A North Dakota Family's Life

Closeup shot of two flowers in pink and yellow

North Dakota Wild Prairie Rose at the Busch farm July 8, 2005

Close shot of an old big tree on display

Cottonwood tree at the ND farm Sep 2005. Click here for the Cottonwood and other stories.

An old black and white picture of a couple

Fred and Rose

Ferdinand (Fred) Busch (24) and Rosa (Rose) Berning (21) were married at St. Joseph's church, Sinsinawa WI, on February 26, 1905. Immediately thereafter they moved to a newly constructed farm home on the treeless prairie between the hamlets of Berlin and Grand Rapids about 60 miles southeast of Jamestown ND. They lived the remainder of their long lives at the ND farm. They were part of large families who grew up on neighboring farms just east of Louisburg WI, a few miles northeast of Dubuque IA. About a year later, their siblings Christina Busch and August Berning married at Kieler WI, and moved to the same area of ND, soon settling on a farm adjoining the Busch's. Ferdinand's brother, Leonard and wife Stella, and Rosa's sister, Helena, (Lena) also moved to the same general area of North Dakota.

Busch-Berning Scenes in Wisconsin

The Busch farm home, the painting at the home page, evoke rural life. Nine siblings were born in this home—not an unusual number in the early days. Thirteen children were born to the Bernings. Of the 22 children in all, 19 lived long lives, perhaps a little unusual for the times, when infant mortality was very high.

The neighboring Busch and Berning places a mile apart were busy country places, farmed in the early years with horse-drawn implements. Those who lived here were fed with produce, meat, and milk produced on the farm. Those who crossed the threshold of these homes were hard workers. Their faith was important to them.

Near these homes were large gardens. Apples and other prairie fruits grew here. Most of the garden produce was for home use, consumed fresh, or canned. Chickens were raised, and often geese roamed the yard. There were pigs, and sheep and cows and horses. And, of course, there were always cats and dogs. The main source of income was small grains like wheat, raised for sale, and other grains like oats, barley, flax, and millet. In more recent years, corn, soybeans, and sunflowers were common crops.

Music filled this home. Grandfather farmed by day, played violin by night, and had his own band for the numerous country dances held in his area. A piano was part of the furniture by the late 1920s. Everyone sang. This was a space filled with music, after a hard day at work in the fields, or in the barn, milking cows. Visitors were frequent and visits often ended with a group photograph.

This home was also filled with the literature of the times. This place existed long before radio, television, or the internet. But those who dwelled within loved learning. Grandfather Busch earned 3 U.S. patents for inventions developed on this farm. Six of the eight surviving siblings went on to college. In all, a total of eight children and in-laws became public school teachers.

Welcome to Chez-Nous.net.
Dick Bernard

Long view of people in the field and houses

A Very Early Photo

A very early photo, perhaps 1906 or 1907, of the Ferd and Rosa Busch farm, viewed from the south at about harvest time. Note especially the stocks of grain prepared for threshing; the location of the old barn, and the location of the cook house on the west side of the home, which was later attached to the east side of the home and became the kitchen. It is unknown who is pictured in the photo.

Long view of people in the field and houses
Old picture of a field and people

Busch Farm

Making hay at the Busch farm in 1913. We presume the date of the photo is 1913, since Verena Busch, shown here with older sisters Lucina and Esther, was born in 1912.

A picture of a group of people and their kids

Henrietta School

The Henrietta School all-class photo in 1915, with teacher Dorothy Gates. In the first row, from left, are Esther Busch, Irene Berning, and Lucina Busch. The country school was on the property of the nearby John Schober farm, nearly a mile walk cross country for the Busch's, and nearly two miles for the Berning's.

A picture of a group of people and their kids
A picture of a group of people and their kids

Veterans Memorial Park

This photo is undated, but certainly at the entrance of the then-new Veterans Memorial Park near Grand Rapids ND, most likely in the summer of 1920. Standing in the entrance are Art and Lena (Berning) Parker, park caretakers. The others in the photos are most certainly members of the Busch or Berning families, perhaps including visitors from Wisconsin. The man sitting atop the corner post at right may be Leonard Busch.

First Caretakers

At some point, Lena married Art Parker, and they became the first caretakers of the Grand Rapids Memorial Park not long after WWI ended.

After a few years on the prairie, Leonard and Stella moved back to Dubuque where they lived the rest of their lives; August and Christina lived at their ND farm till 1920, then moved back to Dubuque, till the effects of the Great Depression drove them back to their ND farm in 1933.

They lived the rest of their lives at the farm. Rose and Fred had nine children; Tina and August had twelve; Stella and Leonard had two; and Lena and Art did not have children.

A picture of a group of people

Busch Family

The Busch family outside their rural Berlin, North Dakota farm home, in December, 1942, before their son and brother George left for his assignment as a naval officer aboard the USS Woodworth in the Pacific. Verena, who died in 1927 at age 15, is the only family member not pictured. All the children were born in this farm home. From left: Mary, Florence, Rosa and Fred, Art, George, Edithe, Esther, Vince, and Lucina. In an era where college education was not the norm, all but two of the surviving children went on to college: five became public school teachers, and one became an electrical engineer. Four graduated from Valley City Normal, one graduated from Mayville Normal, and the other went to Wahpeton Science and the University of North Dakota.

A picture of a group of people
A picture of a group of people

Last Known Photo

The last known photo of Ferd and Rosa Busch's family, taken July 29, 1965, daughter Verena died in 1927 at 15. They had lived their entire married life in the same farm home. The last sibling, Vincent, died in February, 2015. Those pictured in the photo: front, from left Lucina, Rosa, Ferd and Esther; second row from left Florence, Vincent, Mary, George, Edithe, Art.”

Black and white picture of a group of people

Yard of the Farm

In the yard of the farm home following the funeral for Grandma Rosa Busch in August 1972. Her husband, Grandpa Ferdinand, died in 1967. They had been married 62 years, their entire married life lived in this farm home.

Long shot of field and houses around
Long shot of field and houses around

View from Southwest

The Ferd and Rosa Busch farm viewed from the southwest in the early 1950s. At center-left in the picture is the old chicken coop; at center right, the garden and lane from the pasture to the barn. The original 1905-era barn would have been to the left of the windmill. The wind-charger (for electricity generation) is to the left of the house, and the essential outhouse is off the photo in the far northwest corner (left) of the yard surrounding the house. Along with the house, the wooden granary and lean-to to the east (center right) of the house, was a shop for Grandpa, and a place to park a single car or truck. Rural electrification did not come to the farm until the late 1940s, and even after that, the glass storage batteries charged by the wind-charger were a reserve in case of power failure.