Leichtling Russia

Leichtling Russia1
Jacob Mahler
JACOB JOHN MAHLER
Interview
Compiled by Michelle Anne Boyd
Great Grand Daughter

Jacob Mahler was born April 10, 1898 in Leichtling, near the Volga River in Russia. His parents were Peter Mahler and Margret Miller. When he was fifteen, his brother took him to the United States of America. He came across on the Koln from Bremen, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland.

He worked for the Santa Fe railroad company, then, he worked on ranches in Kansas. While working on the Knoll ranch, he met Rose Catherine Knoll. They married September 13, 1920 in Denver, Colorado.

They lived in Colorado and worked on beet farms. Later, they bought their own beet farm but lost it when the entire crop froze. At that time, they had seven children: John, Jacob, Josephine, Florence, Andrew, Peter, and Lorraine. After they lost the farm, they moved to Denver, where two more children were born, Michael and Janice.

In Denver, Jacob worked for the Queens City Foundry, then for an iron smelter. Afterwards, he worked for the public service for twenty years.

Jacob Mahler died November 9, 1988 in Englewood, Colorado.
 

Transcripts of Jacob John Mahler
(Interview by grandson, Frank Jaycob Boyd)

HOW MANY WERE IN YOUR FAMILY? HOW MANY BROTHERS AND SISTERS DID YOU HAVE?
Four brothers and sisters, two of each.

WHAT WERE THEIR NAMES?
John and Jake and Margret and Barbra. Barbara es war die Younge, the little one.

WHEN YOU LIVED BACK THERE, WAS YOUR DAD A FARMER?
Ya, he had a section of land in the old country. Now how much is a section of land here? That's four, four, and 160 on each corner, a 160 acres. Four times six is how much? 24, OK and four times six again, that's ten acres, see, and then the other, that's two acres or three acres, see, it's all figured out. Mama, she figured all that out.They send over here how many acres and she went in the book and find out what that was. It was a little more than an acre here. I don't know how much but a little more than an acre here.

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR GRANDPA?
Ya, just a little.

WHAT WAS HIS NAME?
Johnnas...John.

WHAT WAS YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S NAME?
Margret, I don't know, I never, she died young. I wasn't even born when she died.

HOW MANY AUNTS AND UNCLES DID YOU HAVE?
Four uncles.

WHAT WERE THERE NAMES?
Andrew, Mike, and Pete and...I don't know.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST ONE AGAIN?
Andrew.

SO THERE WERE FOUR BROTHERS?
Uh huh.

AND WHICH ONE WAS YOUR FATHER?
Peter. Did I didn't name that? Didn't I name that? Didn't I name Peter?

UH HUH. WHAT DID YOUR GRANDFATHER DO? WAS HE A FARMER TOO?
Oh, he had, I don't know how many. He had a lot of land. Oh ya, he gave my father a section of land, five-hundred and some acres. That's what we got and we got a pair of oxen and four head of horses, cows, sheep, hogs, chicken, anything and that's what I got my father from his dad, that's what he got from his dad.

YOU TOLD ME BEFORE THAT HE BUILT THEM A HOUSE OR HELPED THEM BUILD HOUSES.
They did...No. You know them houses were built like that,...what they call them?...a section...or a half-section...or 160 acres? Whatever they call them.

A HOMESTEAD?
Ya, my grandfather had a homestead from Germany.

HE CAME FROM GERMANY? YOUR GRANDFATHER DID?
My grandfather did! No! My grandfather's father. They came from Germany! The Germans pushed them over there and gave them all the land they want.

THAT'S YOUR GRANDFATHER'S FATHER?
Father, ya. Great-grandfather came from Germany.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT HIS NAME WAS?
No, I don't know. We don't have much talk about it. So, I don't know what the heck to tell you.

NOW, HOW DID YOU HAPPEN TO COME TO THE UNITED STATES?
My father, he was an inspector. He was a man, find out what the world does. Now here, they had a section of land or more and you know we bought machinery and out there the neighbors, I, and the machine. On a machine, we harvest, we scythe it, we plant our seed, we farm a farm. And I used my machine, whatever it was and the neighbors used it but they had four or five men and they helped me.

NOW, WAS THAT AFTER YOU GOT TO THE U.S. OR BACK IN RUSSIA?
Back in Russia. Ya, and then my father wasn't satisfied he gonna give him the money to send him over here. And, then, when he was over here one year and he says,"Daddy, I want Jakob over here, Jacob, Jake, your brother. Came over one year and said he wanted Jake. Ya, he wanted me over here and that's what I got.

NOW, WHAT DID YOU DO ON THE MACHINE? DIDN'T YOU RIDE ON IT, YOU TOLD ME?
Ya, I put four head of horses on it and I cut the wheat, barley, pats, whatever we had. Potatoes, the potatoes are stuck on the top, you know, they cut them off. They used everything and we had the machine. Plows, we had a plow and put a tractor on the farm.

A TRACTOR?
A machine.

