The Children of the Turtle River Ziebarths

Thumbnail Sketches of the Ziebarth (Seebart) Uncles, Aunts, In-Laws of the Emerado Seebarts

Comment: To the present generation of the Seebart descendants, the following pages will not hold the same interest as they will to the descendants of the "Emerado Seebarts." Nevertheless, it would seem to be a matter of importance that as much of the record which we have of these persons; and it is very fragmentary in many cases, should be preserved and passed along to future generations. Acknowledgement is again made, of the large contributions made to the following narratives; by the extended and splendid research of Brother Ed, as recorded in his oft-referred-to "Book."

The Selkirk (Grand Forks) Hotel Deal

Sometime previous to February 22, 1889, Charleya August Seebart and his son William Henry, traded all of their property in the Turtle River area for the so-called Selkirk Hotel in Grand Forks. For some unknwon reason, this business venture was a failure. It may have been a condition that the hotel was a "white elephant" before it was purchased. It may have been due to the inexperience and ineptitude of the new owners. Be that as it may, one thing stands out as a result of this experience and venture, namely; the August Ziebarth family began to "break-up" immediately following the closing of the hotel. It is impossible to go into detail here as to what happened to each of the members of the family as they "went out into the world to make their own living." Here are gleanings from Brother Ed's "Book."

Matilda Ziebarth (Aunt Matilda) was born at West Sand Lake, New York. She came west with the Ziebarth-Fechner tribe who migrated to Minnesota and then to Dakota Territory. She married a William Koehler and they lived on a farm (homestead) at Devils Lake, North Dakota. There were three children born to Matilda, in this order: Charley, Frank and Emma. (First cousins of the Emerado Seebarts children.) Matilda died when the children were all teen-agers. She was buried at Devils Lake. William was not able to keep the family together, so, they went to live with Grandpa and Grandma Ziebarth who lived on the Ben Hall Place, which Uncle Fred had rented following the Selkirk Hotel disaster. (See Sketch Map.) This was home to the children. Emma did the cooking and housekeeping and the two boys helped Uncle Fred with the farm work. They stayed here until Uncle Fred married and then they made their home with Uncle Will who, as already indicated, did not marry. Uncle Will had a special love for his sister, Matilda: and he was glad to have these children with him as a part of his household.

Emma became the cook and the housekeeper, and both Charley and Frank helped Uncle Will with his construction business in which he had become engaged following the Selkirk fiasco. Finally, Emma married a Virely Shortle and moved onto their farm near Williston, North Dakota. Frank also went west; was with his sister at Williston for some time and then went to Moosejaw, Canada, where he married. Correspondence amongst the children declined and at last, they lost-track of Frank. Emma continued to live at Williston until her death. Two children: Vada and Gilbert, were born to her. Both grew up and married and settled in that area. She passed away April 16, 1961, and was buried in the cemetary at Williston. Charley Koehler never married. He stayed, more or less, with Uncle Will as long as his uncle lived; even moving to Gilroy, California, when Uncle Will retired and moved to this area. Both are now deceased.

William Henry Ziebarth: After losing his farms and all of his assets, Uncle Will went into the Construction business. He had done a lot of this as a young man and he appears to have had a special skill in this field. There was much building going on, as this pioneer area grew and prospered. So, he was always busy (building houses, barns, granaries, stores, banks, and other kinds of buildings). He set up a headquarters shop at a place called Thompson, a town just southwest of Grand Forks; was joined in his business by his younger brother, Gustave (Uncle Gust); and they were engaged to work throughout the entire area. They were known as "The Seebart Brothers." Since their sister Amelia (Ellerman), was settled on a farm near Lakota, North Dakota, they moved their business to that area, as this was a new town and there was a lot of building to be done there. It was in this locality that they got into heavier construction such as stores, churches, the Court House and finally grain elevators. (Lakota is located in Nelson County.)

Comment: William Henry was the favorite uncle of the Emerado Seebarts. He was a frequent visitor at our residence, especially in the dead of winter, when the construction business slowed to a crawl. All of us enjoyed his presence because he was so jolly; a good conversationalist; and had so many interesting things to talk about. Another thing which made him popular, was—he always supplied us with lots of fruit, nuts and candy. All of us loved the fragrance of his expensive cigars (even the girls). He was careful not to smoke his cigars in the house, although he would light up before leaving the house, and sometimes finish off a cigar in the house after returning from down-town, but it never became obnoxious to any of us. He was a skillful checker-player and gracious enough to let us children win a game once in a while when we played with him, which we dearly loved to do.

