Botha Community Hall was the host on Saturday, Aug. 16 to the presentation of a fascinating story beginning way back in the 19th century and telling how the Drewes/Erichsen families grew roots in the Botha-Stettler area since 1890s.
There were pictures on the wall depicting how the family started and developed their farming operations and those showing the family tree that traced the current, fourth generation, of the family to the original settlers.
The presentation made by Alfred Erichsen, the fourth generation farmer continuing the operations, took the audience back to the origins of the family in Germany, where Kaiser Wilhelm’s expropriation of land from farmers for military purposes rendered many people landless, including Drewes family, who turned their eyes to Canada to continue their farming operations.
The federal government by that time had thwarted the Louis Riel rebellion and established control on lots of land that had previously been under the control of First Nations.
The federal government informed the Drewes family of the availability of land at Ellerslie, SE 26-T51-R24 W4, the current site of St. Paul’s Lutheran church, which was purchased by the family at $4 an acre.
The land purchases continued in 1897 by Henry Drewes Jr. buying a farm just south of his father’s property. Then through Henry, one of the Drewes sons, having made friends with Stack family, Russian immigrants, the family further expanded their land purchases by coming to the Stettler-Botha area in 1904.
The two families cooperated in breaking up land for agriculture and constructing their homes and farm buildings.
The Drewes families decided to move to Texas in 1911 after selling out all their property at Ellerslie, but two members of the family, Johann Heinrich and Henry, refused to sell their land and Henry stayed behind while the whole family moved to Texas.
The Texas scheme failed and Henry’s parents Johann and Anna returned to join their son’s joint farming operation with George Stack in Botha. Some family members stayed in the U.S.
Later Henry had some serious health problems and needed help to continue his farm work, and Klaus and Martha Erichsen, the nearby neighbors, who had already purchased some neighbouring Drewes land earlier, also bought Henry’s farm and continued to operate it.
Henry Drewes passed away in 1946 and Klaus Erichsen passed away in 1978.