IT WAS HORSE DRAWN, THOUGH? PULLED BY HORSES?
Ya, some we had was pulled by horses. The double header was with a machine and one plow. We had one head of horses on one plow,you know what one plow is? And the other one was two plows and it had a motor on it. They had a machine on it.

AND THAT'S WHEN YOU WERE A BOY IN RUSSIA?
Uh huh. SO YOU CAME?
Uh huh. I was over a couple of years and we had money saved. We worked in one pocket book, not split. We had enough money to bring them over here. Sister and the Brother-in-law, Mother and Dad. That's four, five of them. --------------------------------------- (At this point on the tape he changes over to German without knowing)

TELL ME THAT AGAIN IN ENGLISH.
Oh, Russia stopped them from coming and Germany. He went home to Germany. I don't know how they work that. You know, he paid to get me back or whoever it was and my Mama and Dad and sister and her husband. They made us go back.Tell them they couldn't do nothing. We had $4,000. We had to put $2,000 extra to support and the rest of 'em was for fare and support for coming over here.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THEM?
They took 'em back. They starved my dad to death. They didn't give 'em nothing to eat. And we sent them $27,000 now. Rubles, we send 'em out to bring them over, see? That would take that much and a little bit more and they had a good security to come over and they stopped and took everything from them.

WAS THAT THE BOLSHEVIKS?
Ya, Bolsheviks. '13 or '14. I still remember that.

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR MOTHER?
They died! Starved 'em to death. Well, they were old. Mama was 70 and my Dad was 80 or something, an old man, too! Like I am now. And mother was 70, maybe 75, or whatever it is. You know they didn't have no way to know. I had a passport. I still got it. Tells my time on there.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT THEY HAD DIED?
They sent over here, they sent a over. See the dead, they send a document. They let that go through.

JUST A LETTER?
Ya, just a letter.

YOU GOT A LETTER SAYING THEY WERE DEAD?
Uh-huh. And my brother-in-law, they took him in the army. I don't know. We never found out what happened to him.

AND YOUR SISTER? YOU NEVER FOUND OUT?
No, we didn't know what happened. You couldn't find out.

AND THEY WERE ALL FROM LEIGHTING?
Uh-huh. I and my brother, we tried to find out what they are, and we had saved money. See, we wanted to bring them over here. We went through the Red Cross. They couldn't even find their names.

SO YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM?
See, we went through all the big stuff, and, well, whatever, the importing, whatever you call them where the people come in.

IMMIGRATION?
Immigration. We went through there. Nothing. Through immigration, Red Cross, Blue Cross, and all kinds of ways and you send a few dollars and you get it but they couldn't get the persons. I don't know what happened to them, I tell you, when they went over there, then, they brought 'em back. That was tough.

YOU BROUGHT THOSE TWO BIBLES WITH YOU?
Uh-huh. They couldn't, the government...I had them tied up so they could open them up anytime they want to. I had some kind of twine on that. There's supposed to be the name on that when they were bought and when they were made.

THIS ONE SAYS 1871.
Okay. This, maybe, they broke off.

YES, ONE PAGE IS GONE THAT TELLS THE DATE ON THIS ONE.
Now, here, when you read...Mama, my wife, could read from there.

GRANDMA COULD READ THIS?
Uh-huh.

WHO GAVE THESE TO YOU?
From my home. Ya, and I had them...if I gave them...I never let my kids have 'em! Oh no! Well, I would have given them to 'em but they go and look and look and one of 'em says, "Here, let me look at it." You know, that's the way they do and one says, "Wait a minute!" And they get mad and,then, they tear 'em up.

NOW, WHEN YOU CAME OVER YOU WENT TO WORK WITH YOUR BROTHER?
No!

WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU CAME TO THIS COUNTRY?
I work for the Santa Fe railroad company. I went in there. They say, "Scrub!" Work all kinds of stuff in the shop. Sweep it, clean it, and put it out in the box in the car and, then, later on, I got to working and find out what I do and, then, I go out, out to Kansas. I work one year in that shop steady and, then, Kansas. Good money! $75. In ten days, you had $75. Okay. And I went for...and my brother went for...he was out there, too. And he told me to come on out and I went out and worked for one family there six months, or three months, or four months. They wouldn't let me loose! They wouldn't let me go! We stayed there. "Come on we got work for you! A dollar a day and board and room."

HOW OLD WERE YOU THEN?
Fifteen.

AND HOW LONG DID YOU WORK IN KANSAS?
Eight years.

DOING THAT SAME JOB?
No, no, no! I had two people out there working the harvest and one on the machine. I had three men out there I worked for every year for eight years. Thrashed on the machine, you know, the machine you got to pitch the wheat in, whatever you got. Barley, oats, or whatever you got. And I done that for eight years and, then, I got hooked with Mama.

IN BETWEEN THE TIME YOU WERE WORKING WITH THE FARMING, DID YOU GO BACK TO THE SANTA FE?
Ya, in the winter time, I go back. Three times the company hired me! Three times! And I worked. I forgot that! Every time I go in and go down to the boss, "Come on in, put your clothes on, come on in!" And my brother got so mad he didn't know what to do. They hired him once and never took him back no more!

