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1943: Berg continues story about arriving in Luverne

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 Nov. 4, 1943.
(Continued from last week when Nels Berg, in his first four months in Luverne, broke 100 acres of prairie with oxen.)
When my brother told me I could guide an ox by talking to him, I wouldn’t believe it, but I soon learned to say ‘gee’ and ‘haw’ and the oxen understood what I meant.”
Mr. Berg explained that he did not learn any English while staying at the Haga home, as the boys would always play tricks on him when he asked them to say something in the American tongue. That fall, after repeated requests from friends, he decided to go to Canton, in hopes that there, he’d have a better chance to learn English. One day he started from Luverne at 5 a.m. and that night at 6 o’clock, tired and hungry, he walked into the hotel at Canton. He had never been to Canton before but managed to get there without any help, he states. In case he would have become lost, however, he had a note pinned to his shirt, which read, “Please direct this man to Canton, S.D.,” which might have helped him if he had become lost among people who could not understand Norwegian.
When he told the man in the hotel that he had walked the entire distance from Luverne, he was treated royally, and received a bounteous dinner. He recalls how they told the cooks, “Here’s a man who walked all the way here from Trondheim, Norway, and is mighty hungry. See that he gets all he wants to eat.”
In the hotel, all the women employees were Norwegian except one. Mr. Berg made a bargain with her that if she would teach him English, he would teach her Norwegian. “We had school every night,” he recalls, “and we both profited by it.”
He was staying in the hotel at the time of Canton’s big fire. He was the first one in the hotel to notice the blaze at the other end of the block, and it was he who gave the alarm in the hotel. “The minute I hollered ‘fire’, you should have seen the people pour out of their rooms,” he declared. The blaze destroyed nine buildings before it was brought under control, Mr. Berg stated.
He worked in Canton as a carpenter, and later, obtained a job with a building crew which was constructing depots and warehouses along the railroad from Mason City, Iowa, to Chamberlain, S.D.
It was while thus employed that he had an encounter with the Indians at Pukwana, S.D. The crew was out of lumber one Saturday afternoon so he and another companion went out along the drive to enjoy a picnic. They were enjoying themselves, discussing various subjects, finally coming to the topic of Indians. About that time, Mr. Berg was looking in the distance, and there looking at them was an Indian. “We were plenty scared, but we didn’t let on we’d even seen him,” Mr. Berg said. “We left our lunch and began turning handsprings and summersaults, and acted like we were half crazy. All the while, though, we were getting closer to a little valley. The minute we got into the valley and out of sight, we beat it for home. We never did see the Indians again, but we didn’t go around for them either.”
When he came back to Luverne from Canton, he entered the employ of George Soutar, contractor and builder, with whom he worked two and one-half years before going into business on his “own hook.” Many of the buildings in Luverne have known the pounding of his hammer during the many years he was actively engaged as a builder. He retired about 12 years ago.
Mr. Berg was married in the old Presbyterian church here in 1884 to Anna Lee. They became the parents of six children, two of whom are living. They are Frank Berg, Minneapolis, and Mrs. Ruth Fanford, of near Beresford, S. Dak. He also has four grandchildren. Mrs. Berg died two years ago, and now he and his only brother, Thor, live at their home on East Lincoln street.
He has been in poor health for a number of years, suffering with asthma. For five and one half years, he never slept in anything but a chair, it being impossible for him to lie down. He is able to sleep in a bed now, however.
Mr. Berg is a member of Zion Lutheran church here and attends services regularly. He is interested in world affairs, and reads both daily and weekly newspapers and listens to the radio.
Discussing the war, and the world at large, Mr. Berg gave his philosophy as follows: “I don’t know if it will be in this war, or whether it will be something worse later on, but I’m afraid of the people if this country don’t mend their ways, they are going to suffer even more than they are now. We know how God punished the ungodly in early time because of their wrong doings, and He is the same God today as he was then.”
Mr. Berg says he never entered politics. “I was always too busy with my other work,” he declared.
         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: Nels Berg's life story begins in Norway

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 Nov. 4, 1943.
One of Luverne’s oldest living retired carpenters is Nels Berg, 85, who came here in 1881, and who with the exception of a few years spent in South Dakota and Iowa, has lived here ever since.
