Another IAGenWeb Project

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Thomas The Blacksmith

Thomas was born in Swanton, Vermont in 1834. When he reached his full stature, he was five feet ten inches tall. He had black hair, dark eyes and complexion. His occupation was a blacksmith.

Tom married Miss Phoebe A. Hall July 9, 1853, in Chazy, New York. The Rev. Ira Hall, Phoebe's Granduncle, performed the wedding ceremony. Chazy was on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. When one checks the map the distance from Swanton, Vermont to Chazy, New York is not very far. The two towns are on opposite shores of Lake Champlain.

The Miners started their family in New York. They had a daughter, Florence, born in 1854; a son, Edward, born in 1856; a second daughter, Dora, born in 1860, and a second son, Merrit, born in 1862. It has not been determined the name of the town where each of the children were born.

Thomas enlisted in the Union Army on November 17, 1863, in Plattsburg, New York. He became a member of Company B, 118th New York Volunteers. He was discharged July 3,1865 at Fort Monroe, Virginia. He received an honorable discharge. He was 31 years old.

The family was reunited in Nashua, Iowa that same year, 1865. The family continued to grow with the birth of a son, Herbert in 1869, another daughter, Pearl in 1871, and another son, Frank in 1875.

The Miner family seemed to prosper. There were a number of land transactions recorded in the Nashua area. Apparently, Phoebe had the business sense in the family. This conclusion was made because all the records examined requiring Thomas' signature were marked with an "X." His name was signed but the "X" was noted as his mark.

On January 24,1898 Phoebe passed away. Thomas was 64 years old. Phoebe was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery in Nashua. In a letter sent to the Clerk of Court, New Hampton, IA, William B. Perrin asked for a "report of the death of Phebe A. Miner. If there is such a report, please send a certified copy." The answer from M. H. O'Neill was: "There is no report of the death of Phebe A. Miner in our records." Signed by M. H. O'Niell, Clk.

The life of a widower was not long lasting for Tom. A Return of Marriage License To the Clerk of the District Court of Floyd Countv certifies that on the "31st day of August 1900 in St. Charles Township in said County according to law, and by authority, I duly joined in Marriage Thomas E. Miner and Emma Usher given under my hand this 31st day of Aug 1900." (signed) H. W. Troy, Pastor. She was a few years younger than Tom, and was born in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada.

The Clerk of the district Court, Willard Perrin filed a true copy of the Marriage Record in the marriage Record Book "H" page 473.

Thomas Eugene Miner, the blacksmith, passed away June 7,1906. He was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery next to Phoebe. He lived 71 years, 9 months and 7 days.

Contributed by Roland L. "Bud" Miner.


