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History Book

In the 1930s, a federal program during the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appointed people to conduct oral history interviews across the country.

In Paynesville, Clarence Chisholm conducted over 100 interviews with local citizens. These selections from those interviews were printed throughout 2000 in The Paynesville Press.

Copies of the interviews were provided by the Paynesville Area Historical Society.


Voices of the Past - William Schmiginsky

William Schmiginsky, son of Julius and Wilhelmina (Frueger) Schmiginsky, was born in Germany on Dec. 4, 1861. He had two brothers, Ernest and Julius, and two sisters, Amelia Wagner and Johanah Schultz.

The children all received their education in Germany. Their father passed away in Germany and their mother remarried.

In the summer of 1880, William left Germany and came to America to make his home. He landed in New York City and from there he traveled westward by train until he reached St. Cloud. He journeyed from St. Cloud to Paynesville with William Schroeder, a farmer living in the vicinity of Paynesville who was in St. Cloud to get provisions.

The first three years William lived in Stearns County, he hired out as a farm hand. After that, he was employed by the Great Northern Railroad Company in St. Cloud. He held this position until 1891. During the time he worked for Great Northern, he bought a home in St. Cloud.

In April 1888, William was united in marriage to Anna Wilhelmina Manz. Anna had been born in Germany on Dec. 4, 1869. Their first child, Anna M., was born while they were living in St. Cloud.

In 1891, William sold his home in St. Cloud and bought a farm located in Section 31 of Eden Lake Township. There was nothing on the land but timber so the first thing to be done was to clear some trees away so that there would be a place to build their home.

William started farming with a team of oxen, several cows, and a few hogs. He was so busy with the task of clearing the land that he had no time to dig a well so he would take a barrel and place it in a hole in a swamp. In this way, they got the water necessary for household use. The cattle were watered in a slough nearby. He broke up four or five acres of land the first year with the use of the oxen. He planted corn the first year. The next year he planted wheat. Some of the corn was used as feed for the hogs and some of it he sold.

The oxen were the only animals used for farm work during the first years on the farm. He sold the oxen after the first five years on the farm and purchased a span of mules which he used for one year. He then traded the mules for a team of horses.

As the years passed, he kept clearing more land, and also added more land to that which he already had under cultivation. Many improvements were added such as a well and more modern farm machinery.

While he lived on the farm, William served two years as treasurer of Eden Lake Township, and two years as road overseer.

In the fall of 1928, William bought a lot in the village of Paynesville and built a modern home for himself and Anna.

William and Anna (Manz) Schmiginsky were the parents of nine children: Anna M., Martha, Edith, Ellen, Malinda J., Lena, Harry, Minnie, and Francis. The children all received their education at District School #77 and lived at home with their parents until they married.

The oldest child, Anna M., was born in St. Cloud on Nov. 8, 1889. She married Aaron Wendlandt and they had three children: Evelyn (Wendlandt) Nehring, Harold, and Donald.

Martha was born in Eden Lake Township on Oct. 8, 1891. She married Jack Schnider and they had three children: Harriet, Francese, and Lois. They lived in St. Paul.

Edith was born June 14, 1893, and married August Schmidt. They had one son, Howard. They lived on her father's farm in Eden Lake Township.

Ellen was born Sept. 6, 1895. She married Harry Marquardt and they had one daughter, Alice Mae.

Malinda J. was born Dec. 28, 1898. She married Emerick Busse. They had five children: Genevieve, Garfield, Jerome, Stewart, and Arlice.

Lena was born Dec. 31, 1898. She married Ben Mash and they lived in St. Paul.

Harry was born Dec. 24, 1899. He married Agnes Putzke. They had twin sons, Robert and Roger. Harry was the proprietor of the local dray line.

Francis was born Jan. 13, 1903, and she married Harry Schoenleben. They had two children, Deloris and Marilyn. They lived on his father's farm north of Paynesville.

Anna Wilhelmina (Manz) Schmiginsky passed away Jan. 23, 1937, at her home in Paynesville after a long illness. She had been an invalid for many years. She was laid to rest in the Ebenezer Cemetery.

William Schmiginsky continued to make his home in Paynesville, spending the summer months on his farm with his daughter.

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