Serr Reunion Focuses on Family’s History
in Emmons County
Burke, Allan. "Serr Reunion Focuses on Family’s History in Emmons County." Emmons County Record, 21 December 2005.
About 230 descendants of Henry, Sr. and Louisa (Grenz) Serr gathered
June 17-19 for a family reunion that included visits to the Serr
farms, the Emmons County Historical Society Museum in Linton and
to Hot Spot Pizzeria in Linton for a family meal. The family headquartered
at a Bismarck motel.
Their first stop on their tour of the area was the farmstead where
Henry and Louisa lived. Henry’s parents, George, Sr. and Elizabeth
(Enzi) Serr and his brother and sister-in-law, George, Jr. and Johanna
(Stoppe) Serr, lived in the same area.
Only a few out buildings remain on the Henry, Sr. farmstead, and
the land is now owned by Albert Weber of Linton.
Henry, Sr. and Louisa raised 14 children on their farm west of
Temvik. Near the farm is the Sand Creek Cemetery where two generations
of the Serr family are buried: George, Sr. and Elizabeth and George,
Jr. and Johanna. Henry, Sr. and Louisa are buried in the Linton
Cemetery. Also on the tour was the former St. Andrew’s Episcopal
Rectory in Linton where Henry, Sr. and Louisa lived after they moved
to town. Family members who visited the Serrs at the former rectory
remember its cathedral ceiling and the lemon drops that Grandma
Serr kept in a drawer in the kitchen.
Lucinda Schneider of the Emmons County Historical Society, which
uses the house as part of its museum, stocked the drawer with lemon
drops as a treat for the Serr family.
At the museum, Henry Serr, Jr. and his children: Terry Serr and
Wagner, both of Hazelton, and Shelley Serr of Bismarck presented
Schneider with a framed picture of Henry, Sr. and Louisa that now
in their former home.
Henry, Sr. died in 1952 and Louisa in 1974.
The Serr family paid their respects at the Serr graves in the Linton
Cemetery and then to the Grenz relatives - Gottlieb and Johanna
Grenz - in the Temvik Cemetery.
In addition to the tours, the family especially enjoyed their meals
together in Linton and in Bismarck.
Dorinda (Serr) Diede compiled a family history, which she presented
those attending the reunion.
Her history starts with George Serr, Sr., who was born in Worms,
Russia, in 1849. He married Elizabeth Enzi in New Freudenthal, Russia,
in 1874. He was 25, and she was 19.
George and Elizabeth had seven children, who ranged in age from
4 to 34
when the family immigrated to the United States in 1903.
During his years in Russia, George, Sr. was taught the practice
herbal medicine, and he continued treating both people and animals
after coming to the United States. He was known as a "braucher,"
German term for a "laying on of hands" type of healing.
George and Elizabeth homesteaded on the NW 1/4 of Section 24-133-77
in Emmons County, which was four and a half miles southwest of where
their son and his wife, Henry, Sr. and Louisa Serr, eventually purchased
land and settled to raise their children. Elizabeth died in 1916
while George lived until 1931.
Henry, Sr. worked for the Harold Brothers, who were contracted
Northern Pacific Railroad, to supply hay for the mules used in the
construction of the rail line in Emmons County. The haying was done
quarter mile west of the Linton Cemetery.
When Henry was 23, as customs of that time dictated, a marriage
arranged for him. His bride was Louisa Grenz, also 23. She was the
daughter of Gottlieb and Johanna (Heer) Grenz, and they were married
Zeeland on Jan. 27, 1908.
Louisa was born in 1885 in Gildendorf, Russia, and was a baby when
parents brought her to the United States. The Grenz family lived
Artas and Eureka in South Dakota for about 23 years, before moving
Emmons County. There were 14 children in the family.
Shortly after Henry and Louisa were married, the Grenzes purchased
in Emmons County from Gottlieb Schatz. The land came with a sod
built by Schatz.
Gottlieb Grenz was one of the founders of the Temvik Zion Lutheran
Church in 1930. Gottlieb died in 1936, followed by Johanna in 1946.
Following their wedding day, Henry and Louisa traveled west, crossing
the Missouri River on a ferry with all their personal belongings,
including a buggy and two horses.
They homesteaded near Lemmon, S.D., and returned to Emmons County
three years later. Their first child, George, died on the homestead
was buried in the Lemmon Cemetery.
Henry and Louisa had 13 children in Emmons County. Their births
19 years, so all 13 were not living at home at the same time. The
children left home between the ages of 15 and 18 to get jobs to
themselves and sometimes to help support the family.
Henry Serr, Jr., is the youngest child of Henry and Louisa. He
wife, Edna, farm southwest of Hazelton. Henry has one living sister,
Martha (Haas) Roe of Olympia, Wash.
Some of the family lore includes a story about Henry, Jr. and his
brother, Robert. When the boys wanted to use the family car, Robert
would always have Henry ask their father for the use of the automobile,
since it appeared their father would give in more easily to the
Once when Robert and Henry used their father’s car, Robert
had an accident that resulted in a smashed fender. They put the
car in the shed and didn’t tell their father. Henry, Sr. eventually
noticed the damage but didn’t seem very angry; however, the
boys ended up having to use their horses to go places for a very
long time after that. The Serr family history tells about Henry
and Louisa’s life on the prairie and raising their children
in Emmons County. Both the hard times and the good times are included.
Descendants of Henry, Sr. and Louisa
Serr pose for a family picture during the family reunion.
Serr Reunion guests enjoyed their visit
to the site of the Henry, Sr. and Louisa Serr farmstead.
The summer kitchen, car
shed and granary building and the chicken coop are among the
out buildings that still stand on the former Henry, Sr. and
Louisa Serr farm. Albert Weber owns the farm today.
After Gottlieb and Johanna
(Heer) Grenz moved to Emmons County, they purchased land from
Gottlieb Schatz that included a sod house, their first home
in North Dakota. Henry, Jr. and Edna Serr lived in the sod house
before moving to their present farm. Their first two children,
Terry Serr and Candis Wagner, were born when the family lived
Emmons County pioneers Henry and Louisa
Serr had 14 children.
Shelley Serr, center left, presents
a picture of Henry and Louisa Serr to Lucinda Schneider of the
Emmons County Historical Society.
Printed with permission of the Emmons County Record.