PIONEER BUILDER AND PROMINENT FARMER*
By Rev. Robert J. Nogosek, C.S.C. (His Grandson)
1982 EDITION (revised and enlarged)
*Title on his obituary published by THE JAMESTOWN DAILY ALERT, Dec. 23, 1918
Note that hyperlinks within the document will link into the website family history pages for that individual.
This is the second version of the manuscript “Joseph Nogosek, Pioneer Builder and "Prominent Farmer." The first was completed July 24, 1980. At that time I wrote:
"I became interested in doing this work on our family history as a result of initial work on it undertaken by my brother John. After visiting him in May 1980, I had occasion to visit North Dakota the following July. Much of the information of these pages comes from the work of Clarence Nogosek, whom I visited at LaMoure, North Dakota, on July 7th, and from a paper written in the early 1940’s by Gertrude Monek Kirkendall and entitled, "The Story of a Pioneer Mother, Theresa Lorenz Weiss." I acquired additional information by consulting old editions of The Jamestown Weekly Alert, The Jamestown Daily Alert, and The Jamestown Sun, which were available for perusal at the Jamestown Public Library and in the basement of the Stutsman County Courthouse. Upon my return to Notre Dame, I have found much additional historical and geographical information at the Memorial Library of the University of Notre Dame.
Hopefully, there will be persons reading this ‘first draft’ who can supply additional information and some needed corrections to the story, its facts and my interpretation. My brother John and I are very much interested in anything more we can learn about our family tree. We still have no record of the parents and brothers and sisters of Gregory. Nogosek. There is some confusion as to whether the Weiss family arrived in New York In 1882 or in 1884. We wonder whom the Gregory Nogosek family knew in Independence, Wisconsin, to lead them to settle there immediately upon arriving In the United States. Also, we are deeply interested In hearing stories about our grandfather, Joseph Nogosek, how his farm life was as progress was made year by year, and of his involvement in Nogosek Township, Kensal, and the County.”
Since the writing of the above a great deal more significant information has been gathered, as can be seen by the lengthening of this manuscript, and certain corrections, such as the year of arrival of the Frank Weisses in America. In the past two years I have spent a good many leisure hour; consulting census records and passenger lists as made available at the genealogy wing of the Fort Wayne Public Library. Also in the summer of 1981 I made a trip to Salt Lake City to spend a week investigating microfilmed records of parishes in Upper Silesia from where the Nogosek and Weiss families have their roots. Some of this material is included In this second version, but most of the results of this research hopefully will be published In a second volume of my Nogosek-Weiss Genealogy, to take us back in our family records generally to the great grandparents of my great grandparents, i.e., to the early 1700's That is as far as the parish records I have seen go back.
In addition, in this summer of 1982 I have made another trip to North Dakota, and also my first trip to Independence, Wisconsin. I was finally able to consult the archives of the State Historical Society in Bismark, and turned up a remarkable booklet of 18 pages entitled the History of Kensal, by Rev. William Snape, and written in 1910. The archivist in Bismark said this booklet was found In a library in Maine. Surprisingly, I lived 14 years in Kensal and never heard of it. My visit with Simon, Adolph, and Sister Anselm (Veronica) Nogosek in Independence was not only very joyful, but also extremely helpful in getting a picture of Joseph Nogosek's childhood. A number of early pioneers now in their 90’s were delighted to talk about the early days, and also to help me in learning about the “other” Nogoseks who once lived there.
This second version, however, does not add much at all to the stories about Joseph Nogosek himself. Perhaps some who read this would be willing to help out in this direction.
Beech Grove, Indiana
August 6, 1982
Section 1: Silesia to America
Joseph Nogosek was born March 18, 1864 in Poppelau, Upper Silesia. Poppelau was on the edge of the Oder Valley. 2-1/2 miles to the southwest was the great Oder River, which regularly flooded in the spring and yet was too unruly for navigation south of Breslau, which was 35 miles to the northwest and the only major city In all of Silesia. To cross the Oder in the vicinity of Poppelau the only way was by ferry, unless one went 12 miles downstream to the town of Brieg, or 13 miles upstream to Oppein. Oppein was the headquarters of the district administration to which Poppelau belonged and on letters one wrote Poppelau kreise Oppein, Oberseliesien.
The Nogoseks spoke Polish and ware Roman Catholic. This province of Upper Silesia, however, had not been part of Poland for 500 years. Most of that time It had been under various German administrations, and thus Silesian Polish had become a dialect which included many Germanic words, such as the words for newspaper and potatoes. Many of the Germans in the area, especially the wealthy landowners and the government officials, were Lutheran. Even the clergy were German, end kept careful parish records in German script.
Originally there had been many different tribes of people in Poland, end they had settled In the river valleys. Thus they had been separated from one another. But Catholicism had caused these tribes to become united. Although Germans had been trying to bring Christianity to these tribes, the beginning of Catholicism in Poland 15 recognized as at the conversion and marriage of Miesko I, of the Piast Dynasty, to the Catholic Bohemian Princess Dubravka In 966 A.D. By 1000 A.D. Breslau had already become an archbishopric. Poppelau was an early town In the area, and already appears on registers In the 13th century, when the area was still under the rule of the Piast kings of Poland. In 1339 Silesia came under the administration of Bohemia. Beginning In 1526 the Hapsburgs took it over as part of the Austrian Empire Once Frederick the Great of Prussia had come to power he decided he wanted Silesia for its coal. He asked Austria for it, but was refused. So he took it by war. Silesia was annexed to Prussia in 1742. After that it remained under German rule until it was granted to Poland under the terms of the Potsdam agreement following World War II. Thereafter all the towns took on Polish names. Poppelau has become Popielow. Even today the town consists of a single row of large houses on either side of the road, and it has but one store and one restaurant. Each day the people go out from the town to work in their fields. Under the present Communist government they can keep as their own only the produce that they need to live on and the rest must be turned over to the government.
