Katie (Sahli) Hulm
Born: Kleinliebental, Odessa, Russia, Aug. 31, 1894
Died: Strasburg, ND USA Jan. 10, 1994

A recorded account by Mr. Les Kramer reflecting the life experiences and hardships of Katie (Sahli) Hulm. This interview was taken when she was 83 years old living in the Strasburg Nursing Home.

Katie (Sahli) Hulm was born in Odessa, Russia, where she lived in a (dorf) as their communities were called. They were somewhat larger than Hague, located about 15 miles out of Odessa. Ignatz Sahli, Katie's grandfather lived in Odessa.

Katie was six years old when her parents, Mr. And Mrs. Joseph Sahli, came to America on the Kaiser Wilhelm. First the family boarded a smaller ship to get to the island where they boarded the Kaiser Wilhelm - which was a nice big ship.

The boat trip to New York took six days. Many of the older people got sick, but the children were fine. Good meals were served on board. The Heiers were also on board at the same time with the Sahli family.

Very few of their possessions could be brought along, other than bedding that was tied together and money.

At New York they boarded a train and came to Aberdeen, SD. It was no passenger train, merely cattle cars which had no seats. Only one meal a day and this trip took longer than the boat trip to America.

The Sahli family arrived in America in September 1899. They boarded the train again and went to Rosco, then to Eureka. They visited relatives at Hosmer.

In April of 1900, the Sahli's started farming at Faulkton, SD, till 1910 when they moved to Hague.

Each family could take up two quarters of land in America, so the family took up land 20 miles south of Rosco.

Life was very difficult at first. A tent was used for living quarters until a sod house could be built. They plowed up sod and made pieces two feet in size to build the heavy walls and brushed them with (lama). These 2-room houses were very warm.

Jackrabbits and prairie chickens provided many a meal; no stove was in existence to bake bread with, etc. Water was very scarce so they used lake water and boiled it first. In 1903, they made an artesian well.

The family had to dig rocks in order to plow the fields. Mainly cattle were raised. With no fences, they had to herd the cattle all day. Katie was the cowboy herding cattle. This money enabled the family to pay for the artesian well in less than two years. This water enabled them to raise more cattle also.

So times were hard at first, as the expression goes. Katie's mother cried more water than she could get otherwise to use. Life in Russia was good after their marriage. Joseph was carpenter, not a farmer. He had spent four years in the service in Russia. The Germans wanted to get out of Russia to keep from being drafted into the army. They were promised freedom and land in America.

A new railroad was built near Onaka, their closest town, about 1903, so Katie - not being shy or scared - visited the families of these railroad workers and learned to speak English. They also lived in tents.

Katie was nine years old when before she went to school as there were no schools. Eventually, a man checked into it; then about six children were brought into Faulkton for their education. Katie was brave. At the age of nine, she went by herself on horseback from Onaka to Bowdle, a whole days trip.

Joseph's brother, Frank Sahli, lived at Hague and encouraged them to move to Hague where the Germans and Catholics were living. Joseph had already built a house and barn at Faulkton. They eventually sold their three quarters of land for $42 and acre and moved to Hague in 1910, when Katie was 16 years old.

Mrs. Sahli also had a brother at Hague, John Kocher. Things were going much better in Hague by 1910, when the Sahli's got here. There was a Catholic church and school.

Joseph Sahli bought land from Mr. Schmaltz, who moved to Canada.

Upon retirement of Joseph, his son Martin started farming and it became well known as Martin Sahli's guernsey farm, about a mile east of Hague. Upon the tragedy of the accidental death of Martin in a car accident in 1960, the farm was sold to Francis Rilling, who farmed it until 1979, when Felix and Katie Wald bought it and started farming the land. Felix's son, Duane and family have been living on this farm since 1981. Katie, more or less, met Ben Hulm while he was working with a threshing crew. After a two-year courtship, Ben and Katie were married on November 4, 1912.

At first you could buy land here for $250 to $300 for a quarter of land. Ben and Katie settled at the site of the present Walter Hulm farm, built a house (that is over 70 years old today), and raised their family of 10 children. The Franz Hulm family and Ben and Katie lived together for four years. Ben and Katie lived there for 40 years, until they retired and moved into Hague.

In the early days, burning cow chips for fuel was very common. Katie remembers hauling the manure with the wheelbarrow, spreading it out to dry and cutting it into pieces to burn. Dry corncobs also served as very good fuel with quick heat.

Of the ten children, Pete, the first born son, was delivered by Dr. Vonnegut.

The hardest experience of the Joseph Sahli family was the time a storm came and took their tent, exposing the entire family to the open skies. The family wished they were back in Russia.

Although the families lived rather far from town, they managed to get together and visit.

Ben was born Jan. 12, 1893 at Hague to Frank and Magdalena (Zahn) Hulm. His wife-to-be, Katie Sahli, was born in Odessa, South Russia on Aug. 31, 1894, and arrived in this country at the age of six.

Ben and Katie were married Nov. 4, 1912. The couple had 10 children: Elizabeth (Mrs. Pete Wolf); Mary (Mrs. Charles Chikis); Barbara (Mrs. Ray Snowbeck); Lena (Mrs. Joe Mosser); Tillie (Mrs. Leo Schatz); Peter; Anna (Mrs. Matt Schweitzer); Walter; Charlotte (Mrs. Joe Buechler). One son, Martin, passed away as an infant.

Ben and Katie farmed five miles north of Hague until they retired in 1952 and moved into Hague. Ben passed away in 1975 and Katie entered the Strasburg Home in November 1984. She passed away on Jan. 10, 1994.