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1943: Helen Bly welcomed by locally by band music

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

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

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

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

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

1943: Campbell recalls time in lumber camp

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 May 27, 1943.
“When we could see three stars in the sky, then it was quitting time,” declared D. W. “Dick” Campbell, Luverne, as he recalled the days when he was employed in a Michigan lumber camp. “We’d go out into the timber at 4 o’clock in the morning, and we wouldn’t come into the shack until it was dark at night. The work was hard, but we earned good money, and had good board, so most of us enjoyed it.”
Mr. Campbell never did any log rolling to speak of, he states, but he has tried it, and he “could fall off into the water with the best of ’em.” He lived in a logging camp, and true to tradition, Paul Bunyan stories and other tales were common in the evening when the day’s work was done.
“The outfit that served the best grub was the one that kept their help the longest,” Mr. Campbell recalls, “and the fellow that didn’t serve the best eats all the time didn’t have anyone showing up looking for work.
“The camp I was in served as good a bill of fare as you’d find in the best hotels. They’d hire the best cooks in the country. I remember how they used to keep pie, cake and hard boiled eggs on the table in the shack all the time, so whenever a man would come past and feel like he wanted something to eat, all he’d have to do was to step inside the door and help himself. You can bet that most of us were pretty hungry all the time, too.”
Mr. Campbell was born Nov. 26, 1867, in Isabella county, Michigan, which is about in the center of the state. The country was wooded, and what farming was being done was on land which had been cleared of trees. He states he has seen a million or more feet of high grade soft and hard wood burned just so that the land owner would be rid of it and could use the land for raising crops.
His father was a Methodist minister, and being located in a sparsely settled community, where parishioners had but little to contribute to the support of a church and pastor, there was little income for the Campbell family.
Mr. Campbell began working away from home at the age of 14. He helped shock in the harvest field, and received half as much as the adult men doing the same work. All the grain was cut with a “cradle” and all hay was cut with a scythe, because in most instances, the stumps of the trees in the clearings had not been removed. It would require about 10 years for a hardwood stump to rot out, it would likely remain for many more years.
When the Devils Lake, N. D. Indian reservation was opened to homesteaders in 1892, Mr. Campbell came west to file a claim. He had no sooner arrived in Devils Lake when a blizzard arose. When the storm did not abate after a couple of days, he decided North Dakota was no place for him, so he started back to Michigan.
He came as far as Luverne, and while waiting for a train, to go to Sioux City, he was offered a job as clerk in the hotel, and accepted. He worked there a few weeks, then he went to work at the Older nursery. That fall, he went to Bellingham, Wash., where he worked in a saw mill.
At Luverne, on Sept. 12, 1894, he married Emma Ingelson, and they farmed in Mound and Springwater townships for three years before moving back to Michigan. They farmed there a number of years, and then returned to Rock county where they lived ever since. During the last world war, Mr. Campbell operated the elevator at Ashcreek for about three years. He came back to Luverne, and operated the Sand Lime Brick plant and in 1921 was elected city recorder, a position he held for 10 years.
At the present time, he lives alone in his home on Barck street, and during the summer months enjoys gardening.
Of seven children born to him and Mrs. Campbell, five are living. They are Paul, of Luverne; Mrs. Fred Frahm, Magnolia; Pat, of Petosky, Mich.; Ray, of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kenneth, of Lansing, and Millie who is with the WAAC’s at Des Moines. He also has 10 grandchildren.
Of seven children in his father’s family, he is one of three now living. His brother, Tom, lives in Lansing, Mich., and his sister, Mrs. Fred Wright, lives on a farm near Lansing.
Mrs. Campbell died in 1921.
Mr. Campbell, who states that he hasn’t been really sick in bed in his entire life, attributes his good health and his long life to the fact that he never let anything worry him. “I believe,” he says, “that more people grow old from worrying more than from any other thing.”
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on Sept. 16, 1932.
         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: Merkel remembers Elk Slough near Magnolia