It seems that the Polish inhabitants of Poppelau have always owned their land, but it was not ordinarily divided up among the children of a family but rather handed on to one of them, usually the eldest son. It would seem that Joseph Nogosek's father, Gregory, did not own land, nor did Gregory’s father, Thomas Nogosek. On parish records Thomas Kogosek is referred to as a farm laborer rather than a farmer.
Prussian rule had brought much hardship to the Polish peasants of Upper Silesia. There are stories handed down of laws forbidding the peasants to gather wood from the state forests, which now belonged to the Prussian emperor. For a while there was a Prussian policy to Lutheranize Silesia, and many German colonists came in to settle there. The province, in short, was treated as a colony of Prussia to be ruled and exploited for the benefit of the Prussian empire, to increase Prussian wealth, and to provide soldiers for the Prussian army. Sometimes whole towns fled to the hills to camp out there to escape having their young men recruited for the army, which demanded 3 years service from each teen-aged boy, once he had finished school. There had been a number of peasant uprisings In the decades before Joseph was born. Moreover, it is recorded that 16,000 had died in Upper Silesian in 1847-8 of an epidemic of what was called “Hunger Typhus." Throughout the early 19th century the use of Polish in the schools had gradually been suppressed. However, an outstanding Silesian patriot named Father Szafranek, through his being a representative In the Prussian Diet, had managed to get Polish reinstated in the schools of the Oppein district in 1848. That directive was again rescinded after the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. In the meantime government policy and the Prussian landowners in Silesia had favored the emigration of the Polish population to other areas of Germany, or to America. For their part, the Polish families continued to resent the Prussian policy of recruitment of their young men for Prussian militarism, and many went to America for that reason. It has been said that this was the reason the Nogoseks came to America. But their was also the attraction of free land available after the Homestead Act of 1861, passé while Abraham Lincoln was president.
Joseph’s parents were Gregory Nogosek and Christina Skroch. They had been married in Poppelau on November 13, 1860, in a double wedding ceremony with Casper Skroch, Christina's brother, and Hedwig Nogosek, daughter of Andreas Nogosek. Both Gregory and Christina were the youngest in their family. Gregory had been born in Poppelau November 17, 1839, son of Thomas Nogosek end Elisabeth Jochem. His brothers and Sisters, in order of age, were Andreas (b. 1816), Johanna (b. 1819 Josepha (b. 1821), Velentin (b. 1824), Catharina (b. 1826), Rosina (b. 1828), Simon (b. 1830), Maria (b. 1832), and Agnes (b. 1833). Of these, three died in infancy, viz., Johanna, Catharina, and Agnes. But the rest all grew up and married before Joseph reached 17 years of age. His father, Thomas, died in Poppelau, August 21, 1852, at the age of 67, when Gregory was only 12, and his mother, Elizabeth, died at Poppelau on July 5, 1868, at the age of 74, when Gregory was 28, and had already been married almost eight years.
Joseph’s mother, Christina, had been born 4 months after the death of her father, Simon Skroch. She always said she had had no father. Her mother was Elisabeth Klink. They had been married in Poppelau April 24, 1831. Simon had died at the age of 39, after 11 years of marriage. Christina's brothers and sisters were Casper (b. 1833), Matthias (b. 1834), Adalbert (b. 1837), and Maria (b. 1841). Maria had died in infancy, and Adalbert died at the age of 17.
After their marriage in 1860, Joseph’s parents, Gregory and Christina, quickly established a family in Poppelau. Maria was born August 17, 1861, Joseph March 18, 1864, arid Elizabeth September 24, 1868. in the meantime some inhabitants of Poppelau had emigrated to Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, near Winona, Minnesota, and had sent back letters encouraging others to join them. The first from Poppelau to locate there were a small group who had emigrated already in 1855, These were Albert Bautch with his wife Josephine and three-year-old son, John, along with his brother, Lawrence Bautch and two brothers-in-law, Peter Sura and Leopold Kachel. They had taken a sailing ship 63 days across the Atlantic and landed in Quebec, Canada. From there they settled in Watertown, Wisconsin, for one year and then in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, for six years. In May of 1863 they moved by oxen and covered wagon to the township of Arcadia in Trempealeau County. From there they moved to New City, township of Burnside, near the present site of Independence, in 1869 or 1870. Lawrence Bautch and Peter Sura, especially, were responsible for influencing many of their fellow townspeople of Poppelau to settle in the same area.
But by 1869 Joseph’s Uncle Matthias brother of his mother, along with his family had settled in Lincoln township, northeast of the future site of Independence. Matthias Skroch had married Anna Niva in Poppelau on January 26, 1858. They brought with them to America four children; Mary (b. 1858), Peter (b. 1860), Anna (b. 1863), and Frank William (b. 1865). John Thomas was born in Wisconsin in the winter of 1899-70. Near the farm of Matthias Skroch in 1870 there had also settled Jacob Gamroth and his wife Christiana, also from Poppelau. It is probable that Jacob Gamroth was a relative of Barbara Gamroth, who had married Valentin Nogosek, Gregory’s brother, in Poppelau 1844. At any rate, Joseph's parents decided by 1871 to follow his mother's brother to Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. They could have boarded a train 1-1/2 miles from Poppelau, for a railroad connecting Oppein with Breslau, and passing near Poppelau, had been constructed in the 1850’s. From Breslau they could have proceeded to a North Sea port, and most likely taken a sail boat for New York. Word has been handed down in the Nogosek family that the voyage was stormy, and that a child named John Nogosek died during the passage. If so, probably he was Joseph’s younger brother. After arriving in New York In 1872, they would have taken a train all the way to La Crosse, Wisconsin, or even to Winona, Minnesota.