WHAT DID HE DO AFTER HE QUIT?
He got to go around some other place. Some other work, big work, heavy work.

BUT THEY HIRED YOU BACK THREE TIMES?
The Santa Fe? Ya! They hired me three times. The same darn boss, the same bird I worked on the machine. You know the machine, a long machine with a table. I built frames. I cut frames. You know them frames, they're broken and they weld them, and I put that frame on the bed. You know that's a great big bed. Well whatever, forty feet long that engine, or whatever it is, and I tie 'em down, and then I put my tools on my cutter machine. And when I get there, cut 'em off -them chips. They couldn't have 'em. You know the firebox go on there, and its got to be smooth. The frames got to be smooth to get the firebox on the engine. I didn't have no trouble at all. Three times, then the fourth time I didn't go back, I came out with Mama.

DID YOU MEET GRANDMA WHILE YOU WERE WORKING AT THE RAILROAD OR FARMING?
Farming. I worked for her mother. She hung on to me, take care of me, let nobody happen, nobody say anything. She was my protector. She had me, and nobody was nothing to do. What she said, and I done that, and that was it.

AND THEN YOU ASKED HER TO MARRY YOU?
Ya, but one time her oldest brother, he was out here, Mike, her oldest son. He says, "Mama, if you was a little younger you would have married Jake! That's what he said.

THAT WAS GRANDMA'S BROTHER?
Ya, Mike, he says, "If you were younger, you would have married Jake." That's how I got my shot whiskey every day!

WHO GAVE IT TO YOU?
Mama...Mama's mother! Every lunch, you know, when you go out harvesting, you get a lunch. Ten o'clock, and two o'clock, you get a lunch, and then's when I got my shot every day!

THEY BRING THE LUNCH TO YOU?
Ya, they were not in the house. They were out in the field and you couldn't afford to chase them guys' horses home. And they stopped, rest the horses a little bit, and eat.

HOW LONG DID YOU WORK? WHEN DID YOU START IN THE MORNING?
Oh, about 7:00...7:30. End of the day, 4:30, 5:00.

AND YOU STOPPED TO EAT TWICE?
Uh huh. We eat. At noon we have a heavy eat. Two o'clock, we got a little sandwich, on a piece of bread with a piece of meat in there, and the same way at 4:00, they had a doughnut or something. You know at that time they baked a lot of stuff, and you got something like that.

AND WHEN YOU QUIT AND WENT HOME FOR THE NIGHT, DID YOU EAT WHEN YOU GOT HOME AGAIN?
Oh, ya! You get hungry. I didn't have no dry clothes on when I got back! YOU SWEAT LIKE MAD, HUH? Ya, and my wife, she load the box, you know, she load the box and the elevator, bring it up, and she load it, and I unload it. And her brothers they were on the stack. You know, build the stack. Oh well, that's a long time ago, and a lot of work.

TELL ME ABOUT WHEN YOU AND GRANDMA GOT MARRIED. WHERE DID YOU GET MARRIED?
Where'd I get married? Down in the same place, in the church.

WHERE DID YOU GUYS COME FROM TO DENVER?
Hayes. At Hayes, you know, Hayes. In St. Peter, that was Mama's home.

AND THEY LIVED IN ST. PETER?
Uh huh...No! They don't live in St. Peter, they live on the farm, but they had a little home in there, a little house, in St. Peter. They cook, and eat, and whatever they had to do, and repair sometime. You know they sent for repair and that's where the repair go to in St. Peter.

YOU WENT TO THE LITTLE CHURCH IN ST. PETER?
Oh, ya!

WHAT DID THE LITTLE CHURCH LOOK LIKE?
That was a wooden frame, and they tore it down, and build a brick one, a brick church.

ON THE SAME SITE? On the same place, but they tore it down. You know them old homes, they got old, and couldn't keep up the repair any more. They didn't hold together anymore.

COULD YOU BUY WHAT YOU NEEDED IN ST. PETER?
Ya, they had a couple stores. Whatever you want to buy, whatever you needed to buy there.

WHY DID YOU COME TO DENVER?
Well see, in the fall, the work went down on the thrashing machine. Well, I had a friend with me, he was a neighbors in the old country. He had uncles over here, oldtimers, old guys come over here in 1912, a long time ago. And he went there, and he stayed there. Well, when it was raining, or bad weather, and we couldn't work on the farm, we went over there. If you didn't go, where we stayed, they always said, "Go over there", and we all want to go, and the whole bunch go over there. They played cards, and they drink beer, whiskey, had a good time. You know, not a rough time, a good time. We came here to Denver looking for work, see.

WHO CAME?
I and my friend. My brother was out here already.

WHERE WAS HE AT?
Right here in Denver, and he came out, an we came out. The third day I was out here I got a job. Ya, three days out here, and I went to a foundry, Queen City foundry. That's on Third and Mariposa, or someplace down there, and I went there three times, and they hired me.

