[1910 -1981]. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 35 photographs.
August Kirstein was born in East Prussia in approximately 1866. In his early life he emigrated to Wohlynia, Ukraine. There was free land available there and many German people responded, establishing farms in a colony system. August met and married Wilhelmina Draeger, daughter of Fred and Eva Draeger, whose family had moved from Poland to the Colony of Stephan, province of Wohlynia in Ukraine. Fred and Eva’s 7 children were Alvina,(b. 1862, married Samual Weiss then Joseph Huber); Johanna, (b. 1862, married William Klone then Ludwig Schmidt); Mary (married August Benz); Bertha (b. 1877 married Adam Kaiser); Wilhelmina (b. 1863 married August Kirstein); Anton (married Anna Borowski); and Frederick (married Mathilde Winter). Some of these marriages occurred in Ukraine and there were already children. Because of the conflict in the Ukraine towards the German immigrants, in 1891, the whole family left Ukraine in 1891. The Draeger left for Canada, travelled west by train and got off at the end of the rail at Siding 16 which became Wetaskiwin. Here they took up farm land.
August and Wilhelmina went back to Germany, settling in the city of Dresden with their sons Rudolph (b.1887), Gustave (b.1889), Frederick Theodore (b. 1891). Here Ernest Herman Max was born in 1893.
While Ernest was still an infant, August’s family came to Canada, stopping in Winnipeg until 1902, where two more children, August Franz (b. 1895) and Eva Helene (1897) were born. They then headed to Wetaskiwin to join Wilhelmina’s family. August became fairly successful, owning one of the first steam engines and threshing machines in the district and then a sawmill and flour mill. He was also a carpenter and was instrumental in building the Pleasant Prairie Luthern Church as well as the Zion Luthern Church in Wetaskiwin. His flour mill did custom grinding and he operated a wood lot, selling fire wood. Very involved in church, school and community, the August Kirstien’s were also very musical; each one played instuments and were members of brass bands.
In April, 1914, August, along with his five sons, took the train to Edson and then walked to Grande Prairei with their food and supplies on their backs. They each filed on land in the North Kleskun area, filing on one for their sister, Mrs. Fred Muskowski, as well. In the following years, Wilhelmina’s sisters, Alvina Weiss Huber and her children (most of whom were grown and married) and Johanna Klone Schmidt, also with married children, came to the Peace country. Family names include Weiss, Huber, Steinke, Arac and Hinkle.
On November 18,1918, Rudolph Kirstien died in the flu epidemic and was buried in the Bear Creek Cemetery. His wife Amelia (Klatt) Kirstein returned to Wetaskiwin with their sons, Gordon and Reginald. In 1923, Wilhelmina passed away and was buried in the Emerson Trail Cemetery. Frederick (Fritz) never stayed in the Peace country but returned to Wetaskiwin where he opened a butcher shop. He married Lillian Jensen and they raised three sons, Robert, Raymond and Kenneth who eventually took over Kirstein’s Meat Market.
Gustave Heinrich never married. He was a tinsmith and after selling his homestead to his cousin and her husband, Martha (Weiss) and Louis Steinke, he moved into Sexsmith where he opened his shop and partnered with his brother, Ernie, in running a movie circuit and playing in Ernie’s band as a drummer. Gus passed away suddenly in 1947.
Ernie sold his homestead and purchased a house on main street in Sexsmith. He and Gus built a service station with room for offices and a tinsmith shop. They also ran an entertainment business, running a show hall for movies and dances in Sexsmith located in the same block as the Weicker Hotel and Fairburn’s Garage. Ernie was also a piano tuner and rode a bicycle as far as Fort St. John to tune pianos and helped organize the Grande Prairie Brass Band. In 1931, at age 38, Ernie married Isadore (Teasy) Mayne, daughter of Bill and Anna Mayne of Teepee Creek. A year later Teasy died giving birth to their son, Terrrance Earnest. Ernie’s sister Eva took the infant, Terry, and cared for him for the first year. He then came to live with Ernie who had hired Cora May Johnson, daughter of Jack and Emma Johnson, to help look after the boy. In 1936, Cora and Ernie were married and had three daughters: Marlene (b. 1938), Myrna (b. 1940), and Corinne (b. 1953). Ernie passed away in 1968 and Cora (now Mrs. Arthur Baldridge) died in 1988 in White Rock, BC.