Henry H. Mixer, MD
New Hampton
DR. MIXER is of patriotic blood, both of his grandfathers having been soldiers in the revolutionary war. He is a son of Julius U. Mixer, an Ohio farmer, and Belinda Simmons, and was born in the town of Madison, Lake county, on the 25th of April, 1828. His paternal grandfather was one of the early settlers on the "Western Reserve," and his father occupied part of the original homestead until his death. During the war of 1812-15 his father, concealed in some bushes, saw a small number of British soldiers come ashore on Lake Erie, kill one of his oxen and carry it off. They left two sovereigns done up in a rag and stuck up on a pole, with some writing inside stating that if that was not enough for the ox they would pay the rest when they came again!
Henry was educated at Grand River Academy, a manual labor school, in Ashtabula county. At nineteen went to Lake Mills, Jefferson county, Wiscousin, and taught a select school two years; commenced reading medicine at that place with Dr. Joslyn ; finished with Dr. Lorenzo A. Hamilton, of Chardon, Geauga county, Ohio; attended lectures in the medical department of the Western Reserve College, Cleveland, and graduated at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the autumn of 1854.
Dr. Mixer practiced at Chardon until the autumn of 1859; was in the drug business one year at Painesville. In the spring of 1861 went to Columbia county, Wisconsin, entered the service in August of that year as assistant surgeon in the navy and served three years, two-thirds of this time on the famous United States gunboat Lexington. He was surgeon of the Indianola when it was captured below Vicksburg, and was in the hands of the rebels for three months, acting as surgeon in one of their hospitals at Vicksburg.
In October, 1865, Dr. Mixer located at New Hampton, the seat of justice of Chickasaw county, Iowa, where he is still found, the leading practitioner of the village and the county. His experience during the war was of great service to him, and he has an excellent and well-merited reputation both as a surgeon and general practitioner. His consulting business far exceeds that of any other physician in this part of the state. His rides extend into adjoining counties. The doctor is quite public-spirited, and interests himself in matters outside of his profession, though he has not much time to attend to them. He is descended from a long line of farmers, and is himself a lover of agricultural pursuits. He has been president of the Chickasaw County Agricultural Society several years, and has done very much to develop the resources of the county of his adoption. He has had, from the start, great faith in New Hampton, and has aided essentially its prosperity. He was twice elected mayor of the city by a unanimous vote, and was very efficient as an executive officer.
Dr. Mixer is a republican in politics, but very independent; is a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows orders; a communicant in the Congregational church, and a man of unquestioned purity of life. His intellectual and social qualities are excellent.
His wile was Miss Mary Phelps, of Chardon, Ohio, their union taking place on the 6th of September, 1854. She is a daughter of Judge Alfred Phelps, many years an honored citizen of Chardon, and a sister of Seth I. Phelps, twenty years in the United States navy, and now chairman of the cornmissioners of the theI District of Columbia. She is a christian woman, of most excellent mind and highly cultivated manners.
Dr. Mixer has light blue eyes, and a light complexion; is five feet and eight inches tall; weighs two hundred and fifteen pounds, and has an unusually good physique.

Source: Iowa Biographical Dictionary, 1878, Page 684.
Transcribed By Mike Peterson


Andrina Oline was born October 29, 1873 at Saude in a log house where the Saude store later stood. She was the daughter of Norwegian immigrant parents, Ole Anderson Sjobakken (1837 - 1901) from Laerdal, Sogn and his wife, Synneva Anfinson Sjobakken (1841 - 1923) from Sogndal, Sogn. They migrated to the Norwegian settlement north of Lawler, Iowa in 1869, where they made their permanent home. Three of the nine children born to Ole and Synneva; Dorthia, Ingeborg Marie, and Anfin, passed away in early childhood. Andrew, Anna, Dorthia, Andrina, Sophia, and Rudolph grew to adulthood and established lives of their own.

Ole was a man of many skills. Besides caring for his farm, he also worked as a stone mason. He built the foundation for the first frame church (1875 - 1903) for the Little Turkey Lutheran Congregation now the Saude Lutheran Congregation. Some of the old homes in the area have sturdy stone foundations that, to this day, manifest his skill.

Grandmother was a true pioneer woman enduring many hardships in order to care for her family. She never lost her love for music and I can still see her sitting at the kitchen table singing Norwegian hymns and folk songs.

Mother and her siblings attended the rural schools then known as English school and the church school where the Norwegian language was used to teach religious subjects. She was a member of the last class of Pastor John P. Moses, first resident pastor at Saude and Crane Creek (now, Jerico) Congregations. Her brothers Andrew and Rudolph learned the blacksmithing trade and earned a reputation as excellent plow men (blacksmithing and repair). They both loved music and played the violin-fiddle.

On July 15, 1907 my mother, Andrina, married my father, Muns, in the home of her sister, Sophia, and her husband, Charles, in Cresco, Iowa. They lived in Cresco until the spring when they returned to the farm in the Saude area. I was born in 1909 and Sophia in 1911 to complete our family of four.

Mother was a woman of many skills. She managed her household well, did beautiful hand work, and drew accurate plans for our house and farm buildings in 1919 - 1920. In contrast, she did farm work and confidently drove three horses pulling farm machinery in the field. She was a life- long, active member of the Saude Lutheran Church. Records show she was an active member of the Saude Auxiliary of the Red Cross WWI.

When Dad died January 6, 1934, Mother and I continued living on the farm. I married Fred Steensland in 1938 and Sophia married Frank Dow in 1939. Mother continued to call the farm her home, but spent much time in the home of Frank and Sophia. She died on the farm May 13, 1954 of cancer, and was laid to rest in the Saude Lutheran Cemetery.

