Family History

 

Goran Algot Bixo

 

Sent: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Subject: Cook Family History
           
Hi Don,
.
I'm a grandson of Oscar and Martha Anderson (Lake Vermilion) and son of Robert and Kathryn Anderson. My Dad grew up in Cook, and we lived there in the 1950s when he taught agriculture and shop at Alango School. I have a collection of letters from a relative, Goran Algot Bixo, who wrote home to Sweden. A few of these letters were written on the homestead of my great grandfather, Nils Andersson, in Leander; others describe Nils's life on the farm. I've attached the letters (3 from a batch of 40) with my research notes. They may be of interest for the Cook Family History file.
.
Earl R. Anderson
260 Brookwood Ave. NE, Chesney Woods 2B
Concord, NC 28025
216-401-9910
Professor Emeritus of English
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Göran Algot Bixo in Cook (1925)

 

Göran Algot Bixo (July 30, 1902-August 17, 1928) was the second son of Bengt Bixo and Kerstin Göransson. He grew up on the family farm in Mösil, Jämtland. In 1925, he migrated to northern Minnesota, where he was assisted by his great uncle, Nils Andersson (1854-1929), and Nils’s son Frederick Arvid (1892-1967). With the aid of Bengt Jonsson (a cousin of Bengt Bixo), Göran got a job working for the Duluth Street Railway, and from April 1925 to summer 1926 he lived with Bengt and Anna at their home, 4217 West 5th Street, Duluth. In summer 1926 he moved to 614 N. 39th Avenue West. In August, 1928, at age 27, he was stricken with appendicitis. He consulted a physician on Aug. 11 and underwent surgery on August 13, but the appendix had already ruptured. Göran died on August 17 at 5:15 PM. The official cause of death was “ruptured appendicial abscess.” His funeral was held on Monday, August 20, at the Scandinavian Evangelical Mission Church. Göran is buried in Oneota Cemetery in Duluth. In summer 1993, members of the Bixo family, including Anita Bixo (of Winnipeg) and Erik Mänsson (of Falun, Sweden) visited his grave.

 

Göran Algot Bixo

 

The three letters printed here are from a collection of forty letters and documents that were preserved by the Bixo family in Sweden. Göran’s youngest brother, Anders Bixo, of Åkersberga (northeast of Stockholm) gave me the letters in 2010. I present the Swedish originals, with my translations. The letters describe his time spent in Ellis Island, his train ride from New Jersey to Cook (via Chicago and Duluth), and time spent on Nils Andersson’s farm in Leander. I have included research notes for readers who might not be familiar with some details.

 

Earl Anderson (earlranderson@yahoo.com)

260 Brookwood Ave. NE, Chesney Woods 2B, Concord, NC 28025

 

2. April 3, 1925, from Cook, Minnesota

“A Day of Farewell”

 

In this letter, Göran describes his voyage from Göteborg to New York on the SS Drottningholm, a transatlantic passenger ship operated by the Swedish American Line. This steam-turbine powered ship was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow, in 1905. From 1905 to 1920 it was commissioned as the SS Virginian. During World War I, the Canadian government used the Virginian for troop transport. In 1920, the ship was sold to the Swedish American Line and rechristened SS Drottingholm, and sailed for Sweden until 1948. From 1948-1955, she sailed for the Home Lines of Italy, first as SS Brasil (1948-1951), then as SS Homeland (1951-1955). Later that year, the silent film actress Greta Garbo sailed to New York on the same ship, and began her American career in Hollywood.

 

Early in this letter, Göran alludes to a medical examination administered to emigrants by steamship personnel, as a prerequisite for boarding the ship. In 1882, Congress passed an Immigrant Exclusion Act which prohibited immigration of “convicts, lunatics, idiots, and persons likely to become public charges.” Since that time, passenger line companies had contracts with the U.S. Office of Immigration and Naturalization that required them to return to their homeland any person in these categories who was refused admission to the United States. The most common reason for rejecting an immigrant was poor health or mental defect. However, the steamship companies did not begin administering their own medical exams until the establishment of a quota system in 1921. The first “quota” law (1921) limited immigrants from any given country to to 3 percent of the numbers represented in the 1910 U.S. Census. A second quota law, endorsed by President Calvin Coolidge (July 1, 1924), was even more restrictive. It allowed only 15,000 immigrants annually, based upon nationality-proportions represented in the 1890 census. As time went by, exceptions were made that brought the number of immigrants up to 164,667 by 1934, but when Göran emigrated in 1925, immigration quotas were more restrictive than at any other time in United States history. Beginning in 1921, steamship companies tried to reduce their financial losses by administering medical exams to emigrants before they boarded the ship.[1]

 

 

Cook den 3 April 1925

Kära Föräldrar och Syskon!

 

Ja, nu har jag sovit min första natt här i Cook och detta var sannerligen välbehövligt, ty sedan jag landsteg så har jag inte lagt samman ögonen mer än 4 timmar på 4 dygn.

 

Nåja, jag får väl börja från början. Det var i Göteborg, där själva resan började med vacket väder. Där fick vi nu undergå läkarundersökning, vaxination (som inte tog) och sundhetsinspektion.

Alltsammans endast för syns skull, ty ni förstår att där undersöktes cirka 500 personer på 4 tim, och detta fick verkligen en del lida för när dom kom fram till New Y., därom senare.

 

Nå ja, den 20 kl 18.10 stodo vi alla på Drottningholms däck, rätt som det var blåstes en signal, och under tonerna av Du Gamla Du fria stävade båten ut ur Göteborgs hamn.

Det var alldeles svart med folk som kantade kajen under ideliga tillrop och viftningar. Men,

det dröjde ej länge förrän de sista konturerna av Fäderneslandet försvann i fjärran och snart

var det kojdags.

 

Kl 10 skulle vi vara i sang. Den natten blev vi allt vaggade i sömn, ty Nordsjön var ganska skarp. Vågorna slogo over båten ibland. På morgon när jag vaknade så kände jag mig litet konstig och när jag steg upp så vände sig magen och den mat man ätit dagen förut gick i för ändamålet avsedda papplådor som satt fast på sänggaveln.. Alltså, jag var sjösjuk, men jag tog då och klädde på mig och

gick upp på däck, började där gå i hastig takt fram och åter och vänjde på så sätt kroppen att följa med rullningarna, ty det är just det felet man gör innan man är van, att man stretar emot, och då måste ju magen vända sig och på 2 timmar var jag alldeles kry.Många har varit sjuk hela resan fastän vi sedan fick så vackert väder.

 

 

Nu började dagarna bli sig lika, men vi hade ej tråkigt, tvärtom jag har aldrig haft så roligt

någon gång, och besättningen påstod att dom aldrig fraktat en så glad 3dje klass någon gång. Detta mycket beroende på en verkligt glad smålänning i 40 års åldern. Han var från Värnamo och han förstod att hålla humöret oppe till och med på dem som åkte andra klass vilka annars hade tråkigt. De ville så gärna få komma ner till oss, men det fick dom inte. Men som sagt, smålänningen ställde om så att dessa inte hade alltför tråkigt, och som han efter sina otaliga upptåg var förståndig nog att gå omkring med hatten bland 2dra klassarna så hade han en liten extra inkomst för varje dag.

 

 

 

 

På så sätt gick dagarna, vi mötte någon båt ibland vilket alltid var litet omväxling. Många

vackra flickor hade vi med båten. Jag skall skicka några foto så snart jag fått dem framkallade, så får ni själv bedöma.

 

Så gick dagarna och snart nog var vi i Halifax. Där gick det av 49 emigranter, mest finnar, och så fortsatte vi och den 29 på kvällen var vi i New York, men fick då ej gå i land förrän andra dagen på morgon.

 

 

Där vi gick igenom tullen, men dom

tittade knappast i min koffert, men då åt en del var dom så förskräckligt noga. När detta var

klart fortsatte vi med färjan över till Ellis Island där de sista hindrena skulle undanröjas, för

mig gick det smärtfritt som ni väl kan förstå. Men det var bra många som fick vända åter.

 

Jag hinner nu inte skriva mer om brevet skall gå med posten i dag ty postbudet går redan halv elva men, fortsättning följer i morgon. Med många kära hälsningar från Duluth där jag var en dag mellan tågena. Och Onkel Nils och hans son som är hemma hälsar så mycket "åsså" var det jag eller "aj" som amerikanarna säger.

 

 

Dear Parents and Siblings!

 

Yes, now I have slept my first night in Cook, and this was certainly needed, because since I landed, I have not shut my eyes for more than four hours in [each of] four days.

 

Well, let me start from the beginning. The voyage began in Göteborg, in fair weather. There we underwent a medical exam, a vaccination (which I did not take), and a health inspection. This was mostly for show, you know, for there were about 500 people in four groups, and this was really just part of the hassle prior to our arrival in New York, [which I] describe later.

 

 

Well, yes, on [March] 20th at 18:10 (= 6:10 PM), we all stood on the deck of the Drottningholm, just as the signal [for departure] had sounded, and to the tune of “Du Gamla, du Fria,”[2] our boat headed out of Göteborg harbor. The quay was completely black with people in a continuous line, calling out and waving farewell. But it was not long until the last contours of the Fatherland disappeared in the distance, and soon it was a day of farewell.[3]

 

By 10:00 PM, we were in bed. At times, waves swept over the ship. When I woke in the morning, I felt a bit strange, and when I stood up my stomach churned and the food I had eaten the previous day ended up in one of the fiberboard boxes that had been placed by the bed for that purpose. I was seasick, but I took time to dress and went up on deck, where I paced back and forth quickly, to accustom my body [to the sea] by keeping abreast of the rolling cycle [of waves]. [Most people], not yet used to the sea, make the mistake of resisting [the rhythm of the waves], and then the stomach churns. After two hours [of pacing], I felt perfectly healthy. Many other [passengers] were sick during the entire voyage, even though the weather was sunny.[4]

 

The days grew monotamous, but we were not sad. On the contrary, I have never had so much fun. At one point the crew remarked that they had never before carried such happy third-class passengers. This was mainly due to [the amateur comedy act of] a truly happy Smålander, about 40 years old. He was from Värnamo, and he knew how to bolster the spirits of [passengers] who traveled second class, which was inherently boring. The second-class passengers would have been happy to come down to us [in third class], but this was not possible. But as I said, this Smålander [coming up to second class], after the many antics [of his comedy act], would circulate among the second-class passengers passing his hat, and asking if [his comedy act] had not been disappointing [to them]. By this means he earned a bit of extra income each day.

 

In this way our days passed. Sometimes we met a boat, which was always a diversion. There were many beautiful girls in the ship. I will send you some photographs as soon as I get them developed, and you can judge for yourself.

 

So the days passed, and soon we were in Halifax. There 49 immigrants, mostly Finns, left [the ship], and on [March] 29 in the evening we arrived in New York, but we were not allowed to go ashore until he morning of the second day.

 

There we went through customs. [At first] the [officials] barely looked in my trunk, but after a while it was searched with frightful precision. When this was done, we proceeded on a ferry to Ellis Island, where I would cross my last obstacle. This was painless for me, you must know, but many others got searched again.

 

 

 

I cannot write more just now, for this letter must go in the post today, and it is already half past eleven. [I] will continue [writing] next morning. Many fond greetings from Duluth, where I was today between trains; and from Uncle Nils and his son [Arvid], who was home (in Cook) to welcome me with so much “åsså,” or “aj” (hi!) as the Americans say.

 

 

 

FROM ELLIS ISLAND TO COOK, MINNESOTA (MARCH 28 – APRIL 3, 1925)

 

In Letter 3 (April 7, 1925), Göran describes his experiences in the port of New York and on Ellis Island (March 31), and his journey by train from a depot (probably in New Jersey) by way of Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, and Duluth. Years later, Anders Bixo, Tjernström, and other family members flew to New York, rented a van, and traveled the same route: Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Duluth, Cook, and Leander, where Byron and Ginny Leander took them to see Nils Andersson’s homestead, three miles from theirs. They also visited the Angora Hillside Cemetery where Nils is buried.

 

            Ellis Island. From 1808 to 1890, Ellis Island was used by the U.S. Government as a storage facility for munitions. Residents in New Jersey were apprehensive of the danger of having explosive material stored so close to their shore, but this changed in 1890 as the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that transferred immigration authority from the states to the Federal Government. On May 25, 1890, Ellis Island was transferred to the U.S. Department of Treasury for use as the immigration center for the New York district. From 1890 to 1956, most immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island. So far as I know, Göran was the only member of our family to do so. All other immigrants in our family came to America before 1890 (most through the port of Philadelphia), except for others who came later, long after  the Immigration Center on Ellis Island had been closed.

 

Göran’s account of his experience is interesting because it corresponds closely to the process described by Edward Corsi in his autobiography. In the Shadows of Liberty: The Chronicle of Ellis Island (New York: Macmillan, 1935). Corsi’s account is authoritative, for two reasons. First, as a ten-year-old immigrant from Italy in 1907, he was processed there himself. Second, in 1931-1934 he served on Ellis Island as the U.S. Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization in the New York District. During that time he interviewed veteran officials (“Old Faithfuls”) on the island, and constructed a profile and analysis of immigration procedures, partly to establish a historical record, and partly to reform the process to make it more efficient and humane. Because he often wrote critically about the impact of racketeering scandals, profiteering, and populist anti-immigration movements, he waited until his commission expired to publish his book. Corsi remains the authoritative source on Ellis Island procedures; he is often quoted or paraphrased in subsequent studies on the subject, sometimes without attribution.

 

A reader who is attentive to the details in Göran’s letter will be able to visualize the process at work. I summarize that process here, point by point as Corsi describes it, for Corsi’s comments illuminate Göran’s letter by providing it a historical context.

 

            In the port of New York. When a passenger ship was docked in the port of New York, the first class, second class, and steerage-class passengers were kept separate and treated differently. U.S. Customs officers came aboard to interview the foreign travelers in first class, who then were free to leave the ship and be on their way. Foreigners in second class, and everyone in steerage, had to wait their turn to be questioned by Customs and to have their baggage inspected. The would-be immigrants were carried on barges to Ellis Island. Göran had to wait in steerage until the “morning of the second day.”

 

When Göran wrote “morning of the second day,” he meant 4:00 AM. That’s when the third-class passengers were allowed off the ship, along with their baggage. There, in a crowded scene on the dock, Customs officials (not Immigration) examined their papers and baggage. Then they had to wait their turn for a barge. It must have been about 1:00 PM when Göran and the others landed at the slip on Ellis Island.

 

 

The Great Hall on Ellis Island (completed 1900)

 

 

 

Another view of the Great Hall

 

 

The Great Hall on Ellis Island is a three-storey stone building in French Renaissance style, completed in 1900. It is 338 feet long, 168 feet wide, and 100 feet high, with four turrets. On the first floor was the baggage room, a money-exchange room, a railroad ticket office, and administrative offices. A wide stairway led upstairs to a medical examination area and the Registry Room, where inspections were given.

 

            The baggage room.  The immigrants were led to the baggage room with compartments, where Göran deposited his large trunk. This was a gift from Mrs. Almqvist, the wife of the Bixo’s family doctor. Dr. Almqvist had died in 1922. Mrs. Almqvist’s gift of a trunk suggests that her long-term friendship with the Bixo family was a close one.

 

            The first floor lobby. As the passengers exited the baggage room and entered the first-floor lobby (en stor hall: a great hall), there were met by Immigration officers holding manifest sheets that had been prepared by their ship captain. Each manifest sheet contained the names of thirty passengers. As names were called out, the passengers were sorted into groups of thirty, and lined up in twenty-two lines. Each person was expected to remain with his group through the medical exam and interrogation process, exept for those who were sidelined for medical or legal reasons. Corsi: “Here, in the main building, they were lined up—a motley crowd in colorful costumes, all ill at ease and wondering what was to happen to them” (p. 73). While they waited for their turn to be led upstairs, the immigrants were given sandwiches and coffee (at 2:00 PM), the first chance they had to eat all day.

 

Most likely they were served prune sandwiches. The food service at Ellis Island was a privatized concession, and as such offered opportunities for profiteering. The food supplier sought to increase his own profits by purchasing food form the cheapest vendors he could find. The least expensive sandwich spread at that time was mashed prunes. Ellis Island was famous for prune sandwiches. Corsi was particularly critical of profiteering.[5] Ellis Island had a large mess hall for immigrants who were required to stay on the island, but Göran would not have seen it, since he was processed in one day.

 

First Floor Lobby in the Great Hall

 

 

            The medical examination. The immigrants were led upstairs in groups of thirty for medical exams, followed by interrogations in the Resistry Room. As for the medical exam, Göran says that it took three hours for the doctors to examine 500 passengers. It was done med americansk fart, he jokes, “with American speed”—not that is was perfunctory; it was focused. The doctors were looking for signs of chronic disease, mental or physical disability, and venereal disease. For some of the passengers, the medical exam was the basis for immediate deportation. Still others were sidelined. Göran writes that “ten from our number” had to return to Sweden immediately på grund ar bröstsjukdom (because of breast-disease: tuberculosis). It is not clear whether he means “ten from our group of thirty,” or “ten of the Drottningholm passengers in steerage.” Probably he meant the latter, but in either case, all of the immigrants must have feared a sword of Damocles looming over their heads on Ellis Island. No wonder Göran places so much emphasis on the clean bill of health that he received on this occasion!

 

Corsi describes the practice of sidelining as frightful and humiliating (p. 33):

 

Doctors then put them through their medical inspection, and whenever a case aroused suspicion, the alien was set aside in a cage apart from the rest, for all the world like a segregated animal, and his coat lapel or shirt marked with a colored check, the color indicating why he had been isolated. These methods, crude as they seem, had to be used, because of the great numbers and language difficulties.

 

Francesco Cordaso gives an alternative account: during the medical exam, passengers with problems were given tags or letters on their lapels: L for “lung disease,” H for “heart disease,” and X for “mental deficiency.”[6]  No doubt both modes of identification were used at one time or another.

 

Göran doesn’t mention the cage, but he does say that a girl from Stockholm was sidelined for polkahår (polka-hair: pox). Evidently there were others, for Göran goes on to say that most of the girls on Ellis Island, and on the Drottningholm, contracted pox during the voyage. These folks were not deported, but were sent to the Ellis Island hospital for treatment. They would be allowed to continue to their destinations after they were cured.

