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Bert Sr. and Mary Schwartskopf

Our Treasured Heritage
A History of Coalhurst and District
Pages 504-506

Bert Schwartzkopf Sr. arrived in Canada on March 27, 1927, at the age of twenty-nine to seek his fortune. The plan was to earn enough money to return to his native Hungary, to add to the family's small holdings. He left his wife and three children, an aging father and two brothers. He was sorry to leave his wife Mary that he had married in February of 1918, in a cold unheated church. They were married for sixty-six years in February of 1984. Both of the brothers soon left to seek their fortunes. Elek went first to Brazil and then to the U.S.A., and Joe went to Canada. Plans were harder to put into operation than expected, as the great depression made jobs scarce, money even more scarce. Bert Sr. did everything from work on the railroad to odd jobs. He worked for the International Nickel Plant in Sudbury, Ontario, helping to build their large smoke stack, at that time the largest of its kind. The depression eliminated many jobs. The men with no visible family to support were the first to be laid off.

Next he went to Saskatchewan to homestead with his brother Joe. He can still remember the dirt floor and the snow sifting through the planks on the roof, in the three years he spent there. He and Joe cleared eighty acres of land and started to produce some crops.

Now he headed for the sugar beet fields of Southern Alberta, where the laborer often had more money than the farmer, because the sugar factory paid the laborer. Government sometimes paid farmers a small amount of money to employ people. He worked on the Frank King farm, Mr. Brown's farm and on the Mr. and Mrs. Charley Boulton farm.

Back in Hungary, Mary and the girls ran the family farm that consisted of three acres of vineyards and about twelve acres of farm land. They grew wheat, rye, corn, sunflowers and potatoes. With the men folk gone Mary did a commendable job of running the farm. She had to hire people to plow and harvest the crop. She had to hoe, weed, pick grapes and do other manual jobs in order to pay the people she hired.

Finally, with the money Bert Sr. saved and a promise that he and his family would work diligently in the Boulton sugar beet patch, he made plans to bring the family to Canada.

In November of 1937, Mary and their three delightful girls arrived. Unfortunately one of the daughters, Helen, died an untimely death in 1963.

Now back in the sugar patch, Bert Sr. soon realized that working in the beet patch for someone else was not the door to the promised land, especially since he made more money making wine and moonshine in his spare time than he and his family could make in the beet patch from spring to fall. However, fearing the police and getting caught and fined or jailed, he dug a hole and buried his still near a clump of willows in a field near Picture Butte. His career as a distiller now over, he rented land from Joe Watson, which he farmed for two years. He then rented land north east of Coalhurst from Carl Johnson, now the Swidinsky farm. While renting there he bought land north of Coalhurst formerly the Andy Sherritt farm and several other pieces of land to make the farm an economical unit. Bert and Mary Sr. moved to the old Sherrit farm in 1947.

After their son married in 1960 Mr. and Mrs. Bert Schwartzkopf Sr. moved to Lethbridge and their son kept up residence on the family farm.

Family farm is what it is in the truest sense of the word. Bert Sr. and Mary were out to the farm every day. Bert Sr. would check the stockyards every morning to see and to listen to the latest trend in the cattle business. Bert Sr. had been a cattle feeder for many years. When people ask, "how do you keep this farm so neat", their son always said his mother and father hoed and watered the trees.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup