20th Century, farming, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

Prisoners of War

Moorhead

September 4, 1943 to 1946
One hundred fifty German POWs sit out the war at Camp Number One near Moorhead, a branch camp of the base camp at Algona, Iowa. Farmers short of help pay the government 40 cents an hour for their labor.

Camps were located in or near Ada, Bena, Bird Island, Crookston, Deer River, Fairmont, Faribault, Grand Rapids, Hollandale, Howard Lake, Montgomery, Moorhead, New Ulm, Olivia, Ortonville, Owatonna, Remer, Saint Charles, Warren, and Wells.*

During the span of World War II, approximately 425,000 German, Italian, and Japanese soldiers were taken as prisoners of war and held in the United States. Once in the U.S., the prisoners were disbursed to about 700 camps in 46 states. The prison network had roughly 150 larger base camps, and 500 smaller branch camps.** The vast majority of these POWs were Germans who surrendered in the battlefields of Italy or North Africa. Camp Algona, in Iowa, held about 10,000 of these German prisoners who were contracted to do agricultural labor in the Midwest.***

“It was all about farm labor. Because so many young American men were overseas fighting in the war, there was a severe worker shortage. That was particularly true for agriculture, which was not considered a high-priority industry. The government offered to supply POWs on a contract basis. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, the labor could not directly help the war effort or be dangerous. Many agriculture areas took advantage, including the Red River Valley.
So, farmers Henry Peterson and Paul Horn contracted for 150 POWs to work their vegetable farms. Army inspectors at first wanted to house the prisoners in a barn near the Red River on 12th Avenue south in Moorhead, but neighbors objected and so an onion warehouse on 21st Street near 4th Avenue North was selected.”****

Algona Branch Camp Number One was created in the spring of 1944 to accommodate Minnesota farmers Henry Peterson and Paul Horn. This area, known as the Red River Valley, was renowned for its’ potato and beet production. Regional historian Kenneth Dawes said, “Local growers were in a near panic” as to how to get the crop in, and also stated that POWs “literally saved the potato and beet harvest” in the wartime years.**

Many efforts were made to protect the humanity of these detainees at Camp One. They had a plethora of recreational activities to choose from: sports, woodworking and carving, art supplies, and books. The musically inclined even gave concerts of German music to their captors. They were granted the right to attend worship services or not as they saw fit.***

Though some locals thought that POWs were being “molly-coddled”, the general consensus was that our fair treatment of Germans would be passed on to American POWs in Europe.** Yet one wonders; “What was the response of these prisoners of war to their years of captivity in America? Hartmut Lang, the Boston consulate general of the Federal Republic of Germany, gives us an astonishing testimony; ”To a German soldier then, being taken prisoner by U.S. troops amounted to winning a ticket to peace and fair treatment.”**

Now we turn to You, the Emancipator of the Human Race, and Giver of All Human Rights and ponder these stories. We humbly recall Your words that reflect Your benevolence to all; including those in prison.

“Blessed is he whose help is the G-d of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his G-d, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever, your G-d, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.” Psalm 146:5-10 NIV *****

We thank You today for these words of King David so long ago, and that they are forever true!

We confess to You today that we, as Americans and Minnesotans, were unable to avoid war with Nazi Germany in this era, and therefore, may have participated in the deaths of both enemies and innocents. Will You have mercy on this offense?

We confess to You today that we, as Your Church, may have failed to stand prayerfully with our brothers and sisters in Europe in spite of their subjugation and conscription to an evil Fascist dictatorship. Have we righteously hated, rejected, and opposed their government as American citizens, and somehow missed that many of the citizens of Germany were already spiritual captives of Giovanni Gentile; the father of the fascist ideology? ******

Conversely, we confess the judgments of Your Church in Europe towards the United States. Did they fail to see us also as members of Your Kingdom, or only as subjects of the political dominion of America?
Will You have mercy on Your Church and its common political and socio-economic idolatry?
Will You have mercy on Your Church and our shared misbeliefs towards each other during World War II, and taking the bait of self-righteousness held out by our common Deceiver?
Will You set us free from the pride that can assert itself within patriotism, and give make us an unpretentious United States and demütig Deutschland?

Lord, we thank You for this testimony of the character of Your human beings; whether a German POW or an American Minnesotan farmer! We are thankful for the example of Algona Camp Number One and the Peterson and Horn families. Somehow, they simultaneously held up the cause of justice as to the actions of their enemies while not judging their humanity. Yes, they were prisoners, but they were prisoners made in Your Image!