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 May 20, 1943.
         Lycurgus N. (Coge) Merkel, Beaver Creek, one of Rock county’s pioneer settlers, is this week’s Diamond Club member. Mr. Merkel virtually “grew up” with Rock county, because he came here in 1872 and has lived here ever since.
Born in a log house at Cannon City, near Faribault, Minn., January 20, 1869, he came to Rock county with his parents four years later. The trip, made with oxen and covered wagon, required nearly three weeks.
“My father’s family and belongings consisted of mother, one son, Lycurgus, four oxen, three cows, a wagon, a few sacks of potatoes, and some barley,” Mr. Merkel states. “The trip was slow, but we came through o.k.”
Remember Elk Slough
Mr. Merkel remembers crossing Elk Slough, between Luverne and Magnolia. In pioneer days, the slough was virtually a mud wallow, and to get through it required considerable engineering on the part of the traveler. There being no bridges, and only a rough wagon path leading up to it, the Merkel family did not attempt crossing it with the oxen hitched to the wagon. The best plan, Mr. Merkel states, was to unhitch the oxen, take off the yoke, drive them through the mud to the other side. Then all the oxen would be hitched together, a chain run across the slough and hooked into the wagon tongue, and the pull would begin. Unless there was plenty of power on the pulling end, the wagon would be stuck right. In that case, it would be necessary to take the wagon apart and carry it out piece by piece. “There was always some fellow stuck at that point,” he recalls.
Stop at Sheldon Farm
After getting through Elk Slough, the Merkels stopped at the E. T. Sheldon home. “Mr. Sheldon was very kind to my people and helped them in many ways,” Mr. Merkel states.
Mr. Merkel’s father filed a claim on the northeast quarter of section 21 in Beaver Creek township. With the help of neighbors, they built their home, a sod house, about 20 by 24 feet. First, a cellar, about 2½ feet deep was dug. Then sod was broken, and cut in 18-inch lengths, and laid in layers like brick. Posts to support the roof were cut from trees on the Rock river. Each post had a fork at the top, and these forks supported the ridge pole. Rafters were also reaching from the ridge pole to the sod wall. On top the rafters was laid a layer of small willow branches. This was covered with a layer of long slough grass, then overlaid with sod and dirt. The floor was of dirt, usually “careted” with a layer of slough hay.
Decorated with Newspapers
Even the pioneer housewife liked to decorate. Mr. Merkel states that newspapers were hung on the side walls by the aid of wooden pins stuck into the sod.
The home was lighted by a saucer filled with tallow into which were dipped plain cotton rags. “We had plenty of rags,” Mr. Merkel states, “and plenty of light too, if you could locate it.”
Bed ticks were filled with corn husks. Rope running crosswise of the bed served as springs. As far as comfort is concerned,” Mr. Merkel says, “sleeping on those beds would compare favorably with taking a nap on top of Bunker Hill.”
A common secondhand stove was used to heat the home, and twisted hay was used as fuel. One fine feature of the sod house, he states, was that it was warm to live in and easy to heat.
         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: Sarah Scott continues 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 May 13, 1943, and is continued from last week’s issue.
(Continued from last week, featuring Mrs. Sarah Scott.)
She remembers how two small boys who were herding cattle, were found frozen to death after the storm subsided, their arms clasped about each other and their dog between them.
         It was while they lived in that part of the county that Mr. Scott “cried” his first auction sale, Mrs. Scott states. He had gone to the station of Bruce one day where the liquor store was to be sold at auction. The auctioneer, a Sioux Falls man, was unable to get a bid, so Mr. Scott made the comment that even he could do that well. The auctioneer invited him to try and he did, eventually selling the property.
         From that community, they moved nearer Luverne, farming the William Jacobsen farm in Luverne township for three years, and moving from there to a farm in Clinton township, between Luverne and Ashcreek. After residing there 10 years, they moved to Luverne where they purchased some property east of the Rock Island depo. Later they lived in a home on East Maple street, and this was Mrs. Scott’s home for a number of years after Mr. Scott died in 1920. At the present time, however, she makes her home with her children.
         Mrs. Scott has six children, R. B. Scott and Mrs. Logan Trunnell of Luverne; Mrs. Ben Mc Dowell, Beaver Creek; Mrs. Bertha Stein and Russell Scott of Bremerton, Wash., and Claude Scott of Fulda. She also has 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Of the former, two serving in the armed forces, namely, Corp. Glenn Trunnell and Staff Sgt. Vance Scott.
