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Pioneer days

November 25, 2013
By Ellayne Conyers , Marshall Independent

Part III:

"Just came to my mind how mother used to roast coffee. They bought the green coffee beans which came in big sacks, but you could buy as many kernels as you wanted. The coffee beans was roasted slowly till they got brown and smelled coffee. So when they were going to cook it had to be ground first. Mother used to roast barley to make coffee for us kids, but we drank a lot of milk. The coffee was fifteen cents a pound and it took two dozen of eggs at seven cents a dozen and one penny. (Note: Eggs were mixed with the coffee ground and this mixture was boiled in the pot to make egg coffee - a specialty of Norwegians.) The name of the coffee was McLaughlin four X or Cordava coffee which was the same price.

Here is another little incident. In the summer when there was no school, I had to take care of our neighbors children, and I was so home sick, and Mrs. Ringstad let me run home every afternoon while their three little girls were sleeping. When Mrs. Ringstad hired me she said she would pay me twenty five cents a week and a pink apron. She said if you will stay here a whole month you will get a dollar. That was the first money I every earned. And I got the pink apron and the $.

I never owned a doll. Mother used to make us rag dolls. I can remember so well my Dad had been to town and he found a little china leg of a doll that had a gold band around the knee and he gave it to me, and was I ever proud of it.

Our first post office was in a farm house called Brenner post office. At first we only got our mail once a week. The farmers had to go to Cottonwood to get the mail, later on we got mail three times a week. My parents had Decorah Posten, a Norwegian paper, and they got that paper once a week and they still had the paper till they couldn't read any more. The Decorah Posten had such interesting stories. I am having the paper now and I can't hardly wait till Thursday comes to get the paper.

My parents moved off the farm and bought a house in Hanley Falls where they passed away. My sister Lena took care of them she never got married. My Dad was eighty five when he passed away. Mother was eighty three years. Mother lived just one week more after my father passed away. Mother was sick so much in her later years. My sister Lena, was the best one of us children. Bless her heart. She was so kind and good to everybody.

In the year eighteen ninty four I started to read for Conformation. The pastor's name was Martin Romstad. He was just out of the Seminary so it was his first call. I was confirmed the next year in October the first part of the month. And the later part of the same month, I got a place in Marshall to work for Mrs. John Shneider, I was there till the next spring. Mrs. Scneider got sick and I couldn't do all the work so she got me a place at Tom Baldwin and I was there over two years, they used to call me their daughter. I was not even fifteen years yet. They were so good to me and Mrs. Baldwin would ask me to sing for, which I like very much. Ray Baldwin wasn't married yet and Clark and George Lawerence boarded and roomed at Baldwins till they got married. Clark Lawerence worked at Sullivans Lumber yard and George at Tom Baldwin Jr. Store. My pay was one dollar and a half a week. My third place here in town was at the Marshall Laundry, I worked there over two years and was paid a dollar a day. We had lots of fun while working there even though we had to work hard. We were three girls working there, Ida Mary and myself. We rented a little house which had only one big room and a large clothes closet. Ida and I slept together on a couch that could be made into a full size bed. Mary had a single cot. She had to set up and take down every morning. The cot was put in the closet and there is where we had our two burner kerosene stove to cook our meals on. Ida, was Andrews sister, she had come from Sweden, and she was such a nice girl.

My sister Lena was now confirmed and she wanted to come to Marshall and work to. And Mother thought I better come home and help her with the work. So I told my sister if she would stay home I would give her half of my pay, but when Mother heard that she would try and get along with my sister. Ida and my brothers could do some work to, so Lena got a place at Mathews, he was a judge or lawyer. In the mean time I quit the laundrey and got a place to work for Mrs. Orion Maxson. Mr. Maxson was a judge of Probate Court. I worked there up to the time I got married, only I hadn't met Andrew yet. But one Sunday Lena and I was invited to dinner to a Swedish family, Mr. and Mrs. Lundstrom she done washing for people and they had invited Andrew there to so when it was time for us to go back to our places where we worked Andrew took me home. But he couldn't decide which one of us to take home first, so Lena spoke up and said she wanted to go home first. So Andrew took me home and that's the first time I met your Dad.

We were over to Lundstroms different times after that and Mary and Gust and Andrews sister Ida. We had so much fun over there and they were such jolly people everything seemed to be fun. I worked for Mrs. Maxson quite a while and they even let me take their horses and drive home to my folks and Lena was with me to. And every thing went fine till we got on the bridge of the Three Mile Creek, then one of the horses started to get scared so I stopped them and got out to see what was the matter and it was some kids skating on the ice underneath the bridge. I asked the children not to skate till we had got across, and I led the horses across the bridge. Then got back in the buggy again and everything went fine. We even stayed over night at home, and coming back Sunday afternoon. The horses was a bayest cullor and very gentle. But it shure was nice of Mr. Maxson to let us drive his horses. I could have had them another time but then I was going steady with your Dad, so he got livery horses and we drove home in no time. It took Lena and I longer. Well Judge Maxson was transferred to Illinois and they wanted me to go along with them. They even offered to pay my fare going back to Minnesota again on a vacation. They said they woldn't take no for an answer unless I was going to get married. So that's just what Andrew (Johnson) and I had decided on."

(Continued next week.)



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