Our Home Town: Strasburg, North Dakota - Adriana Nieuwsma, Religion, Farming, Education

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As part of KCCM's Our Home Town series, this program is a sound portrait of Strasburg, North Dakota. Highlights discussion on Dutch settlers, religion, farming and education issues. Also includes interview with Strasburg resident, Adriana Nieuwsma.

About Our Home Town series: KCCM Radio in Moorhead, in conjunction with the North Dakota Committee for the Humanities and Public Issues, produced a series of twenty-six half-hour programs that documented attitudes and character of life in five North Dakota communities (Strasburg, Belcourt, Mayville, Mott, and Dunn Center). The programs were produced as sound portraits with free-flowing sounds, voices and music, all indigenous.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

I was born and and 1885 and an old shots little should say old. It was a new sod Shack didn't haven't even have a floor in a drawer in his hat and Campbell County South Dakota Strasburg North Dakota population. 643 our hometown one in a series of sound portraits exploring the values history and character of life in small towns produced by Minnesota Public Radio station kccm with funds provided by the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues.How today's program Adriana nieuwsma tells her personal history of the town from the perspective of the Dutch settlers and strassburger is telling their attitudes about religion. The interview or is John gets be now Adriana nieuwsma. I guess I was the first baby in that county and that was a few settlers there and they build a church. A Reformed Church there about 3 miles away from my folks is few settlers that were there. There was mostly Dutchman my folks live there for two years. And then these Homestead rights came out and he went further into North Dakota to look for a homestead and he found a place that's about seven miles. South east of here between here and Hague and he filed on that as a homestead and that's where I was really a raise that I lived on that place for over 50 years spent most of my life there and the first years my folks at my folks Farm there they had to bring the rain. They're weak to Eureka my wagon and auction first and later by horses. And as time went on, you know, the country progress. They have horses. It might bought their horses from Indians by the river. They call them Braunfels. Have you ever heard of that? Bronco horses? They call them Bronx. They are Indians. You should save them and they'd come through the country and sell them to the settlers here. And why's that don't they were tough? That's how we had our first horses. I know but I remember my dad plowing with the auction talks team yet Shirley took determination to come here. And the they made goodbye divide. Are they had their good times and hard times, but I think they were wise they came and it was too because of of the military rules. They had their you know of being drafted, you know, if they had everybody every boy had to become a soldier if his health was 15 off and he had a sure I term in the in the service even if there was one or not and they weren't satisfied with a government. And then when the United States, of course at the same like that, they got a good report from the United States that these things are all so different and everybody was his own boss. Should I say and that interested that I guess they were just speaking of living in the old country and I guess they had just enough money to come across then my dad worked in Chicago in the Pullman car factory for sure while I'll tell he had I think he came here with $100 and he had to start farming on that. What was it like to grow up out here in those days? I think people are happier than they are now. We'd ever do any better, you know, ya didn't have no shoes to wear area and we walk Barefoot during the summer and in the winter time while we little kids. We just stayed inside my folks had a sod house and that was built like this and that was that they had a t to it with a guy barned for their horses and cows. And then in there there was a kind of a little hallway between and we had our toilet and that we didn't have to go outside and then the hate of my folks will get that in from the back and they fix the roof over the Haystacks and all that full of hay and a ride from the inside. They could get the hay to The Cows and Bulls and horses. And we lived in North most of the time my dad would go to Eureka maybe once a month and he'd get a few groceries and but we kids we I think we were we didn't have school in winter in the winter then because we didn't have a few little and just three months in the summertime. But I think as far as being a satisfied and happy we were people are more satisfied and then there are no you didn't have all kinds of toys that we can lay our hands. Well in the in the winter time, we will do you release it around this and that Sean house. I remember that we had people around here. They had burners made of something like an old-fashioned to wash boiler. Do you know where the old fashioned wash Barbers that they used to heat water on for washing? Well, they would like that made they could get that made and Eureka by the blacksmith. and They would feel that false flag straw by my folks