Generational Studies

After 23 years, I’ve been strongly considering going back to school. I think it would enhance my work, my employment possibilities, my personal growth. I would choose Library and Information Sciences as that most closely corresponds to my current and chosen future work path. So imagine my surprise as I was talking to my mother this morning about this and she remembered her mother (Wava) mentioning that she wanted to attend University of Wisconsin for Library Studies but the family couldn’t afford the train ticket for her to visit and/or enroll. How pleased I was to hear our common interest and curious about how her path changed!

My maternal grandmother, Wava Hallberg, ca 1927; author’s collection

My grandmother was born in Minneapolis and moved with her parents (she was an only child like me too) to the Guthrie area of Northern Minnesota where her parents bought an 80-acre farm. She was enrolled in the local four room school, where she attended up until 10th grade. She then took the train from Guthrie to Bemidji (20 miles one way) to attend her last two years, working for room and board in town and coming back to the farm on the weekends. She graduated in 1927. [Mary Welsh Hemingway (author’s fourth wife) and Bronco Nagurski (football player and wrestler) were in her class]

So she ended up attending Bemidji State Teachers College for one year before teaching in rural schools for five years. She then said [in her memories, transcribed below] that she went back to college – 1932ish. Was this when she wanted to go to University of Wisconsin for Library Studies or was it directly after High School? Why Wisconsin and not the closer University of Minnesota in Minneapolis? (where she was born and still had relatives) University of Wisconsin had just opened their School of Education at Madison as a graduate program for teachers to continue their training – a balance between theory and practice which was novel at the time. But because many universities were increasing their tuition to offset the budget crunch of the Great Depression, perhaps Wava’s dream was too far out of reach. Especially if they couldn’t even afford the train ticket.

Wava’s two cousins from Canada, Wilbert and James Gregson, came to live with them after her father’s sister died in 1921 and so I can imagine that impacted the family finances and dynamics as well. In the 1930 census, about the time that Wava was thinking of college but was out teaching in the rural districts (and boarding with families), her father was renting a farm and had a wife and two teenaged boys to support. I wonder how much of her income she sent back home?

Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am to have choices and how much poverty can change the course of people’s lives for generations to come.

Great shout of thanks to my mother for providing a heretofore-undiscovered-by-me oral history that my grandmother wrote for the “Guthrie Odds and Ends” spiral bound book published in 1987. It is solid gold and in the interest of documentation, I will transcribe it below.

p.s. My mother doesn’t remember that her mother went back to college, but took some continuing education and summer school classes

Mr and Mrs Orville Lindstrom, 1944; author’s collection
Wava Hallberg Lindstrom, ca 1985; author’s collection

“My parents, Esther and Carl Hallberg came to Guthrie from Minneapolis in the spring of 1918.

Certainly enjoyed the freedom of our 80 acre farm. I ran, climbed trees and waded in the creek.

I attended Guthrie Consolidated School from 8th grade through second year of high. Lucky I came with a fair knowledge of reading and mathematics because I could only think and do something funny.

Did enjoy being in 3 act plays during our summer months – worked hard but fun, too. Gave our program and plays in the old Woodman Hall. It’s still in use.

My first job was picking potatoes for $1.00 a day. I bought a red hat that fall. Talking about potatoes, we would knock potato bugs in a can of kerosine. Had a potato warehouse in Guthrie.

Babe Waldon and Art took me to my first circus in Guthrie.

My cousins (like brothers) came to live with us when they were four and five years old.

Some of my best friends were Ruth Fuller, Bessie Moses, Stella Marin, Fred Balk, Dell Wilson and Orville Lindstrom, later Florence Wright and Ebba Peterson.

Then it came time to go to Bemidji High, no buses to us. We had to work for board and room or got a small room with a kerosene stove for cooking. I brought a lot of food from home every weekend. Did get to Bemidji on the M and I train. Graduated from High School in 1926. Mary Hemingway and Bronco Nagurski were in my class. After High School went to Bemidji State to take a one year rural course. Taught five years before going back to college. My first school was Cedar Park north of Blackduck Lake. Only the cement steps are remaining today. Next school was Shooks, East Inez and finally the last rural school was south of Akeley. Mr. J.C. McGhee was superintendent. He would visit the school and fall asleep until I’d wake him up when the children were gone. I loved these rural people and children were so good. Fine people to help and encourage their children.

