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1943: Schuldts find life not all about one's wages

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 22, 1943.
Whenever you feel you’re working too many hours a day, at too small a salary, think of Mr. and Mrs. William Schuldt, of Hardwick. When they were first married, they had usually worked 40 hours before the week was one third gone, and their only recompense was a bare living.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Schuldt were born in Germany. He was born August 20, 1868, at Mecklenburg, Schwerigen and Mrs. Schuldt on Sept. 24, 1867, at Ludwigschloss. After they were old enough to leave home, both obtained employment at the same farm. Mrs. Schuldt not only did the housework, but also worked out of doors.
Being employed by someone meant working from daylight until dark at a very small salary. Mrs. Schuldt recalls that she has oftentimes loaded three or four loads of hay, not with a fork, but with her bare hands, during the course of a day. She has also bound grain after it had been cut with a scythe, and has hoed potatoes until she was so tired she could hardly move.
After they were married on March 17, 1893, they rented a small acreage, and Mr. Schuldt obtained a job in a dynamite factory at 75 cents a day. One week, he would work during the daytime and the following week he would work at night. He walked to and from the factory, the one-way trip requiring one and one-half hours of fast walking. Those were long days for the young couple, but both survived it well. When he worked nights, Mr. Schuldt recalls he would have to be at work at 6 p.m. That meant that he had to leave home shortly after 4 p.m. to make it on time. He would work until 6 a.m., the following day, then would walk home, arriving there at about 8 a.m. From 8 a.m. until noon, he would take care of his farm work. On many occasions, he related, he would haul in a few grain shocks from the field, and would thresh them with a flail on the floor of his barn until about 12 o’clock, then he would like down to sleep for four hours and then would get up and go back to work at the factory.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Schuldt found it necessary to learn how to work early in life. Mr. Schuldt’s father was a common laborer with only a small income, and the children had to shift for themselves as soon as they were able to do so. Mr. Schuldt herded cattle at the age of eight, and he recalls that often he would arrive at the farmer’s place before he was even out of bed. He’d be out with the cattle all day, and would return home late in the evening. For this work, he would get his clothing and his board. When he became older, and could do more work, he received $14 as his salary for the entire year.
He attended school from the age of 6 to 14, and after that period, was assigned to man-sized jobs at boy-size salaries. However, his pay was better than it had been, for he remembers he received about $53 a year, but out of this he had to buy his own clothing.
Mrs. Schuldt, who before her marriage was Dorothea Wiese, was left without parents at the age of 15. Her father died when she was only seven, and her mother was working in the fields. She’d return from school at noon and would bring lunch to her mother in the field. Returning home, Mrs. Schuldt would take care of the chores, which consisted of feeding the pigs and other hard work, then she, too, would go to the field and help her mother during the afternoon.
She was 15 years old when her mother died and after that was left to shift for herself. It was then that she obtained work at the farm where she met her husband, and there she received an annual salary of $32.
When Mrs. Schuldt was employed at the factory, Mrs. Schuldt spent her time rearing her children, and doing the farm work on their little farm. “Many were times that I put my babies in the wheelbarrow and took them out to the field while I would spade and hoe the ground,” she said. “While I was working, they’d be playing around on the ground.”
“Oh, yes, we found some time to have a little fun once in a while,” Mr. Schuldt said. Sometimes we would go to the music concerts in town. After the orchestra had finished its part of the program and the singers had sung their last song, a little orchestra would be formed by some of the musicians, and there’d be dancing the remainder of the evening.”
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: Reynolds continues life story with Diamond Club

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 15, 1943.
This article is continued from last week’s edition of the Star Herald about Mrs. S.D. Reynolds of Hardwick.
Hauled Supplies
Mrs. Reynolds also had the experience as serving as a “freighter” for her father. In order to keep the store in supplies, her brother and herself operated a transportation system on a shuttle system. Her brother would bring a load from Sioux Falls to Pumpkin Center, and she would meet him there with an empty wagon. They’d spend the night there, and the following morning, Mrs. Reynolds would start for Salem with the full load, while her brother would return to Sioux Falls with the empty wagon. Both used oxen to pull the wagons.
Not only did Mrs. Reynolds do that type of work but she helped with the farming. Her father obtained a team of mules, but even then, the mules would be used to draw one plow or drag, and she or her brother would follow behind with another plow pulled by oxen.
For entertainment, the young people went to dances. On many occasions, she recalls, she and two brothers would get on one horse and go to a dance some place.
Married in 1881
On November 24, 1881, she married S. D. Reynolds at Salem. Mr. Reynolds was one of the railroad workers, and she met him at her father’s boarding house. They moved to Sibley, Mr. Reynolds’ home, and there their first furniture consisted of a bed, a large store box for a table, and two chunks of wood for chairs. Mr. Reynolds was a mason, and would be gone for a week at a time. To be a bride in a strange community was far from being pleasant, Mrs. Reynolds states.
Four years later, they moved back to Salem where Mr. Reynolds operated a dray line. After another four years, he began farming near Salem. Stock raising was done on a share basis. They milked 15 cows, and their share was one third of the calves born. Crops were poor and they “dried out” two years in succession.