There is no record of Gregory Nogosok ever owning any land in Trempealeau County. It is remembered that he worked on the construction of the Green Bay and Pepin Railroad, later called the Green Bay end Western, through Trempealeau County. That railroad across the state of Wisconsin bad begun its laying of rails at Green Bay in 1871, and had reached Blair in Trempealeau County during the summer of 1872. It was completed through what became Whitehall and Independence, and on to a connection with Winona, In 1873. As the story is remembered, Gregory moved his family with him as he worked laying the track. If so, they must have lived in a tent. Of more certain memory is that Gregory had a farm in Lincoln Township, near the Henry Sygulla homestead, about 4 miles northeast of the present site of Independence.
Before the coming of the railroad to the area of Trempealeau County travel had often been by foot, with people walking all the way to Winona, and even to La Crosse for their necessities. It was at La Crosse that the early settlers had to go to register for land deeds. The story is remembered of one pioneer from the township of Burnside who shouldered his broken low and walked the more than 30 miles to Winona to have it repaired. This was rugged country, with steep hills, woods and brush, and swampy valleys. But by January 1874 the area had regular rail passenger service to Winona, as well as all the way to Green Bay to the east, even though the depot of Independence was not built until 1876. The story is told of one lady who leaned out too far from the window of the train and lost her hat. The train engineer obliged her by stopping the train and backing up to pick up the hat.
The township of Burnside was organized in 1863, and Peter Sura and Lawrence Bautch were among those present in the first township meeting in 1864. By 1869 there was a town in the area, called New City. It had stores, taverns, a mill, a blacksmith shop, and even a post office. New City gradually passed out of existence when the town of Independence was laid out around the depot, which was built several miles from New City. The name of Independence came, of course, from its being established 100 years after the Declaration of Independence.
The Catholic parish of Sts. Peter and Paul was organized in 1869 at a meeting held on the farm of Peter Sura. Indeed priests had celebrated mass at his home already for several years. The parish became a mission, of St. Michael's Church at North Creek. It is remembered that the priest from North Creek also used to have mass at the home of Lawrence Pampuch, whose farm of 280 acres covered part of what was to become the business district of Independence. In October 1875 the first church of Sts. Peter and Paul parish was dedicated in what would become the town of Independence. There were already 60 families belonging to the parish. The parish records at independence begin at that time. Previous to that, records were kept at St. Michael's in North Creek, were Catholics had built an earlier church by hauling lumber 40 miles across the hills. It may be supposed that Gregory and Christina’s first Child born in America, Frank, was baptized at North Creek. He was born January 29, 1873, surely less than a year after they arrived. The other children born at Independence were baptized in the new church They were Peter, the 11th on the baptismal records, who was born May 21, 1875, and Anna, born August 26, 1877.
Not all the Nogoseks in. the United States are direct-line descendants of Gregory and Christina. Residents of Independence remember another Nogosek family, of whom the first to arrive were two sisters, Pauline and Elisabeth. In 1871 Pauline Nogosek married George F. Maule, son of an Anglican clergyman. George Maule had come to America from England in the 1860’s and settled on a farm in Lincoln Township. He had followed the lead of his brother, Walter Maule, who was in the small group of the very first settlers in Burnside township and arrived there in 1856.
When he married Pauline, George Maule became a Roman Catholic. It is remembered that at their marriage Pauline could speak only Polish and George only English. Pauline’s sister, Elisabeth, married Casper Meinka. These two Nogosek sisters persuaded their parents and two brothers to come to America and settle In Trempealeau County in 1891. Their father, John Nogosek, was from Poppeleu and was born in January 1850. Their mother, Rosina, was born in December 1850, They had married in 1875, and had 6 children, 5 of whom were still living in 1900. Their son Gottlieb was born in November 1875. In 1899 he would marry a lady named Martha. They settled on a farm in Hale Township. Their other son was Charlie. He was born in April 1881, and in the 1900 census he is listed as a farm laborer living with James Maloney in Hale Township.
Joseph Nogosek was about eight years old when they arrived In Wisconsin. There was no opportunity for him to go to school as a child. There simply were no schools and no teachers. Somewhere along the line he may have had five months of formal school, perhaps while yet in Poppelau. But he did learn to reed and write well, and later on in life was noted for spending a lot of time in reading newspapers and books. He became a remarkably well educated man for his times as a pioneer, and would be considered the leader of the family and the one to be consulted in the making of important decisions.
His older sister, Maria, married Theodore Gospodar In 1877. Later they would settle on a farm near Fried, North Dakota, which was another early settlement of Silesian Poles. Word was being received that homesteads were being given away in North Dakota. So in 1879, when Joseph was 15, Gregory loaded his family and possessions on a train to move to a homestead near Jamestown, Dakota Territory.
