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
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
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
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
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
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.