Nieland Family History     
     Ben and Mary Nieland Family History
     Family History from the July 1993 Family Reunion

This family history was prepared by Russ Bierl for the Nieland Family Reunion of October 9th 1993 by Russell V. Bierl, son of Irene A. (Nieland) Bierl and oldest grandson of Bernard and Mary (Grote) Nieland. The information was updated in March 2001.

Photo: Ben Nieland

Bernard Anthony Nieland was born on March 29, 1890, the ninth child of Henry Nieland. His mother was Anna (Koester) Nieland, the second wife of Henry. Mary Grote was born on December 9th, 1893 to Herman and Anna (Rust) Grote on a farm 5.5 miles west and a mile south of Breda, IA.

Ben Nieland married Mary Anna Grote on February 10, 1914 in Breda, Iowa at St. Bernard Catholic Church. The priest that married them was the Rev. G.H. Luchrsman. Mary and Ben's brides maid was Rose Nieland who later married Joseph Wittrock and the best man was Tony Grote. Joseph and Rose later moved to Okarche, Oklahoma, where they farmed. They came back to visit family in Iowa every summer. Irene remembers how Rose and Mary were always best friends and they used to go into the bedroom to get away from the kids and talk and laugh with each other....

Photo: Ben and Mary Grote Nieland wedding, 1914

After Ben and Mary were married they lived on a 110-acre farm located four and a half miles North of Breda on the East side of the road. The legal description of the farm is Range-36, Section-25, Viola-86 Township, Sac County. IA. The first month of their marriage they lived in the wash house (old house) on the farm until the renters moved off the place in March. This farm was rented from Ben's father, Henry Nieland for a number of years until Ben and Mary bought it. According to Irene (Nieland) Bierl, "the story goes that Henry Nieland would not sell the farm to Ben and Mary until they had a son." They bought the farm in 1919 after Arthur was born. The price was $100 an acre and they paid for it over ten years at 2% interest. Payments were due on March 1st, and some years Ben and Mary couldn't make the payments on time. Later they used Mary's inheritance to purchase the forty acres located north and across the road from the one hundred ten they already owned. Previous owners of the land were:

1. Land grant May 15,1856 - Iowa Central Airline Railroad.
2. (Unknown) - Failed to honor contract, state took land back.
3. Roelf B. Kaper, sold land in 1881 to
4. Dick Huisenga, sold land in 1908 to,
5. John Krull, son in law of Dick Huisenga. Wife's name was
    Lizzie Krull, sold land in 1913 to,
6. Henry Nieland, sold land in 1917 to,
7. Ben Nieland, sold land in 1975 to,
8. Paul and Connie Nieland.

Bernard A. and Mary A. Nieland were blessed with eight children:

1. Florence Anna Nieland, born November 20, 1916, died January 6, 1998
2. Arthur Bernard Nieland, born August 25, 1918, died September 17, 1944
3. Angeline Irene Nieland (living)
4. Edgar Patrick (Pat) Nieland (living)
5. Cyril Louis Nieland (living)
6. Paul Anthony Nieland (living)
7. Jolene Mary Nieland (living)
8. Iris Charlotte (Charl) Nieland (living)

An interesting tradition has been passed on from Ben and Mary to most of their children, and grandchildren. They had a pair of male and female wax hands on top of their wedding cake when they were married in 1914. Almost all of their children and grandchildren have used the same wax hands as decoration on their wedding cakes since. Another interesting fact is that four of Ben and Mary's children were married on the same date, February 10th, as they were. These include Irene, Cyril, Jolene, and Charlotte.

Photo: Ben Nieland Family, about 1933

Ben and Mary both went to country schools except for the two or three years they received Catholic religious education at St. Bernard's School prior to receiving First Communion. The highest class taught in the country school was sixth grade. They were taught both English and German. German was the main language spoken in their homes until WW I. At that time the governor signed a proclamation that the German language could not be spoken in public places such as churches or meetings. Ben and Mary continued to speak German, especially Mary, when she didn't want the children to understand. Mary's family spoke low German and Ben's family spoke high German.