usually have some flax straw and send it stopped it as full as they could and then they would set that John a cookstove. It took those two ladies off so that upside down and that that strong wood burn slowly and pretty soon. We had a red hot stove just like oh, I just cozy and I land. And with my my dad spend most of his time in the winter reading stories, we have stories books week is considered they're all leaving is Dutch. We could sit there all evening and he would read such an interesting story, you know, and then we didn't want to go to bed and read some more Dad read some more. Of course it was all in dust. You know, Uncle Tom's Cabin was one of my favorite stories that is the neighborhood and that we would have him read that over water more than once to get the full drift out of it then and then there was another one that was today. The lamp the lamp Lister Gertrude The Lamplighter that was a book about a little girl that live with her father and I want of the lighthouses on the shore of the ocean. You know, that was one of my favorite ones and then we play checkers or something like that. And I don't know what time they never laid heavy on my hands that I can remember when I was choked. I got married when I was going on 20 and that we raised a big family. We had 11 children. They say women don't work nowadays when they are housewife, but I I was a housewife and I worked the Germans in the hollanders get along fine. Oh, yes. We have had a good life, and we never had no trouble. No, we always got along fine help each other out and about to when we when our children were growing up and we children at home. We wish we just wouldn't think of young youngsters should dating with the Catholics and they didn't want their kids to either and that we could get that kind of Shepherd. But now they're in high school day and Mary right and left, you know, if the other and says, yes, so they stay together and that's the main thing. Is religion important in this community a good solid do Catholics I tell you and they attend their church if everybody would be as faithful attending their their worship Services. They are well and live our religion in everyday life. We have to if we don't shed show our religion and everyday life is so used to go to church on Sunday and and this pleases please the Lord on other days just itself to the people here do that in this town. Do you think that's quite a deep question, you know. I think it's a whole lot. I think they do. I think they do they do a live religious life. Yes or yes. It's it's a Christian Community Life here in Strasburg each stems out from our church. Our church has to send her in our life. Our weekly things are all standard from the church. That's do the activities and everything in my almost say that we that we do everything is connected with the church almost what kind of activities would they be? Well, that's like the The Guild and that's our women's group. And if they have any thing going on in town is usually one of the church. groups that's doing it like having a bake sale or getting in as a quilt. party group That's all stems up from the church. You know Sunday is the day you go to church and that's it. And everybody just does what does religion Do for you I'm mean to you. I don't know but you know, it's hard to explain but see I don't if you wouldn't believe in any God or anyting well, then you could just go and Rob and steal and cheat anybody and not even bad and I right. you know, I mean It's the only thing you have to think of while maybe I won't get caught by the law. But if you have religion. Consider that you think I'll maybe there's somebody else above you know. Richard cheating you're not cheating. It's a right and wrong and it's all it's too and I think really in my opinion. If you raise your children without any religion you almost racing like a damn are the young people in town carrying on that religious tradition that you might be coming back. They probably will. Why do you think it fell off there? I don't know but Well, I think maybe in a Catholic church. Maybe they got too lenient with their rules. Cuz they thought by changing the rules and being more lenient, you'd have more coming to church but it seems like no more of them are dropping away from it because you don't really even at my age now. You don't really know you go to one catheter. Well, they don't have to go to confession or they have church on Saturday night Middletown for Sunday. the next Church you go to it's vice versa and that's You know, that's kind of hard to swallow because you don't really know what's right and wrong. But if they'd kept it the way it was then there's no. And nobody's mine. That's the way it isn't it? So it stays gets to the point where I can see where these young people would really be confused. Now. We're a little more in the old right here, but when they get off just kids have to be completely confused. Good to go to the colleges and then it's completely leaning. So they don't know now. It's a ride from home or is right up there or what so I can see where a lot of me dropping way. Leica you have to go to church and everything. His religion is just a really big part I've ever especially older people with me on other generation. I think that they religion just a really big thing in their lives. How about for the young people