Carl was the first son of Julius and Emilie and he was given his father's first name as a middle name. His confirmation certificate states that he was born on November 19, 1878 and baptized on December 8 in Braunsforth, Kr. Saatzig, Germany. He was confirmed on September 25, 1892 in the Evangelical Church in Vehlingsdorf about 3 km (2 mi.) to the southeast.
Carl said that he had to walk about three miles to school, and in the winter they often got there by ice skating about a mile across the lake. These recollections suggest that the school may have been in Teschendorf and the lake was the Grosse Wuthschwin See.
One event in Carl's life in Germany is recalled in the letter written by Franz Koehler to August Maas (August's and Carl's cousin) in 1949. At about the age of 14, Carl broke his leg above the knee while wrestling with a friend. Franz mentions that he could still "see" Carl in bed in Braunsforth with a weight on his leg. Carl vividly remembered this event because the doctor didn't get the leg set properly. This required rebreaking the leg which he did without giving Carl any anesthetic. Carl said, "I could have hauled off and hit him when he did that."
Several of his children remember another time when Carl's leg was broken in an accident on the farm. This episode illustrates the incredible will power and courage that Carl was known to have. While fixing the evener between a team of horses and a hay wagon, the horses bolted dragging him under the wagon. The wagon wheel broke both bones below the knee in two places. This time when the doctor came to set his leg, Carl refused any anesthetic insisting that he could endure whatever pain there was. Carl then gripped the bed posts while the doctor pulled and set the broken leg.
Carl was 16 years old when he left his homeland for America with his parents, two brothers and three sisters. What an experience that must have been for a young man who had traveled very little while growing up in Braunsforth. Imagine what it must have been like to leave the only home you had ever known, your friends, and your country knowing you would probably never return. Surely there must have been many apprehensions about what lay ahead but at the same time much excitement about the new country. After all, two aunts and uncles, Carl and Wilhelmine Maass and Heinrich and Johanna Luedtke and many cousins had already gone to America and no doubt had written about their new lives and experiences. There must have been many decisions about what to take and what to leave.
The trip itself must have been a tremendous experience. First, there was the overland trip from Braunsforth to Bremen, a port on the River Weser southwest of Hamburg. We do not know how they traveled but they likely went by train most of the way. Imagine also a spring day in May when the family boarded the SS Oldenburg, a 5000-ton steamship, along with hundreds of other passengers for their two-week voyage across the Atlantic ocean.
After finally arriving in Baltimore, Maryland on May 31, 1895, they had to deal with the process of immigration and understanding people who spoke a foreign language. Next came the second overland trip across the Appalachian Mountains, through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and on to southern Minnesota.
Learning English at age 16 was no easy task especially if you had to spend most of your time working on the farm. But Carl mastered English very well. He once said that he thought he had finally made the transition from German to English when he started to dream in English.
Carl lived with his family on a farm near Walnut Grove until 1903 when he married Hermine Rieck. The young couple then moved north to Garfield, Minnesota where they began farming. In 1904 their first child, "Willie," was born. Sadly, their second son, Fritz, only lived four months. Marie, Margaret, and Emma were also born there before the family moved back to Redwood County in the spring of 1912.
On April 11, 1912, Carl bought a 240 acre farm from S.E. Anderson and Gust Cedar for $10,500. The farmstead was located eight miles north of Walnut Grove in the SE 1/4 of Section 7, Township 110, Range 38, about one-half mile northwest of his parent's farm. The farm land also included the N1/2 of the NE 1/4 of Section 18. This photo of the family in front of the farm house was taken in the fall of 1912 or spring of 1913.
(Click on photo for larger image)
Walter, who was born in April 1913, said he was in the picture too, but just not visible yet. Two years later, another son was born but heartbreak occurred again when little Carl died two months after he was born.
Carl and his brothers always had the urge to seek out new lands. In the early 1900's they traveled all the way to western North Dakota to find new opportunities. But things weren't always what they seemed. While looking out over the open prairies around Beach, they asked the owner if those were sheep on the hill in the distance. "No," he said, "they are rocks." They quickly decided that they didn't want to buy land they had to look for under rocks.
