From: the Michael Maron and Karolina (Croissant) Family History by Joyce Martin and Joan Sam (Muhlbier) - Published 1984.

Gustav Maron was born 1 July 1900 (Twin to Lydia) in Friedrichsfeld, Russia - Died 26 December 1990 in Vermilion, Alberta - 12 th child of Michael Maron and Karolina Croissant.  He married Elizabeth Schrader 11 November, 1921.

After more than seventy years, Dad remembers many things of early life in Russia. Perhaps this is partly due to living with, or close to, his parents and the early days were often talked about.

There were three villages fairly close together, Sturbeltz, Badale and Friedrichsfeld. The Russian name for Friedrichsfeld was Solodorafka, and this is where the family lived.

During Dad's childhood in Russia he remembers helping in the fields. Our Grandfather owned lots of land in Russia - 300 disateens. Each disateen was equal to about 2 and a half acres. The land was level with no sloughs and they took off two crops each year, first a grain crop, then a hay crop. Grain harvest was in July and everything was hauled home at once. They used five horses on a binder, three in back and two in front. When Dad was eight years old, he rode on the back horse next to the grain and drove the front ones. Grandfather threshed with a steamer and also used it to power his flour mill. He ground most of the flour used in three villages. He always had hired men. Granaries were made of clay, and grain was carried in sacks. A plank or ramp went from the ground to the top of the granary and men carried the bags up this ramp. Grain sacks were made of cotton, not jute, and held about 120 pounds of grain or three pood. (My dictionary says a pood is a Russian measurement equal to about 36 pounds.) When the grain was taken to market it was hauled in bags by either camel or horses. One camel hauled 9 bags, the same size load as 2 horses. The grain was taken to market to Sabilno, which was about 30 miles distance and was the closest point on the railroad.

Hired men were paid about 30 rubles per year. Sometimes there would be a wage bonus in the form of material for a shirt, or tobacco. Material for a shirt cost 15 kopeka, tobacco 3 kopeka, there were 100 kopeka to a ruble. A horse or a cow cost about 80 rubles. They always had hired girls to help with the house and garden, sometimes two and sometimes more.

They grew their own grapes and always had wine. The large wine cellar was dug in the ground and lined with bricks with a window at each end for ventilation. There were no steps, but a ramp that was used for rolling the barrels up or down as needed. Wine barrels were stacked three high and as the wine aged it formed its own skin. When it reached a certain stage of maturity the barrel could be taken off by knocking off the hoops and then removing the staves. The wine then sat in its own skin which rather resembled peat moss in colour. The barrels could then be used for more wine. Wine was sold by the pail and a pail containing perhaps two gallons sold for one ruble. Anyone could buy the wine and could come and taste before buying. Grandmother kept the wine records and some are still here in her scribbler.

It was the custom for Grandfather to butcher a sheep on Saturdays, this lasted about two meals. During the week the butcher or meat seller came around, he had a scale to weigh the meat and they could pick their purchase from whatever he had. Each house had their own smokehouse for keeping meats, this was fixed in the attic of the house around the chimney. There was a damper so that the smoke from the cooking fire could be directed to cure the meat in storage.

For meals, breakfast was usually coffee and buska (a type of bread) and a syrup made from watermelons. Lots of vegetables were grown, potatoes, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, etc. and fruit in the orchard. Dad remembers a type of pudding made from hog millet, it was almost like a porridge but could be cut into squares. Meat was served once a day. They raised a lot of poultry and used a lot of eggs. They also did a lot of cooking with dough, cracklings from lard rendering would be rolled fine and baked in dough like a jelly roll. Also, liver would be ground up, seasoned and baked in a dough, this looked like tiny loaves when done.

At Easter time the Ukrainian people would take coloured eggs and special baking to the cemeteries, as we here take flowers. After the people left, the kids had lots of fun and went in and gathered up everything and took it home, each trying to get the most or the prettiest eggs.

Grandfather was Mayor of the village and, as Mayor, had to act as judge in legal matters. Sometimes this was very hard as often family or friends were involved.

When Grandfather decided to immigrate to Canada, Grandmother was very unhappy and cried as she didn't want to leave her family and friends. It must have taken tremendous courage to leave loved ones and go to a strange land where they couldn't speak or understand the language and everything was so different. Even our harsh Alberta climate must have been a shock. The first sale of the land in Russia fell through but later it was sold to a man named Henry Meyer. An auction sale was held that lasted two days and had two auctioneers. The land was not paid for and when the money changed all this was lost (some 65,000 rubles).

They left Russia in the fall on September 20 and boarded a ship at Bremen. The trip was to take 9 days but it was stormy and took 13 days. Two families, the Maron family and a family named Shell, travelled together. Dad, Rienhold and Leo Shell didn't get seasick, as many others did, and Dad said they had a whale of a time - a really grand adventure. The family landed in New York, here all their belongings were supposed to be taken and fumigated. This would have shrunk the fleece and leather coats and the felt boots called "boorga" until they would have been useless. Grandfather gave the officials some money and their bundles were not even checked, which was fortunate, as Grandfather had whiskey and tobacco bundled up inside which he was bringing over for others. The family entered Canada at Portal and came to Lacombe. The trip from New York to Lacombe took four days and nights, arriving on October 12, 1912. From there they went to Castor and on to Coronation where they were met by Uncle Jake and Karys. They spent their first winter in Canada staying with relatives. In the spring the family got their own place as is told by records prepared by others, so I will not go into it here.

In March 1913, Grandfather went back to Russia to try to salvage some of his money, unfortunately, unsuccessfully. He returned in the summer of 1914 in August. World War One was declared while he was on the ocean returning to Canada.

Dad went to Freda School part time for two winters in Alberta. He was only able to go part time as he had to do the chores and take care of livestock.

Rudolph Wiest, on his visit to Canada, said that the house Grandfather built in Russia is still standing and three families are living in it.


BY GUSTAPH MARON

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