Meroa, Iowa - 1977
by Gertrude Crowell
Part 3 of 7
Transcribed by Deidre Badker
Walnut Grove # 7 Teacher Recollections
What follows are recollections from various teachers who taught at the country school in Meroa.
Taught from 1922-23. There are a few one room country school house buildings left in the state of Iowa. The one in which I began teaching still stands across the road from the Rock Creek Lutheran church and is now used as a community hall. I proudly point to the building whenever I pass by, and say, "There is where my teaching career began."
After obtaining a teaching certificate in 1922, my plans were to help at home on the farm for a year. But, in December I responded to a call to finish out the school year teaching in the Meroa school.
I was privileged to stay on a farm with a wonderful family, Mr. & Mrs. Carl Norby and their four children: Rosella, Herbert, Kenneth and Loren. All the children attended school except Loren, the youngest. The family made me feel very much at home. I think the children were a little awed at having teacher in their home, because I can't recall hearing them quarreling or misbehaving. They were bright, obedient children, a joy to have in school.
Either my father or brother Alvin would take me to school on Monday morning and then get me on Friday. It was on these trips that Alvin noticed Rosella who eight years later became his wife. Little did I dream that my bright eighth grade student would some day be my sister-in-law.
The school building was a typical country school with kerosene lights, desks fastened to the floor, teacher's desk on a platform in front of a long recitation bench, a water bucket and dipper in a corner, and a round bellied stove with a flat top in the back of the room. The latter was sometimes used for heating soup or a vegetable for lunch. It was the beginning of today's school "hot lunch" program. The water bucket was replenished at the Lawrence Olsen farm.
The school enrollment numbered 12 and I believe nearly all eight grades were represented. One advantage was that children learned from each other. A community box lunch social was a highlight of entertainment held at the school. The beautifully decorated lunch boxes were auctioned off to the highest bidder. You can imagine the competition among the young people.
In the winter a sled path became worn down a slope behind the school building to the creek below. The children had to duck under a barbed wire fence which caused me plenty of concern. Fortunately, no one received serious injuries.
The county superintendent, Blanche McLaughlin, paid an unannounced visit to school, after which a rating slip was found on my desk. She was encouraging and I continued to enjoy 40 years of teaching. The last 26 years were spent in St. Louis County, Missouri.
Mabel Wherry Erbe was hired to teach in 1923. In December 1921 she was married to John Erbe. She had a baby girl on November 14, 1922, so did not teach that year, but did go back to teaching the following year. She lived a mile or so west of the school and during the winter John always took her to the schoolhouse. She received $85 per month. Her new students that year were Lorraine Norby 5.Marian Amundson 6 and Mary Hobbs 6.
Borghild taught from 1924 to 1929. Her pay ranged from $65 to $75 per month. She had received her first eight years of education at the school she was now hired to teach at. She states that enrollment was much less than when she was a pupil. Her parents lived in Osage so she stayed at a house one half mile from school. The following are some of her recollections:
The woes of a country school teacher! Having had a Rover, Fido and Shep, I still almost froze in my tracks when a stray dog came along. And such was the case one fall. A beautiful German Shepherd dog came each afternoon for several days and waited on the steps until closing time. The children nor I knew not where it belonged. The children hesitated about leaving for home as they, too, were frightened but naturally had to leave and the dog would follow a short ways, and then return to wait for me to leave. After sweeping floors, cleaning blackboards and preparing lessons for the next day, I hoped the dog would be tired of waiting, but no, there it still was! With fast beating heart I left, mascot close by my side following me to the hill just north of the school, then it would turn around and leave for its home. After several days of the same routine it disappeared as mysteriously as it had come.
Ireland doesn't have anything on Walnut Grove school when it comes to snakes. Along the bluffs were snakes of all sizes and colors; big ones swimming in the creek, one time counted six laying side by side sunning themselves. They, too, were the dread of pupils and teacher.
But we had our good times also. In the spring flowers abounded in the woods and after eating our noon lunch we would hurry across Rock Creek to pick violets, mayflowers, anemones, Jack-in-the Pulpit, and bluebells. In the winter it was sliding down the hill behind the schoolhouse onto the ice covered creek below.
Spelling contests were held throughout Mitchell county and teachers in Cedar No. 7 were asked to make arrangements for the township contest. These contest were held in the basement of Rock Creek Lutheran church just across the road; two contestants from each of the 12 districts in the township were entitled to take part. Charles Peterson was the winning contestant for two years.
