Karl (Carl) Altwasser
The Seventh child of Gottlieb Altwasser and Euphrosine Beier
Karl was born July 9, 1888 in Minjatin, Province of Wolhynia, Russia. He married Rosine Rust December 5, 1917. Karl's daughter Edna said he always spelled his name "Carl".
Carl as a young man.
The SS Dominion
Children of Carl Altwasser and Rosina Rust
Carl Altwasser and Rosina Rust
Carl was born July 9, 1888 in Minjatin, Province of Wolhynia, Russia. Seventeen years and a few days later the ship SS Dominion departed from Liverpool, England and arrived in Quebec City on August 12, 1905. The ships passenger list contained the names of Gottlieb Altwasser, his wife Euphrosine and four children, Julianna, Carl, Frederick and Olga. Their destination was Yellow Grass, Saskatchewan.
Carl Altwasser and Rosine (Rose) Rust were married December 5, 1917. Rose was born October 12, 1900 in Plum Coulee, Manitoba.
Allan Juno told Jack that Karl's occupation was that of a farmer. Land grant records show that Carl was granted the SW-3-7-27-W2 and SE-4-7-27-W2. These two quarter sections were adjacent to his father's two quarter sections. If you look closely at the land descriptions, members of Gottlieb's family occupied the SE-4, SW-4 and NW-4-7-27 W2 plus two adjoining quarter sections in SW-3-7-27 and SE-5-7-27. All of these homesteads are located immediately north of Verwood. If you have been to Verwood, highway #13, which runs east and west through southern Saskatchewan, seems to divide township 7 north of the highway from township 6 south of the highway (Verwood is immediately south of the highway).
Carl's daughter Edna said Carl always spelled his name with a "C" and that the farm house burned to the ground in 1933. All existing photographs and family records were destroyed in the fire.
Nephews Art and Herb Domes have contributed the story below.
Remembering our Uncle Carl
Carl Altwasser was our mother's second youngest brother. He homesteaded a little over a mile to the east of Gottliebs place, their land joined together. Carl and his family were also our closest neighbors when we grew up and we always considered them very good neighbors. Whenever there was an opportunity to help each other we did.
When Carl homesteaded he was a bachelor and lived under pretty spartan conditions like all bachelors. One story we heard was that on one occasion when Carl was away, a horse pushed open the door of his shack, walked in and promptly fell through the floor into a shallow cellar dug under the floor. That is where Carl found the horse when he returned.
Carl was popular with his homestead neighbors and they socialized well. Bachelor parties were a common thing in those days and that was how all those bachelors kept up their morale. Our mother and dad married in 1912, but Carl was a bachelor until he married in 1917, some five years later at age 29. I expect he had many good meals at our mother's and at his mother's.
After he married our aunt Rose, he built a fine house on his farmstead on the SW-3-7-27 W2nd. There were a lot of nice trees planted around the yard and it was located right along the north side of highway #13. A few years later a big barn was built on the same location and stabled the horses needed to work the farm. There was a good pasture with lots of water adjacent to the farm yard.
Rose and son Walter, Summer of 1925
Three children were born, Edna in 1921, Walter in 1925, and Donald in 1931. Edna was good friends with our sisters Elsie and Irene, Walter and Art were in the same grade in school and socialized together, and Donald and Herb were the same age and were also good friends.
The red brick school at Verwood
Carl was a very civic minded person and worked hard on all projects that helped to better the community. He was a member of the local school board and when he was chairman of the board he was responsible for getting a fine, four room, red brick school built at Verwood. Grades one to twelve were taught in the school and the school boasted a fine gymnasium that was great for basketball and other indoor sports. The four room red brick school eventually outlived it's usefullness and stands no more.
Carl could not stand injustice to anyone. There was a Catholic cemetery in the south west corner of Carl's farm and one day Carl found that a deceased man, whose religious qualifications were somewhat dubious, had been buried outside of the cemetery fence, but on Carl's property. He immediately took legal action and made the local Catholic church purchase more land so that the grave would be on Catholic church property.
Tragedy stuck in 1933 when the family home burned down one night from an unknown cause. There was very little they could salvage and since we were already several years into the dirty thirties, the loss of the family home was a cruel blow. I remember helping uncle Carl dig around in the ashes of the house trying to salvage some of the dishes which were unaffected by the fire. I also remember how disappointed we were when our shovels would accidentally break some of the nice china.