Mr. Berg learned his trade in Norway. His father, who was a stone mason by trade, but who also did some carpenter work, wanted him to learn the shoemaker’s trade, but the idea did not appeal to the young man, so he chose instead to become a carpenter. He served two and one-half years as an apprentice, receiving only his board and room while doing so. His training gave him considerable experience in the making of many different things. He states he helped to make coffins, boats, cabinets, weaving looms and furniture in addition to building frame structures of various kinds.
Mr. Berg was one of two sons of Mr. and Mrs. Ingebreckt Berg. He was born near the village of Drammen, Norway, May 13, 1858, and grew to young manhood in the land of his birth. He completed his common school education, and then attended high school until he no longer had funds to continue his studies. He clerked in a store for a short time, and then was employed by the postal department at $60 a year. The latter was considered a high wage for a young man of his age at that time, he states.
Speaking of his life in Norway, he recalls he earned the first money he could call his own by helping his father and another man rip logs into two-inch planks for use in ship building. He explained that the log would be placed on a high scaffold, with one man sawing from above and one from below. It was his job to drive a wedge into the log, at the end where the sawing had been started, to permit free movement of the saw at all times. His wages for the job amounted to two cents per day.
Mr. Berg states he came to the United States mainly to get out of serving a year with the army. Norway at that time had compulsory military training, and Mr. Berg states that he could see no reason at that time why he should learn to handle a gun and bayonet, so he took his brother’s advice and came to the United States.
“I really didn’t like the idea of coming to this country very much at first,” Mr. Berg stated. “Everything they said about America sounded too good, and I thought they were bragging about something they didn’t have. When my brother told me that I could come here and work a little while and earn enough to go back to Norway if I wanted to, I decided to take the chance. I’ve never been back to Norway, and have never regretted coming to this country. Although I’d have liked to have visited in the old country when I was younger, I was always too busy to go.”
He recalls that when he first came to Luverne, the post office was located where the Skoland residence is now, on east Main street. W. H. Glass was the postmaster, and in addition to his duties in that capacity, he operated a drug store in the same building. There were still two log houses here then, and William Jacobsen was in the mercantile business almost directly across the street from where the post office was.
The first four months in this country he was employed on a farm by Ole Haga in Vienna township. The fact that he could earn $20 a month served as an inducement for him to decide that America wasn’t such a bad place to live after all.
“Don’t get the idea a fellow didn’t have to work to earn his money though,” Mr. Berg declared. “I’d be up at 4 or 4:30 in the morning, and would work until 9 and 10 o’clock at night. That fall, I broke 100 acres of prairie with oxen.
(Continued next week.)

1943: John, Gertrude Iverson make Hardwick their home

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 October 11, 1943.
Two of Hardwick’s oldest residents, and two of its most respected citizens are Mr. and Mrs. John B. Iverson. As business man and postmaster, Mr. Iverson has watched the progress of the village since its infancy, and as his wife, Mrs. Iverson, too, has noted many changes since she came to Rock county as a bride in the 1880’s.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Iverson were born in Norway, but it wasn’t until they came to the United States that they became acquainted and were married.
Mr. Iverson was born near Oslo, the son of Edward and Kristina Ulrang, on February 5, 1863. His father was a farmer, and as Norway had little to offer a farmer’s son in the way of opportunity, he and two neighbor boys decided to come to the United States. At that time he was 16 years old. Of the three, Mr. Iverson was the only one who remained to make Rock county his home. He worked for an uncle near Luverne for two years, earning enough money so that he was able to go to St. Olaf college. He had obtained a common school education in Norway, and in two years, had learned enough of the American language so that he felt fitted to attend school in this country. It was while he was at Northfield that he met Gertrude Oldre, and at Faribault, on March 9, 1885, they were married.
Shortly, thereafter, they came to Rock county and settled on a farm in Battle Plain township, living there for five years before moving to Hardwick. Hardwick, then, was hardly more than an overgrown farm place. For a number of years in the late 1880’s, there were no business places except a station where grain was purchased by Otter Otterson, and a blacksmith shop operated by Engebret Olson. In 1891 the first building of permanent character was erected. The following year several businesses were established, and the townsite was surveyed that fall. From that time on, Hardwick continued to be a prosperous town.
