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Journey Into The Unknown

Joseph Oster Family & The Village of Vilagos
by Laurie Ackermann Boyett

Excerpts from a Banaters remembrance of life
in her village, as a child and young women.
Submitted by John Schlesinger.
Published at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr.

 

Kathryn Schock Oster

 

Kathryn & husband Andrew Oster

     The Oster family tree was traced back to Anne, Hungary.  There Joseph Oster married Anna Ackerman the daughter of Sebastian Ackerman and Rosalie Ackerman.  The young couple purchased a three room house and four acres.  The house was built of sod, the walls 20-24 inches thick, the floor was made of dirt, and the roof was made of straw.  In the center of the house was a large brick oven.  The chimney was about four inches square.  They smoked meat at the same time they were baking bread in the oven. Wood was very expensive and scarce, sometimes straw was burned.  They didn't have much furniture, and straw was used to make their mattresses on a board and covered with feather ticks.  The kitchen had a table, chairs, and a stove.  The land was rolling hills similar to the Scott Hills here near Mt. Angel.  Their main crop was grapes, and the vineyards there we recalled as the hop yards in Mt. Angel in the 1900's. 

     Wine was made and stored in underground cellars, some as large as 150 long.  The wine was aged in these cellars, sometimes as long as 20 years.  Joseph Oster rented ground to farm, and raised grain, corn, grapes, and pumpkins which they used the oil for cooking, and the pulp for hog feed. 

     Hogs were raised for their own meat,  also owned two cows for their milk supply, and had several horses.  They had herdsman to take the animals to pasture every morning and bring them back at night.  The horses wore hobbles with padlocks to keep people from stealing them.  The older boys always slept in the farm to guard the horses.  Their neighbors raised sheep, and as soon as the lambs were old enough to eat grass, the ewes were milked and the milk was either sold or cheese was made with it.  The hay and the grain was cut with a scythe,  and the grain tied in bundles by hand,  thrashed by the horses trampling the seeds out.  When plowing the fields,  it took one to drive the team of horses, and one to guide the plow.  Joseph Jr. worked for the neighbors driving a team of horses.  He earned twenty five cents per day, working from dawn to dusk.  Joseph Sr. did custom hauling, delivering grain to Arad which was 15 miles from St. Anna.  The journey took all day.

     After sixteen years of marriage, and six children, the Oster family decided to leave Hungary as so many people were doing, and come to America.  They settled on a little town in Oregon named Mt. Angel.  The town was made up of many people from the Banat part of Hungary, and even today the influence of the Banat Germans is evident.  Mt. Angel is host to one of the best Oktoberfest in America,  and has been mentioned on many of the German web sites.

     The family made reservation on the SS Slavonia, and went to the Port of Fiume by train.  On April 2, 1904 they set sail for America.  This ship was a semi passenger ship, and a freighter.  The price of passage was $400.00 for the entire family.  This reflected half price for the children under 12 years of age, and free for those children under four.  Only one stop was made along the way, in Sicily to pick up a load of bananas.  During the stop, they discovered 15 stowaways on the ship, and the men were forced to stay in the hull of the ship for the rest of the journey. 

     It took eighteen days to reach the Port of New York, and in the meantime the Oster family made friends with other Germans going to Mt. Angel.  The Ackermann family, the Dederick family, the Rentz family, the Wolf family, and the Stenger family were among the names of people they eventually were to live near in Mt. Angel.

     Joseph Oster and his wife Anna purchased some acreage with buildings and again rented ground to farm.  Two more children were added after coming to Mt. Angel, and that increased the family to eight children.

     A couple of years after Joseph and Anna came to America, Andrew Oster and his wife Katharyn  Schlesinger Oster, also came to Mt. Angel from the village of St. Anna.  That was in 1906.  Kathryn was born in the village of Vilagos, and had met Andrew while coming to Arad to work.

     The Oster family lived and died their remaining years in Mt. Angel, Oregon,  and are buried in the Catholic Cemetery in Mt. Angel.

Submitters comments:

     The article was written by Laurie Ackermann Boyett.  She is related to Joseph Oster and Andrew Oster by Joseph being married to Anna Ackermann.  She refers to a Los Vilagos as being a county, but I believe she is incorrect about that.  Vilagos was part of the county of Arad, as was Sanktanna.  So Laurie was related to Andrew Oster's wife, who was Katherine Schock Oster, a sister of my father's mother, Theresa Schock Schlesinger.   Vilagos is Hellburg/Hellberg in German and today known as  Siria, Romania.

     The article is speaking of the family of Joseph {Jozef} and Andrew Oster.  They were both born in Sanktanna, Hungary.  Andrew's wife was Katherine Schock, a sister of my father's mother.  Katherine Schock was born in the village of Vilagos, {Helburg} Joseph's wife was Anna Ackermann.  She was from the village of Galsa.

     Joseph came to America first aboard the ship Slavonia.  The ship during that voyage, was loaded with people from various villages in Hungary.  Andrew Oster, came to America later aboard the ship Gerty.  Joseph and Andrew lived in Mt. Angel, Oregon.  Eventually, Joseph moved to Portland as he became older.  Andrew lived and died in Mt. Angel.

     Joseph Oster was the brother of Andrew Oster who married Kathryn Schlesinger my father's mother's sister.

 

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Last Updated: 06 Aug 2019