WHAT DID YOU DO THERE?
I worked on the machine. You know what I done, I run a screener, and I screened sand, and put water on it, and put the stuff in there where they make forms with. That's all I did them days, and they all said, "Darn it, how come you got a darn good job, and we can't get 'em?" I got them jobs all the time, good jobs, and well, when I was out there one time, I didn't have no ...... They sent letters to Denver, "Come out. We need you." They tell me what they pay me and everything. Board and room, $75, 10 days, 9 1/2, that's what they usually work.

WHEN DID GRANDMA COME OUT? YOUR WIFE? Oh, my wife, didn't come out. That's when I worked. I was single then. I worked there a long time, see. Four or five years, then. See when I went out there, and the people found out who I was, and what I do, my people who I work for, he told me who I was, and what I do. Everybody wanted me to go, and finally I go out there, and...I don't know, her brother Mike, Uncle Mike, I call him, he was out there looking for a man, and you know they talk. We were staying there together. Well, you know we were all staying together, looking for work. OK. I don't know what I say. He came, Mike, he says, "You have a job?" I said, "Not right now, but I get one here in no time, in a day, or so I get one." First thing I know I got...girls. I got three girls, sisters. I says, "You going to hire me?" He did! Honest, he did! That's when I got hooked to Mama.

SHE STARTED TO BRING YOU LUNCH OUT TO THE FIELD?
No, she was in the header box with me. In the box. She drove the horses in the box, and I load the box, and unload it.

SHE WORKED OUT THERE WITH YOU?
Uh huh. She worked right there with me.

BUT YOU STILL WEREN'T MARRIED WHEN YOU CAME TO DENVER?
No.

WHAT DID YOU DO, SEND FOR HER? No, I went out there every year...eight years. Back and forth, all the time. All eight months, I think...in 1920, fourteenth of...you know.

AND THEN YOU GOT MARRIED HERE IN DENVER, AT THE CHURCH?
Uh huh. Oh ya, St. Elizabeth's Church, down here. Oh that priest, he died, but he talked to me, and, that man of Christ, he just fall for me, that priest in the church. And I said, "Father, I don't know, could you marry me?" "Oh, yes", he said, "Sure! Yes! Who ya got?" I says, " I don't know who I got, but I show ya! I show ya who I got!" And then I went out and harvest, and done the harvest, done the machine, and then, I and Mama went on the train. We came to Denver.

THEN YOU GOT MARRIED RIGHT AFTER YOU GOT HERE?
Ya. I came in the day, and a couple days later, I got married.

HOW COME YOU GOT MARRIED HERE, AND NOT BACK THERE?
I don't want to tell you! No, her mother wanted me, and her brothers didn't want me.

OH, THEY DIDN'T LIKE YOU?
No. They didn't like me, and my brother didn't like them. They were against each other all the time. And I said, " Brother, you know when you get married, you got a lot of life! A good life! When I'm like you, you're single. You run around. I don't want that!"

YOUR BROTHER NEVER MARRIED?
Ya, he got married when he was sixty years old.

HE DIDN'T WANT YOU TO GET MARRIED?
No, and I didn't listen to nobody. When I met Mama, and then...goodbye wealth. You know what I say. Goodbye world, and nobody stop me. I don't know we were stupid, all the time, and we were so holy. You know, we didn't know any better, and we had eight kids, nine kids, right away. We didn't have no sense! I know what I done. Now here you don't have to have 'em.

YOU DIDN'T LIVE IN DENVER ALL THE TIME YOU HAD KIDS? YOU MOVED AROUND TO DIFFERENT PLACES?
No. I didn't have to go very far. I had a job. I stayed here in Denver. I worked thirty years for public service. I start in 1937.

WHERE DID YOU LIVE WHEN JAKE AND JOHN WERE BORN? IN DENVER?
No. They were out...John was born on 8th Street, down by St. Elizabeth's. That's where two of them were born, down there. I had a job. I worked for the foundry, Queens City Foundry. And I stayed there a long time, three or four years.

WHERE DID YOU LIVE WHEN FLORENCE AND JOSIE WERE BORN?
Down on Brighton Blvd. I owned a home. I was silly, I bought a home from the state, the county, and I give it to Mama. Her name was on it, not mine, and you know, later on we wanted to go on the farm. And I had $1,500, and I need more, and I asked my brother for $1,000, and he give us that, and I give him that darn mortgage, that house. And it was bad years then, '17 or '18, whenever it was, or '32 or something like that, and he took the house away from me.

BECAUSE YOU COULDN'T PAY HIM BACK? THE FARM DIDN'T DO VERY WELL?
No!

WHERE WAS THE FARM?
Down at Ovid, Jewelsburg, and all them little places.

WAS THERE JUST ONE FARM?
One farm, twenty acres of beets, frozen. Look at the money. There's where I lost...hog.

THE BEETS FROZE ON YOU?
Uh huh.

THAT WAS IN OVERTON?
Uh huh.

WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN JEWELSBURG?
That's not in Jewelsburg, was out on the farm all the time. That's just the territory, or something like that. That's what broke my neck! I had enough beets out to pay the company first. You know, that darn Great Western. You know what I'm talking about. It's the seed. You know you got quite a bit of seed, and you had enough beets sold, topped, to pay the bills, the little bills. No matter what we had of the seed and the money. If we had another check coming, and that would be ours. That shut us off.

HOW LONG DID YOU HAVE THE FARM?
One year and I quit. I had to quit. I couldn't. He took everything away, my brother. And then he took it and farmed himself, and he went broke on the deal.

WHERE DID YOU GO AFTER YOU LEFT THE FARM?
To Denver.

DID YOU START WORKING FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE THEN?
No. Not right now. I worked for a foundry. I go to the foundry. When I got experience in the foundry, then you go back there.

THE SAME ONE?
The same one, Queens City Foundry. Ya, heck ya, it's all in life.

AND THEN YOU QUIT THE FOUNDRY AFTER A WHILE?
I went for the smelter. See, I got more money over there, and I quit the foundry, and they say, "When you're ready, come back!" I went to the smelter.

WHAT KIND OF SMELTER WAS IT?
Smelter! Where they heat iron. We make rails, and stuff like that.

AN IRON SMELTER, THEN?
Ya, that was a big thing, and I got so far they give me a foreman on that job. You know when the piece of iron go through a roller, they rolled it. They're not pressed or pushed. They go in there, and the machine pulls it through, and I pulled through a couple of them, and I hot a good job out of it, and I made good money.

AND YOU WORKED THERE FOR A WHILE?
And then I went around and looked. I got a friend, worked for the public service. And then he said, "If you're in there once, you'll never quit, you never laid off, or nothing."

WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU STARTED FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE? WHAT DID THEY HIRE YOU TO DO?
Sweep the floor, until they know! Then I got on a machine. It didn't take me long on the machine. Every time I go in a shop, I work on a machine. When I was fourteen years, or fifteen years old. The first job I had was on a machine.

WAS THAT FOR THE SANTA FE?
Santa Fe, ya. And I was on a machine all the time.

DID THEY TEACH YOU HOW TO RUN THE MACHINE?
No! They put you over with four men, or five men, that's according to what kind of heavy job you got. Then you learn. They keep you on there, and then they find out. The first man on the roll, that's the big job, and then the second one, and the third one, and the fourth one, and the fifth one. I was the fifth one. In three months, I was the first one. That's what made me higher! I worked on the machines all the time.

WHEN YOU CAME TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE, THEY HAD YOU SWEEPING. DID THEY HAVE YOU DIG DITCHES?
No! Sweep the floors. What they got them engines, and they tear 'em down, and put new jackets on. Sometimes new pipes in their flue, and I done that for three months, and I got a new job, and I stayed there a long time.

WHEN DID YOU DIG DITCHES?
Ditches? When I worked for the U.P. You know, I worked there, and I go out eight hours, you know, and I wasn't satisfied, and I go out, and find me a job, and I dig ditches, and put popes in people's houses for gas. WAS THAT IN DENVER? No, here in Denver.

THAT WAS BEFORE YOU WORKED FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE?
No! That's when I worked for the public service. That was extra work. Ya, I never was satisfied.

YOU WANTED TO WORK SOME MORE?
And I did. Worked for long time. And when I started work for the public service, I bought a home. See, with all this foolin' around, work here and there, I priced it, you know, I saved it, and I had $1,000, and I paid for my home.

THIS ONE? YOU BOUGHT THIS HOME ON HUMBOLDT STREET WITH THAT $1,000?
Downtown, not this one. Down on Brighton Blvd., down there.

AND THEN YOU BOUGHT THAT ONE? And then I looked around, and I wanted more, another home. I didn't like that home I had, five rooms, and no porch or anything. I walked down, you know.

AND YOU BOUGHT THIS HOUSE IN 1937?
Uh huh.

HOW MUCH DID YOU PAY FOR THIS HOUSE?
$1,000, not too much. $1,000, and I paid it off in four years. I didn't have to pay no...that was city and county. I bought that from the city and county. The people died, and they didn't leave nothing here, and everything went to the county.

IT WAS REPOSSESSED, THEN?
Ya, and I found that out. I had people read that to me, see. I say, "I'm gonna get that! Oh ya, get that!"

HOW OLD WAS THIS HOUSE? WAS IT AN OLD HOUSE WHEN YOU BOUGHT IT?
Ya. This house is a hundred years old. OK. In 1937, and I bought the place. In four years I paid it off. My wife had a house. I give her all. I was foolish to do that. See, when she got old, and died, you know, I had it paid. I had to buy this house, not the house, but a paper. Cost me a hundred and some dollars to get it in my name. See, I'd saved that hundred, and but I didn't have it on there. She had it. Mama go do what she wants. That was my trouble. do what she wants, and she did.

WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BROTHER THAT LIVED HERE?
He died.

WHEN?
I don't know. A long time ago. He got that house down there where I was in. He chased me out. Well, the law. He didn't do it. But I'm sorry, he drove us out. Nothing we could do. We signed it.