Written by Martha Munson Steensland
Contributed by Jim Johnson, October 2009


My father, Muns Munson, was born September 1, 1858 near Madison, Wisconsin and baptized by Rev. Adolph C. Preus, on September 19, 1858, in the East Koshkonong Lutheran Church. This was the first Norwegian Lutheran Congregation organized in this country. His parents, Melchior and Martha, demonstrated the strong will and spirit of pioneers. Before he was three years old, he traveled with his family west to Crawford County, Wisconsin. In a short time, they moved in ox-drawn covered wagons, along with their cattle and belongings, across the Iowa prairies, to Elk Point, South Dakota. This necessitated the crossings of the Mississippi, Des Moines, and Sioux Rivers, difficult and brave feats. Fear of the Sioux Indians and poor crops forced them to once again pack up their belongings and move to Iowa, settling in Chickasaw County. These moves made lasting impressions on the seven-year-old boy. I remember Dad describing incidents, which occurred during these trips.

My sister and I did not know our father as a young man, so we learned of his younger years from what he and our mother told us, and from incidents told by our cousins. From the age of seven through manhood, he lived with his family on a small farm in what was called the Little Turkey Settlement of Chickasaw County, Iowa. He attended the county's rural schools with Norwegian, Irish and other children. The Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church, which had been established in the area in 1857, conducted a "Norwegian School" providing instruction in the mother tongue and also in religion. The teacher, Sjur Vikdal, suggested that Muns was the kind of young man who ought to go on to a higher school, namely, Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. This did not take place as his help was sorely needed on the farm. Pastor John P. Moses, from whom he received confirmation instruction, rated him as an excellent student. Because many of the farm youths had a deep desire for learning, a so-called "spelling" school was formed. Here Dad, with other young people, gathered, studied and exchanged information and ideas.

My father's sisters, Jane, Ellen and Mary, and his brother, Halvor, married and left home. Emma taught school for many years and also worked as a stenographer in Chicago. This left his youngest sister, Anna, and my father at home to care for their aging parents. After they died, Anna's health became critical, and she died in 1905. Our father was left alone. He acquired more land and now owned a 240-acre farm. He solved his loneliness by marrying Andrina Sjobakken, a neighbor girl, on July 15, 1907. The newlyweds lived for a short time in Cresco, Iowa, and then returned to the farm. They remodeled the old house, improved the farm buildings, and farmed prosperously. The old home had new life. Two daughters were born to them, Martha and Sophia. As always, my father was keyed to the times. I remember Sophia and my excitement when he bought a De Laval cream separator, so it was no longer necessary to haul milk to the creamery to have it separated. The cream was sold and made into butter and the skim milk hauled back to the farm and fed to calves and small pigs. About that time, Dad purchased a big Overland car and an Edison Phonograph. I also remember, on the 16-mile trip to New Hampton, Dad would point out fields and farms where he had helped break virgin sod with oxen and horses, and we would recognize the special emotions these memories evoked.

When well into his 60's, he felt the restlessness of the land boom of the 1920's. He sold the farm and acquired a good 80-acre tract of land for his retirement. A new set of buildings were erected on the eighty, one mile west from the old farm, and our family moved there in 1921. The buyers of the old farm were unable to fulfill their contract, and in a short time, the old farm reverted back to our father.

Mother was now Dad's constant companion and helper. At this time, our Grandmother Sjobakken, now in her 80's, came to live with us, and was cared for in our home until her death 18 months later. My father's health began to fail in 1932, but he would not give up the farm work. He said, "I want to die with my boots on". We remember him saying that he "abhorred idle uselessness." In the fall of 1933 his close friend and nephew, Hans Grimso, was killed in the collapse of the New Oregon bridge near Cresco. The shock added to his failing health, and he died at home January 6, 1934 at the age of 75. Burial was at the Saude Lutheran Church Cemetery.