Erna Roger Schultheis taught the years 1926-1927. She received $75 a month. She married Harold Schultheis. Her students that year were: Howard Tingelstad 8. Charles Peterson 11. Lester Olsen 11. Kenneth 11, Gertrud 10, Lorraine 8 and Loren Norby 6. Glenn Olson 7. Leland Anderson 5. She taught Orthography, Reading, Writing, Geography, Language, Grammar, History, Physiology, Civil Government, Music and Agriculture.
She recalls having such bright and promising students. She stayed at her aunt's home (Mrs. Herbert Johnson) down the road a half mile south. She tells about the school programs held at Christmas and in the spring. Extra work for preparation for them included providing extra seating and collecting enough gasoline lanterns and kerosene lamps., plus polishing the ones at school. Curtains had to be hung so they would pull back and forth (for a stage of sorts) and they gathered up props, costumes and accessories needed for the dialogues, songs, recitations, etc.
When the "Big Night" arrived, she would cross her fingers in hopes that no one forget their lines or miss a cue, but, always, the program went better than it ever had during practice, to the surprise of all.
She also remembers Charles Peterson strolling in her first afternoon before school started, asking question after question, yet hardly waiting for an answer. And Beatrice Olsen (who lived across the road and was too young yet to attend school) at age 4 walking in, holding her favorite doll and looking over the entire room. She, too, would look over everything, ask numerous questions and then be gone. Erna thought she must have been curious about what went on at that school.
1927-1929: Borghild Sorlie came back as teacher, pay $80 a month. Students were: H. Tingelstad, C. Peterson, K., G., L., Loren, and Harvey Norby 5. H., M., and A. Amundson. John 7 & Harold Gratias 11. G. Olson, Beatrice Olsen 5. Leland Anderson. Evelyn 8 & Beverly Billings 6. Inez Christianson 5. Phyllis Christensen 5. Herman Klemesrud 14, graduated.
1929-1933: Alice Moe, teacher, $65-$80 per month. She married Herbert Norby. Ted Christianson, county director. Students: Gertrude, Lorraine, Loren & Harvey Norby. Clarice 13 and Carmen Huset 7. Marian and Alice Amundson. Evelyn and Beverly Billings. Beatrice Olsen, Inez Christianson. Phyllis Christensen.
2nd Term: Marjorie 13 & Conrad Nelson 15 also attended. C. & C. Huset. Lowell Olsen, 5. Arlene Christianson 5.
I spent four very memorable years at Cedar # 7. Teaching was quite different then, as we were both teacher and janitor. I stayed at home and drove to school. I parked my car in the church barn across from the schoolhouse. The barn was a good place for the children to play hide and seek and anti I over. I remember one spring when I couldn't get home because of the high water. Herbert Johnson came to get the children with a team and wagon. He barely made it through. It was quite a dangerous time when the ice went out in the spring. The creek would get very large and swift.
One year the young people from Cedar No. 7 and Dudley School went together and put on a play. Mrs. Victor Dieterich was teaching Dudley at the time and coached the play.
We also combined with other schools and had a picnic on the last day of school. This would include the whole family. On Arbor day in the spring, the children would bring rakes and we would rake the yard, have a bonfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows.
The third term I taught, the new students were: Clarice Anderson 9. Beverly 10 and Helen Barlow 8. Marvin Johnson 6. Ardis Maakestad 6.
The fourth term Kenneth Anderson 5 started school. A joint picnic of Cedar # 2 and # 7 was held on the last day of school in 1930.
1934: Helene Tyrrell, teacher, $40 per month. She married Merrill Kelley. New students were Marilyn Sorose 10 and Merlyn Huset 6.
1934-1937: Truly Z. Ones, teacher, $40 a month. She married Truman Flaaten of Kensett. Her brother Justin lived in the area. New student added was Norbert Johnson 6. New students for the 2nd term were Robert 7 and Donald Clayton 5. For the 3rd term, LaVerne Olsen 5. Keith Westling 8.
Truly Ones Flatten:
I thought those who taught and attended school at Meroa were very lucky.