HE CAME FROM RUSSIA THE YEAR BEFORE YOU?
Uh huh.

FROM LEIGHTING?
Leighting...Leighting. We had three or four different guys here. My cousin, he went to South America. See, my Dad's brothers son got his share, what my Dad got. Them old people they stick together. His son got what I got, by my Dad got. He stepped in his Dad's place, and got what my Dad got, and then, he sold that, all that stuff, and went to South America. See, he had friends, you know, with his wife, he talked about it, and he done it, and he went over there, three years, and he came home with all kinds of money.

ALL YOUR AUNTS AND UNCLES LIVED RIGHT THERE IN RUSSIA WITH YOU?
Ya, all in one block. See, them people, when they bought, they bought not one, they bought the whole block........three sons. One son stays with their father, and them other two, three, they have to find a home for them, and that's what they done. They bought a half a block or more, whatever it took. The sons bought it. That's what they done.

NOW, WHEN YOU WERE LITTLE, YOU WERE ON THE FARM. DID YOU HAVE A HOUSE IN THE TOWN, TOO?
We had a house in the town. A nice house, big one.

WHAT WAS IT MADE OF?
Lumber, and inside, plaster. Mud and stone. I don't know if you ever heard of that or not, but that's what they had. You know, they used them squares.
BLOCKS?
4 x 6, or 4 x 8, or 4 x 12. You know, big logs, they had, and then they put 'em together like that.

CRISSCROSSED?
Uh huh. And they filled them up, and then they go inside, and take a hammer, and there was a point, and they hit the maul, and they made a hole in there, and put a peg in there.

AND IT WAS PEGGED TOGETHER THAT WAY?
Ya, and then they put the mud on there on the inside, and the straw. And then they...we had white paint. Go out there, and dig it, and clean it off. You can make paint out of it, and they paint that inside with the white paint, and they put the plaster on, a fine stuff, all kinds of stuff in there, and when they peg it, it stays there forever.

THEY PUT PLASTER OVER THE MUD?
Uh huh, little plaster, mud.

AND IT WAS A BIG HOUSE?
Ya.

HOW MANY BEDROOMS DID YOU HAVE?
We had four bedrooms, and our house was big. I don't know, forty or fifty feet long.

DID YOU GO BACK TO THAT WHEN YOU WERE FINISHED FARMING EACH DAY?
In the winter time, ya. In the summer time, too, when you didn't have nothing to do anymore on the farm. See, you farm, and then you got a stall in May, first of May, a holy month. Russia had churches...day in and day out in May, and that's what my people had, too. They didn't go to work or nothing unless you had to have work, then you have to go to work, but if you don't, then you didn't have to.

YOU DIDN'T WORK IN MAY UNLESS YOU HAD TO?
No. That was a holy day. You got to go to church. You got to church. Your Mother and Father, they wouldn't do that, leave you at home. No! You didn't have to dress up. You go to work out in the farm, take that clothes off, and you had extra old clothes, heavy clothes, put it on, and go to church.

HOW MAY PEOPLE LIVED AROUND YOU THERE, A LOT OF PEOPLE OR JUST A LITTLE BIT?
No! A lotta people. Oh my, ya. We had three....lines. Three rows on each side was full of houses. And people in there. We had two houses on each street.

AND HOW MANY STREETS?
Three.

SO THERE WERE SIX HOUSES?
Six houses. Six houses, and they were a mile or more long. Well, their houses were fifty feet long.

HOW CLOSE WAS YOUR NEAREST NEIGHBOR?
Neighbor. No place.

HOW LONG WERE THE BLOCKS?
Uh, no, they were just as long, or a little longer than these here.

AND THERE WERE SIX HOUSES, TWO ON EACH BLOCK?
Ya.

AND THAT WAS THE WHOLE TOWN?
They only had two families.

My father had three sons, and they were on that block. And the neighbor had two sons. They were on that block.

AND THAT WAS IT?
That's it. And the side had the same thing. And wherever they had a family, they go out, they have a block.

HOW MANY FAMILIES WERE THERE IN THE TOWN? JUST A FEW?
Not very many. No, well quite a few anyhow.

AND THE LITTLE TOWN, DID THEY HAVE STORES AND THINGS?
Ya, we had a store where you buy...buy something to eat, and then they had something where you buy yard goods, see. And when you make a lot, and good stuff, you know, you go to town. Big town. Was fifty miles from us, and they go in there, and they buy our, sell our grain in there. They put four sacks of grain on the wagon behind two head of horses, and take it to town, that's fifty miles. Take 'em two days. They go one afternoon, and go until the next day at noon. We used the cool weather. We don't want to go in the afternoon. It's too hot.

SO THEY STOPPED FOR THE NIGHT, AND GO THE NEXT DAY?
Go the next day. And you buy everything you want. You buy the leather for shoes. You buy the clothes.

DID YOU MAKE YOUR OWN SHOES?
No, they had a regular man in town, he made them. Had two men. Two full paid men, apprentice, two apprentices. They learn how to make a shoe.