Carl made the best of things and remodelled a two car garage into a small two bedroom house. It was to be their home until they left the farm in 1942.
Life was not easy for Carl as he believed he could not afford a tractor and had to do the farm work with horses and a hired man. One time there was a nasty accident with the horses and Carl suffered a badly broken leg that needed months to mend. One of Carl's horses would not tolerate anyone sitting on his back. When the rodeo came to town Carl would take this horse into the arena and that horse would buck like crazy when a cowboy crawled aboard. The next day Carl would hitch him to a plow and put in a days work.
The year 1938 was the first year in the 1930's when there was enough moisture to make the crops grow well. Unfortunately, an infestation of stem rust blew in and the crop became worthless. Carl plowed a fireguard around the heavy stand of wheat and one night we watched as he put a match to it and it lit up the night with a spectacular fire.
Prices for grain were poor in the 1930's so Carl and Aunt Rose decided on an alternative enterprise - raising turkeys. There were probably a couple hundred turkeys on the place and all summer long you could see them chasing grasshoppers across the yard as they ranged out. Mind you they also ate lots of grain that was raised on the farm and at the end of the year there was a lot less to sell. About the time that winter settled in the turkeys had to be butchered and all the neighbors rallied around to give a hand to pluck and dress all those big birds. They were sold for a good cash price.
Other memories include the three children coming to school in a buggy drawn by an old bay mare that needed lots of encouragement with a little whip to remind her of what she was there for. One time when Walter bought some fire works he ended up with a badly burned hand because he got careless when he launched a small rocket. Walter was good at figuring out his own entertainment and improvised a golf course in his dad's cow pasture. He was also a good student and easily made the best marks.
Just before Walter wrote his grade 12 exams in Verwood he injured his leg rather badly. Because his marks had been excellent, he was recommended and granted his grade 12 certificate. Later when the government in Saskatchewan changed to CCF, they revoked Walter's grade twelve certificate and he was required to take his grade 12 over again, a rather frustrating experience!
Rose Rust Altwasser
My Mother, Rose Rust, the second and youngest daughter of Daniel and Rosina Rust, was born at Plum Coulee, Manitoba on October 12, 1900. My grandparents had left Bessarabia (now Moldava) at least three years before and had stopped off in Manitoba to work and save money for the next leg of the journey. Their target destination was the Regina area because grandmother's brother, Jacob Nagel, farmed at Pilot Butte and they wished to settle in the area. In two or three months they completed their journey and took up land five miles from Vibank. The Canadian National Archives land grant records show that Daniel Rust was granted the land patent for the NW-18-15-14-W2. They farmed the land for about fifty years, when it was sold to the Lenz family, who were close neighbors and good friends. The Lenz family still owns it. (2001)
Mother married dad on December 5, 1917 and moved to Verwood where his farm was. They did well during the 1920's, but the 30's were extremely hard to us. Dad lost the 1927 crop to frost and the 1928 crop to hail, so he was not in a good position for the onslaught of the thirties.
Mother became fed up with the perpetual money shortage sometime in the mid thirties and declared her own private war on poverty. She decided to do this by raising turkeys and usually raised over 200. One year in a particularly noble effort she raised 460. How was this done without an incubator? My mother had a registered flock of Buff Orpington chickens. These are a large heavy breed of meat chickens and are excellent winter layers of large brown eggs. The hens tend to be very broody and make excellent mothers, which is why mother selected them. She kept over three gobblers and twenty turkey hens for breeding purposes. She had each turkey hen lay two clutches of eggs - one for the turkey hen and the other for two chickens.
Sometimes we had about 600 chickens and one summer 32 geese! These were a lot of mouths to feed at the time, but we managed. We also sold breeding stock for both the chickens and turkeys. At that time the birds were sold dressed. Most people had a flock of 30 or 40 turkeys. The neighbors used to have a bee at one farm and do the lot of them and then do the neighbors flock the next week. This meant that Mother and Dad attended one of these events every week all fall until we got all of ours done and had helped out our neighbors. Mother had a standing arrangement with the turkey buyer in Assiniboia to come get them and was paid one cent a pound over top market for the lot. This was not a fortune, but certainly eased the shoe where it pinched.