I taught in International Falls, Cass Lake, Nary and the last school was J.W. Smith. Then I was 65 years old so must resign.

Had loved Orville Lindstrom since elementary school days. We would go steady and then part, but World War II got us permanently settled. Jan 13, 1944 Orville and I were married before he went to Europe. He was wounded in Normandy Invasion. After Orville’s discharge, we settled on Walters-Hallberg farm. Then Linnea Muriel Lillquist came in 1946. Barbara Jean Christenson came in 1947 and Orville, Junior in 1951. We have three granddaughters, Kristin Lillquist, Cara Christenson, and Amy Lillquist.

Orville never felt well since his wounds in St. Suzanne. He died March 11, 1979. My Dad died in 1954 and mother in 1959.

Had fun with the children but should have married earlier so we could have enjoyed them more.

We’ve seen a lot of advances – vaccination for many diseases, and electricity for lights, heat and bathrooms. The telephone was comforting on the farm. Know we’ll advance some more.

After Orville’s death, I moved to an apartment in Bemidji. I moved one more time and have an apartment at Red Pines Estates.

I want to thank my children, friends, Lindstrom family, Wilbert and Esther Gregson for being so good to me.

This post is part of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge, a year-long blogging project focusing on family history stories. This week’s prompt is “at the library.”

Cara Jensen is owner of Sherlock Homes historical consulting & genealogy, where she provides expert services on cultural preservation and ancestral discovery.

Tuesday Twigs: Family Reunion!

Dave Fort dodge 003
Lindstrom cousins, Fort Dodge Iowa; image via personal collection

We had a Lindstrom family reunion over the weekend in Fort Dodge, Iowa.  Although none of us currently reside there, it was the place where the Oscar Lindstrom and Alta Fuller met and married.  I, being the family genealogist, had charge of all the historical bits and bobs.  I’ll have to tell you the story of the above picture, of which I am especially proud.

I had created a ‘tour map’ of the Otho township area in Webster County, marking pertinent places such as the cemetery (where we placed flowers on family graves), the church where the said marriage took place, and farm locations from 1909.  We decided to do a scouting mission on Friday night after we got to Fort Dodge, to make certain that the roads were still open and accessible .  I knew the land where the first farm had been was vacant, just land now, but the second farm had buildings (thanks to google maps!).  We drove on the dusty gravel roads and located the farm – did I see old buildings back there?  We pulled in to check it out – although my kids did not share my enthusiasm, I got out to see if the owners were about.

The current owners were there and I had a great conversation with Debbie Krug.  She was absolutely enthusiastic when I asked if we could all visit the following day and even showed me the original barn and corncrib on the property!  What a find!

The next day, when our convoy of seven cars arrived, she graciously allowed us all the time we needed to tromp around and look at the barn boards, etc.  We have several cousins in the construction industry and also many who grew up on farms, so there were plenty of examinations and discussions!  She even took our picture (above) in front of the old corncrib!  And gave me copies of the original chain of deeds to the property!

This was really a lesson to me in the power of asking and approaching people.  This amazing opportunity, which some cousins said just made the whole reunion for them, would never have happened had I not the social courage gained from years of navigating and publicizing my own historical research business.  When you love what you do, the enthusiasm is contagious. Yay!

Tuesday Twigs: Cold branches

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tree” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by  .christoph.G. 

I’m helping to organize a family reunion this summer and am trying to fill out those branches that the family has lost touch with over the years.  It is really challenging detective work to suss out living people and connections and places but the internet and social media are a godssend for research like this!

So the question is, once I’ve found long lost relatives on places like facebook, how do I approach them without sounding creepy or stalkerish?  I really do want to reconnect with them and let them know about our mutual family tree and the upcoming reunion.

Have you had success with the ‘cold call’ approach for long lost relatives?  What suggestions do you have for making the best approach?  Thanks for all your help and I’ll surely let you know how it goes!