 

            The Registry Room. The immigrants who passed the medical inspection were directed to the Registry Room. There, an Immigration officer asked each person a battery of standard questions:

 

Name? Age? Height? Place of birth? Last residence? By whom was your passage paid? Do you have relatives here? Have you fifty dollars in your possession? Have you ever been in prison or in an almshouse or in an institution for the care and treatment of the insane or supported by charity? If so, which? Are you a polygamist? Have you come here under the promise, offer, or solicitation to labor in the United States?[7]

 

The Immigration Act of 1882 required officers to exclude “any convict, lunatic, idiot, or any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge.” Chinese workers were excluded in the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882, repealed 1943). Subsequent laws excluded contract-laborers (1885), and illiterate persons (1917), while a “Gentleman’s Agreement” with Japan (1907) excluded Japanese immigrants. The interrogation in the Registry Room was designed to fulfill these legal requirements. During these interviews, some of the passengers were sidelined for further questioning before a Board of Special Enquiry. Cordaso estimates that on any given day, 2 percent of the passengers were sidelined. Most of these were deported .[8]

 

It was in the Registry Room that new immigrants were required to sign a document foreswearing allegiance to the lands of their birth. With a hint of regret, Göran recalls this in his letter of August 1, 1926: “Last Monday, four days before my 25th birthday, I took out my first [immigration] paper. I had to forswear allegiance to King Gustav V.”[9]

 

            The money-exchange. After their medical examinations, the immigrants returned to first floor and got in line for the money-exchange. Records were kept, and each immigrant was given a receipt indicating the amount of U.S. currency received in exchange for foreign currency. Like the food service, the money-exchange was a privatized concession, with opportunities for racketeering and profiteering. Bewildered immigrants could easily be short-changed. No doubt this happened often. Many immigrants who remained in New York came back later with legal disputes about their money—a nightmare for Immigration officials. Still, Göran had no complaints.

 

            The railroad ticket room. After the money-exchange, the immigrants were directed to the railroad ticket room to purchase their tickets. This was another privatized concession. Corsi reports that in the 1890s, “all the leading railroads sold tickets at Ellis Island, but later this privilege was narrowed down to an Immigrant Clearing House of the Trunk Line Association,” which included eleven railroad companies,[10] whose combined business averaged $80,000 each day, half in cash from immigrants, and half in contracts from the steamship companies. Göran glosses over his experience in the “railroad room” on Ellis Island. Perhaps he was lucky enough to be there on a good day, but Corsi describes it as a chaotic scene:

 

What a scene the old railroad room must have presented with aliens waiting all day for their tickets and hours of departure! What jabbering! Twelve men sold tickets at the windows, while linguists worked the floor separating the aliens into groups. The Germans were usually en route to Wisconsin, Illinois, North and South Dakota, there to work on the great northwestern farms. The Hollanders and Germans always had the biggest families… On occasion it happened that women waiting for tickets would have babies born in the waiting room. Hurry calls would go forth to the hospital, and attendants with litters would come and carry them off. Others died in the waiting room; a few were murdered. It cost nine dollars to bury an alien.[11]

 

            The Ellis Island Ferry. The inspection process on Ellis Island began each morning at 9:00, and closed at 9:00 PM. Göran reports that after a 4:00 AM start in the port of New York, he was in line in the main hall by 2:00 PM and finished with inspection at 6:00 PM, so he spent four hours in the “great hall.” After obtaining his tickets, he boarded the Ellis Island Ferry with several hundered others, carrying his trunk with him. The Ellis Island Ferry, built in 1904, could hold up to 600 people. It was used 18 hours a day to carry immigrants to the Battery or to other destinations. The ferry service was a privatized concession, so of course there was just one ferry. It conducted the immigrants to different train stations, depending on their destinations. Göran’s station was (almost certainly) in New Jersey. He estimated that 150 other people boarded the same train as he did, and at 9:00 PM began “the worst train ride that I have ever experienced.”

 

            Many immigrants who came to America through Ellis Island saw Manhattan from a distance but never visited the city. Göran was one of these.

 

 

3. April 7, 1925, from Cook

 

Cook den 7 April

Innerligt Älskade Föräldrar och Syskon!

 

Jag måste väl fortsätta det brev som ni ej sett slutet på ännu. Det var på Ellis Island jag höll till ,i tankarna, när jag slutade, alltså börjar jag där nu.

 

 

Nå ja, Ellis Island är ju ej en sådan plats som tidningarna har skrivit om, åtminstone inte nu.

 

Vi fingo gå in i en stor hall till att börja med. Där fingo vi nu två smörgåsar och en kopp

kaffe. Detta var välbehövigt ity vi ej fått någon mat sedan kl 4 på morgon och kl var nu 2 på

e.m., strax efteråt började karundersökningen, och denna gick verkligen fort (med amerikansk fart). På 3 tim hade dom undersökt cirka 500 passagerare. På mig kunde dom naturligtvis inte finna något fel, men det var en 10 stycken som fick åka

tillbaks, då närmast på grund av bröstsjukdom, och det var egentligen inget annat dom undersökte. Några fingo även stanna på Ellis Island. Det var sådana som ådragit sig någon sjukdom under resan, som dom kunde bota fort nog. En flicka ifrån Stockholm, som hade polkahår, fick stanna på grund av könssjukdom som hon ådragit sig under resan. Pojken som smittade henne steg av i Halifax. Apropå polkahår, så har nästan alla flickorna här sådant, och de flesta flickorna som var med på båten så klippte dom polkahår innan dom landsteg, nog om detta.

 

 Efter läkareundersökningen fick vi passera en hel del tjänstemän( i förbigående må jag tala om att Nils son Arvid håller på och spelar gramofon nu. Han spelade nyss den där humoresken, som Pappa brukar spela. Jag måste därför stanna och lyssna ett tag).

 

 

 

För en del av dessa tjänstemän fick vi visa våra papper, en del pengarna och av den siste fick vi järnvägsbiljetter till bestämmelseorten. Kl sex på kvällen var vi färdiga och då fick vi omedelbart stiga på färjan som förde oss till de olika stationerna, beroende på till vilken del av landet vi skulle.Jag tänker det var omkring 150 personer som steg på samma tåg som jag, och kl 9 e.m. började det värsta som jag varit med om vad tågresor beträffar. Dom öppnade en vagn i sänder och fyllde den till sista plats. Vagnarna är så gjorda att det är en gång genom hela vagn i mitten och då på bägge sidor om denna gång äro sittplatserna, två och två på varje bänk, men bänkarna äro helt stoppade, så dom är ju mjuka att sitta på.Ävenså finns det endast en sorts klass här i landet. Ingen första och andra klass, utan alla åker lika.

 

 

Alltnog, nu var det endast att fösöka vara så tålmodig som möjligt. Det var en pojke med, som var bra att spela munspel och han fick åtminstone veta utav att han levde, ty spela munspel I tre dygn de lär nog känna på.

 

 

Den första plats vi stannade på så länge att vi fick stiga av tåget var Buffalo. Där hade vi en timmes frukostrast. En svenskamerikan som var med tåget tog med sig två andra pojkar ut på stan ett tag. När dom kom tillbaka så hade tåget gått. Men då tog dom en bil och körde opp tåget nästa gång det stannade. Detta kostade dem bra mycket, men så var dom rädd för att stiga av också sedan.

 

Tiden gick, grymt sakta men i 3-tiden på

dagen var vi i Gubben Fords stora fabriksstad Detroit.För att komma dit körde hela tåget in på en stor färja, och vi fick åka över floden som är gräns mellan Amerika och Kanada. Detroit ligger alldeles på gränsen. Som ni förstår hade tåget varit i Kanada ett slag. Här var det några som steg av, så vi blev några färre.

 

 

 

Det dröjde ej länge förrän vi var i full gång igen, på väg mot Chicago. Dit kom vi på natten kl 2, alltså 5 minuter för sent för att få följa det tåg som då gick mot Duluth. Där blevo vi nu innestängda på en stor station, förutom dem som skulle till Chicago, och dom var de flesta, men vi var i alla fall en 40 stycken kvar. Ingen fick nu komma in till oss och vi fingo ej gå ut. Dom var nämligen rädd för flickorna och den vita slavhandeln.

 

Här fick vi nu besked om vilka tider vi skulle få åka vidare. Återigen beroende på vart vi skulle. Jag och 4andra, däribland munspelaren och en flicka från Östersund, skulle till Duluth, men o fasa vi fingo ej åka förrän på kvällen kl sex. Vi fingo alltså vänta i sexton timmar och inga bänkar att ligga på, endast stolar. Denna väntetiden var nästan värre än tågresan, ty man blev så förfärligt trött.

 

 

Men sent omsider blev det våran tur och snart nog ångade vi iväg mot Duluth, då voro vi enligt vad vi till en början kunde förstå ensamma svenskar bland en hel massa Yanker. Men jag fick ögonen på två damer och en herre som efter vad jag kunde förstå satt och lyssnade till vad vi pratade om men dom damerna förrådde sig inte förrän just när dom

skulle stiga av tåget vid en liten station bortom Chicago. Då sa dom på ren svenska:"Vi stiger

utav här vi" och inte ett ord mera. Då hade dom suttit och lyssnat på oss hela tiden, men ej sagt ett ord.

 

Så fortsatte vi, timmarna gick och det blev midnatt, då var det gott om plats i vagnen så alla sov utom den där herrn jag talade om och jag. Då tyckte han visst tiden var inne att säga några ord, så han kom och satte sig bredvid mig och fråga om jag kom från Gammellandet " jes" sa jag. Han var jämtlänning så nära hemifrån som Järpen. Han hette Joe Carlson och var ingenjör här i landet, reste hit för 20 år sedan, var hem till Sverige för 5 år sedan. Han kände till de flesta i Mörsil.

 

 

 

 

Så blev det inget sovet den natten heller, men kl 9.30 torsdagen den 2 April stannade tåget i Duluth. Där såg jag och kände ögonblickligen igen Betty. Det föreföll mig som om hon inte blivit något äldre. Så värst tjock var hon inte heller, som Bengt skrev om, åtminstone inte efter svenska förhållanden.

 

 

Så tog vi då spårvagnen och åkte opp till Bengt. Dom hade väldigt fint hos sig. Där var jag nu

hela dagen hos dem. Betty var inte hem på hela dagen.. Hon gör för övrigt ingenting.

Kl 7 på kvällen skulle tåget fortsätta vidare, så Bengt följde mig till stationen å så var jag i

åkningen igen.

 

Nu var det förstås slut med mig så jag somnade. Därför minns jag ingenting om den resan förrän konduktören knuffade i mig och så Cook. Detta hade nog Bengt föutsatt ty jag minns han språkade med konduktören och visade på mig, därför hade han nu ett öga på mig.

 

 

Kl var nu 11 på kvällen, Nils hade ej väntat mig förrän kvällen därpå så han var inte

oppe vid stationen. Inget folk var där heller utom en pojke som hade bil. Han kunde litet

svenska, men han visst ej var Nils bodde. Jag fick honom då att köra till ett hotell. Där var ju

ingen oppe och inget rum fanns heller, men jag kom ju in till slut, och fick då dela säng med en alldeles obekant person. Han kunde svenska och han ställde andra dagen om så att jag fick en bil som kunde köra mig dit Nils bodde.

 

Han bor ungefär 7 km från Cook vid en liten å som påminner mycket om Semlaån vid

åängarna. Den är lika stor och går lika krokigt. Bävrar är det ganska gott om här i ån, men

man måste ha licens för att få skjuta dem. Harar finns det i tusental, men dom är mindre än hemma. Hjort går fram på lägderna här. Den är lovlig endast vart annat år.

 

Jag tror jag skulle trivas gott här, men det är ju ingen framtid, utan jag skall på måndag efter Påsk resa ner till Duluth, dom ville det. och jag skall få bo hos Bengt. Här har jag nu varit ute och åkt bil nästan hela dagarna. Nils son Arvid har en stor bil och den begagnar vi flitigt. Jag har nu hälsat på nästan alla av hans barn.

 

 

Den 5te åkte vi ut och hälsade på hans dotter, som är gift i en stad cirka 7 svenska mil här ifrån. Där låg vi till andra dagen. Så åkte vi hem igen åt litet grand så bar det iväg igen till en sjö som ligger 1 1/2 mil här ifrån. Vi åkte allt som allt 12 mil igår, så nog får man lära sig åka bil här i Amerika.

 

 

 

 

Vi har riktigt fint sommarväder här, men det har inte blivit grönt ännu, men fortsätter det så

här, så dröjer det nog inte länge.

 

I går, när jag kom hem från bilturen blev jag riktigt förvånad ty jag hade då inte väntat mig få brev hemifrån så tidigt. Jag blev glad förstås och kvitterar nu med dessa rader, så vi får se hur själva resan har gått. Nästa gång ni skriver så adressera dem till Bengt Jonsson ,4217 West 5th  Street, Duluth, Minn.

 

 

 

 

Jag måste kanske sluta nu, och tackar än en gång för det kärkomna brevet och hoppas att ni fortsätter och mår bra vilket jag gör och alla dom jag känner, Jag skall sända några fotografier nästa gång jag skriver.

 

 

Jag har dom i Duluth för framkallning. Hälsa alla där hemma. Skriver när jag kommer ner till Duluth.

 

Med de käraste hälsningar från Eder Son och Broder Göran

 

 

Sincerely beloved Parents and Siblings!

 

I continue my letter, the conclusion of which you have not yet seen. It was at Ellis Island, as I recall, that I ended [my letter of April 3], so now I will resume there.

 

Yes, Ellis Island is not a place that newspapers have written about, at least not yet.[12]

 

To begin with we had to go to a great hall. There they got us [each] two sandwiches and a cup of coffee. This was most welcome, for we had been up since 4:00 in the morning and had received no food, and it was now 2:00 PM. Soon after that the medical examinations began, and that went quickly (with American speed).[13] About 500 passengers were examined in a three-hour procedure. I got a clean bill of health, of course, but ten of our number had to go back [to Sweden] immediately, because of tuberculosis. Nothing else was diagnosed. Some [immigrants] had to stay at Ellis Island—those who had contracted some illness during the voyage—until they were cured. A girl from Stockholm, who had pox, had to remain [on Ellis Island] because of the venereal disease that she had contracted on the voyage. The boy who infected her got off in Halifax. Speaking of pox, most of the girls here [on Ellis Island], and most of the girls who were on our ship, caught the pox before they landed. Enough about that.

 

 

 

After the medical exam, we passed by a great number of officials. (By the way, let me say something about Nils’s son Arvid, who just now is playing his gramophone. It is exactly the same model as Dad likes to use for playing humoresken.[14] So I must stop writing and listen for a while.)

 

Back to Ellis Island

We had to show our papers to some of these officers, and our money to others, and from them we received railway tickets to our destinations. At six o’clock in the evening we were finished, and then we we boarded the ferry that took us to different train stations, depending on which part of the country we would [go to]. I would guess that about 150 people boarded the same train as me, and at 9:00 PM began the worst train ride that I have ever experienced. They kept a [passenger] car (vagn) open until every seat in it was occupied. The passenger cars are designed with an aisle down the middle, with seats on each side, two seats on each bench, but the benches are covered, so they are soft to sit on. Also, there is only one class in this country. No first and second class. Everyone travels the same.

 

 

Anyway, at this point all we could do was be as patient as possible. [On the train] there was a boy who was good at playing the harmonica. Young as he was, he could play it, for three days is enough to learn how to play a harmonica.[15]

 

 

We stayed on the train for a long time, until we got off at Buffalo. There we had a one-hour break for breakfast. A Swedish-American who was on the train went with two other boys to town for a while. When they returned, the train had left [the station], so they rented a car and drove to the next train stop. This cost them a lot. It is a dangerous thing to get off the train!

 

 

Time went by with slow cruelty, until at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon we were in Jack Ford’s major factory town, Detroit. In order to get there, they drove the entire train onto a large ferry, and we had to cross the river that is the boundary between America and Canada. Detroit is just on the border. So you see, the train had crossed into Canada for a bit. But we went no more than a few paces [into Canada].

 

Soon we were in full swing again, on the way to Chicago. We arrived there at night, at 2:00 AM, five minutes too late to make our connection to the train that went to Duluth. So we were shut up in a huge station, except for those of us whose destination was Chicago. That was most of our group, but forty of us remained [at the station]. No one approached us there, and none of us left. They were afraid for the girls and the white slave trade.[16]

 

We were told our departure times, depending on our destinations. Myself and four others, including the harmonica player and a girl from Östersund, [were traveling] to Duluth, but (O horror!) [the train] did not depart until six o’clock the next evening. We had to wait for sixteen hours, with no benches to sit in, just chairs. The waiting time was almost as bad as the train ride, since we were so fatigued.

 

But our turn came, at long last, and then we steamed off to Duluth, [on a train on which] so far as I could tell, we were the only Swedes among a huge crowd of Yankees. Even so, I caught the eye of two ladies and a gentleman who, I could tell, sat and listened to our conversation. The ladies concealed their [interest], but as they were getting off the train at a small station just past Chicago, they ventured their opinion in good Swedish: “Vi stiger utav här vi,”[17] and not a word more. They had been listening to us the whole time and said not a word.

 

 

As [our train] proceeded, the hours passed until midnight, when there was plenty of space in the car so we all slept, except for me and the gentleman who I mentioned earlier. He waited for some time, and then, desiring conversation, he came and sat next to me and asked if I came from the Old Country (Gammellandet). “Jes,” said I. He was a Jämtlander from Järpen,[18] close to home. His name was Joe Carlson, and he was an engineer in this country. He had migrated here twenty years ago, and went home to Sweden to visit five years ago. He knew most of the people in Mörsil.

 

I didn’t get sleep that night either, but at 9:30 AM on Thursday, April 2, the train stopped in Duluth. There, right away, I recognized Betty [Jonsson]. It seemed to me that she had not aged at all [compared to photographs that he had seen]. She is not too fat as Bengt wrote [about her], at least not by Swedish standards.

 

 

So we took the tram to Bengt’s house. They [the Jonssons] extended good hospitality, and I stayed all day with them. At the end of the next day, Betty was not home. Not that she was doing anything. At 7:00 in the evening, the train [to Cook] would continue on, so Bengt accompanied me to the station. I was on time [for the train].

