Skip to main content

You must log in to continue reading. Log in or subscribe today.

1943: David E. Payne is one of Luverne pioneer presidents

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.
This article appeared in the April 15, 1943, edition of The Rock County Star Herald.   
Helping to move the buildings of an entire village using only oxen as motivating power, earning his own living at the age of eight, and helping to thresh 16 seven load stacks of grain in a day are but a few of the many experiences of David E. Payne, one of Luverne’s pioneer presidents.
Mr. Payne was born near Oshkosh, Wis., 30 miles from Lake Michigan, May 2, 1865, just 15 days after Abraham Lincoln died, and was left motherless at the age of four. His father was remarried to a widow, who had two sons just enough older than Mr. Payne to be able to “beat the stuffings” out of him whenever they felt the urge.
When he was about eight years old, he states, he decided he’d taken it long enough, so he brought the matter to his father’s attention. “I didn’t get as much satisfaction from father,” Mr. Payne said. “He didn’t seem to be much concerned with my troubles so I decided it was best for me to go someplace else.
“The next morning I got out of bed early, tucked two school books under my arm and with just a few clothes, I started out from home. I didn’t have the slightest idea where I was going, but I knew I’d be taken in somewhere, so I wasn’t really much worried.”
As souvenir of that morning, Mr. Payne still has in his possession one of the books, a primer, that he carried with him when he left home.
He went to a neighbor’s place, and he agreed to hire him at $5 per month for nine months. That he had the old-fashioned respect for a parent despite any differences that might have existed between them, is evidenced by the fact that he told his employer to “go see Dad and let him tell you if you are to pay me or him.”
This his employer did, and the father said, “If the kid wants to work, pay him. All I ask is that he grows up to be a man among men and that he pays his just debts like a white man.”
“That’s something I never forgot,” Mr. Payne states, “and I’ve tried to live up to that the best I could all my life.”
His employer was evidently satisfied with his work, for at the end of the year, instead of paying him $5 per month as he had agreed to do, he paid him $6. He worked there for five years, getting a couple of dollars raise per month each year. During the slack season he attended school.
“No football or basketball playing for me after school,” he declares. “I was introduced to the buck saw both before and after school for recreation.”
Mr. Payne remembers well the Wisconsin logging days, but he recalls one thing in particular—how low the living costs were for lumber jacks when they were not working. In those days, according to Mr. Payne, every saloon had a bar along one side, and a lunch counter on the other. All a man had to do to get a lunch was buy a glass of beer and help himself to what there was to eat on the lunch counter. He knew men, that lived on three glasses of beer a day and the free lunches that went with them.
At the age of 16 he went to visit his sister who lived on a farm near Fargo. Then he obtained work with a Minneapolis construction firm, but when they wanted him to go to Duluth in the dead of winter to help build a dock he quit his job.
One of the most interesting experiences he ever had was helping to move the village of Cogswell, N.D. to its present site from its former location a mile away. Buildings of all sizes and shapes, even some elevators as “big as any in town here,” were moved during a three month period. Twenty-eight yoke of oxen were used to drag the heavy structures. When the moving was finished, the town looked just as it had previously. The streets were identical, and the buildings were located exactly as they had been on the original site. Reason for moving the town, Payne said, was so that it could be on an important cross road.
This article will continue in next week’s edition of the Rock County 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: Diamond Club features Tom Knudtson

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.
This article appeared in the April 15, 1943 edition of The Rock County Star Herald.
         Skiing, now a popular winter sport in Minnesota, served a practical purpose as well as being a form of recreation for Tom Knudtson, Luverne, when he was a boy.
Living on a farm at Bjolland, near Christiansand, in Norway, Mr. Knudtson would strap on his skis and speed down a mountainside to school about a mile away. The place where he was born was about five miles from the sea and in the timber country. Although the surroundings were beautiful, Mr. Knudtson felt that an opportunity for a successful future could be found only in America, so he left home at the age of 22.
Mr. Knudtson was one of seven children and was born March 22, 1865. He was christened Torkel, but after coming to this country he has used the name Tom.
He had hardly reached school age before he was put to work, helping with the wood cutting, cattle herding and other tasks. The first money he ever earned that he could call his own was a small amount which he received from a neighbor for helping to plant potatoes. Later, he received the income that was produced by two of the cows in the herd which he watched while they grazed on the mountainside.
A sister who lived in Sioux City induced him to make his decision to leave the land of his birth. With another young man, he set out for the United States, and one day in the spring of 1887, they stepped off the train at the Rock Island depot here. Mr. Knudtson distinctly remembers that they had no one here to meet them and that they made two trips from the depot to the business district, carrying their trunks.
Mr. Knudtson had $10 in his pocket—more than his companion had. “You’ll get along right with that much more,” his companion stated, and Mrs. Knudtson agrees that the prediction came true.
The first year he was in Rock county, he worked at several different jobs. He recalls how Ole Iveland at one time took him in an oxcart to the brick yard to get a job. He didn’t get one, and in walking back to Luverne, he took the wrong railroad track. When he realized the fact, he was almost to Kanaranzi, so had to walk back.