Being a housewife and mother on those days was no snap, according to Mrs. Reynolds. She would sit up nights and knit stockings for the children to wear to school. All her washing and sewing was done by hand because she had neither a washing machine or sewing machine. The family lived in a two room house, one room upstairs and one down. When she wanted to go to town, she’d take down her clothesline and use it for reins ono her horse, and when she came back, she’d tie it up again and use it for a clothesline.
Prices Low
Prices were exceedingly low for what they would sell. She recalls they sold a two-year-old heifer for $8.00 and received $2.50 for a 300-pound hog. Eggs were sold for five cents per dozen. “By the time I bought a few groceries and tobacco for my husband, I’d usually be owing the storekeeper,” Mrs. Reynolds states.
Hearing an opportunity to get work on the new railroad they were building northwest out of Worthington, Minn., Mr. Reynolds went there and obtained employment while Mrs. Reynolds stayed at home with the children.
When the road was completed as far as Hardwick, Mr. Reynolds sent for his family, and they moved to Hardwick to live. There he obtained employment as a section hand in 1900. At that time, Henry La Due was the section foreman. After living there one year, they moved to Kenneth, where Mr. Reynolds was section foreman. Later, he was transferred to Harris, Iowa, for one year, and he then returned to Kenneth where they lived for 11 years.
For seven years, Mrs. Reynolds performed the mid-wife duties for that community. In addition to that, she kept boarders, and for one whole summer fed the crew that was building the trestle over the Rock river.
Delivered Many Children
How many babies she helped bring into the world, Mrs. Reynolds doesn’t know, but there were a lot of them, she says. Many times, she had the child delivered, washed and sleeping in a basket by the time the doctor arrived. She assisted one mother who gave birth to seven children without a physician’s ever entering the home.
She was also called in whenever there was a serious illness. On one occasion, Joe Smith, age eight, the son of the depot agent at Kenneth, became gravely ill, and it developed that he had appendicitis. It was not learned until later that the appendix had been ruptured, but even then, the attending physician felt he could save the boy’s life by surgery.
The child was taken to the Luverne hospital in a surrey, drawn by a team of horses, and he made the whole trip lying across the lap of his mother Mrs. Reynolds who were sitting in the back seat. One of the surgeons was Dr. C. O. Wright, of Luverne, and he and the other surgeon, Dr. Spaulding, urged Mrs. Reynolds to watch the operation. Although she did not want to, she finally did consent.
Although the boy’s case was serious, he lived, and was released from the hospital after about three weeks.
To Church on Hand Car
The church she and her husband attended while living at Kenneth was a Catholic church in the country between Kenneth and Lismore. They usually went to church on the railroad handcar. The trip to the church was not bad, because the track was down hill, but pumping the car home up an incline was a different story, Mrs. Reynolds relates.
In 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds moved to Hardwick. There Mr. Reynolds lived until his death in 1932, and Mrs. Reynolds still lives there, making her home in her own little cottage at the west edge of the village.
Speaking of her children, Mrs. Reynolds states jovially, “If we never raised anything else while we were at Salem, we certainly did get a good crop of children. All except one of the eight was born there.   
            Has 20
Seven of the eight are living at the present time. They include: E.M. Reynolds, Sioux Falls; Anton Reynolds, Luverne; Peter Reynolds, Nielsville, Wis., Mrs. Eli (Lena) Milbrath, Okabena, Minn.; Mrs. Martin (Emma) Oldre, Pipestone; Mrs. Roy (Clara) Henderson, Pipestone; and Ben M. Reynolds, Luverne. A daughter, Bertha, died at the age of one and one half years. In addition to her children, direct descendants of Mrs. Reynolds include 20 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
Of a family of 10, Mrs. Reynolds is one of five brothers and sisters still living. Her sisters are Mrs. J. V. Jessen, and Mrs. Mamie Beck, both of Pomona, Calif.; and the brothers are Adam Glaser, Riverside, Calif.; and Martin Glaser, Herrick, S.D.
Mrs. Reynolds attributes her long life to being cheerful, and states that a preacher who once boarded with them was responsible partly for her cheerful outlook on life. “He had a little placard on which on which was imprinted the words, ‘KEEP SMILING’, Mrs. Reynolds states, “and somehow when things aren’t going quite right, I think of that. It really helps.”
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: Reynolds featured member from Diamond Club

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 15, 1943.
If more people today had the same philosophy on life that Mrs. S.D. Reynolds, of Hardwick, has, there would be less complaining about the lack of gasoline for joy riding, and about meat, sugar, coffee, canned goods and fuel shortages.
This 78-year-old mother of eight children knows that it is possible to get along without a lot of things, because she has done it. Yet she is hale and hearty enough to maintain her own home, and has in her memory a priceless history of pioneer days in southeastern South Dakota as well as in Rock county.
Born Regina Glaser in Clayton county, Ohio, July 28, 1864, she moved at the age of two with her parents to Greeley, Ia., then to Strawberry Point, McGregor and finally to Walnut, before going to South Dakota where her life was filled with colorful incidents of pioneering.
Herded Pigs
The trip from Walnut, Iowa, to McCook county, South Dakota, was made by ox-team and covered wagon via Sioux Falls. Her father, Martin Glaser, took a preemption claim not far from Wall Lake. The lake abounded with fish, and oftentimes she and her brother caught a sack full of fish while they were herding cattle and pigs in that area.