O, dear Father, we so desperately need this kind wise discernment; both here in the North Star state and abroad! Will You continue to bless us to be people who love their enemies and do good for them? Will You give us strong resolve to oppose evil and love what is good and life-giving?

Will You give Your Church the gift of recognizing our dual citizenship? Though we may experience varying degrees of captivity as citizens of our nation of origin, we are also the emancipated subjects of Your Heavenly State. We were all POWs of the Accuser of Humanity, yet You served our sentence for us so we could walk free! Hallelujah! Whether engaged in a outward political war or inward spiritual battle, give us Your eyes, sweet Jesus, to see You inside every POW until war is no more!

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 ESV ******

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/3953177-how-wwii-german-pows-fared-grand-forks
*** http://www.mnopedia.org/place/german-prisoners-war-camp-moorhead-1944-1946
**** https://www.inforum.com/opinion/columns/2725100-McFeely-German-POWs-right-here-in-Moorhead citing Piehl, Mark. “POWs work at Moorhead Truck Farm”. Clay County Historical Society, 1991, pp.15-17.
***** https://biblehub.com/psalms/146-1.htm
****** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Gentile
******* https://biblehub.com/proverbs/16-7.htm

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20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Minnesota, Uncategorized, Unions

Farmers Protest on Capitol Steps

sa5.2 p20

http://www.mnopedia.org/minnesota-farmer-labor-party-1924-1944

1935
Protesting farmers bring a starving cow and horse to the steps of the capitol to dramatize the desperate conditions in rural Minnesota. Droughts for the last six years have ruined crops and depleted the land.
With little growing, farmers don’t have anything to sell. With so little money in people’s pockets because of the depression, prices are low for whatever farmers can sell. Banks foreclose on many farms; others are simply abandoned. Out of this ferment, a coalition of reformers and radicals formed the Farmer-Labor Party. *

As a backstory to the political theatre of bringing starving animals to this protest in Saint Paul, we need to understand the dire need and impetus of the groups involved. Below, historian George H. Mayer gives a fine summary of the mindsets of Depression Era Minnesota farmers and workers.
“The farmer approached problems as a proprietor or petty capitalist. Relief to him meant a mitigation of conditions that interfered with successful farming. It involved such things as tax reduction, easier access to credit, and a floor under farm prices. His individualist psychology did not create scruples against government aid, but he welcomed it only as long as it improved agricultural conditions. When official paternalism took the form of public works or the dole, he openly opposed it because assistance on such terms forced him to abandon his chosen profession, to submerge his individuality in the labor crew, and to suffer the humiliation of the bread line. Besides, a public works program required increased revenue, and since the state relied heavily on the property tax, the cost of the program seemed likely to fall primarily on him.
At the opposite end of the seesaw sat the city worker, who sought relief from the hunger, exposure, and disease that followed the wake of unemployment. Dependent on an impersonal industrial machine, he had sloughed off the frontier tradition of individualism for the more serviceable doctrine of cooperation through trade unionism. Unlike the depressed farmer, the unemployed worker often had no property or economic stake to protect. He was largely immune to taxation and had nothing to lose by backing proposals to dilute property rights or redistribute the wealth. Driven by the primitive instinct to survive, the worker demanded financial relief measures from the state.” **

Even with bifurcated interests, rural and urban Minnesotans held this coalition together for about twenty six years. They shared the commonality of urgent and real need, and a common narrative of human effort quashed by the manipulations of external economic or political forces. So what were the fruits of this protest iconized by the farmers’ famished cow and the teamster’s hungry horse?

“Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party was the most successful labor party in United States history. Starting in 1918, it was a political federation of labor unions, not just a “labor friendly” political party. The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Association, a grouping of associated unions and farmers, provided the organic connection between labor and the party. Before the party merged with the Democrats in 1944, they had elected three governors, four U.S. Senators, and eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives.” ***

This protest strikes home with me and my father’s experiences in Depression Era rural Minnesota. His father, F.M. Jaracz, lost his farm in Kelliher, MN which drove him to sell moonshine under the cover of his Watkins route. He was busted under the Volstead Act and did eight years of Federal prison. My dad, Le Roy, became a ward of the state and was taken in by F.M.’s moonshine partners; the C.N. Orvis family.