Mr. Iverson was one of the town’s first merchants, and operated a general mercantile store for 13 years. In 1902 he built a brick business block which he later sold so that he could devote his full time to his duties as postmaster. His appointment was made in the spring of 1897 by President McKinley, and he held the position until he retired in 1940.
When the village of Hardwick was incorporated in 1898, Mr. Iverson was elected the first president of the village council, an office to which he was re-elected for four terms. All in all, he served about 30 years in various capacities on the city council, and was clerk for 20 years or more of the Hardwick school district.
Mrs. Iverson was born at Valdres, Norway, in August, 1860. She attended the public schools there, and because she was the oldest of five girls in her family, it fell her lot to learn how to make clothing for the family. She could spin and knit at the age of 12, and also learned how to weave.
Every article of clothing worn by the family at that time, she states, was made by hand. Home grown wool was carded and spun, and later woven into cloth or knitted into garments of various kinds.
­She left home at the age of 20 to come to Northfield where an uncle and a brother lived. She was employed there until she was married.
Mrs. Iverson fell several years ago and fractured her hip. She is able to get around with crutches, and spends considerable time knitting for her friends and others. The trouble now, she says, is the difficulty of getting the yarn she wants.
Although there have been many changes throughout the world, Mrs. Iverson states she still retains one possession that she had when she left Norway. That is her faith in God. Mrs. Iverson and her husband are members of Immanuel Lutheran church in Luverne.
Mr. and Mrs. Iverson were the parents of seven children, five of whom are now living. They are E. U. Iverson, Pipestone; Howard Iverson, Groton, S.D.; Mrs. William Kartrude, Sioux Falls; Mrs. Rudolph Juhl, Luverne and Mrs. John H. Jensen, Luverne.
Two sons, Henry and Albert, died this year, the former at Jasper, late last winter, and the later at Wadena on August 12.
As far as Mr. Iverson knows, he has one sister living in Norway. She is two years older than he is. Mrs. Iverson, one of a family of nine, has one sister, Mrs. Inga Remme, Kenyon, Minn.
         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: Diamond Club member Anna Varah continues her life story

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 October 14, 1943.
(Hardwick resident Mrs. Anna Varah continues her story from last week.)
The Ostreich family lived in Clayton county nine years and from there moved to Delaware county, Iowa, where they lived until 1885 when they came to Rock county, settling in Clinton township, just north of the Iowa line.
On September 28, 1887, she was married to James E. Varah, by a justice of the peace in Lyon county, Iowa. According to Mrs. Varah, Mr. Varah at that time was not permitted to be married in Minnesota because an Iowa law at that time forbade its residents from marrying outside the state.
They lived in Lyon county the first winter, and there experienced the famous blizzard of 1888. They had plenty of snow, Mrs. Varah declared, and it was extremely cold.
The next spring, they moved to a farm east of Ashcreek, where they lived for five years. From there, they moved to Murray county where they farmed until 1898 when they moved to a farm in Battle Plain township, five miles east of Hardwick. While operating a corn picker one day in the fall of 1914, Mr. Varah lost his hand and the following spring they moved to Hardwick.
They had no children of their own, but they took Truby De Vinney as a boy, and reared him.
One remarkable fact about her family, Mrs. Varah stated, is that there are still nine children living out of a family of 12. Her brothers and sisters include Mrs. E. S. Barker, Willmar; Mrs. Charles Mc Gowan, Pipestone; Mrs. Martha Raymond, Delaware county, Ia.; Mrs. Howard Adams, Suffolk, Mont.; Herman Ostreich, Leboth, S.D.; Paul Ostreich, Cromwell, Minn., and Henry Ostreich, Pennock, Minn.
Mrs. Varah is still very active. She kept a big garden this summer, and did considerable canning. She also raises a few chickens. One of her favorite pastimes is crocheting dish towels for her friends, and she also pieces quilts for others. During the last war, she did considerable sewing and knitting for the Red Cross, but thus far, she has not done any of that type of work during this war, she stated.
         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: Varah's start to life was helped by maple sugar water

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 October 14, 1943.
This may sound funny, but Mrs. Anna Varah, Hardwick, swears it’s the truth. She owes her life to maple syrup water.