But in 1922, the West called again. So Carl and his family, which now also included Otto, Herbert, Fred and Leona, packed up and moved to Millarton, North Dakota where he purchased 320 acres for $12,800. During the next year Carl started looking for a new farm with a large house to raise their family. He didn't have to look far and in November 1923 he bought nearly a section of land near Sydney. With its large, two-story, stone block house and the huge barn, the Maas Farm became a family gathering place for the next 19 years.
Although there were many happy memories of life on the farm, tragedy continued to strike the Carl Maas family. In February 1923, Margaret suddenly became ill and spent the next three months in the Trinity Hospital in Jamestown. When she finally came home she weighed less than 65 pounds and had to learn to walk again. The illness, which years later was believed to be polio, left her handicapped all her life. Bill lost his arm in an accident while working with a hoist on a construction project. In 1933, Otto died at age 15 from leukemia and six years later Herbert died at age 19 from a brain tumor.
In 1942 Carl and Hermine moved again, to a farm just six miles northwest of Jamestown, North Dakota. This farm was two miles south of Walter's farm. Walter helped his dad farm the half section of land until 1948 when Carl and Hermine decided it was time to retire in Jamestown. But even in retirement, they had to move again when the house they lived in on Tenth Street SE was sold to make room for Jamestown Plumbing and Heating's new commercial building. They moved for the last time in 1949 to 315 Fourth Avenue SE, Jamestown. Carl died on November 24, 1949. Hermine died 14 years later on February 24, 1964.
-- Gene Maas (grandson)
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August was the fourth child born to Julius and Emilie Maas. His German birth certificate states that he was born at home in Braunsforth, Germany on August 23, 1885 at 4:30 p.m. Julius registered the birth with the Registrar at Vehlingsdorff on August 27. A copy of the birth certificate was issued on April 21, 1895 just before the family sailed for America that year. He was baptized at the Evangelical Church in Vehlingsdorf, Germany and confirmed at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Johnsonville Township, Redwood County, Minnesota on March 31, 1901 by Pastor Meineke.
The family had lived in a dorf (village) in Germany where Julius, August's father, was head shepherd and the family was provided a house, food, wool and flax to make their clothing, and some salary by the "Herr" who owned the land. Emilie brought her spinning wheel along to America. Germany had conscription laws which required all males to take military training. This was possibly one reason for coming to America. Besides, America was the land of opportunity where they could own land.
August came to America with his parents, three sisters and two brothers at the age of nine, arriving at Baltimore, Maryland on May 31, 1895. The trip across the Atlantic Ocean must have seemed long for the children. August talked about playing on the deck of the ship and chasing his brother Frank who was five years old. Then the family made the long trip by land, probably traveling by train to Minnesota Lake, south of Mankato, Minnesota, where uncles and aunts and cousins awaited them. After two years, Julius and Emilie and family moved to Johnsonville Township in Redwood County about nine miles north and one mile east of Walnut Grove, Minnesota.
August worked as a hired man at the Henry Steffen farm near Sanborn, Minnesota where he met Clara Engelmeier. They were married at Sanborn on June 12, 1912. August bought a 160-acre farm just across the road from his parents' farm. He brought Clara from Sanborn by buggy to the farm place which had a small pink house with metal siding. In 1920, August built a large two-story modern farm house with plumbing and a Delco light plant to furnish electricity for his bride. He later bought another 160-acre farm about four miles east of the home place. In 1943, he bought a 240-acre farm one mile west which Paul later farmed. Ernest is farming the home place. There are many happy memories of family gatherings at the farm home, plus relative visits as Emilie lived with August and Clara from 1921 to 1932.
August and his brothers had a threshing ring and threshed for eight neighborhood farmers. They first bought a 1911 Mogul gas engine tractor and a wooden separator which they moved from one farm to another. Later a Titan tractor was purchased and then a cross-motor Case tractor and Case separator. Harvesting and threshing was hard work with all in the family helping with cutting and shocking the oats, wheat, and barley. It was also an exciting time on the farm with 12 to 15 workers hauling bundles to the thresher by wagon and horses, taking grain to the elevator by horse and wagon, and running the tractor and threshing machine. Three meals a day and two lunches were cooked and served to the workers, so the whole family was involved. Five children were born to August and Clara: Ella in 1913, Esther in 1916, Paul in 1917, Myrtle in 1922, and Ernest in 1926. At present (1989) the descendants include 15 grandchildren, 24 great grandchildren, and two great great grandchildren.
