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Prairie Public TV Films Music Documentary at Hague, Strasburg

Burke, Allan. "Prairie Public TV Films Music Documentary at Hague, Strasburg." Emmons Country Record, 23 December 2004, sec. 1B-2B.


A re-enactment of a 1950s German-Russian wedding will premiere in the spring of 2005 as part of a Prairie Public Television music documentary.

About 100 hours of film was shot by the PPTV crew at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Hague and the Blue Room in Strasburg on Sept. 9 and 10, and many people from the area will be featured in the PPTV documentary. The film is now being edited for the documentary.

Michael M. Miller, a Strasburg native who is the Bibliographer for the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at North Dakota State University, Fargo, said the filming was done to capture the traditions of Germans from Russia weddings as well as the folk music associated with the weddings.

Miller and Bob Dambach, PPTV Director of Productions, are executive producers of the Germans from Russian Documentary Series.

Committee members for the music documentary, in addition to Miller and Dambach, are Dr. Homer Rudolf, Wishek native and a music professor emeritus from Richmond, Va., and Dr. Lewis Marquardt and his wife, Dr. Dona Reeves-Marquardt, both retired university professors from Austin, Tex. Lew Marquardt is an Emmons County native.

Rudolf is the researcher and script writer for the documentary. He interviewed a number of people during his time in Strasburg and Hague, and most of the interviews were conducted at the home of Felix and Katie Wald in Strasburg. Among those interviewed were Lew and Dona Marquardt, John Gross, Larry Schwab, Jimmy Schwab, Tony Wangler and Maude Fiechtner.

Katie coordinated the Emmons County visit for the film makers. "Michael called us about helping out, and there was a committee meeting before last year's Germans from Russia Heritage Society convention in Bismarck," Katie said. "We lined up the people from the area to play roles in the wedding and to be in the crowd at the wedding, dinner, reception and dance."

Katie added, "It all turned out well, but it was a little nerve-racking at times trying to have people at the right place at the right time." About 120 people were involved in the various scenes filmed. Father Leonard Eckroth of Strasburg officiated at the Wedding Ceremony, and he offered the prayer at the dinner and reception, which were held at the Blue Room in Strasburg.

Mass Servers were Cory Eberle, son of Don G. and Laura Eberle of Strasburg, and Zachery Krumm, son of Francis and Kelly Krumm of Hague. Tony Wangler of Kintyre played the processional, and he and Margaret Wald sang two German hymns. [Sei Geigrüsst Oh Jungfrau Rein (Be Praised, Oh Mother So Pure) and Brautlied Ge Lei Te Durch Die Wellen (Accompany thru the journey) (Wedding Song.) They played the Wedding March for the processional.]

[A segment for the wedding festivities was also filmed on the porch of the Rocky and Cheryl Eberle home in Hague; to signfy that weddings used to be held at the homes.]

The wedding party included: Bride - Jody (Jolenta Wald) Herauf of Bismarck, Groom - Alan Bullinger of Mandan, Matron of Honor - Karen (Wald) Hulm of Strasburg, Best Man - Leonard Weichel of Strasburg, Bridesmaids - LeeAnn (Wald) Jangula of Bismarck and Rosiland Leier of Hague, Groomsman - Isadore Gross of Kintyre, Flower Girl - Cassie Gefroh, daughter of Derald and Nancy Gefroh of Hague, Bride's Parents - Felix and Katie Wald of Strasburg, Groom's Parents - Jack and Frances Bullinger of Mandan and portraying Grandparents - John and Margaret Gross of Napoleon. Dance couples included: Albert and Lorraine Ebach of Pierre, S.D., John and Delores Becker of Napoleon, Chris and Ann Klein of Carrington, Julius and Carol Vetter of Menoken, Pete and Helen Ebach of Menoken, Magnus and Ann Wagner of Strasburg, Francis and Frances Feist of Bismarck, Ben and Delphine Vetter of Linton, Wilbert and Tillie Rath of Wishek, Tony and Rita Wangler of Kintyre, Daniel and Marlas Sayler of Wishek, Raphael and Ellene Brendel of Napoleon, Larry and Rosalind Leier of Hague, John and Rosie Long of Gackle, James J. and Mary Lou Hilzendeger of Napoleon, Willie and Angie Hilzendeger of Bismarck, Francis and Charlene Wald of Kintyre and Marvin and Mary Ann Fiechtner of Wishek.

[Guests are greeted at the door by two friendly gentlemen - Marv "Allen" Herauf of Bismarck and Duane Wald of Hague, with a toast drink of "red eye" homemade specialty of alcohol and sugar blends, and serving German beer were Darin Lee Wald and Doug Gefroh.]

At the punch table was Elicia Lynn Wald, daughter of Duane and Eileen Wald of Hague.

Carrie (Wald) Gefroh was at the guest book, and Jason Wald of Bismarck operated the family's video camera.

Mary Ann Gefroh of Linton made the beautiful wedding cake.

Cake servers were Laura (Mrs. Tom) Baumgartner of Pollock, S.D., and Margaret (Mrs. Isadore) Wald of Kintyre.

Table waiters at the noon meal were Julianne Eberle, daughter of Don and Laura Eberle of Strasburg; Lorraine Ebach of Pierre, S.D.; Carol Vetter of Menoken, and Helen Ebach of Menoken.

Serving at the evening dinner were Lorraine Ebach, Carol Vetter, Helen Ebach and Ann Wagner of Strasburg.

