Coming Together in America


To assist the reader in understanding this period of time, it becomes necessary to describe for you the early history of Millerville-a series of events, dates and names which will play an important role in the development of the area and its people.

The parish of Millerville was started in the year 1867 by the Rev. Francis X Pierz. He said his first Mass at the home of John A. Miller, leader of the first German settlers, after whom the town was named. The little mission was then named Seven Dolors of O' Chippewa station. He would marry, baptize and counsel the Catholics of the area before moving on. Mrs. Miller donated 40 acres to the Church for buildings: the church, school, rectory and cemetery.

The first church was built of hewn oak logs in 1868. The name Millerville was first mentioned in 1876 at which time there was only one resident pastor in Douglas County, namely the Millerville pastor, Father James E. Schneider with two missions, one at Osakis and the other at Belle Prairie.

The second church was built in 1883 under the administration of the Rev. P. Edward Ginther, O. S. B. It was a frame construction with the seating capacity of 400. Later it became the parish hall after the construction of the basement church in 1922.

The first parish house was built in 1873. The Rev. Ignatius Tomazin was then pastor. At the same time he lived in Millerville, he also took care of Elizabeth, Breckenridge and Perham. The first parochial school was built of logs and formed a wing to the first church in 1881. The sisters of St. Benedict's taught at this school. The next school building was of brick and erected under the administration of Rev. Ignatius Wippich in 1913.

The following is a listing of the priests who served the parish through its formative years: 1867-71 Father Pierz; 1871-74 the Rev. Tomazin who was the first to leave records of baptisms, marriages, etc. at Millerville. 1877-81 Rev. James Hilbert; 1882-88 Rev. P. Thomas Borgerding, O. S. B. ; 1888-95 Rev. Ginther (second time); 1895-1899 Otto Wiest (buried in Millerville cemetery); 1899-1905 Rev. Alois Raster; 190540 Rev. J. B. Brender; 1910-21 Rev. Wippich; and from 1921-1930 Rev. Victor Siegler.

Some of the early settlers were: John A. Miller, Frank Weber, John Buscher, Nick Hockert, Joseph Wagner, George Dobmeyer, Joseph Hopfner, Wolfgang Zwack, Joseph Lorsung, and August Wilm all German. The Irish included John, Math and Patrick Kelly, the Mullen's and Lanigan families. Among the Polish were Constance Cichy John Freske, and August Koeplin. The Slavonians included Joseph Stariha and Matt Kotschevar. Until 1921, the language used for the sermon was German.

My parents were married in 1878 at the Catholic Church in Millerville by the Rev. James Hilbert. Dad became Catholic "as a requirement for parental consent." My mother was glad to get away from her domineering father. Her wedding dowry was a horse named Fritz (which later became a lap robe) and 40 acres of land (east of Johnny's farm). They lived in a log house about 1000 feet west of our present brick house (section 34, Millerville twp. , Douglas County).

Around 1888, the folks decided to build our present brick house. This house was the first of three brick homes to be built in the area-the others are Uncle John's across the road from us and Fred Meissner's to the east of us.

My sister Carrie was just a baby at the time. Ma's sister, Aunt Emma Kotschevar's husband had recently passed away leaving her with two daughters, Ann (Lorsung) and baby Barbara (Pischke). So she came to live with my mother who at this time had four kids of her own. She did the extra housework, fed the carpenters, and in the afternoon, she went out to mix mortar. She was so determined "to get ahead" and to have a beautiful home again with oak floors and plastered walls after living in a log shack with dirt floor for the past 18 years.

My mother's mother trained her children to walk erect by placing a book on their head; instructing them to be the very best! This fierce pride was ingrained in all her offspring. This house brought back happy memories of her youth in Germany. Annie, Willie, Johnny, and Carrie were born in the log house while Della, Carl and I (Laura) were born in the new house.

Our family home is a two-story brick structure formed in the shape of a "T". The top of the T has a smaller living room on the north half with a large bay window facing east. A larger living room was south of this room and this room was used for entertaining. The furnishings included a Victorian love seat with matching chairs, several oak rockers and a piano. The first floor covering was a large braid rug. The leg of the T was a large 16' x 18' kitchen containing the wood stove and a large oak table and chairs.