He worked first for Jens Haugetum, on a farm about two miles south of Luverne. It was there he milked his first cow. In Norway it was always the custom that the women folk did the milking, and for that reason, he had no training along that line endeavor.
Later, he obtained a job on the Ole Hanson farm near Ashcreek. When asked what wages he wanted, he said $25 a month.
“To my surprise,” Mr. Knudtson said, “I got it.” As a matter of fact, I was so ashamed when I asked for that much, that I looked down on the ground instead of at Mr. Hanson.
“I worked there until fall, then got a job helping build the railroad into Steen. That winter, the winter of the big blizzard, I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Knute Aanenson in their dugout. I saved $100 during the summer so I felt pretty good about my first year in this country.”
Mr. Knudtson then obtained a job working for T. P. Grout in Beaver Creek township. Up until that time, whenever he wanted to go to town, he would have to walk. Mr. Grout, however, permitted him to use one of his horses to ride, and that pleased him as much as it would a farm hand today if his employer would give him his gasoline coupon book and tell him to use the new car whenever he wanted it.
“Even though I had a horse to ride, I didn’t go very much,” Mr. Knudtson states. “In those early days, about the only time a young fellow would ever go to town would be on the Fourth of July.”
After working for Mr. Grout, he went to work for LaDues, near Luverne, who had many cattle. For six years, he did the milking on the La Due farm, then he bought a quarter section in Vienna township. Five years later, he lost his property in the Depression, and after that came to Luverne where he worked at several jobs before going back to farming, this time in Clinton township. After 10 years, he bought a farm there and lived there until 1935 when he retired and moved to Luverne.
Mr. Knudtson was married to Anna Hollekim in Luverne on Nov. 15, 1900. They became the parents of five children, three of whom are living. Thy are Mrs. Alvin Olson, Luverne; Mrs. Ragnvald Nelson, Clinton township and Mrs. Olivia Moldenhauer, Chicago. They have five grandchildren.
Mr. Knudtson is a member of the Lutheran Free church and helped organize the Zion Lutheran congregation in Luverne.
Thinking back over the years which have come and gone since his friend told him, “You’ll get along here all right,” Mr. Knudtson declared, “God has been good to me all these years, and I’m thankful for it.”
One year, he went back to Norway, but was glad to return to the United States. “I think this is the best country in the world,” he said, “and when I went back to Norway, I realized it all the more. I never had any desire to return to Norway to live, even if it was my motherland.”
One of a family of seven children, Mr. Knudtson has two sisters, Mrs. Esther Chesley of Denver and Mrs. Anna Haugen, who lives in Canada. Before the outbreak of the war, he had a brother still living in Norway.
         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: Mina Carlisle of Battle Plain Township featured Diamond Club member

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.
This article appeared in the April 1, 1943, edition of The Rock County Star Herald.
         The term “cost of production” is an expression which brings back memories to Mrs. Mina Carlisle of Battle Plain township, who lives there on a farm with her son, Elmer Pierson. To have received most of production one of those hard years in the ’20s would have seen money in the pockets of the farmers who battled drought and depression at the same time with all the odds against them.
They would have felt they were literally rolling in wealth if they could have had the “cost plus 10 percent,” the economic profit scale of this era, but let Mrs. Carlisle tell you in her own words what was the plight of her father, a farmer in Iowa. She says:
“One year, our wheat crop yielded three bushels per acre. We had sowed one and one-half bushels of seed per acre and had paid $2 a bushel for the seed. Father was sick that year, so we had to hire help at $3 a day, and had to hire some of the grain cut at $1.25 an acre. When we sold the wheat, we received 45 cents a bushel for it, so you can see how much profit we got out of our crop. All we got was the straw, and there wasn’t much of that. Those really were hard times.”
Mrs. Carlisle was born Dec. 25, 1862, in Holmes county, Ohio, the daughter of Martin and Delila VanSwearingen. She moved with her family to Iowa when she was a young girl, and lived in that state until 1921 when she came to Rock county to make her home.
If St. Patrick had driven the snakes out of Ireland he must have chased them into Iowa, because Mrs. Carlisle states there were plenty of them in her community when she was a girl. She recalls that on one occasion, she killed one that measured five feet in length and five inches in diameter. First she tried using a hoe, but when she apparently wasn’t having any success, she used an ax.
She distinctly remembers the blizzard of 1881. The storm lasted three days and three nights, and when it was over, the drifts were even with the eaves of the house. When they wanted to go any place, they had to detour in all directions because of the snow’s great depth. That winter was one of the longest and hardest Mrs. Carlisle ever experienced. As she recalls it now, there were but few days when it was not either snowing or blowing or both. Spring came very late, and all the snow did not thaw away until late in April. They began sowing their wheat on April 27, she recalls, and that was the year they had the small crop.
She recalls she earned her first dollars as a girl doing housework. Her salary was $1.50 per week.