Traditional German Folk Song singers were Wendelin L. and Kathryn Vetter of Linton, August and Loretta Vetter of Linton, Tony and Rita Wangler of Kintyre, John and Margaret Gross of Napoleon, Ben and Delphine Vetter of Linton, Isadore Gross of Kintyre and Kasimier M. and Ann Wald of Wishek.

Special guests included Kenny and Shannon Nieuwsma of Strasburg, who assisted with the barn in Hull that was used for shooting the barn dance scene. [Popular fun time entertainment of the time - it was just more exciting dancing up in the hayloft]. Allan and Leah Burke of the Emmons County Record, Linton; Tony and Elaine Wald of Strasburg, and Rocky and Cheryl Eberle of Hague.

Singing to the wedding couple at the dinner were Tony Wangler, John Gross and Wendelin Vetter. [They sang the traditional Brautlied (Wedding Song) and Ehe Stant Lied.]

Another tradition noted was the collection at the evening dinner as the musicians played the "Deutsch March" to get the cooks out of the kitchen. Isadore Gross and Kasimier M. Wald collected money from the crowd with soup bowls.

Cooks were Helen Fischer of Hague and Barb Ternes of Strasburg. Cars from the era were used to drive the bride and groom and attendants from Hague to Strasburg. Darin Lee Wald drove Felix's 1958 Ford hardtop convertible, Felix Wald drove a 1967 Ford two-door hardtop, Tony Wald drove a 1954 Chevy and Doug Gefroh drove a 1967 Ford convertible. [As was customary, on the way to the church, the bride's car was in the lead; following church services, the groom's car was in the lead and the bride's car followed. The meaning: the bride can still back out of the marriage on the way to the church, but must follow the groom after the ceremony.] Thanks to input from Katie Wald, every step of the wedding process followed German-Russian traditions in practice in the 1950s, from the role of music at the wedding to what songs were played and sung at the dinner.

Musicians were Vic Schwahn, Marv Zander, and Larry Schwab, accordionists, and Clarence Bosch on drums. Larry is a Strasburg resident, and the other men live in Bismarck.

"It was truly a fun time bringing back the traditions enjoyed so much by our generation," Katie said. "When asked to help, people were excited to relive the true and beautiful memories with the customs of the German Russian settlers in the Dakotas. These wonderful food customs and oh yes, - the polka music by Mr. Schwahn and Mr. Zander including the German folk songs; this is our heritage - may it live on forever!"

** Additional information in brackets was prepared by Kathryn Glatt Wald, Strasburg, North Dakota, January 2005.

Committee members for the music documentary include, left to right, Dr. Homer Rudolf, Wishek native and a music professor emeritus from Richmond, Va., Dr. Lewis Marquardt and his wife, Dr. Dona Reeves-Marquardt, both retired university professors from Austin, Tex., PPTV Production Manager Bob Dambach and Michael M. Miller of NDSU, Fargo.
Prairie Public TV videographers are, left to right, Dave Geck, Lee Westad, Bob Dambach and Travis Jensen. Dambach is the PPTV Production Manager, he and Michael M. Miller are the executive producers of the documentary.
The bride, Jody (Jolenta Wald) Herauf of Bismarck, is pictured with, left to right, Matron of Honor Karen (Wald) Hulm of Strasburg, Flower Girl Cassie Gefroh, daughter of Derald and Nancy Gefroh of Hague, Bridesmaids LeeAnn (Wald) Jangula of Bismarck and Rosalind Leier of Hague.
The barn on the former Edwin and Gertrude Nieuwsma farm in Hull will be featured in the barn dance seen in the music documentary. The barn and house were built in 1910 by John and Marie Haak. Edwin and Gertrude, daughter of the Haaks, purchased the farm in 1965. In 2001, the farm was purchased by Charles and Violet Pals of Crete, Ill. Violet is Gertrude's niece. The farmyard is immaculately kept up by John J. Nieuwsma, and Kenny Nieuwsma feeds the livestock. Charles and Violet stay in the house when they visit. Above, the Prairie Public TV videographers film a scene. In the hay loft are, left to right, Victor Schwahn and Katie and Felix Wald.
Traditional German-Russian food was served at the two meals that were filmed. [Dinner featured oven-baked chicken, country sausage, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw, pickled watermelon, pickles, homemade bread, kuchen and wedding cake.]
The wedding party is serenaded with traditional German songs.
These singers will appear in the documentary. They sang an assortment of songs that were traditional at German-Russian weddings in the 1950s. Pictured are, left to right, Wendelin Vetter, Tony Wangler, Delphine Vetter, Rita Wangler, Isadore Gross, Katie Wald, Loretta Vetter, Felix Wald, Ann Wald, Julius Vetter, Kasimer Wald, Carol (Wangler) Vetter (she played the accordion used by her dad, the late Joe Wangler, in his memory), Ben Vetter, August Vetter and John Gross.
Part of the Felix and Katie Wald family are pictured in the Blue Room Left to right are Jason Wald (grandson), LeeAnn (Wald) Jangula, Darin Wald, Karen (Wald) Hulm, Katie and Felix, Jody (Wald) Herauf, Carrie (Wald) and Doug Gefroh and Eileen (Hulm) and Duane Wald.
Father Leonard Eckroth gives the prayer at the dinner.
Karen Hulm holds Cassie Gefroh, the flower girl.
As the bride and groom watch and the Prairie Public TV videographers film, the wedding cake is cut.
Lew Marquardt of Austin, Tex., visits with Mary Ann Gefroh of Linton. Mary Ann baked and decorated the cake for the wedding.
The cooks for the event were Helen Fischer, left, and daughter Barb Ternes.

Reprinted with permission of the Emmons County Record.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
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Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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Fax: 701-231-6128
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Director: Michael M. Miller
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