Lucca – Now a Memory
Source: Enderlin Independent, Thursday, April 28, 1983 and Thursday, May 5, 1983
Submitted by Sharol Fletcher
Editors Note: Due to the length of this feature story, it will be presented over a two week period.
Pictured is Lucca, N.D. in early 1900's.
"Lucca wasn't Lucca in them days,” stated Wilmar Godfredson, 85, when talking about the Lucca of the late 1800's.
According to Wilmar, the very first, Lucca was located where Darrell Wadeson now lives in Clifton Township - Cass County. It was called Kibby after the people who lived there. This was a stop-off place for people traveling between Tower City and Lisbon. The county road past Chet's Service Station was a prairie trail which would accommodate only vintage rigs of the two horse power kind. “Folks stopped and rested there and the post office was located there where mail was dropped and picked up by pony express."
Wilmar continued, “Kibby didn't last long because there was a railroad proposed 1/2 mile west of there.” They developed a town 1/2 mile west of Kibby called Binghamton. The post office moved there and “a town grew up.” The proposed railroad failed to develop because the Soo Line began to develop and came up from Enderlin, building west. When this happened, Binghamton, was disbanded and the town was moved closer to its present location. It was located where Dan and Paula Lindemann now live. Part of their house is a part of one of the old homes. It was called Lucca, according to historical records, probably after a town in Italy.
The Soo Line went through, and about ten years later, the Casselton - Marion Branch came out and crossed the Soo, so they moved Lucca again to where it is at the present time. The Casselton - Marion Branch or Northern Pacific Branch, according to records, was sometimes called the “Old Maid's Line,” because of the feminine names of the towns, Alice, Elizabeth, Kathryn and Marion, at which it stopped, and it was completed in 1900.
According to R.C. Lindemann, 87, “They used one team of mules to move all the buildings from Lucca when it was in section II of Raritan Township to section 2 of Raritan Township. I was just a kid four or five years old, when they moved each building that three quarters of a mile. They used long skids and rollers to move those eight or ten buildings.”
Historical records prove that life in the first Lucca was far from dull. A man was found dead in a rooming house, one man was murdered - another shot, and the safe was blown in one of the stores. Sam Shaw, postmaster in 1903, ran the Post Office Store, three years later he addad an ice house and meat section. In 1980, C.R. Tendick bought his stock, and Howard Fentick became postmaster. In the 1920's John Krugers bought the store and in the late 1930's Otto Matzek bought it, who in turn sold it to Wilmar and Annie Godfredsen in 1940. This was the last business to survive on Lucca's Northern Pacific Avenue. This store finally closed in 1967.
Wilmar Godfredsen recalled the businesses at Lucca in its prime as being a meat market, 2 general stores, pool hall, post office, bank, hotel, livery barn and dray line, hardware store, grocery store, ice cream parlor, shoe repair shop, lumber yard, (Salzer Lumber Co. sold coal, wood fuel, lumber,) John Deere Implement Sale connected to the lumber yard, blacksmith shop owned by the Marschke brothers. Fred Marschke was the blacksmith and Reinhold Marschke was an inventer. He invented the first multiple gas-driven plow, a combination screen door and window and a folding stairway, which is still on the market. In 1908 the town watched him make a trial run with his motor plow and that spring he broke land with it for Carl Lindemann. He installed a gas plant in 1911 which supplied electricity to businesses and homes in Lucca.
At one time, (1912) when Carl Lindemann and G. Ohm owned the Lucca Mercantile, it was managed by Rex Lindemann. Postmasters at the new site were Lottie Miller; Samuel Shaw; Howard Tendick; Ruth Tendick; Sam Shaw, Martha Meile; Casper Meile; Ida Swanson; John Kruger; Dena Kruger - post mistress; Grace Phillips and Pearletta Fish.
The Junction Hotel was owned by Gullick Strand for many years with rates of $1.25 a day in 1905. Elevators in Lucca were the Monarch, Atlantic, and Farmers Elevator.
A lot of the stores had living quarters upstairs.
It has been written that the First State Bank of Lucca was started in 1905 with shareholders J. F. Callahan; John Brandenburg, and L.C. Carver of Casselton; David Thomas of Fargo and Frederick Utke of Alice. R.C. Kittel was pres.; F.W. Williams, vice pres., L.C. Carver, cashier; and other employees were E.D. Knadle, Issac Anderson, Lafe Correll, Finn Oyen, and Robert Stangler. After the bank closed, Herman Janz bought it and moved it to his farm east of town. After the depot was closed, it was moved to the Lemna brother's farm.