Notation: George Henry Ziebarth (Seebart), twin brother of William Henry, and father of the Emerado Seebarts children, would, genealogically, be the next member of the August Ziebarth family on which we should do a thumbnail sketch. However, we have already written much about him, and further details will be added when we do the thumb-nail sketches on each of the Emerado Seebarts, so, no further comments will be made concerning his life, at this time.

Edward August Ziebarth (Seebart), is the next in line of birth amongst the Turtle River Ziebarths. Little seems to have been recorded about this man. He married a Scandinavian woman from the Sagatuck, Michigan, area; by the name of Jennie. It seems to have been common talk amongst the Turtle River Ziebarths that she was a slave driver: that she constantly rode herd on Edward and made life miserable for him. How much truth there was in these charges will never be known to this generation. The old saying is: "Where is there is so much smoke, there must be some fire." However, it seems to have been agreed by all of them that she was a wonderful seamstress; and that is really quite a tribute when one considers that Grandfather August was a professional tailor.

There were two daughters born to this couple—Pearl and Edna. They were born at Sagatuck, where Edward and Jennie lived for most of their married life. (Uncle Edward was employed in a furniture factory.) None of the Emerado Seebarts had any recollection of these relatives. The father of the two girls passed away at a relatively young age, and, apparently, the mother and two girls moved to the New York area where Jennie was born. A large picture, about 20 x 40", of Edward August hung on the wall at the foot of the bed in which I slept, with my brother Ed. I often studied that fine, strong and handsome face. He had a broad forehead, in which was set two inspiring eyes. My inward wish was, that I might grow up to be a man like he. In Brother Ed's book there is a copy of a letter which Aunt Jennie wrote to my mother following the death of her husband. Judging by that letter, she loved him very much. Maybe the family beef was just a case of generally bad-blood between the Swedes and the Dutch.

Amelia Florence Ziebarth (Ellerman) is the next child in the Charleya August family line. She was born on the Minnesota frontier in 1864; and died September 17, 1956. (Age 92) When she was about eight or nine years of age, she took sick with Scarlet Fever; and the fever destroyed her hearing. Her folks spoke only the German at home, so she was pretty well schooled in that language. She had received education in English for four years before becoming deaf, so she had a good start in that language. She was a girl of great determination. Took up lip-reading of the German language and continued to read and write in the English language. She did a lot of letter writing to Ella Henrietta and to all of her relatives. Her letters show a remarkable skill in English composition and spelling; considering that she never "went beyond the fourth grade in school." (Brother Ed has reproduced several of her letters to Ma in his book.)

Comment: I have a vivid recollection of the visits of Aunt Amelia to our home at Emerado. She loved to visit with Ma who spoke the German language fluently. Whenever there was a break in the heavy work schedule of my mother, she would motion Aunt Amelia to pull up a chair and, facing each other, they would have a visit. Aunt Amelia watched my mother's lips intently and would repeat the German words which she thought my mother said; so as to let Ma know if she was getting it. If Aunt Amelia misread my mother's lips, my mother would catch it right away; shake her said and say, "Nein, Nein" and go over the missed words once more; very slowly and with gestures. Then, when Aunt Amelia got it right, they would both laugh a little and go on with their conversation. We children were amazed and fascinated with the whole procedure. It was quite remarkable. Sometimes we would try to talk to Aunt Amelia in English, but we usually failed to get our message across, for she was not very good in lip-reading the English.

At the age of thirty years, Aunt Amelia married a Mr. Ernest Emil Ellerman (1885 or '86) for some unknown reason, she always called him Emmet. Perhaps it was in memory of a relative who meant much to her. They took up land about eight miles northwest of Lakota in Nelson County, North Dakota. They first built a sod shanty. There were no trees with which they could build in that area. At that time, more than four-fifths of North Dakota was aptly described as "the treeless prairie." Later on they replaced this shelter with a lumber-made tar-paper-shanty. Their land was not like the Red River "bottom-land." It was prairie land, containing considerable clay and had lots of stone in it; left there by the great glacier of the ice age. They were plagued by drought, grasshoppers, hail-storms, hot-winds and unseasonably early and late frosts. Brother Ed paints a graphic picture of the ills that beset them. But the evils which hurt the most were probably not of an economic nature; but those of a biological, social and spiritual. One of these was the loss, in infancy, of three children. The first, a girl, was a miscarriage. The second, a boy, Charles, died in infancy. The third, Arthur Frances, died in early childhood. Then Aunt Amelia gave birth to her fourth child, Emelia Ernestine, about the time her husband Emmet was killed in a tragic accident.