         She has three half-sisters and one half brother living. They are Mrs. May Brown, Orleans, Neb.; Mrs. Stella Cover, Kearney, Neb.; Mrs. Josephine Rogers, Minden, Neb., and Harvey Boicourt, also of Minden.
         During their lifetime, Mrs. Scott has been interested in many outside activities. She at one time was a member of the Rebekah Lodge, the Women’s Relief corps and of the Ladies Aid of the First Presbyterian church.
         She always liked sewing and doing fancywork as a hobby, but during later years has been forced to quit because of her health. However, she still reads books, magazines, newspapers and the Bible.
         Last Sunday she observed her 82nd birthday, and for the first time, her birthday and Mother’s day fell on the same date. She was well remembered by her friends and children, and she expresses her appreciation for their thoughtfulness.
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: Sarah Scott tells her 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 May 13, 1943, and is continued from last week’s issue.
         The Biblical prophecy “there shall be wars and rumors of wars,” may be just another scripture passage to many, but to Mrs. Sarah Scott, Luverne, it has a deep meaning, for during her 82 years of life, she has lived through three years, has seen the beginning of the fourth, and “the end is not yet.”
         Mrs. Scott was born May 9, 1861, near Jacksonville, in Cass county, Ill, the daughter of William and Jane Lindsey Matthews. Her father died when she was an infant, and she and her mother and sister lived with her grandmother until her mother was remarried to a man who fought in the Union army during the Civil War.
         From her stepfather and from her uncles, Mrs. Scott heard many stories of the Civil War. She had two uncles who were captured by the southern army, and were placed in the famous Andersonville prison. One of them was released before the other and when he left, the one who remained warned him to not eat too much meat after he was released. He had been starved too long, however, and was so famished that he did not overeat after arriving home, and died three days later.
         When her stepfather arrived home after the peace had been signed, she remembers she met him with a pair of stockings which she had knit for him with her mother’s help. She was then only about five years old.
         Because she had heard so much about the Civil War and the South, the book, “Gone with the Wind” was to Mrs. Scott in the nature of a trip “back home.” She read the book through once, and read half of it the second time, in addition to seeing the movie, she states.
         Cass county, where she was born, was a wooded country, and as a girl, Mrs. Scott learned to recognize birds and flowers that were native to that area. “Whenever I wasn’t to be found at home, my folks usually knew that I’d be wandering around amongst the trees,” Mrs. Scott states.
         At the age of 14, she began earning her own living, doing housework at $1.25 per week. At the age of 16, she had one of the greatest thrills as a girl when she visited the state house at Springfield, Ill., and saw Lincoln’s tomb.
         From Cass county, she moved with the family to McLean county where she lived until going to Ford county. It was there that she met her future husband, Amos Scott, and was married to him at Matamola, Ill., on Jan. 8, 1880. Shortly afterward, they decided to go to Kansas, but got as far as Sedalia, Mo., with their team and buggy, and decided to stay there. After about a year, they returned to McLean county, Ill., by covered wagon, and remained there until 1883 when they decided to come west to Minnesota.
         They settled in the southwestern part of the county near the “old iron post” which is the dividing marker between Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota, and they lived there about eight years.
         During that period, Mrs. Scott experienced the famous blizzard of 1888. Her husband had gone to a neighbor’s farm, and she was left alone with a man who had been making his home with them. The day dawned mild and clear, and the temperature was warm until the storm struck about 4 p.m. Mrs. Scott had no fuel or water in the house when the storm struck, but the man who was with her obtained some and managed to get to the barn and get the livestock indoors and safe.
         Meanwhile, her husband had started home and found his way to the house after he had come to a clothesline which crossed the lane that led into the farm yard. He followed the wire which led directly to the house, then opened the door and fell virtually exhausted on the floor.
(Story continues next week.)

