In the Russian settlement in Mountain Lake township, Cottonwood county, one sees evidence of progressiveness
on every hand, well kept farms, modern homes and prosperous, contented people. One of these careful farmers who
own a valuable place and comfortable home is Benjamin J. Ratzlaff. He was born in Russia, January 10, 1865. He
is a son of John and Anna (Buller) Ratzlaff, both natives of Russia, where they resided until August, 1876, when
they brought their family to Minnesota, renting land for one year northeast of the village of Mountain Lake, Cottonwood
county. In 1878 they moved to the farm now owned by the subject of this sketch, the father buying eighty acres
of school land, later adding to his holdings until he owned one hundred and sixty acres. He made all the improvements
on this land, which was covered with tall prairie grass when he came here. He turned the sod, planted crops and
erected all his buildings, and here he and his wife spent the rest of their lives. Their family consisted of ten
children, namely: Henry J., Peter, Anna, Helena, Abraham, Maria, Benjamin J., and John, and two others who died
in Russia. The parents of these children were members of the Mennonite church.
Benjamin J. Ratzlaff received his education in the common schools of Russia and Mountain Lake township, this county,
also attended school in the village of Mountain Lake. He has remained on the home place, having bought out the
other heirs and also the various parties to whom some of the heirs had sold. He has kept the place well improved
and under a high state of cultivation. He has enlarged the barn and erected other buildings. He keeps a large herd
of Shorthorn cattle. He has shares in the Farmers' elevator and creamery at Mountain Lake. He also engages to some
extent in threshing each autumn, but not s6 extensively as formerly.
Mr. Ratzlaff was married in 1891, to Helena Bese, a native of Russia, a daughter of John Bese, also a native of
Russia, who brought his family to South Dakota in an early day, later moving to Saskatchewan, Canada, where he
became well to do, and there he spent the rest of his life. To Mr. Ratzlaff and his first wife three children were
born, namely: Benjamin, John, and Anna. The wife and mother passed away in 1895, and in that year he married for
his second wife, Anna Pankratz, a native of Russia, and a daughter of Peter Pankratz, who brought his family to
the village of Mountain Lake, Minnesota, where he spent the rest of his life. To Mr. Ratzlaff's second union five
children have been born, namely: Lena, Peter, Mary, Nettie, and Lizzie (deceased).
Politically, Mr. Ratzlaff is a Republican. He has been clerk of the local school board during the past eighteen
years, up to the recent meeting of the board, when he resigned, or declined to hold the office longer. He has also
served as road overseer. He is a member of the Mennonite church.
History of Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties
Their People, Industries and Institutions
John A. Brown, Editor in Chief
B. F. Bowen and Company, Inc.
Cottonwood and Watonwan Counties, MN Biographies
Also see Railway Officials in America 1906