March 29, 1885, she was married at Carroll, Ia., to Albert B. Pierson. They lived on a farm and became the parents of two children, Elmer J. Pierson of near Edgerton and John who died in infancy. Mr. Pierson lost his life in a hunting accident when her son Elmer was 10 years old.
On Dec. 30, 1907, she married C. H. Carlisle, at Manning, Ia., and after her marriage, she lived in Manning where Mr. Carlisle was on the police force. After his death in 1921, she came to Minnesota to live with her son Elmer on the farm near Edgerton. The years she spent in Manning, Mrs. Carlisle states, are the only years of her life that were not spent on a farm.
Mrs. Carlisle has four grandchildren, Louis J. Pierson, Albert B. Pierson, Mrs. Vione Stamman and Bernice Pierson, and three great-grandchildren Gary C. Stamman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Stamman, and Gail, Janice and Wesley Louis, children of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Pierson.
Mrs. Carlisle’s favorite hobby is piecing quilts and quilting, although she also knits and braids many rag rugs, not only for herself but for her grandchildren and others.
Although she has been hard of hearing since she was nine years old, she has not been handicapped because she has learned to read lip movements. “For this ability I am very thankful,” she says, “as it has enabled me to carry on a good conversation with anyone.”
Of eight children in her father’s family, she and six others are still living. Her brothers and sisters include: Sam VanSwearingen, Happy, Tex.; Elmer Van Swearingen, Spirit Lake, Ia.; Mrs. Lillie Grundmeier, Hines; Mrs. Dicea Wilson, Marshalltown, Ia. and Mrs. Viantha Scheiber, Lake Benton.
Mrs. Carlisle has had good health all her life, and to this and to the fact that she has worked hard, she attributes her long life.
She is a member of the Presbyterian church.
         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: Edward Byrne remembers traveling to Iowa at age 17

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.
This article appeared in the March 25, 1943, edition of The Rock County Star Herald.
         When Edward Byrne, Luverne, came west from Iowa to settle, South Dakota was still a part of Dakota Territory. A lot of people, who had heard of the rich prairie land open to homesteaders in the territory, moved out of Iowa in immigrant trains at that time, and joining the throng was Mr. Byrne and his brother. He was then only 17 years old.
         Mr. Byrne was born March 18, 1865, in a log house in Alamakee county, in the northeast corner of Iowa. His parents, Lawrence and Bridget Hart Byrne, were natives of Ireland who came first to Quebec, Canada, and then to Iowa to live.
         They settled not far from the Mississippi river, and at that time, the land in that area was covered with timber. Unusually fine trees were cleared by the settlers so they could begin raising crops, Mr. Byrne states. Now comparatively rare, the walnut tree, butter nut trees, three kinds of oak and basswood trees would be cut down just to get them out of the road.
         Mr. Byrne was a boy of 10 when he began earning his own money. He received 25 cents a day for planting corn by hand. The fields were marked out in squares, and wherever lines crossed, the person or persons doing the planting had to drop two or three kernels of corn. After some practice, Mr. Byrne reports, it was no trick at all to pick out the exact number of seeds out of the bag and drop them exactly where they were supposed to be. Men, and often times the women folks, would follow after the person doing the planting and would cover up the seed with hoes.
         In 1881, Mr. Byrne’s older brother Frank went to Dakota Territory, and the following year, Mr. Byrne and his brother Will moved there, going to the vicinity of Marion.
         In 1884, they decided to go to Faulk county where there was a lot of prairie sod to be broken for settlers who had homesteaded there. Mr. Byrne, using four head of oxen on an 18 inch sulky plow, and his brother, using three horses on a 16 inch sulky plow, together broke five acres a day. They received $4 per acre for the work—a good salary, Mr. Byrne says, but every dollar was well earned.
         So new was Faulk county, when they went there, Mr. Byrne said, that section lines in some places hadn’t even been surveyed. He was present to see the surveyors running the first section lines in Arcade township, Faulk county.
         Although he was not out in the storm, he remembers the blizzard of 1888 well. His brother had driven to Faulkton with a team and sled and was about two or three miles out of town on his way home when the storm struck. He decided to turn around and go back, but his team would not face the wind. He managed to keep his bearings by driving parallel to the railroad grade. He drove 10 miles through the blinding snow and finally arrived in the town of Miranda where he remained until the weather conditions improved.
         But Mr. Byrne never entered politics himself, with the exception of the time he served as treasurer of Hillsdale township in Faulk county. His brother Frank, however, served as governor of South Dakota for two terms, 1913 to 1917.
         Mr. Byrne was married at Waukon, Ia. Sept. 30, 1908. He and his wife farmed in South Dakota until 1919, and then moved to Luverne which has since been their home. They decided to move here after they had visited in Luverne several times and had grown to like the town. After coming here, Mr. Byrne operated a dray and bus line for two years, and retired after he suffered a leg injury.