52 Ancestors #25 – The Old Homestead

This week’s theme is ‘homestead’ and I immediately turned to a picture I have in my office:

OlgaAltaOrvilleWaldoOscar_ErmalIvaCyLindstromThis is my great grandfather and grandmother Oscar and Alta Fuller Lindstrom with a few of their children (Alta had 14 births, of which only 9 survived past infancy).  The are, from left to right, eldest sister Olga, mother Alta, my grandpa Orville (who I’ve been transcribing WWII letters from if you’ve been following me), Waldo, father Oscar, then in front it is Iva, Ermal, and baby Cy.  I can safely date this picture to 1918, since the youngest son, Cyril, was born in September 1917, he looks under 2, it is summer (even tho the long sleeves, it is northern Minnesota after all), and the next child was born in December of 1919.  (I don’t know much about log cabin construction but the roof looks a bit crooked to me.)

Don’t know the story of the cabin, but my great grandfather moved up to Hubbard County, Minnesota from Webster County, Iowa in 1913 and farmed in Hart Lake Township, section 10.  The dark blue dot is Oscar Lindstrom’s and I put the aqua dot as reference to where my mother grew up.

Hart Lake twp
1916 Hubbard Co. plat map, University of MN, John R. Borchert map library.

I wish I could find some more information about why they moved from the fertile black gold soil of NW Iowa to the rocky, boggy soil of northern Minnesota.  Oscar’s parents both died in 1909 and the heirs sold the 80 acre farm on 12 Jan 1911 for $8270.  So that is still a mystery for another day.  But it is nice to put that cabin on the map!

52 Ancestors #18 – Where there’s a will….

Sigh.  I have a family mystery that will probably never be proven through my research methodology – who is the biological father of my maternal grandmother?  I have been working and working on this for years – it really shouldn’t matter and I sometimes think I should just let it go, but then… I get an itch.  Sometimes it will come during other research projects when I find a new database or research source and I’ll search it desperately, hoping to find new information.  More often than not, it becomes a dead end.  Until today.

My grandmother Wava Hallberg, was supposedly born 25 August 1908 in Minneapolis, MN.  I say supposedly since her original birth certificate was said to have been ‘burned’ and a new one was issued about 10 years later, listing my great grandparents, Esther Parris and Carl Hallberg as her birth parents.  As all family stories go, there is always fact in the fiction, but fiction in the fact too.  I guess Esther was elusive about her time in Minneapolis and meeting Carl Hallberg – she was the youngest daughter of 10 and moved from Duluth, MN sometime between 1905 (she was listed in that year’s MN census in Duluth) and 1909 (when she married Carl).  That’s another contributing fact – Esther and Carl married at St. Rosary Catholic Church in Minneapolis on 15 July 1909 (have that record!) – 10 months after Wava was born.  So if you count back 9 months from her birth date (25 Aug 1908), conception would have been Novemberish 1907, right?

Carl Hallberg was born in Sweden in 1882, came with his parents to MN in 1883, then moved to Halbrite, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1903 (and was in the same place for the 1906 Canada Census).  He then ended up working for the Pillsbury Flour Mills in Minneapolis and marrying Esther Hallberg in 1909.  So was he in Minneapolis during the conception timeframe?

So here’s what I found today.  A border crossing record from Canada to the U. S. for ‘Carl Holberg’ from March 1909!

CarlHallberg border crossing
Ancestry.com. U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1956

Even though the name isn’t spelled correctly, the age, origin, and name of his father match my Carl Hallberg.  So this doesn’t put him into Minneapolis until March-April 1909, so barring an earlier record for his migration to and from Canada, it would have been hard for him to be the father of a child conceived in his absence.   It is also interesting that he married Esther a mere 4 months later – what a whirlwind romance!

I feel a bit more satisfied finding another piece to add to the puzzle, but it certainly has not been completed.  I’ll keep this week’s topic in mind ‘where there’s a will, (there’s a way)’ as I continue to work to solve this family mystery!

Wava, Esther, and Carl Hallberg, ca 1928
Wava, Esther, and Carl Hallberg, ca 1928