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Emil And Ida Walters: Pioneers To A New Land


Norma Finney


Like the United States, Canada can also be called a nationof immigrants. Canada consists of French, Dutch, German, Italian, Polish,Russian and Scandinavian people. Many people came to have a new life. Twoof these families were my grandfather Walters and his mother, and my great-grandfatherSchultz and his family.

Grandfather Walters was born in Tutschin, Poland on May16, 1885. When he was eighteen, he and his mother came to Canada, but theysettled in the Langdon, North Dakota area. Later he moved to the Emersonarea, but his mother remained in Langdon. In grandfather's family therewere Gustav Walters, Mrs. Westphal, Rudolph Walters and Louie Walters whoremained in Germany.

In 1891, great-grandfather Schultz brought his family toCanada. My grandmother was about a year and a half when they setout. Grandmother's family consisted of Mrs. Ziebarth, Mrs. Weiss, Mrs.Kein,Rudolph Schultz, Gustav Schultz, Ted Schultz, and Henry Schultz. They arrivedin Montreal by ship and from there they went to Winnipeg by train. Theyarrived Easter morning. For five years they lived near the Mennonites nearGretna, Manitoba. Then they moved to Alberta. When they left they took thirty-sixbags of flour. This lasted for three years. The nearest town was fifteenmiles away. Since there were no trees in the new area, they brought theirown lumber with them to build a home. Everything that great-grandfathermade was made by hand. When they decided to leave Alberta and come backto Emerson, great-grandfather sold his quarter of land for $75.00.

In 1909, grandfather and grandmother were married. Theythen moved to Alberta to homestead some land. They had to live on the landfor three years before they could own it. The land was hilly. It had notrees and the only flowers were cactus.

They lived near a town called Burdett. It was about fifteenmiles away. Medicine Hat was the largest town in that ares. Grandmotherand a neighbor lady often rode with a neighbor who drove oxen. When theygot about a mile from town they got out and walked the rest of the way.They did this because grandmother and the other lady were quite a bit youngerthan the man they rode with. They didn't want anyone to see them with him.When they had finished their shopping, and were ready to go home, they walkedout a mile and then rode the rest of the way home.

When they arrived in Alberta, their land was completelybarren. Grandfather and grandmother lived in a one room house. The roofwas round and it had no shingles, just thin boards. They had little water,so they dug their own wells; They dug fifteen wells until they hit water.The well was about one mile from their homestead. There was one coulee,and it got as deep as five hundred feet. One neighbor dug down one hundredfeet, but did not find any water. The next well they dug they found water.

Their nearest neighbor was about a half a mile away. Onthat one section there were four families. All the land was thickly settled.

There were many coal mines in the area. Since there wereno trees, just cactus, they burned coal. The coal cost $3.00 a ton.

There weren't only cattle ranches in the area but horseranches too. There were also many sheep herders in the area. They made theirhomes in their wagons. They herded their sheep with dogs from England. Therewere as many as thirty to forty thousand sheep on the range.

One thing they never saw were Indians. But they did havea lot of rattlesnakes and coyotes which grandfather and grandmother didn'tlike.

All the land in Alberta was in open range. Since the livestockgrazed anywhere they pleased, grandfather fenced in all his crop land. Sincelumber was very scarce, grandfather had to go to town to buy fenceposts.They were quite expensive. Some of them cost as much as fifty cents a post.

While grandfather and grandmother were there, it only snowedonce. The snow stayed only two months. That year there was a sudden stormin the spring. Everyone lost his oxen and cattle. Grandfather fed his cattleground feed, so they stayed near the farm and weren't lost, but his oxenwere. He then started farming with horses. After he finished his springseeding, he set out to look for his oxen. He found them seventy-five milesfrom home. Grandmother said, "The sheepherders followed the storm."(1)

In 1912, they sold the homestead for $2,700. But grandmothersaid,"You spend more then you get." (2) They arrived back in theEmerson area in August of 1912. There they bought another quarter of landfor the money they received when they sold their homestead.

When grandfather and grandmother bought their quarter ofland there was no place to live. They needed a home for their two sons thatwere born in Alberta. So they moved in a house that was located across theroad on another quarter of land. In about 1918-1919,they remodeled the house.They put a basement under the house, built on a dining room and fixed upthe upstairs.

In the basement they had a cistern. This had a hand pump.They used rainwater, which is soft water, for washing clothes and for washingdishes. They had a well which they used for drinking water. They were quitefortunate because most people didn't have cisterns. Most of them thawedice in the winter for washing.