         Mr. and Mrs. Byrne have two children, Mrs. Nick Forrette of Adrian, and Sgt. Robert Byrne, who is attending a radio school in Montreal, Canada. They have two grandchildren.
         Of a family of 10, Mr. Byrne, and two other brothers, Joe Byrne of Clairmont, Fla., and Tom Byrne of Clairmont, Fla., and Tom Byrne of Seattle, Wash. are still living.
         He is a member of St. Catherine’s church of Luverne.
         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 features Ben Slieter

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.
This article appeared in the March 18, 1943 edition of The Rock County Star Herald.
One of Clinton township’s well-known retired farmers is Bernard Slieter, Steen. Known more familiarly to his close friends and neighbors as “Ben,” he now lives in Steen where he moved upon retirement from actual farming operations in 1931.
The village of Steen was but 10 years old when Mr. Slieter came to Rock county, and many changes have taken place in that community since that time.
Mr. Slieter was a native of Germany. He was born in that country Jan. 25, 1865, and it was there that he grew to manhood. On July 6, 1889, he married Ida Dohlman, and two years later, they set out together to make their home in the United States. They arrived in Applington, Ia. May 10, 1891, and Mr. Slieter immediately went to work on a farm as a farm hand. Wages were not high—only $1 for a 12 or 14 hour day, but compared to what farm hands were being paid in Germany, he thought he was getting excellent wages and was well satisfied.
After working on farms for three years, he had saved a little money and he used it to set himself up in farming in Grundy county, Ia. It was in 1898 that he decided to come to Rock county with his family. He farmed several places in the Steen vicinity, and in 1908, he bought a farm east of Steen which was the Slieter home for 21 years.
Although Steen was a comparatively new place on the map of Rock county when the Slieters moved here, it was already quite a business town. It had enjoyed a period of growth during the few years before and two general stores had been built; there was a pool hall, a harness shop, blacksmith shop, livery and feed barn, elevator, lumber yard and hardware store in addition to the railroad station and postoffice. Two years after Mr. Slieter’s arrival, Steen was visited by a fire that destroyed two elevators containing some 20,000 bushels of grain.
In 1908 Mr. Slieter bought a farm east of Steen and resided there 21 years. In May, 1929, he and his family were attending church when their farm home burned to the ground. Not a thing was saved. Although some of the furnishings could be replaced, the loss that was perhaps felt most were the main keepsakes, pictures and mementos that had been collected and saved during the years which had passed. A new house was built to replace the one that was destroyed, and while it was under construction, the family lived in a small bunk house.
In 1931 he retired and moved to the village of Steen and has lived alone in his home there since the death of his wife on Aug. 21, 1939. He is still very active and is able to do his own work. He enjoys spending a day or two, now and then, with his children who live on farms, and in the spring helps put in different gardens.
Of nine children born to Mr. and Mrs. Slieter, eight are still living. They are John Slieter, Pipestone; Mrs. Mareka Loger, North Redwood Falls; George Slieter, Lester, Ia.; Mrs. Nick Stravenger, Luverne; Mrs. Arnold Schneekloth, Hills; Bernard Slieter Jr., Steen; Mrs. LaVerne Davis, Boise, Ida., and Emil Slieter, Hills. One daughter, Grace (Mrs. Gerrit Smith), died in 1937. Other direct descendants of Mr. Slieter are 39 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
As far as he knows, all his brothers and sisters with the exception of one are still living. There were seven children in the family, and one of the boys was killed during World War I. Two sisters and one brother are still living in Germany. A brother, John, resides at Watertown, S.D. and a sister, Mrs. Albert  Bussman, lives at Applington, Ia.
Mr. Slieter is a member of the Evangelical church at Steen.
He attributes his long life to the grace of God and hard work.
         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: Covered wagons are real mode of transportation for club member Marie Schaefer

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.
This article appeared in the February 18, 1943 edition of The Rock County Star Herald.
To the average reader of this article, a covered wagon is a kind of wagon described in stories about the Old Wild West. To Mrs. Marie Schaefer, Luverne, however, a covered wagon is something real, for she has not only seen them, but has traveled in them. As a matter of fact, she came to Rock county in one. The trip here across the prairie from Miller, S.D., was slow and tedious, but it had its adventure, too. And it had its reward, for to Mrs. Schaefer, Rock county has since been “home.”
Mrs. Schaefer was born in Mecklenberg, Germany, Jan. 5, 1865, the daughter of Jochim and Marie Schultz Meier. She spent the first 17 years of her life in the land of her birth, and ever since she was 10, she has been busy doing something. She attended school in Germany until she was 14 years old. At the age of 10, she attended knitting school; at the age of 12 she learned to spin flax and at 14, she was weaving linen. She still has a piece of linen cloth which she wove while still a girl in Germany.
At the age of 15, she obtained employment as a maid on a farm, there earning the first money she could call her own. Her wages were $18 for the whole year, an average of $1.50 per month. Inasmuch as housekeeping for others did not prove to be too profitable, Mrs. Schaefer quit her job, and the next year she learned dressmaking.