Ben and Mary lived almost their entire adult lives on the farm, until they moved to Breda in 1969 and Paul and Connie Nieland moved onto the home place. The only buildings that were on the farmstead when they moved there were the house, the wash house or summer kitchen, an old chicken house, and the barn. The previous owners had built the barn using old split railroad ties for studs that they collected along the railroad right of way when new track was put in. Ben had the corn crib built in the summer of 1919, by Bill Koehne & Co. Irene remembers a story from her parents about how there was an argument over the shape of the hip roof which cost more to build than a regular slant roof. Mary provided dinner and supper for five carpenters for most of the summer while the crib was built. In the early years the wash house stood to the southeast of the present house where the present garage is located. The cream separator and washing machine were stored and operated in the wash house They were run by a gasoline engine with belts. The water for washing was drawn from a cistern on the north side of the house. The wash house was later moved to the East of the large chicken house and used as a garage.

The family used an outhouse until the late 1940s and they had to pump water from the well and carry it in the house. They used a clay tile smoke house in the apple orchard south of the house to cure meat. The REC ran electricity to the area and Ben had the power hooked up in December 1940. The house was heated with a wood stove and later an oil space heater. An oil furnace was installed in the early 1950s. A telephone had been installed earlier by the Breda Telephone Company and the Nieland phone number was 222 on line 12. This phone had to be cranked to call an operator who would connect you to your party. Of course it was a party line and each home had their own unique ring.

Florence, Art, Irene, and Pat Nieland all started their schooling at the country school located a mile South of the farm. When they were old enough to go to first communion they attended St. Bernard's School in Breda. Florence attended Catholic school for three years and Art attended two years. They boarded at the school in the early years with the nuns. Later the Frank and Ben Nieland families would trade off driving the children to and from school in a horse and buggy. Still later, the kids drove the horse themselves. The horse's name was Brown Dan. Irene remembers the time all the kids came home from school and left the horse out in the yard hitched to the buggy. Brown Dan got hungry and finely went into the barn himself and destroyed the buggy by pulling it through the door with him. Irene said, "Dad was really angry about the wrecked buggy which he had to fix himself." Florence, Art and Irene stopped their formal schooling at eighth grade. All the younger children completed twelve years of school at St. Bernard's. Pat was the first child able to drive the car to school and take the other children. Later the family shared rides with the families of Louis Nieland, Frank Nieland, Bill Poen and Joe Pick. At times there were as many as eight children in the car with their books and lunch pails. Each October, St. Bernard's School would release all the children for two weeks for corn picking vacation. It was necessary to have all the children help because the corn was picked by hand. Everyone had to help including the young children and it was cold hard work.

Photo: Ben NIeland and sons, about 1941

Henry Nieland, Ben's father, farmed two miles South of Ben and Mary. Mary Nieland didn't like to let Florence, Art and Irene play at grandpa and grandmas because they would always come home so dirty from playing outside. Ben and Mary would visit them often and sometimes take Henry and Anna to church. After Ben purchased a Model T Ford, his parents would always try to ride to town with him. Henry Nieland later owned a car, but his children always drove it and he never learned to drive. Mary Nieland also never learned to drive a car although Ben did try to teach her once. She was learning to drive in the hay field and Ben only showed her the brake and the gas. The story is that she ran through a fence and maybe stepped on the brake and Florence bumped her head on the dash. Old cars were difficult to start and Arthur once broke his arm when the blue Chevy backfired when he was trying to start with a crank. This was before he was old enough to drive and he would get the car out of the garage for Ben. Florence and Irene Nieland remember going to Henry Nieland's birthday party in a team drawn bobsled when the snow got too deep for the car. Pat Nieland tells how the folks later owned a 1936 Plymouth, that he learned to drive with. Pat also remembers the incident when Art was driving the car and they almost hit a train on their way to Carnavon. Ben reached over and pulled the steering wheel to the right, which forced the car into the ditch, just before the train would have hit them. Pat was in the back seat and he said it scared them all to death. They also just missed being hit by a train in Breda on their way to school once when Ben was driving.