There were several train wrecks at Lucca: one happened on Dec. 2, 1912 when a Soo Line freight train ran into a Northern Pacific freight. There were no injuries, only several cars wrecked. In August 1950, a two-engine freight on the Soo Line ran into a Northern Pacific which had just pulled to a stop at the depot. One person was killed and several were severly injured. In addition, many cattle which had been inside the Soo freight cars were killed or injured.
Lucca School No. 1 - 1909-1910. Left to right: Dorothy Cruff, Ronald Cruff, Wilmar Godfredson, Willie Hill, Adolph Pett, Alfred Marschke, Charlotte Craver, Evelyn Cruff, Jane Portis, Dick Portis, Ira Portis, Selma Schultz, August Marschke, Frieda Pett, Ernest Johnson, Harry Hill, Paul Johnson, Miss Daueson, unkown, Marie Janz, Henry Reck, Esther Godfredson, Bernard Pett, Mae Portis, Martha Pett. Picture submitted by Wilmar Godfredson. The First Congregational Church of Lucca was built in 1906 north of town. Those who worked on the organization of this church were C. Fremont Ellsbury, Flora Galbreath and Wilbur Galbreath. Although the church building is no longer standing, there is a small cemetery with a half dozen graves still there.
The people of German descendents in the area were instrumental in starting a Lutheran Church. At first, church services were held in homes of schools, and finally in 1908 Immanuel Lutheran Church was built south of town. Historical records show that Paul Lindemann, G. W. Ohm and Otto Sprockhoff were on the organization committee. Ministers who served the Lutheran congregation, some coming on horseback, were: Rev. Holter, Rev. Dieter, Rev. Elster, C. Haferman, Donald Meyers, Walter Hummel and O.H. Schiable. This congregation merged with Enderlin and Pontiac and a new church was built at Enderlin in 1949. The Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, which still stands was just southeast of the church site.
Lucca - Now a Memory
Pictured Is Richard Fritz' Auto Livery and Taxi Service in 1913 at Lucca, N.D.
The Richard Fritz family lived upstairs in the building. From left to right: The Model-T taxi which was used to take people from Lucca to Nome and other communities, Elmer Fritz, Raymond Fritz, Ethel [Mrs. Emmit Leidal,] Dorothy [Mrs. Andy Scheie,] and Richard Fritz, seated. According to Ray Fritz of Enderlin, N.D., that Model-T was the beginning of Fritz Truck Lines.
[Picture compliments of Mrs. Emmit Leidal.]
Thursday, May 5, 1983
by Bonnie Daub
One business which was never located at Lucca, N.D., was a newspaper; however, Lucca did have a page in the Fingal Herald which was known as the Lucca Ledger, and in later years, Lucca local life was written by various correspondents for area newspapers. Some of these news correspondents for Lucca have been J.M. Kuhn, H.P. Koch, Mrs. H.P. Koch, Delos Carver and Charles Schrawder, and currently, Mrs. Ray Schlagel.
Some of the early prominent families in the Lucca area were the Wilbur Galbreath family, the Stowell family, Phillips family, Ussatis family, Ellesbury family, Mann family, Pete Smith family, Hollenitch family, Nels Jensen family, Stangler family, Bantel family, Godfredson family, Paul Lindemann Sr. family, and Sam Shaw family. According to historical records, Sam Shaw, borrowed money to come to Dakota Territory in 1880 from Maine. Before moving to Lucca, he settled in Pontiac Township. Their house was a boarding house and Mrs. Shaw, became known for her beans and bread at 10c a plate and smoking a clay pipe- not necessarily in that order. They had three sons: Sam Jr., Henry and Bert who also lived at Lucca for a while.
Wilmar Godfredson's parents came to the Lucca area in 1903. Hans and Annine Godfredson were born and raised in Denmark on the island of Langland. They came to America in September, 1898, and came to Lucca from the vicinity of St. Ansgar, Iowa. Five children were born to them: Wilmar, the oldest, Esther, Hjalmer, Henry and Lynn.