When she was 17, she was given the opportunity to come to America. So she packed her personal belongings and began the voyage across the Atlantic to her new home. She arrived at New Hall, Ia., in 1882, and there she obtained employment on a farm at a salary of $1 a week. To a young lady who had earned only little more than that in a month while in Germany, a dollar a week was a big salary.
She found a big difference between life in Germany and life in the United States, and the longer she lived in this country the better she liked it.
Two years after her arrival here, on Sept. 18, 1884, she married William Schaefer at Vinton, in Benton county, Ia. After two years, they moved to a farm near Miller, S.D., where they lived for four years before coming to Rock county.
They were still living near Miller in 1888 when the famous blizzard struck. Caught in the storm’s fury with but little fuel in the house, Mrs. Schaefer recalls that the family may have suffered some ill effects had it not been for the fact that they had some corn in a shed next to the house. They shelled all the corn from the cobs by hand and burned the cobs. They lasted until the storm abated and until they obtained other fuel.
In 1890 Mr. and Mrs. Schaefer decided to move to Rock county so they packed their belongings and family into a covered wagon and made the trip to Rock county. They lived on a farm in Magnolia township for 10 years, and then moved to a farm in Mound township where they lived for seven years before retiring and moving to Luverne. In 1911 she spent about three months visiting in various parts of Germany. In 1918 she spent the winter in California.
Mr. and Mrs. Schaefer were the parents of three children, all of whom are living. They are A.W. Schaefer of Mound township; Mrs. George Kiebach of Luverne and Miss Ida Schaefer of Luverne. Mrs. Schaefer also has 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Schaefer has been active in the work of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Luverne, of which she is a member. She has been a member of the Ladies Aid for years and served for 14 years as treasurer of that organization.
She is still very active, and the practical education she received when she was a girl of 10 is still being used by her to good advantage for she now spends most of her spare time knitting. During the past 10 years, she has knit many dresses, sweaters, fancy gloves and mittens and has made a considerable amount of fine lace. In all, she states, she has made at least 100 pairs of gloves and mittens.
She attributes her long life to hard work and living a quiet life.
Of a family of eight, she is one of four still living. A sister, Mrs. Anna Wilprecht, lives at Lidgerwood, N.D.; a brother, August Meier, lives at Fulda  and another brother, Gust Meier, lives at Waterloo, Ia.
Mrs. Schaefer died about 12 years ago.
(Editor’s note: Since its inception almost two years ago, the “Diamond Club” has been one of the most popular features of this newspaper. The Star-Herald is interested in obtaining more members and urges all who are 75 years of age or over to join. There is no charge or obligation. All that is necessary to fill out a simple application blank which may be obtained either by calling at the office or by writing for it. Star-Herald correspondents also have application blanks which they would be glad to give you. If you are a reader and know of someone whose biography you would like to see in print, tell us about it. This is a column published primarily for the interest of all our readers throughout Rock and adjoining counties and to pay tribute in a small manner to the pioneer settlers whose trials and hardships have made possible the many every day conveniences that now are ours.
         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: Everett recalls first imported Holstein, homesteading in Montana, growing long beard

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.
This article is continued from last week about William Everett.
Lived on Milk
Five Days
From there he went back to LeMars where he worked for Dr. Foster, the man who, according to Everett, imported the first Holstein cow. The animal cost $5000 and died within six weeks after she arrived in LeMars. He was working for Dr. Foster in 1888 when the blizzard of that year struck. He was in the barn, three blocks from the house when the storm descended, and was forced to remain there for five days and nights until it subsided. He kept warm by lying down between two cows when they lay down. He lived on milk, and the milk that he and the calves did not drink, he fed back to the cows to help quench their thirst.
He left LeMars and went back to Sioux City where he trained as a cook in the old Washington House, owned by Henry Carrigan. He had to give it up after three years, and then he and a half brother began farming five miles northeast of Beresford. From there he went to Onawa, Ia., and worked on a ranch for Judge Adson Oliver. After five years, he bought a farm of his own, and just when he had it paid for and a crop in, he “lost it in the river.”
In 1907 he worked on a freight boat, the “Expansion” that traveled from Washburn to Ft. Berthold on the Missouri river in North Dakota. It was owned by I. P. Baker, and captained by John Marsh. Mr. Everett did all the baking and cooking for 25 to 60 people. Although he had his hands full, he earned a salary of $225 a month. Each round trip would require three weeks.
Cooking, however, was not his only trade. He also was a horseshoer (he has the second shoe he ever turned as a souvenir) and later learned the barber’s trade.
Homestead in Montana
Hearing of land that could be homesteaded in Montana, Mr. Everett went west and filed a claim about 45 miles north of Billings. He had a fine ranch, and good stock, but he became ill, and was forced to spend all his savings and even sell his property to pay for doctor and hospital bills. For a while, he worked in a silver mine in Idaho, but a mine accident delayed operations for 90 days so he and a companion “just drifted out.”
