Friedrich (Fred) Altwasser
The Ninth Child of Friedrich Altwasser and Wilhelmine Wilde
Friedrich (Fred) Altwasser and Bertha Heebner
Children of Friedrich (Fred) Altwasser and Bertha Heebner
Bertha (Heebner) AltwasserSubmitted to "Heebner Heritage 78" (1978), pages 21 and 22.
By Leona (Altwasser) Gess.
Would it be today? So ran the thoughts of young Paul Heebner Sr. - recently immigrated Canadian. His young wife Elizabeth, was ex[ecting her second child. Paul was torn between his eagerness to get into the harvestfield to earn a much needed dollar for his family and his concern to be with Elizabeth when the baby was born. Day after day passed and finally on August 30, 1891, Bertha Heebner was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Three year old Paul had a sister.
Bertha was a healthy and beautiful child. Nurtured by the love of her parents and the Word of God, she developed into a warm, people loving person with a fine sense of right and wrong.
In time the Heebners took up a homestead in Saskatchewan. Pioneering meant hard work and early rising. Mother's "Dally Uf" summoned the family to breakfast and the tasks of the day. Cattle herding under the hot sun or caring for the younger children, while parents toiled to eke out a living, often fell to the older ones.
Bertha was needed at home and was privileged to attend the small country school, Poplar Grove, near Summerberry only until she reached grade three.
Years later, when relating to her own children, she told about their tiny simple home which contained only the barest necessities. She remembered where each piece of furniture stood. Bertha was always eager to learn new skills. At milking time, she was on hand, begging her parents to be allowed to try milking. She was so adept at it that she inherited a job. At the tender age of eight she began milking.
It was a momentous day when the Singer agent came to the farm to sell the family a sewing machine. Her mother commissioned Bertha to receive instructions from the agent on how ro operate the machine. At thirteen she became the sewer for the family. Her sewing included many frilly 'blusin' for her brothers - of which she had five.
Since the family sewing was her responsibility, it was also her privilege to accompany her father to town in the buggy to do the buying of the fabric. En route home, and before the buggy came into view - Bertha - in her clear loud voice, could be heard chatting with 'Ta Ta', as he was affectionately called. Going to town in those days was an 'event' and she had much to tell.
There were no hot water heaters. In the morning pails of water were carried from the well to the sunny side of the house to get warm. Equipped with warm water, scrub brushes and lye soap, Bertha and Olga went to work on the wood kitchen floor until the pine boards were gleaming white.
It was February 2, 1911 at Carl and Mary Krieger's wedding at Wolsley when Bertha met Fred Altwasser Jr. of Yellow Grass. On June 18, 1912 they were married. Theirs was a double wedding for Fred's sister Melida and August Teske were married the same day. The marriage took place in St. John's Lutheran Church in Lang with Rev. Jacob Leinweber officiating.
For the first year and a half the newlyweds lived with Fred's parents at Yellow Grass at NE-27-10-17-W2. In December 1913, they moved into their newly built two story 24' x24' home which was about one quarter mile from Fred Altwasser Sr.'s house.
They were cozily settled in, in time for the arrival of their first born, Edward Fred. In less than five years they were blessed with three more children - Walter Verner, Leona Elenora, and Ida Irene. Four and one half years elapsed before Elva Velora joined the family. In 1929, Alvin Carl, the youngest, was born. The sixth child was stillborn.
Bertha and Fred farmed until 1944 when they moved into Yellow Grass. Edward, their eldest son, took over the farm.
Suddenly on August 18, 1953, the Lord called Bertha to Himself. She was not quite sixty-two.
Funeral services were held from Peace Lutheran Church, Yellow Grass, on August 22, with Rev. G.G. Neuberger officiating. She was interred in the Yellow Grass cemetery.
Fred Altwasser Jr.Submitted to "Yellow Grass Our Prairie Community" (1980), Page 274.
By sons Edward and Alvin Altwasser.
Fred Altwasser, born in 1888, came to Canada from Russia when he was six years old with his father. They homesteaded in the Lemberg area where Fred herded cattle with Polish boys, thereby learning their language and they his.
Fred moved to the Yellow Grass district by covered wagon in 1901 and farmed with his father on the N 1/2-27-10-17-W2, until in 1910 he leased the said land. He was confirmed into the Lutheran Church faith and his education consisted of grade one and part of grade two.
Weddings in those days were gala affairs with friends and relations coming from far and near. It was at the wedding of Carl and Mary Krieger in 1911 that Fred met Bertha Heebner. In 1912 they were united in marriage along with Fred's sister Lydia, who Married August Teske, making it a double wedding held in St. John's Lutheran Church, Lang, with Rev. J. Leinweber officiating. A wedding dance followed in the hayloft in his father's barn.
I would like to break here and give a short history of Bertha, the second child of Paul Heebner and Elizabeth Lutfill (1870-1938). Bertha was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1891, and moved with her parents to Summerberry, Saskatchewan. She was an adept milker at the age of eight and at 13 did all the sewing for her brothers and sisters. She was also a crack marksman with her 22 rifle, shooting all the gophers that threatened her garden."