Ben Nieland was part of a Thrashing Ring, which was a co-op of farmers who owned a thrashing machine and pooled their labor for harvest. Other farmers in the area who owned part of the large Case tractor and thrashing machine were Matt Autten, Henry Karstens, Louie, Ben, Frank, and Joe Nieland, Henry Rutten, Bill Poen, Joe Wubben, Ben Rickie and Claus and Bill Huisenga. These names were provided in 1993 by Mrs. Tallie Huisenga, wife of Bill. She believes the ring was started in 1927. Ben Rickie stored the machine in a shed on his farm. Other neighbors who the family sometimes worked with were Joe Pick, John Huisenga, and Tony Boes. Cyril Nieland remembers how Ben had to furnish two wagons and men to haul bundles because he had more oats to thrash than some of the others. All the specifics were written into a contract they all agreed to and signed. The tractor engine was powered by kerosene and it was a very slow moving machine with large steel wheels. The thrashing machine was powered by a wide belt which ran off the right side of the tractor. Bill Poen was the main operator of the tractor. Sometimes something would spook the team of horses while shocks of oats were being collected and they would run away with the wagon and wreck it. The most feared problem was the team being chased and stung by bumble bees. Everyone would stop what they were doing and try to catch the horses. When the men worked in the fields the women would prepare large meals. They would bring an afternoon lunch to the field which included sandwiches, lemonade and a cold beer. The sandwiches would be wrapped in a clean dish towel and placed in a dish pan. The drinks were placed in fruit jars. After the thrashing on each farm was done, all of the families would meet for a picnic on a Sunday afternoon at the Lake Wood Park near Lake View. They had lots of food, lemonade, beer and home made ice cream. Some of the men would drink too much but Ben never did. Everyone went swimming and had lots of fun. Ben bought a Case combine in the early 50's and the thrashing machine was no longer used. The combine was stored in a new white building behind the barn.

The family always celebrated Christmas by going to church and the children receiving small gifts. Irene (Nieland) Bierl does not remember the family having a Christmas tree or decorations in the home. She does remember getting a porcelain doll for Christmas one year. She still has the doll and cherishes it to this day. Cyril and Pat remember getting ice-skates for Christmas one year and a sled another. Florence writes, "Regardless of the times, I always thought Christmas was a fun time. We usually got a few gifts and a lot of candy, fruit and nuts. Being it was Christmas and all, Mom, Dad and us kids would visit uncles and aunts in the evenings. Some of the people visited were Frank Nieland, Will Nieland and Fred and Mary Steinkamp. We enjoyed playing with all of the cousins and always had a great time." Irene remembers the family always had chicken or beef soup and dumplings and Jell-O with bananas for Christmas dinner. On Christmas day they didn't get together with other families or relatives except at church. The Nielands always sat in the same seats at St. Bernard's Catholic Church and attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. In later years Ben and Mary had a silver artificial tree that came apart in the middle. After the children were all grown and left home, everyone would come home to Ben and Mary's for Christmas and other holidays. The women would cook a huge meal and the men would talk in the living room. Ben's favorite food was roast beef, potatoes and sauerkraut. Some of the favorites Mary would serve the children were natural casing Wilson hot dogs, red Jell-O, pickled beans and hard salami on bread and butter sandwiches. The grandchildren would all play in the basement or outside in the large grove.

