Reminiscing Of Pioneer Days by Alfred E. Kangas

Alfred E. Kangas was a good friend of my grandfather, Andrew C. Olson. I would like to post his writings, Reminiscing Of Pioneer Days on my blog site. I feel this information about the homestead days and the pioneer spirit should be kept available to all people.

Modern cyberspace and computer technology have the ability to store this information for future generations to review and hopefully learn many life lessons from. Alfred tells about his childhood in Finland, the family trip to America, and growing up on the prairie.

He relates in vivid detail the trials of starting a new life with little more than desire, dedication and commitment. They chose living in eastern South Dakota, U.S.A.. Their faith brought them here and sustained them daily, they now rest in peace, after a job well done.

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If REMINISCING OF PIONEER DAYS BY

ALFRED E. KANGAS

1870 — 1944

Preface

This booklet was compiled and copied by the family from reminiscings of Alfred E. Kangas which he had written on various odds and ends of paper throughout the years.

Dad attended business college in Watertown, South Dakota. He was the third Hamlin County Clerk of Courts (1897-1898) when the county seat was in Castlewood and he later was in partnership with Mr. Cole operating a general store in Bryant for about a year. He was a County Commissioner from the Hayti,  Norden District and held various public offices in Opdahl township during his active years. He was affiliated with the First’ Nation – al Bank of Lake Norden, South Dakota. Dad farmed continuously in Opdahl township for 32 years, having lived on the same farm until his retirement in 1931. His youngest son, Wesley, now lives on this farm.

He was married to Mary Kurkela on Nov. 17, 1897 in Brookings, South Dakota, This union was blessed with 12 children, 7 daughters and 5 sons. The daughters are: Mildred – husband Arvid Koistinen (2 sons, Wilbur and Byron), Emma – husband Dave Juntunen (1 daughter Mary Ann, 3 sons, Donald, Curtis and Burton), Lempi – husband Edwin Johnson (3 sons, Eldon, Alfred and Leon, 3 daughters, Joanne, Joyce and Jean), Eldora – husband Ernest Olson (4 sons, Roger, deceased, Jerald, Preston and Lamar). The sons are Fred – wife Lillian Lemstta (1 son Kenneth, 1 daughter Mary Jean), Emil – wife Thelma Tuohino (1 daughter, Maydelle), George – wife Elora, Huovinen (2 daughters, Carol and Kaye, 1 son Alfred), Edward – wife Evelyn Lehtola (2 sons, Ronald and Roy, 2 daughters Marilyn and Mavis), Wesley – wife 0 – della Thue (2 daughters, Linda and Susan, 2 sons Alfred and Terry). The youngest daughter, Bernice, was married to Clarence Peterson, had 2 sons Larry and Bernard. She passed away after the birth of their second son, at the age of 26 years. Two daughters, Ellen and Viola, died in infancy. At this writing, March 1969, there are 70 great grandchildren.

Dad was a kindly man, conservative and able in his private affairs. He was in poor health the last ten years, being afflicted with multiple sclerosis and carcinoma. However his death resulted from a fracture of the left hip on January 17, l9h4, at the age of 73 years, 8 months, 21 days.

Mother was a very devoted and conscientious homemaker. She was af-flicted with heart ailment for many years, and passed away suddenly at the home of her daughter, Lempi, on June 19, 1955. Having attained the age of 77 years, 10 months and 23 days.

The folks were both baptized and confirmed in the Old Apostolic Lu-theran Church, in which faith they remained steadfast until the end. They are now resting in the church cemetery southwest of Lake Norden, South Dakota.