It was an ideal setting for a country school. I'm sure our school days were much like those of any other country school. But we had the woods and the creek behind our building. In the spring shortly before school was out for the summer, we would spend one day as clean-up day. We would clean up around the school, eat our lunch, then spend the rest of the day in the woods. After we crossed the creek, there was no bridge at the time, we would hike north and east. As soon as we were out of sight of the school I was lost. But the students who were familiar with the woods would be our guides. It was a great nature study trip. We saw many wild flowers, birds and the different kinds of trees and vines. Our guides led us the full circle back to the school from the southeast. I also saw my first flying squirrel on one of those trips.
The creek gave us many hours of games and skating while it was frozen. One spring, I remained at school until dark to see the ice break. It had been groaning and cracking all day. When it finally broke, it was well worth the wait. As it broke there was such a tremendous crashing as these huge slabs of ice folded and rose straight in the air before falling. In moments the water and ice had over flown the banks and all the low land around. I was glad the bank by the school was so high.
One of my students, Beatrice Olsen Gast, says years later that she remembered one day that she and others went too far up the creek exploring and did not come back in time for school. Their punishment was to stay in the schoolhouse every recess and noon hour for two weeks.
Lorraine Norby (Mrs. Richard Creager) taught school during the years 1937-1938, was paid $65 per month. Her students that year were: Lowell 13 and LaVerne Olsen 7. Marvin 12, Norbert 9 and Merrill Johnson 6. Ardis Maakestad 12. Keith Westling 9. She taught only one year. She lived at home with her mother and brother, Harvey Norby who attended high school in Osage, Iowa. He would drive his car to school every day and drop her off on the way. On the cold days, he would build the fire and carry in the coal for her. Lorraine would pay her brother fifteen cents a week for this chore. Lorraine recalls that she had 6 boys and 1 girl to teach.
Scott E. Tyrrell:
Scott E. Tyrell taught the years of 1938-1939 and received a wage of $65 a month. His sister was Mrs. Don (Winifred) Clark. His memories:
It has been nearly 40 years since I first stepped into the school at Meroa to teach six very lively boys. I had a Merrill Johnson and LaVerne Olsen in 2nd grade, Keith Westling in 4th, Norbert Johnson in 5th and Marvin Johnson and Lowell Olsen in 8th. We used to cross the road to play ball by a barn just north of the church. There weren't too many of us but we had a good time and I had a wonderful group of boys to work with. This was my first school after graduating from high school in 1938. The two oldest boys graduated that year to continue on to high school in Osage.
We had worked very hard to have a good Christmas program as we were combining the Meroa school and Margaret Anderson's school. Misfortune struck as about half of my school got sick with the chicken pox. Anyway, the program went on as scheduled and included a nice lunch afterwards. Rena Jean (Nelson) Tesch was the county superintendent of schools and visited occasionally. Mr. Lawrence Olsen would make the fire on Sunday night so the school would be warm come Monday morning. We also got water from his farm.
I always looked forward to ladies aid at the Rock Creek church across the road, as the ladies would invite me to have goodies. I stayed at Mrs. Mathilda Norby's home and it was home to me. She always put up big lunches so I never went hungry. Harvey would give me a ride to school in his car but many times, I opted to walk after school just to get the exercise. I also would go to 4-H meetings with him as then I got to meet others in the community about my age.
Hazel A. Carrison Clyde:
Hazel Clyde was the teacher in 1940. She and her two children resided above the Meroa General store that year. Her daughter is Mrs. John (June) Metz. There were more students in 1940: Norbert 10 and Merrill Johnson 8. Keith Westling 9. LaVerne Olsen 8. William 7 & June Clyde 9. Helen 13, Elmer 10, Anna Lou 9 and Betty Heinzerling 6. Robert 11 & Keith Olson 8. New families moved into the district and by the end of the year the enrollment had risen to 18.
Marcella Erbe Pederson:
Marcella Erbe (Mrs. Warren) Pederson taught from the fall of 1940 to spring 1941. New students to the school were Barbara Lindley 6 and Gene Maakestad 6.
1942: Dorothy Isaac, teacher. She was a sister to Garland Isaac. Her new students that year were Dean Johnson 5; Lawrence During 12; Gloria Estal 6; Jeannette Maakestad 5; and Loren Berge 6.