Speaking of doctors and hospitals, Mr. Everett claims he has been treated in 36 different hospitals at different times for a number of different ailments. He has survived nine operations, although surgeons gave him up as “a goner” time and again. He went to Rochester in 1916, and there the famed“Doctor Will” Mayo told him that he didn’t “have a chance.” Mr. Everett said he wanted to go through with it, and Dr. Mayo, after looking at him a while, declared, “If you don’t become scared, well—”
“I don’t fear anything,” Mr. Everett replied, and a few minutes later, he was taken to the operating table.
Nearly Killed in Well
That, however, was not the only time he came close to death. One time in Montana he was lining a well with rock. He had a helper who was “lazy” and instead of carrying rocks, to the well, he rolled them, despite Mr. Everett’s protests. One rolled down into the well, hitting Everett on the shoulder, and crushing it. The helper, thinking that the rock had surely killed the man, left the scene, and was never seen after that, although the man for whom he was working owed him $2,000, Mr. Everett declared.
It was after his trip to Rochester that Mr. Everett landed in Luverne and this has since been his home. At the present time, he has his own little apartment, does his own cooking and his own housework.
When he was called on and asked for an interview, he was busily engaged mending a pair of overalls, and was wearing his everyday clothes. Although he was informed that he would not have to dress up to have a photograph taken, he insisted that he put on his Sunday best.
Wore Long Beard
This winter he has let his beard and mustache grow, but he says that they’re nothing like they were back in his younger days. Then, he wore long hair, General Custer style, and his beard was so long that he would have to tuck it under his belt on a windy day.
Mr. Everett married in Alcester, S.D. and has three children, Abner Reed Everett, Sioux Falls; Mrs. Nora Huisman of near Canistota, S.D. and Mrs. Nellie West of Rapid City, S. D. He also has nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He is not certain if he has more than a brother and a sister living now or not. One brother, Paul Caster Everett, however, lives someplace in Iowa and a sister, Mrs. Ada Adams, lives in Spokane, Wash.
Despite the fact that he has suffered much illness during his life, and had a stroke about two years ago, Mr. Everett is still active and still able to do a little work. When asked to what he attributed his long life, he made this simple reply:
“I guess the Lord just ain’t been ready for me yet.”
         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: Feature continues with William Everett

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.
This article is continued from last week about William Everett.
Survives “La Grippe” Siege
It was in about 1878 when there was a siege of “la grippe,” then a very rare disease. He recalls that he was helping to haul some corn from a farm when he became ill. The day was warm, and the men with whom he was working were not wearing their coats. About 2:30 p.m. they hitched their teams, and started for their destination. It seemed that her disease struck all of them all of a sudden, for all put on row. When his father and mother finished their garden they had two wagon loads of dead hoppers but they still didn’t save the garden.
Movement of the settlers was a pitiful sight after that. The farmers, who had nothing to begin with lost all their crops, and began moving to other places. Sometimes a settler would come along with one cow and one horse teamed together pulling a wagon. Others would have a cow hitched to the cart, a mother, her baby and a few personal belongings on the cart, and the other members of the family walking behind. They traveled at the rate of about six or eight miles a day.
At that time, his father was helping build the Sioux City hotel, and was paid 75 cents a day. He walked 22 miles every Saturday night and Sunday.
He was working on a farm in South Dakota when the blizzard of 1880 struck in October of that year. He was herding over 180 head of cattle, and because the day was unusually warm, he was wearing only a straw hat, a “hicory” shirt, a pair of overalls and a pair of “holey” shoes. Although he tried to guide the cattle toward the barns, they would not go against the wind but kept drifting away from the farm. The wind kept getting colder and the snow deeper, and he became lost.
“God Guiding Me”
“I knew God was guiding me then, because I managed to drift to a road between two springs.” Mr. Everett reminisced, “then I could go no farther. Then above the roar of the wind, I heard a sound, one of the sweetest I’d ever heard, before or since. It was rattling of the overland stage which was headed for Elk Point.
“Both the stage driver and I owe our lives to his lead team. Those horses sensed that I was ahead of them in the road, virtually covered with snow, and they stopped. I couldn’t talk, but I still had my sense of hearing, and I could hear the driver urge the horses to go on, but they wouldn’t move. He then got out of the stage and walked ahead of them, and there much to his surprise he found me up to my chest in snow. He lifted me into the stage, and although it was impossible to see the road or know which direction we were going, the horses had sense enough to lead us to our destination. He knew who I was and managed to find my father’s home in town. My face, ears, and the lower half of my body were badly frozen. A couple of days later, after the skin had blistered, I was unable to wear any clothing except a big baggy nightgown my mother had made for me. It was four months before I was well enough to get out of doors.
80 Cattle Frozen
“Meanwhile, the man for whom I was herding cattle thought surely I had been lost in the storm. It was two weeks before he knew that I was safe at home. Of the 180 head of cattle that I was herding, 80 four year old steers froze to death. The others made it to the wooded area near the river and were saved.”