Notation: Ella Henrietta gave this account of the accident. Emmet, with the assistance of a cousin of Amelia Florence (Ellerman); whose name was Julius Fechner (See Notation on next page), had dug a well on the Ellerman place. The two men were curbing it with stone. (The inner walls of a dug well were usually lined with lumber, sometimes stone, and, in later years with brick. The lower part of our well at Emerado was bricked-up. This was to keep the dirt from falling into the well and, eventually caving in.) Emmet was working in the well and Julius was lowering stones in a bucket to him. Suddenly, a stone slipped out of the hands of Julius and plummeted straight down into the well, hitting Emmet squarely on the head and killing him instantly. Julius immediately took all of the blame for what had happened. He was overwhelmed with grief and, to assuage that grief somewhat, he made a promise to his cousin Amelia, that he would be the provider for her and her daughter, Ernestine, as long as she lived.

As an unmarried man, he took up residence with his cousin Amelia and arrangements were made that he would work the land on a 50-50 basis. He worked very hard, doing everything that Emmet Ellerman would have done, and possibly more than that. He was an excellent manager. As the years went by prosperity came to them. Finally, they were in a position to build a fine house on the farm; and Amelia's two brothers, in the construction business at Lakota (See reference on a previous page) came to the farm and built it for them. It had central heating, electricity, running water providing bathroom facilities; and was modern in every way. In return for his kindness and tremendous effort, Amelia worked right along with Uncle Julius cooking, sewing, laundering, housekeeping, gardening and even helping with the chores in the busy season of harvest and haying. It was a pleasant, congenial and rewarding relationship.

Notation: Julius Fechner was a son of a brother of Louisa Fechner: wife of Grandfather August Ziebarth. He and a brother, or cousin (Adolph): had taken up land next to, or near to, the land which Emmet took up northwest of Lakota. He was an uncle to Emelia Ernestine Ellerman and, although we Emerado Seebarts always called him Uncle Julius, he was really our Great Uncle Julius. There was one thing that softened the blow of Emmet's death for his wife Amelia; and that was the birth of her fourth child, Emelia Ernestine. In a letter to my mother, Ma, a copy of which Brother Ed included in his book; Amelia speaks of this "great comfort which her little girl brought her during those lonely years following the death of Emmet; and the sorrow of losing her first three children." Aunt Amelia died September 17, 1956, and was buried beside her husband's body at Lakota.

Brother Ed paid this tribute to Aunt Amelia. Because it is such a fine tribute to her, as a representative of all pioneer women, it is noted herewith.

Probably no other member of Grandpa (Ziebarth's) family lived a more colorful and hectic life than did Aunt Amelia; the Scarlet Fever, which caused the deafness; the loss of three children and the loss of her husband; and the hardships of pioneer life, such as repeated crop-failures due to drought, grasshoppers, hot winds and unseasonable "frosts" would have been enough to destroy any other than an extra-ordinary woman.

She was, indeed a worthy representative of the Pioneer Woman. The courage, bravery, fortitude, faith and persistence with which she faced all of these adversities and tragedies; victoriously; are a crown upon her head. Surely, she typifies all that is best among countless pioneer women. Few lived more nobly than she.

Reminiscence: One recollection of mine tells a story of circumstances which cannot possibly be narrated in words. In one of her letters Amelia wrote of the absence of trees, which meant an absence of fuel. Fuel could be bought in Lakota, but there was no money with which they could pay for it. So, Aunt Amelia took a wheelbarrow and went out into the prairie and gathered buffalo chips and cattle chips and stacked them up in a shelter so as to keep them dry; that there might be fuel for such an emergency situation.

Cousin Emelia Ernestine Ellerman deserves a paragraph at this point in our narrative. Ernestine, the only name by which we Emerado Seebarts knew her; was a jolly, vivacious and happy girl to have around. Being an only living child of the Ellermans, having no brothers and sisters or, nearby neighbor children; she craved the companionship of others who were of her age. Consequently, she was a frequent visitor at the home of her cousins, the Emerado Seebarts. She lived with us the larger part of one winter season while Sister Grace Ellen put her through the traces of an eighth grade education. School facilities in her home area were inadequate and poor. Amelia did not want to send her young daughter into Lakota to room and board, for there were too many temptations there for a young girl so, she finished her eighth grade work in Emerado. She did not go on to High School, for it was not deemed essential, especially for girls, in those days. Ernestine married quite young (Charles Turner), and they lived on a farm near her folks. Two children were born to her: Lloyd Julius and Frances Olivia (now Mrs. Harber). As of this date, Ernestine lives alone in Lakota, near her cousin Bernice (Seebart) Ludtka, and with the help of a cleaning woman, takes care of herself.