Mother and Dad were preceded in death by twin granddaughters, Marcine and Maxine, oldest daughters of Emil and Thelma Kangas. They too are rest-ing in the same cemetery,

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I was born in the city of Oulu, Finland, April 27, 1870. The buildings at that time were low, one story, on high stone foundations. Only a few two story buildings at that time. The city of Oulu was an exceptionally clean city. There was a big fire in the city in December 1882 which burned many blocks of the main business por-tion of the city. The burned part was built modern. My dad was born at Liminga in 1847. My mother was born at Paavala in 1843. They came to the city of Oulu when they must have been of the age of about 20 years, both getting a job with merchants, hiring out for a year at a time, which was then customary, and even 20-30 years aft-erward. When they got married neither one owned anything. Father was a sailor the first four or five years in a sail ship, of which, the merchants of the city were owners. The ships starting from home port took a cargo of lumber, tar, etc. usual-ly going to Liverpool, England, and from there, after disposing of their cargo, took another cargo to New York and other points in America, and at times when there was no cargo to be had, sailed with a bar load, which meant dirt or sand, in the hold of the ship to keep it upright; taking on a cargo of grain to England and at times bringing a cargo of grain to the home port. The ships were gone on these voyages a year or two at a time, so it was a gala time for the sailor’s families when it was known that the ship would come home. And with a little boy it was a hobby to become a sailor someday.

After dad quit sailing, he worked in the city at different jobs — one of the first ones that I can remember was a match factory, and then at Astrom Bros. leather tannery and factory, one of the largest ones in northern Europe. He also worked in the mill which was run by water, where custom grain grinding for flour was done, al-so a brick yard. The last two summers he was off to south eastern part of Finland building and erecting brick making outfits. And mother for her part took washing from the upper class people and also ironing, putting the glass shine on them.

It was the custom at Oulu for the little boys to take coffee to their dads in the forenoon. My first remembrance is when I went to the street alone and lost my cap. Mother told me that about the same year I had wandered away from home and she could not locate me; finally I had come home walking in the middle of the street and singing. ‘other told me that at one time as she had been carrying me on her back, she had asked me when I would pay for her carrying me. I had answered, “When I get big and earn lots of money,” and I feel satisfied in my own mind that I fulfilled my promise. The place where we lived was 1 1/2 blocks east of the church. The main streets of Oulu at that time were paved with cobblestones, a fairly smooth surface but no comparison to pavement, and when a two wheeled vehicle drawn by one horse trotted through the street, it made quite a noise. One went barefooted in the summer time and many is the time that I have hit my big toe on a stone and it sure did hurt. One would pick up the foot in the hand and dance around for quite a while. The vehicles were two wheeled affairs called Karryt for labor use. And lighter outfits with springs called keesit.

The only one using a carriage, drawn by a team of black horses and a driver sitting in the front seat was the governor. In the winter about Christmas season the wealthy people would drive through the streets in the evening joy riding. The driver would sit on the front seat of the cutter and the passengers were comfortably covered, first outer covering was of leather and then fur robes underneath. A very cozy and warm place to ride with bell chimes furnishing the music. Lights from the windows and street corner lamps lighting the streets and as evening joy riding was usually done when the weather was clear. The sky in the north was well lighted with stars and aurora lights and by moonlight during the high moon. The snow was white and clean as there were no dust storms and as a rule the snowfall was quite heavy. A person driving a horse had to have, according to city ordinance, a bell of some kind either fastened to the harness or on the fills, as on the snow covered street a horse driven hitched to a sleigh made no noise.

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The winter evening being long there was much activity in the evening when there were no storms, such as coasting with sleds, skating and skiing and tobogganing. In the fall and winter when the water froze it was still, forming a smooth ice for skating. The ice being smooth as glass for miles. When a school vacation was given, hundreds of skaters would go skating for the day. But I did not have skates of my own, for which I had an accusing mind against my parents, but had to borrow when I could. I made it a point when our children were home to have them get skates. I did have skies and a toboggan which gave the most fun at the toboggan slide, the Mustonen slide, which was not far from our place. In winter evenings when it was moonlight, there were big crowds coasting from the slide. The slide was iced and so was the slide way and it was smooth and the toboggan would slide a long distance. The weather at times was cold but calm, and was not as biting as it is here in Dakota. One winter I froze one of my big toes so that the nail came off. I think I mostly wore shoepecks. As for overshoes, the first pair I had when about 17 years old in U.S.