 

This was the last leg of my journey, so I fell asleep. So I remember nothing about the trip, until the conductor nudged me awake [when we reached] Cook. This was probably because of Bengt. I remember that he spoke with the conductor and pointed me out to him, so he [the conductor] kept an eye on me.

 

It was 11:00 o’clock in the evening [when we arrived in Cook]. Nils had not expected me until the following evening, so he was not waiting at the station. No one else was there, either, except for a boy who had a car. He was part Swedish, but didn’t know where Nils lived. I got him to drive me to a hotel. There was no one up, and no room available either, so I ended up sharing a bed with a complete stranger. He understood Swedish, and the next day, he asked [on my behalf] where he could borrow a car to take me to Nils’s place.

 

[Nils] lives about seven kilometers[19] from Cook on a small farm that is very similar to the farm in Semlan with the riverside meadow.[20] Beaver are plentiful near the stream [the Rice River], but one must have a license to shoot them. Rabbits are there by the thousands, but they are smaller than the ones at home. Deer make their haunts here. It is lovely [weather] here only every other year.[21]

 

 

I know I would like living here, but there is no future [here]. On Monday after Easter,[22] I will make the trip [by train] back to Duluth. I will stay with Bengt [Jonsson] as they want me to do. I have been out racing with the car almost all day. Nils’s son Arvid has a big car that avails us well. By now I have been welcomed by almost all his [Nils’s] children.

 

On [April] 5th we went to visit [Nils’s] daughter [Annie Anderson], who is married [to Frank Anderson, Sr.] in a city about seven Swedish miles from here [in Tower-Soudan]. We stayed there for the next day. Then we returned home and spent a day on a lake that about a mile and a half from here. Altogether we drove twelve miles, enough to learn to drive a car here in America!

 

We have really nice spring weather here, but it has not greened yet. Still, [plant life] continues to grow, so it should be green before long.

 

Yesterday, when I returned [to Nils’s farm] from our automobile excursions, I was really surprised because I had not expected to receive letters from home so soon. Of course I was happy [to have them], and I acknowledge them now in these lines, so you can know how things have gone [for me] on my journey. The next time you write, address [the letters] to Bengt Jonsson, 4217 West 5th Street, Duluth, Minn.

 

I may have to stop [writing] now, and I thank you once again for your much-appreciated letters so full of news [from home], and I hope that you continue to prosper, and I wish you all the best fortune with all that I feel.

 

I shall send some photos next time I write. I expect to have them developed in Duluth.

 

With dearest greetings from your son and brother, Göran

 

 

4. May 3, 1925, from Duluth

 

Duluth den 3de Maj

Kära Föräldrar och Syskon!

 

Som det i dag är söndag och man därför har tid, så må jag väl skriva och tala om hur jag nu lever och mår. Jag är, som ni förstår i Duluth och har nu varit här i tre veckor. Jag bor här hos Bengt där jag då även äter. Sedan jag varit här en vecka så skaffade Bengt arbete åt mig vid pårvägskompaniet. Alltså har jag nu arbetat i 14 dagar. Vi är omkring 20 man i laget och vi håller på och lägger in en vårdstation för spårvagnarna nere i Superior, en stad som ligger här intill Duluth.

 

Det är alltså långt att åka om morgnarna. Det tar en hel timme. Men man har ju fri spårvägsbiljett av bolaget så det kostar ju ingenting. Dagpenningen är ju inte så stor, 3 ½ dollar om dagen, men man kan ju inte räkna på någon högre dagpenning så länge man inte kan språket. Mat och rum här i stan är omkring 6 dollar i veckan så det är ju inte så farligt.

Huru mycket jag får betala, det vet jag inte ännu.

 

 

Matordningen och arbetsordningen här I landet det är allt någonting helt annat än vad jag var van vid. Det första man har att göra när man kommer opp ur sängen på morgon en kvart före 6, så är det att äta så man klarar sig till kl 12 och då får man arbeta i ett streck. Te ta sig 5 minuter, det vet dom inte va det vill säga. Kl 12 har man då en halv timmes middag och sedan får man stå i till kl. 5. Då har man en times spårvagnsresa hem. Kl 6 är man då hemma och då får man mat och sedan är det att klara sig till morgon igen. Någon soppa eller välling har jag inte sett sedan jag for hemifrån. Gröt har jag fått 2 gånger. Det är alltså endast kött och frukt som finns kvar på matsedeln och det får man till alla målen utom matsäcken. Det är endast smörgåsar och kaffe. Men jag är nu van vid det så jag tycker att det är alldeles som det skall vara.

 

 

Jag skulle kunna tjäna 5 dollar i sommar om jag ville, men då är det endast säsongsarbete och då kanske man står utan arbete i vinter och jag kan inte ge mig av från Duluth till vintern när jag då skall gå i aftonskola och det är ju huvudsaken att man kommer in vid något stabilt bolag där man har utsikter att få arbeta hela året om, så kommer den högre timersättningen av sig själv sedan. Vad jag nu har att göra, det är att lära engelskan och det skall gå fort nog. Jag kan en hel del alla redan.

 

Har det varit någon permission i Äggfors ännu?

 

Jag slutar för denna gången, och skall jag hälsa från Betty och hennes man (en mycket trevlig

karl) såväl som från mitt värdfolk. Skickar även några foton ifrån båtresan. Flickan ni ser är

engelska men hon kunde både svenska och tyska. Dom två äldre är hennes färäldrar.

 

Med många hjärtliga hälsningar eder Göran.

 

 

Dear Parents and Siblings!

 

As today is Sunday, I have time to write fully and describe how my life is going. I am, as you know, in Duluth, and have been here for three weeks. I live with Bengt, and eat here. After my first week here, Bengt secured a job for me at the tramway company. So by now I have been employed for fourteen days. There are about twenty men in my work crew, and we maintain the central warehouse for the trams in Superior, a city that is adjacent to Duluth.

 

It is a long commute every morning. It takes a whole hour. But then, we get free tram tickets from the company, so it costs nothing. Right now the pay is not much, $3.50 a day, but one cannot expect a higher wage as long as one does not know the language. Food and accommodation here in town is about $6.00 a week, so [the pay] is not so bad. I do now know yet how much I am expected to pay [for living with Bengt].

 

 

The food and customs in this country are quite different from what I am used to. First thing in the morning I must get out of bed a quarter-hour before 6:00, eat [enough to last] until 12:00 [noon], and then get to work in a dash. It takes five minutes [to catch the tram]. Then at 12:00 we have a half hour for dinner, and then work until 5:00. Then at 6:00 PM we get enough food to make it to the next day.

No soup or gruel; I haven’t had that since I left home. I’ve had porridge twice. So it is only meat and fruit[23] on the menu and in any meal that comes in the lunchbag. Or just sandwiches and coffee. But I am used to it now, so it seems to me quite as it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

I could earn $5.00 this summer if I wanted to, but it is only seasonal. We might be out of work in the winter, [but if we are] I cannot leave Duluth this winter, for I will be attending night school.[24] This is the main thing that is important a stable company that offers work year round, and higher pay by the hour. What I must do now is learn English. It will go fast enough. I know a lot already.

 

 

 

Has there been a lay-off in Äggfors yet?[25]

 

 

I conclude for now, and send greetings from Betty and her husband (a very nice man), as well as from my hosts, mentioned earlier. I enclose some photos from the voyage. The girl you see is English, but she was able to speak both Swedish and German. The older two are her elder [siblings].

 

With many warm salutations, your  Göran

 

 

5. May 21, 1925, from Duluth

Nils Andersson’s farm in Leander

 

Duluth den 21/5 1925

Kära Föräldrar och Syskon!

 

Med innerligt tack för de bägge breven som jag fick, ett i dag och ett i går, får jag väl försöka att besvara dem. Pappa frågar hur jag tycker att våra släktingar har det, och jag får väl börja med Nils. Jag kan med ett ord säga att han har det bra, mycket därför att han själv är nöjd med vad han har. Och varför skulle han inte vara det. Han lever där (i Cook) i närheten av vad jag vill kalla hans livsverk, den stora farm som han har brutit opp ur så gott som vildmarken. Någon sten fanns där ju inte, men där hade varit mycke skog och stubbar.

 

 

A propå stubbar, så finns det inte annat än stubbar här i Amerika. Dom talar om svenska kalhyggen, men jag har åkt tåg en hel dag, och inte sett annat än kalhyggen och bränd mark.

 

 

 

Denna farm sålde han sedan till en hälsing och fick då så pass betalt att han nu har en sorgfri ålderdom i det hänseendet. Men han tog undan en del, då obruten mark, och byggde sig ett hus om fyra rum.

Han har där ett trevligt hem, som han nu själv sköter om, något fruntimmer finns där inte,

men det tycks gå lika bra ändå.

 

Sedan han väl och vackert hade detta sitt nya hem iordning, så kunde han inte hålla sig stilla,

utan han började då på att odla upp marken ikring huset, och nu hade han tre kor och en kviga, samt en stor motorplog (som häst) men han tänker ha bara 2 kor nu hädanefter, enär han tycker det blir för mycket att sköta om.

 

Hans barn tycks också ha det bra. Dottern är gift med superintendenten för hela skoldistriktet och en son är föreståndare för skolorna i Cook. En annan är nere i sydstaterna och han handhar en stimskyffel ( en stor motorskyffel, som dom går i gruvorna med ) Han har 250 dollar i månaden och en annan son har samma tjänst I gruvstaden Hibbing, dit vi åkte bil, som jag skrev om en gång förut.

 

 

 

 

 

Den yngste är hemma ibland, arbetar i gruvor om sommaren och ligger antingen stilla om vintern eller också arbetar han i skogen oppe vid Kanadagränsen där dom har lite skog kvar.

 

 

Också förstår ni nu att dom reder sig gott allesammans. Jag måste nu kanske gå och lägga mig, ty jag skall ju opp tidigt I morgon bittida. Kl är nu 10 här så ni får snart börja på att stiga opp därhemma.God Neit.

 

Så har ännu en dag gått till ända, nämligen den 67de sedan jag reste hemifrån, och jag har allaredan förkovrat mig ganska bra i engelskan. Bengt anmärkte just på det nu när vi satt och åt kvällsvard, ty han hade fått ett brev ifrån Odd Fellow orden (han är nämligen medlem i den ). Detta brev läste och översatte jag alldeles korekt, så vi får väl se om ett år.

 

 

Jag tycker dagarna går fort här, och veckorna ännu fortare men det är väl för att man ej hinner att tänka någonting, ty man får ju stå i hela dan och när kvällen kommer så är man antingen nöjd att gå och lägga sig eller också sitter vi oppe en stund och hör på radion. Bengt har gjort en alldeles förträfflig radioapparat med vilken vi kan höra kring hela Amerika och det har blivit alldeles en tävlan mellan Bengt och mig vem av oss som kan få in den avlägsnaste radiostationen. Förra måndag kväll tar jag in New Orlins i Louisiana och en gång förut San Antonio i Texas för att ej nämna om alla vi tagit in på västkusten, t,ex. Los Angeles, Oakland o.s.v.Inalles har vi nu hört 101 olika stationer, så det är inte underligt att Anna kallar mig för Radio-bug (-lus) uttalas "Rädiobagg".

 

 

 

 

 

Men någonting som amerikanarna ej kan berömma sig för så är det musiken. När dom skall spela något fint då hämtar dom stoffet ifrån Europa. Sålunda var det en söndagsnatt jag fick höra de flesta bitarna av Schubert. Det var en och samma station, dom spelade inte annat än hans bitar den natten. När det är bra radioväder så hörs det så väl som om dom stode inne i rummet och spelade. Jag har fått radion på mitt rum, och då sitter vi där om kvällarna och röker och hör på musiken.

 

 

 

Vad rökningen beträffar så är det åtminstone inte dyrt här i landet. En ask Prince Albert kostar 15 cent och en ask cigarette om 20 stycken ungefär lika so S:S:S: som fanns hemma kostar också 15 cent ( en cent = 3,7 öre).

 

Ja, jag blev hjärtligt mottagen här, och dom vet visst inte huru väl dom vill mig varken i

Cook eller Duluth och jag trivs mycket bra. Nya bekanta får man för varje dag som alla vill

höra hur det står till i Gammel-landet som dom säger. Men " I dont know" det är väl bäst att

gå till sängs igen.

 

Med många kära hälsningar från Betty, Anna och Bengt som nu håller på

och rakar sig med min kniv. Han tycker att svenska stålet biter bra.

 

De käraste hälsningar från Eder Dear Parents and Siblings!

 

Dear Parents and Siblings!

 

With our sincere thanks for the two letters I received, one today and one yesterday, I will try to answer them. Dad asked how I feel about our relatives here, and I may well begin with Nils. I can say in a word that he has it good, very [good], because he is satisfied with what he has. And why would he not want to live there [in Cook], in the environment of what I would call his life’s work: the large farm which he has carved out of the wilderness. The soil is still somewhat rocky, but [when he started clearing his land] it was thick with trees and tree-stumps.

 

Speaking of stumps, there is little else but stumps here in America. [In Sweden] people complain about [parts of the landscape] made tree-less by lumbering, but I have traveled by train a whole day and seen nothing but tree-less plains and scorched land.[26]

 

Later, [Nils] sold a portion of the farm, and now enjoys an old age that is free of cares in this regard. But he retained a part of the land and built a four-room house for himself. He has a nice home, which he now maintains. He has no housekeeper, but everything [at home] runs smoothly all the same.[27]

 

 

After he finished building his new home so beautifully, [Nils] did not wish to be idle, so he went on to cultivate land adjacent to the house. Now he has three cows and a heifer, and a large motor-plow (some horse!), but from now on he will keep only two cows, since he thinks more will be too much to care for.[28]

 

 

His children also seem to have it good. His daughter [Anna] is married to the school district superintendent [Frank Anderson, Sr.], and one of her sons is Director of Schools in Cook. Another son [George William Anderson] is down in the sourthern United States where he is a dealer in steam-shovels [stimskyffel] (a large motor-shovel, motorskyffel) and earns $250 a month, servicing [equipment] for the mines. Another son operates the same service in the mining town of Hibbing, where we went by car, as I wrote about before.[29]

 

The youngest son [Arvid] lives at home. Sometimes in summer he works in the mines, and in winter, [when the mines] are closed, he works in the woods near the Canadian border, where some of the forest still remains.

 

Now you know about almost everyone [in Nils Andersson’s family]. I should to go bed now, for I must get up early in the morning. It is now 10:00 o’clock here, so at home you all will soon begin getting up soon. Good night!

 

Göran continues his letter the next day:

So another day ended: the 67th day since I left home, and I have already improved my English quite well. Bengt said so just now as we sat down for the evening meal, for he had received a letter from the Odd Fellows Society (of which he is, in fact, a member). I read the entire letter and translated it correctly, so we will see how it goes in a year’s time.

 

It seems to me that the days go quickly here, and the weeks even faster, but it is good not to have the time to think about things, because [at work] we have to stand all day, and when evening comes, then we are either content to go out and do something together, or else we sit for a while and listen to the radio. Bengt has assembled a very good radio apparatus, with which we can hear [transmissions] from all over America, and it has become quite a contest between Bengt and me as to which of us can receive the most remote radio station. Last Monday night I [listened to a station] in New Orleans, Louisiana, and once in San Antonio, Texas, not to mention the times when we [received stations] on the West Coast, for example in Los Angeles, Oakland, and other places. Altogether by now we have listened to 101 different stations, so it is no wonder that Anna calls me “Radio-bug” (-lus [louse]), pronounced “Rädiobagg.”

 

But one thing that Americans cannot take credit for is music. When they want to play something nice they must have recourse to the musical repertoire of Europe. One Sunday evening, for example, I heard most of the compositions by Schubert. It was all on the same station, which played only his compositions that night. When the weather is good, you will hear [music] on the radio as clear as if the musician [lit. “he or she”] stood in the room and played. I have the radio in my room, and we sit there in the evenings and smoke [while we] listen to music.

 

As for smoking, at least this is not expensive in this country. A box of Prince Albert [tobacco] costs 15 cents, and a package of cigarettes about 20 cents, compared to SSS which at home costs 15 cents (one cent = 3.7 öre).

 

Yes, I have been received warmly here, they know not how welcome [they make me feel], neither [the folks] in Cook nor Duluth, or how much I enjoy being here. New acquaintances, one every day: everyone wants to know how things are going in the Old Country. But [sometimes] it is best to say “I don’t know,” [when it’s time] to go to bed.

 

Many dear greetings [to you] from Betty, Anna, and Bengt, who is here right now, shaving himself with my razor. He thinks that Swedish steel has a sharper bite.

 

With dearest greetings from your Dear Parents and Siblings!

 

 



[1] Edward Corsi, In the Shadow of Liberty: The Chronicle of Ellis Island (New York: Macmillan, 1935): 47-56 and 145.

[2] “Du Gamla, du Fria” (Thou Ancient, thou Free) was the unofficial national anthem of Sweden. The lyrics were composed in 1844 by Richard Dybeck, under the title “Sång till Norden” (Song to the North). The Swedish composer Edvin Kallstenius set the lyrics to music, adapting the tune of a folksonb from Västmanland. Dybeck’s lyrics reflected a pan-Scandinavian spirit that was fashionable at the time. Subsequently, new stanzas were added to “nationalize” the song. The original stanzas were as follows:

 

     Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord

     Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
     Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,

     Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.

 

    

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
     Då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
     Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad Du var.
     Ja, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden.

 

Thou ancient, thou free, thou mountainous North

Thou quiet, thou joyful [and] fair!

I greet thee, most beautiful land upon earth,

Thy sun, Thy sky, Thy meadows green.

 

Thou art enthroned upon memories of great olden days,

When honored thy name flew across the earth,

I know that thou art and will remain what thou wert,

Yes, I want to live I want to die in the North.

 

[3] On a hill above the harbor in Göteborg, a church with a high steeple, called Masthuggskyrken (Seafarers’ Church), was built in 1910-1914 as a landmark for travelers. It could be seen at some distance from the harbor, and was the last remnant of Sweden that Göran saw.

[4] Many emigrants to America reported debilitating seasickness, especially when there was a storm. Mina Anderson wrote about her voyage on the S.S. Romeo from Göteborg to Hull, “We were all seasick and cried Ullrik.” (“Cry Ullrik” was a euphemism for vomiting.) Joy K. Lintelman, I Go to America (2009): 68; again, p. 82.

