Laura's Letters - 7 1920-1925
In 1900 the state's population was 319,000, and by 1920 it hit 577,000.
Dear Laura and family,
We have lots of news from Montana this year. Agnes got married to Archie Dickerman who comes originally from Missoula. He’s 10 years older than she is, but we like him. He’s a carpenter. She didn’t get much chance to practice her nursing.
Mary is also planning on getting married this year. She has picked Clarence Atkins. He is a veteran of the war, and she met him while she was doing her nursing.
And to make it three in a row, I too am getting married next year. My intended is called Carl Nepper. He is eight years older than me and moved to America from Denmark back in 1901. He is a widower. I’m still doing my Deaconess work, but I am not sure I will be able to carry on with it after we get married. As you know, I am now in charge of our hospital here - which I will have done for four years. But when I marry, I shall have to give that up. They don’t employ married women.
Oscar is courting too, a girl called Florence Munson.
So what difference a year can make in four people’s lives.
I hope all is going well with you in North Dakota. Wish you could make it out here for a visit sometime, but know how busy you are.
Another start to a very cold year. On January 18th we had a very severe dust storm, which apparently originated in Nevada. On that morning the ground in North Dakota was partially snow
covered. During the afternoon clouds of dust began to arrive and soon collected in thick layers on the snow surface. A thaw set in during the next morning and by 10 am was followed by a light rain which
cleared the air and preserved the dust from further removal. On the night of the 19th another light snowfall occurred, and this in turn was followed by a slight thaw.
The amount of dust deposited on each square mile the experts figure would equal the astonishing total of 801 tons.
Here are just some recent highlights.
Governor Lynn J. Frazier, Attorney General William Lemke, and Commissioner of Agriculture and Labor John N. Hagan, all Nonpartisan League members, were recalled by voters in the first successful gubernatorial recall in the nation.
North Dakota's first bus line was established
An economic Depression, starting with the 1920 collapse of wartime prices for grain, punctured the economic expansion of previous decades. More North Dakota banks closed this year than in any other year. The resulting contraction of credit caused many farm foreclosures. Simultaneously, farm sizes increased, and many farmers mechanized their operations.
On a family note, Allan started school this year. He does not enjoy it as much as the others, and really makes a fuss about going. They walk most of the time. Sometimes we let Chester drive a horse or a mule pulling a buggy. Quite often when they are walking, they stop off at Lydia and Len's house, which is a little over half mile away, to get warmed up. Lydia sometimes adds a scarf or warm mittens, warms them up and sends them on. I wrap them up as best I can, but they seem to
have chill blains all winter from cold feet. They wear home knit wool stockings, long black ones, knit by Grandma Wyngarden. Also long winter underwear and they don't really like wearing it, but it gets
so cold. The black wool stockings fade where they go into the underwear legs which then get stained.
In the early spring when the snow melted and there was flooding. But in the morning the water would be frozen so the kids would try waking on the ice. Many times the ice would break and they would arrive in school with wet feet.
Mildred told me about a time when we allowed them to drive Dan, one of our mules, on the buggy. He slipped on the ice and fell. They had quite a time getting him up. Chester had to unhitch him and they found weeds to put near his feet. He finally got up and they managed to continue on to school but were very late that day.
The worst mule for being awkward is Annie. She never wants to leave the yard. After much effort on all the children's parts they get her going down the road. Coming home is another thing, as she is very willing when she knows she's going to the barn.
Just to let you know you have a new nephew. Our son, Everett was born on November 5th,
and is doing very well. We don’t see much of Mary or Ida now, but plan to get together over Christmas which will be nice. They both seem pretty happy, but I think Ida really misses her work.
Thank you for letting us know about your son, Richard. It is nice that he and our Everett will be the same age, and we can compare notes about how they are progressing.
Florence and Oscar had a baby too, on September 21st, and called him Arthur.
On the morning of the 21st of January a pressure area of moderate intensity was centered over
southern North Dakota and, during the ensuing 24 hours, moved rapidly eastward, followed by the coldest weather of the present winter thus far down to 40 or 50 below zero.