“We’d fish all day,” Mrs. Reynolds recalls, “and when it came time to go home, we’d tie the gunny sack we kept them in to a white steer’s tail, and he’d carry them home for us.”
The fact that they were a long ways from church (the nearest Catholic church was then at Sioux Falls, about 15 miles away) did not keep them from observing Sunday in the house of worship.
Up at 4 a.m. on Sunday
“Mother would get up early,” Mrs. Reynolds reminisced, “and would pack a lunch and get us children ready. About 4 a.m. we’d leave by ox-team for Sioux Falls. The trip was long and tedious, but finally we would get to the Sioux river and we’d know we were almost there. We’d ford the river with the oxen, then we’d unyoke  them and let them graze while we walked about a mile up the hill to church. After we’d attended services, and we children had completed our catechism class, we’d be ready to start for home again.”
After living near Wall Lake for five years, the Glasers moved to Salem, S.D., where Mr. Glaser built the first residence ever erected in that town. It was a combination store and home, but because of the family’s hospitality, it soon developed into a boarding house. In addition to operating his store, Mr. Glaser served as a “squatter”, the pioneer day version of a real estate agent.
Because there was no well there, and no well diggers could be obtained, Mrs. Reynolds and her brother would haul water from the West Vermillion river in barrels drawn by oxen. They only had three barrels, she relates, so they had to make the trip often.
Business Ventures
The water hauling, however, became a profitable sideline for a while, until her father learned of her business tactics, and then the business “went up in smoke.” About that time, the railroad was being built through Salem, and the workers very often preferred water to beer. “For a while there, I was selling those railroaders water at a nickel a glass and was making a pretty good thing of it. I figured if they could pay a nickel a glass for beer across the street, that was easier to get than water, I should have something for my efforts. Father was of a different opinion, however, for when he heard about it, the water was given free of charge to anyone who wanted it. The following year, a well was dug, and that ended our water problems, but I want to tell you, when you haul water by barrel a distance of a mile, it’s mighty precious stuff, especially where you have to use it for drinking, cooking and washing.
Muslin Newspaper
The first winter there was one of the most difficult experienced in South Dakota. Not only was it cold, but the snow was so deep that travel was impossible. Several men on the railroad crew were snowed in all winter, and the printer of the newspaper there was unable to get paper to use on his press.
“His name was Jonas Rutman,” Mrs. Reynolds recalls, “and father helped him out of his predicament by allowing him to move his press into our store building. There, father let him have a couple of bolts of unbleached muslin, and he cut that up and printed the news on that.”
Had it not been for wild game, they would have been without meat long before the winter was over. Mrs. Reynolds states that they had dug a pit for the turn table for the railroad there, and wild antelope looking for food would wander near the village and into the pit where they were easily captured. Antelope meat that winter was one of their main courses. They had no sugar, but had plenty of hard candy, so the boarders used it in their coffee for sweetening. They had no milk, cream or butter.
Farm families of the community had greater difficulties. Mrs. Reynolds states that many of them were forced to grind wheat in old-fashioned coffee grinders and use it to make whole wheat pancakes, their only food for several days. Farm families who had no fuel to burn in some instances burned their furniture to keep warm while a blizzard was raging.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.

1943: Larson's Diamond Club story continues

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 8, 1943.
This article is continued from last week’s edition of the Star Herald about L. G. Larson.
Remembers Storms
Mr. Larson spent part of the memorable blizzard of 1888 in the school building of what is now district 44 in Beaver Creek township. For some reason, most of the smaller children had remained at home that day, and only the older boys were there. When the storm rose, and they say they were unable to walk home, they decided to spend the night there. Among the pupils were Tom Arneson, Ole Eide, John Engelson and several others in addition to Mr. Larson. The following morning, Sam Hendershoot, a farmer living about a half mile away, brought them hot biscuits for breakfast.
Worked in a Store
After completing his rural school education, Mr. Larson attended Decorah Institute, Decorah, Iowa, for two years.I stayed at home until I was 21, and then I decided I’d like to work in a store. I got a job in Garretson where I stayed a year and then got so lonesome that I quit. Then I went to Bradley, near Watertown, S.D., and got another store job, and the same thing happened. From there I went to Webster where I worked for a while, and I finally decided I wasn’t cut out to be a storekeeper.
“I then thought I’d try my luck at teaching school, and I was hired providing the former teacher didn’t return. It looked pretty bright for a while, until she finally told the board she was coming back, and then I was left without a thing to fall back on. I tramped two whole weeks over the Sisseton reservation looking for a job and didn’t find a thing.
Luck Changed
“My luck changed, however, because I managed to get a job teaching in a Norwegian parochial school at $25 for the month. That really looked good for me, because I didn’t have a penny to my name.
“They must have liked me, because I got a job teaching in the public school in what was known as the Hegna district near Wallace, S.D., and kept it four years.”
In July 1898, Mr. Larson was married to Alma Hegna in Dexler township, Codington county, S.D. He states he had $14 in his pocket at the time, and $5 of it went to the minister who performed the ceremony. On their wedding trip, they went from Watertown to Booge, arriving there just in time to take in a big July Fourth celebration at the Lars Pederson grove. Although he and Mrs. Larson had originally planned to return to South Dakota, they never did and have lived in Rock county ever since.