Born in Clayton county, Iowa, Dec. 25, 1869, the daughter of William and Rosella Ostreich, she was a mere baby when she became very ill. The physician from Elkader, who was called to care for her, prescribed maple syrup water as her only medicine. She eventually recovered, after she had once been considered dead. She was so ill that she lay motionless and cold, and was given up by the family. However, when they began to bathe her with warm water, she began showing signs of life, and she is still lively to this day. Because of her illness, she was unable to walk until she was three years old.
Her family lived on the Big Turkey river, in Clayton county, and she recalls that the river often provided them with fish for the family table. One catfish her father landed, she relates, touched the ground and he was carrying it over his shoulder.
She attended public school but little, because she was third oldest of a family of 12, and her help was required at home. “I got some schooling,” she states, “but I forgot about everything I did learn, which wasn’t much.”
As a girl she helped her father with the farm work. When he cut the small grain with a “cradle,” her brother raked it together, her mother bound it into bundles, and she would gather the bundles together and would set them in a shock.
She had planted corn, dropping three kernels at a time by hand. In those days, no one thought of using a cultivator, she states. All the corn was kept clean with a hoe, and a hoe was also used in planting and covering the corn.
Their farm was a clearing in a wooded area. The settlers had no money to buy wire fencing so they made rail fences from the available timber, to keep the cattle from going into the fields. “Sometimes the cows would get smart,” said Mrs. Varah, “and they’d learn the crotches in the posts. Then they’d get into the fields, and we’d have a lot of trouble.”
One cow in each herd, she added, would always have a bell so that the cattle could be located in the timber land where they were pastured.
Local sugar shortages are considered a joke by Mrs. Varah. “Why, we’d go a year at a time, and even more, without seeing a grain of white sugar,” she stated. “Father raised sorghum, and we’d tap the maple trees in the spring and get maple sugar and that’s all.”
Farmers raised a few hogs, and in the early days, they butchered them out during the winter time. She recalls neighbors would have “regular slaughtering bees” at which time, several farmers worked together killing several head of hogs. These would be stored in huge coolers for some time, until they were frozen solid, and then would be hauled like cordwood to town from where they were shipped to the market.
Later, when more hogs were being raised, the farmers would get together and drive them to the stockyard in their town from where they would be shipped to the packers. Mrs. Varah remembers how much trouble the men often had in driving them across the bridge across the Big Turkey river. Many times, they would have to make them swim across, when they would start across the plank flooring of the bridge. Mrs. Varah pointed out that making a hog swim is dangerous, as they are naturally poor swimmers, and often cut their own throats with the hooves on their front feet.

1943: Welzenbach continues his life story

By Betty Mann, Rock County Historian
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 October 14, 1943.
John Welzenbach, Luverne…was Early Day Cigar Maker (continued)
He liked Luverne the minute he stepped off the train, he stated. Causing him to have a favorable impression on the community from the start was the fact that there were at that time numerous bird dogs in the city. Being a lover of the out of doors, and enjoying hunting and fishing, he knew that Luverne could not be a backward western town if its residents were lovers of fine dogs.
         Mr. Welzenbach lived on the farm for 29 years before retiring and moving to Luverne. While on the farm, he served as treasurer for school district 50 for 26 years, and as treasurer of Mound township for 24 years. For the past 12 years, he has been treasurer for the Beaver Creek Mutual Fire Insurance company, a position he still holds.
         Since boyhood, Mr. Welzenbach stated, he had two ambitions. One was to see the source of the Mississippi, and the other to see his birthplace in Germany. Both aspirations became reality.
Visits Birthplace
         It was in 1928 that he and his brother made the trip back to Bavaria. Hausen, the village in which he was born, had added but three houses since they had left there 60 years previous. With plenty of time to travel, Mr. Welzenbach and his brother visited all the villages in that area, traveling from one to the other with horse and buggy.
         “Germany was getting along nicely at that time,” Mr. Welzenbach said, “and if the people had just been left alone to work things out for themselves, they’d have been all right today.”
         Mr. Welzenbach’s father had been a miller in Germany, and while visiting there, they saw the mill which their father had operated six decades previous.
