Famous Seifert quads celebrate 71st birthday
NEW ULM — The Harman Park shelter hosted a huge birthday party Saturday for the Seifert family.
The celebration was not for a single member of the family, but for the famous four Seiferts — Marie, Martha, Monica and Mike — commonly known as the Seifert quadruplets. The quadruplets will turn 71 this Monday, making them close to the oldest quadruplets in history.
The four siblings were born to Art and Dolores Seifert on May 3, 1950. Upon their birth, they became the first set of quadruplets born in Minnesota. There were only 11 sets of quadruplets in the entire United States at that time. For this reason, the Seifert quad were instant celebrities.
The quadruplets’ lives were exciting and surprising from birth. Their parents expected multiple births. Dolores Seifert had given birth to a set of twins before the quads came along. In 1950, they were expecting triplets.
Monica said she was the surprise. The quads were actually born two months premature and Monica weighed 2.6 lbs at birth and initially was not expected to live. Fortunately, the Sleepy Eye Hospital was able to care for the quads. The kids were forced to share incubators; two kids per unit.
The family still has a copy of the bill from Sleepy Eye Hospital. The quads needed to remain in the hospital for 67 days after they were born at $2 a day. Combined with drugs and oxygen the bill came to $732.95. The cost to hire registered nurses to watch them raised the bill another $690.
A photograph of the quads would grace the walls of the Sleepy Eye Hospital for years. Monica would even work at the hospital in the late 1960s while studying to be a nurse.
The Seifert quads were extremely famous after their birth. Many people wanted to see them. For three years the quads were a featured exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair. Visitors could pay 25 cents to see the four siblings. None of the quads remembers their State Fair days but they have photographs. Martha said she has a friend who remembers paying money to see her at the fair.
For the most part, the quads had a normal life in rural Minnesota. Living on the Seifert farm they were just four members of the family. They had six older siblings, 10 kids in all. Everyone was expected to do their chores.
“We went out and pulled weeds like any normal farm kid,” Monica said. Typically, Monica and Mike did the outdoor chores while Martha and Marie worked inside the house.
A common memory between all of them was dividing up the farm chores. After dinner, they would all say which chore they wanted to do. It often led to arguments about who requested a specific chore first.
It was only when the quads visited Sleepy Eye that they felt different. People would recognize them as the famous quadruplets. This occasionally will happen today.
Martha said when people realized she is a Seifert they ask if she is one of the quads.
They also receive a significant amount of attention on their birthdays. People like to check in and see how they are doing.
“It made us feel special,” Monica said.
Though they were all born on the same day and were all siblings, each quad was able to develop a different personality. It was rare that they would dress the same. When they are younger, the quads were made to dress the same. In attending St. Mary’s in Sleepy Eye they wore the same uniform but outside of special occasions, they took different paths.
The quads agree by consensus that Marie is the “nice one”. Monica is the “smart one”. Mike is a “hard worker,” and Martha is “the boss.”
The quads have always gotten along with each other and they continue to make an effort to see each other, usually around birthdays. The family had planned a large get-together for their 70th birthday, but unfortunately, the COVID pandemic made that too risky. They decided instead to hold the big celebration this year in Harman Park with their family.
Each of the quads has been married for over 40 years with two kids each and collectively 14 grandchildren.
The quads felt fortunate they could hold the birthday party this year to see their family again. They are delighted to rank among the oldest quadruplets in history. The record for the oldest set of quadruplets is 79, but the Seifert quads are in good health and are optimistic.