Fonds 345 Haina Kirstein family fonds


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[1910 -1981]. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 35 photographs.

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Biographical Sketch

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.

Custodial History

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.



The August Kirstien Family,
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
August Kirstien with his first wife, Wilhelmena and six children, Back: Rudolph, Frank ( in father’s arms) Middle: Frederick (Fritz), Wilhelmena holding Eva. Front: Ernest, Gustave. After his wife died, August married Frieda Rosier.
Location: 2009.040.01
Old School With Students, n.d.
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
A one-room school with large group of children and parents standing beside it.
Location: 2009.040.02
August Kirstien on Breaking Plow, n.d.
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
August stands on the back of a steel wheel steam engine tractor as his wife sits on on the draw bar with the breaking plow behind her.
Location: 2009.040.03
Flour Mill, n.d.
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
A woman stands holding a horse near a flour mill and windmill shed. August had a saw mill and sawed wood and ground grain for people around the neighborhood. They took wood contracts out with the schools.
Location: 2009.040.04
On Main Street Sexsmith, 1928
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Mrs. Frieda Kirstien and Haina, her son.
Location: 2009.040.05
A Cabin in the Woods in Winter, n.d.
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Location: 2009.040.06
Hauling Logs Out in Winter,
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Location: 2009.040.07
August Kirstien in a Wagon,
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
August Kirstien stands in the wagon drawn by a team of horses.
Location: 2009.040.08
Kirstien’s Orchestra, [1935]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Sexsmith Hall with Kirstien’s Orchestra: Ernest Kirstien with son Terry, Gus Kirstien on drums and Jack Geeson on banjo.
Location: 2009.040.09
The Boxer, 1949
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Haina Kirstien, winner in the 185 lb. novice class of the Provincial Amateur Boxing Championships held in Grande Prairie March 18, 1950.
Location: 2009.040.10
The Haina Kirstien Farm, [1980]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
An aerial photograph of the Kirstien farm SE 17-74-4 W6 which was homesteaded by August Kirstein in 1913.
Location: 2009.040.11
Road Work, [1942]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Two men in coveralls stand beside a tanker truck.
Location: 2009.040.12
Road Work (2), [1942]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
One man in coveralls stand beside a tanker truck.
Location: 2009.040.13
Road Work (3) – Coffee Time, [1942]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Two men take time out for coffee beside their equipment and a campfire.
Location: 2009.040.14
Hythe Sports, 1948
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Walter Webber, rodeo judge
Location: 2009.040.15
Horse Show or Rodeo,
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
A large group of people watch a number of horses and riders circle in front of them.
Location: 2009.040.16
Standing on a Horse’s Back,
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
A rider stands on the back of a horse which has its front feet on a stand.
Location: 2009.040.18
Pony Chariot Races, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Wagon # 66, Haina Kirstien driver, rounds the corner
Location: 2009.040.19
Mud Flies as #66 Takes the Lead, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Mud Flies as #66 Takes the Lead
Location: 2009.040.20
A Full Grandstand at the Pony Chariot Races, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
# 66 takes the lead over#25.
Location: 2009.040.21
Haina Kirstien and His Pony Chariot Outfit, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien takes the lead as he rounds the bend. Onlookers line the rail fence in the background.
Location: 2009.040.22
Haina Kirstien and His Pony Chariot Outfit Racing, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien shouts to his ponies as the crowd in the stands cheer him on
Location: 2009.040.23
Haina Kirstien and His Pony Chariot Outfit on the Outside, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien takes the lead as he rounds the bend.
Location: 2009.040.24
Haina Kirstien and His Pony Chariot Outfit on the Inside, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien takes the lead as he rounds the bend.on the inside with his #66 pony chariot
Location: 2009.040.25
Haina Kirstien and His Pony Chariot Outfit on the Inside, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien takes the lead as he rounds the bend.on the inside with his #66 pony chariot. Viewers watch from corral fences
Location: 2009.040.26
Haina Kirstien Racing His Pony Chariot Outfit, [ca. 1970]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien takes the lead as he rounds the bend.on the inside with his #66 pony chariot. Viewers watch from atop corral fences
Location: 2009.040.27
Haina Kirstien Honored as Rodeo Master?, 1999
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien and ? drive the stagecoach as wagon master
Location: 2009.040.28-31
Haina Kirstien and Pud Mc Causland, [1949]
1 photograph; b & w; 4 x 6
Kirstien and Pud Mc Causland – both cowboys were annial contestants at Teepee Creek Stampede. Pud was killed in 1950.
Location: 2009.040.32
Clarence Steeves and Wife with Driver Haina Kirstien, 1981
1 photograph; colour; 4 x 6
Haina Kirstien with his horse and wagon transporting Clarence Steeves and his wife to their 40th wedding anniversary celebrations at Webster Hall, July 27, 1981.
Location: 2009.040.33
Dance Hall Group, [1925]
1 photograph/postcard; b & w; 4 x 6
A crowd gathered in a dance hall for a photograph. One couple, perhaps the musical directors, is seen standing in front of the piano. Ernest Kirstien is third from left in the back row. On the back of the postcard, “Here is a card from the bunch at the dance. But I am not on it. You will find him – as for myself I had to go home that day. Regards, Gus Kirstien”
Location: 2009.095.01
Harry Adair Fullfils an Election Bet With Bill Innes, 1917
1 photograph/postcard; b & w; 4 x 6
Harry Adair, in payment of losing an election bet, prepares to push William Innes in a wheel barrow in the sports day parade down main street in Grande Prairie, July 2, 1917. Ernest Kirstien is a band member – fourth from the left wearing a white shirt.
Location: 2009.095.02
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