people into religion against other people just like be against religion because of parents are shutting it down to throat clinic. Religion is a big big and some people and not quite so big and the other how can you tell that Strasburg was a religious community if you just came in and hung around for a while. Well like a Have a lot of troops groups and the most of the post guards are the inside of the Catholic church, and they have these plates and showing outside of Catholic Church stuff. Mostly, I like everyone's really proud of the church because it is a beautiful Church. And I like there's a lot of people going to church all the time. And it searched just a big thing. You think it's more important than most small? I don't think so. Not around here. Anyway, I think she has a big most small towns to live in it. Just amazing how the parents and other people think that like somebody might not go to church on a Sunday night. That's really a horrible thing to do to you. It's so big that they brought up and brought up that on it strictly the Bible that a little bit and you're a horrible Center. It's kind of ridiculous. I feel a lot of pressure on you. Well, not really because you just have to live with it by myself so live with it, but out of the things I don't agree with. Is it a pretty conservative style relation to tank strictly straight is really. What the Bible says is what goes life kind of centers around me. churches What does he drive into any of these towns and see the high Church Steeples me the churches and most prominent building into town that thing life pretty well revolved around religion. Are there any other signs of religion besides the church that someone could come into town and stay for a couple weeks and pick up you think we cover the town next town down the road and hang I find. These people are very charitable to each other. They will say good things about the next person but never anything bad and even when I've kind of slept with to say it something a bit uncharitable they correct me. So I see religion really in practice or charity Christian charity and practice and it's really delightful and some people that I knew they didn't like it if their name is mentioned they be they defend that person. I've seen more religion in practice in this area that I have any where is it calls? I've been served brand of religion. Why is it conservative? I don't think there is Well versed on the developments in the scripture that take a lot of the thing was in scripture which were literary devices to it that the writers use to bring paint across the use down. These people aren't aware of these Saudi still interpreted down literally and there's really nothing wrong with that. And then unless we have something better to offer. I don't feel enough setting these Traditional Values. In the basement of the church and so on. This is our Affair day and we are asked hundred workers are task to check. Where they're supposed to be at a certain time, we're having our annual Church there and in the afternoon, we set up all these games for the children and young adults. What kind of things are they just always got a fish ponds and a dart game. Cakewalk roulette wheel marble game What why do you do this to raise money for the church? My little boy could hardly sleep last night waiting for the carnival. He said one more night and we wake up tomorrow. Is it the carnival? And the first thing you said this morning was is it tomorrow? Is it tomorrow yet? Couldn't wait for the carnival cuz he's only three so I got no money hack. I29 Is 29 + 43. in 43 I-17 I-17 I 18 I-80 i28 i28 G56 G56 and bingo we have a Jackpot Bingo every 6 weeks during the school year. And this is how I would say between the church and school. And the PTA kind of all in one. And we have this annual Church Fair. We have the Casey's and the same air as society, which is the smallest part of the church. Is it true that an important part in a small community like this dizzy? I would say so, why would you say why is it so important that there is a lot of things that it wouldn't be started if it weren't because of the church like this gathering tonight here wouldn't be if it weren't started by the church is Oregon a society's the only reason you can feed for $2 the way we've had here tonight is because most of the banks are donated farmers are asked to bring three spring chicken cut up and City ladies are asked to bring a dollar a cake in $3. And most people do it quite freely. They don't ask any question is just like a big part of the the festivity you sell a chance on some of them. Yes, we do. Some of the articles are made by different members of the society. They knew donate them and we tell chances on them and their rapid off of the end of the evening dish towels are Afghan and we have raffle off a baby quilt and eventually during the course of the evening between the Bangor and we will be raffling off the rest of these articles that we sell chances on for the few people that participated in all of this we have maybe five six hundred people here in about 12 ladies. Just have to prepare all the goddamn food now, you know like my wife come over here yesterday, but I don't know what to do. If she was standing there till about nine 9:30 last night washing dishes while there's no need for that before 5 women tied up, you know