By: Oswald Bauer his eldest son


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Christopher (Chris) Bauer was born in Peterstal, Russia 30 July 1891 and Died 24 October 1950 in Vermilion, Alberta.  Christopher was the second Great Grandson of  Jacob Bauer (1755).  He married Amelia Maron 19 December 1915.

 My Dad, Christopher Bauer was born July 30, 1891 in a village 18 km from Odessa, Russia. He took his schooling in German and Russian. There were several Jewish families in the village and on their Sabbath day they had him come in to light the lamps and tend to the fires as they didn't do anything but read and pray. Dad told us that they seemed to be in a trance as they didn't even let on that he was there; but they always left a lot of goodies for him.

Dad apprenticed as a blacksmith for 3 years with a blacksmith in the village who done work for the surrounding area.

Dad's family moved to Canada in 1908 except for his sister Barbara who was married and had children and was fairly well established and didn't want to leave, they never saw her again. On the way to Canada the family got sick except Dad and his sister Bertha, they would go to the galley and bring soup and light snacks to their cabins. Dad and Bertha got to tour the ship and go below to the engine room and watch men shovel coal into the fire of the steam boilers , that could be why Dad took to steam engines in later years. They also got to go to the pilot house and talk to the captain who took a fancy to him and asked him to stay as a cabin boy; Dad was willing but his father said no.

The family spent their first winter in Canada near Irvine, Alberta with Dad's uncle who had come over with Dad's brother Peter and family in 1907 so they wouldn't have to fight in the Boer War in Africa. In the spring of 1908 they moved to Plover Lake which is about 5 miles south of Scotfield where they took up homesteading. Their first summer had it's hardships - sleeping in a tent or under a hay rack, they had to haul lumber from Bassano which is about 80 miles away. They ploughed sod along the shore of Plover Lake which is about 1 1\2 miles, they then cut the sod into strips about 2 feet long and laid them like we do bricks to build a sod house with a sand floor. The other closest town was Coronation which was at the end of the railroad about 70 miles away. To get poplar rails they had to go to the Hand Hills which are south west of Hanna about 60 miles. The first year Dad and his sister Emilia cut prairie wool for the winters feed for their horses and cattle and about 2 days after they had finished putting up the winters feed supply, a wind blew in from the south west bringing with it a prairie fire that had started about 50 miles away. They lost their entire winter feed supply. While the family built the sod house the Indians would sit on horseback and watch to process day after day. After the house was built Grandmother would wash clothes on the north side where it was cooler and again she would have a group of Indians watching. They had to go to Schierness which was another 70 miles away for coal. They used a frezno to scrape away 1 1\2 to 3 feet of dirt to get coal. It was poor quality coal but better than wood for winter fuel. In the summer they would use cow chips and buffalo chips as a source of fuel.

In 1912 Dad bought a Case Steamer, Case Threshing machine and a 5 bottom Case breaking plough so he could plough the prairie sod. About 1914 he moved the unit to south of Loyalist, a distance of about 60 miles.

On a trip to Coronation to take the train to Stettler, Dad met Michael Maron who was also going to Stettler, his daughter Amelia was working for Carl Stettler who owned the hotel (the town was named on his behalf), this is where Dad met my Mother. They were married on December 15, 1915. Dad did some breaking and threshing and blacksmith work for the surrounding area.

 Dad sold his steam outfit . He got a railroad car from the C.P.R. at Loyalist and loaded all their belongings and shipped them to Rimbey and homesteaded a 1/4 section about 12 miles west of Rimbey (he was too young to homestead when he was in the Scotfield and Youngstown area).  They had built a house and barn and dug a well by hand.

Mother took sick and spent most of the winter in the Lacombe Hospital. Mother finally came home and one day when she was baking bread the creosote in the stove pipes caught fire and burned the house to the ground. Dad did blacksmith work to earn money so they could move back to Loyalist. They moved back to Loyalist and rented a 1\4 section about 6 miles south east of town.

      One year the rabbits were so bad the farmers had to put fences around their feed.  Another year the army worms or tent caterpillars were a problem.  The train stopped at Little Gem and couldn't get started as the tracks were so slippery from the worms.  They had some farmers sweep the tracks so they could get moving.  In the morning they would crawl east and in the afternoon to the west.  The sides of houses would be completely covered with worms.

      When the grasshoppers first came into the area you could see them fly in; like the locusts as seen on TV.  The government supplied the bait which was saw dust and arsenic mixed with water and had to be spread early in the morning.  Everything was so dry that when it hit the ground the poison  was dry and worthless. The second year the government supplied it again but with some kind of  oil which was more effective.  We would have to grease our hands and gloves with grease and had to be careful not to get the mixture under our fingernails.

           Dad bought the first 15/30 McCormick Deering tractor in the area.  The neighbours said "Chris, you are going to go broke".  In 1928 he bought a 1/2 section of Hudson's Bay land of prairie and by 1929 he and the hired man and had broke 225 acres.   By the spring Dad had 3 six horse outfits working plus Dad on the tractor. Mom would drive one of the outfits.

            In 1935 the family relocated to Mannville.