Pioneer Life on the Prairies of Dakota Territory


On 20 July 1964, Clarence Stangohr, then 68, sat down at the kitchen table of the farm home of his aunt, Meta Stangohr Schwader, who was 74 at the time of the interview, and talked with her about her childhood in Dakota Territory. Clarence recorded this interview on a reel-to-reel recorder. On 15 1980, Clarence transferred the recording from reel-to-reel format to a cassette tape, adding editorial remarks and personal recollections about the deaths of his maternal grandparents, William and Caroline Volsch Stangohr, the couple who adopted him after the hospitalization and subsequent death of his mother, Mary Stangohr, when Clarence was a young boy. In 2011, Gerald Lowell digitized the cassette tape recording and compiled edited transcriptions of the recordings. The recordings of the interview and the edited transcriptions are publicly available in three parts on the "Connected Bloodlines" website.

Meta Maria Stangohr was born to William and Caroline Volsch Stangohr, on 22 February 1890 on a small homestead 8 miles west of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Meta had twelve brothers and sisters and was the second oldest child in the family.

Meta married James Schwader on 27 Mar 1917 in Howard, South Dakota. They had five children. She died on 13 October 1972 at the Madison Community Hospital, Madison, South Dakota.

Clarence Stangohr was born to Maria "Mary" Stangohr, Meta's younger sister, on 25 March 1896, when Mary was a patient at the South Dakota School and Home of the Feeble-Minded, Redfield, South Dakota. While very young, Clarence's oldest aunt and Meta's older sister, Minnie, cared for him but lost interest in him. At the age of 2 and 1/2 years, Clarence's Grandpa Stangohr adopted him, raising him as one of his children. Clarence's mother, Mary, died on 24 May 1924, when Clarence was 4 years old.

Clarence attended St. John’s University (Benedictine); the Saint Cloud Teachers College; University of Minnesota Graduate School; Saint Ambrose College (Diocesan Suplican); Aquina Institute (Dominican); Mount Saint Bernard’s Seminary (Dominican); and Concordia Seminary (LCMS). He was a Pastor for over 33 years, most recently at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, until he retired on August 27, 1989. Clarence passed away on 8 January 2002 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.



The following abbreviations are used in each part of the transcript to identify the speaker:


KEY:

CS = Clarence Walter Stangohr

MS = Meta Maria Stangohr Schwader



If desired, biographical information regarding individuals or families whose names are mentioned in the written transcript can be accessed by clicking on any name that is underlined. Comments added by Gerald Lowell are labelled "Editor's Note:" and appear in italics.



Gerald R. Lowell

23 May 2015



PART 1: Contents
  • Meta's father and his arrival in Dakota Territory in 1882
  • Meta's mother and her arrival in Dakota Territory in 1886
  • Backgrounds of Meta's parents in Germany before their marriage
  • Meta's parents' marriage and first farm (8 miles west of Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
  • Meta's parents move to their homestead 7 miles from Canova in Lake County, 11 miles north of Salem, South Dakota






PART 2: Contents
  • Farming and general conditions on the first homestead
  • Schooling
  • Various ethnic groups on the prairie
  • Travel on the prairie






PART 3: Contents
  • Church services
  • Confirmation
  • World War I and its impact on immigrant Germans in South Dakota
  • Liberty Bonds
  • Death and funerals on the prairie
  • Wedding celebrations
  • Entertainment on the prairie
  • Clarence Stangohr's reflections on the deaths of his Grandpa and Grandma Stangohr