The streets were lighted with kerosene lamps enclosed in a glass frame. In the summer during June and July one could see to read all night without a light. But in the winter it was just reversed, for during the months of December and January there were only 4 or 5 hours of day light. I remember when going to school in mid-winter at 8 a.m. lights were used until about ten and in the afternoon from about 2:30 or 3 p.m.

The bread used was hardtack rye. It was a custom to bake only a few times a year. The bread was baked round with a hole in the center, so it could be put on beams to dry, similar to Swedish rye bread, only a little thicker and a little more sour. Of course, there was fresh bread baked in loaf form maybe nearly every week. Oulu was a seaport city. Fresh fish could always be had at a reasonable price. There was a market place called Tovi where the producers would bring their produce and goods of whatever nature, such as: fish, meats, butter, cheese, cordwood, hay, hides, wool, cloth, yarn and about everything needed. It was, in a way, a place to buy or sell, or a place for exchange of goods. It was always in session during forenoon on week-days. In the fall there were three market days, Markkinal, when people would gather far and wide to exchange their goods such as farm produce, livestock, horses and might sell anything and everything used as necessities of life for food, clothing, such as shoes, yarn, homespun cloth, fuel, etc. During those days the city would be packed with people. Oulu was a small seaport city and in 1882 had a population of 9,000. It is now 25,000 or so.

I attended public school from the age of 7 years until we started to America, be-ing through the Common School with the exception of one grade. The school in Finland was held six days a week from 8 to 12 a.m. For about two years I had a job as a mes-senger for the United Bank. I would call at the bank about 12:30 every week day. If there were any letters to be delivered I would deliver them. Sometimes there were none and again there were 10 or 12. When we started from Finland, I had about 30 marks saved from this and other small jobs.

About the year 1877, folks bought an old set of buildings for 4800 marks. There was a real estate loan of 4000 marks against the place, and 800 marks had to be paid in cash. Not having money to speak of, some of their well-to-do Christian friends went his bond so that he was able to borrow the money. In time they paid the 800 mark loan and dad kept improving the buildings. In the winter of 1882, they were able to sell the place for 5500 marks leaving them 1500 marks, which at that time was about $300.00. They might have had a small amount of money saved besides what they received for the sale of the place and from the sale of their furniture. They got little, as the furniture was all homemade. In all they perhaps had about 5400.00 after buying three and a half tickets from Oulu to Stockholm, Sweden and paying expenses on the way to America. They had $40.00 left when they got to Volga. holm, Sweden and paying expenses on the way to America. They had $40.00 left when they got to Volga.

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We started from Oulu, Finland to America on Pentecost Monday, which was the lat-ter part of May in 1882, in a small and old steamboat called “Avassakaa”. I was then 12 years and 1 month old. The following families came with us: Mr. & Mrs. Elias Koistinen, Oscar, Abram, Erick, Gustaf, John and Peter. (John died on the way at Liverpool) – 7. Jacob & Anna Kurkela, Anna, Mary and Kate –5. Henrik & Greta Mar-tilla, Mary, Peter and Erik –5. Erick & Brita Kangas, Alfred, Johanna, Betty, Anna, Emil and Heming –8. Erick & Lisa Takkul –2. Henrik ez Anna Fura –2. Lisa Mar-tilla, John Perastale (Mikelson), Erik Laurela, Brita Niskanan –4. In all 33 per-sons. We came via Brake Kokkola and Vasa, which was the last port in Finland and sailed across the gulf Bothmia to Stockholm, from there by the canal to Gotheburg, from where we were put on a ship again to Hull, England, from there by rail to Liver-pool. From Liverpool we came to Boston on a Gunard Line steamship. We were 13 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean. On the way to the interior before reaching Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, where we stayed overnight, we were short of eats. We arrived at Volga, Dakota Territory on the fourth of July, 1882.