Like everyone else, grandfather had his good and bad yearsin farming. His losses were usually due to drought, grasshoppers or rain.In his good years, he grew wheat, oats, barley and flax. The only potatoeshe grew were for his own use. And, of course, they had their own garden.

Grandfather use to take wheat to a flour mill in Gardentonto have it made into flour. Grandmother churned butter. She often took thebutter and eggs to town and exchanged them for groceries. She also tookbutter, eggs and cream to restaurants and hotels and sold them there. Themoney she received helped buy much of their food and clothing.

On the farm they milked sixteen cows and they also keptabout twenty horses. They put up their hay to feed them.

Since they had so many horses their mode of travel wasof by way of horse and buggy. They traveled by horse and buggy until about1920. In 1920, they bought their first car, a Chevrolet Touring Car. Theyonly ran the car when the roads were dry. In the fall, they put the caraway. They put it on blocks and took out the battery and stored it in thebasement. Then in the spring, the car was brought out again.

In the winter time they used their open sleigh. Later theyhad what is called a covered van or another name was a covered sleigh. Lateron, a heater was put in the sleigh so that robes would not be required.When the roads were better and they had snow plows they used the car allyear.

In 1929, they bought their first tractor. It was a Case.They got it for field work, but they also used it with their threshing machine.After that the horses were not needed for field work, so they were put outto pasture. The Case was replaced by a Minneapolis tractor. This one wasthen used with the steam engine and threshing machine that they had. Grandfatherhad this tractor until sometime during World War II. He then sold it tosome scrap iron dealer that was in the area.

When they still had their steam thresher they had threshingcrews. They consisted of the neighbors and some extra help. They usuallystayed where they were working, but they didn't always do that. In 1939,grandfather bought his first threshing machine. This was the end of thelarge threshing crews.

Grandfather and grandmother had eight children in theirfamily. They are Ted, William, Stanley, Paul, Bertha, Mrs. William Schwark;Anne, Mrs. Kalvin Sylvester; and Alma, Mrs. Willis Finney. They also hadone son, Arthur, who died in 1922. He was five years old.

The children went to Stockport School, which was abouttwo and a half miles away. They either walked or went by horse and buggyduring the spring and summer, and in the winter they went by sleigh.

Grandfather and grandmother were active members of theLutheran church. It was also about two and a half miles away. The churchhad a regular minister who lived beside the church.

Many times neighbors got together and had a quilting bee.Also in the fall they butchered meat for winter use.

Probably the most popular pastime was to visit the neighborsand relatives. This was one way that people found out what was going onin the community. Most people tried to do without a telephone for as longas it was possible.

Grandfather and grandmother did some traveling. A coupleof times they went to Alberta to visit relatives. They would have likedto go back to see their homestead, but they never quite made it. They alsovisited relatives in Park River and Langdon, North Dakota, and in Michigan.

In 1945, grandfather and grandmother bought a home in Emerson.They lived there from 1943 to 1953. They sold their home because it wastoo large for them, and they moved back to the farm.

In 1959, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.The next fall, 1960, they bought a small home and moved back to Emerson.

Grandfather died when he was seventy-nine, on September24, 1964. Grandmother continued to live in their home until about a coupleof years ago. She then decided to move into South Gate Haven, which is inEmerson.

Grandfather outlived everyone in his family. Grandmotherand her sister, Mrs. Weiss, are the last of her family.

Canada is made up of people like my grandparents, who immigratedinto Canada and made it a wonderful, and great nation. They really had anexciting life as soon as they stepped onto this land. They were really daringto start out married life in the unsettled land of Alberta, and come backto Emerson and make a prosperous life there. My grandparents had a wonderfullife together. Grandmother is eighty-two, and she is still quite active.She has had many happy years, and I am sure that she will probably havemany, many more.

(1) Mrs. Ida Walters Interview January 10, 1972 in herhome.

(2) Mrs. Ida Walters Interview January 10, 1972 in herhome.


Finney, Willis (Mrs.) Interview January 6, 1972 at herhome.

Finney, Willis (Mrs.) Interview January 12, 1972 at herhome.

Walters, Ida (Mrs.) Interview January 10, 1972 at her home.

2 at herhome.

Finney, Willis (Mrs.) Interview January 12, 1972 at herhome.

Walters, Ida (Mrs.) Interview January 10, 1972 at her home.