Retired in 1938
They rented land and farmed for eight years, and then moved to their present home on the northwest quarter of section 1, range 47 in Beaver Creek township, in 1905. In 1908 and 1909, Mr. Larson taught school in district 22 in Beaver Creek township, and after that continued to farm until he retired five years ago. He and Mrs. Larson still live on the home farm, however.
A member of the Palisade Lutheran church, Mr. Larson has served as treasurer of the congregation for many years and is the present vice-president. He also served as treasurer of the school district, and has been assessor for Beaver Creek township for 10 years.
He and Mrs. Larson became the parents of three sons, and one daughter, all of whom are living. They are: Rev. Elmer Larson, pastor of a Lutheran church at Ada, Minn.; Mrs. Arthur (Mabel) Edmundson, who lives on a farm; and Herman Larson, dean of voice at Oklahoma University, Norman, Okla.
Mr. Larson has two brothers, both of whom live in Beaver Creek township, and one sister, Mrs. Ole Ormseth, Luverne.
He attributes his long life to clean living, doing very little worrying and working hard always.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: L.G. Larson is a man with 'experiences'

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 8, 1943.
A man with experiences is L. G. Larson, who lives in the northwest part of Beaver Creek township. Student school teacher, store clerk and farmer, Mr. Larson can relate many interesting incidents which occurred to him during his lifetime.
Born April 20, 1868, in Hardanger, Norway, he came with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gunder Larson, at the age of two to Ridgeway, Iowa. They lived in Iowa for six years, and then decided to come farther west to obtain some of the free land that was available to those who would homestead it. They, like most of the pioneers, came here with oxen and covered wagons, the trip requiring three weeks. There were several families in the caravan, but most of them went to the vicinity around Colton. At that time, there was no such town as Colton, and the community was only known as Skunk Creek.
His father happened to be fortunate enough to be able to buy a quarter section homestead for $50 from the late Daniel Danielson, legally described as the northeast quarter of section 12, Beaver Creek township. Mr. Larson spent his boyhood on his father’s farm, going to school when he had the opportunity.
   Difficult Years
The first years here were difficult ones for many of the early settlers and the Larson family experienced many of those pioneer days hardships. However, Mr. Larson states, his family always had something to eat, if it was nothing more than potatoes and sour milk.
Other families, however, were less fortunate. One that Mr. Larson remembers in particular came to visit them. Driving an ox-team, the husband and wife and two children drove into their farmyard, and his father knew at a glance that they had had nothing to eat for some time.
They apparently knew that the Larsons had food, and they were given something to eat. The family had a six-months-old baby, Mr. Larson recalls, that developed pneumonia. There were no doctors nearby so they summoned John R. McKisson, who had no medical training, but had served as driver for a physician. The child, by some miracle, lived.
Luverne was in its infancy when Mr. Larson was a boy. He remembers coming here with his parents to buy food and clothing, and recalls how some of the younger people in town would ride horseback to a farm west of town to play croquet.
Like other pioneer settlers, Mr. Larson experienced the great snows of the 1880’s. He speaks of the winter of 1886 and 1887 as the “great snow winter.” The storm struck on the afternoon of October 14, following a morning of drizzling rain. “Father had built a sod stable,” Mr. Larson relates, “so we managed to get all the stock inside. We fed them plenty of hay and feed, but they had no water for two days, because of the storm. There were many other similar storms that winter, and we really had a lot of snow piled around us. One thing about it, it lasted way into the spring months.
“One incident of that particular winter, I’ll never forget. One morning father, mother and I heard something thumping on the roof of our sod house. It was dark as pitch inside, and we didn’t know what in the world it could be. Father lit a candle, the only light we had in those days, and went to the west door. He tried to open it but found that a solid bank of snow was packed against it. He had a shovel, and finally broke through, and we found that it was no longer night but day and the noise we heard on the roof was made by a neighbor girl, Sophie Tollefson, who had come on barrel skis to visit us.”
This article will continue in next week’s edition of the Star Herald.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: Colby's Diamond Club story continues

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 1, 1943, and is continued from last week.
Helped Bind Grain
Before she was married, Mrs. Ellis W. Colby learned how to do both indoor and out of door work. She states that she has bound grain after a “self-rake”, the predecessor of the binder. “We’d bind all day,” she states, “and in the evening, we’d shock up what we bound during the day.”
Her mother had worked in a tailor shop in Norway, and from her, Mrs. Colby learned the art of sewing. She has sewn many men’s shirts, and other garments by hand, she declares. Her mother also could weave, and Mrs. Emmett Kennedy, daughter of Mrs. Colby, has a portion of Mrs. Colby’s cloth which she has then made into a petticoat for her own wedding.
Walked to Town
During the early days of Martin township, it was customary to walk to town, in her case about four miles each way, to buy groceries. Many times, she states, she walked to Beaver Creek carrying a pail full of eggs or butter. Butter would bring about 10 cents a pound, and eggs about six cents per dozen. However, prices of commodities purchased were correspondingly low. Shoes, the sturdy kind with copper toes, sold for about $2 per pair.