In 1879, Jamestown was just beginning to come alive as a town. The first settlers cams in 1872 when the Northern Pacific railroad had crossed the Red River into Dakota and been extended to Jamestown on a roadbed described as “straight as an arrow” across the prairies. Soon Jamestown would become a rail center as a terminal on its main line to the Pacific Northwest and with branch lines extending north and south from Jamestown. Stutsman County was organized on January 4, 1873, and its three county commissioners met already on June 20. Anton Klaus, from Green Bay, Wisconsin, purchased his land In Jamestown in 1578, and later would be called the “father of Jamestown.” All the early churches, except the Episcopal Church, would be built on land he donated. On July 4, 1878, Jamestown began to have a weekly newspaper, called The Jamestown Alert. The Daily Alert would begin on February 14, 1881. In 1879, the year the Gregory Nogoseks arrived, the first county courthouse would be erected. It would be replaced by a new courthouse erected on the highest ground of the James River Valley in 1883. There was plenty of free land available for homesteads around Jamestown because the area had only recently been vacated by the roaming herds of buffalo, killed off largely for sport by people like the famous Bill Cody, and by the Dakota (or Sioux) Indians, who had briefly triumphed over General Custer at Little Big Horn in Montana, Just west of the Dakota Territory border, in June 1876. The Territory would be divided into North and South Dakota when they entered the Union In 1889. in the meantime, what would become North Dakota would get the transcontinental railroads and South Dakota would get the Indians. The railroads didn’t like the way Indians would steal railroad ties to prop up their wigwams. About all that was left from the Indians were numerous arrowheads and other Indian artifacts and occasionally the discovery of en Indian grave. There-were still some buffalo, with their useful buffalo "chips," and some buffalo bones, along with what were called "buffalo hollows” on the hillsides, where the buffalo had sought salt deposits to lick.
Joseph’s brother Thomas was born on the farm near Jamestown on December 1, 1879. Later the family moved to another homestead about 10 miles northeast of Jamestown, just one mile north of what is now the Catholic Church at Fried. The first church at, Fried burned down, and it was replaced by the present church in 1887. The family of Gregory and Christina was completed on that farm, with the birth of Hattie on October 14, 1882 and Anton on July 7, 1885. Like Independence, Wisconsin, Pried was a Polish-speaking community centered around a Polish-speaking Catholic Church. Fried would always remain basically a country church, with a few houses and a couple business places. However, the people of the parish did build a Catholic boarding school, which was really a grand building, and it is reported that they began their own religious community of Sisters to operate it. Fried would never get a railroad. But even today it is the center of a thriving Catholic rural parish.
As soon as Joseph reached the required age of 21, in 1885, he laid claim for his own homestead. The land he chose was 20 miles to the north of Fried, in what would become Nogosek Township. In the following year of 1886 he married Mary Weiss, who had arrived in America from a German part of Upper Silesia just two years before. She was 23 and Joseph 22 as they started out on their farm 20 miles away from the nearest church or store and among the first settlers In the neighborhood of what would become Kensal, once the Soo Line railroad came through.
Section 2: Maria Weiss
Maria Weiss had been born on March 29, 1863, at Kaundorf, a farming community 3-1/2 miles east of Neisse in Upper Silesia, and about 30 miles south of Poppelau. But unlike Poppelau, the Neisse area was German speaking. At least as far back as her great grandfather, Casper Weiss, the Weisses had been small farmers, or "gardeners," as the records assert. Up until her grandfather, Franz, the Weisses had farmed in Lindewiese, which is 6 miles south of Kaundorf, and very near to Prockendorf. But after marrying Hedwig Klinge at Kaundorf on June 30, 1829, her grandfather had farmed at Kaundorf. After Hedwig died in childbirth two years later, Franz married Anna Maria Hancke of Wischkau. After the death of twins in 1835, Maria's father, Franz Carl was born in Kaundorf on September 29, 1837. He married Theresia Lorenz of Prockendorf on July 12, 1860.
The Lorenz family had long been farmers at Prockendorf. This went beck at least to Theresia's great grandfather, Hanns Lorenz, who was a farmer there when her grandfather Hanns Frantz Lorenz was born on May 18, 1743. Her mother was Maria Wiehe (or Weha). Theresia had 8 brothers and sisters: Joseph, Johann Paul (b. 1824), Maria (b. 1826), Catharina (b. 1829), Magdalena (b. 1831), Veronica (b. 1834), Franz (b. 1838), and Anton (b. 1841). Theresia was born on July 3, 1836, and thus was among the three youngest in the family (unless Joseph was also younger than she was). Johann Paul and Catharina died in infancy. But then the whole family lost their parents in 1854 during an outbreak of cholera. Magdalena and Veronica also died in the terrible epidemic. Thus five were left as orphans: Joseph, Maria, Theresia, Franz, and Anton. Theresia was 18. They were cared for by various relatives, and each given a sum of money from their parents’ estate at the age of 21. Joseph, Frank and Maria lived out their lives in Prussia. The other two, Theresia and Anton, would eventually emigrate to America and Dakota Territory. The desire to do so came about from Anton’s marriage to Elizabeth Marschke, who was born in Prockendorf March 3, 1831, but had moved to Friedland.
After Anton had finished his military service, he returned to Prockendorf. Elizabeth in the meantime had become Mrs. Ziegan, and was left as a wealthy widow with two sons, Frank and Joseph. After her marriage with Anton Lorenz they had four more children: Mary, Anton, Emil, (b. 1873) and Richard. Once Anton's stepsons reached the ages of 16 and 18, they left for America. First they settled in Wisconsin, and then went out west to Tacoma, Washington. The letters they wrote home gave a glowing account of the marvelous new country with its innumerable opportunities to obtain wealth and success. So inspired with the desire to better their condition, Anton and Elizabeth disposed of their property, and with their four children took a steamship to the United States. They arrived in New York In March 1882, and went to Dakota Territory. They first lived about 12 miles southwest of Jamestown, but later, in March 1889, they applied for and established a homestead 14 miles northeast of Jamestown, in the area near Spiritwood Lake. Theresia's sister Mary in the meantime had married August Marschke, but after having two sons she died. August came to the United States with his two sons, and settled on a farm four miles east of the Anton Loranz homestead. He married widow named Mrs. Newman. After she died, he married an elderly lady whose last name was Czeczak.