HOW OFTEN DID YOU GO TO TOWN? We were in town! After we get off, we go to town. We had our house, barn, horses, cows, chickens, hogs, all in town. We had a long, well that was fifty feet, our lot. They had barns in there. Sections where we had hogs, little places. We had the hogs in someplace. We had the sheep someplace. The cows someplace, and the horses someplace.

WHERE YOU GREW THE GRAIN WAS OUT OF TOWN? WHERE YOU SOLD IT?
We had a grainery. You know what a grainery is.

YOU HAD TO TAKE THE WHEAT SOMEWHERE ELSE TO SELL IT, THEN?
Uh, ya.

WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE PLACE YOU TOOK IT TO?
Uh, Saratov......was on fifty miles. Saratov was a hundred and fifty miles.

DID YOU GO THERE VERY MUCH?
Ya, when they had a nice wheat. They clean it, fix it up, and put it in a sack. They drive it in there. They get more money.

DID YOU GO TO SARATOV?
Saratov and ___________. That was the name. I went with my brother. The brother was in the front wagon, and I had my wagon behind him. I had to follow him. My father was over there in the front with the big horse. I call him the big brother, you know, and I followed him. You know them horses, they were trained. They never go out of the line. They just follow the wagon, and all you have to do, you want to stop, is hold your line a little.

HOW OFTEN DID YOU HAVE GRAIN TO TAKE OVER THERE TO SELL?
In the winter time, two or three times, according to how much grain you have to sell.

TWO OR THREE TIMES IN THE WINTER?
Uh huh. That's where you got your money, and your living. Then you save so much grain for seed, in the spring. That's a long time ago. I remember, when my brother went over. My father says, "Jacob, what your brother did, that's what you're going to do!" And don't no mistake, ask me. Don't do it without asking, if you don't know. If you know, keep on going."

HOW COME YOUR BROTHER DECIDED TO LEAVE THE FARM AND COME TO THE U.S.?
That's not my brother, that was my father! He done that. He wanted to know what's going on! Ya, he says, "Go over there!" He gave him the money to go. Cost him $200, I think. At that time that was a lot of money, and the he was over here, and he liked it."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMING OVER IN THE BOAT?
Oh ya, good!

WHAT DID THE BOAT LOOK LIKE?
It's a great big boat! I had it on the paper.

A STEAMSHIP?
A steamship, a great big one. There were three certain men on there, the married men, the single men, and the family men. They were all on the ship together, and each people had their own place on the ship where they go. They don't go all together. Single men and married, all were separated. If you were married, you go in the married business.

WERE THERE ALL GERMANS ON THE SHIP?
Almost all, ya! Almost all the time, them people they worked together more than they do now. My father he hired somebody. They took me to the railroad, 35 miles. 35 miles I had to go to the railroad. I go to the train, go through Russia, and through Germany, and to the water.

WHERE DID YOU GET THE BOAT AT?
In Baltimore!

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO COME ACROSS THE OCEAN?
Seventeen days.

THEY GAVE YOU FOOD TO EAT AND EVERYTHING?
Food to eat and everything.

DID YOU GET SICK?
I didn't get sick, but I wasn't far from it, either. My father gave me a little whiskey with me...vodka. I didn't take too much, just a shot if you feel really bad.

DID YOU MAKE THAT?
I brought it from home. They bought it cheap - two or three cents for a gallon.

SO YOU TOOK THAT, AND IT KEPT YOU FROM GETTING SICK?
Uh huh.

WHAT DID YOU DO ON THE BOAT?
Nothing, walk around. They had the sailors with you all the time, and you go on the rail, and look there, and they watched you. If you done too much, they come and tell you to stay away. They go there and look down.

WAS THE WEATHER PRETTY GOOD COMING ACROSS?
We had one or two days of bad weather. Wind, rain, ice in the summer time! That was a nice trip, and they eat. Every day you got your plates, and they give it to you, and you have to keep it, and when every day come. The eats came in the morning and at noon. You take your plate, and go alone, and they fill it. Whatever you want. You say it's enough, and they quit. You say put more in, and they put more in.

AND THAT WAS THREE TIMES A DAY YOU GOT FED?
Two times a day. In the morning, and in the afternoon. People didn't, they laid a long time. You eat heavy, and they give you sometime baked stuff, doughnuts, whatever they make.

WERE YOU GLAD TO SEE LAND AGAIN?
Ya, we came to Philadelphia first. That's where we landed first, but we couldn't get off. We had to go to Baltimore. They let the men off to buy tickets where we go.

YOU DIDN'T SPEAK ANY ENGLISH, DID YOU?
No, just German.

THE GUYS ON THE BOAT SPOKE GERMAN?
Ya.

DID YOU STOP AT ELLIS ISLAND IN NEW YORK?
No. Philadelphia, and then to Baltimore. See those bunch of people go there. They had a load of heavy weight on the bottom. Pipes, four feet or six feet, and they took them off. They had to put the weight on to keep the people balanced.

WAS YOUR BROTHER THERE WAITING FOR YOU AT BALTIMORE?
No.