Once or twice a summer the family would go to Black Hawk Lake for a picnic and swimming. Some of the older children say Ben would get a backache on the 4th of July so he would not have to go to town for the celebration. Ben was a quiet man who liked to read. He would enjoy a walk down the lane to get the mail and newspaper each day. The newspapers they received were the Carroll Daily Times Harold during the week and the Des Moines Register on Sunday. They also read the Breda News which was a weekly newspaper published by John Smid for 35 years and later L.M. Quinlin. The Nielands would usually travel to Breda every Wednesday night to go shopping and take part in the $25 (Silver Dollars) drawing sponsored by the Breda Merchant's Association.

In 1927 Ben and Mary took the family to see the Barnum & Bailey Circus. They drove their new Chevrolet and everyone had a great time. In August 1928, Uncle Will and Aunt Kate Nieland, Mary's sister, and family as well as Ben and Mary and family traveled to West Bend to see the newly started Grotto of Redemption being built by Father Paul M. Dobberstein. This was a major trip considering the roads and cars of the day. Irene remembers how hot and long the trip was and everyone was thirsty. Most of the roads back then were still gravel.

According to Irene Nieland, the children always had chores to do when they got older. There were chickens, horses, cattle and hogs to feed and eggs to gather as well as clothes to wash and cream to separate. The children always had the job of bringing in corncobs for the cook stove. Jolene remembers, "I always had to gather eggs at noon and in the evening. I didn't mind doing it except in the summer when we went barefoot and it would get a little squishy!" The eggs were brought to the basement of the house and cleaned and packed in crates. Ben and Mary would take cream, eggs and garden vegetables to town and sell for groceries.

The Nieland family always had a large garden North of the grove and a smaller one west of the house. The children would help in the garden, especially during strawberry season. Charlotte Nieland remembers how Mary would grow strawberries to sell in town. Once in a while they would find a black snake in the patch and it would give them quite a scare. Mary bought a lot of her furniture with the money earned from strawberry sales. Mary also had the best watermelon patch in the county and would grow the biggest green and striped melons. In later years Ben and Mary would work in the garden together. Mary always wore a large straw hat and long sleeve shirt. The family would can lots of vegetables during the summer and fall. Mary would can beans, peaches, cherries, tomatoes, pickles, and pickled beets and wax beans. She would also freeze sweet corn and strawberries. Mary liked to work outside in the garden or the field rather than in the house. When she was growing up she was the child who would help her father, Herman Grote, on the farm. The four older children were girls and one of them had to do field work. Her two brothers were born much later. The joke is that Mary never learned to cook well because she always had to work in the field. Mary baked bread twice a week and was known to make wonderful homemade bread.

David Nieland remembers how Ben, Frank, Herman and Louis Nieland would butcher hogs and cattle together. They would butcher in the spring and fall so the carcass would chill properly. They would shoot the cattle to kill them but usually just cut the hog's throat and let them bleed to death. Ben would hang his portion of the meat in the smoke house to keep it cool. They would also can some of the meat in fruit jars. Later after the war, they would have the Determan's Locker do the butchering. Mary knew how to make summer sausage, head cheese and blood sausage.

Pat Nieland remembers how Ben always had about 18 to 20 shorthorn cows that were used for both milk and feeder cattle. They milked the cows by hand and did so until after Cyril left home. Cyril Nieland remembers how they would choose half the cows that were gentle and had good tits to milk, and put two calves on each of the other cows. They would have to hold the nursing cows still so the strange calf would be accepted. This way only half the cows had to be milked. They didn't have stanchions to hold the milking cows so they would just make them stand still to be milked by hand. In the winter they would milk inside the barn and in summer, outside in the lot. If the cows moved, they would hit them with the one legged milk stool to get their attention. Ben also had 8 to 10 horses. The barn had stalls for 8 horses and a couple would stay outside. Ben would farrow about 20 sows twice a year. They would keep a wood stove in the East hog house to keep the baby pigs warm. The South hog house was used for the feeder pigs. They would buy feed "balancer" from J.J. Feldman and later Charlie Schelle. Ben always sold his hogs to Vick Olriech from Breda. Cyril remembers how Ben and Mr. Olriech would stand along the fence looking at the hogs and bicker on the selling price. They would work the price down to the last cent a hundred weight.