[5] Corsi, In the Shadow of Liberty, 1935: 88.

[6] Francesco Cordaso, Dictionary of American Immigration History (Metuchen, NJ, 1990): “Ellis Island,” pp. 195-97, at p. 196. Linnea Cedarholm, writing in 1916, recalls having a paper tag pinned on her dress as if she was a horse at a show: “Utdrag ur dagbok från Amerikaresa 1916,” in Folkminnessamling, Nordiska museet, Stockholm (Linnea Cederholm Collection), cited in Joy K. Lintelman, I Go to America: Swedish American Women and the Life of Mina Anderson (Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2009): 87. Another immigrant, Elisabet Olson of La Center, Washington, wrote to her family in Sweden about the cage (July 20, 1912); Elisabet Olson Collection, Emigrant Institute, Växjö, cited in Lintelman, I Go to America (2009): 87.

[7] Combining questions cited in Corsi 1935: 88, and Cardaso 1990: 196. At an earlier period (1892, when Ellis Island first opened), an emigrant from Dalarna known only as “Selma,” who wrote to her family from Denver, recalls a similar interrogation: Emigration från Dalarna (Falun: Dalarnas Hembygdsbok, 1966): 34-35; discussed and partly translated in Joy K. Lintelman, I Go to America (2009): 86.

[8] Cordaso 1990: 197.

[9] “Jag tog ut mitt första papper förra måndagen alltsa 4 dagar fore min 25-årsday. Jag fick då avsäge mig all trahet till konung Gustav den Vte.” Gustav V reigned as King of Sweden 1907 to 1950. He was by nature a conservative ruler and at first resisted universal suffrage (in 1919) and reforms that expanded the rights of workers, but eventually, with reluctance, accepted Sweden’s progression toward democracy and was a popular king.

[10] New York Central Railroad, West Shore Railroad, New York Railroad, Ontario & Western Railroad, Pennsylvania Railroad, Lehigh Valley Railroad, Erie Railroad, Delaware Railroad, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, B & O Railroad, and the Central Railroad of New Jersey.

[11] Corsi, In the Shadow of Liberty, 1935: 123-24.

[12] Göran probably means that newspapers in Sweden do not carry stories about Ellis Island. The island was often in the news in the United States, with racketeering and profiteering scandals, human interest stories, and as the focus of debate about immigration during periods of anti-immigration campaigns.

[13] Amerikansk fart (American speed): American efficiency was proverbial among Swedish-Americans and often contrasted with its Swedish opposite. George M. Stephenson, in Religious Aspects of Swedish Immigration (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1932), p. 402, cites two examples: “In Sweden it was a day’s work to chop one cord of wood; but in America if a man can’t chop two, he can’t pay his board”; and “In America a building is erected while a Swede is taking a pinch of snuff.”

[14] Humoresken: lively musical compositions; a genre favored by Edvard Grieg (1843-1907). The genre was studied by Julius Stinde, Humoresken (Berlin: Verlag von Freund und Jedel), 1892.

[15] This is the first hint in Göran’s letters of his interest and knowledge of music. Göran’s father, Bengt Bixo, was an accomplished violinist and singer, and he taught Göran to sing. Later, in Duluth, Göran was a singer and star soloist for the Denfeld Night School chorus. He mentions taking voice lessons, but writes little about his participation in the chorus. After his death in 1928, several friends and teachers wrote about it to Bengt and Kerstin Bixo.

[16] The “white slave trade” was exposed by a Swedish American, Gertrud Adelborg, in “Kan något göras för att minska den kvinnliga emigrationen och des faror?” Dagny 9 (1903): 220-21. She had followed up on an advertisement in a Stockholm newspaper for female “gymnasts” in New York, and discovered the location to be a brothel. The U.S. Senate “Dillingham Commission” investigated “white slave” victimization of immigrants in 1911: U.S. Senate Immigration Commission, Importation and Harboring of Women for Immoral Purposes, Reports of the Immigration Commission, 37, 61st Congress, 3rd Session, 1911.

[17] “We are growing from this”; sc., “Our numbers are increasing from continued immigration.”

[18] Järpen is 12 kilometers northwest of Mörsil, up the Indalsälv river; about a 12-minute drive. Both villages are in Åre parish.

[19] Five miles.

[20] Om Semlaån vid åängarna. Nils Andersson’s homestead was on the Rice River in Leander.

[21] Den är lovlig endast vart anat år. People in northern Minnesota cultivate many humorous idioms about the weather, but I have not encountered this one before.

[22] Monday, April 13, 1925. In that year, Easter fell on April 12.

[23] Frukt: certainly more vegetables than fruit.

 

[24] Göran attended English-language classes at Denfeld High School. He also sang in the school chorus, and was admired as a vocalist. He had been trained to sing by his father, Bengt Bixo, who was known as the “Violin King of Mörsil.” He wrote little about this in his letters home, but after his death, teachers and members of the chorus wrote to his family about his popularity as a singer.

 

[25] Göran’s older brother Petter worked at the pulpmill in Äggfors.

[26] Charles Dickens, in American Notes (1842) made a similar comment about the landscape that he saw during a trip by stagecoach from Sandusky, Ohio, to Buffalo (essentially the route that Göran took through western New York and northern Ohio). “These stumps of trees,” Dickens adds, “are a curious feature in American traveling. The varying illusions they present to the unaccustomed eye as it grows dark, are quite astonishing in their number and reality. Now, there is a Grecian urn erected in the centre of a lonely field; now there is a woman weeping at a tomb,” and so on citing such images as a horse, a dog, a cannon, a hunchback.” Dickens, American Notes, ed. Sacheverell Sitwell (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 194.

[27] Nils Andersson’s wife, Anna Blom, died in Soudan of renal failure in 1895. Nils raised their children (three of them quite young) as a single parent.

 

[28] In the course of selling most of his farm, Nels kept for himself approximately the land allotted to miners in Fröå when his family lived there (1870-1885): enough land to sustain two or three cows and a horse.

[29] This is the first and only mention of Hibbing in Göran’s extant letters.

 

Ron Peterka
2012
A while back we were visiting with Ron Peterka formerly of Alango.
We asked him where he was now living and what he was doing.
It is alway interesting knowing where past residents
are now living and what they are doing.

We asked him to send us an update.

Was talking with John Cin yesterday and he mentioned that he had talked with you about me sending some info on our family here in Northern Michigan. I believe we had talked about me doing this awhile back during a visit to Cook.

Arlene and I retired up in the UP of Michigan in Moran in 2001, after living in Livionia, Michigan for 42 yrs. Time to get out of the big city and find a place that we can enjoy the peace and quiet of the great  outdoors. After retiring from GM after 30 yrs, and we thought we would retire in a place very simpler to Cook in geography and climate.

Being about half way between where our children live and my siblings live, thought it would be a place to plant new roots. Our local governing body is the Township of Brevort, I do a lot of part work for it. We recently built a new firehall and have just completed a new community center. Its so new, that we have yet to have our first board meeting in it. I think they will dictate it on the 20th of this month.

There is a lot of history here in the eastern part of the UP. Moran was settled in the 1880's by people of German heritage. I have a few links that I will look up and send to you. Moran is located about 10 miles northwest of the the "Big Mac" the longest suspension bridge in North America and our county seat, St.Ignace. We are also about 11 miles west of Mackinac Island. The town of Moran is also located about 2 miles east of Brevoort Lake, a inland lake of about 4000 acres in area.

There is a lot of see and visit here. But I have to admit, that I wish there was a Lowes, Home Depot close by. Any big time shopping has to be done at least 50 miles away in Sault St. Marie or Petoskey. We have a new hospital here in St. Ignace, about the same size as you have in Cook, any big time surgery or health needs, we go to Petoskey.

Arlene was born on July 11, 1936, going to have a birthday this coming Saturday. My birthday is February 10, 1937. We both graduated from Alango HS, Arlene in 1954 and myself in 1955.

Arlene's parents were Joe Pokorny, 1976, Mildred Pokorny, 1996. Arlene had a sister named Mildred (Pokorny) Fetha, 2010.

My parents were Joe Peterka, 1986, Mildred Peterka, 1982 My siblings, Diane (Peterka) Cin, Marge (Peterka) Hyppa.

Our children Chistina, Kenneth, David and Donald. Grand Children, Steven, Austin, Andrew and David. Great Grand Children Alex, Kyle and Elizabeth.

Arlene is busy with her cross stitching and knitting, she also loves to read books, lots and lots of books. I do the electronics thing, ham
radio and all that goes with it.

Enclosing a photo of Arlene, myself, daughter Christy and son-in-law Shanon. If you notice in the picture I retired from GM and he retired from Ford, the reason for the tee shirts. I can't find a recent picture, best I have at the moment. Also some links to a couple of
articles in the local newspaper about some of my doings. Like, after I retired, where did I find the time to work. I'm starting to slow down, hips and back are starting to fail along with my eyes. I got cataract surgery coming up in a couple weeks.

 http://www.stignacenews.com/
 http://www.stignacenews.com/news/2007-07-19/front_page/011.html
 http://www.stignacenews.com/news/2007-05-31/front_page/002.html
 http://www.stignacenews.com/news/2010-04-22/News/Ron_Peterka_Named_Citizen_of_Year.html

Oh, almost forgot, John mentioned that you would like a camera shot  from my ip camera. The address is http://www.allenville.org/image.jpg

This image is facing southeast, looking at Mackinac Island. just over the horizon. The scene in the fore ground is Allenville, Mi. Its about one mile south of Moran. There's story to tell, but later. I can move the camera around, so the image may not always be to the southeast. The image is updated about every 15 minutes.

Ron Peterka

 

The Nelson Family

 

The life story of Sylvia Nelson Beranek

(by Sylvia Nelson Beranek, as told to her daughter Jane Beranek Wilhelm)

Sylvia passed away on February 5, 2012 at the age of 93

*

Sent: Friday, April 27, 2012 9:19 PM , To: simonson@accessmn.com, Subject: Obituary - Sylvia Nelson Beranek.
  
Hi Don- Haven't checked in to the Cook web site for a while.  Hope all is well with you.  I talk with my cousin Ernie Trygg quite often and he said he saw you last summer at the Montana Cafe on a visit from Evanston, Illinois. From Sylvia's daughter Jane Beranek Wihelm.

 

Sylvia Nelson Beranek 93, died of natural causes on February 5, 2012 in Cicero. Illinois.  She was born on April 9, 1918 in the Cook area to August (1955) & Anna (1953) Nelson.  She grew up on Frazer Bay and worked for different families in Cook while attending school.  Her family later moved to Angora.  She graduated from Cook High School in 1936.  Sylvia married Jerry Beranek (who worked for the Haley family) on August 6, 1936.  She gave birth to Jane (1937) and James (1940) at the Cook Hospital.  The family  lived in the Cook area until 1941 when they moved to Chicago to gain employment.

Sylvia worked for Alden's Mail Order (Chicago) in the 1940's and 50's and later for Victor Gasket Company in Cicero, Illinois.  She enjoyed needlework, painting, sewing, country music, time with family, and especially her yearly visit to Angora to see her parents and siblings.

She is survived by daughter Jane Wilhelm of Excelsior, Minnesota; son Terry Beranek of Cicero, Illinois,  6 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and 8 great-great grandchildren.  She was preceded in death by husband, Jerry (1983), son James (1995) and grandson, Dale (1996).  Also, siblings Signora Kossow, Alfred Nelson, Lillian Trygg, William Nelson, Astrid Johnson, Roy Nelson and Erling Nelson.

A Memorial Service will be held on June 8 at the Range Funeral Home in Virginia at 1:30 PM.

 

*

 

On Frazer Bay

Early Years on Carlson's Farm

 

I was born Solveg Katrina Nelson on April 9, 1918, six months before World War I ended, at home on Carlson's Farm, 12 miles east of Cook, Minnesota. I was the fifth child of August and Anna Nelson. However, when I went to school, the teachers couldn't pronounce my name and took the liberty of changing my name to Sylvia Catherine, the name I have been known by since. I had seven brothers and sisters, all of whom were born at home with only a midwife or neighbor attending, with the exception of my brother Bill, who was a breach baby and a doctor was called. First born was Kamila Signora (b. Aug. 11, 1911) who always went by the name Signora; then Alf Christian Nicholas (b. Feb. 28, 1913); Lily Helen (b. Sept. 5, 1914); William (Bill) Oscar (b. July 28, 1916); myself, Solveg (Sylvia) Katrina (b. April 9, 1918); Astrid Louise (b. March 20, 1920); Roy Arthur (b. April 24, 1922); Erling Lief (b. April 29, 1924).

        

In 1918, the year I was born, there was a flu epidemic which killed 600,000 people in the United States. My father's brother, Axel, died in the hospital in Sudan at the age of 28, but we don't know if flu was the cause of death. His brother, my Uncle Nels, was very upset and wished he had died, too. He started drinking to try to drown out the sadness he felt at losing his younger brother.

 

I recall my mother taking me with her to visit a neighbor named Mr. Smollen when I was a baby. She laid me down on the bed with a white bedspread for a nap. When I woke up, Mr. Smollen was talking baby talk to me. He always called me Mrs. Smollen after that.

 

We also visited a friend, Mrs. Carlson, who had a restaurant in Aurora, Minnesota. My mother said that when I was a baby I never cried, and Mrs. Carlson asked what kind of baby that was that never cried. My mother would leave me sitting in a high chair every night while she did barn work. I didn't try to stand up so I know I was very young - maybe about 10 months old. I was very lonesome when I couldn't see my mother in the kitchen. There were four older kids, Signora, age 7; Alf, age 5; Lily, age 4; Bill age 3, and no one paid any attention to me. It seemed dizzy with kids. The next thing I remember was seeing a muskrat in the river. The river was not far from the house.

 

One day, my Dad butchered a pig and everyone was outside, but I was locked in the house and very upset about that. About the time I was born, my mother, who had been a professional cook in Norway, got a patent on a type of cooker she had invented. She never had enough money to have it manufactured. She also tried making cheese to sell (a skill she learned working at a cheese factory in Norway) but there was no one to sell it to. At that time, the area was very sparsely populated. She always said she wished she had some way to make money.

 

When I was very small, my father was driving a team of horses and couldn't get them to move from the spot no matter what he did. He decided to get down and come around to see what the trouble was and found me standing right in front of the horses, so they wouldn't go. I must have been around a year old.

 

Frazer Bay on Lake Vermilion

 

My father got into the logging business when I was quite young. He bought 80 acres about a 1/2 mile into the woods near Frazer Bay on Lake Vermilion in Northern Minnesota, in an area known as the "Iron Range". While he was building a big house for us to live in, we lived in the logging camp he had been running in the area. There were 12 men living and working in the camp and they had already been there for several years, coming around 1916. My mother cooked for all the men, as well as her own family. They thought she was a wonderful cook as she knew how to make all kinds of good food and fancy salads, having worked as a professional cook in Norway.

 

My mother and father didn't speak English when I was little. They spoke only Norwegian, which was my first language. My mother taught me a Norwegian song and I would go up in the hill and sing it by myself. She said I was only about two at the time. It goes like this....Yi ar so glad de are yull Kvel, for da var Jesus fet. Oh starne shane some I soor. Eh englen song so set. Translated to English means...How glad I am this Christmas Eve, the night of Jesus birth...and like the sun, the stars shone forth and the angels sang on earth. The older kids learned English when they went to school and I learned English from them.

 

In the spring, during the month of May, our place at Frazer Bay would look like a fairy land. After the snow was gone, the maple trees, choke cherry bushes, rose bushes and other trees on the hill would all be blooming at once. The air would smell like perfume. I would build roads of sand, cutting the brush to make trails.

 

When there was a big thunderstorm, I would take a chair and sit in the corner facing the wall until it was all over. Nobody ever noticed or asked why I was there. I would also like to watch the horses from the window as they pulled the big birch logs up the hill. My father would cut them up for firewood that we used for cooking and heating.

 

My brother, Bill, and I nearly got in trouble once when we were about five and three years old. We went into a nearby cabin and found a bowl of sugar lumps on the table. We crawled up on the table and filled our mouths. When we got back home, we got dirty looks from our mother.

 

When I was about four years old, a man named Tunel came by one day and took a picture of our house from the top of the hill. My sister Astrid, my mother, father and I stood out by the house posing so excited to have our picture taken. You could barely see us in the picture when it was developed.

 

We would all get home haircuts. I remember how I dreaded getting a haircut with my mouth all full of hair. Sisters Signora and Lily had long braids.

 

Since we lived five miles from the schoolhouse, the older kids, Signora, Alf, Lily and Bill had to board out at people's houses who lived near the school, since there were no busses and barely a road. The state paid for their room and board so they could be near the school. It was very lonesome for my sister Astrid and me, not seeing them. I would walk around outside all by myself and freeze. I watched the chickadees (they were quite tame) and I picked pussy willows and used them to paste on a rabbit drawing I made to make it look like fur. I was chopping with a hatchet once and chopped my thumb. I was afraid to admit I did it. We were never watched...we just took care of ourselves. My dad came home with a box of clothes in the wagon one day, and  Astrid and I tried on the dresses. They were really nice and hers always looked better than mine, so I wanted to trade mine for hers.

 

About the same time, I remember my brothers and sisters coming home from where they were staying during the school year....all excited, telling a story about one of the men in  the lumber camp who went berserk after drinking too much. He followed a fellow lumberjack as he was going out to work in the woods and took an ax after him and killed him. The kids saw the dead man laying on the ground on their way home from school. He then walked back to the camp where the cook, Mrs.Johnson, was standing in the doorway. He showed her the ax and was waving it at her. He kept walking down the Tower road and when he came to an area with about 6 mail boxes, he hacked away at the mail boxes with the ax. Our mail box was among those damaged and it always bore the marks of where he chopped it. He continued on down the road until he came to a bridge and started hacking away at the bridge. By then, the sheriff had been called and the sheriff took after the man and shot him in the stomach. He asked the sheriff why he was shooting him and then died from his wounds.