WHAT DID YOU DO WHEN YOU GOT OFF THE SHIP?
I went to Baltimore, and then I went out to Denver.

AND YOUR BROTHER WAS THERE?
__________________and then we went to harvest, and then we went back to Denver. That's a lot of things, how you get over here, and how you have to do things. Feed yourself. You have to wash your clothes. They give you hot water, but you got to wash it yourself, your soap.

HOW MUCH STUFF DID YOU BRING OVER WITH YOU?
I had quite a bit of stuff. I got a trunk. Out there is the lid for my trunk. The trunk is downstairs. I had it down there in the basement. All at once I thought, I'm gonna do that. I'm gonna get up, and go open it up, and clean it out, and fix it up, and I did. And I got the lid, the top, the lid. It's up here on the porch.

CAN I SEE THE TRUNK?
Ya!

LET'S GO SEE THE TRUNK!
 

PETER MAHLER & MARGRET MILLER
Jacob Mehlers Parents

 Peter Mehler was born in 1857 in Leichtling, Russia. Margret Miller was born in 1862 in the Volga River region of Russia. They were descendants of the German farmers who had settled in Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great. Peter's parents are Nicolas and Margret Mehler. His grandfather came from Germany. Nothing is known of Margret's parents.

Peter was a wheat farmer. Peter and Margret married. They had five children: Magdalina, John, Jacob, Barbra, and an infant who died at the age of one year old.

Peter and Margret had difficult lives as hard-working farmers in the Russian steppes. Their three oldest children were sent to the United States to find a better life. In 1920, Peter was shot to death on the steps of the church by the Bolsheviks. The village came under Russian oppression. Margret died in 1934 of starvation.
 

THE COLONY ILAVIA (LEICHTLING), RUSSIA

This chronicle was included in an article published by the Black Sea historian Konrad KelKeller:Konradler in 1910 in Deutsche Erde, Heft 6/7, pages 184-192. The translation was by Herta Guenther, Erie, Colorado.

The Colony Ilavla, also known as Räsawka and Leichtling, was founded in the years 1764-1765 by German immigrants from the monarchy Saxonia (Saxony) and other German provinces. The colony is situated on the left side of the River Ilavla.

In the census of 1788, the colony had 45 families which consisted of 155 male and 126 female souls. Since the founding of the colony, two families emigrated in 1861 to the Kaukasus (Caucasus). In 1884, twelve more families emigrated to Samara, and in 1886, six more families went to South America. Thirty-seven families live out of town. At this time, the colony has 185 farmyards with 1836 souls of both sexes, all of the Catholic faith. 295 males and 275 females are able to read and write.

The Colony Ilavla is affiliated with the Parish Panovka. A church does not exist. The divine service is held in the school. There are two schools, one a community school and the other a national school.

The trades of the men are: 15 shoemakers, 4 weavers, 2 vatmakers, 2 wheelwrights, 2 carpenters, 1 tailor, and 2 musicians. The town also has a small wares shop, one tobacco shop, one oil mill, and one flour mill.

The livestock of the colonists consists of: 570 horses, 138 oxen, 479 cows, 731 sheep, 549 pigs, and 244 goats.

The colony pays personal and land tax annually of 4661 roubles (rubles). The community land has an area of 5193 dessiatines: 11 for the threshing floor, 80 for vegetable gardens, 5117 for farming, 50 for forest, and the rest for animal grazing.

One half of the land is black earth (soil), the other half has clay (loam) and gravel. The land is hilly and is divided by two valleys. On the fields there are two dams (drinking places) for the animals. The big road from Saratov to Astrakan goes through this colony. Their products are sold in the city Nishnaja-Panovka or in Kamischin (Kamyshin).

Parish Leichtling (Ilavla) The founding of the colony was in 1764-1765 by immigrants from the monarchy Saxonia (Saxony) and other German provinces. In 1767 there were 143 settlers. In 1911 there were 1836. In 1912 there were 2535. In 1926, there were 1330 settlers.

Founding of the parish apparently came after World War I. Before that the services were held in Hildmann. In 1911?: 2100 souls.

The church (the year it was built is not known) burned on August 24, 1897 (the feast of the patron protector, Holy Apostle Bartholomew), very shortly after Mass was held. Three of the visiting ministers tried to help, and each saved a flag of the Most Holy. The church could not be saved. The fire soon got a hold of the hay gardens and destroyed half of the food of the town. It also burned down six farms. After that Mass was held in the school. In 1919, Leichtling again had a prayer house (church).

Note by Darryl Boyd:  My grandfather said the name of the church in Leichtling,Russia was St. Elizabeth, the same as the church he went to in Denver,CO. That was why he picked it.




Leichtling Russia1
Return To Home Page

© 1999-2006  Darryl Boyd,  All rights reserved


Darryl Boyd
1019 Stimel Dr.
Concord, CA.  94518

Thank you for visiting
Darryl Boyd
VC Leichtling

Since May 5,1998
  
* Latitudes (N) and longitudes (E) given here were obtained from the gazetteer published by the
U.S. Board on Standard Names.