Carl Richard Wiese

by

James Wiese

The Red River Valley was created by God and built by thefaith of the men who settled there. The pioneers braved the winter blizzards;the spring floods; the summer heat and the autumn rains. They broke thesod and cleared the brush. The land produced and the settlers stayed. One of these settlers was Carl Wiese, a German immigrant.

Carl came to the Valley in 1917. He made his home thereand established a farming operation. There were hardships and heartbreaksto bear. His burden was typical for the early pioneers in the Northernpart of the Valley. To better understand Carl's story we must go back tohis boyhood in Europe.

Carl Richard Wiese was born in Schonberg Holstein, Germanyon February 29, 1888. He was the second youngest of six children. Hisfather, who was a jack-of-all trades, owned a store and a lumber yard. When Carl was six years old he attended the village school which consistedof two rooms. Carl attended secondary school until he was sixteen yearsold. The students in Germany graduated from secondary school when theywere confirmed by the church. It was the custom to buy a new suit of clothesfor the confirmed. Carl's father bought him the clothes thinking he wouldbe confirmed. The teacher later informed his father that he didn't wantCarl to be confirmed for another year being he was the youngest in the class. Clothes were a big item in those days for most families and Mr. Wiese wasn'tplanning on buying a new suit of clothes the next year so he told the teacher,"You confirm Carl or I will!" Carl was confirmed.

In those days, Germany had a compulsory military programof two years for all the young men seventeen years old. If a person wasn'tfit when he was seventeen years old, he returned home until the next yearwhen he would once again be tested. This would go on for three years beforea person would be excused from the military. Most of the young men wouldbe rejected for a couple years. While they were exempt, the young men wouldattend a trade school. A degree from a trade school required four yearsof training. As fate would have it, most of the men would put in two yearsof trade school training and then they would be called to serve in the military. When the men completed the military training they usually got married andsince they didn't have any trade degree they were stuck in the common laborbracket.

Carl's father was disturbed by this and had made his moveyears before. He sent his sons to the United States before they were ofage by military standards. Carl was no exception. In May of 1904, Carlstarted his trip overseas from Hamburg, Germany. He traveled over in apaddle ship in the third class section of the boat. This section was madeup of two tiers. Carl was in the bottom tier and because of the waves,they couldn't open the port holes. Besides the bad food and sea sickness,Carl arrived in New York safely. His only belongings included his suitcaseand the shirt on his back. Carl bought some fish along the way and putthem on the train when he started West. The fish, which were in his suitcase,spoiled and Carl had to throw most of his clothes overboard.

In New York, the immigrants were all herded into a buildingwhich they locked. They did this to keep the thrill seekers from gettinglost. The next day they loaded on the train bound for Lake Park, Iowa. When Carl got off the train he had a half empty suitcase and three dollarsin his pocket. His two older brothers were already in Iowa and their employercame to meet the train.

Carl worked for the father of the man who his brothersworked for. His pay for the first summer was sixteen dollars a month. During this time, Carl was learning about this "America." Herecalls that corn cob pipes were big sellers in those days. He took itfor granted that the men made their own smoking instruments and proceededto make one for himself. When Carl's pipe burned up he decided to learnhow to make a better one. He asked the next fellow he saw smoking a corncobpipe how he made his pipe. The man jokingly replied that the pipes weren'tmade but bought in the general store. Carl had learned his first lessonin American economics.

After the crop was harvested that fall, Carl went to schoolfor the winter. He had to walk the four miles every day to sit and learnnothing - - - Carl couldn't understand English.

The following spring, Mr. Wiese went to work for anotherman in Minnesota. He was paid twenty dollars a month and he stayed therefor two years. When winter came, Carl wanted to go to school again. Hisemployer told him that he would pay him five dollars if he would stay outof school and work the winter. Carl accepted. "It was a mistake"recalls Carl Wiese. (1)

Mr. Wiese decided to go to Nebraska for a few years andwhen he came back to Minnesota he worked on another farm. The farmer askedCarl how much he would work for. The top labor wages in those days werefrom twenty to twenty-five dollars a month. Mr. Wiese replied twenty-fivedollars and the man said he'd make it thirty.