Theresia's husband, Franz Weiss, had inherited the farm home of his parents at Kaundorf. With the fourteen-acre farm and two-room house he was considered rather well-to-do. Their home, like the others in that locality, was built of brick, with several small windows and a roof of heavily thatched straw. It was here that Theresia bore eight children: Frank (b. 1861), Maria (b. March 29, 1863), Matilda (b. 1865), Joseph (b. 1867), Theresia (b. 1871), August (b. 1874), Anna (b. 1876), and Helen (b. 1879). As the family rapidly, grew larger, life on the small farm became increasingly difficult. Taxes were extremely high, and although the children from an early age learned to work and economize, the family was barely surviving.
When letters began arriving from Theresia’s brother Anton, describing the wondrous new country with its vast expanse of unoccupied land open for settlement to anyone who would come and take it, the Weiss family were filled with enthusiasm and decided that this was their opportunity of escaping the hopeless drudgery of their lives in Kaundorf. As soon as the decision was made, plans were laid out to dispose of all their property for cash. The land sold for $200 per acre, and they also sold farm implements and household furnishings. They embarked on the steamship Fulda with seven children, but without Frank, who was 23. After a somewhat stormy voyage they arrived in New York on March 24, 1884. Evidently it took them five days to get through all the details of disembarkment and emigration, for Maria remembered that she actually arrived in New York on her 21st birthday, which would be March 29th. They then boarded a train for the long Journey to Dakota Territory. They marveled at the extent of America, the widely scattered farms and still more widely scattered towns. It was April when they arrived In Jamestown on the Northern Pacific. To their surprise, snow was still lying nine feet deep in many places.
As soon as possible Franz Weiss began looking for a farm. He met a man who offered him a farm for $2000 In cash. Without making any title investigations he accepted the offer, paid the cash, and moved to the farm. He knew nothing of titles or deeds, so did nothing about them. Some months later when men came to collect interest on a mortgage, the Weiss family was surprised to discover that they did not own the farm and the money paid for it was a complete loss. Later, however, a man named Frame died who had a homestead for which he had not done all that was required for ownership. Franz Weiss jumped this claim, and thus had possession of a farm. It was nine miles northeast of Jamestown, near Spiritwood. It was their home for many years. In the mean time shortly after their arrival in Dakota, their youngest was born Albert, on June 30, 1884.
As earlier stated, Maria Weiss married Joseph Nogosek two years after her arrival in America, in 1886. But before, going on to describe the years following that marriage, let us cite a long passage about the Franz Weiss family as taken from a manuscript written about 1939 entitled “The Story of a Pioneer Mother, Theresa Lorenz Weiss," by her granddaughter, Gertrude Monek Kirkendall":
“...This farm, nine miles northeast of Jamestown, became the family home for many years.
The years that followed were filled with struggles and hardships that would have daunted a less hardy family. The whole family worked hard; they took each day as it came; they had innumerable failures, but learned a lesson from each failure and tried again. Eventually their successes began to outnumber their failures and little by little they found that they were getting ahead. Money became more plentiful. This was used for better farm implements and animals, for enlarging the house and other farm buildings, and for procuring the comforts of life which they had so long denied themselves.
A person living now can hardly envisage the hardships of these pioneers. In winter there was the terrible cold with blizzards lasting two or three days. During these blizzards, one dared not venture from the house for fear of losing one's way end being frozen to death. The Weisses, like many other farmers, connected the house to the barn with a rope. Following this rope was the only way to go safely between the buildings. Some winters the snowfall was so heavy and the drifts so deep that families would find themselves marooned on their farms for weeks at a time. There was no lack of food for every farmer had his own root cellar, meat, and dairy products. When it was absolutely necessary to go to town, one of the boys walked in, or rode a horse.
During the dry summers and autumns, the Weiss family lived in constant terror of prairie fires. The original prairie grass was so tall and luxuriant that a fire once started would spread so swiftly that farm families often could not escape. Many a family perished before a prairie fire could be checked. As a preventative measure, all grass was cleared for some distance around all farm buildings.
Even the children feared these fires. The two youngest Weiss girls, Anna and Helen were often sent to the prairie to keep the cattle from straying. At one such a time, the girls discussed the danger of being out during a prairie fire and decided they would burn out a small area for a place of safety. They brought matches and a sack to beat out the fire when it had burned sufficiently. The-fire was easily started but a sudden gust of wind swept the flames in all directions and in few moments the flames were completely out of control. Suddenly the girls were stunned to see it had burned over a quarter mile and was burning a neighbor’s haystack. Farmers on all sides dropped their work and fought the fire until it was extinguished.
During the early years, prices of farm products were low. Although farmers had an abundance of homegrown food, yet actual cash was scarce. It was an event when the children got new clothes and shoes. When they went to Spiritwood, they walked the three miles or the nine miles to Jamestown. To make their shoes last longer they would carry them to the edge of town and then wear them only around town. The children spent much of their free time gathering buffalo bones for which there was a cash market.
As the years passed, good crops, good prices, and hard work brought prosperity to the Weisses. Frank and Theresa Weiss began to feel that they had earned a rest, so in 1901 they bought a home in Jamestown and left the farm to the younger boys, August and Albert. In this little white cottage in the eastern part of Jamestown, Theresa Weiss lived quietly, busying herself with her garden and chickens, receiving visits from her children, and enjoying the leisure she had so well earned. She was a quiet self-contained person. She never gave a thought to her own pleasures but devoted all her energy doing for the family what she felt was her duty. On the farm she had always enjoyed her surroundings; in spring, the vast stretches of green fields; in summer, the wave upon wave of ripening wheat; in autumn., the hazy warmth of the Indian summer, and possibly, too, she enjoyed the quiet of the shut-in winters. She had learned to love America, especially her two homes, the one on the farm and the one in town. Frank Weiss paid several visits to his old home in Germany and urged his wife to accompany him, but she had no desire to return, not even for a visit. She was content to stay at home. During the summer of 1910 she became ill. She was nursed faithfully by her daughters but passed away quietly and peacefully on a lovely summer day, July 22, 1910.