According to Wilmar, “When I started school, I couldn't speak English- only Danish. It was scary! After being around everyone who spoke English I thought, that was the end of the foreign stuff.” Hans farmed all his life. Wilmar went to Lucca School through the eighth grade. “I had to stay home and pitch bundles.” Wilmar stayed home and helped until he was 19. We had a lot of house parties among the young people in the community. That's where we learned, to dance. Someone had a fiddle. It wasn't very good music, but back then we didn't know the difference. We were having fun. My parents were strict and didn't believe in dances, so we sometimes snuck out.”
There was a lot of visiting among the neighbors, special friends or close relatives. “We usually had a big feed at home once a month on a Sunday, and had company. Everyone was poor, but we were all in the same shape and we all were happy.”
In 1920, Wilmar's father started him in farming 1/2 mile north of where the Lucca School was. He married Anna in 1923, and over the years they had two children. Erle of Portland, Oregon, and Harriet (Mrs. Jack Lindemann,) who died in an accident on September 28, 1975. He and Annie farmed from 1920-1940 when “they got into the store business.” Business was nothing at first,” stated Wilmar; “but we made a living. Annie took care of the store alone, and I took all kinds of odd jobs.” Annie and Wilmar Godfredson were the last business to close in Lucca. The combination grocery store, cream station, gas pump was closed in 1966, when the couple retired. They enjoyed spending the next few winters in Sunny Arizona, until Annie died in 1969. Wilmar moved into Enderlin the summer of 1976, and continues to reside here.
Looking back, Wilmar recalls with fond memories, “our main, big day which was the Old Settler's Reunion held every February 22 to commemorate George Washington's birthday. It was started around 1880 and was initially begun as a community get-together during the long days of being kept at home because of the snow. It was initially held in homes- with a potluck type of meal. Each year it drew larger crowds and it was expanded to include programs, speakers, a banquet and a dance. After the hall was built, it was held there, and finally it was held at the last school. After the last school was abandoned, the celebration was changed to the warmer, summer months and changed to a picnic on any suitable Sunday in July.”
According to Wilmar Godfredson, “The town pump is one of the last usable important things still left in that community.” The well was dug in the early 1930's by the PWA (Public Works Administration,) and each resident carried water from there for drinking and cooking. Even people out in the country hauled water home in containers, especially during the “dry 30's.” Most of the people had cisterns for washing and bathing- there was no other city water system.
He recalls Lucca in its prime as having between 80-100 population (a little over 20 homes in the residential district.) Now whatever homes have been bought, were bought by young people. There are about fifteen people in Lucca proper as of this writing.
Wilmar feels that Lucca “went down hill when every now and then there'd be a big fire that destroyed one of the homes or business places and they were never rebuilt. In addition to this, the advent of the auto's made it easier to get to a big town to shop, and our small stores simply couldn't compete. We had our first Model T in 1917, and we weren't the first to get a car,” stated Wilmar.
Albert and Matilda Ussatis and their children came to Lucca from Bremen, Germany, on July 5, 1910. According to Bertha Howe, “when we came, Lucca was there.” Her mother's parents, Christian and Wilhelmina Kurtz, had been at Lucca for four years, and they were instrumental in getting her family to America. Bertha, now 85, was 12 years old, and the oldest of the (about-to-be) eleven children in the family when they moved on the Fred Utke farm near Lucca. Bertha's mother, Matilda, was the only one left from the Kurtz family. In addition to Bertha, brothers and sisters were Carl, Ernestina, Holdina, August, Richard, Minnie, Emma, Edward, Eleanor and Agnes. “We didn't speak any English when we came here, that was the hardest part for me,” stated Bertha. “We had such a good teacher from Enderlin here. She was always protecting us because she liked us. I will never forget her. We had to go working out- do housework and take care of kids so we didn't get a lot of school in. When we did go to school, it was a country school, and we had to walk one mile,” added Bertha. Bertha married Walter Howe in 1918 and they farmed on Fred Utke's farm near Lucca. (Fred Utke had several farms. He lived by Pontiac.) Bertha and Walter lived about a quarter mile from where Werner Janz now lives, on the Utke place for three years. They moved to rural Nome, lived there for a year, and moved to rural Fingal where they farmed one year. After five years of farming and no crops, they moved to Lucca where Walter took the job as janitor at Lucca School. They had had an auction sale at Fingal and when they moved into Lucca, they bought a two-room house across from the school building. The little house had a kitchen-dining room together, and a bedroom. Walter's pay was $50.00 a month. Bertha helped with the janitor work. When the old school closed, the couple bought part of the building and built on to the current two rooms, giving them a living room, more bedrooms and a pantry. According to Bertha, “That was heaven!'' The house still stands just north of the Lutheran Cemetery. Walter worked from November until April, then he got on the Soo Line section. Walter made 35c an hour when he first started out on the railroad. He worked on the section for thirty years- employed at the N.P. and the Soo Line.