Mattie Johanna (Called "Mate" by the members of her family) was the next child to be born to the August Ziebarts. She was a young lady when her folks purchased the Selkirk (Sometimes called the Vermont.) Hotel in Grand Forks. After the family moved from Grand Forks, she married a man named A. States. They lived on a farm about 12 miles southeast of Emerado. (I visited here as a boy of about 10 years of age.) Later, they moved to Sarles, North Dakota, where they continued to farm until their demise. Aunt Mate died of cancer and was buried in the same plot as Aunt Amelia Ellerman at Lakota. They had one son whose name was Floyd. He married a local Sarles girl and to this union was born the following children: Dick, Gene, Ole, Kenneth Doug and finally, Tessie, who married a Robert Swenson.

Fredrick Bernard was born to the August Ziebarths at Paynesville, Minnesota, September 17, 1865. His name has often been mentioned in the proceeding pages, partly because he appears to have been one of the Ziebarth children upon whom the whole family depended at times. It should be noted here that after the Ziebarts lost the Selkirk Hotel, Uncle Fred rented the Ben Hall Place (farm); providing a home for his parents and a family center for all of the living brothers and sisters excepting George Henry; and an early home for the Koehler children. One of the first references which this manuscript has made to him was the instance of his being the driver of the cattle in the trek of the Ziebarths from Minnesota to "Dakota Territory."

Notation: He stated to Brother Ed that he was about 8 years of age at that time but, if his birthday is correctly given above, and the family came to Dakota Territory in 1878, he must have been about 13 years of age at that time; and his handling of the oxen and the braking plow on Grandfather August's 80 acres, must have been when he was about 14-16 years of age. Also, his long trips from the Ben Hall Place and the Spafford Place to haul fuel wood from Manvel, must have been at an age later than he designated in his telling of the story to Brother Ed. It is also to be noted that his recollection of time and events does not always jibe with that of Ella Henrietta, not with the facts and figures which we had from other sources. However, we should not be critical of his recollections for, he was about 90 years of age when he gave mush of this information to Brother Ed. (Memory fails all of us as we grow older.) Rather, we should be grateful that Brother Ed was able to get so much information from Uncle Fred before he passed away at the age of 92. He was the last one to whom Brother Ed could have turned for much of the family record as set forth so beautifully and completely in his book.

After the death of his gather, on the Ben Hall Place, Fred Bernard leased the Spafford Place, where his mother; Cousins Emma, Frank and Charley; all lived with him for a while; as noted above; and where he provided a Ziebarth "Family Center." His mother, Louisa, lived for seven years after the death of his father, Charleya August; being almost 80 when she passed away. She was buried in the Seebart (Ziebarth) family plot in the Holms Cemetery, beside the body of her husband, August, and her youngest child, Emmet. She was in a wheel chair fot several years before having passed away, having been hurt in a run-away (horse and buggy) accident; when grandson Charley was driving the horses. There is no marker for her grave-site. Uncle Fred told Brother Ed: "Although I was as bachelor on the Spafford Place, I did not do much cooking, because my mother, although in a wheel chair, could do many things with her hands; and, Cousin Emma (Koehler) was with me much of the time and she was an excellent cook and housekeeper."

Uncle Fred married a Mary Jane Rice of Powell, North Dakota. (This was a very small place between the State University and Ojata; with nothing more than a grain elevator, and a small store which housed the Post Office.) They were married before Uncle Fred left the Spafford Place. Mary Jane went by the name of Mayme, because there was another Rice relative with the name of Mary Jane. To the Emerado Seebarts she was always Aunt Mayme. This couple was married at Langdon, North Dakota, where the Rices were a prominent family in the community. They made their first real home in Grand Forks where they lived until 1903. They then secured land at Loma, North Dakota (near Langdon) where they lived, in the farm, for 43 years. In 1946 they retired and moved to Grand Forks, living at 1921 Second Street, North, with their son, Emmet Joseph, who never married.

Listed Below are the Names of the Children of Uncle Fred and Aunt Mayme Seebart:

1. Bernard, born 1901: died 1903 at Langdon, North Dakota

2. Mary Cecelia, (Mrs. William Hovell) born 1904.

Address 612 North Fifth Street, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58201

(Before Mr. Hovell passed away, the Hovells adopted two children: Joann Ethel and William Earl.)

