BY ANNA MARON
By: Anna (Maron) Muhlbier as told to Ruby (Muhlbier) MidboFrom: the Michael Maron and Karolina (Croissant) Family History by Joyce Martin and Joan Sam (Muhlbier) -
Anna Maron was born 14 September, 1904 in Friedrichsfeld, Russia and Died 6 December, 2003 in Edmonton, Alberta -
Many of Canada's early settlers left their homeland for reasons of poverty or persecution. For the Maron family this was not the case as Mike Maron was a man of wealth and position. He was a town mayor and involved in making decisions for the village folk.
The Marons lived in the village and had their farmland out some distance as did most farmers. One of their prized possessions for that era was a threshing machine, and Mike threshed grain for many of his neighbours.
"I remember that last year before leaving Russia my mother recalls, "The engineer we'd hired to be in charge of the threshing machine had been drinking -
My mother has few memories of the journey coming over but does remember somewhat with humour, the time they were boarding or about to board a train that would take them to the harbour of Bremen. The men were loading the many bundles of belongings on to the train while the women and children were waiting to be told it was their turn to board. Much to their astonishment the train began chugging away, their men folk aboard while they were left behind. Quick thinking was required! A wire was sent to the next town to notify the men to unload and wait for the rest of their belongings, namely their women and children.
At one point of the journey, probably near the harbour, men on horses herded like cattle, the families to barracks some distance away to await the ship's loading. The barracks were less than fit for cattle. When a light was struck in the darkened quarters, hundreds of bed bugs would squirm across the mattresses.
"When we awakened in the morning we were a mass of bumps" my mother recalls.
Many problems arose for immigrants coming to America. If someone amongst them had an apparent disability, that person was held back and often dishonest practices by the officials caused considerable hardship to the family that went on. My mother remembers that the hired man who also was coming west with their group, was forced to leave his wife behind because of supposed eye problems. Money was repeatedly requested and sent to the officials yet she was not allowed to join her husband who had to borrow this money from Mike. Finally money and patience ran out and the family notified the officials to keep the lady. At this point it took no time at all for her to be released to join her husband.
Why did Mike Maron choose Alberta to settle his family? Because Jake, his oldest son,. already had a homestead near Veteran and it was to Jake's two room house that fourteen persons joined the already five inhabitants.
The following spring Michael Maron moved his family to a two room shack on his homestead that had been previously claimed and left by another family. Winter was cold and during that first winter in their new home the cook stove burned day and night. My mother, her two sisters and brother slept crosswise in one bed near the stove. Come the warm weather Mike began building his new house for he was anticipating a return to Russia to bring back his life savings which had been left in the bank there. What must have been the most traumatic experience of his lifetime, left Mike to return to Canada, penniless. The war had begun and the bank refused to release his money.
Mike returned to begin life anew with no funds, only hope and hard work as collateral for the many loans required to begin homesteading.
The children were forced to remain home from school much of the time for work was the number one priority. My mother recalled that for one entire autumn she was the only student at the school. She was allowed to accompany the teacher who was boarding at their home. My mother is grateful to this day for that kind teacher who helped her to learn the English language and gave her much extra help and encouragement.
School supplies consisted of one scribbler and one pencil and after the first year a primary reader was issued to that beginning student.
The teacher occupied one of the two bedrooms in their new home, however the huge dining room and living room built in the Russian fashion were used as bedrooms as well.
My mother's wardrobe consisted of two dresses made from a heavy woollen tweed material. As one was worn the other was in the wash. Shoes, most of the time, were her brothers hand-
Veteran at that time was a mere trading post so the town of Hanna was occasionally visited for business purposes.. The children were seldom if ever taken to the town, however my mother was once taken along to be the interpreter for Mike who had yet to learn English. The distance was some forty miles and travel by team was slow going. My mother sitting on the floor of the bob sled, bundled in blankets, kept her feet upon a foot warmer of hot coats. In spite of the hot coals, mother's feet became cold and in her effort to warm them she moved them over and over the blanket wrapped foot warmer. Upon arrival she was scolded for she had ripped the blanket to shreds.
Four wagons of coal were needed for the year and this meant a four wagon trip to Richdale or Drumheller were the coal was purchased. After a long days journey the 4 children each driving a team and wagon stopped for the night and bedded down under the wagons to sleep. The next day they reached the mine, loaded the coal and began the journey back. They stopped at a friends place to water the horses and were treated to a most welcome dinner of rice.
Life was difficult in those days but many fond memories are always. associated with them. Many incidents are heart breaking and many humorous and we thank our families for sharing them with us.