The Orvis family also lost their farm, and were forced to live in a tiny, one-room rental in a local fishing resort called Runkle’s Cabins. They eventually lost that and lived on the dredging barge where Mr. Orvis was lucky enough to land a job. The family of eight did not have more than two rooms until World War II.

Dad was raised eating oatmeal, biscuits spread w/ lard, and “boiled dinner”. (Think of a catch-all “stone-soup” with a base of potatoes, rutabaga, and any meat shavings available. He wore ill-fitting hand-me-downs from the five boys, and wore shoes with cardboard soles nick-named “Hoover leather”. All the kids worked odd-jobs because their income for the family was indispensable.

So we turn and seek Your wisdom, El Gibbor (G-d of Strength); will You remember us when we gain and lose our vitality? Will You forgive our moments of strength when we arrogantly think we no longer need You? Will You forgive our moments of desperate want when we choose to blame You? We have sinned against You in this era of 1935, and still blame You for bad weather, ruined crops, lay-offs, and hiring freezes; have mercy.

We share the motive-conflicts of these ancestors: we simultaneously want You to shield our successes from You so we can own them, and disburse our failures to You or others so we can disown them. Why do we find it so hard to truly acknowledge our present reality? We are terrified to bring our sacred cows and ignoble steeds to the steps of Your capitol. By Your might, give us the grace to show our hands, especially when are dealt a raw deal.

Will You forgive this era its’ judgments made by farmers towards: the state government, the railroads and middle-men, and the wizards of Wall Street? Will You restore to them what was taken in the Depression? May the growers know Your unmerited favor and “ora et labora” to pass Your wisdom into all future farmers of Minnesota!

“The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy law.” Psalms 119:61 KJV ****

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** George H. Mayer, The Political Career of Floyd B. Olson, Reprint, (Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1987) 86-87.
*** Anfinson,Graeme. “A Short History of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party”. 01/07/2014. https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/07/a-short-history-of-the-minnesota-farm-labor-party/.                                                                                                                               **** https://biblehub.com/psalms/119-61.htm

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20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Minnesota, Prayer, Uncategorized

Canning Corn Innovation

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1929
Big Stone Canning Company introduces its Butter Kernel brand of whole canned corn. A local innovation perfects the process of cutting whole kernels off the cob, bringing canned corn to kitchen tables in addition to the creamed corn previously available.

“Minnesota Canneries
Early settlers grew bumper wheat crops on south Minnesota’s fertile prairies, land that today supplies produce for a thriving 270-million-dollar-a-year canning industry.
Sweet corn canneries opened in Austin and Mankato in the early 1880s, followed soon after by similar factories in Faribault, Owatonna, and LeSueur.  Soon Minnesota’s canners were experimenting with new technologies and new products, and in 1903 the automated Big Stone Cannery Company founded by F.W. Douthitt changed the industry nationwide.  Douthitt’s plant in Ortonville had a conveyor system, mechanical corn husking machines, and a power driven cutter that produced the first whole kernel canned corn.  The Green Giant Company, introduced golden cream-style corn in 1924 and the first vacuum packed corn in 1929.
Corn is still the major canning crop in Minnesota.  The state’s more than thirty plants also freeze and can peas, beans, carrots, tomatoes, pork, beef, chicken products, and such unusual items as rutabagas.  Mankato was the site of the nation’s first carp cannery in 1946.” (text of highway marker WM2R64) **

The goal of canning fresh vegetables is long life. The problem with canning, if done or sealed improperly is disease and death. Success in preservation largely hinges on maintaining an airtight seal.

What was it like to be a farmer who knew he had a delicious crop of beautiful sweet corn, yet was at the mercy of the market and the railroad to sell before it spoiled? Surely they dreamed of a way to share this blessing that would take the pressure off to panic sell. How could they sell sweet corn all year instead of dumping all their crop in a few weeks?

F.W. Douthitt created a process that gave sweet whole kernel corn a long shelf life. He had an imagination that overcame the obstacles of the sweet corn industry’s woes. Further, he streamlined the process to a degree that it was affordable for all.

So we pray to the Lord, thank You for the gift of sweet corn to Minnesota! Thank You that You introduced this crop to Native Americans who introduced this crop to the world! We give You thanks for sharing the inspiration of hybridization with those who found varieties fit for human and animal consumption.