Ruby Carter taught at Walnut Grove # 7 from 1942-46. She married Lloyd Coonradt. Her students were: Keith Westling 13. Robert 14 & Keith Olson 11. Lawrence During 13. Elsie Beaham 15. LaVerne Olsen 11. Merrill 11 & Dean Johnson 6. Lowell 5 & Jeannette Maakestad 6. Loren Berge 7. Jimmie Miller 7.
2nd term these students were added: Donald 5 & Phyllis Hutzell 9. Lois Berge 6. Ruth Gillerman 6. Jane 9 & Marjorie Olson 7.
3rd term added Marvin 9 and Joan Norby 7. Arthur Berge 5. Elon Dahley 5.
Ruby wrote: First of all, I was truly "frightened" to begin teaching there January 4, 1942, to know there would be nine boys and one girl - the boys three and four years younger than I, but I couldn't have asked for a nicer group. As with the other teachers, she remembers the two big events as being the Christmas program and the school picnic. Sometimes there were upwards of 90 people at those picnics.
When we had Valentine parties, I recall going to Herbert and Frances Johnson's and freezing the ice cream and Merrill and Dean would pull it to school the next day on their sled. We had home-made Valentines, sometimes using wallpaper or construction paper.
Once a month was the church ladies' dinner across the road where we would all go and eat in the kitchen that day for 20 cents. Their small children would visit with us in the classroom while they conducted their meeting in the afternoon.
The skating, sliding, tobogganing on the creek in winter and the rafts the boys built in the spring. The first spring I fell off the raft during noon recess, fortunately it was the last day, but I stayed, wet clothes and all. They dried but I was a mess.
I remember the terrific hospitality and the 'suppers' at the students' homes, especially Inga Olson and her canned meat. The teacher always got the best chair when visiting, poor Dad having to give it up to the teacher. I stayed with Mathilda Norby the first year, Harvey giving me a ride to school, they were so kind.
One winter I stayed with Mae, Beverly and Betty Williams above the store. We skated one night on the creek. As for the church, I remember their bazaars and a rag doll Grandma Bertha Williams had made. I admired it so. Herbert Johnson, Lawrence Olsen and maybe Julius Olson, too, all chipped in and bought it for me, I think it was 75 cents. She has a black face and is named Lilly. I still have her and she has visited each class I have taught.
A tree was laid across the creek so the Finsand boys could cross to get to their house without getting wet. The Finsand's home was in the thick of the woods, they told how they would wake up and find squirrels on their shoes in the house.
One afternoon we went on a newspaper drive around the area. Lawrence Olsen provided the tractor and hayrack. LaVerne drove it, the rest of us sat on bales of hay. We collected two ton of paper, which Lawrence pulled to town behind his car, the hayrack being on a rubber tired, 4 wheel trailer. Merrill Johnson, LaVerne Olsen and I rode on top of the load to Donsker's Junk Yard. We made $20 as paper was ten dollars a ton. We used the money to buy a record player, art supplies, etc. We also collected milkweed pods which were dried in mesh onion sacks, hung on the school fence posts. Someone would come by and collect them. They were used in Mae West's Lifejackets in place of Kapok. For this, we received ten cents a bag. The children would collect milk pods while home and sometimes we hiked the roadways and woods to find them. I was 19 years old when I started teaching there. After leaving there, I am now a teacher at an elementary school in Urbandale, Des Moines, Iowa.
During the 4th term I taught, the students were Jeanne Brandau 12. P., D., and Russell Hutzell 5. J. & M. Olson. Sue Palmer 11. L. Lois and Arthur Berge. Dean Johnson. Larry Warrington 7. Elon and Wayne Dahley 5. James Kruger 5. Mary Lou Klemesrud 12. Orpha Noble was the county superintendent.
Other Notes of Interest About
Walnut Grove # 7:
It seemed to be popular to visit school, once it sounded as if an entire school visited in 1902. Olava Docken did not know the name of a visitor while she taught so she wrote "A Trapper" visited.
The reasons for closing the school for a day or more were many and varied: creamery meeting, board meeting, funeral, wedding, sugar or gas rationing, 4th war loan drive, teachers' institute, stormy weather, election, county fair, sickness, corn-hog signup, Santa Claus Pageant in Osage, spelling contest…were just some of the justifications given. It was mentioned in the school ledgers that two students were expelled for unruly conduct. Arbor Day was observed by raking and cleaning the yard.