August was active in church and civic affairs and held positions as Clerk of Johnsonville Township for many years, School Board member of District #59, Redwood County, ASC Officer in Redwood County, surveyor, and Church Council member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Johnsonville Township.
August enjoyed traveling and they made trips to Illinois, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and California, often by pulling a travel trailer. In 1951, August and Clara bought a house in Walnut Grove and retired from farming, but he continued to help both Paul and Ernest on the farm.
August died March 25, 1959 of a heart attack. Clara died September 13, 1962 of stomach cancer. Their son Paul died November 23, 1976 of a cancerous tumor of the brain.
- Esther Gatzlaff (daughter)
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After her family got to Minnesota, they lived near Minnesota Lake for a time and then moved to a farm in Johnsonville Township, Redwood County, Minnesota. She married Gustave Steffen in 1910 and they lived on a farm near Sanborn, Minnesota.
Their first son, Erwin, was born August 8, 1911 and died six days later. Their son, Arnold, was born November 4, 1912 and Allen on February 9, 1914. Raymond was born October 28, 1916. The only daughter, Verna, was born September 20, 1919.
They moved to the village of Sanborn about 1918 and back to the Steffen farm in 1926 where they lived until they retired in 1943. The years on the farm bring back many memories of Maas family gatherings with big Sunday dinners.
After retiring, Hattie spent many hours at her hobby of crocheting. She crocheted many tablecloths, doilies, etc. They also enjoyed playing cards and visiting relatives and friends.
One of the saddest days of her life was when her son, Arnold, died in 1954 at the age of 41. Gustave died August 10, 1960 at the age of 81. Hattie suffered a slight stroke in the spring of 1969 and entered the Revere Nursing Home in May where she remained until she died February 8, 1972.
-- Verna Leopold (daughter)
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Frank, christened Franz Wilhelm Julius Maass, was born in Braunsforth, Germany on March 15, 1890. He came to America with his parents, two brothers, and three sisters in 1895. At that age he could hardly have had many memories of Germany, but he did speak of his trip to the new land. One memory he related was about his new boots that had been bought for him in Germany. It was of great concern that they arrived with the rest of the family belongings.
The Julius Maas family moved from Minnesota Lake to the Johnsonville Township farm seven miles south of Lucan and nine miles north of Walnut Grove, Minnesota in 1897. This farm was to be the home of Frank Maas for the rest of his life.
In 1917, he married Martha Wandersee and, with his bride, operated the original Julius Maas farm until his death in 1943. During his relatively short life of 53 years, he was a provider, husband and father for a family that endured depression and drought but found joy in living. On April 1, 1918, Albert was born and thereby became number one of a family that was to include Arthur, Mildred, Erwin, Marcella, Marjorie, Edward, and Ruth.
Frank would rather have gone to school for higher education than to be limited to farming as a life's work. Lack of time and resources made this impossible but did not stop his search for information. He was an avid reader and came to grips with books and other reading material that broadened his horizons greatly.
Fun in life for Frank meant hunting and fishing. He spent many enjoyable hours with friends hunting deer in Northern Minnesota, or hunting pheasants in the fields and meadows around home. Trips to the lake were also frequent, sometimes with friends and sometimes with the family.
When the new-fangled thing called a radio came on the scene, he acquired one. The power came from an assortment of batteries that needed to be attached to various places on the radio. It had an assortment of dials and switches which, when correctly set and adjusted, brought the magic of voices and music into the earphones. This new-fangled device made it possible for Frank, and neighbors who had gathered at the time, to listen to a broadcast description of the Tunney-Dempsey boxing match.