We give thanks for F.W. Douthitt and his gifts of processing corn to Minnesota and the world. We ask Your blessing on him and his generations, both in his family and in the field of food processing. We thank You for the example of Your word that good business is in the service and betterment of our neighbor as well as ourselves. We thank You for the countless family farms that were saved because they had a new and local market to sell to!

Will You help us, like Douthitt, see our worthiness being part of the process? Open our eyes to the value any aspect of any job adds to the lives of our neighbors? Whether we grow something, chop something, can something, ship something, or design a better can, may we see and know Your pleasure in our labor? May we forever seek to feed our neighbor that we too are fed!

Labor not for the food which perishes, but for that food which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for on him has G-d the Father set his seal. John 6:27 KJV ****

 

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM2R64_Minnesota_Canneries
*** https://www.butterkernel.com/our-story/
**** http://biblehub.com/john/6-27.htm

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18th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Sugar Beets and Migrant Labor

220px-276_Beta_vulgaris_L

Beta Vulgaris

1917 to 1919
Labor shortages in the U.S. during World War I and political unrest in Mexico draw many Mexican workers north to the sugar-beet fields of the Red River and Minnesota River valleys. Many return year after year; others move to the Twin Cities to find permanent jobs.*

As a backstory, the sugar beet came to prominence in 18th century Silesia through experiments subsidized by Frederick William III (the King of Prussia) to extract sugar. These findings were furthered by scientists Andreas Marggraf and his star pupil Franz Karl Achard. Their work led to the selection of ‘Weiße Schlesische Zuckerrübe’, meaning white Silesian sugar beet, and boasted about a 6% sugar content.**

The Red River Valley of northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota had perfect conditions for the growing of this specis of beta vulgaris. Mexican migrant workers entered the scene just as local sugar beet growers and the American Crystal Sugar Company had need for their hand-harvested crop. The Great War had commandeered local labor, leaving room for displaced Mexicans.

Jim Norris, a local expert on these relations, stated the following in his book “North for the Harvest”:
“Though popular convention holds that corporations and landowners invariably exploited migrant workers, (the author) reveals that these relationships were more complex. The company often clashed with growers, sometimes while advocating for workers. And many growers developed personal ties with their migrant workers, while workers themselves often found ways to leverage better pay and working conditions from the company.”

And so, Lord of the Harvest, we find ourselves in a triune relationship; the company, the farmers, and the field workers. We invite Your illumination of these events, and Your insights. Come and lead our meditation!

We thank You for beta vulgaris and the sweet taste it brings to our lives. We thank You for the research done for centuries that yielded such fine results, and provided an alternative to sugar brought into existence by the slavery of the sugar cane fields! We thank You that You provided opportunity for Mexicans amidst the tragedy of the Great War!

Next, we thank You for Your example of a three-sided relationship creating balance. Your roles incorporate our experience of simultaneously living out three roles, yet being one person. We are mothers, daughters, and wives simultaneously! We are fathers, sons, and husbands at the same instant!

Therefore, we can find security that companies, farmers, and fieldworkers can play three roles that serve one united purpose in sugar beets or the production of any commodity. Will You be the guardian of these relationships in Minnesota? Will You forgive our offenses to You in our imbalances in these relationships?

Will You forgive us as field workers for negating the needs of our farmers to produce results without fail? Will You forgive our farmers their dehumanization of laborers? Will You forgive those that own the company of their drive to power and market position? Will You forgive us as farmers and field workers our fearful judgments of Wall Street? We do not know the pain of finding a buyer or fair price for huge quantities of a perishable product. Have mercy on us!

May we find sweetness in being a three-legged stool! May we see the imbalance should we remove one leg of our relationships! May we be one in purpose regardless of position: migrant, farmer, or president!

 

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_beet
***Dig deeper on the impact of migrant workers in Minnesota and the Midwest in this excellent book. “Mexican Workers, Growers, and the Sugar Beet Industry” by Jim Norris
http://muse.jhu.edu/book/5421

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20th Century, Agriculture, Boys, farming, Girls, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Minnesota 4-H Forms

92bb5cded0d7afd2f11b0f3cc22151e0

1914
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Minnesota have a new name: 4-H. Under the leadership of T.A. “Dad” Erickson, 4-H is dedicated to making rural life fun for young people while teaching them skills to be good farmers, homemakers, and citizens.*

