George Ivanov

Born: 11-16-1892 in Odessa, Ukraine

Parents: Eugenia-Ebvehur (Eva) Ivanov (died 1919)

Vasiliy-Bacunuu Ivanov

Came to America in 1913

Died: 11-7-1956 buried in Napoleon cemetery

    Grandpa Ivanov almost always wore bib overalls.  My first memory of him was when I was about 4 years old.  I was sitting on one of his legs holding onto his bib overalls and he was giving me a horse ride by raising his leg up and down.  I remember telling him how my Dad and me went out into the lake with our speedboat and went around the lake very fast.  Of course, he knew we didn't have a powerboat and told me, “Tommy - I think you are telling me a tall tale.”  

    He did a lot of fishing in the summer.  He would pick me up and we would go to the City Park and dig worms, the spot is still there and looks the same.  We would go to West Lake.  He sat on a five-gallon pail with a (2”x8”x2') board across it as a stool.  He sat there in that one spot and never moved.  I would be walking up and down the road that went through the lake, fishing, only catching a few bullheads.  When we were ready to go, his pail was full.  I never saw him catch a fish and I always thought I would show him up.  We always drove out in his new Chevy pickup that he died in.  

    They lived and cooked in the basement in the summer in their home in Napoleon.  They had a kitchen set up there and some kind of cot where Grandpa took his after dinner (lunch) nap.  It was much cooler in the basement.

    I was talking to Fred Zerr in Napoleon in the 1970's who said that he knew George when he was in Odessa Russia.  He said he met him one day when he visited Odessa - Grandpa was in a trade college as a mechanic.  

     My mother (Helen Ivanov Mueller) went to Odessa Russia in the 1970's with a friend (Mary) from Bismarck.  Mary had relatives in the Ukraine and had made several trips there.  My mother went to find her father's relatives, and met George's sister, Aunt Mary and a lot of cousins.  Only 1 granddaughter spoke English and none of them spoke German.  This got my Mother thinking because she always thought her dad was Russian.  Grandpa spoke German, English and  Russian. So my mother asked Aunt Mary if Grandpa was Russian or German.  Mary's reply was no, we are Ukrainian  

    My Grandpa saved letters, which he received, from his relatives back in Russia, begging for money, probably in the '1940's or 1950's.  It's my understanding that he had sent some money in reply to them, but later Grandpa stopped replying.  After Grandma Barbara died, the letters resurfaced, Grandma had kept them.  As I understand it, out of the blue in 1973, my Uncle Ben Ivanov received a letter after his mother, Barbara, had died.  The letter was addressed to Grandpa George.  It was from Grandpa's family in Odessa.  I think it was from Grandpa's sister, Aunt Mary.  The letter was in English written by Aunt Mary's grandchild.  It wanted to know if George was still alive.  Of course he had passed 20 years earlier in 1956

    Anyway, back to the trip to Russia by Helen Mueller.  She met her Aunt Mary, lived with her and met other uncle and aunts and lots of cousins.  Mary lived in an apartment house in Odessa - one room with her grandson, his wife, and great grandson.  The primitive privy was inside down the hall in a closet.  My mother couldn't make herself use it because it was a 6-holer.  More than one person used it at the same time but it was without any walls for privacy.  She walked to the U.S. Embassy for that duty.  

    Mom told me how they went to the outdoor market and bought a chicken, took it back to the apartment and picked the feathers and cleaned it, gutted it, and made it for dinner.  

    Mom also told me that they went to the country and met one of her uncles.  He was very sick, dying of cancer, and his number hadn't come up to see a doctor yet.  She met 6-10 relatives at this farm, including a granddaughter who was a dancer - we have slides (pictures of all of this).  My mother wrote nothing down as far as names.  I have a telegram from them from Odessa dated 8-18-1979, congratulating me on my birthday.  No names just signed from the Ivanov Family.  Mom  went to Napoleon School with the slides and gave a program.  

    Mom also told me that she asked her aunt to take her to the house her father was born in.  This picture  (it is in the slides) I think shows a two story cement building.  Also, I think I have slides of my great-grandparents' graves.  We have things that Mom brought back like colorful wooden Ukrainian eggs that fit inside each other.

    Grandpa came to America in 1913 when he was 21.  He worked for Wilhelm Glatt for 10 years.  Then he went to the bank and borrowed money to buy his first farm.  This is now Tony Sperle's farm, 6 miles SE of Napoleon.  They farmed there when my mother was young, maybe to the age of ten.  They sold this farm and they bought the farmstead that their son Benny now lives on.  Phil Belzer owned this farm and they paid $6500.00 for it.  It had a better house on it.

    Grandpa did his own harness work.  I still have one of his leather tools.  Uncle Benny told me about 1990 that he still had Grandpa's drawknife and some black harness leather from him.  Grandpa had a threshing crew.  The thresher is one mile north of Benny's farm in a section line east of the road about ¼ mile.  I have the wrench from that machine.  

    Grandpa retired because he had a heart attack, but would still help with the harvest.  He was told to take it easy because the next heart attack would kill him, so they moved to town (Napoleon). Grandma moved after he died to a house south of Napoleon, just outside the city limits, across the street and 4 houses down from the Farmer Union station.  

    I remember Grandpa and Grandma coming out to Uncle Joe's first farm and Grandpa walked from there ½ mile north and ½ mile west to see the new cement culvert the county put in.  I could see him from the farmstead.  I don't know why I remember this.  I was about 6 or 7 then.

    George died in his pick-up while driving on Nov. 7, 1956.  He was in route, getting some cream and a turkey from a farm just outside of Napoleon city limits.  I remember someone coming to our house with a message for my mother to come quick because Grandpa hadn't come back from the Spott's farm.  Mom got all shook up and left.  Later we found out that my Dad (maybe mom too) had found him dead in his pick-up, the motor still running.  The pick-up had driven off the road and come to rest along side a house on the west side of Napoleon.  A tree had stopped the pickup.  In the 1970's I remember going to that spot and seeing evidence on the tree of some kind of accident.  The tree was grown by now, and I think the scar in the tree was higher than a pick-up bumper at that time.