In 1943, while working with the threshing rig, Frank suffered an attack which later proved to be caused by a brain tumor. In September of that year, Frank was the first of the four Maas brothers to be called home to heavenly rest. He is buried in the Trinity Lutheran Church Cemetery in Johnsonville Township, Minnesota. Since that time he has been joined by his wife, Martha, and one son, Erwin.
-- Albert Maas (son)
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Bill Maas was born on July 17, 1904 in Douglas County near Garfield, Minnesota. "Willie," as his parents called him, was the first of 11 children born to Carl and Hermine Maas. About twelve years later, he and his three sisters moved with their parents to a farm near Walnut Grove in Redwood County, Minnesota. After leaving the farm, Bill worked for a general contractor putting up commercial buildings until he lost his arm in an unfortunate accident with a hoist. Bill decided to buy a grocery store in Sydney, North Dakota since he couldn't continue working in construction anymore. He wasn't short an arm for long, though; soon he gained two more... those of his new wife, Ann. Settled in their new store, Ann and Bill not only started a business but a family as well.
On a stormy March night in 1937, the roads blocked with snow, Bill rushed Ann to Jamestown. He was rewarded with a little baby boy they named Raymond. Ray was followed a few years later by his sisters Gladys and Judy.
Back then telephones were on a "Party Line" and anyone who picked up their receiver could "rubber in" on every conversation. Every phone had its own code. To call the Maas store in Sydney, one would turn the crank for one long ring to get the Jamestown operator, ask for line fourteen, ring one long, two shorts and chances are you would reach a member of the Maas family.
The Maas Store was an important asset for the farming community. Besides providing neighbors for miles around with groceries, hardware, and gasoline, it also served as the local post office. Bill served as the postmaster which made it easy for Ray to address mail home from college. He knew it would arrive at the correct destination addressed only to "Dad, Sydney, ND."
Every fall, Bill and Ray would drive into Valley City to pick up 50 and 100 pound bags of flour at the local mill. They would deliver them directly to their neighbors. Vinegar was stored in big 55 gallon drums for refilling pickling jars. Sunshine cookies also came in bulk, sold by the pound as were jelly beans. Bill had his own way of stocking goods. He classified many products by price, even after the prices changed, so there was always ten cent mustard even though it was nineteen cents!
Most sales were on credit. The customers would bring in their family receipt/invoice book. At the end of the month, Bill would add up the receipts, total the books and invoice his customers. Farmers could bring in their eggs for payment on account. To stay competitive in the egg business, Bill would check the Chicago market each day. This allowed him to stay one day ahead of the competition (Peterson Bidick) in Jamestown. By doing this he managed to get the egg contract for the State Hospital.
Before Bill built the dairy cooler, the only cream bought was sour cream. The family got fresh dairy products only on trade when they took the sour cream to the Bridgeman Russell Creamery. Ray remembers going to school with pop and candy along with his sandwich, so he always counted himself lucky!
Besides the groceries, Bill also had the Case implement dealership, keeping a stock of parts and equipment in the garage west of the store, and selling tractors to friends and family. He also sold Sunbeam mixers, toasters and other appliances. During the War, he collected scrap iron and more surprisingly lard! which was used by the munitions industry.
Every morning around 9 o'clock and every afternoon at 4 o'clock, the Midland train would stop at Sydney, a stone's throw from the store. Sometimes, the store's hardware supplies came up by rail from Aberdeen, South Dakota but usually Bill and Ray would drive to Jackson Hardware for an assortment of nuts, bolts, washers, screws, hinges, snaps for harnesses, belt dressing and alligator splicers, and hundreds of sickle mower blades.
In the winter Ray would shovel the snow away from the front steps around the Standard Oil gas pump. In those days you really did "pump" the gasoline. A handle was worked back and forth by hand to deliver gasoline from the underground tank. Ray would also bring coal in from the garage and bank the coals so they'd have heat 'till morning. His special projects were taking inventory and doing the counting and pricing. Judy and Gladys helped Ann with the domestic chores and waited on customers in the Store.
By virtue of being the only public building in Sydney, the Maas store was the main gathering spot. The Homemakers Club met there every month. The women had their meeting while the men played pinochle. If anyone was sick and couldn't get his crops in, the neighbors would meet at the store to make plans to help out on a Sunday. It was an impressive sight to see twenty or more tractors all lined up to help a neighbor. The Standard Oil man from Millarton would bring his bulk truck, filling up the tractors so the job could be done in one day.