 

My mother never went to the store or handled any money. She said she didn't like to go to the store. My dad did all the grocery shopping in Tower. Everyone charged their groceries and paid their bill in the spring when they got paid. Some never paid. The store was 20 miles away and sometimes dad would walk the whole way and carry the groceries home. Uncle Nels would walk to do his shopping and always had a back-pack on his back. There was no refrigeration at that time. My mother would make out a grocery list, but it hardly ever had any meat or good things to eat on it. Mostly it was flour, yeast, lard, corn meal, kerosene, coffee, oatmeal, salt herring and salt pork. Nothing else would keep. In the oatmeal boxes, there would be a cup or some fancy dish for us to use.

 

In the baking soda box, would be one bird card and we used it for a game called "Guess the Bird". Flour was bought by the 100 lb. sack, syrup by the gallon and my mother baked bread almost every day. She also baked for the men working for my fad as piece cutters.

 

My father never, ever, talked to us kids, even when my sister Astrid and I were alone with him when we were two and four years old. When he was around, we didn't even dare talk to our mother. I remember being down at the lake when I was about seven, and happened to hear another kid talking to his father and I couldn't believe that he dared talk to his father!!. It seemed so funny to me. When we were grown up, after my mother died, he was complaining to my Uncle Nels that there was no one to talk to. There was a house full of people, but no one talked to him after we grew up.

 

I remember the whole family going to visit a family named Nelson across from Goodwill's Landing on Lake Vermilion. I think I was about three at the time. Dad tied two boats together since there were too many of us for one boat. The trees were full of blue army worms. Many years later, in 1982, I went to a reunion picnic at Frazer Bay and ran into Mrs. Nelson. She was 86 years old then and I hadn't seen her for 61 years.

 

In 1921, we went to Cook once and drove by to see them building a new school. We also went by the Cook Cemetery. My mother said to us kids, "How would you like it if I was in the cemetery?" We said nooooo!

 

In 1922, I remember my dad bringing over to our house, a neighbor, Mrs. Sjostrom, who was a mid-wife. We kids had to stay in the kitchen while they went in the bedroom to tend to my mother who was expecting a baby. When they let us in the bedroom, we saw a new baby on Mrs. Sjostrom's lap and she was putting some clothes on him. He was named Roy Arthur. Two years later another baby boy came with no mid-wife this time. My father told us that a little man came from under the bed. This was the birth of our brother Erling Lief, the last of the eight children born to our family.

 

One year my father planted potatoes and since we had no cellar, he buried them in the ground to keep over the winter. But, they all froze. The next year, 1924, he built a good cellar with bins in it and the vegetables kept real good. We had good gardens then. Some of the things we grew were rutabagas, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, beets and parsley. When we planted potatoes, the plants would be full of potato bugs so we had to pick them off and spray them with Paris Green Insect Killer.

 

When I was five years old, a neighbor named Arthur Pearson came by to take a picture of me. It was March and very cold and windy. I went outside without a coat and my mother came out with a coat for me and the picture ended up with me having only one sleeve on. It is one of the few pictures I have of myself when I was a child.

 

My mother would buy yarn and knit mittens for all of us. It was my job to wind the skeins into a ball. Often she would stay up far into the night sewing clothes for us to wear. She made many nice things out of flour sacks.

 

Saturday night was bath night for the kids. We took a bath in a big wash tub in the kitchen, one after the other. The cleanest kid went in first. The water had to be heated on the cook stove and poured into the tub. My mother carried all of the water up the hill for household use and for washing clothes. She also carried all of the water for the cows and some would drink three pails at a time. In the winter, the cows would be locked in the barn. Once in a great while, my mother would let them out in the snow. They would go wild with excitement. The winters were very long and snow was on the ground from November 'til the last of April. The snow was deep in those years and the temperature would go down to 50 degrees below zero. We were not allowed to go outside in that weather.

 

We all had to move in one room (the bedroom) to keep warm. The windows were all white with frost and all kinds of Jack Frost designs would show up in the morning. Sometimes the walls were white with frost, too. There was no insulation and no storm windows. My mother would be frying pancakes in the kitchen and pounding her feet together to keep warm. Our house had no electricity, plumbing, running water, phone, radio, or TV Water was hauled from the spring. We had a cook stove and heater which burned wood which we got off the land. It was my job to polish the chrome on the cook stove with ashes, which worked quite well. We had very poor lighting, just kerosene lamps. When they smoked, my mother would fix the wick with a hair pin.

 

When we needed our shoes soled, my father would get his shoe repair box out from under the bed and cut up an old pair of shoes and make new soles out of them and pound them on the shoes. He never took our shoes to a shoemaker for repair.

 

My Uncle Nels would do a lot of hunting and trapping. He brought a deer over for us that he had shot and my mother made the most delicious meat balls and gravy, a real treat for us. He also brought over a mink to show us that he had trapped. Once my brother, Bill, and I stayed at his cabin for two days while he made us each a pair of skis. He had to plane the boards and cook them to get the right bend in them. He would tell us stories about the Indians. He said that years ago you could hear them beating their drums over the hill by the lake

                  .

An old bachelor who lived with my Uncle Nels came over to visit one day after he had been drinking. Someone noticed he was outside knocking on a tree instead of the door. Later, he was put in a mental institution in Fergus Falls.

 

My mother found out that some of the men were cooking moonshine (during Prohibition) at my Uncle Nels' place. She called the sheriff who came out and dumped it all out. One of the men commented, "We didn't even get a taste of it".

 

There were lots of mosquitoes and flies in the summer and we didn't have any screens on our windows. My mother would put cheese cloth over us when we slept to keep the bugs and flies away. The cows and horses would be covered with inch long horse flies and would have to be sprayed all the time.

 

My father was driving us home from school one day and decided to stop by the lumber camp. The cook, Florence, a big, strong, bossy lady, happened to notice that my father had been drinking. Right then and there, she made all of us kids get out of the truck and come into the camp. She wouldn't let us get back in the truck and she and my dad were arguing.

 

Finally, he had to go home without us and try to explain to my Mother where we were. We ended up spending the night at the camp and got picked up the next day. The lumber camps always had all kinds of good food on the table and Florence gave me a big piece of molasses cake, but I thought the flavor of the molasses was too strong and couldn't eat it.

 

My dad had many piece cutters working at his lumber camp. One was a family of Ojibways (native Americans). The woman worked right along with the men in the woods and they all stayed together way out in the woods. He also had three young brothers working for him from Southern Minnesota. The youngest brother, age 16, got lonesome for home and took off without saying a word.

 

My dad used horses for logging and once he was standing on the side of the road with his team of horses hitched to a load of logs when we kids came driving by with Myrtle Heglund (our driver) on the way to school. She tooted the horn as we passed by to greet him and the horses got so scared, they started running like crazy. They dropped the logs as they ran and arrived home with a totally empty sled.

 

In the spring, all the logs had to be hauled out of the woods before the snow melted in April. The pulpwood that had been cut all winter was hauled down to the lake and the landing was full of hundreds of cords of pulpwood and boxwood. All of the logs would be put in the water and chained together on the outside, then a big boat would come and pull the logs to the Tower sawmill, a distance of 16 miles. Working in the woods was not without its hazards. My dad was working with a fellow named Arthur Pearson who got a kanthook (a tool used to move logs) in his foot. Dad brought him home and my mother had to get the basin out and treat his injured foot.

 

The men who worked in the woods would buy crayons to mark the  wood, but only used the colors blue and purple. They would give the rest of the colors to us kids, but blue and purple were my favorite colors so I wished I could have had those colors instead. There was a lot of snow down by Frazer Bay in the winter. It was usually about two feet high. We would like to make snow angels and snowmen. We would start with a little ball of snow and roll and roll it until we had a ball so big we couldn't push it anymore. Sometimes when we were pushing the big snow  ball, it would clear the snow off the ground and we thought it was so funny to see bare ground in the winter.  Once we found a big, frozen dead owl and brought it home. My mother always used to tell my little brother Erling that if he didn't go to bed at night the owl would come and get him, so we put the dead owl in the window at night to scare Erling.

 

I never heard of Santa Claus until I was six years old and in school. My mother said she never told us about Santa Claus because she couldn't afford gifts for us. We did have a Christmas tree though, and my brother, Bill and I would go out in the woods to find the "perfect" tree. When we found one that we thought was perfect in every way, we would cut it down and take it home. Then, we would find out it was way too tall for the house and would have to trim it down to size. My mother would decorate the tree with real candles and hang rolled icicles on the bottom of the tree which she made out of wax. We also made chains out of paper which we wrapped around the tree. When it was all decorated, my mother would light the candles, but only for 10 minutes, then they had to be put out so the tree wouldn't catch on fire. My sisters Signora and Lily would draw pictures and make a border high on the kitchen wall with their drawings. My mother made a Norwegian Christmas read called Jule Kage, rice pudding, beets, potatoes and lutefisk (cod soaked in lye). Sometimes she would bake a cake, too.

 

I saw a train for the first time in 1927 when I was nine years old. It went by a small store in Leander where we were  visiting. It was exciting to watch and I was wondering why all the other people weren't excited to see it, too. Other things

 

I remember in the 1920's was money in the form of Indianhead pennies, buffalo nickels, half dollars, and silver dollars. The big news of the day was Lindbergh's flight alone across the Atlantic and the murder trial of Bruno Hauptmann who was convicted for the murder of the Lindbergh's baby. He was electrocuted, but I never believe he was guilty.

 

One spring, I ordered 40 packages of seeds to sell to try to make some money. I was going to sell them for 10 cents a piece. We had to walk all the way to Little Fork to sell them and I ended up walking a distance of 14 miles in one day. I  would go in the swamp to pick iris. They liked to grow in water, so I waded in to get some nice ones when all of a  sudden I started sinking. I quickly realized I was standing in quick sand and hurried out of there. Once I transplanted some giant ferns which grew in the woods. They were about five feet tall and really nice.

 

In the spring, suckers (a type of fish) would be running and Uncle Nels and my dad would take them out of the lake with a pitch fork since they were so thick. They filled a whole wagon with suckers and we kids would clean suckers for about a week. Everything smelled and tasted of fish. All the fish were smoked and we had them to eat in the winter.

 

We had gotten some new baby chicks and when they grew up, each of us kids had our very own pet chicken. My other, Roy, would sit on top of the barn roof with his pet chicken surveying what was going on.

 

My dad showed up one day with a gunny sack in tow. He dumped it out on the floor and out came a brown and white puppy. We named her "Dolly". When she got older, we found she had nine puppies under the garage floor. We raised one and called him "Bob". He was a real good dog. He killed snakes by biting their back bone. One day, someone shot him in the nose, but he lived through it. Another one of the dogs we had was very similar to a collie. Every time my dad started the car, the dog would get so scared, it would run 'round and 'round in the brush until it wore all the hair off on it's stomach. That's when cars were new and animals weren't used to them.

 

When my brother, Bill was about 10 years old, he was out in the woods walking on a logging road when he found and large amount of money. He saw that it was to pay the piecemakers with. He returned the money to the boss and all the boss said was, "Did you take any of it?" No thanks or anything. Bill thought he was pretty mean.

 

Bill and I liked to hang out in the horse barn. We had about five horses at that time. We would climb on their backs and under their stomachs and they never did anything to hurt us. When the horses went outside, I would follow, nudging heir legs when they stopped, they would go a short way and I would nudge them again. They were always very gentle and never tried to hurt us.

 

A cow we had named Bossie was quite mean. She bunted her calf, Molly, up on top of the gate with her horns. She was later attacked by a bear and died from her injuries. Molly, was usually very gentle, but one day, she got mad at me and chased me up the hill to the house. I just made it in time! We also had two pigs and I remember my sister, Astrid trying to milk the pigs when she was small. The pigs would come in the woods with us when we were picking blueberries - they were pretty tame. They liked to come down to the lake with us, too, and would follow us around, just like a dog.

 

Everyone was eating "mooseburgers" one year, when a moose got hit by a car between Virginia and Tower on Route 169. The carcass was given to the butcher who ground it up for burgers and sold them in his shop. One hunter went out hunting in the dark of night, and, seeing two sets of eyes, thought they belonged to a moose, so he shot at them. In the morning, he found he had shot two horses. He got a $500 fine, which was a lot of money in those days. Uncle Nels killed a bear and cut it up and put it in the cellar to keep. My father would go hunting and shoot a lot of partridges and rabbits. My mother would fry them up and make good gravy and soup with them. She would take the feathers and make quilts and my sister and I had a nice feather quilt on our bed.

 

At the end of the school year, we would have picnics down by the lake with everyone coming. My mother was famous for her baked beans and always brought a kettle full. We would bring the wind - up phonograph with for music. One year we decided to boat over to an island across the lake. A fellow there gave me a big bag of candy. I must have eaten a lot because I got very sick and was laying on a rock all day and could hardly walk home. I was sick in bed for a week and wondered if I had gotten poisoned. I wasn't taken to the doctor. About the only time I ever was to a doctor in my early years was when I had a sore on my arm and the teacher in school told my mother and father to take me to the doctor. My sister, Signora, went to the doctor once when she had severe stomach pains. My dad had to sell our ducks so he could pay the doctor. He never had any money saved for emergencies.

 

A family from Duluth decided to camp below the hill near our place. They had two kids, a girl, Muriel, age 9, and a boy, Bobby, age 5. The five year old boy jumped in our well for a swim. He must have thought it was a pool! Later, we saw the two kids over in the barnyard wading in the manure. My mother had made some porridge and the girl took it and smeared it all over her face and was looking in the window that night with her face still smeared up. We thought city kids acted really strange on the farm.

 

Every summer we would have to pick blueberries and raspberries to sell. We would bring our lunch and leave it with the property owner who let us pick on his land. At noon, he brought out our lunch and decided to eat with us. He was a short, heavy guy who liked to eat all the time. We would ask him questions and I remember asking him where our dad was and he would answer, "He went to Frazer Bay". We would pretend we didn't hear him and say, "What?, What?, and he would keep repeating himself. We got such a big kick out of that. If someone was out picking berries and didn't return on time, dad would get the gun out and blow through the barrel, making a loud sound so we could hear it.

 

One summer, a man came by and asked if we kids would like to pick a plant we called wintergreen. It is a low lying plant that stays green all winter. He said it would be used to make Christmas decorations. We spent a lot of time that summer picking and picking and picking until we had many big gunny sacks full. After all that work, the man never showed up to pick up the bags.

 

One 4th of July, the whole family was headed to Tower for a holiday celebration. On the way, the car had a flat tire and my dad got out and fixed it. We went a little further and had another flat tire. He fixed that one and a little while later, we had another one. Finally, he decided we couldn't go any further and it would be best to turn around and go home. My brother, Bill, was so mad and was crying and crying. We were all very disappointed and there was no celebrating that year!

 

My dad said we could go with him to Tower and brought us to Martilla's Store and bought us an ice cream cone. We sat in the back of the store and he came back three times, but never allowed us to leave the store and walk around. He left us sitting there all day until it was time to go home.

 

Dad came home with the horses one day riding on the dray. He was in great pain and had broken his ankle. That summer, he was picking blueberries on crutches. We had two horses named Jack who broke their foot stepping in a hole in the swamp at different times. Dad had to come home and get the gun and shoot them. They were big losses for us at the time, as a horse would cost about $75. One horse we had named Colonel, would stand by the kitchen door all the time probably waiting for something to eat. We would give him a piece of bread if we had any extra. One time he got very brave and came through the porch, right into the kitchen. We kids were alone at the time and scared to think of  what would happen to us if our folks found a horse in the kitchen, so we had to figure out quickly how to get him out. He took up the whole kitchen and was too big to turn around. We finally decided to back him out and that worked fine.

 

When I was six years old and ready for school, we lived so far from the school that I had to be boarded out to people who lived near the school. My dad did try to get a road built that would go by our place at Frazer Bay and even had many people sign a petition, but it never got approved. So we continued to be boarded out to go to school. We never had enough to eat where I stayed and I was always hungry. Once my dad came by to visit and the people put a big platter of meat on top of the warming oven. My dad went home and told my mother what good food we had. Later, I told them that we never got any of that food, it was only for show. He brought some apples and they took them and served baked apples to everyone. I had never tasted an apple before. That was the only time in a year my father came by to see us.

 

In those days, cars were not very dependable. At one point, my dad had an old Model "T" Ford and when he went out to start it up, it started going by itself toward the field with him running after it. Somehow he caught up to it and stopped the car. When the lights went out, he would hang a lantern on the front of the car and get home that way.

 

On rare occasions, we would be allowed to go to Virginia with my mother and father, but, we were never allowed to get out of the car. My mother would be sitting in the front seat with the latest baby in her lap, while my dad went around tending to his business. I remember seeing him walk by eating something, but I don't remember ever getting anything to eat or even getting out of the car for the whole day.

 

My mother was learning how to drive the car was supposed to follow my father to town. He looked back and saw that she wasn't behind him anymore and couldn't figure out what had happened to her. He went back to find that she had taken a wrong turn and ended up in the gravel pit. He neglected to teach her how to back up so she had to stay there until he came to get her.

 

My father had to leave for about three weeks one time and was burning brush piles from land he had cleared before he left. You could see smoke and flames from far away and my mother told us not to go near there. He must have thought the fire was out before he left, but before long the fire rekindled and got bigger and bigger until it was burning around the whole farm. Trees were burning like match sticks and flames were seen as far away as Tower, 20 miles from our house. Firemen came out to fight the fire and got water by putting their hoses in the well (which never went dry). They fought that fire for a week and my mother cooked for the firemen while they were there. She was so scared the entire time, but kept telling us she wasn't afraid. The firemen left, thinking the fire was out, but my mother found stumps still burning and she would carry pails of water to try and put the remaining fire out.

 

With all the kids in the family and our parents pre-occupied with all of their work, we kids had lots of opportunity to get into mischief. We liked to climb on the roofs of buildings and my brother, Bill, got the idea of going up on the roof of  Barry's place (who was a piece cutter for my dad) and filling the chimney with milk cans. He had me up on the roof stuffing the cans into the chimney. When Barry came home, he couldn't get a fire going, but his stove was smoking like crazy. He turned the damper and down came all the milk cans. I don't remember getting any punishment.

 

My brother, Bill, and I would get into some heated arguments and sometimes get into a wrestling match. I was as strong as he was even though he was two years older. In the middle of the fight he would stop and say, "let's be friends". I didn't like that at all and it made me even madder. My brother, Roy, was an active kid and very good at acrobatics. He liked to run and jump onto the bed. One night, it was dark in the bedroom and he took a running leap right onto the bed only to land on top of my dad who was laying there sleeping. My dad awoke and said, "Has the kid gone crazy?"

 

My sister, Lily and I decided to give our little brother, Roy a sled ride so she tied the heifer (young cow) up to the sled. The heifer started out slow, but when she found out she had something behind her, she started running as fast as she could and ran right over the top of the haystack. Luckily, the rope broke and Roy didn't get hurt.

 

We would have to go to bed early at night and my mother and father would be in the kitchen talking, enjoying the peace and quiet. Soon, we would start laughing and talking and carrying on. My dad would come and stand in the door way of our bedroom and yell at us to be quiet and we would get so scared, you could hear a pin drop. He would go back to the kitchen and as soon as my mother and dad started talking, we would start up again and sometimes he would have to come back a second time to shut us up. Mr. Fogelberg, a neighbor of ours, came by to visit and left his car parked outside near the house. All of a sudden they looked out and saw the car moving. They ran out and found my brother, Bill, age 10, driving the car.

 

We liked to sleep in the hay barn at night on the nice soft hay, until we found out it was full of snakes. In the winter, we wore 'overshoes' instead of boots and I recall trying to get my overshoe off and having a difficult time doing so. I pulled and pulled and when it finally came off, it flew across the room and landed in the sugar bowl where by father was sitting having breakfast.

 

I decided to try to milk one of the cows and put a device known as 'kickers' on her to keep her from kicking the pail   over. I didn't know that she had never had them on before and she started jumping up and down. My brother, Bill, had to come over and take them off. My sister, Astrid, spent a lot of time working with the cows. One of the cows kept bunting the other cows with her horns so my dad cut the horns off, which really upset Astrid.

 

Bill fell down on the ice once and got knocked out. When he came to, he was confused and started walking home the wrong way. My brother, Alf, had a hard time convincing him to go the other way. Sister Signora was tripped on the ice by a neighbor boy and was knocked out cold. The boys were trying to get her to come to. We went swimming nearly every day, living so close to the lake. I learned to swim by hanging on to a birch log; one day, I let go....and I could swim! On the way home from the lake, we were pretty hungry so we decided to each eat a cucumber we took from a garden we passed. It was owned by a fellow named Mike. He saw us and followed us home. We were afraid to go in the house when we saw him go in, so we stayed away that night and slept in a cabin on the property. Our dad came in to see us and we pretended to be asleep, but in the morning, after he found out what we had done, he came and gave us a good licking. My mother and father gave Mike a whole pail of vegetables from their garden so he wouldn't be mad. Once in a while, we would dip Mike's cat in the lake just to be mischievous. Another time, we came across a boat sitting by the shore with a gun and coat in it. We decided to leave the gun alone, but dipped the coat in the lake.

 

Uncle Nels would always come to our place for water. He would fill two buckets and carry them to his place. When he got to the end of the clearing, Bill and I would drop handfuls of sand into the buckets and he had to go back and get more water. One time, we did it twice; he would get mad, but didn't say much.

 

Some people hired my dad to build a cabin for them on Lake Vermilion. He hued every log straight with a broad ax, and even went so far as to buy (and pay for) the doors and windows. My sister and I would walk over the big, blueberry hill and bring milk to those people every morning. They would give us a plum or something like that.

 

We were invited there one night to listen to the radio. It was the first time I heard a radio since they were invented in 1923. Mostly what we heard was static. They didn't turn out to be as nice as we thought as they never paid my dad for the cabin. In 1925, my dad hired a lawyer to try and collect the money, but since no contract was signed, he couldn't collect. We kids had to pick blueberries that summer for the money to pay the lawyer.

 

The men used to make moonshine down by the lake during the '20's prohibition. One year, they decided to make some beer so they would have something cool to drink when they came back from working in the woods. Well, my dad started drinking and didn't stop until the whole keg was gone. It took him three days and he was acting real crazy. That's when my mother sent me and Bill to the town of Little Fork to get the sheriff.  My father got a fine of $30 and he was very mad at my mother for having him arrested.

 

One day we heard a strange noise outside and all ran out to see an airplane go by. We stared at it as long as we could and my dad took his hat off and stood waving at the plane. The next time we saw a plane was on a visit to Tower where there was a plane sitting on the ground. We all went over to touch it and thought it a real treat to be able to see, as well as touch, a plane.

 

There were no good jobs to be had in the area during the '20's. Once in a while a man named Arthur Erickson would come by and offer three days work on the road at $4.00 a day, or $8.00 with a team of horses. In those days, that was big money.

 

During the school year, we were boarded out to a family who lived near the school. When we went home for a visit, we had to walk 10 miles there and back. My dad would drive right by and never once picked us up to go home. At the end of the school year in 1924, we went home. After that, Dad drove us to school (five miles one way). He had a hard time starting the car every morning in the winter when it was cold and below zero . He would heat the car oil in the heater in the house to help start the car and was running back and forth, all excited and mad, because the car wouldn't start. There were four steep hills on the way to school and we were sure to get stuck on one of them. We would all get out and push and get our clothes dirty in the process. Once the car stopped and wouldn't start up again, so we had to walk quite a distance back home. When we got there, my mother noticed my sister, Signora's, feet were all white. She and my dad were all upset, but we thought it was funny. They put her feet in a pan with snow and thawed them out that way, a method they used in Norway.

 

Dad bought a truck and we tried going to school in that for a while. He put planks in the back for us to sit on and there was no heat. When we got to school the kids teased us about riding in a cattle truck. Then my mother and father decided it would be easier to get to school with a horse and wagon. Dad tried out one of our big draft horses who had never pulled a load alone, so all he did was stand up on his hind legs in protest. Next, we had an old mare named Maggie. She worked out all right, but sometimes she would fall down. Finally, we got a little horse named Topsy and she was great. She would run a mile at a time and then rest while walking, then run a mile again. My mother would put heated bricks in the bottom of the sled to keep our feet warm and wrap Army blankets around the sled, but it still was very cold for us at times.

 

In 1926, they hired an 18 year old girl from Cass Lake to drive us to school. For a while, she live with us. Later, another lady from Little Fork drove us to school and would pick us up a mile from our house where the county road started. We had to walk that mile and then stand there and wait for her to come and pick us up. Sometimes it was raining when she dropped us off an night and she told us to 'run between the rain drops'.

 

There were no snow plows to clear the roads in those days. My dad made his own plow and would have the horses pulling the plow to clear the road all the way up to Little Fork, a distance of about 4 miles. He never got paid for plowing and sometimes, the road would drift shut again. On a recent visit to the old homestead, all the buildings were gone, but I found remnants of that old snow plow sitting in the clearing.

 

When dad came home for dinner after working in the woods all day, he would be covered with snow and his mustache was thick with ice. My mother would take the broom and sweep him off before he could come into the house. He often brought work into the house during the winter where it was warm. He would spend all day repairing harnesses on the kitchen floor, or he would file (sharpen) his saws. The squeaky noise of the grinder used to drive me crazy.

 

The winters were brutally cold and we all tried many ways to keep warm. We laughed at the neighbor who would put a blanket on to keep warm and cut a hole cut in it for his nose so he could breathe. Winter was a difficult time for the animals, too. My dad was taking a team of horses across the frozen lake when one horse fell through the ice and drowned. He barely saved the other horse. Losing a horse was a major loss for us.

 

Walking over to a neighbors, it was so cold and blowing, I froze my whole ear. My teacher in school noticed it and made me go to a doctor. Another time, I froze my finger carrying my books home from school. In the morning, I would wash up without putting my dress on, and because it was so cold, I would slip my coat on instead. One morning, I was on my way to school when I noticed I didn't have my dress on. I was four miles from home and had to get out of the sled and walk all the way home. I could hear the men cutting trees in the woods and was afraid they would see me and ask what I was doing out of school.

 

When I was in the 4th grade, I was given an assignment to speak about Abraham Lincoln's life. The doors between the two rooms were opened up and I had to talk in front of the whole school. The girls at school had a big playhouse behind the school. One day, they decided to have a party and invited the teachers and students to come for sandwiches and cake. I wanted to go, too, but wasn't invited, so I stayed in the school by myself while everyone else went to the party. When a kid got sick at school, he or she was told to go upstairs and lay down. My sister, Lily, and I got the idea of saying we were sick so we could go upstairs and lay down, too.

 

I had injured my heel one time and couldn't walk home, so I got to stay upstairs with the teachers that night. I remember reading a book about Robin Hood to pass the time. Another girl, Alfreda, and I pretended we didn't hear the bell in the morning and hid in the closet. Everyone was looking for us, so we finally came out.  At recess time, the teacher would sometimes have us run back and forth across the field. It was quite a distance and, in the spring, there were lots of buttercups growing in the water in the woods. One year, the river flooded and we all went down to see it. One of the girls and I saw a log in the water and decided to go across the river on the log. I made it, but she fell in up to her neck. I will never forget the look of fear on her face as she fell. She hung onto the log and somehow, made it out of the water. The teachers had to take her upstairs and give her a bath and clean her all up. Once during class, we heard a shot and looked out of the  window to see a man running across the field. Here the janitor, Bernard, had just shot a deer. We had gas lights in the school (no electricity) and the janitor would put mantles n the lanterns. It was hard for the kids to resist poking their fingers into the mantles.

 

Angora Township

 

The time had come to leave Frazer Bay. My sister, Lily, had reached high school age and we had to move so she could get to school. We heard from a neighbor that school started a month later in Angora, only to find out later this wasn't true. So we had only one day to pack up our bed clothes, dishes, silverware and clothing. All 10 of us and the dog moved in our old Model T Ford. We had to sleep on the floor of our new two room house until my dad moved the furniture over. We got up early for school and took the bus, as it went right by the house. It felt strange being in a different school and we were surprised to find out that this school wasn't at all as nice as the one we left. The house we rented, however, wasn't very nice. The roof leaked and sometimes, when it rained, everything in the house was wet. We lived in that place for three years. Dad had bought 80 acres of land nearby and was building a house on it. He sold some cows to pay for the land. But, in 1929, the Depression hit and he couldn't keep up the payments or taxes. He lost the land, but went to see a lawyer to ask his advice about what to do about the house. The lawyer told him he could take the house with if he moved it within a year. He tore the house down and took the lumber with.

 

The new house was haunted. At night, we could hear water cans moving down by the well and a woman would walk around the house at night. It reminded me of when I was little and my Uncle Nels and my mother would sit around telling ghost stories. I would really get scared when I heard those stories.

 

The depression hit us hard with no work for my father and a big family to feed. I remember when dad didn't have a way to get to town and we were all out of groceries.

 

He had to walk to Cook (10 miles away) and brought back 100 lbs. of flour which he pulled home on a small sled. Free commodities such as cabbage, powdered skim milk and corn meal would be given out to people. At the Cook Creamery, you could go and get five gallons of buttermilk and the Nylund's bakery in Cook gave away day old bakery.

 

We kids all attended Sunday School at the Lutheran church and were confirmed. We were taken to Virginia by bus to have our picture taken after the confirmation. For a time, we went to the Miller's (a neighbor) for Sunday School.

 

In the winter of 1930, when I was twelve years old, we liked to go down by the beaver dam and clear the snow off the ice and skate with all our friends and neighbors. We would bring the phonograph and dance on the ice and play "Skip to My Lou". Everyone said it was the best time they ever had in their life.  

 

The neighbors (Jack Aro's, Harold Miller's, Carl Brown's) and our family got together and built a cabin at a small lake in the woods across the road. The women and girls would go with and we would spend the day together by the lake. We also would go to the Aro's for a sauna and to Wilman's (now the South Switch) store in Angora.  

 

In the 8th grade, I went to school in Idington. I had to walk four miles to Angora to catch the school bus. A German shepherd dog that had been taught to attack came after me one day, growling and showing his teeth. I put my jacket in front of my legs and stared at him, walking backwards the whole time and that got me away from him without being attacked.

 

All the kids at Idington School were Finnish. There were about 80 of them and I, being Norwegian, wasn't accepted at all by them. It was a very difficult situation for me. I got a letter from Mrs. Nordstrom who knew of my problem and she said I could come and work for her and go to the Cook School where I had friends. I was glad to go because there was no place for me at home with 10 people living in one room and I wasn't happy going to the school in Idington.

 

There were 10 of us at the Nordstrom's (6 girls--Bernice 12, Mary Louise 11, Geraldine 10, Donna 7, Rachel 4, Coleen 2, their father & mother, a hired hand and myself). The house was an old log house with two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. I slept in one room upstairs with the whole family and the hired man slept in the other bedroom by himself.

 

We got up a six every morning and It was my job make breakfast and to milk two cows and separate the milk from 12 cows before I left for school at 8:00 AM. I would give the girls haircuts and fix their hair for special occasions. I also cut the father's hair and he would give me a quarter each time.

 

Every Saturday, I washed clothes (over a washboard, by hand) from eight in the morning until five at night. My knuckles would be raw and bleeding from scrubbing clothes and they wouldn't heal from week to week. The lady of the house told me to scrub the clothes and not my knuckles when she saw how bad my hands looked. I hung all the clothes outside and in the wintertime, they froze stiff and have to be thawed out inside. After washing clothes, I had to scrub all the floors, upstairs and down with a scrub brush. The floors were all big, wide rough boards and it was very hard to scrub. I finished at nine in the evening. I had only a light jacket with no lining to wear to school and during one period, it was 30 degrees below zero for the longest time, when we had to wait for the school bus in the morning. I stayed there for one year.

 

The town of Angora, which was about four miles from where we lived, had a big fire one year. The lumber yard, the post office, Maki's store, Loew's store and the school all burned down. After that, there wasn't much left to Angora and still isn't to this day. 

 

We moved to another place in Angora when I was about fourteen years old. My mother and dad bought a farm with about 88 acres of land. There was a big house on the property, but it had been abandoned for years so my dad built a one room log house with separate buildings for the boys and girls to sleep in until he could get together enough money to fix the big house up. There wasn't any water on this place either which meant we had to haul water with the truck for use in the house and for the cows to drink. My dad was always trying to find water near the house and kept digging wells, but with no luck. One night when a neighbor brought my sister Lily and me back from a visit to his house, he backed up right into one of the holes my dad had dug. They had to pull the car out. 

 

Another night, I was walking along with Lily and we were having a good time talking and laughing, when suddenly, it got very quiet. She disappeared and fell into another one of the old wells my father had dug. She didn't get hurt; luckily, by then the hole was full of weeds and bushes which broke her fall.

 

My father always liked to listen to the news on the radio and would come running in the house to listen when it was time for the news. There was a big can of buttermilk sitting in the middle of the floor and he came running in as usual. It was dark in the house and he didn't see the can sitting on the floor and tripped over the can spilling buttermilk everywhere. A neighbor, Sanford Nashland, told me about the time my dad was driving home from Cook when he had too much to drink. He came around a corner, going too fast, and ended up in the ditch. He had a can of buttermilk in the car which he had picked up at the creamery in Cook. The cover came off and dumped all over him. Sanford said he came by and asked my father what was going on. He said my dad was just sitting there swearing. 

 

Bears would come around the farm at times and once, we heard the pigs squealing like mad in the shed. Bill, ran out with the ax in his hand and found the bear in with the pigs, but the bear took off and got away. Another time, when the car broke down at night, we had to walk home in the pitch black darkness when we heard a tramping in the woods. My mother got real scared and wanted to go back to the car, but my father said we had to keep on going. We were sure it was a bear we heard. I spotted something that looked like a big stick on the road and was going to reach down and pick it up to throw it on the side of the road out of the way, when it slowly started to crawl away. It was some kind of a big snake. My mother would keep a can of milk in the natural spring to keep it cool. When she went to get the milk she found a big snake on top of the can. She never did tell us about it until years later or we probably wouldn't have drunk the milk.  

 

Once in a while a carnival would come to Cook which was an exciting time for everyone. During the show, a farmer named Little Johnson was outside the tent peeping in through a hole in the tent. Someone saw him and said, "There's two google eyes" and knocked him down from inside the tent. Timber Days would be celebrated every summer in Cook. All the lumberjacks would come to town to celebrate. When they would get loud and unruly, they would be put in a boxcar and driven around town.

 

They would always laugh and kid about who would end up in the box car first. Guns and knives were unheard of and even fist fights were few.

 

We liked to listen to President Franklin Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats" and speeches on the radio during the Depression. The speeches he gave seemed so important to us. He started the C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps) Camps and my brother, Bill, went to join from our family and was sent to Montana to work. He received $25.00 a month which was sent home to the family and he was given $5.00 a month for himself. There was a C.C.C. Camp in Idington and they had the boys clearing brush along the road. We girls would walk by and the boys would always be yelling and whistling at us. One of the boys, Jimmy Nichols from Missouri, would come and see me where I was working. He and I were walking to a neighbor's house in the middle of winter and I froze one of my ears solid. I put snow on it and thawed it out, but one of the teachers in school noticed my ear and made me go to a doctor. Later, when Jimmy left, we wrote to each other and he asked if I had frozen any more ears.

 

I remember listening to Adolph Hitler rant and rave on the radio in the 1930's. I also remember Orson Welles famous "War of the Worlds" radio program where he put on a drama about Martians landing in the United States. Listeners thought it was the real thing and panicked, even leaving their homes to escape.

 

During the summer of 1933, when I was fifteen years old, I got hired at a resort, working on an island in Lake Vermilion called Sunset Island. The people who owned it were name Soderstroms. I waited tables and helped with breakfast dishes, along with cleaning the cabins and washing the dining room floor before breakfast. Every week, Mrs. Soderstrom and I would wash clothes (including towels and sheets) starting at 3:00 AM down in the basement. We heated the water on the stove and then scrubbed the clothes on the scrub board. Then the clothes were rinsed, wrung out and hung on the line to dry. She would put all the sheets and flat items through a mangle. We finished around 7:00 AM. After that, I would wash the floors. My pay was $5.00 a month, working seven days a week. Once a guest gave me $2.00, which made $7.00 for the month. When I came back home, my father asked me how much money I made and I told him I made $7.00. He said, "Why didn't you stay there and get $7.00 more?"  

 

One 4th of July, the family went to Tower with some of the guests and left instructions for me to clean the toilet and other miscellaneous jobs while they were gone. I didn't think it was very nice of them to leave me alone to work when they went to town to celebrate and I wished I could have gone with. The island was loaded with raspberries and I would pick pail after pail for the people I worked for. The sun was so bright and my arms got so dark from the sun.