         “Because father was a business man, he was lucky enough to obtain a hunting license, a privilege few villagers had,” Mr. Welzenbach explained. “For that reason, people back in father’s time called the mill “’Hunter’s Mill’, and that name was still used when we visited there.”
Visited Main Cities
       During their stay, they visited 12 of Germany’s principal cities, and also went to Paris. They also made a trip on the river Rhine from Mainz to Cologne. River banks were terraced and were planted to grapes and hops. “That was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen,” Mr. Welzenbach said.
         Mr. Welzenbach was married in Davenport, Iowa, to Lizzie Kuehl, on October 29, 1896. They became the parents of six children, five of whom are living. They are William, Wolf Point, Mont.; Arnold, Mound township; Mrs. John (Alice) Steffen, Hardwick; Mrs. Herman (Edna) Thorson, Luverne, and Pvt. Harvey Welzenbach, Camp Crowder, Mo. They also have 13 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
         Mr. Welzenbach has one half-brother and a sister living. They are Joe Welzenbach, Omaha, and Mrs. Mary Miller, Davenport, Iowa.
         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: Welzenbach used to work as cigar maker in Iowa

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 October 14, 1943.
John Welzenbach, Luverne…was Early Day Cigar Maker
         Old time cigar smokers well remember the famous “Brown Beauty” and “Speckled Trout” cigars, but it may be a surprise to many of them to know that a Luverne man, John Welzenbach, once helped make them in a Davenport, Iowa, cigar factory.
         A carpenter’s son, Mr. Welzenbach had little choice but to learn a trade of some kind. As there was an opening in the cigar factory, he served his apprenticeship, and continued in that line of work for 15 years. Then, his health was endangered so he quit and moved to Rock county where he started farming.
         Mr. Welzenbach was born in Bavaria, Germany, October 18, 1868, the son of Anton and Barbara Welzenbach. At the age of three, he came with them to the United States and grew to young manhood in Davenoort, Iowa. He attended the public schools, but because he belonged to what he terms the “proletariat,” he had to begin earning his own money early in life.
Weeded Onions
         One of his first salary jobs as a boy was weeding onions in the big onion fields near Davenport. He was about 12 or 13 years old at the time. Anyone who has done any weed pulling at all can well imagine how difficult a task he had. “We’d work on our hands and knees 10 hours a day for 25 cents a day,” Mr. Welzenbach states, “and man, would the backs of our ears be sunburned and blistered!” Later, he was promoted from weed pulling to “topping” the onions. This was a more specialized job, and carried with it a salary increase of 75 cents a day, boosting his total earnings to $1.00 a day.
         One summer, he hired out to a farmer to herd cows, and if he had his way about it, he’d have been a farmer from the start, because he always liked working in the open so well. But at the insistence of his parents, he began learning the cigar making trade, and although he didn’t make it his life’s work, it did provide him with experience that he perhaps never would have had otherwise.
         For instance, in the fall of 1895, when the work was slack, he together with his brother and a friend pooled their resources and bought a cabin boat and travelled down the Mississippi river from Davenport to St. Louis. “We had all the comforts of home,” Mr. Welzenbach states, “and as long as we were not pressed for time, we were in no hurry to reach our destination. The current of the river and the wind was all the power we had. All we had to do was to guide the boat to keep it in the center of the channel. Once in a while, we’d use our sweeps (a form of an oar) to go to shore where we would do a little hunting, we’d anchor occasionally if the weather was rough. It took us six weeks to get to St. Louis, and we really had a dandy trip. After we got there, we sold our boat and came back by train, just in time to go back to work again.”
Came Here in 1900
         When he was advised to get out of the cigar factory to protect his health, he immediately decided to begin farming. Being unable to rent a place in Iowa, he came to Minnesota, where his brother-in-law lived. Here, he found, he was able to buy a farm out of his savings, so he made a deal for the purchase of the southwest quarter of section 14 in Mound township. He moved there in March, 1900, and since then, has been a Rock county resident.
(Welzenbach's story continues next week.)