Ben would raise corn, oats, and hay for crops. He didn't plant soybeans until years after the war. Ben bought his first tractor, which was a "B" John Deere, in 1946. A dealer from Wall Lake delivered the tractor to the farm on April 2, which was Cyril's birthday. Ben also bought a used one row International Harvester P Model corn picker at about this time from Charlie Schelle. Prior to the purchase of the tractor all farming was done with horses and the corn was picked by hand. All the kids were sure happy when Ben bought the corn picker. They would use four horses on a disk and three on the plow. The first day they used the tractor one of the large drives wheel fell off while Cyril was pulling a 12' disk. Ben and Cyril had to jack the tractor up and put the wheel back on. Eventually Ben bought a second "B" John Deere and a Farmall 350 before he retired.

Florence Nieland remembers these specifics about how the Depression affected the Nieland Family and the community they lived in. "The banks closed in late October 1929. Ben had just paid most of his bills in September at the hardware store for twine, potato seed, clover seed, cattle salt, and so forth. This left only about $100 in the bank, which he lost, when it closed. Ben did not own any stocks or bonds at the time of the crash and never did his entire life. As money became short, Ben had the kids sort out the potatoes and put the large and undamaged ones in 100 lb. burlap bags. He then sold them for $1.00 a bag to the Determan Grocery store in March 1930. The bottom dropped out of the hog market and a butcher hog only brought $2.00 a hundred. Ben and Mary converted the barn to a henhouse and between the two buildings had close to 700 hens at one time for egg production. The family's only source of cash income was from eggs, which were sold for 13 cents a dozen. Ben got a good crop of oats and corn in 1929 so that helped a lot. Mom and Dad always had food and clothing for us in spite of the hard times plus the land taxes for a year in those days was $110 for the entire farm. The year 1936 was a very dry and produced the smallest crop Ben ever raised." Cyril remembers that was the year the family picked corn all forenoon and only filled the bottom of the wagons with nubbins. When they came in at noon for lunch Ben made the decision it wasn't worth any more effort and they turned the cows out in the field to clean up the nubbin ears. The cows could only be left in the corn a couple hours at a time because they would over eat and founder.

On June 17, 1932, Ben lost his right eye in a farm accident. Pat Nieland tells how Ben was sharpening the sickle bar teeth for the mower when the accident happened. Pat was pouring water on the grinding stone to keep the blade cool. The drive belt, which powered the grinding stone, was frayed. Ben had laid the sickle bar next to the grinder and the frayed belt got caught on the sickle bar and threw it into his face. One of the blades cut his cheek and hit him in the right eye. He was able to drive the car over to his brother Frank Nieland's place. Frank then took him to St. Anthony's Hospital in Carroll, but the doctor could not save his sight or his eye. Ben was fitted with a glass eye shell that he only wore when he went to town. Irene remembers how this was a very traumatic experience for him and he had a hard time accepting the reality of the loss of the eye. In later years he would have fun showing the grandchildren how he could take his eye out and put it back in. He had trouble driving a car after the accident and tried not to go on long trips. He was still able to shoot a gun left-handed and would carry one on the tractor to shoot gophers.

In the summer of 1939 Ben and Mary remodeled the house. David Nieland remembers how Ben and his brothers jacked it up and put clay blocks above the stone foundation. They also put in plumbing, a furnace and new floors and added the kitchen. The family lived in the home the whole time the remodeling took place. Louis Nieland helped dig the basement out from under the house with a team of horses and a earth moving slip. They ran the team from North to South taking out the earth. Much of it had to be dug by hand.

