German Lutherans

They came six, seven and eight miles in horse-drawn wagons and buggies - the Wilkes, Behms, Retzlaffs, Leiningers, Steffens, Luchts and Rotherts to the Church school house (1901, Clearfield Township) to their German Lutheran worship service for spiritual uplifting, fellowship and visiting.  Rev. C.H. Lueker was their first pastor.  They worshiped there as conditions permitted until Zion Lutheran (Missouri Synod) Church was built and dedicated in 1909, a mile west of the school on the Rothert homestead.  All services were conducted in German by the pastor, as was the Sunday school and the congregation remained and listened.  They also had summer school.  It was this way until the pastor's duties became heavier and the Sunday school larger, then little by little changes were made.  Here baptisms, confirmations, weddings (usually at home or parsonage) and funeral services were performed even as now.

The Christmas program was a real delight and joy.  There we were dressed in our Christmas clothes and hair well combed to sing the carols and speak our German pieces.  Sometimes a boy or girl could sing well enough to sing alone.  The large tree was trimmed with glittering tinsel, colored glass balls and lighted with wax candles.  Each was given a sack of candy and nuts.

Toward the middle 1900's, families took turns inviting the congregation to their homes after services.  This was before potluck and the host family fed the entire group.  The day was pleasantly spent playing outdoor games and visiting before people had to find their way home to begin another week of work.  About now the use of the German language was lessening.

Neighborhood children attended the one-room Church school guided by a teacher who was first to arrive mornings, do the janitor work and have the school room in order for twenty-eight or thirty bobbing heads of all ages, grades and capacities, to whom she was to impart knowledge.  The dedication and devotion of the rural schoolteacher has not been compared.  At the end of the school day we all trudged home.

At home each had his or her chores to do, supper, study hour, to bed and how secure we were.  Mothers were very busy and my mother was no exception, keeping her house, family fed, clothes in order, checking children's memory work and on and on.  Long winter evenings were spent serving by kerosene lamplight.  There were special days, too.  Birthdays meant a birthday cake and a better dinner.

Christmas preparation was so exciting, decorating the house, extra touch ups, like frosting on cookies, some homemade candy and always homemade ice cream.  Christmas Eve we children had to retire early to be rested Christmas morning.  We'd waken to a tree trimmed with all tinsel ornaments, tinsel rope, cookies and candy tied on and finally finished with colored wax candles, which we'd watch in wonder as they were lighted evenings.  We fared very well with presents; our grandparents lived close by, also.  On

New Year's Eve the candles were lighted the last time.  A dinner during vacation at the Colvin house and another day at our house was a must.

Our family was not musical; however, my mother had an organ that was played by those who came to visit.  Everyone joined in singing patriotic songs and hymns, the enjoyable entertainment of those times.

With the passing of the era, the torch is being carried by the younger generation, a bit differently but in the same tradition.

Evelyn Rothert

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 46

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