1943: Mrs. Charles Brauer's story continues

The following article is part of the Diamond Club Member group that began in the January 7, 1943, issue of the Rock County Star Herald. Members of this group consist of persons of age 75 and older.
The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on May 6, 1943.
This is continued from last week’s issue of Mrs. Charles Brauer’s story.
After living there six years, the Brauers moved to Missouri, in a community south of St. Louis, where a man owned considerable land and employed men to help him, furnishing them with homes to live in. Mr. Brauer worked in the woods, splitting rails, receiving $2 a day. Mrs. Brauer earned a little pin money by gathering dewberries and selling garden products to the families who worked in the mines.
Mr. Brauer became ill with malaria there, so they moved to Cedar county, Ia. There Mr. Brauer was employed as a railroad section worker for five years. However, he preferred working on the farm so they moved to Wilton, in Muscatine, Ia., where they obtained an 80 acre tract. They raised quite a few dairy cows, sold their milk, and were able to save some money.
From there, they moved to Rock county, and settled in Springwater township where they bought a farm and lived for 22 years. During those years, Mrs. Brauer states, she worked hard, taking the place of an extra man many times during the busy season. She helped with the chores, and even shocked grain.
About 25 years ago, they retired and moved to town. Mr. Brauer died about three years ago.
Mr. and Mrs. Brauer had three children, only one of whom is now living, Mrs. Meta Weckner of Springwater township. Her other direct descendents include five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Mrs. Brauer is a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran church in Luverne and has always been active in the work of the Ladies Aid, although she has never held an office.
Her favorite pastimes include piecing quilts, gardening (in summer) and caring for house plants. She has numerous plants of all varieties, and she enjoys working with them and watching them grow.
She attributes her long life to living on common food, and keeping regular hours.
She is the only one of her family now living, she states, and she was the oldest of all of them. She had one brother and three sisters, and one half-brother and two half-sisters.
         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: Brauer comes to U.S. at age 21

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 May 6, 1943.
Of all the trips she has ever made, the one perhaps remembered the best of all by Mrs. Charles Brauer, Luverne, was the voyage from Germany to the United States. The trip is memorable for two reasons: one because she observed her 21st birthday on the ocean, and the other, because of the extremes in weather conditions encountered while on the voyage.
Mrs. Brauer, whose maiden name was Hilda Marie Krieger, was born in West Prussia, Germany, Feb. 27, 1868. Her mother died when she was eight, and her father remarried. He was induced by his cousin to come to the United States, so he decided he would make a trip over to see if he liked it well enough to go there to live with his family. After being here a year, he sent the family money and told them to come.
“The first few days out of port were as beautiful as I have ever seen,” Mrs. Brauer recalled. ‘I’ll never forget how the band would go on deck and play every morning at sunrise. When we had been at sea several days, there arose a great storm, and none of us were permitted to leave our rooms. I’ll never forget the people on board. Some were crying, others were playing and still others were singing. The storm did considerable damage to the ship, but it didn’t go down, and we finally reached America.”
The trip, made on the “Karlsruhe,” required 18 days.
Recalling the portion of her life when she lived in Germany, Mrs. Brauer stated that until her father remarried, she, being the oldest of the girls, helped her grandmother keep house when she was not attending school. School in those days was for children eight to 14. After the age of 14, everybody went to work.
Her father was a guard in the government forest preserve. The poorer people had been guilty of stealing wood from the forests, and for that reason, the government employed guards to prevent further loss from that community.
When she came to the United States, she and the family went directly to Wayne county, Neb. where her father lived. She immediately obtained work in a farm home and received $1.25 per week. Her duties included doing the cooking, baking, washing and cleaning indoors, and helping with the milking, gardening and chicken raising out of the doors. After a while, she felt that she was earning more than she was getting, so she asked for a raise. After that time, she received $2 a week.
She worked for one year, then was married to Charles Brauer at Wayne, Neb. April 30, 1891. They farmed in Nebraska for six years, and those six years were as trying as any she ever spent on a farm. If their crops weren’t dried out they were hailed out. Grasshoppers were numerous and money was scare. She recalls how her husband broke the prairie land, and how they gathered big roots which had been uncovered and saved them for fuel.
One year, they had some corn, so they took a load to town to sell it to buy coal. The amount of coal they received for the load of corn was so small that they decided they could get more heat for their money by burning the corn instead, Mrs. Brauer said.
(Part 2 next week)

