by Lorilee Scharfenberg
On May 4th, 1889, Jacob W. Bartel and his wife Justina (Isaac) welcomed their first little girl and second child into their home in Rosenfeld (East Reserve). They named her Annie.
As Annie grew up she began to take on more responsibilities in the home. She began to attend school when she was eight and enjoyed three winters of schooling under the beloved teacher, Mr. Heinrich Rempel. Before she left for school in the morning she would help with the milking and do the dishes. As soon as she arrived home after school she helped make butter. At the age of 11 she had to quit school to help at home. Annie continued to teach herself English by spending as much of her free time reading as she could when she was not involved in her daily household chores.
The Bartels lived in a farmhouse that was attached to their barn. The house had two entrances: one for guests, and one to the barn to make it easier to take care of the animals in the stormy winters.
As a family they participated chiefly in dairy farming and owned between 160-180 acres of land. In summer Annie enjoyed going to get the cows. She usually went early because her father was very strict about when the cows should be home. She often took time to explore the woods with her pocketknife (because of garter snakes). She loved nature and learned as much as possible about the twittering birds, their nests & eggs. At least this entertainment was free. Her best chums were the Dueck girls (cousins) but she only got to spend time with them on Sunday afternoons.
Annie was a very jolly, outgoing person. She never learned to swim or skate or ride a bike, but she loved swinging and climbing trees. She knew how to make kites, bow and arrows and willow whistles. She was educated by teaching her younger siblings how to study. She became very fluent in both German and English despite the fact that she worked on the fields like a hired hand at home.
Annie had sparkling brown eyes, a rosy, tanned, clear complexion and natural wavy brown hair that hung down to her waist when she had them open. She was about 5'4
Annie was baptized by Bishop Peter R. Dueck on July 29th, 1907 at the age of eighteen. She had a bit of a hang-up about her baptism because her kerchief had been pulled too far over her face so she wondered if she really had been baptized or just her kerchief. She reminded her daughters to pull their kerchiefs back for baptism so they'd have no doubts.
In her youth, Annie was interested in a young non-Mennonite boy from Hochstadt, but her father refused to let them see each other. A few years later she met a handsome bachelor by the name of Abram Eidse at her brother's place in Kleefeld.
Her brother was married to Abram's sister. The 2nd time they met was a month later and they chatted together while Mrs. Bartel made faspa. It seems they were both mutually impressed with each other. They never were allowed to date properly and only saw each other under supervision because her father was a very suspicious man. Abram would come with horse and buggy in summer and sleigh in winter to see his sweetheart. Annie later confided in her children later on in life that she was really attracted to AK because of his bright blue eyes and that she had hoped that their children would also have his eyes. Abram finally worked up enough nerve to ask Anna's father for permission to marry Annie and he gave a very reluctant yes. Since Annie was the oldest and her mother was sick her father felt he needed her at home. Annie was 21 at the time. Because of her father's wishes, Annie waited two years til her next sister turned 11 before she got married to AK. Before she and Abram were married, she made it quite clear that her children would all have a childhood and not have any difficult chores until they were past the age of 11. She felt somewhat deprived of a childhood herself. Annie received a pendant style watch that had a golden chain studded with amethysts as a wedding gift from Abram. They were married on June 16, 1912. Annie was almost 23 and Abram was 30. Soon after they were married Abram taught his sweetheart how to drive a car.
Annie was an open, warm woman, very direct and honest but very affectionate. She laughed a lot and yet cried easily about sad things. She laughed more than cried and enjoyed life to the full. Annie always had a way with animals also: cows, horses and dogs all loved her. She lost her temper when she was disobeyed by her children or when people took advantage of her husband. Annie's believed that the greatest virtues in life were to be honest in everything, to serve the Lord, and to be God-fearing. Dependability and cleanliness were important as well. She did not appreciate if children begged and taught them to ask once but never twice. Although she had a resilient personality, she did face a lot of disappointments in life. The first one was having a mother that was sickly and not being able to continue her education. She was not happy that her first boyfriend was sent away by her father either. She lost her twin boys: one at birth, the next in a kerosene fire. When her son Frank died during the flu of 1918/19 she went into a depression. Of her first four children only Dick was still alive. She loved her young son deeply, but sorrowed for those she had lost.