The family had a big garden to the west of the store where they grew vegetables and planted their 4-H projects. One of Bill's goals for his kids was 4-H. There wasn't a 4-H Club in Sydney, so Bill started his own. Bill's club won a number of national 4-H awards for livestock judging in Kansas City. Two of the three judges representing North Dakota were from Bill's club. Earl Redman came in first and Keith Brown, third. Earl and Keith were trained by their county agent Merril Burke. One of Ray's projects was electricity. So you might find him in the cellar with the sixteen two-volt glass-cased batteries that were charged by a 32-volt gas generator. The batteries supplied the store's and household's electrical needs. Before rural electrification, everything was 32-volt except for the refrigerator which ran on kerosene! The Herman Walters family, who lived at the Midland railway depot next door, had one of the first television sets in the area. Although the picture was horrible, everyone would come over for the Friday night fights sponsored by Gillette.
Although money was tight, Bill always managed to buy a new pickup truck every two years. He'd trade in his old pickup at Melland's for a brand new International. Then James Kirkpatrick would paint the Maas Store sign on the doors. Mr. Kirkpatrick later became a nationally known western painter.
Bill enjoyed taking the family out for Sunday drives. The five of them would crowd into the front seat of the pickup and go to Crystal Springs, look at crops, or go to his brother Walt's farm where there'd always be a crowd of relatives visiting or working. Walt let Ray have the use of a plot of land for his 4-H and FFA projects. It was on Walt's farm that Ray met Charlotte Letcher whom he later married. They had both worked on the farm in the summer saving money for college.
Bill died August 3, 1961 from a heart attack, but not before seeing his son marry and give him a grandson; that's me!
-- Craig Maas (grandson)
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Walter was born on April 4, 1913 on the farm just north of Walnut Grove, Minnesota and he could truly say he was born in "the little house on the prairie." Although he only lived there the first nine years of his life, Walter vividly remembered his childhood home. He recalled going with his older brother Bill on his trapping line on the Cottonwood Creek, walking across the field to his uncle August's place, attending school at Public School No. 59, and going to church at Trinity Lutheran, the little country church a couple of miles to the east. One event that literally had a very strong impact on Walter was when he fell out of the hayloft of the barn. He was so embarrassed that he quickly got up and ran back in the barn so that no one would see him. He didn't realize until many years later that he had broken his neck in the fall.
The move to North Dakota in 1922 meant the beginning of a new age for Walter. There were many things to be done on the new farm and he was expected to pitch in and work. As time went on he spent more and more time working in the fields, often at the expense of school. His father thought students wasted too much time in school and often kept the kids home for a month at a time to help out during spring planting. This was more than Walter could handle and he failed the eighth grade, somewhat deliberately, he said, so he could return to school the next fall. Besides, he kind of had a crush on the teacher.
Eventually it was the Meidinger girls living down the road who captured his interest. He especially was attracted to Lydia, a quiet but pretty young girl. Walter loved to talk and Lydia was the perfect listener. It wasn't too long before they decided to get married and on September 25, 1935 they eloped to Aberdeen, South Dakota. Now Walter knew that his father would never approve of this rash decision so he and Lydia went back to their respective homes hoping to keep their marriage a secret. When the word finally got out, Walter and Lydia moved to Jamestown where they bought a little house on "Tin Can Alley." It was here that Eugene and Duane were born. The family was outgrowing the little house in the west end so Walter and Lydia bought a new home in a better neighborhood. Just in time too, because in August 1941, Donna was born.
But times were tough and Walter still had farming in his blood. In the spring of 1942, Walter and Lydia bought a farm on the Pipestem Creek about nine miles northwest of Jamestown. The house wasn't much to look at but the barn was one of the biggest in the area. As the family grew -- Marvin and Ronald arrived in 1944 and 1946 -- so did the house when Walter added a two-story addition, indoor plumbing, and a full basement. When the Rural Electrification Administration lines brought electricity to the farm, the noisy gas generator and the banks of batteries in the basement were finally hauled out.