Some of the reasons given for students missing a day of school were: sickness; left the district; attended only one week; quit to start work; gone west (in 1885); cold weather; dropped to work in the field; in fact, many of the boys only attended school during the winter time.
Farms of Meroa
What follows next are the farms that existed or exist now in Meroa, West Cedar Township, Mitchell County, Iowa in 1977.
Ahrens, Kenneth - 180 acres
Kenneth and Susan (Saltou) Ahrens moved here in 1963. They are parents of three sons: Christopher, Benjamin and Gergory. Kenneth purchased the farm from his mother, Mrs. Rosella Ahrens Klemesrud in 1972.
Alvin and Rosella (Norby) Ahrens moved here in 1944. They had six children: Elaine (Mrs. Keith Harmon) of Mason City; Lois (Mrs. Gerald Honken) of Dayton, Ohio; Dorothy (Mrs. James Moody) of Osage; Kenneth of Rudd; Keith and Marlys deceased. They bought the farm in 1943 from the Amelia Marie Wilk Estate.
Theodore and Wilma (Brewer) Dieterichs moved here in 1931. They are parents of three children: Kathryn (Mrs. Dale Shoger) of Rudd; Janet (Mrs. Peter J. Hince), Oak Lawn, Illinois; and William of St. Louis, Missouri.
Albert and Amelia (Dieterichs) Wilk bought this farm in 1890 and lived here until 1934 when Albert died and Amelia continued in the big house until her death in 1942. Ted and Wilma lived in the tenant house nine years and when Amelia's health failed they moved into the big house and cared for her. After Ted and Wilma moved out of the tenant house, it was occupied by their hired man, Chris Benker and wife in 1939. Henry and Buelah Birklholz also had lived there.
Albert built the big house and the tenant house was moved from Meroa in the 1920's. It is the same floor plan as the house Mrs. Mildred Williams now owns. The older part of the evergreen grove was planted by Albert Wilk many years ago. However, the newer rows on the north side were planted by Ted, probably 1940.
Other residents of the tenant house in the past were: Odin Sorose, Dean Adams, Lloyd Gillermans, Melvin Lindleys, Glen Richards, Keith Olson, Don Ristings, E. Newtons.
The farm was bought from the U.S. Government in 1856 by a Calvin Owen. - Thanks to Rosella Klemesrud and Wilma DeBerg for above info.
Apel, Clara -- 237 Acres
In 1893 George Apel and wife Catherine bought the farm from H. P. Erbe and wife Anna. Their daughter Anna married Albert Decker and they bought the farm from her parents in 1894. They had three daughters: Luella (Mrs. Fred Ehlebrecht) - they operated the Rudd Implement Store; Mabel (Mrs. Will Moeller); Irene (Mrs. Arthur Moore). The Ehlebrechts and Moellers have passed away. The Moore's live on a farm near Rudd.
Albert Decker built the house which is still in use. A part of the old house was moved and is used for a granary. In 1895 Albert Decker gave a parcel of land on the southeast corner for the site to build the Eden Presbyterian church. At that time this territory was evidently called Rock Creek, Iowa.
In 1936 Decker sold the place to H.L. Shankland. That is when Will Moellers moved. In 1943 my father, Martin Apel, bought it and put it in my name and I inherited it when he died in 1948. I had the silo, hog house and corn crib built.
These are the various families that have lived on the farm: Lester Andersons, Glenn Markhams, Francis Kobernusz, a Hansen family, Garland Isaac, Harold Doescher and the present tenant, Harvey Frables. There may be more but these are the ones that I could arrive at now.
Kenneth and Linda (Shoger) Brandau rent the land. - Thanks to Clara Apel for above information.
Berge, Loren P. -- 160 Acres
Loren and Barbara (Harrington) Berge moved here after their marriage in June 1961. They have five children: Perry, Jerome, Orene, Ann and Eric.
Mrs. Louise Berge and her sister, Borghild Sorlie own the farm, purchasing it from their father, Lars P. Lorlie, in 1946. It was their birthplace. In 1939 Mr. Sorlie built a seven room house replacing one which was part log. The farm is divided by a north/south gravel road that runs through it. The house and gardens set to the west of the road, the barn and other outbuildings are to the east. It is approximately 1 and one half miles due north of Meroa.
The farm was purchased from the U.S. Government in 1955 by Edward C. David. In 1868 Ole O. Fjelde purchased it, selling it in 1908 to Lars L. Sorlie.