For one and one half years the newlyweds lived with Fred's parents.
In 1913 they moved into their new two story home, just a short walk south of Fred Sr.'s home, the same house that Rodney Altwasser now lives in. J. E. Thornton built the house at a cost of $3,200.00, equipped with modern plumbing and a 32-volt electric light plant. Art Elmer did the electrical wiring.
They were cozily settled in, just in time for the arrival of their first son, Edward in 1914. In less than five years they were blessed with three more children, Walter (1915), Leona (1917), and Irene (1918). Four and one half years elapsed before Elva (1922 was born. In 1929 Alvin the youngest was born. A seventh child was stillborn.
A few years after farming the N 1/2-27-10-17, Fred purchased the S 1/2 from William Robson and also the SW 26-10-17 from Dr. Stephens, giving him a total of 800 acres, minus the CPR and #39 highway right-of-way, and 1 1/2 acres for the Beautiful Plains school.
In 1925 a real estate company from Moose Jaw organized a tour for Canadian farmers to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, USA. Together with other Yellow Grass farmers, Fred purchased 10 acres of land near Donna, Texas, with the idea of growing grapefruit and oranges. Today it is the site of a freeway. In the meantime, a trade with it resulted in him owning land at Wiseton, Saskatchewan.
In 1925 because of the need for more horses, a barn 40' x 80' was built by Jacob Linkert from Regina. All concrete for the foundation and floor was mixed by hoe and shovel, and all the lumber was cut with handsaws. The gravel and most of the lumber was shipped to Ibsen siding and then hauled to the building site by horse and wagon at a cost in those days of just over $6,000.00.
In 1928 a new International 15-30 tractor and a 28-inch grain separator was purchased. Fred now could do his own threshing and some for his neighbors. Prior to that it was custom threshed by Carl Krieger. He was one of the first in the Yellow Grass to purchase a rubber tired tractor, a 1936 Massey Harris Model 25.
In 1928, a high voltage power line crossed his land close to the building site, built by Montreal Engineering Co. and as a result he was very fortunate to be one of the first few to have 110-volt power. He sold his old 32-volt system to the Trossachs skating and curling rink.
Fred and Bertha operated a mixed farming operation and always kept a large garden. Most of the time he had hired men and sometimes a hired girl to help Bertha can vegetables for the winter months. The refrigeration unit consisted of ice from Buttermilk Lake, hauled home by horse and wagon and stored below ground for the summer, so all perishable food had to be taken to the ice house. The writers can still remember the taste of fresh homemade ice cream and feel sorry for anyone who has not had that experience. Fred considered himself a pretty good horseman, and was always willing to buy or trade horses.
One cold fall day, Fred was absent-mindedly driving his tractor into the yard and hollered "whoa", thinking he was still driving horses. The tractor climbed up the barn wall and when he finally got the clutch disengaged, it came down with an awful bang, bringing everyone on the run. Luckily no one was hurt or anything broken.
He prided himself in the fact that during the dirty thirties he never had to take relief from the Government and always managed to grow enough crop to get by. Things were tough in those times; besides losing substantially on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, a new 1929 Buick car ended upon blocks and was finally made into his first truck.
In 1944, they moved into the town of Yellow Grass, and in 1945 bought the Enos Harvey house at 230 Millet Street. They continued to farm from town with their son Alvin. In 1953, Bertha suddenly died at her daughter Irene's home. Fred continued living in his house with the help of a housekeeper, but due to failing health he eventually lived with his daughters until his death in 1960. They are both buried in the Yellow Grass Cemetery.
During his lifetime within the district, Fred served on boards of various organizations in the community, namely: Beautiful Plains School Board, Peace Lutheran Church Board, Yellow Grass Rural Telephones, Yellow Grass Cemetery Board, Peace Lutheran Church Building Committee.
All of their children were born in the farmhouse on 27-10-17, and received their Public and High School education at Beautiful Plains and Yellow Grass Schools (High). All the children were baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church, of which Fred was a charter member. All the children have made their homes in the Yellow Grass area with the exception of Elva.
The Altwasser farmstead, located just north of Yellow Grass, was originally called "Beautiful Plains". Now, in 2004, it is known as "Beautiful Plains Seed Farm". Until very recently there was a black cutout of a horse on the front of the barn. On my last visit to Saskatoon, my Aunt Leona told me this was "Pete", their pet pony.
A Heritage Note
For a period of time the Yellow Grass cemetery had suffered from neglect resulting in tall grass and general deterioration. It was about 1950 that Bert Dunn and Fred Altwasser organized "clean-up bees" and are credited with our present system of volunteer community support in keeping our cemetery one of which we can be proud. At the present time (c. 1980) five or six well attended work bees a year result in a cemetery that reflects our pride and respect.
® Canada Copyright Registration No. 490341
to William J. Milner, March 8, 2001.
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