They are buried in the Canoe Ridge Lutheran Cemetery in Pleasant Twp.

Wise, Wilbur and Madelyn (Willson)

(Madelyn Wise)

Madelyn Willson was born on the Willson farm in Canoe Twp. She was the daughter of Leo and Mary (Hyberger) Willson. Madelyn has 2 brothers and 4 sisters: Gordon, Rita (Lansing), Gretchen (Bucheit), Marian (Schissel), Martha (Samuelson) and Dennis. When Madelyn was a small girl, her sister Rita was run over by a car. Rita was in the hospital a long time. During that time Madelyn lived with a neighbor, Mayme Carolan.

The Willson children had one bicycle which they shared; with 7 children using it, the bicycle really got a workout. When they went to visit the neighbors, they never used the car, but walked instead. The Willsons always had lots of company. Leo played the saxophone and many times they ended up pushing back the table and having an impromptu dance. Leo also played at many local dances. The children often attended dances with their father and mother and learned to love to dance. Madelyn received her First Holy Communion at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, Decorah. At the time she remembers thinking her dress was the loveliest in the class. After that the family started going to St. Agnes Catholic Church, Plymouth Rock where Madelyn was confirmed.

During the winter Madelyn and her sisters had to wear long underwear and long brown stockings to school. Oh, how they hated the long underwear and stockings. When they got dressed for school, they all tried to stand on the furnace grate at once to stay warm. Sometimes their father would make breakfast. He would put a spider (frying pan) full of bacon on a hot stove. There was grease splattered everywhere and the smoke from the pancakes was something else. And, if that was not “tempting enough”, there was sorghum to use as syrup. The Willsons grew and made their own sorghum. The sorghum stalks were cut and run through a press to squeeze out the juice. The juice was then cooked outdoors in a big vat until it was thick. It was a treat when their mother made fried mush for breakfast. They had popcorn almost every night. They raised their own popcorn. It was spread on the enclosed front porch to dry and then shelled by hand.

Every summer Madelyn’s mother had a large garden and did a lot of canning. Madelyn especially remembers the 2 quart jars of wonderful pickles. Her mother was known as a good cook. She baked a fresh batch of bread every day. The bread would always be coming out of the oven just about the time the children got home from school. In the winter they had a lot of homemade ice cream. They would knock some icicles off the house, pack the ice into the ice cream maker and start cranking.

Her mother’s first stove was a wood burning stove. She later got a kerosene burning stove. She was very proud of that stove and would clean and shine it daily. The family did not have electricity until Madelyn was a sophomore in high school. They did not get running water until later. The outhouse was behind the woodshed. Her mother would paint and wallpaper the outhouse every spring. The outhouse always had a Montgomery Ward or Sears catalog in it. You always wanted to use the brown pages first because the colored paper was shiny and slippery.

Madelyn’s daily chores were to fill the reservoir on the stove, fill the kitchen wood box and gather the eggs. She hated it when the hens would peck her hand as she reached under them for the eggs. She sometimes lied and said a hen did not have any eggs that day. Madelyn remembers the spring when she was 12. Her brother Gordy got sick that spring. She was taken to the field south of the barn with a team of horses and a 4-section drag. She walked behind Mike and Nettie (the horses) all day and got the field dragged. Madelyn also drove the team on the hayfork. Mike was very special to the family. When they moved on to the Ben Jewell farm in Decorah Twp,, they found a new born colt had been left in the cold barn. The colt was nearly frozen to death. They took him into the house and revived him. Many years later the team was traded for a Hart Par Oliver 70 tractor.

Madelyn remembers when they lived on the farm south of what now is Nob Hill. Roadside billboards were popular at the time. The Nehi Bottling Company put a sign along the road on their farm. For being allowed to put up the sign, the family received a case of pop. Madelyn instantly fell in love with Nehi Root Beer. She still loves Root Beer pop. When we were sick with a cold, we were given “hot Ginger Tea" to drink.

The family always went to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. When they came home, Santa would have been there. Every year he left a beautiful doll for her. Madelyn still loves Santa.

Madelyn’s teachers included Agnes Koester, Phyllis Erickson, Maxine Falck and Donna Kruse. She especially liked Phyllis Erickson and would walk to school early to start the furnace for her. There were children the same age as her brothers and sisters in the neighborhood, but Madelyn went from kindergarten through the 8th grade alone in her class. It was quite a shock when she went to high school and had 30 classmates! Madelyn graduated from Canton (Minnesota) High School in 1952. She continues to enjoy learning and has taken an adult education class every year since graduating from high school. Madelyn helped her parents at home after graduating from high school.

Wilbur Hover Wise is the son of Daniel and Alma (Hover) Wise. He and Madelyn were married 27 Oct 1956 at the St. Agnes Catholic Church, Plymouth Rock. Wilbur and Madelyn lived on Wilbur’s family farm east of Locust in Pleasant Twp. They had 5 children: Ann Renae (m. Dan Mansfield), David Wilbur (m. Jean Sloan), Ruth Alma (11 May 1961 -14 Jun 1966), Halley Sue (m. Jerry Sutton) and Dick Anthony (m. Julie Burnside). Ruth was severely burned when she leaned over a gas stove and her dress caught on fire. She was burned 29 Mar 1966 and died in Rochester, MN 14 Jun 1966. Ruthie’s father never accepted her death.


Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as birth dates of people that maybe living is not included.

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this page was last updated on Tuesday, 30 March 2021