On February 2, 1941, Arthur Nieland was drafted into the Army. He first traveled to Des Moines and then Ft. Snelling, MN before being transferred to Ft. Francis E. Warren, Wyoming. He was in the Quartermaster Corps and later trained at Ft Douglas near Salt Lake City, Utah. Art came home for a two-week furlough on August 15th, 1941. After his leave he was sent to the Philippine Islands where he served as a fire fighter with the 5th Air Base Group on the Island of Mindanao in the Philippines. The Japanese attacked the Philippine Islands on December 8th, 1941 and Art was taken prisoner on May 25, 1942. He was kept in a POW camp on the islands until August 20th, 1944 when all the prisoners were put on a Japanese ship, which left the port of Davao, Mindanao, to be moved out ahead of the advancing American liberation forces. On September 7th, 1944 the Japanese freighter "Shingo Maru" was sailing toward Japan with over 750 American POW's on board. The U.S. Submarine U.S.S. Paddle sank the ship with two torpedoes off the Western shore of Mindanao. Only 82 Americans survived the attack. Pvt. Arthur Bernard Nieland, #37039730, lost his life that day. The family was officially notified on February 19, 1945, by letter from the War Department, that Art was killed. While he was a prisoner, the family would kneel together with Arthur's picture on the table and say the rosary every night after supper. The War Department later sent a Purple Heart decoration award to the family. A funeral service was held at St. Bernard's Church for Art after the death notification. Ben and Mary Nieland always kept a picture of Art in their living room. The family did not have a group photograph taken before Art was lost. They later took a family picture and had Arts picture inserted in it. The State of Iowa paid Mary Nieland, as Art's mother, a $500 WW II Service Compensation death benefit, which had been voted by the 52nd Iowa General Assembly in 1950. On November 12th, 1978 a flagpole, donated by the Nieland family in memory of Art, was dedicated in St. Bernard's Catholic Cemetery in Breda. Arts name also appears on a monument near the Sac County Court House and his picture hangs in the American Legion building in Breda.

Edgar Patrick (Pat) Nieland went to work for Charlie Schelle at the Schelle Seed and Feed after he graduated from high school in 1943. He worked for one year before he was drafted into the Army in 1944. He was in training at Cap Hood, TX when the Red Cross notified him that his brother Art was killed in the Philippine Islands. Pat said his uncle Jake Wittry helped with the Red Cross notification. Pat trained with the 76th Infantry Div and was moved to the Philippine Islands in preparation for the invasion of Japan. He later was transferred to the 86th Infantry Division and was trained as a 105 MM Howitzer Battery crewman. He and many thousands of others were loaded on board 21 ships and were on their way to the invasion of Japan when Japanese surrendered after the atomic bombs were dropped. They were very happy when the ships turned around and brought them back to the Philippines. He was sent home from the war shortly there after because Art had been lost. Pat later bought into a partnership of Schelle Seed and Feed with Wayne Schelle. Later he farmed Uncle Louie Nieland's farm for six years near Pocahantas before moving to Manson and working at the feed plant in Fort Dodge. Edgar Patrick was always called "Pat" rather than Edgar because he was born on St. Patrick's Day. His grandfather, Henry Nieland, said he had to be called Pat because of his birth date. In 1988 Edgar Patrick officially changed his name to Patrick Edgar Nieland.

Cyril Nieland was called by the draft board to take his Army physical right after his senior year in high school. The war was drawing heavy on the young men in the country and they were drafting people as soon as they were out of school. He remembers traveling to Ft. Snelling, MN in June of 1945 for his physical, where he was classified 4F, and not drafted. After he got home he went right to the field to cultivate corn with horses.