Over the years the farming operation grew too, as rented land was added increasing the total farmed area to over 1500 acres. Livestock included dairy cows, a herd of registered Herefords, sheep, and hogs. Some of the steers fattened in the feedlot provided beef for Jamestown College and helped pay Gene's tuition.
In the Spring of 1950, the greatest flood of the Pipestem in 50 years occurred which flooded the granaries. Old timers said they had never seen the likes of it before and probably wouldn't again, but two weeks after the river receded a very wet snow caused it to flood again just as high as before. The fifties provided other surprises too, some good and some not. On April 27, 1952, Lydia finally got her second daughter, Carol. On July 24, 1952, a tornado from the southwest roared through the farm and the family headed for the basement. When it was over, the roof on the big barn was gone but thankfully, the house remained and everyone was okay.
The Maas farm was a favorite gathering place for the clan on Sundays. It wasn't unusual for 15 to 20 uncles, aunts and cousins to visit unannounced. Fortunately there was always another chicken to fry and potatoes in the cellar. Of course it was great fun for all the Maas kids.
The Maas farm was also a popular place for nieces and nephews to work during the summer. Nearly every year after school let out, one or more of our cousins would join us to help put up hay, cultivate corn, work the summer fallow, and harvest the crops. The girls would help Lydia around the house with all the baking, cooking, and cleaning that needed to be done.
Walter thrived on helping others and he and Lydia also opened their home to troubled kids from town when their parents needed a place to keep them busy and out of trouble.
With time, though, the Maas kids grew up and started to move away. Somehow farming by himself just didn't have the attraction it had when Walter could watch four or five tractors heading out to the fields. Perhaps it was just as well that the U.S. Corps of Engineers decided to build a flood control dam on the Pipestem. So in 1972, Walter and Lydia left thirty memorable years on the farm behind them and moved back to Jamestown. Now all that remains is the site where the house stood and the hills surrounding the beautiful river valley. All the rest lies under many feet of water.
Walter didn't have time to rest, however. Before long he was as involved in buying and managing apartments as he had been in farming. One thing bothered Walter, however, all his boys were talking computers and he started feeling left out. Since he often said you can't learn any younger, he bought a computer at age 72 and astonished everyone by how quickly he learned to operate it and even write programs for it. But age was never a handicap for Walter. A day seldom went by when he wasn't looking for new opportunities. At age 75 when most men have retired, Walter started a new plumbing business in Jamestown. He had lots of plans too for this exciting new venture, but on March 8, 1989 he died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack.
-- Gene Maas (son)
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Herbert was known for his quick wit and for being the tallest of the Maas boys. He was six feet tall by the age of 12 and already was expected to work like a man. However, Herbert wasn't about to let anyone take advantage of him. When a few hired men on the threshing crew thought they would have some fun with him by getting him to run all their errands, he quipped, "What do you think I am, a jack rabbit with a red cap on"?
Herbert worked on the family farm at Sydney until 1938 when he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps at Middle River, Minnesota. He had a keen interest in electrical motors and became self taught in the technique of rewinding armatures. But just when it looked like he had his whole life ahead of him he was stricken with a brain tumor. Despite the best medical care available at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, there was nothing that could be done. In 1939, at the age of 19, Herbert succumbed to the tumor.
Gene Maas (nephew)
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Margaret was born at home on March 25, 1909 on her parents farm at Ida in Douglas County, Minnesota. At the age of three, her parents moved to a farm in Redwood County, about nine miles north of Walnut Grove, MN. In 1922 the family moved to Millarton, ND where she became critically ill in February of 1923. Doctors only expected her to live a few days at the most. The disease wasn't positively diagnosed, but doctors called it a type of sleeping sickness. After three months in Trinity Hospital at Jamestown, she was brought home on a stretcher unable to walk. A nurse took care of her at the house for several weeks. Margaret learned to walk again, but the illness left her handicapped for the rest of her life. Years later it was thought that she probably had had polio. She continued to live at home with her parents and on February 19, 1953, she died suddenly at the age of 43.
Gene Maas (nephew)
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