We now have a radio, and can pick up WDAY from Fargo sometimes. We gather around it in the evenings after the chores are done and listen to it with awe. And there is a new moving picture house in Pettibone, which Nick says he will take us there when the weather improves enough for us to be assurred of getting there and back safely.
And for some other headlines of what has happened in the State.
The first motor vehicle bridge across the Missouri River was completed at Bismarck.
The State Mill and Elevator began operations at Grand Forks .
North Dakota Wheat Growers' Association was founded.
We did manage to get a summer trips to Minnesota for fishing this year. We went in June after the crops were planted and stayed about a week. We really needed a break after Richard was a born. We went to Rustad, Minn. and fished in Lake Crystal and Lake Franklin. We go to that area even though Bertha and her family have moved out to Oregon, her brother-in-law lives there still, and has a place where we can stay.
A uniform system for numbering and marking state highways has been developed. The profile of Sioux leader Marcellus Red Tomahawk was designated as the state highway symbol. Some people are not very happy about that.
I can’t believe that in such a short time since you last wrote to tell us about your new baby, which you named after your husband, that you have lost your husband. I am so sorry. How will you cope? I think you should not stay there, but go to Canby. Bertha is there, and she has been through a similar experience, and she can help you cope with it. She says such nice things about Canby, that it truly must be the next best thing to Heaven, living there.
During the winter we have been going to lots of card parties amongst the neighbours. We all go and the younger children play by themselves until they fall asleep on the pile of coats. The older children join the adults playing cards. Chester is quite good at bridge. We often have as many as four tables. We either go to Len's or the Dahles or to the Fishers, or they come here. A big lunch is always served about midnight and sometimes the party isn't over until about 3. When the roads are bad everyone goes by team and sled.
I haven't written in this book for such a long time. I guess the only thing I want to add now that we just came back from Lake Isabel near Dawson. On other nice weekends we try to get to Lake Williams at least once in the summer for picnics and swimming.
March 10, 1924
Thank you for the telegram letting us know about Pa’s death. It was not unexpected, as you say, he was 75, but he had a good and long life, with many children to carry on the memory of him and what he accomplished. I’m sorry I couldn’t get there to see him before he died, or to go to his funeral.
I expect you will stay there now, as you are established, and with our Bertha and Mary so close by, that must be a help to you.
from Laura and family
went to Chester's Eighth Grade Graduation on 23rd June this year. They held the ceremony for the children from all the township schools at Steele. He got a big certificate, which he is so proud of. It even gives all his marks which I am writing down here.
Reading 77, Orthography 77, Writing 75, Arithmetic 78 Grammar 76, Geography 66, History 65, Physiology 74, Civics 65, Agriculture 69. He will got to Pettibone High School in September.
Dear Bertha and Mary,
I know you see a lot of each other, so I thought I could save myself work and write to you both together. I know that Bertha's son, Carroll, is now living with you, Mary, so that makes your connection even closer.
Chester has taken a horse and has ridden into Pettibone times when the weather hasn't been too bad, but now that it is winter, he will have stay there. He can board with the parents of one of his friends, Joseph Rood. I know his mother, as she has a Norwegian background too, and we got talking and became friends.
Our new little boy, Laurence Hugh, named after me, is doing very well. He was born on September 19th. It is nice that my sister-in-law Lydia’s son Leonard is a similar age, and Lydia is pregnant and due in January. He reminds me of how Chester looked when he was tiny. And another cousin from Benjamin and Caroline. Harriet was born last year, and Caroline is expecting again too.
Chester is really enjoying his school days at Pettibone High School and doing very well. He is interested in science. He says he would like to go to College, but I think he would have to get a job and pay his own way there.
I expect you’ve heard about Agnes’ newest baby - born in March so not such a baby anymore. He is called Donald.
My mother-in-law, Teuntje, moved to Renville Minnesota a few years ago, as she has relatives and friends from Holland there, and then she got married to a man called Mr. De Jong. But he only lasted a few months, and now she is a widow again. I think she might want to come back here now to be nearer her sons.