3. LeRoy Samuel, born 1906, Box 54, Seneca, Oregon 97873.

Married Berniece E. Fox. Children: a. Mrs. Ruth Mary McDonald; b. LeRoy Samuel, Jr.; c. Mrs. Helen Marie Klabo; d. Fredrick John Seebart.

4. Fredrick John, born 1908: died July 14, 1976

5/6. Twins: Emmet Joseph, born 1910. Address 1319 University Avenue, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58201 (Never married).

Everett Hilary, born 1910. P.O. Box 261, Burns Oregon.

Married Margaret Dobrovolny. Children: LeRoy Bernard, James Everett.

7. Wesley Francis, born 1912. Address: Anchorage, Alaska (Never married).

Gustave August (Uncle Gust) was born to the August Ziebarths on August 3, 1871, at Paynesville, Minnesota. As a young lad of 10 or 12 years of age, I can remember his bringing his young bride, Amelia Gaulke, of Thompson, North Dakota, to our Emerado home for a visit. He also brought with him a new invention; an edison phonograph with the original tube records , and a big Morning Glory Horn. Each recording began with these words "This is an Edison Recording," and then the contents of that particular recording would be announced. Boy! What a Wonder! We children kept the machine going almost day and night. We were also very curios about one of Uncle Gust's hands, on which all of the fingers were gone excepting the thumb. As stated before, he was in construction and had apparently lost these fingers in a power machine accident. He was very handy with the thumb. There appears to have been nothing particularly unusual about the married life of Uncle Gust and Aunt Amelia (Gaulke) Seebart. At the time of the reunion of the Emerado Seebarts in 1953; all of us drove to Lakota to see our Gustave Seebart first cousins. Vital information about each one of them is stated below:


1. Mildred (Mrs. Paul Brayton), Hunter, North Dakota 58048 (living on a farm); Children: Kathleen Mae and Pauline Jo.

2. Archie, 1115 -- 16th Street, Bismark, North Dakota 58051. Married Donna Markrekow. Children: Mary Carol, Keith Jay, Gregory Dean.

3. Frank, Lakota, North Dakota 58344 (Unmarried, lives with sister Bernice)

4. Bernice, P.O. Box 83, Lakota, North Dakota 58344. (Mrs. B. Ludke)

Children: One daughter, Mrs. Don Eckes)

Philosophical Observations On, and a Prayer of Gratitude for,--

These Pioneers of Dakota Territory and North Dakota; Known as the Seebarts (Ziebarths)

Judging by any standard, one would have to admit that these "Pioneers" were a brave, courageous, persistent, and hearty breed of persons. They had a vision of political freedom and free enterprises, which is certainly to be admired and honored. Most admirable, however, was their determination to make that decision a reality. They pain a terrific price for their ideals in pain, sacrifice, hunger and hardship. They were not conquered by disappointments, discouragements, accidents, sickness, deprivations and other tragedies. There were many untimely deaths, but the majority of them achieved longevity. Those who did not seemed to, have lived rather abundantly while they did live.

It is difficult for us in this age of affluence to even begin to imagine what they had to go without, good schools, doctors, hospitals, warmly built houses and barns; adequate heating throughout the house; medicines, sanitary conditions, gynecological facilities. The record shows that some of them could not take it. Some planned and executed their escape by moving to cities, towns and other places. Some took up new occupations. These planned changes and escapes often proved to be disappointing or disastrous. However, there were few amongst them who could justly be labeled cop-outs, Then they stumbled, they picked themselves up and pressed on toward their goals; often with nothing but a heavy burden of debts and handicaps. They give every evidence of having been people of faith: a religious people at heart. There were no atheists amongst them; and I have not found even a trace of skeletons in the closets. They were patriotic, home loving, peace-loving citizens. Most of them were honest, trustworthy, dependable. Most of them were also poor in worldly goods (sometimes miserably poor); but they were always honorable, respectable and clean. Ma used to say to us, over and over again:

There is no excuse for being dirty; so long as there is soap and water in the world.

Prayer of Gratitude

Eternal God, we look with humble astonishment at all the work our Fathers have done; and we understand something of the burden that lies upon us to be faithful to the heritage they secured for us.

Help us not to disappoint those who have gone on before us in the pathway of faith and sacrifice. May we, like them, be faithful to our Country; to our dear ones and to our own souls; so that we may fulfill the high purposes that have been left to us; and that we may leave to our children, names and possessions enriched by lives of sincerity and noble effort. Amen.


of the Emerado (North Dakota) Seebarts:
showing the roots and branches of the family tree
on both the paternal and maternal sides of the family;
as far back as the grandparents of the
Emerado Seebart