The ice break-up in the Missouri river in 1881, the spring following the blizzard is one that Mr. Everett will never forget. Their home was on the lowland, and they were evacuated to the courthouse of higher ground. He recalls that his father and a couple of others swam three blocks from the courthouse to the lumber yard to get lumber to build a boat. They floated the lumber back, brought it up on the second floor of the courthouse and built it there. By the time it was finished, the water was so high that it more than half filled the first story. “We had to bend down to avoid hitting our heads when we shoved off and out the front door,” Everett declared.
Church Bell Tolls
“There was an ice gorge a short distance above town, and I’ve never seen such a lot of different things come down a river as I did that spring. There was a team of mules hitched to a wagon which floated down atop a hay stack. Chickens came floating down the river on buildings and straw stacks, and you could hear roosters crowing out in the middle of the stream, one of the funniest sounds I’ve heard. I’ll never forget, though, the church from Mecklin that came floating down. You could hear that bell ringing long before you could see the church. When it finally did come into view, we could see two people inside the tower. It seemed funny, but in some way, the church floated around toward the edge and the people managed to get off. Then it floated back into the fast water and just seemed to be swallowed up in the gorge.”
The next two or three years, Mr. Everett just “knocked” around, doing any kind of work he could find to do. He went to LeMars, and there he learned that they were hiring men to help build the combination bridge at Sioux City. He had a lot of fun while was there, and earned good money — $7.50 a day, helping sink the piers. Although he had trouble getting a job because of his size and age, he persuaded a foreman to try him out and he got the job, one that he kept until the bridge was entirely completed.
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: Diamond Club talks with William Everett

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.
March 11, 1943
“Can’t agree with you that Luverne’s as good a place as any,” declared William Everett, when someone commented that this part of Minnesota was a pretty fine spot for a home. “I’ll take the west any day. You’ll make two dollars for every one here if you just go about it right.”
That led to the question, “Bill, how did you happen to make Luverne your home, then?”
“Well,” said the old timer, “it was this way. I came here from Doon, Ia. I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew I was going. I went to the hotel to wait between trains and I guess it never came. Some fellow came into the hotel and wanted a man to go to work on a farm. I went to work, and Luverne has been my home ever since. That was in August, 1917.”
Born in Dakota Territory
Mr. Everett isn’t certain just how old he is, but thinks he’ll be 77 on April 21. He was born at Elk Point Union county, Dakota territory either in 1863 or ’64. Records of his birth have since been lost.
There were still Indians and gun-totin’ whites at that time and Hell’s Bend,” the wooded area where the Big Sioux empties into the Missouri, was still a hot spot. “I knew of four fellows who died with their boots on there. Two of them came to Johnny St. Pierre’s cabin one night and he got them both. Johnny St. Pierre was a violinist who played for dances all through the country. He had just come back from a trip to Sioux City, Omaha and Missouri Valley, and two fellows came to get his money. He pulled his .44 before they did. One of them dropped right outside a window — the other was found the next morning at the edge of a wheat field, five or six rods away. As far as I know, that cleaned up Hell’s Bend.”
Saved by an Indian
In those days, there were Indians in that area, but most of them were civilized. He recalls that one time when he was a child of two or three years, two Indians came and asked his mother for something to eat. She refused for some reason or other, and one of the Indians picked him up by the heels and was about to smash his head against the side of the building when his father’s friend, also an Indian, came to his rescue. Several days later Mr. Everett’s father was walking along the river and there came across the body of the Indian with four arrows in his body.
Elk Point was the Gretna Green of the northwest when Mr. Everett was a boy. Being in Dakota territory where there was no marriage license law and where couples would come in droves from Iowa and Nebraksa to tie the nuptial knot.
Father Had Three Trades
Mr. Everett’s father was Abner Everett, a man who had served as an apprentice for 15 years and had learned three different trades. He spent five years learning to be a cabinet maker, earning only 25 cents a month for that period. His first job as an apprentice was making his own tools. After his cabinet apprenticeship, he learned to be a wheelwright, and spent five years as an apprentice in this trade as well. His wages at that time was increased to 50 cents a month. After that, he served as a carpenter’s and joiners apprentice, and then went into business for himself at Elk Point.
The Luverne man did not remain at home after he was nine years of age. He went to work for J. H. Brace, a cattle drover, and for three years, he virtually lived in the saddle, traveling with Mr. Brace wherever he bought cattle. His wages were 25 cents a day, plus board, room and clothing. Within six months after he had entered Mr. Brace’s employ, he knew the name of every man who lived in Union, Spink, Clay and Yankton counties, and on the darkest night could drive to the ranch of any person one could name. In those days there weren’t roads — only Indian trails, Mr. Everett said, and it was not a matter of not being able to find a visible trail of any kind, but to pick the right one. When not riding, he would drive a livery, and on many occasions, it was his lot to take people to other ranches from the Brace ranch. For the average boy of nine or 1o to be out in the dark with only the stars to guide him, the job would have been frightening indeed, but to him, it was a thrill and a pleasure to hold the reins on a steady team and figure out the shortest way home.
