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Man Discovers That He's About to Become 100

Brown, Katie. "Man Discovers That He's About to Become 100." Bismarck Tribune, 30 January 2006.


A Bismarck man lost a whole year a little more than a month ago.

Leo Goll, Sr. was set to celebrate his 99th birthday next month, until December, when his niece stumbled upon family information that verified that Goll will actually be 100 Feb. 19.

"My niece got ahold of the Bible my folks had," Goll said as he looked through old family photos. "All the children were listed, and it said I was born in 1906 instead of 1907."

Goll lives with his daughter, Arlis Jochim. Jochim said there were no birth certificate records when her father was born in Martin. She said the only record her family had of his age was a document that said he was baptized in 1907, so she assumed her father was born that year.

"It turns out they must have waited a year to baptize him," she said.

The Bible belonged to Goll's parents, German immigrants, who brought the family Bible with them when they immigrated to the United States from Bessarabia, Russia. The Bible had been passed down to family members through the years in a box of various items, but no one bothered to go through the box.

Finally, in December, the family decided to look.

"It doesn't feel that good to find out you're a year older," Goll said, laughing. "I would've much rather found out I was a year younger."

Jochim said around 25 years ago, one of Goll's older sisters mentioned that she thought her brother might be a year older than he thought. Jochim said they never looked into it, and Goll seemed to have no interest in finding out what his real birth year was.

Goll married Emma Helfenstein on Christmas Day 1931. They farmed in Regan and then moved to the Bismarck area in the 1970s.

The Golls moved in with their daughter in 1995, after Emma Goll suffered a stroke. She died in 2000. Jochim said her father gets around well and is in relatively good health.

Since finding the Bible, Jochim said it has been easier to keep track of family history, since many important dates are written inside. She made a memory book for her father complete with family history and many old photos.

Goll looked an old yellowing photo of the sod house he was born in.

"It was attached to the barn and the chicken coop," he said. "If we wanted breakfast in the morning, we walked into the barn and got milk and then into the chicken coop and got the eggs."

Jochim said there is only one thing to do now that her father is turning 100.

"When we found out he'd be 100, my kids said we had to have a big party," she said. Most of his three children, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren will be there to celebrate.

Reprinted with permission of the Bismarck Tribune.

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