Frank Kirstein sold his land in the 1920s and emigrated to the US, working at various jobs and settling in Wrentham, Mass. Where he opened a butcher shop. He married Mary Sheerin but they had no children. Both are buried in Wrentham
Eva married Fred Muskowski. They settled in the North Kleskun area. They had a daughter, Frieda Ruth. Fred suffered an early death shortly after his daughter’s birth. Eva remarried Fred Laing and moved to McLennan. They had a son Clarence and they later retired to Edmonton and are buried there.
August, after his wife died and his family was grown, wrote to a Luthern Church in Germany seeking a recommendation for a woman who would be willing to come to Canada to be his wife. After considerable communication, Mary ___ agreed to come and arriving by train in Sexsmith was met by August and taken to his farm. A few days after her arrival, a disagreement took place and Mary left the house and walked to the neighbor’s place which belonged to August’s neice, Martha (Weiss) Steinke. Here she was visited by Martha’s bachelor brother, Fred Weiss, and eventually Fred and Mary were married. August then wrote to a German-language magazine in Saskatchewan, seeking a wife. Freida Rossler responded and agreed to marry him. In 1926 August took the train to meet her and they were married and returned to the farm in North Kleskun.
Frieda (Rosier) Kirstien had immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1902 with her parents, when she was three years old. They came to Manitoba and then in 1912, the family of eight farmed in Saskatchewan. Frieda had a difficult childhood because of a crippled leg. In March, 1927, Frieda, gave birth to twins, a healthy boy and a still born girl. They named the boy, Haina. In 1933, when Haina was only 6, August became ill and passed away at age 66. Life became very difficult for Freida and Haina. While everyone was struggling, their plight was worse than most. Haina started school in the Lutheran Church School where he first had to learn English and endure teasing. Later he decided to go to North Kleskun School where he got along better. Frieda eventually sold the flour mill and the steam engine to the Bohnke Bros. from Wanham. Haina went to work at an early age to help his mother. He eventually learned how to drive his father’s team and was able to haul straw and hay and wood. By 1939-40 he was working at Jack La Marr’s shingle mill and in 1941 he was missing school to work on the threshing crew. He was a sturdy fellow but still only fourteen years old. The first family was not aware of their struggle because of animosity towards the second Mrs. Kirstein. When Haina was old enough to go out to work, he and his mother moved into Sexsmith and rented the farm. Freida passed away in 1979 and in buried in Emerson Trail cemetery next to August.
Haina got into boxing and was a serious contender for the heavyweight title bout to be held in 1950 and although he qualified, he never went to Calgary to compete. Instead he turned to the excitement of rodeo, riding bareback broncs, entering wild cow contests and in later years loving to drive the pony chariots. In 1948, Haina met Mary Hill at the Hythe rodeo and in 1950 they were married. They had three children: Cynthia, Joseph, and Donald. Over the next ten years, Haina’s work took he and his family to various areas of BC. Mary died in 1968 and Haina and the boys came back to the farm. Haina passed away in 2006 on the oringinal homestead built by his father and is buried in the Emerson Train cemetery near his parents and half-brother, Gus.
The records were donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Joe Kirstien in 2009 and Myrna Burton in 2011.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of 35 photographs of the Kirstein family including family historical photos and many of Haina’s rodeo days especially driving his pony chariots. An accrual includes 10 pages of family genealogical history and a complete biography of the August Kirstein family written by Myrna (Kirstein) Burton.