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Grandpa: John Friebohle


Roxanne Friebohle

One of the most important groups of people to build theRed River Valley were the farmers. Among these farmers was John Friebohle.John grew up in the Red River Valley and had many experiences in farmingand other fields.

John's father was originally from Germany. He moved tothe United States with his parents when he was young. When he got married,he moved to the Red River Valley in hope of finding good farm land thatwas being sold at a very reasonable price.

John's family's first homestead was located at Carlile,North Dakota. They owned only a small farm and raised a few cattle.

Farming was much harder than it is now. For instance, theyused a twelve inch walking plow to plow the field. A fast worker would onlyplow about three acres a day. The grain was cut by hand and tied into bundles.They sold the grain to the St. Vincent Mill. It was taken to the mill bycarts pulled by oxen. The mill was located on the riverbank so there wasa lot of grain transported by boat. Boats from Grand Forks would bring largeamounts of grain to the mill also. It took a boat from Grand Forks a weekto make the journey to St. Vincent.

As the years passed, farming equipment seemed to modernizemore and more. John's family used oxen to pull carts for quite awhile butthey soon found that horses and mules were much more convenient and efficient.

After living at Carlile for about five years, they movedto a homestead ten miles south of St. Vincent. The homestead they boughtwas five hundred acres. They paid twenty two dollars an acre for most ofthe land but some cost a little more.

At the age of twelve, John had the privilege of takingone hundred head of cattle to Joliette, North Dakota, to feed. He took manyof his neighbor's cattle as well as their own. The maximum pay for thisjob was three dollars for one half head of cattle. Of course, that wouldbe for the whole summer. John would leave at sunrise and return home atnight to put the cattle in the corral.

To be sure that everyone would get all their thrashingdone, each farmer helped each other. All the farmers would get togetherand go to different farms. When they finished at one farm they would moveon to the next. Not all the farmers owned machines at that time so theyoffered their help in return for the use of a machine. After the thrashingwas done, the farmers would have barn dances. Each farmer would take turnsputting it on. For music there would be a few people that played violins.Most of these dances were square dances.

The house that John's parents first lived in was a sodshanty. It was made of grass and piled sod. Lumber was expensive and notmany people could afford to build a log house. As the years went by, John'sparents saved up enough money to buy lumber. Because there wasn't much lumberaround St. Vincent, they had to go to Roseau to get it. It took three daysto get the lumber, one day to get to Roseau, one day to load the lumberand one day to come home.

During the years 1910 and 1911, John and his family fishedin the Red River frequently. At that time there weren't any game wardensor any set laws on how many fish you could catch. John used to get wagonloads of fish and throw all the small ones back.

As well as being a farmer, John served in the army duringWorld War I. He was gas poisoned during the war and spent two years in thehospital at Helena, Montana. While he was in the hospital, he met Anna MaeBradshaw, to whom he was later married.

After John recovered, he and his wife came back to St.Vincent to live. At first, he cut wood and hauled it to the blacksmith tobe sold for firewood. Later he started up a garage. It wasn't a very biggarage. He just repaired cars and sold gas. John worked in the garage allthe time until a year ago when his wife died. He still keeps the garagerunning but doesn't spend much time there.

John Friebohle, an early peioneer of St. Vincent, has gonethrough many changing times and has helped to build the Red River Valley.

many changing times and has helped to build the Red River Valley.