North Dakota, my Grandfather, Lambert Miller

Lambert came over with his eldest, married brother in 1899. Lambert was 18 years old and too young to claim land. He wouldn’t be able to claim until he was 21 years old. He is on the 1900 North Dakota census as brother of Balzar in Stutsman County outside Bismarck.

In 1900 he married Katherine (Folk – Volk) in Bismarck. He is listed with his wife Kate on the Jefferson County 1910 census with five of their eleven children including my father Wilhelm (William).

Lambert and Katherine Miller
Grandma and Grandpa (Lambert and Katherine) Miller

Their determination and back-breaking work has no comprehension in today’s immigration requirements. Imagine no towns, villages or cities and barren tightly bound ‘prairie wool’ land with no machinery other than a plow pulled by a horse or oxen to break it. Think of no modern conveniences such as hydro, running water or furnaces. They often built one room sod huts to house their numerous children since there were no trees in many areas. The children all worked from an early age in what would be considered child abuse by today’s standards. They would wash clothes using a scrub-board and gathering wood and kindling then putting it into a stove to make the oven temperature ‘just right’. My ancestors were fabulous cooks. I will never understand the talent it would require to be so. From cookies that melted in your mouth to strudels and kuchen and ‘home-made’ sausage I can honestly say that the food my grandmother, my aunts and my mother created was the tastiest food I ever had in my life.

Grandma and Grandpa Miller
Grandma and Grandpa Miller

The livestock had to be fed daily – in the darkness or the freezing temperatures of winter. To neglect them was not an option if you wanted to eat. There were no grocery stores and you had to live on whatever food you raised or grew.

Now many people idealize this way of life – thinking it both simple and romantic. It is my belief there are very, very few people today that wouldn’t starve to death and fail. They wouldn’t have a clue of where to start from absolutely ‘nothing’. Yet our ancestors not only managed to survive – but they built their homes, churches and schools. They created prosperous fields and clean towns in barren lands. I hope and pray that their morals, principals and knowledge will continue into the future.

Letters from ‘Der Staats-Anzeiger’ – a German newspaper published in Bismarck, North Dakota says Lambert moved to Canada in 1914. Lambert Miller is listed in the Maple Creek 1916 Census. He is listed with Kate/wife and seven of his eleven children.

Lambert is also listed in letters as one of the people involved in building a Catholic Church in Neuliebenthal, Saskatchewan and then as one of the Trustees.

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