There were four or five grownups, beside myself, that started on foot to Poinsett. We were about two miles from Lake Poinsett when night overtook us. We stayed overnight near a new sod house and barn which were in the making. Next morning we came to Andrew Brunicks, he hitched his horses to a spring wagon and took us to the Poinsett store on the northwest beach. From there we walked to August Kinnunens. Alex-ander Huikka brought my folks from Volga to a claim dugout of Christian Jeurila, now the Matti Martilla estate, where folks spent the first night in Hamlin County. From there Henrik Lehtola Sr. came with a pair of oxen and took us to Henry Hovila’s Matson where we stayed several weeks or months. Mr. Lehtola located father’s land that he filed for homestead NE of 15-113-54. Folks had no relatives only acquaint-ances, so they surely had a lot of courage to come to a strange country with so little money to speak of, only $40.00. So when dad took his first naturalization papers and made a filing on his homestead and bought a few necessities for the family in the way of food, the money was about all gone.

The first breaking done on the homestead was by Alex Huikka, 5 acres next to the section line on the east side and 4 acres next section line on the north side as dad and Huikka were staking land. Hans Hanson had chickens and during the staking of the land his rooster crowed and it sounded becoming and home-like to hear the rooster crow; something that I have not experienced since that time. I, feeling thirsty, walked to Peter Martins place about one mile north of where we were breaking. It so happened that there was no one home. I went to the shallow well they had, but as there was no bucket of any kind and the water was within a few feet from the top I took a weed and fastened my Scotts cap onto it to get water. But the cap got loose from the weed and I did not get any water and lost my cap besides. Father worked for Huikka before haying time building a frame house and worked there during haying and harvest, binding after a reaper. The reaper usually cut five foot swaths. There were five men binding after a reaper. Even then (1882) the wages were S2.00 per day for binding, but those days were long, from sunrise to sunset. For other labor 75tp to 31.00 were the wages paid.

The later part of July, Mr. Hans Hanson came after me to stay at his place during the time he took his uncle to Watertown. On the same day Mr. Hanson’s parents that lived with him left the place for the last time, going to Minnesota to live. Mr. Hanson’s mother made one visit after that but to Mr. Lars Hanson, Mr. Hans Hanson’s father, it was a last departure. Mr. Hanson stayed on thistay with me. Hanson had a sod house which stood north and south about the same place where the frame house now stands. There was on the south side of the sod house a lean built of lumber. Betty and I went on the roof, of that lean trying to see, if we could, people either driving, usually with oxen, or walking on foot. But we met disappointment, as there was nothing to be seen except prairie and sky above.

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In the month of August, 1882, Hans Hanson came to Hovilla’s to get me to stay with him and help what I could.. When we went to his place he would let the horses gallop a short distance a few times to my great enjoyment. As we neared his place, his brown dog met us who had kept watch of the place. Mr. Hanson was a bachelor and I enjoyed staying with him. In those days there were many bachelors who had filed government land. Mr. Hanson was a great lover of horses. He had several head of horses at the time most of his neighbors had oxen.

Later again in the month of August, Hanson came after me again to stay with him., He was a bachelor and one bright morning we started to Knute Knudtson’s place. Han-son had a team of horses and two two year old and one one year old colt. Mr. Knudt son had one team of black horses, lived in a frame shanty with a hay roof, had a di-vision wall. He lived in one end and his horses were in the other end. Messrs. Knudson and Hanson were binding grain and had a third man with them, partly blind, named Monkebe. I followed him with a rake, raked up the scatterings. There was no stove and the coffee and etc. was cooked over fire between stones. Knudtson had broken land on the farm where John Rovang now lives, which was his tree claim. He had a watermelon patch there, the first watermelon I ever ate. A little later, I was with Hanson helping Ole Bentley stack wheat on land of Ole Rovang’s tree claim where the trees were planted afterwards. The wheat was loose being cut with a reaper. Mrs. Bentley- was along barefooted.