Lars L. and (wife) Maren (Lund) Sorlie made it their home until the spring of 1919 when they moved to Osage where they had purchased a house the year before.
The Sorlie family consisted of: Inga, Lydia, Clara (Mrs. C. B. Flenn), Borghild, Lars, Hilmar, Louise (Mrs. Pervin Berge) and Oscar. Mr. Sorlie passed away in March 1947 and Mrs. Sorlie in October 1968.
Pervin and Louise Berge moved to the farm in 1936. After their marriage in 1933 they lived for 2 ˝ years in Rock Township. Their children are: Loren, Lois (Mrs. Charles Ruehlow), Arthur, Elizabeth, all of Osage, and Margaret of San Antonio, Texas. After Pervin's death in 1959 Louise continued to live on the farm until Loren married, then she moved to Osage.
Tenants on the farm have been: The James Forbes family 1919-1923; the Gilbert Anderson family 1923-1926, and again 1933-1936. During the years 1926-1932, Mr. Sorlie worked the farm himself. - Thanks to Borghild Sorlie and Louise Berge
Berge, Oscar -- 171 Acres
Oscar and Myrtle (Anderson) Berge bought this farm in 1964 from his mother Tilda L. Berge.
Lars and Tilda (Gisleson) Berge were parents of three children: Stella (Mrs. Everett Martin); Pervin and Oscar. Lars and John P. Berge bought the farm in 1902 from Herman Weinreh. In 1906 L. P. Berge bought it from John P. Berge.
When Oscar was married, Tilda moved to St. Ansgar and then later to Osage, Iowa.
Christianson, Andrew -- 100 Acres
This house, still standing straight and level, has not been lived in for about 20 years, nor has the owner lived here since Andrew Christianson died in 1931. The first abstract entry was from the United States of America to a Mr. Abbott in 1856.
Andrew Heen (Christianson), the son of Christian Heen was born in Ringerike, Norway in 1842. In 1869 he married Johanna Petersdatter and with her infant son, Peter, they immediately immigrated to America. They came as far as Adams, Minnesota, which at that time was the end of the railroad. Andrew Heen then took his father's first name, added son to the end and became known as Andrew Christianson. The family lived on various farms in the area until purchasing this farm in 1891. Peter and five other surviving children: Ole Christian (known as O.C.), John, Edward, Theodore, and Anna (Mrs. Victor Julien) grew to adulthood here. Johanna's mother, Gunhild Asleson Rust, also came with the family from Norway and lived with them until she died in 1902. Anna Julien often talked about her Grandmother Rust who smoked a pipe as she made lefse.
Grandma Johanna Christianson died in 1915 and Grandpa Andrew then lived here with Pete and Ed. Ted, as a young adult, had been "out West", in Alaska and in the Phillipines for 8 years and in the US Army during WW1 for 2 years, came back home and married Mary Nelson, April 1921. Pete and Ed then moved to Osage and Andrew lived with Ted and Mary here until he died in 1931, at the age of 88. In 1932, Ted and Mary and their 2 daughters moved 3 miles west to a farm they had purchased in 1926.
O.C. and Malla (Fosholdt) Christianson had already moved to Osage but they purchased this farm in 1932 from the Andrew Christianson Estate. Since then the farm has been rented to: Everett Martin, Herbert During, Mrs. Agnes Christianson, Glen Olson, Melvin Olson, Robert Olson, Kenneth Ell, Emil Nemeth, Eugene Estal, Leon Lindley, and another Estal family. Others rented it but never lived here, such as: Hilding Lindley, Orlando Lindley, and the present renter, Jim Urbatsch.
O.C. and Malla Christianson had no surviving children and in 1955, he made a will, leaving his farm to his surviving brother and sister, Ted and Anna, and giving his wife a life-lease. Ole C. died in 1958 and his wife, Malla died in July 1964. Ted passed away January, 1964 and Mary died in October, 1964 - both at the age of 82. Ted and Mary's daughters, the present owners, inherited one-half of the land from their father and purchased the other one-half from their Aunt (Mrs. Anna Julien) in 1964. The owners are: Ms. Inez Christianson, Mankato, Minnesota and Arlene (Mrs. Delmer Rudolph) from Janesville, Minnesota. Both of the present owners were born in the house on this farm.