Dad's desire for knowledge never ceased. He read a great deal in both Norwegian and English: church periodicals, farm periodicals, daily and weekly papers, especially enjoying the Decorah Posten and Ved Arnen. He acquired many shelves of books, including the classical and popular ones of the day.

In his mature years, he had acquired a good knowledge of civil law, the business of farming, and a firm understanding of the Christian faith. His fairness and quiet good judgment often placed him in the position of settling disputes in the neighborhood, acting as executor of estates, and sometimes as the spokesman for receiving an inheritance from the old country. He was a life-long member and faithful worker of The Saude Lutheran Church and one of three Trustees in 1903 when the present church was built. The former church had been struck by lightning and burned.

My father was a kind, gentle man, fair-minded in all his dealings, a good husband and father, and loved by his family.

Written by Martha Munson Steensland
Contributed by Jim Johnson, October 2009


When parents have six children, all boys, and a seventh child is on the way, they usually hope it will be a girl. Such may have been the case with Halvor and Anna Munson, but on August 1, 1880, their seventh son was born at their home near Lawler, Iowa. At his baptism, they gave him a Norwegian name, Toger, presumably after Melchior's brother, Toger. The English version, Thomas Wilhelm became his legal name, but most people called him Tom.

He received his education in the nearby schools, most of it in the school building now at Adolph Munson Park. When only twenty years old, he took up farming on his own account, operating part of his father's 640-acre farm for two years. Being secretary of the Nansen Creamery was his community service activity.

September 24, 1902, at the Saude Lutheran parsonage, their pastor pronounced Tom and Anna Robinson, husband and wife. Their attendants were Marie and Adolph, Tom's sister and brother, Louie Robinson, Anna's brother, and Martha Attleson, who would marry Adolph three months later. After a wedding trip to St. Paul, they returned to begin preparations for farming the 240-acre farm they had purchased from Tom's parents near Iola in southeastern Kansas.

At Iola, Lady Luck flirted with them briefly as oil was discovered near them. "Near" did not help, and in 1905, they traded their 240-acres in Kansas to J. Flaherty for his 160-acres on the Chickasaw-Howard County (Iowa) line, 1/2 mile east of what is now U.S. highway 63. They eventually enlarged this farm to four adjoining "eighties" in Chickasaw County, which they farmed for the next 40 years.

The buildings on the Flaherty farm were in the southwest corner of the Howard County "eighty", near where "Willie" Marik now lives. They wanted new and better buildings and decided to move the buildings they had across the county line onto their Chickasaw County "eighty" but 1/3 mile east. They first built a horse barn with lumber purchased for a building on their Kansas farm. Rail freight rates must have been low. A cow barn was built in 1908 with "T. W. MUNSON" and "1908" painted in large letters which the painter agreed to do for a case of beer. In 1913, a five-bedroom house was built with central heat and indoor plumbing which few farm houses had at the time. They eventually built at least ten buildings.

In 1910, Tom was elected Chickasaw County Supervisor for Utica and Jacksonville Townships. He was reelected serving until 1916. Serving as secretary and later president of the Jerico Creamery were other community endeavors.

From 1929 to the early 1940's, Tom did custom work for a "ring" (group) of neighbors. It started with buying a silage cutter/blower to fill the wooden stave silos that Tom and other neighbors had purchased in 1929. The "ring" of neighbors would help one another with hauling the heavy, green bundles of corn to the silo to be cut and blown into the silo. Tom also threshed oats for some of the neighbors, and had an elevator for filling the granaries. The wife of the farmer for whom the work was being done, provided a noon meal and there was competition among the wives to see who could provide the best meal. It was a high point of the year for socializing among the neighbors.

Unlike the "family farms" of the 1980's, which tend to specialize and have only a few sources of income, Tom's farm had income from a variety of sources. He raised and fed Aberdeen Angus steers which were taken in rail carload lots to Chicago to be sold to a meat packer through a commission house. These cattle would be herded along the eight miles to Alta Vista in the early morning hours by several people and were then loaded on a Great Western Railroad stock car for their long ride to the meat packing center. Large numbers of hogs were raised and fed for market. Cows were milked and chickens were raised, the cream and egg checks being steady cash income. Main crops were corn, oats, and hay, but these were largely fed to the animals.