When we came here in 1882 there were no plants, or trees growing except on An-drew Bruniks tree claim and they had been planted only a few years. On the lake shores there were less trees than there are now as the pioneers had used the trees for roof material and stools, etc. in their stables. There was plenty of hay as the virgin soil grew it and the first few years the hay was used for fuel by rich and poor alike, which was as a rule twisted into wisps. In later years, when flax was grown the flax straws were used for fuel which could also be twisted into wisps and after about the year 1890 there were boilers made which were first packed full of straw, the lids were taken off the top of the fire box of the stove and this boiler filled with straw with open end below, was put on top of the firebox. The fire gradually burned the straw from the bottom, the fire lasting several hours. However, my folks never used it. The first several years cow chips were burned and they were not unclean as one might think. It was a custom to turn the chips over so they were thoroughly dry from both sides: They were picked into wagon boxes as blocks of wood (if the quantity was large enough) and stored under a roof. They gave good heat and were odorless. The only thing about burning cow chips was there was a lot of ashes. I once read a poem which the teacher in the western part of the state had her pupils recite. I only remember two verses:

Our fuel is of the cheapest kind                    Our horses are of bronco race

Our women are all of one mind                     Starvation stares them in the face

With bag in hand and upturned nose          We do not live here, we only stay

They are picking chips of buffaloes             For we are too poor to move away!

This was in the dry years of about 1890, the school director happened to hear of this and put a stop to it.

There must have been lots of buffalo roaming over the prairies before there were settlers.

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settlers. When breaking prairie there were quite a number of buffalo rings, circular about 10 or 12 feet in diameter, where there had been a beaten track outside. They were noticeable by the dark green grass that grew on them and when breaking showed plainly that dung had been dropped there. I have been told when buffalo cows had their calf they lay within the center of the circle, with a buffalo cow or bull guard-ing their offspring. Also buffalo bones were quite common on the prairies. The wild game, ducks and geese were numerous, there were lots of prairie chickens on the NE hill of our SW 33-1111-54, used to be a place where the chickens would associate, in the early spring morning their boom-boom couId be heard.

When we came to Hamlin County, Dakota territory there were some old settlers that had horses, but most of the pioneers drove oxen, some oxen were driven with a yoke but most of them with harness, which was only hames back and belly band. There was lots of difference in oxen, some were much faster walkers than others and some could stand the heat much better than others. The oxen when driven during hot weath-er, if the heat affected them, would stick out their tongues like dogs do.

While staying at Hovila/s I tried to herd cattle, among the cattle was one big bull, that was used for driving. The cattle started northwest through land now own-ed by Mrs. Sam Peterson. I ran and cried trying to stop them, finally got to turn them back at about the place where Ludwig Tulson’s buildings are. That was my first cattle herding.

Dad had a scythe that he brought from Finland and he was cutting hay along the creek on the homestead. The hay was thick and heavy. I was following with a home-made rake in hand, a clumsy thing and spreading the windrows so the hay would dry better. I had complained to dad that it was too hard work to follow him and dad said I should rake only what I can. I being a boy raised in the city and not used to hard work, had a different mind about raking hay. I threw the rake on the ground, quit-ting right there and then. I started to run towards Hovila’s a distance of about three miles. Dad seeing what I had done started after me and caught me. Taking his belt he gave me a few licks and took all the strike out of me. Dad said that after the strike I had no trouble in keeping up to dad with the raking. That was the only time I can remember that dad ever whipped me.