The "Gay Nineties" house was built in 1892, with O.C. making the "gingerbread" and other decorations with a foot-powered pedal saw. Three of the arm buildings were built when Ted and Mary lived here: the chicken house in 1922, the barn in 1923 and the hog house in 1927. The large maple tree still standing near the southeast corner of the house grew to its present circumference of 18 feet and 2 inches because of all the "wash water" thrown on a small twig by Grandma Johanna Christianson. There is a very large rock on the lawn south of the house and one in the field north of the farm buildings. A "spring" by the rock in the field was a "stop" for travelers on the Prairie, so long ago.
The huge kitchen on the farm was often filled with pleasant aromas and many neighborhood "gatherings". Arlene remembers sitting in the southwest corner of the kitchen in a small red chair watching neighbors dancing at Elmer and Ina (Smalley) Eidnes' wedding dance in the fall of 1930. She remembers sleeping the rest of the night in her clothes and wanting to do the same each night thereafter. Elmer and Ina went on a trip to California and came home in February. They got stuck in a snow bank and were pulled out by Gustave Olson.
Inez remembers her dad, Ted, and Lars Wamstad, who lived up the long driveway to the west, shoveling by hand the 1/2 mile south to the snow-plowed "Meroa Road" so they could drive the car to school, church, or get groceries from Nick Peterson's Store in Meroa. Inez and Arlene's mother, Mary, never learned to drive the car, and that meant driving the "team of horses" named Tom and Jerry, with the "Lumber wagon" and sitting on the "spring seat", to Meroa with the eggs to purchase groceries.
The first day Inez went to school at Cedar # 7, they went early, dropping her off at school and going on to Meroa. On the way home, the teacher, Borghild Sorlie, had let her school out for recess and Arlene saw Inez playing with Beatrice Olsen Gast, Clarice Anderson Vance, Beverly Billings Allison, Harvey Norby and Carmen Huset. Arlene cried all the way home as she wanted to play too (she was yet too young to attend school). Mary let her drive the horses home, but Arlene only got to hold onto the end of the reins as a compensation.
Inez and Arlene would walk home from school when the weather was nice. There was a huge cottonwood tree about 1/8 mile north of the corner from the Meroa Road on the east side of the dirt road. They were always sure they would find a Hobo sitting under that tree so they always ran fast by the tree without looking to see if there was one there or not.
Grandpa Andrew Christianson was hard of hearing and Inez and Arlene had to talk loud Norwegian to him and as a result, they still know Norwegian today. Arlene had a lot of earaches when very young which affected her hearing at times. One cold winter morning she wanted to go upstairs to get her dolls. Her mother told her to wait until it got warmer later in the day. But Arlene couldn't hear her and so she opened the stairway door and then to their surprise "the smoke came rolling down the stairs, into the room". Mary grabbed a water pail, rushed upstairs and into the "middle room" where Grandpa had slept. Throwing the water out of the pail ahead of her, she opened the window. Ted had taken Inez to school in the car and he came back in time to help. Grandpa liked to smoke his corncob pipe while resting in bed in the morning and then lay it on a chair but on this particular morning, he had left it in bed and the straw mattress caught on fire.
Ted and Elmer Eidnes purchased a Minneapolis-Moline threshing machine from Pedeltys in Mason City. They threshed for many farmers in the neighborhood from 1922 to 1949. Elmer used his big tractor for the power to run the threshing machine and Ted would be in charge of the "separator". Inez and Arlene thought it was a fun day when the "threshing rig" came to their farm. Mary liked to serve corn-on-the-cob to the threshers and became known for doing so.
Each year when the threshing was over Elmer and Ted would have a party at either of their farms. All the threshers and their families would bring cakes and Ted and Elmer would furnish 5 gallons of ice cream and coffee. The men would "settle-up" their hours of labor with each other and also pay the owners for the threshing.
Inez remembers the first battery-operated radio that was purchased sometime in the 1920's. There was a tall aerial erected on the front lawn by the large rock. A favorite program that Ted like to listen to was a singer called "Little Jack Little". During the years of 1930 and 1931, a new chicken house and a new barn were built and other improvements made "up on the eighty acres" and the Christianson girls, Inez and Arlene, and their parents, Ted and Mary, moved in 1932 from the 100 acres to their second home.
This history was composed by Arlene Christianson Rudolph
and Inez Christianson.