Soybeans were grown but usually sold for cash. The custom work, filling silos and threshing, provided some income, Tom thought it paid off with the additional use of his tractor. Another off the farm use for the tractor was in "grading", smoothing out the ruts in roads with a county-supplied grader. Tom had the four miles from U. S. Highway 63 at the Chickasaw-Howard County line, east two miles and two miles south to Jerico.

His own oil well had eluded him in Kansas, but in the 1930's, a natural resource was discovered on his farm. Test drillings confirmed a gravel deposit between the barnyard and Crane Creek. The Bouska Construction Company of Protivin contracted to remove the gravel, most of which was used for surfacing roads. Each truckload going out was additional cash income for the farm.

Food for the family came from cattle (meat, milk and cream), hogs, chickens (eggs and meat) and a large garden. Tom did not like to plant or pick potatoes and rationalized his way around this task by saying that if his potatoes did well, the potato farmers at nearby St. Answer would do well too, and he could buy potatoes from them for fifty cents per hundred pounds. He didn't want to "break his back" for fifty cents a hundred!

Farming was hard work then, but there was still time for relaxation. The DES MOINES REGISTER was delivered to the farm seven days a week, barring snow-closed roads. Work frequently stopped when the paper arrived, not necessarily to see what was happening in the world, but to see in The Nebbs comic strip. Rudy, Fanny, Slider and Potts brought many good laughs to days when there were few laughs. Ding Darling's cartoons were another favorite.

When Margaret Mitchell’s "Gone With the Wind" was published in June, 1936, and reprinted 37 times its first year out, Tom borrowed a copy and read the 1,037 pages in two days. Tom and Anna visited St. Paul-Minneapolis regularly and made it a point to be there June 8, 1925 for the centennial celebration of the first Norwegian emigration. President Calvin Coolidge praised the throngs of Norwegians at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for being good citizens and said Leif Ericson had discovered America. (It will be interesting to see how this is treated when the quintcentennial of Columbus' Carribean expedition comes up in 1992!) When in Minneapolis, they liked to visit the "cathedral" of Norwegian Lutherans, Central Lutheran Church.

Tom and Anna traveled more than many of their peers, almost all of it confined to Iowa and the adjoining states. In September of 1938, armed with road maps and addresses of relatives and friends they had not seen in years, they headed for the west coast in a 1936 Ford V-8. Our present freeway system was only a dream most of the roads were one lane in each direction. The roads across the mountains were very scenic, but also very scary with sharp turns and no guardrails to prevent going over the side and down to certain death. This 5,000-mile trip took them to the State of Washington, down the west coast to Los Angeles and back to New Hampton. Having built at least ten buildings on their farm, in addition to the road construction projects Tom was responsible for as a county supervisor, it is not surprising that the highlight of their trip was a huge construction project in progress, the 551 foot high Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, 80 miles northwest of Spokane.

Torn played the fiddle well enough that he and his friend, Jack Johnson, won several fiddlers contests. They had many opportunities to practice at the numerous dances they played for, usually with piano accompaniment.

Hard work kept him slender and robust through most of his life. Two serious injuries may have contributed to his death two weeks before his 65th birthday, as four of his brothers lived into their 80's. While butchering a steer in 1932, the steer reared up and a front foot carne down on Tom's ankle, causing multiple fractures and sprains. Dr. M.J. McGrane did his best to reconstruct the ankle, but it was never the same. In 1944, he was arranging bales in a hay wagon when the tractor pulling the wagon lunged, throwing him off backwards to land on his head. A vertebra was fractured and recovery was slow.

He retired in March of 1945 and moved into a house they had purchased at 414 North Chestnut Avenue in New Hampton. The sudden inactivity caused him to gain weight for perhaps the first time in his life.

A stroke in early July 1945 caused his death July 18, 1945, at the New Hampton Hospital. Funeral services were held at the Jerico Lutheran Church with Rev. Neelak S. Tjernagel officiating.

Source: Melchior and Martha Munson Family History, 1812-1989, complied by Paul L. Munson.
Transcribed by Jim Johnson, September 2009