They had a lot of company, especially on Sundays. These were mostly people who had come from European countries.
People were poor, but they were healthy. They lived from large gardens they raised, plus the chickens and a couple of cows. She stated, “People were all alike (poor,) and everyone did so much visiting together. We had to drive with the horses or walk to get there. There was no starving. If you had a cake for Sunday, it was really good. We didn't have much sweets.”
Bertha and Walter Howe had six children born to them; two died as infants and four are living: Erma (Mrs. Glen Daub,) Marvin, Clarence and Loren. She now has seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
According to Bertha, “Twenty-one years after we were first married we got our first refrigerator and we still have it. We used to keep the milk down in the basement (that was our refrigerator.) We had a coal furnace and burned old railroad ties- they sure made the heat!”
Walter, Bertha and Clarence moved to Enderlin from Lucca in 1951 in the house on Center, Street in which Bertha and her son, Clarence, still reside. Walter died in 1969.
Although Paul Lindemann was born in Germany, he and Alvina Eckleberg were married in America. Their original home after marriage was 5½ miles east of Lucca. There were eight children in the family: Walter, Reinhard (R.C.,) Paul Jr., Thelma (Mrs. Leo Mueller,) Ella (Mrs. Frank Keller,) Alfred, Elmer, and Herbert. Out of these eight, four are still living- Walter 91, R.C. 87, Thelma and Ella. R.C. was a farmer and an auctioneer. In fact, according to R.C., “For about fifteen years I was the only auctioneer in the area.” He went to school at country school through eighth grade. He married Adeline Flath, and the couple were married for sixty-five years. They lived where Reuben Lindemann now lives, and he rented land from his uncle, Robert Lindemann; for eight years. He farmed section 5, the Miller farm in Pontiac Township about three years, then rented section 1 in Raritan Township, and farmed it for four years and bought it. He bought the farm on which he and Rollie now live.
According to R.C., “I did a lot of trucking besides farming. The first hauling I did was to the Farmer's plant at West Fargo. I saw the stockyards at West Fargo built and had the first load of cattle into that place. We preferred raising herefords the last years either crossed with Charlais or Angus.They were top quality cattle preferred for beeffast growing, and a fairly large animal. Crossing it with Charlais made a still bigger animal and more desirable on the market.”
R.C.'s son, Jack, learned to fly before he did. R.C. learned to fly from Jack and used to use his plane. “We flew partially for business and partially for pleasure. My wife and I flew to every state in the United States except Hawaii and Alaska. We crossed the mountains many times. R.C. flew through a tornado once, and ended up 80 miles off course. He described it as “very frightening.” “Lucca was our hometown until it disappeared,” stated R.C., “Now our main town is Enderlin. Highways got better. and trade started to go to other towns, plus there were a lot of fires that burned down buildings and businesses that were never rebuilt. You'd have a lot better times at Lucca than you would any other town around. They had dances there regularly, school plays, Old Settler's Reunion- that would bring all the neighborhood together. Two or three months out of the year they had roller skating and traveling shows.”
Lucca boasted a fine baseball team. They took on all comers and were as good as the rest of the teams around. They also had a fine community band. They consisted of eighteen members, and played for shows and even prizes at the country fair for their performances. They played in the Band Stand at Lucca, which, according to Wilmar Godfredson, “was a round enclosure with a roof over it and open all the way around.” Some of the members of the band were the Hollenitch brothers, the Mann brothers, Wilmar Godfredson, who played the coronet, Joe Schlagel, Carver brothers, R.C. Lindemann, who played the trumpet in the band, and Walter and Paul Lindemann. R.C. Lindemann stated, “They usually got a meal and sometimes $15.00 in all for their pay.” The band gave weekly concerts at the Woodmen's Hall at Lucca.
Lucca celebrated the fourth of July every year with huge crowds. The Governor of North Dakota, L.B. Hanna, was guest speaker one year. They usually had this celebration in the Bowery, an open pavillion. This was a temporary structure. They built it for the celebrations and when the celebration was over, they dismantled it.