Abram took her on a trip to Alberta and B.C. to help her over her depression but she had not enjoyed the trip much and upon coming home actually felt worse. She said she'd never run away from her problems again, she'd face it and be done with it. Abram and Annie were trilled when they had a little girl named Helen. Annie became pregnant again shortly after with her 2nd little girl (Tina). One night she was scared by a mentally unbalanced neighbor when it was dark outside. She ran away but went into premature labor. Little Tina fought for her life but developed pneumonia because her lungs were not fully developed. She passed away shortly after. After this disappointment, Annie and Abram were blessed with five more healthy children: another set of twins, Annie & Mary, Abie, Tina and Margie. Abram's mother delivered all of the children.
Annie was a very hard worker and when she gave the 5:00 a.m. wake-up call her children got in cows, while she and Abram would put feed in the cribs. She milked six or seven cows in the morning and then fed her chickens. Everyone would take time for breakfast and then she would remind her husband of his chores for the day. You might say she was the foreman of the farm. Later she strained the milk and sent it to the cheese factory and cleaned the cans when they came back from the factory. On washday she organized everything and put her daughters to work. Often she and Abram would head out on the light truck to do the fencing. Abram would stretch the wire while she put on the hasps. They worked well together and taught all the children to do all the jobs on the farm. Annie didn't do the plowing but did cut the grass. She could fix anything from a truck box to a hammer-mill and was well acquainted with all the tools. She always sharpened her own garden tools in the blacksmith shop on the yard.
Annie also made her own money by selling butter and eggs, but preferred to keep meat rather than sell it for less than it was worth. She was the bookkeeper for the farm however both Annie and Abram did the grocery shopping. Annie also baked every other day. Her specialty in homemade meals was kjielke, schmaunt fat and home-cured ham. Abram and Annie smoked the meat together. Abram did the hard labor like gathering and splitting the wood while Annie did the actual smoking. They cured sausage, ham, and bacon in early spring and sometimes later in fall. Annie was very particular about how high the hams were hung and also how long they were smoked. She followed the same pattern always - the meat was smoked for one and 1/2 hours and then the fire was extinguished. This went on for five days in a row. The meat was left in the smokehouse until warm weather came and then the sausage was canned and the hams treated and covered with cheesecloth. The smoke house was in the middle of the yard. Abram was a bit innovative and out a ladder to the top of it and set a big barrel on top of it and filled it with water. The smokehouse could easily serve as a shower house for the children or farmhands. It was also a good place to be alone with lots of magazines to read and a big window that allowed in a lot of light. Annie did a lot of sewing on her second-hand sewing machine. Since her workdays were often from 5:00 a.m. to 12 or 1:00 p.m., she accomplished a lot. She had learned to sew on her machine from a Jewish salesman. He taught her to sew aggressively. It was operated with a foot peddle. She made a lot of quilts for MCC and also was excellent at crocheting. She loved flowers and gardening. Her favorite plant was the bleeding hearts that she had in the middle of her garden.
Annie would often tell bedtime stories out of the Bible. She loved reading continued stories like "Dorn-Rosje". Because she was a full-time farm laborer she had little time for community service but she did made food for poor people. Annie disciplined her children herself. Sometimes she used a twig or a small willow switch (seldom). Discipline didn't have to happen often because the parents were agreed and retribution was quick. Their children learned not to disobey. Abram and Annie prayed with the children at bedtime and when they were naughty. When Annie or Abram were wrong they usually asked for forgiveness of their children as well. Annie also had a saying about guests. "Visitors are only visitors for three days, after that they are a burden." She put her guests to work after that amount of time if they chose to stay longer. Annie told her children the facts of life when they were quite young, especially to protect daughters from hired hands. Abstinence til marriage was stressed. She was very matter of fact about it all as she was about most everything. Annie's health was excellent but especially hated getting earaches. She taught her family simple rules of medicinal care and expected them to follow them without having to show them twice.
After Abram passed away, she was very lonely and sat and read her Bible a lot. She missed the prayer times they had together kneeling at their bedside. She was fairly matter of fact about death and even chose a dress for her own funeral, in advance. After a good day of visiting with some relatives from Kansas, Annie suffered an aneurism in her brain and died on October 25, 1954. She was buried at the Rosenort church cemetery.
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