CR250 women supposed to take my shift to do you think this is kind of traditional a festival as it is, I wouldn't say how many years and it's being looked forward to not so much. Just in our people but people coming here now tonight. I couldn't help but notice of all the people from love Westfield Strasburg cake with people from Napoleon King Tire and it's terrific. Strasburg is a lot more. Catholic then I've ever seen in any other place. And the people take their religion are very seriously. More than I've seen in most places. Jocelyn said that Strasburg shouldn't have two schools in my belief is they shouldn't because our community is marginal. but I think that the trend towards that that don't the reason of people that then they have till school's years because of the strict religion. And in having a Catholic High School and grade school on some of the people feel that that religious type of education is better and it's up to them. I mean people should send their kids to where they want so far. but I know that they all wanted to be educated because the older people realize that Without education nowadays their kids will amount to nothing. Was there an antagonism between the two schools? They got a big the school busing problem here that they're trying to get resolved. I wish they would resolve it. We've been through the gossip channels. We've lost people at the bank that used to be good customers here. Different things as it's it hurts. It hurts a small town. We just if everyone would get along regarding the schools. We wouldn't have a bit of problems here. You have Catholics and Catholics. As a matter of fact, it isn't true religion or anything that they're split their split because of ideas and it all comes down to the Everlasting dollar. the people on one side of the street say I'm not sending my kids to the Propel school cuz it cost too much and I'm already getting state aid to send my child to public school. deprofio people say we want funds from the u.s. And state government because we are taxpayers well, You know take away the dollar and you wouldn't have either one of the schools. That's exactly what it amounts to money. That is one thing that is really hurting this time. You think it will be resolved? I don't know. Being in business on Main Street, you just don't open your mouth. I'm I don't want to I don't make a comment. To which one of the schools is the best day I am. I don't care really. I know that. it's hurting the talent to a point now where if people want to move to Strasburg, they have to consider this which side of the fence you going to be on and that's why I just keep my mouth shut and if I want to send my children to the profil school if I'm paying for it. It's no one else's business. If I send them to the public school, it's nobody's business, but I think they'll still be able to survive because the Lord provides and we couldn't get along with just one and I'm sure we'll be too small and the funds aren't available to build a bigger Public School. It would mean higher taxes and the people really can't carry higher taxes because of the small income education has been around this area for a long time. if we ever let it go we'll never get it back so long as people are willing to Two supported in a countywide basis. I don't see any reason why we shouldn't continue. I believe certainly one big school and make our town happy and I think that a friendship again. Will you see that time? Do you think I looking forward I think and it's saying why matching but for years, I think it's going to change. Cost of tax title and tax stuff is hitting our private. I mean they're going to public school and the private they won't get refunds from the private for the private school anymore. And then I think they're going to pull up past because this can't continue with to school. So now he'll town like ours it's hard in the town in terms of people being mad at each other alive. It's hard that owns a business. I have four people driving away two different towns to shopping just through that cuz they get mad at me or at mad the other guy and you can say something. Any kind of favor both sides, you know how that works. So I got big friction woodworking. The schools will be grumbling about something else. It's just people that are hard to get long and hard to please leave all no matter what you talk about there. I was again something or everything, you know, I don't think this that's probably some friction and then there's some good also I mean so We have people coming from the Lenten kintyre out here. I mean from a big territory. They come here go to school here and then Sunday night with the church supper and all these people were here for this church supper. So you gain by that and then you lose on the next still lets you got your ups and downs. Strasburg North Dakota, our hometown one in a series of sound self-portraits illustrating the attitudes and character of life in small towns produced by Minnesota Public Radio station kccm with funds provided by the North Dakota committee for the Humanities and public issues. Producers of the series are John ydstie Dennis Hamilton and Bill Sebring. You may purchase a cassette copy of this program by contacting kccm, Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota 56560.


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