1943: Boisen owned Luverne's first 'juke' box

Christian Boisen, Luverne, Owned Luverne’s First “Juke” Box
      Although there is no sworn statement on file, it is believed that Chris Boisen, Luverne, had Luverne’s first “juke” box. Before going any farther, it might be well to explain that the “nickelodeon” brought here by Mr. Boisen could hardly be compared with the gaily colored coin phonographs of today, but it cost as much, perhaps, and proved just as popular as the modern machine.
         Mr. Boisen had purchased an Edison phonograph, one of the earliest models, and was in Rock Rapids when an acquaintance induced him to come here to display his machine. It was a crude affair, but a money maker. Fifteen rubber tubes emanated from the sound chamber. By putting the tubes into their ears, eight customers with one tube in each ear could listen to their favorite recording at one time. The 15th tube was used by the operator of the machine so that he could tell if the record was playing properly or not. Boisen charged his patrons five cents to listen to one record, or they could hear three for a dime. He did quite a business at those prices, he recalls.
         The equipment represented considerable investment. The machine itself cost $360 and the records cost $2.00 each.
         The experience with the phonograph, however, is but one of many interesting experiences in Mr. Boisen’s life. He was born Sept. 18, 1868, near Flensburg, Germany, a seaport city of 150,000 located on the Baltic Sea and bordering Denmark at the north edge of the city. His father was a blacksmith by trade, and during the Danish war, he shod horses for the army. He was a skilled workman, and specialized in fine work such as cutlery, etc. His parents died when he was a boy, and at the age of six, he went to live with his sister. At that time, he was able to speak the Danish language, but as the law forbade the speaking of Danish in the city where his sister lived, he soon forgot most of it. He can still say a few words in Danish, however, but he speaks both high and low German, in addition to English.
         In 1879 he came to Brooklyn, New York, on a ship which had been built in his home town. As a matter of fact, he was in the ship when it first went down the scaffold. At that time, the piers of the great Brooklyn bridge were just being completed, and he recalls driving a team onto a ferry boat, crossing the river, loading the wagon with supplies at a market, and then coming back, when he worked for a short time for a storekeeper.
         He went out one night with a fisherman friend with whom he stayed to get oysters, and states that he was really frightened when the man pulled in a giant sea turtle about three feet in diameter. The oysters, too, were extra large, and while in Brooklyn he learned to eat oysters prepared in many different ways, “I’ve eaten them in soup; I’ve eaten them chopped fine and put on pancakes and I’ve eaten them fried. I’ll tell you, those were real oysters,” he declared.
         He spent several hectic hours in Brooklyn one Decoration day, he recalls. He loved music, and when the band paraded in the street, he began following it until he became lost. He didn’t know what to do for some time, so he kept following it until it again passed the place where he had first seen it. He had enough band music, for that day, he relates, so he went home.
         His brother, who lived at Luzerne, Iowa, insisted that he come to live with him, so he reluctantly left Brooklyn. After coming to Iowa, he attended school, and later was confirmed there.
                  The first winter he was in Iowa was one of the most severe he ever experienced. Under normal conditions, 56 trains passed through the town of Luzerne in 24 hours. After the blizzard struck, there wasn’t a train in the town for a whole week. There were no snow plows in those days, and the only thing that could be done was to shovel cut the cuts, and try to force the locomotive through the snow banks by sheer force of power. Mr. Boisen recalls how two locomotives had a “running start” of two miles, and then hit a snow filled pass. Another locomotive had come up from the rear and pulled them back by a cable.

1943: Herbert continues his Diamond Club Story

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 September 23, 1943.
(Continued from last week, where Herbert recounted his 1888 blizzard experience.)
With the clotheslines to follow, the neighbor was able to bring his family to the Herbert home.
Worked in Harness Shop
Here he worked as foreman in the shop for Burley and Kennicott. After three years, Kennicott was in full charge of the business and he was employed by him for 10 years. He was a shop mate of the late Ed Lynch for 12 years, and later worked for him in his own shop. He went to Alden, Minn., where he remained one year working at his trade, then he came back and worked 12 years for Steve Kennedy and three years for John Albert. On March 1, 1919, he opened his own shoe repair shop in the rear of what then was the Handy grocery, and what now is the Schlader jewelry building. This he operated until going to California in February, 1928. He opened a shop in San Fernando, and after his wife’s death on May 15, 1929, he moved to North Hollywood where he is still proprietor of “Dad Herbert’s” shoe repair shop.