 

One day, a neighbor boy from Angora, Lyle Miller, stopped by the resort to see me. He had been working in the C.C.C. Camp in Bend, Minnesota and was renting a cottage on Sunset Island. I didn't know he was going to come for a visit, but got bawled out anyway for having him there.

 

I liked playing baseball in high school. As a matter of fact, I was on the baseball team every year from the 8th grade through high school. The athletic teacher thought I was a good player and said about me, "We have a Babe Ruth here!". We played a lot of baseball during our lunch hour, too. There were 80 girls in our gym class at Cook High School. We also played basketball and one time we had to see how many baskets we could make in one minute, standing wherever you wanted. I made 16 in one minute which was the most anyone made. 

 

I worked for another family during my last two years of high school. I would baby sit for their three kids, John Peter-4 years old, Beth-3 years old, and Billy -6 months old. I washed all of the diapers for the baby for two years. In the morning, before I started breakfast, I would run down to the Christmas Tree Factory to get wood to start a fire. One day, I couldn't get the fire going and the lady wasn't too pleased that nothing was started when she got up. I didn't have an alarm clock and would get up when it got light out. One time, the bright moonlight fooled me and I got up thinking it was morning and got ready for school only to find out it was 1:00 o'clock in the morning.

 

I graduated from high school in 1936. There were 46 graduates in my class. I was at the top of my class and they were figuring my score to see if I would be valedictorian, but the honor went to a girl named Gladys Johnson with Jane Storm, the salutatorian. They gave the speeches at the ceremony. We all marched into the big auditorium with our caps and gowns and had our pictures taken. By this time, I had met and been dating, my future husband, Jerry Beranek. He attended my graduation.

 

Love and Marriage

  

I met Jerry when Hubert Trygg, who was dating my sister, Lily, brought him over to the house as a blind date. He was a very tall, good looking fellow, with black wavy hair and striking blue eyes. I learned that he had grown up in Chicago, the youngest of seven boys born to parents who came to this country from Bohemia. His mother died in childbirth when he was a year and a half old, and his father placed the three youngest boys in the Bohemian Orphanage on the North Side of Chicago. His father, John, sent to the old country for a new wife, Hannah, who he was married to until he died in 1939. But, she didn't have any interest in raising the three youngest boys and they were left in the orphanage until they were old enough to work. Jerry left the orphanage at the age of 15 and worked in a department store. (His father actually changed his birthday to make him older so he could go to work). All of his earnings were given to his step mother, except 25 cents a week. A family friend from Cook, Minnesota--Charlie Kirch (who knew Jerry's father in Bohemia) asked if he could take young Jerry up to Minnesota with him. Jerry had never been anywhere outside of the orphanage or his neighborhood in Chicago and wondered what kind of a place he was being taken to. The trip took three days over muddy roads full of holes and ruts. The year was 1930. He started out working in a lumber camp and became the 'bull cook' (cook's helper). Later, he was hired as a farm hand at the Haley's farm near Cook.

 

We dated for a year and were married on August 6, 1936 in Virginia, Minnesota. After we married, the neighbors had a chivaree, where they come in the middle of the night making a lot of noise, trying to disturb us as much as possible. The ladies had a shower for me and I received many nice things.

 

We lived in an old school house near the Haley Farm when we were first married. Then we decided to moved in with Charlie Kirch since he had a nice, big house and offered to let us live there, rent free. Charlie lived there with his brother, Jim, and a fellow named Victor Dahl. I cooked for them and washed their clothes, also chopped enough wood for the entire winter. Our daughter, Jane, was born while we lived there in 1937.

 

The Neilo Jarvinen's had a house trailer across the road from us and we became pretty good friends with them. We would play cards together and the men hauled logs to the road for the train to pick up.

 

I would get up at 4:30 in the morning to cook breakfast and make a lunch for Jerry who was still working at the Haley Farm. He walked two miles each way, morning & night since we didn't own a car. It was his job to take care of the horses before they went out in the morning and bed them down at night as well as doing other farm chores. He would come home at night very tired. I would walk over to nearby neighbors to visit--the Crooks', Schulze's and Refsdahl's. I would take the baby with in a buggy someone had given me, but it had the habit of collapsing in the road all the time.  

 

We stayed at Charlie Kirch's for a year and then Neilo Jarvinen heard there was a job digging ditches up at Ash Lake, about 60 miles north of where we lived. We moved into a little house which was built into the side of a hill. They wanted $15 a month rent, but Jerry said he would only pay $10. There was a hole in the roof and when it rained, we would have to keep a big tub under the hole and keep emptying it. It rained for two weeks while we were there and the water came up about two feet above the bridge. The house was about 20 feet from the edge of the lake and Jane was 15 months old by now and had to be watched every minute. Jerry and Neilo went all the way to Orr to buy shoes for their job and when they got back, they opened one of the boxes only to find out was only one shoe in the box. They had to drive all the way back to Orr to get the other shoe. The job of digging ditches didn't amount to anything because they were supposed to be paid by the cubic yard, but it turned out that the men would have to cut trees down first, so the job fell through.

 

So we left Ash Lake, and moved into a little two room house outside of Cook, renting from Amanda Carlson. The rent was $3.00 a month, but Amanda didn't want to take any money, but instead wanted Jerry to do the haying. I also worked haying for them. There was no water or electricity or plumbing in the house, so I got water from the river which flowed nearby, or melted snow in the winter. Our son, Jimmy, was born while we lived there in 1940. Jerry worked at several different jobs while we lived there. He worked for 35 cents an hour on the dray line, did some building in Cook, also bartended in the liquor store in Cook, and even worked at the granite quarry in Ely. For two months, he worked for the W.P.A., Works Progress Administration (a program started by President Roosevelt). He earned $15 a week and said they didn't work hard at all. The men joked that W.P.A. should have stood for "We Poke Along".

 

Eventually, in 1941, Jerry had to return to Chicago to find work as jobs were very scarce in the Cook area during the Depression. He found work in Chicago and stayed with his brother, Otto and his family. It wasn't long before I sold our possessions and packed up a few things and moved to Chicago with Jane, Jimmy and my brother, Erling, who drove us down in his old Model T Ford. We stayed with Jerry's brother, Otto, for a few days and then rented a flat on the West Side of Chicago. So it was, that I left behind my family and friends in Minnesota to start life anew in Chicago.  

 

Although I have spent 58 years living in the Chicago area, my thoughts and memories always come back to the days when life was simple and my family was together On Frazer Bay.

 

Sylvia Nelson Beranek

 

1999

  

Epilogue

  

Sylvia currently lives in Cicero, Illinois with her youngest son, Terry who was born in 1956. Her husband, Jerry, died in 1982. Jimmy, her oldest son, married Sharon and had two children, Judy and Ricky. He and Sharon divorced and he later married Janet. He died at the age of 55 in 1995. Her daughter, Jane, (the author of this book) lives in Deephaven, Minnesota and is a widow. She had five children, Debra, born in 1956; Dale, born in 1960; Dawn, born in 1962; Heidi, born in 1968, and Christian, born in 1974. Four of her children live in the Minneapolis area. Her oldest son, Dale, died in 1996 after a brutal assault while fishing in a park northwest of Orlando, Florida.

 

August (Gust), Sylvia's father, spent most of his life working in the woods and farming. He died in 1955 when he was hit by a truck while flagging down help when his car broke down on highway Highway 53. Anna's lived her life for her family on the farm in Angora until her death in 1953 when she was 70 years old.

 

Signora (1988), the oldest child of August and Anna married and gave birth to three daughters, Arline (1983), Alice, and Dorothy (2003). She and her husband, Ward Kossow, split up and the children were raised in foster homes. Sylvia's oldest brother, Alf (1981), lived at home most of his life and never married. He worked odd jobs and cut pulpwood for a living. Bill (1991), served in the Army in World War II in Sicily, Italy, and North Africa and was discharged as a Corporal. He spent most of his life in the Cook area, was never married and worked for the railroad, the town of Cook's Water Dept., also, cut pulpwood, and farmed. Lily (1990) married Hubert Trygg and had two children, Ernest and Marlys. They moved to Evanston, Illinois in 1941 and later to Glenview, Illinois. She worked for Wieboldt's Department Store in Evanston and retired from there.

 

Astrid, the youngest girl, married Wilmar Johnson. She had two children, Arvid (Butch) and Violet. Butch was killed accidentally at the age of 21 when his car went over Loveland Pass in Colorado. Violet died of cancer in 1999. Astrid died in 1964 at the age of 44 of breast cancer. Roy served in the Army Infantry in World War II, was captured by the Germans and spent 14 months in a German prison camp. He has lived in Virginia, Minnesota for many years and never married. Erling also served in World War II in the Army's Tank Division, fighting on Anzio Beachhead. He married Clara in 1951, had two children, Edward and Lorraine, and lived in Evanston and Des Plaines, Illinois. He worked for Nabisco Co. until his retirement whe he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. He passed away in 2001.

 

 

Other Local Family Histories

 

The Teppo family

 

My name is Juha Teppo, I'm 40 years old, and since 1985 I'm living in Sweden with my wife Marketta who I met 1993. We live in our own house since 2004 in Rolfstorp, which is located 10 km from Varberg in the west coast 80 km south of Gothenburg. I'm working in a car company for VW and Audi and my wife is working in a finance company.

I have been thinking of to do some genealogical research of my family in a longer time and since 2005 I have been working with the research and so far I've found this:

It's about 104 years ago when my grandfathers cousin Ida Katharina Teppo and her younger sister Hilja emigrated to America in 1903, they arrived to the port of Quebec 19 September 1903 with SS Bavarian from Liverpool where their father, Esaia Teppo waited for them. At that time was Ida Katharina 18 y.o and Hildja 16 yo.

The parents immigrated much earlier than the children, Esaias in 1887 and his wife Susanna in 1892.

The family lived in Buhl, MN and the family started to grow, 1893 John Nikodemus, 1898 Saima Sofia, 1900 Sam Esa, 1901 Hjalmer Matt, 1903 Ellen, 1906 Arvid William, 1908 Arne.

Around the 1910 the family used the last name Kujanpää, which comes from the house name, where Esaias and Susanna lived in Nurmo, Finland. The house does not excist any longer but there is a street called Kujanpääntie where the house were located.

Ida Katharina married Emil Setter, somewhere 1906, and he was an Norwegian immigrant, their first child was born 1907 Carrie Katharina, 1910 Clifford Emil, 1912 Ellen Sigrid, 1915 Clarence John , 1917 Elmer Norman, 1919 Bernice Susan, 1922 Thelma Elizabeth, 1924 Glenn Raymond, 1925 Eben, 1927 Evelyn Virginia.

The family lived in Great Scott in 1910, Willow Valley in 1920, and Linden Grove in 1930 (Source US Federal Census)

I have knowledge of Ida´s grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but I still wonder about Ida´s sisters and brothers, they are still a mystery.

Was Ellen married to Adiel Silver? What happened Sam Esa, last trace of him is registration card to WWI from September 11th 1918? Was John married to Wilhelmina? Her maiden name is unknown for me? Did not the other boys get married? And what happened to Hilja?

The questions are many.

I would appreciate the information about the family members, is there someone who knows more about them? If there is someone who is interested of our family history I would really like to share the information with my relatives in USA. Please contact me!

My email is: juha.teppo@telia.com

Address: Juha Teppo, Bengt Emils väg 12, 43016 Rolfstorp, Sweden.

Best regards,

Juha Teppo

 

 

 

Early Pioneers of West Virginia

 

From: elma12@juno.com
Sent: Friday, October 05, 2007


Don it has been a while since I sent you a story, this one is in my own words from my research of my family history and what they encountered when they first came to the new world before it became populated with the white man. Elma Nelson

 

When our first ancestors moved into the wilderness of West Virginia during the 1700’s, they carried only the bare necessities that they were able to carry. The land was rugged with winding trails into the thick forest of which the early pioneers first witnessed as they prepared to build their new homes.

The ties of society and the comforts of wealth were willingly exchanged. The appearance and conditions of the country when first visited was that of huge oak trees and gigantic chestnut trees, most of which were large and straight as an arrow. The rivers and streams were clear and beautiful, untouched by pollution. Deer, panthers, bears. Rabbits, squirrel and buffalo roamed and gazed in the rugged hills.

Homes were built of logs that were cut and hewed by hand. The cabins were usually one or two rooms. The roofs were covered with hand crafted shingles, roughly cut with what ever tools that they were able to carry with them.

They designed quilts sewing them together by hand, using scraps of clothing, or what ever scraps of fabric they could spare for their guilt’s. The women worked hard to produce the necessities for the family; they often got together and pieced the quilts as busy bees would work.

They were poor, therefore did what they could with the resources and possessions on hand in order to survive the harshness of the land. Pioneers of early times most always traveled in groups for protections.

They built forts for protection from the Indians that lived in the area. The forts were built from logs with holes between the logs through which they could see the approaching Indians and shoot if necessary. They raised grain, one of which was corn learned from the Indians. In return the pioneers presented tobacco to the Indians.

The Indians were not always pleased to have the white man invading their land therefore the Indians often invaded the white mans camps, burning, killings, and scalping. My Great Grandmother of 7 generation was kidnapped by Indians when she was very young and later rescued by my great grandfather of 7 generations when she was 14, they married and raised a large family. Thanks to them I am here.

Their horses were used for traveling, the rugged land made it impossible to use wagons, there were no roads during the coming of the early days of West Virginia when the first white men entered the land.
 
Cooking utensils were made from wood or whatever they could produce. Cooking was done on an open fire place with what ever utensils they may have brought with them. Their clothing was plain and made by hand, at times sewing with hide from the buffalo that roamed the countryside. The clothing was plain and was at times too warm during the warmer seasons; Footwear was also made from hide of the buffalo and was not the warmest during cold weather. When ever they could, they raised sheep that produced wool, meat and sheep skin for clothing. The women would make warmer clothing from the sheep skins. It was a rare occasion to get fabric, if any; it would have been brought in by the pioneers on their arrival.
 

This is a story about the early pioneers, our ancestors, the brave and hardy of our land, our kinfolk. This great country we owe to their bravery and dreams of making it their home and our home. Thanks to those who traveled before us.

I have written this story in my own words from what I have studied over the years and researched.

Elma (Arnold) Nelson

 

Thanks to Elma Nelson for this interesting outline of her Pioneer family. Elma and her husband Robin lived in Orr for many years before moving to Florida. Elma has written and published a great book about her family which tells of her childhood and of her life and finally meeting her future husband in Togo and living in Orr.. "Child of the Alleghenies"

 
 
 
Donna Gustafson's recollections
 

Hi Don, sometime ago my cousin Arlene Blake from Parkville, MN mentioned you would like to hear from me....it's been on my mind ever since...and I am finally taking the time to write.


Thank you for the great website regarding Cook, the older I get the more I enjoy it - great to read about the "old times" and see familiar faces in some of the pictures. I just noticed classmate, Peggy and Marvin Pearson have been married 37 years! Now that makes me feel old!


I grew up in Cook and graduated in 1970 from CHS! We were the "first" 1st graders in 1958 to have class in the new grade school, I think there was 50 of us, Mrs. Fadum and Mrs. Mattson were our teachers. When our class graduated in 1970 there were 64 graduates! Cook was a great place to grow up - I always enjoy coming back to visit and attend class reunions. My best friends included Valerie Alhgren, Judy Nordlund and Robin Balliette, after we graduated, the 4 of us moved to the "city" of Virginia to share an apt. and attended Mesabi State JC. It was FUN....!!!


My parents, Walt and Clara Gustafson had 4 children, Nancy, Lois, Dale and Donna, - I was the "baby" of the family...which I disliked - but my siblings thought it fun to tease me about.


In 1972 I married Gary Johnson of Floodwood, MN. We moved to Norton AFB in San Bernadino, CA. We lived in CA for a short time and the USAF transferred us to Eielson AFB - Fairbanks, AK. We lived in Fairbanks for 1-1/2 years, where our son Dean was born. After Fairbanks we were transferred to Offutt AFB, Omaha, NE, where we lived for less than a year and the USAF transferred us Malmstrom AFB, Gt. Falls, MT, where daughter Kelli was born. After a few years in Gt. Falls, we were transferred to Ellsworth, AFB, Rapid City, SD. By that time we were tired of "being transferred" so we sold our home in Rapid City and left the USAF, and moved to Hibbing, MN to be closer to our families. In 1983 we sold our home in Hibbing and decided to move "west" to Bellingham, WA where we felt the economy was better. We moved out near my Aunty Bernie and cousins, Pat and Danna Gustafson in Bellingahm, WA. After 7+ years in Ferndale/Bellingham Gary and I divorced, in 1990 I moved back to Fridley, MN with my children Dean and Kelli. My son Dean went in the Marines and my daughter Kelli graduated from Saint Cloud State. Dean currently lives in Mpls, MN and Kelli is married to Greg Petersen, they run the 99 cents store in Grand Rapids, MN. Greg & Kelli are the parents of my two awesome grandchildren, Jacob (4) and Lilyana (22 months) Petersen.


I have experienced many travels/moves in my life and there has been a few "bumps & bruises" along the path, but that is pretty natural for most. I can't say I would wish that my life had been any different!


My first 18 years of life in Cook, I still have wonderful memories of. My parents, Walt & Clara Gustafson, were the best. I guess I did not always think of that way in my growing up years, but I sure know that know as an adult with two grown children and two grandchildren of my own.


Two miles out of Cook on forty acres where my Mom, Clara still lives I now realize was "paradise"....well almost, except when it was 40 below zero....you could scrape frost off the "inside" of the windows. Our furnace was wood and it was not exactly an even toasty warm temperature! When you had to get up in the morning, with bare feet, get dressed and then go wait for the school bus...brrrrrrr! I remember my Mom always listening to the radio, we wanted to know it was 41 below so Mr. Germ would cancel school! That rarely happened - as the "wind chill" was an unheard of factor at that time. On that 40 acres we were able to have dogs, cats, horses, the best "sliding down hill" for toboggans and skiing in the area. Many of the Gustafson cousins from Cook flocked to Uncle Walt & Aunt Clara's to skate and slide down the hill in the winter, enjoyed riding horses and playing in the gravel pit during the summer! My cousins from (Mom's side) - St. Paul & Side Lake, MN would spend their winter and summer vacations at our house too, with 40 acres - there was always room for everyone! My cousin Joyce Gustafson lived with us for many years and became a "second sister" to me.