On February 22, 1910, Carl Richard Wiese married AgnasPuck. They rented a 160 acre farm and set up housekeeping. Their landlordhad cancer and offered to sell the farm for fifty dollars an acre. Mr.Wiese consulted his father-in-law and was persuaded to not buying the quartersection farm.

During this time, James J. Hill was opening up the northernpart of the state with his railroads. The "plain or prairie was thefloor of a great body of water. It was formed by the deposition of finelybroken rock or mud on the bottom of a great glacial lake." (2) JamesJ. Hill was a businessman who reasoned that people mean money. He ownedvast stretches of the Red River Valley land. In 1917, he lead an expeditioninto the Valley and sold sections of this land. Mr. Puck went on one ofthese expeditions and came back to get Carl. In 1918, Carl went on anotherexpedition and arrived in Northcote. This was the location of Walter Hill'sfarm. The railroad men tried to keep the men in a group because this wastheir show and they wanted to keep the men in the right buying mood. Carlgot away from the bunch and looked for a man to ask questions. In the barnhe found a hired hand who remarked that there was a lot of quack grass andwent about his work. Later the railroad company loaded the men into wagonsand took them to the different section corners. The sections would go tothe highest bidder. The auctioneers tried to sweat the men into buyingland for more than it was worth at that time. The to-be farmers would buythe next quarter and the next even before they saw it. "They wouldeven fight over the land." (3) Carl bought two quarters two mileseast of the future village of Humboldt. He paid thirty-seven and fortydollars for an acre. One of the quarters (home quarter) had a stock yardon it and watering tanks for Walter Hill's cattle. The other quarter hadbrush on it and it had to be grubbed. Carl cleared some of the brush andplanted flax. The yield was eighteen bushels an acre. Mr. Wiese used thelumber from the stock yard and built a barn and granary which served asa house. The quack grass was a problem and after one year Carl was readyto quit. Mr. Puck encouraged him to stay and Carl decided to stick it out.

Carl's machinery included a few basic implements and ateam of horses. Carl bought a tractor and later a threshing machine.

When Ted Florance took over the Hill farm, a boost cameto Carl. They became good friends and in later years Carl bought some landfrom him.

In 1925, Carl Wiese suddenly became stricken with polio. He was flat on his back for a long time. He was on crutches for two yearsand had to do his farming from the sidelines. Carl made the decisions andhis sons did the work.

When the stock market fell, farming became difficult. Carl wasn't happy with the barley prices so he went into the hog business. One summer the hogs weren't doing well and Mr. Wiese turned them out toroam the fields. That same year there were a lot of crickets. When thehogs ate the crickets they started to some around and put on weight.

In the winter, the only way to get the hogs to market wasto chase them to Humboldt in the ruts in the snow covered road. Carl onceshipped a carload of hogs during the depression and ended up in the hole. The freight cost was more than the price of the hogs in the car.

Carl quit farming as suddenly as he had begun. In thespring of 1943, Carl decided to retire. His farming days were over. Hebought a house in Hallock and turned his farm over to his sons to farm andmanage.

Early in the nineteen hundreds the settlers picked up theirbelongings and moved to the Red River Valley. They always fought the weatherand there were other problems to be concerned with. This was wheat countryand that's what the men grew best. James J. Hill had opened the area andthe dirt farmers made the Valley what it is today. Carl Wiese started witha little more than nothing and made a go of it. He was just one of themany pioneers who settled in the Valley.

 

(1) Carl Wiese, Hallock, Minnesota 56728; an early RedRiver Valley farmer; 1888 -19___.

(2) Daniel E. Willard, A.M., The Story of the North StarState (St. Paul: Webb Publishing Company, 1922) p. 25.

(3) Mrs. Elsie Dexter, Hallock, Minnesota 56728; an earlysettler in the Humboldt area.

 

Bibliography

 

Anniversary Number Kittson County Enterprise. Hallock:J. E. Bouvette & Sons, 1935.

Daniel E. Willard. The Story of the North Start State. St. Paul: Webb Publishing Company, 192-

 

 


ry of the North Start State. St. Paul: Webb Publishing Company, 192-