Volume 21, Number 123, October/November 2018 Immigration
by E.R. Nicodemus
This is a portion of a letter my aunt Katie wrote telling of my father’s family coming to Canada.
This is an account of the immigration of William Graham and Anna (Schmitt) Nicodemus and
family as told by their daughter, Katherine.
Goff, Kansas, February, 1912.
My dad had a good crop of corn on the farm rented from Mr. McLain. My oldest brother, Charlie, age 21, had heard that there was land for homesteading in northwest Canada and he talked it over with my dad. Then my dad decided to sell out everything on the farm and go to Canada. So we had a sale of all the farm stock and the household furniture.
The day after the sale the weather turned cold and there was a snow storm. My brother, Ralph, and I were just getting over the chicken pox. We went home with a family near the town of Goff in Kansas. A week later the rest of the family came: mom and dad, Howard, Ada, Ralph, me (Katie), Mabel, and Herb (my father) who was a baby. Charlie had gone to Canada and was working up there. Howard left a bit later and went to meet Charlie in Canada.
We all got on a train in Goff (The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe) and went to Atchison, then changed trains to St. Joseph, Missouri, on to Council Bluffs going north to my aunt and uncle in Madison, Minnesota. Uncle “Doc” Haney was a veterinarian. We went to stay a week and ended up staying for a month. All my brothers and sisters and I got sore eyes and we had to stay until we got well. Then my
uncle drove us in a “democrat” buggy to a station where we got on a train going to Canada.
We had to stay in Emerson at the line between Canada and the United States to get our immigration papers. We stayed nearly a week sleeping on the floor. It was cold up there too. Then we boarded a train to Winnipeg, Manitoba and from there onto another train going northwest to our destination of Dauphin, Manitoba.
Brother Charlie met us and took us all to a boarding house for a few days until we rented a house and got some furniture and two stoves which we sure needed as in March it was still pretty cold. We were not used to such cold weather in Kansas at this time of year.
We were homesick but no turning back. My dad and brothers found work. Ralph, Mabel, and I went to school which was so much different. We learned about England and Canada. We sang “God Save the
King”. We never learned about the USA. My teacher asked me where I came from. I told her, Goff, Kansas. Then she asked me what boat I came on. I then had to tell her I was from the United States.
My point in this quote is that we have to admit that many immigrants are from the United States of
America. No oppression. No crowded boats. No war (at the time). They were looking for free land to build a home and not be hemmed in. A promise of a place for opportunities and possibilities was the goal. If I was to tell more of the story not everything worked out to a “happily ever after” ending. Maybe a story for the future.