After her death her husband made his home with his son August on the old home lace. He passed away April 21, 1922. Both are buried in Calvary Cemetery near Jamestown, North Dakota.”
After Mary Weiss's marriage in 1886, most of her brothers, and sisters also married and had large families. Frank married Marie Louise Kuban in 1892, and they had 5 children: Helen, Joseph, Irving, Walter, and Alice Louise. Matilda married Albert Monek and they lived near Jamestown, where they had 8 children: Henry, Gertrude, Stephen, Colin, Josephine, Helen, George, and Ruth. Theresia married Hans Peterson in West Superior, Wisconsin, and they made their home at Everett, Washington. They had 5 children: Iver, Dora, Leonard, Ernest, and Archie. Mary's brother August married Katherine Kachel in 1909, and they made their home on his parent's homestead near Spiritwood. They had 12 children: Joseph, Frank, Martin, August, Margaret, John, Mary, George, Gertrude, Edward, Katherine, and Rose. Helen married Leo Pfefferle and they lived on a farm near Claresholm, Alberta, Canada. They had five children: Eva Mary, Helen, Florence, Dorothy, and Leo. Mary's youngest brother, Albert, married Katherine Boltz, and they farmed near Spiritwood. They had six children: Helen, Irene, Theresa, Katherine, Albert and Norma.
Section 3: Joseph's Married Life
Joseph Nogosek and Mary Weiss began their married life near Jamestown, and their first child, Mary, was born on September 7, 1887. The next year they moved out to their new homestead 25 miles north of Jamestown. It is said they were the first settlers in that northern, part of Stutsman County, though, in 1887 Anton Frederickson had built a small unplastered shack, 12x16, on a spot in the center of what would soon become the original town of Kensal. A year before his brother, Julius Frederickson, had built a small sod house on his claim adjacent to that of Anton, and this was replaced by a wood shack in 1888, similar in size to that of Anton's. But these were not homes, but rather erected to prove up their homestead claims. In any case, the Nogosek homestead was 3-1/2 miles to the southeast.
Joseph and Mary's next child was Lawrence, born on their new homestead on August 2, 1888. But he lived only 10 days. Anna was born the next year, on October 19, 1889, less than 3 weeks before North Dakota entered the Union on November 2, 1889. Then Helena was born on April 17, 1891.
In the fall of 1892 the Soo Line railroad came through the area, and the town of Kensal was laid out 3-1/2 miles northwest of the Joseph Nogosek homestead. Mary used to speak of having laundered clothes for the men working on the construction of the railroad, which indeed was as close as a mile from some of their land. They indeed eked out a living in any way they could in those years. The coming of the. railroad so near by and the establishment of the town of Kensal would mean that they no longer would have to make the trek of twenty-five miles to Jamestown to sell their hogs and grain and to buy provisions, or that they would have to travel almost 20 miles to Fried to get to church. By early 1893 Kensal not only had a depot but also the Osborn-McMillan elevator and some coal sheds, After all, the railroad was in business especially to haul grain and coal. There were, of course, also available right away a lumber yard and some sort of grocery store. In 1893 there was also built Kensal's first hotel, called the Kensal House, and next to it the home of J.S. Tufford, which was also immediately used as Kensal's first school, with its first teacher being Miss Queen Gott. She was succeeded by Miss Nella Burdick, but already in 1894 the first Kensal school was built. It was of one room, which already the following year proved to be too small, and so in 1896 it was moved 3-1/2 miles southeast and just east of the Joseph Nogosek homestead to serve as Nogosek township's first school. Previous to that, the Nogosek township school had been in the home of Joseph Nogosek. Even after they had the school building, the teacher continued to reside with the Joseph Nogosek's. We can see Joseph was determined that the lack of schooling that bad happened to him as a child in Independence, Wisconsin, would not happen to his own children, the oldest of which, Mary, was already six years old in 1893. It is said that to provide enough students for the school, one or more of his children began school already when only 5. But most of his children would have only five years of school.
Kensal’s second school building was built on the same location as the first school in 1896. Though much larger than the first building, it still was only one room. In 1903 it was sold to St John’s perish to be Kensal's first Catholic church building, and a much more commodious school building was erected in the eastern part of town. Classes there were extended to the high school years beginning in the fall of 1909, and of Joseph Nogosek’s family, the first one to be able to attend high school in town was Stephen. His class of 1919 was the third to graduate.
Meanwhile, along with the rapid growth of Kensal, Joseph Nogosek's family grew. George was horn on January 24, 1893, Louis on December 11, 1895, Joseph on January 11, 1897, Timothy on January 14, 1899, and Stephen on February 15, 1901. By 1900 Kensal had a population of 160. Moreover, the Nogosek homestead was not all alone south of Kensal, nor simply among strangers. Joseph’s brother Frank also laid out a homestead claim nearby, and after marrying Valeria Wojciechowski on November 17, 1896, founded his home there. Frank had met Valeria while working on the threshing rig managed by Joseph. She was working in the cookhouse, which was moved from farm to farm as the threshing proceeded. Later they would move to another farm site two miles southeast of the Joseph Nogosek homestead. They had nine children: George (b. 1897), Edward (b. 1898), Max (b. 1900), Stella (b. 1902), Julia (b. 1905), Cecilla (b. 1908), Mary (b. 1910), Margaret (b. 1914), and Eleanor (b. 1918).