Charlotte (Char) Nieland tells a story about the new brown 1950 Chevrolet that Ben and Mary bought. "Mary was so proud of it that she washed it almost every Saturday. Well anyway, one Saturday afternoon Dad and I went to pick Jolene up from a friend's house. Dad backed into a light pole and bent the rear bumper. He told us girls not to tell mom and the next week he took the car to Carroll and had it fixed. I don't think mom ever found out." Char remembers, "Mom had a large strawberry patch and we all had to help with that! She bought a lot of her furniture with the money from sales of strawberries. When Paul went to the Navy in Jan 51, it was a real hard time in Mom and Dads life. They feared for his safety after Art was lost, but also they were left with no help on the farm except for Jolene and I. We of course helped in the fields and also with chores. Religion was a big part of the family's life. The family would pray the rosary every evening after supper. At first I think it was just during Lent or maybe it was when the boys, Art and Pat, left for the war; then when the Carroll radio station had the rosary on the air, we prayed along with that." Jolene remembers it was her job to drive the tractor back and forth to pull the hay and straw bails up in the barn. She also remembers driving the tractor that pulled the binder. Paul was discharged from the Navy in November 1954. During his service he had made three trips to Japan. Charlotte told how Ben used to smoke a pipe and a cigar on Sundays. He quit when he coughed up some blood and plowed the pipe under one day in the field.

Jolene Nieland remembers, "I learned to drive a car early and on the day I turned sixteen mom sent Aunt Martha to get me from school and take me to Sac City to get my license. Then when she wanted to go to Carroll or Sac City I could drive her. I never knew her to drive the car." "My children have many fond memories of Grandma and Grandpa Nieland. We usually spent one week each summer with them and they loved the farm and going to the lake for swimming and picnics. The children enjoyed playing the player piano and singing "Bell Bottom Trousers, Coat of Navy Blue "together with Grandma." The player piano was in the parlor and all the grandchildren would spend hours pumping the pedals to make it operate. Russ and Ron Bierl remember spending many two-week summer vacations on the farm. In later years they would help with the chores and bailing hay. Russ Bierl said, "I really appreciated my grandparents and the time we spent at their home in the summers. They loved all of us very much and were always happy to see us."

Ben and Mary bought a second farm near Sac City in 1947 for $265 an acre. After Cyril had worked for Ben on the home place for two years, he married Barbara Ries and moved on to the new farm.

Charlotte remembers learning to drive with Paul's first car, which he bought, from John Braun, Martha Nielands dad. They parked the car in the old garage, which had been made from the old wash house Ben and Mary's favorite car was their yellow and white 1958 Buick Special. It had lots of chrome and was a beautiful car. Paul Nieland still has the car today.

Mary and Ben used to follow professional wrestling. When they first got TV they would watch it every time it was on. They also would travel to Omaha, NE to see the matches live. Their favorite wrestling star was Vern Ghaunia, who eventually became a world champion. Russ Bierl remembers going to a match with them in Omaha. Vern Ghaunia won the match when he hit "Doctor X" over the head with a steel-folding chair. "Doctor X" always wore a mask over his head to hide his identity. After he was knocked out, Vern Ghaunia took the mask off "Doctor X" and his face was seen for the first time.

Ben and Mary celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary on February 10, 1974. All the family came to the event, which started with a Mass and a repeat of their marriage vows at St. Bernard's Catholic Church. They were both in excellent health at the time and enjoyed the event very much.

Ben Nieland died of colon cancer on January 1, 1977 in the Sac City Hospital. Mary Nieland died on November 12, 1981 at the Sac City Care Center. They are buried in St. Bernard's Catholic Cemetery in Breda. The Sharp Funeral Home of Breda handled funeral arrangements. At the time of their death they had an ancestry of eight children and thirty-two grandchildren.

The Nielands got together as a family often and while Ben and Mary were alive they celebrated many of the holidays together. Often the grandchildren would stay at their place on the farm for two weeks in the summer. After Ben and Mary's death the children would get together at least once a year at each other's homes. Once every five years the entire Ben and Mary Nieland family would get together for a reunion at the Breda Park or the Legion Hall in Breda or Manson. Pat and Della or Paul and Connie Nieland would host the event. In later years the grandchildren would host the event.

   Back to History Page