52 Ancestors #3: Margaret Pfeiffer

Posted for the blog meme 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks hosted by Amy Johnson Crowe of No Story Too Small.

Born April 5, 1913,1 Margaret was the fourth child of Frantz Martin Pfeiffer and Anna Marie Nuber.2 The couple’s two oldest children, Martin and Rose, were born in Hungary prior to the family’s immigration to the United States in 1907 or 1908. Five other children were born to the family between 1915 and 1922.3 Margaret and her siblings attended rural schools in the Emerson Community, east of Manning and Hirshville.4

Margaret Pfeiffer married Peter Ernest Arnold on July 14, 1934 at St. Philip’s Church in Hirschville, Dunn County, North Dakota5 (see historical background below). Peter, widowed in 1930, was 41 years old when he and Margaret married; Margaret was 21. Margaret became an instant stepmother to the nine children, ages 6 to 17, in Peter’s household. The three oldest children moved away shortly after Peter and Margaret’s marriage. Peter and Margaret’s daughter, Arlene, was born on April 13, 1937. The remaining children—all boys—moved away from the farm in the late 1930s/early 1940s, most of them enlisting for World War II military service.

Standing (l to r): Antone, Frank, Ernest, Peter, John Seated (l to r): Raymond, Peter, Walter, Margaret, William Missing from photo: daughters Anna (~17) and Helen (~4)

Standing (l to r): Antone, Frank, Ernest, Peter, John
 Seated (l to r): Raymond, Peter, Walter, Margaret, William
 Not pictured: daughters Anna (~17) and Helen (~3 1/2)

Peter and Margaret lived on the farm until 1960 when they retired to Gladstone, North Dakota.6 The farm was sold to their daughter Arlene and her husband, Henry W. (Hank) Koller in August 1964.7 Peter died November 3, 1964.8

Margaret moved from Gladstone to Dickinson in 1988. She married Alex Hushka on January 28, 1991. Margaret died in Dickinson on September 7, 1992. She is buried at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery in Dickinson.9

Historical background: Margaret’s hometown, Hirschville, was named in honor of Casper and Marianna Hirsch.10 They immigrated from Hungary to the United States in the late 1800s and lived in New York state until about 1900 when they moved to North Dakota to homestead. In 1910, they donated six acres of land for construction of what eventually became the grounds for St. Philip’s Catholic Church.  Construction materials were procured on parishioners’ pledges; those same parishioners supplied labor for the church’s construction and, later, donated furnishings to outfit the building.11 The Hirschs also built a general store and hardware store, and in 1911 the U.S. Postal Service established a post office in or attached to the general store.12

The pioneer church served the community for several years, but it was replaced in 1916 with a building that was large enough to serve the 125 or so families who worshipped there. The church celebrated weddings and baptisms and mourned those who passed. The small church also celebrated the religious vocations of several sons and daughters of the community: seven nuns, two brothers, and one priest committed their lives to religious service between 1933 and 1965.13 Finally, St. Philip’s cemetery is unique among others because of the semi-circle or gabled design of its homemade grave crosses.14

Hirschville’s fate was similar to other small North Dakota towns. The post office was disestablished in 1920 and the grocery/hardware store closed shortly thereafter. The Hirschs moved to Wisconsin, where they bought and operated a hotel.15 St. Phillip’s remained a presence in the community until 1997 when the archdiocese decided to close the church. By then, the congregation had dwindled to 18 families. The building was sold and torn down. Parish records (baptisms, marriages, deaths) are kept at St. Mary’s Church, Richardton, North Dakota.16

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1 North Dakota Certificate of Death State File No. 92 004420, State Department of Health and Consolidated Laboratories.
2 Year: 1920; Census Place: Township 142, Dunn, North Dakota; Roll: T625_1333; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 56; Image: 534
3 Year: 1930; Census Place: Township 143, Dunn, North Dakota; Roll: 1735; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0025; Image: 138.0; FHL microfilm: 2341469
4 1882-1982 Gladstone Centennial. Dickinson, ND: Service Printers, 125.
5 Ibid., 125.
6 Ibid,, 125.
7 Stark County, North Dakota, Guardian’s Deed, book 123: 703-706. Arlene C. Koller and John G. Arnold, Guardians of the Estate of Peter Arnold, to Henry William Koller and Arlene C. Koller, 24 August 1964.
8 North Dakota Department of Health, State File No. 4968 (1964), Peter Arnold; Division of Vital Records, Bismarck.
9 Undated/unsourced obituary, courtesy of Clarice Arnold. Likely source: Dickinson Press, September 1992.
10 Caspar and Marianna (Gribnau) Hirsch. http://www.hirschville.com/casperhirsch.html. Accessed 19 January 2015.
11 Saint Philip’s Catholic Church. http://www.hirschville.com/images/Saint%20Philips%20Church.pdf. Accessed 19 January 2015.
12 Caspar and Marianna (Gribnau) Hirsch, previously discussed.
13 Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, previously discussed.
14 Plains Folk: Up in Smoke, and It’s a Pity. http://www.ext.nodak.edu/extnews/newsrelease/2000/033000/17plains.htm. Accessed 19 January 2015.
15 Caspar and Marianna (Gribnau) Hirsch, previously discussed.
16 Saint Philip’s Catholic Church, previously discussed.

2 thoughts on “52 Ancestors #3: Margaret Pfeiffer

  1. Such an age difference between husband and wife! And imagine becoming step-mother at age 21 to nine children, some of whom were almost your own age. It’s interesting that Margaret lived alone for so many years before remarrying so late in life. (By the way, I think there must be a typo in the first paragraph. The birth year shown is the same as the marriage year.)

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lee, and for using your sharp eyes to detect my typo–that is now corrected!

      I agree with you about Margaret’s late-in-life marriage. I know next to nothing about it as no one really kept up with Margaret after about 1982. The one thing that has been mentioned to me is that Margaret and her husband Alex played guitar and sang at gatherings at the local senior citizen center. My hope is that it was a happy relationship and a good situation for her.

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