But even closer by, Joseph's sister Elizabeth and her husband, Frank William Skroch, had homesteaded just a mile east of the Joseph Nogosek home. She had married Frank William Skroch In 1886. He was her first cousin. His parents were Matthias Skroch and Anna Niva (as mentioned above). Their family provided friends, school mates, and fellow baseball players for the Nogosek children. The Skroch's raised eight chIldren: Peter (b. 1888), Clara (b. 1890), Anna (b. 1892), Frank George (b. 1895), Elizabeth (b. 1891), and Mary, Joseph, and Lucille.
Joseph’s other brothers and sisters also had large families. After Maria had married Theodore Gospodar, they had 8 children: Peter (b. 1879), Dora (b. 1886), Mary (lb. 1888), Theodore (b. 1890), Conrad (b. 1891), Congea (b. 1893), Agnes (b. 1895), and Veronica (b. 1898). Joseph’s brother Peter married Magdaline Fisher in 1899, and they had 15 children: Leo (b. 1900), Roman (b. 1902), Helen Clara (b. 1913), Catharina (b. 1915), George (b. 1916), Elmer (b. 1917), Leonard (b. 1919), Gertrude (b. 1920), Clarence (b. 1921), and Cleophas (b. 1925). Although Peter died in 1925 at the age of 50, his wIfe Maggie lived be 98 and died on January 11, 1981.
Joseph’s sister Anna married Henry Genzel and they had 3 children: Ralph, Effle, and Henry. His brother Thomas married Mary Kampa from Independence, Wisconsin, and they homesteaded near Courtenay, North Dakota. They had 10 children: Louis (b. 1905), Edward (b. 1906), Ktherine (b. 1909), Cecilia (b. 1910), Florence (b. 1912), Theodore (b. 1915), Lucille (b. 1918), Mildred, Louise, and Eugene (b. 1927). Joseph’s sister Hattie married Max Gruchalla in 1902 and they had 8 children: John (b. 1904), Frank (b. 1906), Felix (b. 1907) Max (b. George (b. 1912), Agnes (b. 1916), Helen (b. 1918), and Louis (b. 1920).
Joseph’s youngest brother, Anton, married Sophia Klimek in 1906. She had been born in Independence, Wisconsin but her family had moved out to the Spiritwood area. After their marriage they first lived on the Gregory Nogosek homestead where Anthony was born in 1907 and George was born in 1909. Then they sold the farm to the George Bautch family and moved to Jamestown. However, Antori was unable to find work in Jamestown so they purchased a restaurant in Geneseo, North Dakota, on advice from the Bautches. This is in an area of southeastern North Dakota that, like Fried, had many. immigrants who were Silesian Poles. But after two years there they had a terrible fire which destroyed both the restaurant and their home, along with most of their belongings. They moved back to Jamestown, where Anton got a job at the railroad depot. Their daughter Veronica was born in Jamestown in 1911. Then In February 1912 they went to visit Sophia's family in Independence, Wisconsin. She decided they should not, go back to North Dakota to live, but should settle in Independence. So Anton went back to Jamestown alone to settle up his business affairs and to bring back with him their furniture and other household belongings. They settled on a farm near Independence. Before Anton died in 1919 of a long illness, which perhaps was a form of leukemia, they had three more children: Martina (b. 1914), Simon (b. 1916), and Adolph (b. 1918).
Section 4: Tragic Event
A tragic event on the night of September 26, 1902 brought great sadness and even shame to all the Nogosek families. Gregory Nogosek drowned that night in Spiritwood lake under circumstances which were mysterious, humiliating, end, to say the least, rather sensational as reported in the Jamestown newspapers. Louis Kilmek, grandfather of Sophia Kilmek, Anton Nogosek’s wife, had come from Independence, Wisconsin to visit his good friend of earlier days, Gregory Nogosek. With him was John Suchla, Sophie's uncle. As reported later, in the newspapers, these two men, along with another friend named Mike Bender, had been drinking whisky with Gregory at his home. They went on to the farm of Gregory’s daughter Maria, the Theodore Gospodar farm, for supper and a few more drinks. Then borrowing a dollar from his daughter and saying that they were going to Wimbledon, which was 15 miles away, Gregory set out with his friends in two buggies. Instead of going to Wimbledon, they ended up at Spiritwood Lake, only a few miles away, at the LaBrasche boat house, which was reportedly a “blind pig,” that is, a place where liquor was illegally sold. North Dakota had come into the Union in 1889 with a prohibition article in its constitution, and since July 1890 it had been illegal to manufacture, sell, import, or give intoxicating beverages to anyone in the state. A great business in bootlegging had been going on, with liquor especially being brought in across the Canadian border at night. Spiritwood Lake was known to be a place of rendezvous for such bootleggers. It is no wonder, then, that the Nogosek family claimed Gregory had never before been at Spiritwood Lake, even though he had farmed no more than four miles from it for 23 years.
According to the testimony of witnesses, as reported in detail in the newspapers, there were more drinks at the boat house, and the men got into a very vocal argument with Gregory Nogosek. He then left the boat house, which extended out over the water. It was a very dark and rainy night. Suddenly he was heard screaming the name of Jesus in Polish three times. His friends inside were frightened, and did not go out immediately to find out what was the matter. When they did go out, they saw no sign of Gregory. One waded out into the lake a little way, but found nothing. They did, thought think they saw for a moment the shoulder of a man in the water. Mike Bender said, “He's gone!" Then they left the boat house to walk up the hill to LaBrasche's house. In the yard they reportedly saw a strange man pull a light out of his pocket. John Suchla began to panic, and ran out into the field to hide in a slough until 4 A.M. Only then did he return to LaBrasche’s house, where he was let in. Once it grew light outside, they went down to the water and found Gregory’s body face down along the shore, in eighteen inches of water. The coroner found only ten cents in his pocket. Outside of a bruised nose, no other injuries were found on the body.