Life has always seemed very "busy and fun", but there to has been sadness along the way. Some of the saddest of times were losing my Dad, sister Nancy, niece Kristen, cousin Danna and good friend Judy (Nordlund) Flemino.


I am so fortunate to have my Mom, Clara still living in Cook on her 40 acres & my brother Dale living on Lake Vermilion, Cook will always be called my "home". My Mom has become kind of an icon in Cook. This year we will celebrate her 87th birthday with a potluck birthday party planned at my brother Dale's on Lake Vermilion in August. Hopefully all her grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren will be able to attend her birthday party. Mom worked at the Cook Hospital since I was in first grade in 1958. She retired a "couple of times" and it was not until this past January when she had two slipped disks in her back that she decided to quit working in the laundry as it became too difficult for her to handle heavy clothes. She still sold VFW poppies on the street corners of Cook this year for "opening fishing" season weekend, still marched in the Memorial Day parade, she also still volunteers 5 days a week at the Cook nutrition site.


I finally graduated from Metropolitan State College, St. Paul, MN in 2004 with a BS in Bus. Admin...I was on the "30 year plan"...It was around that time, I met Richard Ruhl of Valdez, Alaska. Edward Jones Investments hired me to open an office in Valdez, Alaska, so I sold my home in Blaine, MN & moved to Valdez. After working for Edward Jones a short time, the company decided I would once again be required to "continue my education". I opted out and accepted a temporary job with the City of Valdez Finance Dept. where I worked until Dec 2006, when Rich and I took 30 days to visit family and friends in the lower 48. We returned to Valdez in Jan., I began working for (CVTC) Cooper Valley Telephone Co.,. Rich is retired after working on the Pipeline as a teamster for 33 + years. We are engaged to be married in the near future.


My Mom, and her sister Mildred (94 years old), Mildred's daughter Viv and two girls will be visiting Valdez for a week in August, Rich and I are very excited to have company, show them Denali Nat'l Park & other sites in beautiful Alaska.


My classmate, Bonnie (Keister) & her husband Ronnie Woods also live in Valdez and I see them on occasion. The other day I ran into Bill Bryson, after a short conversation with him he asked me where I was from in MN. When I said a small town - Cook, near Lake Vermilion, I was surprised to find out Jim Aune is his father-in-law!


I am looking forward to being back in Cook for my Mom's birthday in August and to visit family and friends.


Anyone from Cook visiting the Valdez area, please give us a call!
Best regards,
Donna (Gustafson) Johnson
Richard Ruhl

 

From: Donna Gustafson mailto:donnagjohnson@hotmail.com

Sent: Sunday, June 17, 2007
To: simonson@accessmn.com


 
 
Notes from Madeline about Dall Family

 

Information sent by Sharon Dall Taylor, daughter of George Dall, son of Dreier & Jennie Dall

 
The Dall family lived at the Silverdale Community which is about 25 miles northwest of Cook. Clara (Walter) Gustafson of Cook is one of the children of Dreier & Jennie Dall
 

Mr. & Mrs. Dall both came from Norway. Jennie had a son before she married Dreier Dall.  His name was Frank Moe and he lived in Flint, Michigan

 

George Eddy really enjoyed D. Dall’s company. They liked to talk politics.  Madeline’s family visited more with the Dalls than anyone else up in the country.   Ruth came up to Silverdale every summer and spent a week with the Eddy’s.  She met George when she came up to stay.   She dated Bill Bondeson and George.  They would come together to see her.  Ruth was about 17 or 18 when she worked in Minneapolis for Virginia Locks.  Ruth was born in Indiana.  They moved into the Polvins place up in Silverdale.  Inez and Elsa were born up there but they didn’t stay long.  Carl was born in Parkville.  Inez would baby-sit Madeline.  Inez used to laugh when Madeline used to cover up her dolls with a hamerchet (she couldn’t say handkerchief).  Sylvia and Ida Peterson became friends.  Madeline and Lois looked like twins in their white batiste dresses and their white lace bonnets.  Ruth and Inez would push them in the Dall’s wicker buggy.  Lois would sit on one end of the buggy and Madeline on the other end.  They loved riding in the buggy.  Ruth Christianson Hanson was a good friend of Ida’s also.  The Hansons and Petersons were good friends all their lives.     

 

Lutheran Ladies Aid Club met once a month.  When Jennie had Ladies Aid Meetings at her house she put on a huge Norwegian spread and everyone liked to come.  She would always host the meeting in August around Clara’s birthday.  And D. Dall always made ice cream for the fourth of July and the Ladies Aid Meeting.  Every winter he cut ice from the big creek between D. Dall’s place and George Dall’s place.  The ice was about a foot thick and he cut it in blocks.  The ice was kept in an ice house behind the garage.  The ice was packed in sawdust and the sawdust must have been six feet deep and it kept the ice all summer.  Everybody enjoyed their gatherings. 

 

Jennie played Norwegian songs on the organ and all the kids could sing in Norwegian.  Clara taught Madeline how to play that song on the piano and sing it too.    The song was something like Guban ua and it meant something like Hello, how are you? 

 

Jennie and Dreier had friends from Selina that visited them – the Lokkens and Holmstroms.  They lived by Abelmans and Holmstroms in Salina somewhere.  Edwin Lokkens was their hired hand for many years and he dated Irene for a while.  He ended up marrying Anna Hoagland (Agnes Johnson’s sister) but they got a divorce.  Harold Lockens was also their hired man for about four years until Clara left home.  She went to Cook to work and she met Walter Gustafson there.  They were married about 1941. 

 

Silverdale Farmers Club met once a month and everybody attended.  It started about 8 pm.  The meetings were held at the school.  Polvins and Shogrens never went to Farmer’s Club.  Madeline’s family always left in plenty of time to walk all the way to the meeting but often whoever came along first picked them up.  Either Dalls or Rude’s would pick them up. Dreier Dall had a 1925 Studebaker but George was the only one that drove it.    I think that was the only car D. Dall ever had.  He always kept it in the garage.  Drier Dall never drove the car.  Dalls always had lots of cars at their house.  Irene had a car; the hired hand had a car.  In the winter, sometimes the Rudes went with their horses and pulled a sleigh with hay on it and they could all ride.  The sleigh could hold about twelve people.  Dalls had a team of horses too.  George also made a joker to use on the farm.

   

Alice and Mildred each went to St. Paul to work when they were about 16 years old.  They did house work.   That is where they met their husbands.  And they lived in St. Paul the rest of their lives.  Mom said Alice died as a young adult and left her son an orphan.  Alice’s husband (Meyer? Mayer?) He died before she did.  Their son was named Wallace and he was the same age as Madeline.  She thought he was born Feb., 1924.  They were in the same grade but he only went to school with her for 1 year.  Alice’s son Wally worked in Air Conditioning.

 

Ruth Peterson, Mildred Dall and Elsie Polvin all went to St. Paul at the same time.  They were about 16.  They were always good friends.  Elsie Polvin married someone from St. Paul also.  Mildred and Ruth Peterson Dall were about the same age.  Mildred married Harry Stanke and lived in St. Paul all her life.  Mildred’s son is a Doctor.  A Gynecologist?  He always raised rats as a kid. 

 

George lived up in the country for quite some time.  He drove the school bus when he was very young.  Whenever they had a snowstorm and the drifts were pretty high, George would have to back up and charge forward sometimes several times to break trail but he would always make it through.  The snow would blow up and cover the windshield.  The kids all liked that.  George also rode a motorcycle when he was young.  One time he drove the motorcycle straight up a tree.  George fell off but the motorcycle stayed up in the tree.  He didn’t get hurt.  After Ruth and George got married George would have to go out at midnight to cut wood.  George Eddy and Drier Dall always had plenty of wood cut all the time but George didn’t.  Maybe it was because he always had to cut wood at home as a boy growing up.  George Dall never milked cows.  Neither did Drier Dall.  All the women did the milking.  But Drier Dall always did the separator.  The separator had 64 disks and they all had to go on a certain way.  They were awful to clean.  Madeline said they never took the disks off the rack when they cleaned them because they were too hard to put back on in the correct order.  They couldn’t use soap.  They had to scrub each disk and then they had to pour boiling water on it.  That casein was used for paint a lot.

 

Irene married Vern Nelson.  They had a daughter named Janice.  She lives in Grand Rapids and is a Pharmacist.

 

One time Clara’s teacher asked her what her fathers name was and she said D. Dall.  And the teacher said no, what is your father’s first name and Clara said just D. Dall!  That’s all!!  Madeline used to go to dances with Clara and her boyfriend Harold Lokken and she would often stay overnight with Clara.  Sylvia always trusted Madeline when she was with Clara.  Whenever Madeline and Clara wanted to do something that Madeline wasn’t sure her mother would let her do, she had Clara come to her house with her when she asked.  Then Sylvia wouldn’t say no.  It was about 1½ miles from Madeline’s to Shogrens and then another mile to Dalls.  Madeline could walk a mile in 15 minutes.

 

They had church about once a month at the school.  Pastor Fadum came from Cook to do the service.  He also went once a month to Bear River Lutheran.  Pastor Fadum had a son named Julius who at one time had the Gambles store in Cook.  He also had a daughter Francis and another daughter Agnes.  Pastor Fadum was instrumental in having the Silverdale Lutheran Church built and then he retired.  The entire congregation helped build it.  They never finished the steeple area of the church.  They never put a top on it. 

 

 

Elder Metsa

The Metsa Family

Jaclyn Metsa Cheves

Elder was born December 31, 1928 at the home of his Finnish grandparents, John and Selma (Rautio) Metsa in Angora, the only child of Emil and Elna (Koski) Metsa. Although both of his parents were born in Minnesota (Emil in Soudan and Elna in Hibbing), they all lived together for a time on the Metsa farm and spoke Finnish. Elder therefore did not speak English on a regular basis until he entered first grade.

 

Early settlers in Angora, John and Selma Metsa were born and raised in Ylitornio, Finland, a town in Finnish Lapland that lies north of the Gulf of Bothnia, and just east of the river that forms the border between Sweden and Finland. John was a farmer there, and Selma was a dressmaker. One day shy of his 20th birthday, John and Selma were married in July, 24, 1884. Selma had turned 20 just six months earlier on December 31, 1863.

 

In 1888, John traveled to America. He settled in Soudan, and Selma followed in 1889 with their two young children, Eli and Eva. John worked in the lumber business in Ely and Tower, as well as for the mine in Tower, hauling supplies from Soudan to Mt. Iron, Old Mesabi, Merritt (which later became Biwabik), and even to Mine Center in Canada. Travel to Canada was made across the frozen ice of Lake Vermilion and Rainy Lake.

 

In 1904 John and Selma spent two long days moving their young family in horse-drawn wagons, along with three teams of horses, four cows, two chickens, and all the family belongings across 22 miles of trail from Soudan to Angora. They stayed over at a place called “Old Jimmers,” a popular stop-over place for travelers.

 

John was one of the first members of the Angora town board, a position he held at intervals over the next 23 years. Logging operations provided the money used to make improvements on their 520-acre Angora homestead (located along what is today known as East Anton Road). In 1906, Ellen, the youngest of their seven children was born (after Eli, Eva, Eric, Edward, Eino and Emil), and by 1915 the seven-room, two-story family farmhouse was completed. In the late 1920s, John purchased a large parcel of land on Lake Vermilion and constructed the original portion of a traditional Finnish log cabin that is still standing today.

 

During the most productive years of the Angora farm, the family harvested as much as 1,500 bushels of grain and 30 tons of hay. By the time John and Selma celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 1949, the farm was reduced to 16 head of livestock. The two oldest children, Eli and Eva, remained unmarried and had stayed on to run the farm. John died February 12, 1950, and Selma died several years later. They are buried in the Lakeview cemetery at Tower, along with both of John’s parents (who also came from Finland) and sons Eric and Edward, who died in their youth.

 

The family seemed to have a fondness for the letter “E”, as son Eino married Elway Malmstrom (they built the neighboring farmhouse in Angora and had five daughters: Marjorie, Lillian, Irma, Ellen Fran, and Denise); son Emil married Elna (Koski); and daughter Ellen, while not carrying on the tradition of the “E,” married Frederick Sorgenfrei (they lived in Virginia and had three children: Carol, Fred, Jr., and Shawna, who now lives on Lake Vermilion with her husband Don Kishel). 

 

As previously mentioned, Elder’s parents, Emil and Elna lived and worked on the family farm for a time, and on the blizzardy night of December 31, 1928 became the proud parents of little Emil Elder in one of the upstairs rooms of the farmhouse (Elder later chose to switch his name around and go by Elder Emil instead). Just when folks might have thought that the selection of names beginning with ‘E’ might be growing thin, Elder went away to college at UMD in Duluth and fell in love with a young nursing student named Bess Paul from Bemidji. Upon learning that Bess’s parents were named Ernest and Evelyn, perhaps he felt that marriage was inevitable.

 

Elder and Bess married in Bemidji in 1951. Elder’s best friend, Bud Heiam of Cook, was best man at the wedding. (To this day, the succeeding generations of the Metsas and the Heiams have remained close friends.) As newlyweds, Elder and Bess lived in Virginia. When the miners went on strike in 1952, however, jobs on the Range were hard to come by. Elder approached the supervisor of Olcott Park (he had worked for the park department in high school), and asked if  perhaps there was a job he could do. The only one available was the job of feeding the monkeys in the monkey island at the park, and he took it. He smiles today as he recalls that even though there was little money for food, there were always lots of peanuts and bananas for him and his new bride.

 

In 1953, Elder obtained a position at Mt. Iron High School teaching business economics and typing. Three children (Jackie, Paul, and John) came along in 1953, ‘55, and ‘57, and in 1963, an opportunity arose for Elder and Bess to open their home to Kathy (Ruoho) as guardian parents.

 

In addition to teaching, for several years from about 1959 to 1963, Elder and Bess also owned and operated (with the help of Elder’s parents) the Holland Hotel, which was Chinese restaurant and boarding house on Chestnut Street. While they never did completely understand the invoices that came written in Chinese, Bess whole-heartedly grew bean sprouts in the basement of the house they built on 13th Street South and the children enjoyed a seemingly endless supply of fortune cookies. Elder also worked downtown on Monday nights in the basement of Sears selling Allstate Insurance, and while still teaching in Mt. Iron, he was elected to serve on the Virginia School Board.  Eventually, after 15 years of teaching, he resigned his position and went to work full time selling both insurance and real estate as an independent agent. They also sold the Holland Hotel, and Bess resumed her nursing career at the Virginia Municipal Hospital, and became active as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader (at which time the Metsa kids traded fortune cookies for a seemingly endless supply of Girl Scout cookies that Bess would purchase by the case and store in the basement freezer).

 

Elder eventually served on the City Council and as Mayor of Virginia. Bess resigned from nursing and opened the Cedar Hutch–a small gift shop on Chestnut Street–with her good friend Bonnie Nagle. Several years later they sold the Cedar Hutch, and Bess’s love of people and travel led her to work with another close friend Bunny (Kesanen) Isaacson as a tour guide for bus tours that ran all over the country from Virginia, yielding a wealth of stories “from the road.” (Once she called from her hotel room in New York and said she was soaking the air filter from the bus in the hotel bathtub; another time she called from Arizona to say the bus driver had to drain the chemical toilet on the bus to fish out someone’s eyeglasses.)

 

As grandchildren came along, the cabin at Lake Vermilion became a hub of summer activities for all the Metsa, Kishel, and Sorgenfrei cousins. Today, still another generation of grandchildren is taking the saunas and roasting the marshmallows and hearing the beautiful loon calls at night.

 

It was the calls of those loons that inspired Elder’s wife, Bess, to dream that Virginia could some day play host to an art festival. “I would call it the ‘Land of the Loon’,” she said one morning in 1976 to another good friend (and talented artist) Maryann Nelimark as they shared a cup of coffee in her kitchen. Then, on the shoulders and imaginations of many dedicated and hard-working people, the dream indeed took on roots and wings, and has now become a grand tradition every Father’s Day weekend in Virginia’s Olcott Park (on the very same grounds where Elder used to feed the monkeys in the Monkey Island and visitors used to gather in the 1950s).

 

As with all families, joy mingles with times of deep sorrow. Sadly, in 1994, Bess died following surgery in Minneapolis to repair an abdominal aneurysm. She was 64. Two years later, in August 1996, Elder and Bess’s youngest son, John, lost his wife, Dianne (Richards) and the family’s beloved German shepherd when Dianne and the dog were struck and killed by a passing motorist who lost control of his truck and plummeted down a river bank in Alaska, while John and three of their four sons were hiking along behind her. Dianne was 39. John was also struck by the vehicle, and suffered a broken leg. The family had been in Alaska for less than a week when the accident happened, as John had just accepted a position as assistant superintendent of schools for the Healy school district. With the unflagging and generous support of the Healy community, John was able to fulfill his commitment to the job that year, but returned to Minnesota with his four boys the following year. Dianne and Bess are buried near each other in Greenwood Cemetery in Virginia. After serving in various positions in Rochester, Babbitt, and Orr, John currently serves as K-12 principal in Cherry, MN. He and his wife Carol (Carlson) also own and operate the historic Comet Theatre in Cook.

 

At 77, Elder has retired to Cook, MN, a place he calls “the best little town on earth.” Living now just a few miles from homestead his immigrant grandfather worked with those teams of horses, he is thankful for the optimism that was passed down, and the opportunities born of sweat and Sisu.

 

There’s a magic in a small town that big cities can’t offer, a sense of belonging that returns even after one has been away for a long time. Even a walk through the local cemetery, where we find the same family surnames engraved on headstones that once appeared in our high school yearbooks, yields a pleasant familiarity. Something whispers, “These are my people. This is home.”

 

And it’s true that home is where the heart is. Elder can be found most mornings – winter and summer – with an amiable group of guys who gather for coffee, breakfast, and to share an opinion or two at the Montana Café on Main Street. These are his people. This is home. 

 –Jackie (Metsa) Cheves, Dec 31, 2005

Daughter of Elder Metsa 

 

 




 
 
 

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