America Is Land of Opportunity

Immigrant worked hard to make a better life for himself and his family.

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Grandfather Christian Schultz was born March 11, 1842, in Karlsberg, Russia. Forced to go to work early in life to supplement the family's income, he had only one month of schooling. At 15, Christian left home and went to South Russia, where he worked on a farm for two years. The next three years he apprenticed himself to a manufacturer. Here he learned to be a blacksmith and carriage maker. For three years he received only his board, then he began to earn wages. After 12 years, he was the best workman and the best paid on this job. During this time, he built a carriage that won first place at the World's Fair in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1871.

Christian Schultz came to America on the SS Frisia, which departed from Hamburg, arriving in New York on July 22, 1874. He left during what became known as the "The Great Migration of the Germans from Russia," although we are neither German nor Russian, as our ancestors came from the Netherlands.

From New York, Christian came to Barton County, Kansas, where he settled with other immigrants in the colony at Dundee. This colony of people had been neighbors in the area of Christian's birthplace. Christian, who was 33, had saved about $3,000, which he used to buy a quarter section of land for this colony. Christian helped others who were less fortunate than him build their homes. He built a house for a widow-who later became his mother-in-law-and her seven children. The Santa Fe Railroad shipped the lumber free of freight charges from Michigan to Dundee. The approximate cost of lumber for each house was $40.35. The cost of lumber for beds, tables, benches, fuel boxes and shelves was $15.65 per 1,000 feet. Stoves were $25 each.

Christian saw to it that a stone church was built for this colony. In it, Christian and his bride, Helena Rudiger, were married September 5, 1875. When this colony disbanded after several years, the families began to buy land and settle down on larger farms. My grandparents, Christian and Helena, moved to farm an area north of Pawnee Rock, Kansas. Their first home was a dugout, in which their first four children were born. Then Grandfather built a log house, where the rest of his children were born. They had 14 children, two of whom died shortly after birth.

My mother, Eva, was their second daughter. She often told how busy she and the oldest daughter were helping their mother with this big family. Christian built a lovely new two-story house for his family in 1905. My mother married November 7, 1900, so she did not get to enjoy living in this new home, but she and her husband enjoyed coming "home" to visit her parents.

My parents, Eva and Sam Boese, raised their children on the farm, where they used horses for everything. They pulled the farming machinery, the wagon that took us across country to church, and a buggy that took us to our country school.

I'm glad my grandparents came to America and that I was born here. If it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't be enjoying America today.

Marjorie Andrasek
Garden City, Kansas


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.