Racing was one of Mr. Herbert’s favorite sports in his younger days. When he was a boy of nine, he rode on the first half mile race track at the Minnesota state fair. For three seasons, he rode for a horse owner named Dilley, and when the latter was ruled from further competition from the track, Mr. Herbert’s horse racing days were over.
Won But Lost
The account of the last race as related by Mr. Herbert is interesting. Seven horses were entered in a seven heat race. His horse, a buckskin mustang, won three of the races, and a spotted horse, ridden by a Negro boy, also had won three. The other horse dropped out, leaving the two of them to finish the last race alone.
“That crazy horse I was riding got Mr. Dilley ruled off the race track,” Mr. Herbert relates. “It was one of the fastest horses I’ve ever been on, and also one of the most unpredictable. It would just as soon run right through a crowd as go around a curve at the end of the track. In this particular race, I was about three lengths ahead of the other horse. Just a few feet from the finish line, the buckskin came to a dead stop. It happened so fast that I went right over its head, and landed on the other side of the finish line ahead of the other horse, but my horse still hadn’t crossed the line. The owners of the two horses, and the judges had quite a discussion about the whole thing, and finally, the victory was awarded my horse, but only on condition that Mr. Dilley would never race another horse on that track.”
On Fire Hose Team
Foot racing was also a favorite sport of Mr. Herbert, who said that one time he would just as soon have run a foot race as to go fishing. After coming to Luverne, he joined the Luverne fire department, and was a member of the hose cart team that won the world’s championship in a tournament in Pipestone in 1895, by running 200 yards, laying 150 feet of hose and making the coupling in 26 and one-fifth seconds. Mr. Herbert was not one of the runners, but served as one of two “bracers” as they were called; men who braced the wheels just as the race was about to begin. Only a few of those men are living at the present time, he said, among whom are Al Angell and Jim Wiggins of Luverne, Jean Barck, Spokane, and Ed Bronson, who lives in Idaho. Mr. Herbert served as a member of the fire department for about 20 years.
Mr. Herbert became the father of four children, three of whom are living at the present time. They are Mrs. A. B. Cowan, Luverne; Mrs. Maude M. Smith, North Hollywood, and Horace G. Herbert, also of North Hollywood.
Nicknamed “Waxie”
He explained that his son, Horace, was known more generally by the nickname, “Waxie”. After his second son, Horace grew older, it developed that he acquired the name “Little Waxie,” his brother became “Big Waxie,” and Mr. Herbert himself became “Old Waxie”.
On Nov. 11, 1939, Mr. Herbert remarried, his wife being Anna Mattison. She is here with him at the present time, and they expect to leave today for their home in North Hollywood.
In addition to his children, his direct descendants include five grandsons and two great granddaughters. He has three brothers and one sister living; Charley Herbert and John Herbert, both of Sioux Falls, Cort Herbert, Galesburg, Wis. and Mrs. Fletcher Alger, of Sioux Falls.
He attributes his long life to hard work and having lots of fun. Always a lover of sports, his hobbies until later years have been hunting and fishing. His health is still good, he says, as a recent medical examination revealed that he was as “fit” as a fiddle.”
He was never greatly interested in politics, and has never held a public office. He is affiliated with the AOUW lodge, of which he has been a member for 35 years.
         Donations to the Rock County Historical Society can be sent to the Rock County Historical Society, 312 E. Main Street, Luverne, MN 56156.
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1943: Diamond Club turns spotlight to Art Herbert

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 September 23, 1943.
Maybe you knew him as the “shoemaker in back of the Handy grocery.” Or maybe as the man who made harness for Burley and Kennicott. Perhaps you will recall him as one of the members of the Luverne fire hose team that won the world’s championship back in 1895. Or maybe as “Big Waxie” Herbert, the man with the inevitable cigar in his mouth.
Anyway, he’s been back in Luverne for the past two weeks, visiting his daughter, Mrs. A. B. Cowan and to those of his many old friends and acquaintances that didn’t get to see him, we’ll say, “here’s Art Herbert, cigar and all, and he missed seeing you, not because he wanted to, but because he didn’t have the time.”