R.C. and Adeline had four sons: Junior, Jack, Roland and Earl. The only one still living is Roland, who farms with R.C. The schools have been mentioned up to this point, in several of the personal profiles and several events.
According to Wilmar Godfredson; “The first school at Lucca was a good sized school with one room.” Later, several small country schools were consolidated: the Kurtz School, the Sumner School, and the last two country schools in Binghampton Township were moved into Lucca and attached to the east end of the building. An addition, a new room, identical to the existing first room was built on the south side of the school. It then became a three-room school. In the fall of 1915, Lucca Special School District No. 85 was formed.
Texts that were used in this early school were Appleton's Reader, Quackenbo's Arithmetic, Harvey's Grammar, Colton's Geography and Barne's History.
Historical records show that on February 20, 1926, board members Hans Godfredson, William Koslofsky, Gust Ohm, Otto Sprockhoff, and J.S. Evans voted to bond the district for $20,000 and build a new school building. It was presented to the voters March 25, 1926, and was approved. Land was purchased from Anna Johnson and the two-story brick building was completed by December 1926. The pride of the community of Lucca had five classrooms and a gymnasium. In the first years it had all twelve grades, but as population dwindled, it only went through the eighth grade. The old school was sold at a public auction for $719.50 on February 19, 1927. The main two-room building was bought by Charles McMillan, and it is now an airplane hangar on the Dan and Larry Lindemann farm southeast of Lucca. Walter Howe purchased a part of the building to convert to a home and Mrs. Galbreath also purchased one room.
The last high school graduates of the new school were George Brickzin and Violet Christi in 1945. The school closed in the spring of 1965. School Day Remembrance submitted by Wilmar Godfredson.
Bring Back My School Days To Me
When beautiful school days are over,
And grown men and women are we,
Tho' gone, we will think of them ever-
O' bring back my school days to me!
We long for our playmates of childhood
Who played with us day after day,
And little we dreamt how we loved them
Until they had gone far away.
O, beautiful, beautiful school days-
O, could your sweet mem'ry remain,
Thro' all of our pleasures and sorrows,
And bring back our school days again!
Lucca consolidated School District No. 85, Lucca, Barnes County, North Dakota.
Sept. 14, 1914- June 11, 1915
Chas. E. Schrawder, Principal, 1911-1915
Rudolph C. Mueller, B.A., 1914-
Teachers in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th grades and high school
Gertrude C. Schwede, 1913-1915
Teachers in the primary, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades.
School officers: William Cruff, President; L.C. Carver, Clerk; W.W. Bahl, Treasurer; and Joe Haskins and C.F. Ellsbury.
Pupils: Ella Anderson, Gladys Ellsbury, Wilmar Godfredson, August Marschke, Esther Godfredson, Rena Mahnke, Theodor Ohm, Donald Cruff, May Portiss, Dora Ohm, Paul Trapp, Anna Trapp, Herman Reck, Dorothy Reck, Herbert Trapp, Otto Matzcek, Bessie Nafus, Julius Cruff, Kenneth Haskins, Lena Sprockhoff, Albert Mahnke, Charlotte Carver, Henry G. Reck, Dorothy Cruff, Richard Portiss, Berthold Marschke, Evelyn Gruff, Emma Nafus, Clarence Ellsbury, Ernest Johnson, Alma Sprockhoff, Alfred Marschke, Helmer Godfredson, Ernest Sprockhoff, William Cruff, Lloyd Cruff, William Nafus, Earl Anderson, Bernard Cruff, Raymond Fritz, Etta Reck Lena Trapp, and Henry Godfredson
Give love, and love to your life will flow,
A strength in your utmost need;
Have faith and a score of hearts will show
Their faith in your word and deed.
For life is just the mirror of king and slave,
'Tis just what we are and do;
Then give to the world the best you have,
And the best will come back to you.
A long time has passed since the days of using one's basement to keep milk cold, or the yearly Fourth of July Celebration, or the eighteen member community band. There are two things that have survived: the annual Lucca Old Settler's Celebration which began in 1883, and will observe its 100th Birthday Centennial Celebration now in 1983 on July 16-17, and the town pump. The pump is being used as the symbol of Lucca on the centennial buttons which are being sold. All of the living “Old Settlers” and their friends and relatives are gearing up in anticipation of the event. As for the rest of Lucca- it is Now a Memory!
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