1971: Grimm and Byrne used to operate in former Ohlen's Cafe location

The following appeared in The Rock County Herald on June 10, 1971.
Who in the World Were Gimm and Byrne?
Not everyone remembers Gimm and Byrne’s any more.
There are still some, however, who do, and this writer is one of them. Now that Ohlen’s Café, which years ago was Gimm and Byrne’s, is closed, it is unlikely there will ever be a restaurant there again. So we’re going to reminisce a little in the event future historians should ever go through these pages searching for material on what happened “way back when.”
There are those who ask, even now, who in the world were Gimm and Byrne?
Well, as I remember them, Gimm was a jolly, well-built German, whose first name was Fred, but who often was called “Feedy.” Byrne was an Irishman, slight build, serious in demeanor.
Gimm was the talker and had a hearty laugh. Byrne was quiet.
Gimm was tri-lingual. He was best at German and English, but he could also speak and understand Norwegian.
It wasn’t until the prohibition era that I was old enough to come to town with Dad, and invariably, one visit we made in Luverne every time we came was Gimm and Bryne’s. (Before prohibition, it was the corner saloon). Gimm always hailed Dad with a greeting in Norwegian as he stood behind the massive bar. The best drink he could then serve was a bottle of Country Club near-beer which he called “Peeah.” “Peeah” was beer with a German accent.
I had my first drink of root beer in Gimm and Bryne’s. In a mug. It was at Gimm and Byrne’s that I had my first hamburger in a restaurant. Up to that time, I thought a hamburger could only be bought at a food stand at the county fair, and nowhere else.
What a treat a Gimm and Byrne hamburger was for a farm boy who had to be content with sandwiches made of minced ham, grape jam, and cold roast pork every noon while attending country school.
Gimm and Byrne’s also conjures up another boyhood memory. It was the only place I knew of to go when I had to go. A place like that you don’t forget too soon.
The first black man I ever saw was in Gimm and Byrne’s. When he wasn’t cooking in the kitchen, he was out in front cleaning and scrubbing.
A row of chairs lined the side of the building opposite the bar. Here was the town’s meeting place for men. A cuspidor (c’mon, man, they were spitoons, and you know it) stood beside each chair. The town characters of those days could usually be found sitting there.
It was at Gimm and Byrne’s that I came to know Dada Baer and Fred Start. The Martins and the Coys may have been feudin’ mountain boys, but their feud was a lover’s quarrel compared to the feud those two men had developed over the years. One thing, though, Dana and Fred never pulled guns or fought with their fists. Usually, when one came in, the other went out by another door, mumbling words unprintable in a family newspaper. They just weren’t for being in the same building together.
One thing I never did see in Gimm and Byrne’s, however, was a woman. Unless, in later years, it might have been a waitress. A “nice” woman wouldn’t go in the place; in fact, she wouldn’t even walk down that side of the street. I always wondered why!
Gimm and Byrne’s has been gone now for many years. Changes have been made, most of them for the better, I am sure. But as years go by, places like this take on a historical significance, not because they present an era that is gone, never to return.
Fred Gimm and John Byrne never achieved fame of greatness during their lifetimes. But ask anyone who knew them, and he’ll tell you they helped make Luverne history. That’s why, perhaps, you still occasionally hear an old timer refer to the “corner” as Gimm and Byrne’s.
Anyone for erecting a plaque, designating it as a historic site?
The Rock County Historical Society is having our annual meeting on October 3 at noon at the Big Top Events Center. We invite you to join us, $15 a person in advance available at the History Center; $25 at the door. Our program is on old restaurants. Do you remember this one?
         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