Almost 80 Years Old
Mr. Herbert, who is lacking just three months of being 80 years old, decided he’d earned a vacation so he closed his shoe repair shop in North Hollywood, and he and his wife boarded a train for Luverne. “Sure, business was good,” he said, “but it will be good when I get back, too. The shop would stand if I was dead and gone, so it should be there if I get back. If it goes up in smoke in the meantime, that’s all right too. A fellow’s got to have a little fun once in a while.”
And fun he has been having since he’s been here, especially shaking hands with his former acquaintances. “Took me two hours to get from the Handy Grocery corner to Nelson’s store one day,” he declared. “After that trip, my wife told my daughter if she ever wanted to go up town to do some shopping she’d better not take me along if she was in any hurry.”
Lived Here 40 Years
Mr. Herbert was a Luverne resident for 40 years, having come here in 1888, and having left for California in 1928. He lived in various places before coming here as a young man. Born in Celk, Quebec, Canada, Dec. 22, 1863, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Anderson Herbert, he came to the United States with his parents in 1865. His first home in this country was at Ft. Snelling, Minn. While living there, his father helped build the first bridge across the Mississippi river from Ft. Snelling to St. Paul. From Ft. Snelling, they moved to Lakeville, south of Minneapolis, and from there to Farmington, where they lived until 1878. Mr. Herbert’s father was a blacksmith.
With considerable land still open to homesteading in the area west of Sioux Falls, the Herberts left Farmington and moved to the vicinity of Wall Lake, S.D.
The trip was made by covered wagon, and from Mankato to Worthington, they travelled with a wagon train consisting of 36 wagons. All but the Herberts were bound for Nebraska. Some of the wagons were covered with blankets. At night, they would form a circle with the cattle on the inside to prevent their straying away. For a boy of 15, that was a great experience, Mr. Herbert recalls. Days were always filled with excitement, and the nights proved enjoyable because a man with a fiddle and another with an accordion provided music for the group.
Hauled Lumber 40 Miles
Lumber for their new home on their homestead was hauled from Beaver Creek, because the railroad had as yet come as far as Sioux Falls. Mr. Herbert’s father hauled two car loads of lumber and two carloads of machinery by wagon, a distance of 40 odd miles.
Until their new home was built, they lived in a tent. A heavy, wet snow fell in April, causing their tent to fall down on them while they slept one night. That was an experience that Mr. Herbert will never forget.
The days I spent on the Dakota prairie were the happiest days of my life,” states Mr. Herbert. “Lots of times I’d go for six months and never see another woman’s face except my mother’s and sisters. Occasionally we’d see Indians, and wild game was plentiful. Every once in a while, my brother and I’d go out and shoot an antelope in the hills. Fish, especially big bullheads and perch, filled Wall Lake so for a kid that loved the out-of-doors, that was real country.”
Began Learning Trade
In the spring of 1881, he went to Sioux Falls to learn a trade. He wanted to be a blacksmith, but there were openings for an apprentice at that time. There was an opening in a harness shop, owned and operated by John McGee, so he went to work. The first year, he earned $25 and received his board. The second year, his salary was increased to $75. He was to have received $100 his third year, but he figured he knew enough about the business then to go out and get a job for himself so he quit. He went to Parker where he worked as a journeyman for two years, and from there went to Hartford, where he lived about a year. There he met and married Minnie Schultz, on Dec. 12, 1885. From there he went to Sioux Falls, and remained there until coming to Luverne on July 15, 1888.
Mr. Herbert was helping shovel snow from the railroad track at Parker at the time the famous blizzard of January 12, 1888, struck. During the morning, the weather was so warm that the men were working in their shirt sleeves. At 1 p.m. the station agent at Parker told the crews that they shouldn’t go out that afternoon as a blizzard was reported at Mitchell. The storm struck at 2 p.m. and at 4 p.m. the temperature had dropped to 44 below zero.
He states that he started walking home a distance of 10 blocks, and he didn’t reach there for two hours. After reaching home, he heard his next door neighbor calling, and he found that the latter’s chimney had blown off his house. Both he and his neighbor tied their clotheslines to door knobs of their respective homes and then fumbled their way through the blinding snow until they reached a clothesline post between the two places.
(Continues Next Week)