This story is taken from a family book about my great-grandparents. It is taken word for word from the original. I find history so interesting, and my own more so. I hope you enjoy!
In the fall of 1897, Gertrude and Katherine set out for Prince Albert, Saskatchewan to look for work. This city was one of the most northern outposts of the territories at that time. It had become a "flourishing" trading center as well as a post for the police forces. The two young women traveled with a caravan of wagons loaded with wheat which was to be ground into flour in the city. It was a distance of 60 miles and the trip took two days. The scenery was lovely with the tall evergreen and many poplars on both sides of the trail but it was an uncomfortable trip. Mosquitoes nearly "ate them up", and made the trip miserable for the travelers as well as the animals.
The night spent en route was also a unique experience for the two girls. The men just rolled up on a blanket under the wagons, but one of the drivers thought the girls would be more comfortable in the wagon. He unloaded a few bags of grain to make room for them there and gave them some horse blankets. So they were quite warm and comfortable that night under the stars.
In the morning the girls were awakened with a call to breakfast. They had nothing with them for this meal, but the men offered them some of their coffee and bread and so they had a good meal.
The wagons arrived in Prince Albert at noon. The grain was taken to the mills, but what were the two girls to do? Where were they to go?
Some of the drivers went to the brewery where the situation of the two girls was related. A man working at this place had a mother living nearby, and so he took Gertrude and Katherine to his mother's home. This woman was very friendly to them and gave them a delicious supper. Later on she gave the girls a bed upstairs and in the morning tried to help them look for jobs.
After breakfast, the two girls set out, going from house to house, asking for a position in the home. Katherine obtained one fairly soon at the home of a Davis family, a butcher. Mrs. Davis told them that her sister, who had just had a baby, was in need of help. Upon going there, they found that they were too late - another girl had just been hired.
Somewhat discouraged, the returned to the Davis home and were told that a brewer, Mr. Wiedermann, had sent a message that he wanted one of the girls to work for them. In this way, Gertrude also got a position. The two sisters worked for almost two years in Prince Albert.
Helen, who up till now was will working at the Davidson home in Duck Lake, now also came up to Prince Albert and obtained a position. The boys, Uncle Max and Uncle Ernst were at home on the farm and during the slack season did some extra work in the mill in Rosthern. They would also help other farmers in return for work on their land. Uncle John was able to attend school at this time and stayed with a Dyck family.
Later when these three sisters - Helen, Gertrude and Katherine - were on route to Kansas, they stopped off at Gretna and walked out to Nueanlage to see old Mrs. Klaasssen at whose home they had briefly stayed before going to Rosthern. The son, Diedrich, took them to Halbstadt to visit a cousin, Kate Klaassen from Tiefengrund, who had married Peter Friesen. A few hours later, the three sisters were on a train to Kansas.
About a month later, grandmother received a letter from Diedrich Klaassen, asking for the hand of Katherine in marriage. Both said yes and soon thereafter, Diedrich Klaassen came to Kansas. On January 3, 1901 the two were married in the Elbing Mennonite Zion Church - They were the first couple to be married there. A reception was held in the home of the Entz Family.
Katherine, often called Katarina, and Diedrich, are my great-grandparents. Other than being fascinating to me, because of the history it holds for me personally, it's interesting to see how people behaved back then. If someone came to you and asked you to take two strangers in for the night, would you say yes? Would you be gracious and help them look for work if they needed it? The problem with the age of plenty that we have is that we don't have to work for any of it. We don't have the daily hardships that our grandparents and great-grandparents had, and we don't support each other the same way as a result. Most people consider the leaps we've made in the last century a gain, but what if we've lost something more precious than all the progress we've made. When we can no longer count on the kindness of strangers, can we count on ourselves? We are all strangers to someone.