When she was a girl, nearly everyone drove oxen. Mrs. Colby said that she learned how to guide an ox-team by shouting “gee” and “haw” and by cracking a long whip over their backs. After her step-father obtained a team of horses, he’d hitch them to a wagon load of grain and drive to Luverne, and she’d follow him with another load, drawn by oxen.
Railroad Built
Mr. and Mrs. Colby were married in Martin township, Dec. 5, 1883, and they immediately began farming on the southwest quarter of section 16, Martin township. In 1889, the Great Northern railroad was built directly through their farm. “It was nice to have the railroad,” Mrs. Colby states, “but I certainly became tired of closing gates. It seemed as though every time a teamster would go through, he’d leave a gate open and our stock would get out.”
Mr. and Mrs. Colby lived on that farm for 19 years, and then moved to the farm Mr. Colby bought from his father, the north half of section 10 in Martin township. This, according to Mrs. Colby, was considered the largest tree claim in the county, 40 acres having been planted to trees on that place. The Colby grove, as it was known, was a community landmark, and a gathering place for the people of the community whenever a holiday called for a celebration. Mr. Colby helped to plant the trees, and later, sawed some of them into lumber. They lived on that place from 1904 until 1915, and then moved to Luverne.
Hospitality Compared
Comparing hospitality then to hospitality now, Mrs. Colby recalls how one night, 29 persons stayed at their place, and she made breakfast for all of them the following day. Included in the group were the members of her family, a threshing crew, a bridge building gang, and hired help.
She and her daughters would bake 12 to 14 loaves of bread every other day, and a cake every day. “No one needed a special invitation to come to visit on those days,” Mrs. Colby says. “They’d just walk right in, and no one thought of letting them go away without having something to eat.”
Because of the size of the family she had to care for, Mrs. Colby always had a big garden and raised lots of chickens. Sometimes, she’d raise as many as 500 chicks a year with setting hens alone.
Eight Children Living
Mr. and Mrs. Colby had 10 children, eight of whom are living. They are Mrs. Emil Hoyme, Hills; Mrs. R. Emmett Kennedy, Luverne, Mrs. C. J. Rierson, Hills; Mrs. Paul Pierce, Long Beach; Mrs. George Dawson, Sacramento; James Colby, Long Beach; Mrs. Blaine Christian, Portland, Ore., and Dr. Henry Colby, Minneapolis. She also has 15 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Mr. Colby died here in 1926, and at the present time, Mrs. Colby lives alone in her own apartment and does her own work here. As a hobby, she crochets and raises houseplants.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: Colby recalls seeing James brothers in Rock County

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on July 1, 1943.
One of the few living persons in this area who can claim having seen Jesse and Frank James, the famous Northfield bank robbers, is Mrs. Ellis W. Colby, Luverne.
Although she has had many exciting experiences during her life, the most chilling moment perhaps came when a sheriff’s posse informed her and her brother, George W. Nelson, that the two men they had seen riding on horseback were the noted desperadoes.
Were Herding Cattle
Mrs. Colby and her brother were herding cattle on the prairie in Martin township when the two riders came over a knoll. She recalls how she and her brother admired them as they came nearer because they not only rode beautiful horses, but they were gaudily dressed. Both wore belts that glittered in the sunlight, and had white gloves on their hands.
“I can remember just as plain as if it were yesterday,” Mrs. Colby states, “that they came close to where we were, and one of them called out, “Hello, there; we’re going on!”, and continued to ride in a southwesterly direction. My brother and I were talking about them when from almost the same direction came a couple of other men. They asked us if we’d seen any riders and we told them we had and pointed in the direction they had gone about a half hour before. Then one of the men told us that he was the Sheriff from Luverne, and that the men we had seen were the James boys.”
Changed Horses
Although the posse continued on the trail of the bandits, they never caught them. Later it was learned that the two had stopped at a farm near Klondike, Iowa, and had changed horses. The farm was operated by a distant  relative of Mrs. Colby’s mother.
Mrs. Colby literally “grew up” with this section of the country because she came here before much settling had been done. Born in Helgeland, Norway, Feb. 16, 1865, she was christened Nickolena by her parents, Nels and Chisttianne Nelson. Her father was a farmer, but also was a violin maker and a shoemaker. Although he never learned to play a violin, he could tune one so it would satisfy the ear of even the best musician.
Three Months at Sea
Mrs. Colby’s father died in Norway, and because most of her mother’s relatives had gone to America, her mother decided to take her two children and go there also. Mrs. Colby was five and one-half years old and her brother was a little over two when they boarded a sailboat and started out for the United States. They were on the ocean 11 weeks. Although a mere child at the time, she can remember several incidents in connection with the long journey. One time, all passengers were ordered to their quarters because of a storm. Mrs. Colby recalls how the boxes slid from one side to the other as the ship rocked in the high wind, and how water splashed into their stateroom.
Also during the trip, an epidemic of measles broke out, and her brother became seriously ill. She recalls how the steward told her mother to take the boy up on deck, “if you want to save his life.”
Most thrilled event of the whole trip was seeing land again after almost three months on the water, Mrs. Colby states.
