and felt boots. 

     In 1946 Grandma moved into the little village into a house with no running water or electricity. 

    At 70 years of age they had no savings and were supported by some of their children. They each got a $5.00 per month old age pension. Other than that they still raised their own food. 

    Looking back she lived a very successful life under challenging circumstances. 

    We liked our Grandma even if most of the time she was busy and rather stern. She would sometimes take us into the dark stairwell to set the mood and tell us stories that were always scary. I remember her chuckling over these stories. 

    Grandma died in 1948 at age 72 .