Trivia from Environment Canada
The Dirty Thirties (~1929 - 1938): Widely considered to be the most significant drought in Saskatchewan - although many would state that the eighties were just as dry. The years of 1936 to 1938 were the worst with 12,831 of the province's farms being abandoned in 1936 alone. Dust storms lasted for days during this period, and the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada occurred at Midale and Yellowgrass on July 5th 1937 when the mercury rose to 45°C.
I Remember 1937 Liars Club Winning Entry
Liars Club Winning Entry
I remember 1937 as the worst year of all the dirty thirties. I was thirteen years of age that year and to me it seemed like an unlucky omen.
We attended a country school, but we didn't learn much because most of the time the choking dust storms were so thick we couldn't see the teacher's writing on the blackboard. One time I suffered a concussion when our teacher threw her chalk at the wall in frustration. The chalk bounced off the wall and hit me on the head. She excused me for the rest of the day.
One time the dust was so thick in the classroom that the teacher couldn't see the students and vice-versa. We were told to go home, but we drifted with the storm and got lost for days. Eventually the wind changed, and after walking many miles we found ourselves back at the school. We didn't miss any school, though, because the dust storm had blown us away on a Friday and blew us back on a Monday.
We always felt cheated that we had to walk to school because our neighbors kids rode in a two-wheeled cart hooked up to a team of twelve large grasshoppers hitched in tandem. If they wanted to go anywhere all they had to do was pick a clump of green grass, tie it to a bamboo stick, hold it out in front just beyond the reach of the grasshoppers who would then go hopping down the road trying to get at the green grass.
It will be hard for anyone to imagine how terrible the grasshoppers were. I lost my father that year when he got caught in a particularly bad swarm of hoppers that blew in from the United States. My father disappeared when the grasshoppers picked him up and carried him off. We didn't see him again until the next spring. He explained later that the swarm of grasshoppers didn't land for two weeks, finally settling in Florida. By that time it was fall and, since he would never again have a chance to spend a winter in Florida, he decided to stay there until spring, then hitchhiked his way back to Saskatchewan.
The grasshoppers had eaten the cedar siding off our house, and my father knew we would need extra fuel to keep the house warm in the winter. He heard of a pile of discarded railroad ties that could be had for the taking. We hitched up a team of horses to a wagon on a hot July day and set off to bring the ties home. We were so thirsty when we got there that we could barely spit. My father found a shallow slough of water, but the thirsty horses beat us to it, doing what elephants do when they get to a water hole. Dad and I went to the other side of the slough and drank the water through our straw hats to keep out all the wriggley things that were swimming in the water.
On the way home the hot wind blasted us as though it was coming from a blowtorch. Our clothes started to smolder and smoke and the only way we could keep them from catching fire was to frequently roll in the blowdirt. We were late getting home because we had inadvertently driven past our own farmstead. This happened because all farmsteads had shelterbelts planted around them, which were now filled with blowdirt, and you couldn't see the buildings from the road. You had to drive up on the ridge to see the buildings.
The grasshoppers ate the crops off the fields, and then the fierce winds blew the soil into the weed-choked fence lines. When the fences were full the soil just drifted over the top and kept going. Millions of tons of soil just left Saskatchewan to land in the neighboring Province of Manitoba.
To this day, Manitoba has not thanked Saskatchewan for all that precious topsoil!
A Letter from Carl
Edna continues her story:
Dad had become ill in 1938 and my parents lived on his farm until 1942 when the illness forced Dad to give up farming. At that point they sold the land and moved to Regina. I had already gone there in 1940.
After Dad died in 1943 we lived on in Regina until I married and Mother and the boys decided to move to Australia. This was in 1948. Mother came back from Australia regularly, to keep house for Grandpa Rust after Granny died in 1954. In 1963 grandpa died and Mother went back to Australia in 1964 to baby-sit my brother Don's daughters so Joan could keep her excellent job.
My husband and I moved with our family to Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1965. Mother came back to Canada to live in Weyburn for about ten years and moved back to Regina about 1975.
In 1986 Earl and I relocated to Victoria and Mother also moved here where she died in 1996.
Carl had been diagnosed with cancer and moved to Regina sometime in 1942. He was in a great deal of pain and drowned in a canoeing accident on Wascana lake in Regina during the summer of 1943.
® Canada Copyright Registration No. 490341
to William J. Milner, March 8, 2001.
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