Rode in Cattle Car
Coming from New York to Ft. Dodge, Iowa, in a cattle car is another of Mrs. Colby’s varied experiences. She explained that travel in those days was not always in luxurious coaches. Although she does not remember a great deal about the trip, she does recall looking at the passing scenery through the openings between the boards of the rack siding of the car.
The train went only as far as Ft. Dodge, and their destination was Buena Vista county, so relatives came to get them with an ox-team and covered wagon to Beloit, Iowa, a small village across the Sioux River from Canton, S. D. There they lived two years with an aunt and uncle, and her mother “proved up” an 80-acre claim.
Mother Worked
Mrs. Colby’s mother worked like a man during those first few years in order to support her family. She helped in the harvest fields, with the grain stacking and even with the threshing. She earned 75 cents a day, which was considered a pretty good salary for a woman. As soon as Mrs. Colby was old enough to help with housework and take care of children, she began working away from home for her board, room and clothing.
A few years later, her mother remarried, and they moved to Martin township, Rock County. There Mrs. Colby experienced the visit of the James brothers, the grasshopper plague and the blizzard of 1888.
The day the grasshoppers came, she recalls, her mother was washing clothes by hand in the yard. When they began to settle, they kept falling in the tub so fast that her mother was unable to scoop them out fast enough, and she gave up the task.
The men had just begun harvesting when it began getting dark, and looking toward the sun, they saw the grasshoppers coming like a great cloud.
Destroyed Potato Patch
They came home at noon, and during the hour they were eating their noon meal, the hoppers had stripped every leaf from a field of corn near the house. “I remember my mother had a nice garden, and a beautiful potato patch.” Mrs. Colby states, “and by three o’clock that afternoon, there wasn’t a thing left.”
Because of the scarcity of fuel, Mrs. Colby learned early in life to twist hay and flax straw. In the winter they would pile it high like cordwood along the side of the wall, just in case a blizzard would strike.
Speaking of blizzards, Mrs. Colby recalls that her husband had been digging a well on their farm the day the blizzard of 1888 struck. He had just come in to change his clothing and had sent his hired man into the well to do the digging when the storm arose. His first thought was of getting the man out of the well, and while he was doing that, the cattle began to go with the wind away from the farm yard. After considerable work and anxiety, they were finally driven into the barn to safety.
This story will continue in next week’s edition of the Star Herald.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: Helen Bly welcomed by locally by band music

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on June 24, 1943.
To have a band playing, and a celebration in progress to herald her arrival to this section of the country was the experience of Mrs. Helen J. Bly, Garretson, when she stepped off the train at Valley Springs on May 30, 1886. Coming here alone from Lee, Ill., a bride of less than a week, she had ridden in dread that there would be no one to meet her when she arrived at the depot.
Instead, she arrived just as a decoration day program was in progress, and a gay crowd of people was on hand when the train rolled in. “I thought to myself,” said Mrs. Bly, “it isn’t so wild out this way after all if they have celebrations and bands, so I was ready to stay.”
Mrs. Bly was born in Lee, Ill., April 27, 1863, the daughter of Hans and Anna Johnson. She was one of a family of 11, and learned to do housework at an early age. The community in which she lived was made up mostly of Norwegian immigrants who were faithful to their church. Every summer, the children would attend parochial school after the public school term was finished.
She worked away from home after she was confirmed, and received $1.50 per week as her starting salary. This was later doubled to $3, and she felt as if she was getting rich.
The two big holidays during the year when she was a child were the Fourth of July and Christmas. The Fourth was usually observed by a community celebration in the form of a picnic and a patriotic program during the afternoon. Sometimes it was held in town, other times, in a grove on somebody’s farm. Local talent would furnish the musical part of the entertainment, and a speaker of the day would be engaged who would give a patriotic address. At Christmas time, there would be Christmas tree festivals at the churches, with both children and grown-ups taking part.
On May 24, 1836, at Lee, Ill., she was married to John H. Bly, and even before they were married they had planned to come to Minnehaha county to settle.
When asked if she were not a little frightened, or reluctant, to leave her home for a new and strange community, Mrs. Bly stated, “A person who has just been married is more nervy then that at any other time. I guess that was true in any case, because I accepted leaving home just as a matter of course.”
Mr. Bly loaded their farming equipment and other articles that they owned in to a freight car, and left his wife to make the trip alone on the passenger train. At Valley Springs to meet her was Amund Edmundson, a brother-in-law of Mr. Bly, who had settled here earlier. She and Mr. Bly went to live with the Edmundsons until their home was built.
Mr. Bly had been here earlier that year, and bought a farm, an unimproved quarter section, for $1,400. After he and Mrs. Bly came to live he hauled rock from the Palisades south of Garretson to build the foundation for the house. As soon as the house was built, they moved in, and to this day, Mrs. Bly is living in the same place.
The span of years which has elapsed since Mrs. Bly came has seen many changes. At that time, there was no such town as Garretson, but there was a town of Palisade, located on the Split Rock River.
There was a flour mill there and also a little store where they could buy what groceries they needed. A stage was operated between Valley Springs and Palisade twice each week, and brought the settlers their mail. Three or four years later, the railroad came thru, and the village of Garretson, was founded. Because it was off the railroad, the townsite of Palisade was then abandoned.