The upstairs contained three large bedrooms and one small bedroom called "the little room. " The west room was the largest and this is where Willie, Johnny and Carl slept and also where the threshers slept on straw ticks. The "little room" was the warmest because it had the one outside wall. Della and I had this room while Annie and Carrie had the southeast room. My parents slept in the north room. (Included below is a diagram to help understand what I've just said). The left diagram is of the original floor plan. The diagram to the right is for the remodeled plan. The house was so very cold and dad's furnace worked so poorly that I had them move the kitchen to the east where there was a basement underneath and divided the room so that we also had a dining room. The large bay window was taken out of the small living room and that room became a guest bedroom. Both floor plans show the house facing the main road north as you remembered it "from your younger days. " The basement walls were 2' square hand chiseled stone held together with mortar. These walls are still perfect today, no cracking or chipping visible.

Dad heated the house with a "Bovee" wood furnace and hot water radiators. However, the furnace never warmed the house sufficiently, especially the kitchen area which had no basement beneath because it housed the cistern which held the rain water for washing clothes and bodies. All winter long I would sit on my legs to keep them warm.

Later, Dad built a summer kitchen (a lean-to) onto the house, just south of the regular kitchen. In those days most farm places had summer kitchens and often built them away from the main house. It had a door on the east side and an open platform porch on the west. The south wall had cupboards and above them, Ma would have large round wheels of the best homemade cheese. The main reason for a summer kitchen was to keep the rest of the house cooler during the hot summers. The cook stove was constantly fired with wood and gave off a tremendous amount of heat-it was going from early morning till late at night for meals, baking bread, heating up wash water and there was always the whistling tea kettle of water ready for an emergency. The tea kettle would build up with iron inside from the hard water and it would need to be chiseled out or a mixture of soda and vinegar was put in and then boiled up.

I would be asked to "go git" wood from the wood shed which was in another building northwest of the house. It had three divisions: a sort of garage or work shop on the south, an ice house on the north and the wood shed in the middle. One of Ma's neighbor ladies came over for a visit. She had so many humorous stories to tell and the way she told them. She wore a shawl around her shoulders and she kept pulling this shawl right and left and throwing her arms up in the air and talking excitedly while pacing the floor. I would have to laugh to myself so hard, and I was ashamed to do so in front of her, so I would go out to the shed for wood and laugh myself out and then return with a few pieces of wood. This continued all afternoon. Needless to say enough wood was carried in that day.

I was too young to remember the barn (1900) being built or who built it. There was a man by the name of Neitzel who built the granary some years later, so maybe he constructed it. The barn was all timber, 24' x 60' with a hip roof and a large hay loft. The hay was lifted by slings to a carrier which deposited the hay in the loft. The cattle and horses were in rows the short way across. Dad had a manure carrier installed and the "pile" was formed on the east side. The west side had a 12' x 60' lean-to, open on both ends for machine storage. As I was growing up, my brothers and sisters held barn dances up in the hay loft. The floor became very smooth from the hay being pushed around and I often skated up there when I went to gather eggs (hens loved to hide them). So the floor was ideal for dances.

In later years we milked but eight cows. After milking, we had to carry the milk to the summer kitchen where we separated it. The cream went into a smaller can and the separate milk into larger pails. This was then fed to the hogs and some was saved for cottage cheese and occasionally for "shtink kaess". Whole milk was saved for drinking and cooking and the cream was cooled and stored in a water cooler in the pump house. The house cream and butter (which was hand churned), plus the house milk was kept in the ice house. I was the "go-for" for Ma when she need something and to take it back again. I can, to this day, still taste the buttermilk from the churn, the thick sour milk sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon on bread and the fresh cooled milk and peanut butter sandwiches for supper. We fully enjoyed the simple pleasures we found in everyday life.

The granary (approximately 1910) was built by Neitzel and was a very sturdy building. It was constructed as an elevator, a two-story building 22' x 40' with one large bin on either side holding about 2000 bushels each. The bins had three sides of the floor sloping towards the center where the grain dropped into an elevator shoe. The shoe was in the center section of the granary which also housed the grain shoots for sacking grain when sold.

A windmill was erected from the center room to power the elevator. Four huge wooden beams 35' long provided the main support. On top of the roof was a platform just beneath the wind mill machinery. Pearl and I crawled up there to watch fireworks one 4th of July in Millerville. To get up there, we had to climb the ladder, then crawl out of a side window and reach backwards and upwards to reach this platform. It was very tricky and scary procedure and I still cringe when I think back today.

From the fans, a long wooden tail (beam) stuck out which turned the blades in the wind. Below in the middle room was the brake to stop it from rotating after a job had been completed, or in case it was too windy (to keep it from flying apart). The mill was also used to grind grain, pump water and saw wood. Lightning struck the tail several times, perhaps because of the iron rods supporting it, but it never damaged the mill or granary.


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