Lutheran Church. They are active in various capacities at the church. Shirley has been employed in several retail positions over the years and enjoys the association with many nice people.
Augusta and Josiah Casterton
Josiah Raymond Casterton was born 21 Jan 1893 on a farm in Orleans Twp., Winneshiek Co., IA, the son of James Henry and Prudence (Reed) Casterton. At age one he moved with his family to a farm near Lake Benton, MN. He was the eldest of 4 children, his siblings being Iva, Hazel and Ogden.
In I908, when he was 14, his father died of a respiratory ailment. The family then purchased and moved to a farm located one and one-half mile south of the Minnesota state line on what is now known as the Locust Road. The farm is currently owned by Mark Sollien.
Being the eldest son it fell to Josiah to provide for the remaining members of the family. These were the days of no Social Security, no Aid to Dependent Children or other such programs. As a very young man he farmed the home place and worked for neighbors as a farm laborer in an attempt to care for those who were dependent on him. In retrospect it seems clear that this experience was a factor in the development of his all consuming work ethic and his intense disdain for anyone who would “take advantage of a kid.”
Josiah and Augusta Henrietta Busness were married at the Highland Lutheran Church 15 Apr 1914. Following their marriage they lived with his mother and farmed the home farm for one year. Then for 3 1/2 years they rented and farmed a 160 acre farm owned by Lewis Larson located in Highland Twp.
In 1918 they took possession of 80 acres of “bare” land and began construction of farm buildings in a heavily timbered area one-fourth mile north of the Highland Church. The first building constructed was a 12 x 16 ft. structure in which they lived with their 2 daughters, Edna and Palma, while other buildings, including the house, were being built. Family members recall stories of wolves howling at night because of the light from the windows of this tiny home in the woods.
In Nov 1918 the house was sufficiently completed to accommodate habitation and the family moved in. A few weeks later a third child, James Henry Casterton, was born. One by one other farm buildings were constructed, all of them framed from oak lumber which was laboriously cut and sawed from the trees surrounding the farmstead.
Augusta was born on a farm in Highland Twp. 28 Apr 1894. She was the daughter of Henry Torgrim and Augusta (Blegen) Busness. She was born prematurely, weighing only 3 1/2 pounds, and her mother died in childbirth. Family members recall hearing how she was kept alive through the use of the warming oven on a wood burning cook stove.
During her early childhood and adolescent years Augusta was reared by members of her mother’s family, especially Mathea (Blegen) Larson, (Mrs. Nels), and Jorgine Blegen. These were devout Christian people who had learned to meet adversity with courage, dignity and reverent acceptance. These characteristics were instilled in their young niece and were apparent in her demeanor for the rest of her life, especially at the untimely death of a 6 year old son, James, in 1925.
Augusta attended several elementary schools but primarily the Kjome school in Highland Twp. She later was a student at Valders College in Decorah. On 15 Apr 1914 she married Josiah Casterton at the Highland Church. The couple had 9 children: Edna, Palma, James, Lawrence, Myrtle, June, Belva, James and Bernard. Her family was her life. She neither sought or wanted public recognition but was content to live and work on the farm where she could provide constant love and guidance to those to whom she had given life.
Augusta’s wisdom, generosity, common sense and her deep faith remain a source of inspiration to her surviving children. She died 28 Aug 1985 and is buried with her husand and son James at the Highland Church Cemetery which is on land donated by her grandfather, Torgrim Busness, in 1884.
Today less than 15 acres of the 40 acres on which the buildings stand remain timbered. One can only marvel at the hard work it took to clear 35 acres with a cross cut saw, an ax and a horse powered grubbing machine. The cleared land then had to be plowed with a team of horses and a breaking plow, tree roots and all.
Josiah Casterton, better known as “Cye”, had a penchant for carpentry and worked at least part-time in that capacity for most of his life. It is perhaps telling that in 1963, at the age of 70, he returned to the timber to begin cutting logs for the construction of a barn on his son’s neighboring farm. This time he had a chain saw and tractor to assist with the process. In addition to carpentry he also did masonry work for many years, much of it when the concrete was mixed either in a mortar box or with a small cement mixer.
Josiah was known as a neighbor who loved to help others. He was perhaps sometimes brusque but never
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this page was last updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021