The late Mrs. Amund Edmundson taught Mrs. Bly how to twist hay into bundles to be used for fuel. Because trees were so scare, and the tall prairie grass was so plentiful, the latter after being twisted into tight bundles, was stacked neatly into piles like cord wood. Although it burned more rapidly than wood, and a considerable amount was needed to heat their small home, they managed very well until they were able to buy coal, Mrs. Bly States.
The first years they lived in the community, they worked hard, and sold their farm produce at low prices. Butter, churned by the housewife, was sold in town at five cents per pound. Considering the amount of work connected with it, the settlers were poorly paid for what they did, Mrs. Bly states, but nevertheless, most of them seemed to be happy and satisfied and got along well. “We had to pay a high interest rate on the money we borrowed to buy the farm,” she said, “but five cent eggs, we managed to keep it. Of course, we didn’t have as many places to spend our money as there are today.”
Although the blizzard of 1888 is one of historic interest in the northwest, Mrs. Bly said she experienced no hardships during the storm. Everything went well, Mr. Bly was home and managed to get all the stock into the barn, and they had plenty to eat and to burn. She agreed, however, that the storm was furious, and that she was more grateful that she was not home alone.
On another occasion, however, she was left alone with a baby while her husband and a neighbor were in Sioux Falls. They had started home but had to turn back when the storm struck. “Believe me,” Mrs. Bly said, “I spent an anxious night that night, and I was really glad to see Mr. Bly when he drove on the place the next day.”
Mr. and Mrs. Bly were the parents of seven children, six of whom are living now. They include Mrs. Julie Klungness, Garretson; Harvey J. Bly, Brandon; Elmer J. Bly, Moorhead;  Mrs. Holden L. Jordahl, Luverne; Clarence Bly, and James Bly, both of Garretson. One son died in infancy. Other direct descendants include 18 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Of a family of eight sisters and three brothers, Mrs. Bly is one of the seven still living. The others are Mrs. Melinda Risetter, Onawa, Iowa; Miss Jane Johnson, East Moline, Ill; Mrs. Emma Solomonson, Estherville, Iowa; Mrs. Louis Rogde, Madison, Minn.; Frank Johnson, Lee, Ill., and Mrs. Hattie Bly, Lee, Ill. A twin sister, Mrs. Anna Johnson died a year ago, and Mr. Bly died August 16, 1929.
During her life in this area, Mrs. Bly has been a member of the Palisade Lutheran church of Beaver Creek township. She has been a member of the ladies aid there for 55 years.
She is still active, and cooks and bakes for her son, James, who operates the home farm. She attributes her long life to having kept busy all the time, and to having spent a quiet life.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: John Swenson, 86, 'un-retires' to farm again

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on June 10, 1943.
That a person is never really too old to begin farming has been demonstrated by John Swenson of Mound township, who held a sale and decided to retire about two years ago, and is now back “in the harness” once more and is happy about it.
Mr. Swenson decided he was going to quit farming so he sold his property and rented the place to his son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Hemmer. He still lived on the farm, however, as he couldn’t see where he could gain anything by moving to town, and enjoyed it, although he didn’t have quite the same personal interest in the work he had when he was in business for himself. Then came the opportunity to go into partnership with another son-in-law and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Christensen, which gave him a chance to do some work for himself. Now he is raising hogs, milking cows and doing other work with as much enthusiasm as ever.
Mr. Swenson has lived in Rock county for 52 years, and has watched it develop from a prairie community of scattered homesteads to its present stage. He is proud of the county, the state and the nation and is grateful for the many opportunities which have been afforded him during the past five decades.
Born May 23, 1867, in Varmiland, Sweden, a place near the boundary line separating Norway and Sweden, Mr. Swenson grew to young manhood in the land of his birth. His father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Swenson, were farmers, and he learned about farming by helping the family at home until he was old enough to obtain a job as a farm hand for a small sum of spending money. He recalls the first money he earned that he could call his own was in payment for herding sheep. He received the equivalent of 25 cents per week.
He was the oldest of a family of eight, four boys and four girls. When he was 17, he was permitted to go to Christiania (now Oslo), Norway, because the other children were old enough to help with the work at home. There he worked, helping to build concrete docks in the harbor for a period of three years. The wages were good, and he managed to save a little money.
The money came in handy, for relatives in the United States kept writing for him to come to this country, and he, together with two brothers, decided to make the trip. During the journey, they encountered a storm, making travel perilous, so the boat stopped for one and one-half days until the wind subsided.
The beginning of the trip to Rock county is one that he will never forget, Mr. Swenson states. He and many others had boarded a train to come west, and were just leaving New York when it left the track and went into the river. It was later learned that a switchman had made a mistake, and the train went on the wrong track. Some of the cars rolled over several times before landing in the water, but the coach he was in was not badly damaged and he managed to get out. Many people were killed and others were seriously hurt. Six doctors were rushed to the scene to administer medical aid, and another train was sent to pick up the passengers who had escaped unharmed. All his personal belongings, which consisted of a trunk and satchel full of clothing and other personal effects were lost.
When he arrived at Beaver Creek, he was met by an uncle, and the late Fred Norelius, for whom he worked during the year of 1899. Then he started to work for Elmer Gates at a salary of $18 a month, the biggest wages they were paying at that time for farm help. After working there for three years, he began farming for himself.