It’s amazing how kids will follow someone with a good plan, or even a simple plan of an adult with a good heart.
Dad Erickson was such a visionary. As a Swedish immigrant, he had to work hard to help his family, and missed out on educational opportunities. He was embarrassed of his accent. But he had a vision where kids like him would learn by doing. He had an idea for a “corn club” where boys would learn and study this staple crop so important to Minnesota’s future. They had to tow the line, assist in studies all day, and would even camp out in the cornfields.**

These “corn clubs” birthed a youth movement. Now approximately 103 years old, the 4H clubs boast 6.5 million members aged 5 to 21 in about 90,000 clubs nationwide. They attract boys and girls, urban and rural, who commit their “head, heart, hands, and health” to the betterment of others.***

So, Good Father, we commend the leadership of T.A. Erickson, and all who have followed in his footsteps to You. Thank You for many styles of learning, and that this man helped provide a club for those who like to “learn by doing”. Will You continue to bless the activities of the 4H Club forever?

We thank You for the kids of 4H! We are grateful for their contribution to the refinement and growth of agriculture in this state, as well as their vision to tackle urban problems. Will You bless their “heads, hearts, hands, and health”?

May we reflect on these words for today, and with your help, put them into action for future generations of Minnesotans. “How can a youth afford to lose his opportunities? Let us all grasp our many golden opportunities and use our talent, that we may not at the closing moment of our life look back with regret, but that we may enter an eternity having employed our life to the best of our ability and receive the greeting, ‘well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ T. A. Erickson’s speech at his high school commencement**

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**http://www.srperspective.com/2013/07/dad-of-minnesota-4-h/
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-H

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19th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Jesus, livestock, Minnesota

Butter Capital 1899

butter-welcome-sign.jpg

Steele County proclaims itself the “butter capital” of the world, a title it advertises into the 1920s. With 24 cooperative creameries among its 17,000 residents, it’s the leading dairy county in the state.*

Thank You for this southern Minnesota county, Lord! Thank You that they had a sense of purpose in making butter. Throughout history, You have exhorted believers to identify with their work. ‘Avodah’ is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for worship and work. The root word means to work or to serve. (http://ag.org/top/church_workers/wrshp_gen_avodah.cfm) The word “worship” in English could accurately be described as “worth-ship”, and the people of Steele County seemed to understand this sacrament.

Father, will You bless Steele County, its land, people, animals, and all who make butter in this state? Will You honor their heritage of taking joy and pride in doing this task, and working to refine their craft? Thank You for creating such perfect pastures, weather, and seasons for raising healthy bovines!

Forgive us who do not comprehend the labor involved, or excellence of our dairy industry. We simply spread butter on our toast, put cream in our coffee, and do not acknowledge the myriad of right choices that were made to ensure a quality end product. Thank You for the dairy farms! Thank You this day for the dairy farmer who rarely takes a vacation and is extremely committed ’round the clock to his (or hers) cows’ health and the milking schedule! Will You give honor to these men and women, boys and girls, who choose this of life of dedication? Will You continue to give them Your creativity and imagination for all aspects of dairy farming, and butter production in Minnesota? May they forever love butter, but not shirk You by worshipping a new kind of “golden calf”!  Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

*Learn more about the dairy farmers of Steele County and Minnesota? https://mnprairieroots.com/tag/steele-county-butter-capitol-of-the-world/

 

 

 

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19th Century, farming, Industry, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Hormel Company Opens

george-cip-quote-425

1891
George A. Hormel, an ambitious entrepreneur and the son of German immigrants, established today’s Hormel Foods Corporation in 1891 as Geo. A. Hormel & Co., in Austin, Minnesota.

George Hormel opened the Hormel meat-packing company at the right time. As corn replaced wheat in some southern Minnesota fields, it created an abundance of hog feed and, as a result, a boom in hog farming and meat packing.

By 1920, Hormel beat out the south Saint Paul stockyards to lead the state’s meat-packing industry. In the year 2000, only two other states raised and marketed more pork.*

Lord, thank you for George Hormel, and his business to make food available and more affordable to more people.** Bless his heritage, those who worked with him, competed with him, and the places that they worked. Will You bless the animals, past, present, and future of Minnesota? Will You bless the farms and farmers who raise any animal that is used for food? Will You bless the packers, and all who work in the meat-packing industry?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Learn more about this innovative company that perfected canned ham, “Dinty Moore” stew, and “Spam”?  http://www.hormelfoods.com/About/History/Company-History

 

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