Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Tragedy

A tale from "Memories of Norka," by Conrad Brill. Found here

The Hefenieder branch in Portland spells their name, to this day, as "Hefeneader."

“A family named Hefeneader lived in the first row in Norka, at Unterdorf and Mitteldorf line. For years as a boy I heard gossip about how they got their wealth, so I always consider that part of it as a ghost story, but their death, later on, while I was a boy, and described to our villagers by a family friend, Adam, Soie ohmer schiezer Schwartz, was a truly tragic ending.

“The Hefeneader’s neighbors, the Aschenbrenner’s, used to tell that back in the 1860 70's, a Russian peasant came to the Hefeneader’s door on a cold rainy night, seeking food and shelter. They fed him and gave him a place to sleep in the cellar. At that time they had a poor man’s home like most of the neighboring villagers. What I can remember of the home in 1905 era, is a beautiful brick place, with brick or cement block outbuildings, a building with hewn, notched logs, (log cabin style) all with metal roofs, which was a sign of wealth. The place also had a solid wood fence around it, covered with metal.

“The story was that in those earlier days, the Hefeneaders were rewarded by this peasant, who stayed on with them, with money he made for them in appreciation for the food and lodging. As the story went, he had just been released from confinement for counterfeiting and supposedly had treasury plates or counterfeit plates in his possession. He was supposed to have made money for them, but was ready to leave, but they decided to keep him as a secret prisoner, forcing him to make more money. They built the nice brick home, then the outbuildings and fence. Later they built a flourmill in a Russian village near Saratov. Mrs. Aschenbrenner could tell for hours of the trips from cellar to house the Russian must have made dragging chains, which they could hear rattling as he was hauled back and forth in the night. She said he must have died and was eventually thrown into an old well and the log shed built over it when he died.

“In about 1905-09 period . . . a group of Russian bandits rode into the mill property shooting all of the employees and the old Hefeneader couple, too. Adam Schwartz was there working for them and was in his bedroom getting dressed when he heard the hoof beats of the riders coming into the yard, then screaming and shooting started, so he crawled into the bedding drawer under the bed, pulling a quilt down over himself, so he wasn't discovered.

“He walked back to Norka to inform our village councilors of the raid, and they sent three wagons to go to the mill and bring back any salvageable property they could. My brothers John and Conrad took a wagon, as did a neighbor Hessler, who was a relative of Hefeneaders. Garte Krieger was married to the Hefeneader’s daughter. The home of the Hefeneaders was taken over by the Russian government and used as the State owned liquor store after the death of the old couple. It was situated next door to the Aschenbrenner’s home. “

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