His friends were convinced that he had been jumped in the dark. What would be the motive? As they figured it out, people in the area had thought that Lewis Klimek had come to the Fried area to buy a farm, and hence would have a lot of money in his pocket. As a matter of fact, this was not true; he had simply cents to visit Gregory. Anyway, they had mistaken Gregory for Louis Klimek as he emerged alone from the boat house. It does seem possible that several men could easily cause a man to drown by holding his head under Water for a few minutes, and not leave any bruises on the body. Moreover, how explain that Gregory had only 10 cents in his pocket? Farmers were used to carrying considerable sums of money on their person. But the coroner's jury, which met at the same time in Jamestown as the funeral was being held in Fried on Sunday, September 28th, rendered the verdict of accidental drowning, it does seem possible, indeed, that Gregory had walked out on the dock, fallen into the water in the dark, and in his panic at not being able to swim he could have stumbled out into deep water instead of making his way towards shore. Spiritwood Lake does drop off quite suddenly, for it is a spring-fed lake.
Christina, Gregory’s wife, remained at the homestead until Anton sold it to George Bautch. Then she went to live with Frank Nogosek's, in a little house apart from theirs. She died on December 24, 1913. There is no record of her body being buried next to that of Gregory at Fried, under the large white tombstone erected for him in the center of the cemetery. Perhaps she was buried instead at an old cemetery near Courtenay, where many other Nogoseks were also interred.
Section 5: Later Years
In the early 1900's four more children were born to Joseph and Mary Nogosek: John was born December 12, 1903, but died the same day, Margaret was born on March 21, 1904, Albert on February 2, 1906, but died 12 days later, and Ernest was born May 5, 1907. In the meantime the name of Joseph Nogosek was becoming increasingly well known through his becoming a county commissioner. This came about in the November 1906 general election. At. that time the number of county commissioners for Stutsman County was increased from three to five. Joseph was elected from the Republican Party as representative of the Third District, defeating the Democrat incumbent, Welsh, by a majority of 51 votes. His first meeting with the other commissioners was in Jamestown on January 8, 1907.
Stutsman had been the first county in North Dakota to be organized with county commissioners. The board of commissioners was the highest authority in the county, and even the Jamestown City Council was of less authority. The commissioners met in Jamestown the first Tuesday after the first Monday of each month. Generally they met the morning and afternoon of one day, but sometimes their sessions went into a second day. The County Clerk had their proceedings published in the Jamestown papers each month, and later also in the Kensal newspaper. These published minutes show that Joseph Nogosek rarely missed a meeting, even in the winter. Beginning with the meeting of January 7, 1908, and throughout that year, he was the chairman of the board. It is noticeable that the reports of the meetings beginning with that year are considerably more extensive and business-like than they had been previously. We see Joseph Nogosek as a continual exponent of better roads for the county and other improvements such as rural telephones. In 1908, the commissioners approved a James Lake phone system. Joseph was one of the first in the area to own a Buick automobile. For many years he had been the manager of a large threshing rig.
After four years as commissioner, Joseph ran for a second term in 1910, but was defeated by Charles Schumacher In the June primary by 101 votes. He would remain an officer both of Nogosok Township, which was named after him, and of the Nogosek School District from the time of their initial organization until his death.
By 1910 Kensal had grown to a population of 457. There were now seven elevators, among which was the Kensal Farmers Elevator, which Joseph Nogosek helped to organize In 1905. In 1911 he was elected to be one of the seven members on its board of directors, and subsequently became its vice president. J.C. Ashley continued those years to be its manager. Joseph was also very much involved in the affairs of St. John’s Church. The schoolhouse-turned-church was replaced on the same site by a new church completed in 1912 built by Jo LaQua. Among the various lodges at Kensal the one that Joseph belonged to was the Modern Woodmen of America.
In November 1918 Joseph and his wife Mary moved to Kensal. His health had been failing rapidly. The doctors at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, were, able to do little for him. Six weeks later, on December 21, 1918, he suddenly became very ill while on his way home after visiting with friends downtown in Kensal. Feeling very tired and short of breath, he stopped to rest at a friend's house, a block from home. He hardly sat down in a chair when he quietly passed away. He had lived 54 years, nine months and three days. His death was attributed to a complication of diseases, particularly of the heart and liver. His widow, Mary, continued to live in Kensal until her death on April 2, 1943. Both are buried at St. John's Cemetery, Kensal.
After Joseph's death, of the seven quarters of land owned by Joseph, three were kept by his widow, and of the remaining four quarters, one quarter was given to each of the four oldest boys: to George, Louis, Joseph, and Tim. George and Lou each built a small house on their land, and lived there alone until they married. Joe eventually sold his quarter to Lou, and Lou also obtained an additional 80 acres which be purchased from someone. George obtained a second quarter of land, possibly by purchasing it from his mother, and also obtained 80 acres in addition. Tim sold his original homestead quarter to Tony Neva, who eventually tore down the buildings. For some years Tony had lived in the homestead house, but claimed it was haunted! It was a house with so many additions made as the family increased that in the end It was something of the size of a small hotel. No wonder anyone living there alone would hear lots of strange noises! An additional 80 acres of the original Nogosek farm was also sold to Tony Neva.
<NOTE: THIS VERSION OF THE TRANSCRIPTION IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING EDITED AND PROOFED>
|Updated: 1 Jan 14