Bio Photo

The home in which the Peter Johnson family lived for 83 years. 309 Upper Broadway, Decorah. Photo taken in 1921 and sent as a postcard to Estella Johnson while she was a student at St. Olaf College.

himself like only strong, healthy boys can enjoy themselves. He was very fond of school and all kinds of reading. In the evenings, when finished with his work, he often studied by himself and in this way completed several textbooks. As a young man he attended the Breckenridge Institute in Decorah, after which he taught for several years. When about 30 years old he married Ellen Lyngaas, my mother, and settled down on a farm close to Waukon. There Ella, Clarice, Philip, and I were born, but in 1910 we moved to town. In Decorah my father started to work in a bank, but because he had been outdoors and active for so long he could not tolerate indoor, sedentary work. So he went into the real estate business, with which he is still occupied (1922). My father has always been a hard worker and cannot bear to be idle. Outwardly he seems quiet and reserved, but in reality he is not. His religious nature is evident, and veracity is one of his strongest characteristics. He is self-sacrificing and considerate. My mother was the only daughter of Eric and Trina Lyngaas. She had, however, 5 brothers, Nils, Ingebret, Julius, Edgar, and Ingeman. Because she was the only girl among so many boys she had no chance to become a prim little maiden. But she came to like the outdoors and grew husky and strong. My mother also attended the Breckenridge Institute. She never taught school, however. In spirit my mother is full of fun, just like a young girl, and this fact I believe keeps up her youthful appearance. She is kind and unselfish. The environment of my home is wholesome, and I have nothing to regret but have everything to be thankful for. Both my father and mother take great interest in us and do all they can to encourage us to do what seems best in their eyes. The fact that most of my family members have lived on farms makes them a hardworking, industrious people. It has also made them robust, healthy, and active, for working in the open, which is necessitated by farming, certainly invigorates a person.”

Ellen and Peter Johnson were the parents of Ella, 1892-1910; Clarice, 1895-1994; Estella, 1902-1993; and Philip, 1905-1984. Clarice married Selmer Narum in the library of the home she cherished, in Decorah; they had one, child, Ellen Lorraine Narum (1928-1959), who married Dale Studt; Ellen and Dale had one daughter, Lynn Ellen (Studt) Brockman; Lynn (Marshalltown, IA) has 2 daughters, Laurie and Lisa Brockman (Marshalltown). Philip married Marian Francis Newell, of Harmony, MN, and they had one daughter, Maryanne Newell (Johnson) Esgate; Maryanne (Decorah) has one son, Erick Newell Esgate  (Coralville, IA).

I could not end this brief history of my family without speaking of my grandparents’ home in Decorah. It was a lovely house built in 1902 by an attorney who was disbarred and moved to Minneapolis in 1910, when he sold the home to my grandfather. The house at 309 Upper Broadway was very large, built in the Carpenter’s Queen Anne style, with cream-colored clapboard siding, trimmed in dark green. It was a house of great architectural beauty - elegant mirrors and lighting fixtures, ornate woodwork and tiled floors, overhanging gables and diverse window treatments, a tall limestone foundation and intricate lattice-work. It was a house in complete harmony with the pines, elms, and maples, the chestnut, plum, and cat-alpa trees that surrounded it. The gardens invited guests to come meet their old-fashioned flowers - the phlox, lilacs, bumblebees, hydrangeas, spireas, goldenrod, peonies, the Dutchman’s pipe vines shading the huge wraparound verandah and the morning glories climbing the back porch. This was a house that reflected the devotion, admiration, and great respect flourishing within its walls. It sheltered and energized the children of Ellen and Peter Johnson for 83 years. Within the beauties of its architecture were memories of kites, bobsleds, soapbox racers, Fourth of July pranks, fresh-roasted peanuts for selling in the park, a pet rabbit named Prince Charles allowed to spend winters in the basement, games of kick-the-can and hide-and-seek, and magical make-believe with an elaborate old bell system and speaking tubes. It

Bio Photo

Family portrait, about 1916.
Front: Peter and Ellen Lyngaas Johnson.
Back: Estella, Philip and Clarice Johnson.


Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as birth dates of people that maybe living is not included. See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

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this page was last updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021