1878, Hilda born 23 Jul 1880 and Clara was born 12 Feb 1886.
My grandmother, Emma, married Thomas Gjermundson Haugen, son of Gjermund Olson Hjellehaugen and Marit Ulen, on 5 Feb 1891. They were married at Luther College by Rev. Paul Koren. They had 7 children: Johan, Clara, Gjermund, Mabel, Helmer, Thomas and Lila. Johan died in infancy. Clara (b. 13 May 1892); Gjermund (b. 6 May 1894); Mabel (b. 30 Jun 1896) ; Helmer (b. 14 Aug 1898); my father Thomas E. (b. 14 Oct 1900) and Lila (b. 22 Mar 1903).
Front row, left to right: Hans Helgeson, Caroline, Martha, Hilda, Karen Marie Helgeson.
Emma and Thomas G. lived on a farm in Springfield Twp. Winneshiek Co., on what is now Haugen Hill Road. My grandfather, Thomas G., was killed in a tragic threshing accident on 16 Aug 1904 leaving his wife and 6 children under 12 years of age. She continued to farm with her family and in her spare time did some mid-wife work in the community. She died 24 May 1941 in Decorah.
(Elizabeth (Downie) Dahly)
Frank J. Helwig was born 30 Sep 1863. Frank wanted to be a printer, but instead made cigars for 50 years. He learned the cigar making business from George Heitkemper of Ossian. He make cigars in McGregor, Prairie du Chien, Chicago and St. Paul and operated factories in Willmar, MN and Sioux Falls, SD before coming back to Decorah.
Frank started making cigars on 1 Apr 1887 and continued into 1932. He made several different kinds of cigars, but finally settled on just 2 brands - The Little Jay’s and The Ef Jay’s. In 1887 the cigarette had never been heard of. It was not until World War I that cigarettes started to make “in roads” into the sales of cigars.
All the cigars made by Frank and his 3 co-workers were consumed in Decorah and the Winneshiek Co. area. Frank would load his car with boxes of cigars and make the rounds of all the towns in the county.
Cigar making was Frank’s business and he let nothing stand in the way of the manufacture of the same. When it came time to wash dishes after the evening meal, or Sunday or Thanksgiving dinner, Frank was off and away with “I have to go downstairs and ‘strip some tobacco’."
In 1889 Frank married Elizabeth Hove at Calmar. Frank and Elizabeth had 2 daughters: Freda and Ruth.
Freda married Roy Darling. They had one daughter, Patricia Bernice “Ruth" was born at Pipestone, MN where the Helwigs lived at the time. She attended Decorah schools and graduated from the Indianapolis Conservatory of Music. She was an accomplished violinist and taught violin both privately and to students at Luther College. Ruth was active in the Business and Professional Woman's Club and the Order of the Eastern Star. She was confirmed in the First Lutheran Church and later became a member of the Congregational Church.
Ruth married Mr. Downie and they became the parents of 2 daughters: Betty and Janann. Betty married Gerald Dahly of Decorah. Betty and her cousin, Patricia Darling, were married in 1938 in a double wedding ceremony in Cresco. Janann married Arthur Hass, football coach in Decorah and later athletic director at the Austin, MN high school.
Many couples in the Decorah area danced to the music of the “Helwig Dance Orchestra.” Frank played the viola and also was an accomplished drummer. Other members of the orchestra were: Alice Darling - piano; daughter Ruth - violin; Durwood Darling - trombone; and son-in-law, Roy Darling - clarinet. Both Frank and Ruth took part in the orchestra that played for the Messiah each year. For many years, Ruth played in the 3-piece trio that played during silent movies at the Grand Theater. The trio included Virginia Morgan or Alice Darling on piano plus Elmer Amundson on cello and Ruth on violin.
Frank also served several terms as an alderman for the City of Decorah. In addition to making cigars, Frank also made 2 kinds of homemade wine - Elderberry or Dandelion.
Frank died tragically at the age of 75. On 15 Dec 1938 he had walked to the Nordness area. He was walking on the railroad tracks as the Rock Island train from Cedar Rapids was wending its way north to Decorah. The train crew had met Frank on the tracks many times. They blew the whistle to make sure he was aware of the approaching train. They saw Frank step off the track, but, as the train passed, one of the crew looked back and saw Frank in a spinning motion, heading for the near-by ditch. Stopping the train, they went to Frank’s aid. They found him unconscious, but alive. An ambulance was summoned and Frank was rushed to the Decorah Hospital. Aside from some cuts and bruises and a concussion, they could find nothing wrong.
It was thought he would come out of the ordeal, but pneumonia set in. Frank died 5 days later. His wife, Elizabeth, had preceded him in death in Oct 1928.
Ruth Downie died 11 Feb 1976. Both she and her father left their mark on Decorah.
The Hendrickson (Fadness) family has its origin in Voss, Norway. Hendrick Fadness emigrated to America around 1840 and settled originally in Stoughton, Wl. The family
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this page was last updated on Sunday, 28 March 2021