Visited This Area
It was when he was thus employed that he made his first trip to this section of the country. His employer had bought cattle in the Garretson, Sherman and Jasper areas, and he was driving them toward Elk Point. He had a herd of 180 head when he stopped to spend the night at a farm place east of Sioux Falls. It was then he learned that the famous James brothers had been there the night before him.
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: Diamond Club spotlight turns to Luverne's William Tomlinson

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.
March 4, 1943
To have seen a real prince and princess as a boy was one of the many interesting experiences of William C. Tomlinson, Luverne. Mr. Tomlinson was the son of Joseph and Mary Tomlinson. He was born in Nottingham, England, April 5, 1866, and recalls that Prince Albert of England and his wife had come to Nottingham to dedicate a museum which had been remodeled from a royal castle which had been damaged by fire. At first the instructor of his class at school had decided to permit his pupils to take the day off for the occasion, but later changed his mind.
Intent of seeing the royalty, Mr. Tomlinson and about five or six friends left the school without permission and went to see the royal procession. They would wait on the street corner until they passed, and then would run as fast as they could to the one beyond and wait until they had passed again. This kept up until the boys were almost eight miles from home, but they had the satisfaction of having seen the prince and princess, although they went without a thing to eat from morning until 10 o’clock that night.
Nottingham, which by the way, was the city made famous by Robin Hood, was one of England’s big manufacturing towns. Its factories provided work for men, women and children of all ages. When Mr. Tomlinson was seven, he worked in a hosiery factory, daily turning 100 dozen pairs of stocking inside out for 16 cents. He was so small, he had to stand on a stool beside his work table.
Later he worked in a lace curtain factory and became quite expert at his duties. When he was 19, a number of young men were being selected from the various factories to go to Australia to work, but Mr. Tomlinson followed his mother’s request. She had told him that if he wanted to leave England, he should go to America.
Having an uncle and aunt living in Illinois, Mr. Tomlinson decided he would leave home, and on St. Patrick’s day, 68 years ago this month, he boarded a boat for the United States. The boat was not a luxury liner, he recalls, for on the trip to England, it had been loaded with cattle. After they were unloaded, it was remodeled somewhat into a passenger vessel. It was seaworthy, however, and that was the main thing. He landed in Delaware Bay on the last day of March, and on April 2 arrived at Bloomington, Ill. From there he went to Arrowsmith the following day.
The trip to Arrowsmith he recalls vividly. The ground had thawed and the mud was so deep and sticky that the road was almost impassable. In those days, nearly everyone traveled on horseback. If they went to town to make a few purchases, they would put them in a grain sack, climb on the horse and ride back home.
Mr. Tomlinson hired out at $18 a month that first spring, and although he found the work considerably harder than it was in the factory, he never became discouraged.
“I guess I was born about 30 or 40 years too soon,” he states, “as at that time, the only machines that had seats were mowers and binders. It was all walk from sun up until sun down and at first, I became so footsore I could hardly walk. When I would go to bed at night, my feet were almost raw from blisters, but the next morning, they would feel pretty good, and I’d start all over again.
“Finally, I found an old timber man who made me some moccasins. They really helped, and later, I was able to buy a certain kind of shoe they had on the market, for about $1.15. After that time, I didn’t have any trouble.
Many farm implements which are now being used had not yet become common. All corn stalk ground was cultivated before the small grain was planted. There were no grain elevators, and when the corn was sold, it was shoveled directly from the wagon box into the box car.
He worked as a hired hand for three years, and then married May Coss at Bloomington in 1889. They began farming for themselves and it was not all sunshine, according to Mr. Tomlinson. “In those days, a farmer was on his own. He had no help from Uncle Sam and often, the going was pretty hard. We sold oats for 10 cents a bushel, corn for 15 cents, and hogs for $2.50 a hundred. We managed to live, and after the Spanish-American war, things became somewhat better. I sold corn the year of the Spanish-American war at three bushels for a dollar. After that, prices continued to get better,” he declares.
There was a great deal of timber in the vicinity where Mr. Tomlinson lived in Illinois, and he recalls that he bought an acre of woodland for $12.50. This strip furnished them with fuel for three years, and it still had many trees on it when they left Illinois to come to Rock county.
They came here in 1903, after Mrs. Tomlinson’s uncle had told them of the inexpensive and productive land. Mr. Tomlinson never regretted making a move as he states, “Here, I was able to make two dollars to every one I made in Illinois.” They farmed one year south of town, then moved to the Bierkamp farm in Springwater township which was their home for six years before they moved to Luverne.
Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson became the parents of six children, five of whom are living. They are Albert I., Emery and Lee Tomlinson, all of Luverne, Dewey Tomlinson of Sioux City, and Mrs. Vera Eckert of Imola, Cal.
Since Mrs. Tomlinson’s death last month, Mr. Tomlinson has lived alone in his home. He does his own cooking and housework, and other work about the place and is in good health.
         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