On Nov. 25, 1895, Mr. Swenson was married to Ida Jaqua in Battle Plain township, and from the first of March the following year, they lived with Mrs. Swenson’s parents.
That spring, they became engaged in farming for themselves. Their first two years of married life were spent on a farm in Beaver Creek township. From there they moved to Mound township, and lived there seven years before they moved to Springwater township where they remained another seven years. In 1908, they purchased the southwest quarter of section 30, Mound township, from Dr. Vail, and this has since been the Swenson home.
Mr. and Mrs. Swenson were the parents of eight children, all of whom are living. They include Charlie, Walter, Chester and Edwin Swenson, all of Springwater township; Mrs. Mike (Esther) Hemmer, Luverne township; Mrs. Myrble Newberg, Beaver Creek; Mrs. Ivan (Edna) Anderson, Spokane, Wash. and Mrs. Hans (Gladys) Christensen with whom Mr. Swenson lives on the home farm in Mound township.
Mrs. Swenson died April 16, 1930, and his two brothers, Emil and Gus, who came to this country at the same time as Mr. Swenson did, are also dead. He has one brother living in Sweden, and at one time had three sisters in Norway, but he does not know if they are living at the present time or not.
He has 30 grandchildren, one of whom is Carl Anderson, former Luverne boy, who is now serving with the U.S. Navy. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Anderson of Spokane.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to

1943: Luverne's Christina Juhl still active Diamond Club member at 81

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on June 3, 1943.
A person no older than he thinks he is, and if he takes an interest in life, gets plenty of exercise, and has something to do to keep him busy, he’ll stay young longer, is the opinion of Mrs. Christina Juhl, Luverne, who is 81 years of age, and still does her own sewing on a sewing machine. Despite her years, and the fact that she has worked hard ever since she was 14, Mrs. Juhl is still active. Her hobby is doing fancywork; she crochets, pieces quilts, and does other sewing by hand and by sewing machine. In the summer she has her garden, which not only gives her fresh vegetables and flowers, but gives her an opportunity to do some work out-of-doors to “keep from getting old.”
Mrs. Juhl was born in Schleswig province in northern Germany, the eldest daughter of Peter and Maria Engelhardt Carlson, on June 20, 1862. Her parents owned a little farm, the income from which was sufficient to keep the family of 10 children well fed and well clothed. All were given an opportunity to attend school, and Mrs. Juhl completed her common school education there. She was confirmed in the Lutheran faith in 1876.
Immediately thereafter, she left home to begin working for others, in the nearby farming community. It being the custom for the women to do the milking, Mrs. Juhl was given plenty of that work to do. It was also customary to carry the milk a long distance, and she recalls that many times, she has carried two full pails—about twice as big as the ordinary milk pail—suspended from a yoke over her shoulders.
Women would also tend the garden and do other work in addition to helping with the housework. The hours were long, and the wages small (she was earning $25 a year at the age of 18), but they were generally happy with their lot.
However, when friends who had gone to America wrote back of the many advantages that they enjoyed after coming here, many of the younger people of the community, especially those who naturally had a love for adventure, began to wonder if they, too, couldn’t profit by leaving their homeland.
It was in 1884 that she, and several other young men and women decided to leave home and come to America. “It was kind of hard to leave our families,” Mrs. Juhl states, “but we knew and they knew that our chances to get ahead would be better in this country.”
They were on the sea 14 days, and with the exception of one day, the weather was excellent. She states it was thrilling to see land again, but recalls how she and the others in her group “were kind of lost” because they couldn’t speak English. However, because of the fact that there were 10 in the group, they shared this difficulty without any trouble, and finally arrived by train at Rock Island, Ill., where they all had friends.
“We didn’t have any trouble getting work,” Mrs. Juhl states. “I got a job right away for $2 a week, and I didn’t have to do any work outside. Later I got a raise to $2.50 and then to $3 a week, and then I thought I was really making big money.”
It was while she was living there that she met Claus Juhl, who was born at Flensburg, Schleswig, in 1855. He was employed at Davenport, Iowa, at the time, and on April 25, 1886, they were married.
They lived first in Davenport, where Mr. Juhl had a feed barn and Mrs. Juhl operated a boarding house. After six years, they sold their business, and Mr. Juhl worked in the packing plant and the Glucose Sugar Factory the next nine years.
About that time, many from Davenport were moving to West Liberty where there was considerable farm land available. They operated a farm there until 1906, and then went to Dana, Ia. In 1911, they came to Rock county and bought a farm southwest of Luverne which is the northeast quarter of section 24, Beaver Creek township.
On April 16, 1916, Mr. Juhl died, and Mrs. Juhl continued to live there until 12 years ago when she moved to Luverne which has since been her home.
At the present time, she keeps her own apartment on West Lincoln street, does her own shopping and her own housework. She reads the newspapers, and thereby keeps abreast of modern times. She attends church at Immanuel Lutheran here.
Mrs. Juhl has four sons William, of West Liberty, Iowa, and Ernest, Rudolph and Hugo of Luverne, and has 12 grandchildren.
Of the seven girls in her father’s family, she is the only one living at the present time. The last she knew, however, she had three brothers living in Germany.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
Mann welcomes correspondence sent to