Dad hired Isak Isakson Antijunti to break the sod for the sod house. hr. Isak-son had four oxen hitched to the plow, strung out two in the lead and two behind. His plow being in poor shape, I sat on the beam while his son Isac drove the oxen. The way Mr. Isakson hollered to those oxen, could be heard a distance away. There was a fire break around the haystack and where the house was to be. The fire break was made by breaking about two rounds, circling the object to be protected and an-other two rounds about 3 or 4 rods out and the grass was burned from this space. Fa-ther went to his homestead in the month of September and started to build the sod house. He had about two or three tiers of sod laid out when mother and I went there. Mother sure was disappointed at the size of the house, it looked so small. Dad kept on saying what the measurement of the house was, but it was hard if if if if if if if to make mother be-lieve, and it did look small when there was only a few tiers of sod laid. The meas-urement of the old sod house was about 15 feet wide and 20 feet long. The size of the living room was 15 by 20 feet and an entry 6 or 7 feet wide 15 feet long. The house stood east and west with an outside door from the entry to the south and a door from the entry to living room through the sod portion wall. There was one barn sash type of window in the east side of the entry, there were two similar windows in the living roam. One on the south and one on the west side. As there were no storm windows in the winter when the weather was cold, a frost of 1/4 inch thick would be on the panes. The walls were about 7 feet high and about 3 feet thick with a cable roof less than 1/3 Ditch. The roof was made this way: a plate was laid on the wall

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caught more than other men over 200. The pickerel most always weighed between 3-4 lbs. The way the fishing was done in the winter: Each man would make from say 8 to 15 holes through the ice and have a hook and line fastened to the branch of a tree about three feet long, making a hole for the butt end of the stick and sitting the stick partly slanting over the hole. If the fish would be nipping at the bait the stick would vibrate and if fish were caught in the hook the stick would be pulled flat across the hole. Each fisher would pile his fish in piles similar to cordwood piles on the ice and I do not remember any mention being made about any fish being stolen. The buyers would come to the lake to buy the fish paying, the first part of the winter, 4 – 5 cents apiece and later part of the winter from 2 – 4 cents. Dad sold enough fish from the early winter catch to buy a cookstove, which with cooking utensils cost him $34.00. Cooking utensils were 2 iron kettles, 1 iron water kettle, frying pan and some baking pans.

It was a joyous event to the family when we could move in our own home as the house was quite nice inside as dad had given the walls a light coat of plaster, while the Hanson house was dark and rather low with branches used in the roof instead of lumber. As to light, we had a lamp with a narrow wick about 1/4 inch wide and no chimney. It gave rather dim light but was economical. There was no modern furniture and dad made a table from boards, bed and cupboard from the same material. For chairs dry goods boxes were used. Mother, dad and baby slept in the bed, and the rest of the children on the floor on hay that was carried in the evening and twisted into wisps the next morning for fuel for the stove. We as a rule, had wisps stored in the entry, being slmilar to sawed wood. In the summer hay was cut and stacked to be used for fuel. During my life I have made thousands of hay wisps, even after I was married, we burned flax wisps. The first five years we had no clock at dad’s old homestead and it seems a wonder haw we got along. We had no well on the place and had to melt snow for water for the family use and the cow and calf. Dad dug a well 28 feet deep about 60 feet southeast of the house, but it was a dry hole. In the spring dad dug the present well and struck water at 15 feet which held fairly well these 60 years.

The first winter we lived in Hamlin county, we had horsehair snares fastened on pieces of W Window boards to catch snow birds, similar to sparrows. Tu>5le a When dressed and cooked they made an excellent and nourishing soup. The food was mainly bread, milk, potatoes and fish. The fish could be had from the lakes the first several years, and I have often thought as to how we could have gotten along if it had not been for the abundance of fish for food and for some money for their sale. Little preserving of fruit was done. Butter was made and well salted and put in big jugs in the summer months. When I was still in Finland, people would say-the potatoes in America tasted like turnips. This worried me because I lik-ed potatoes and hated turnips. I was really happy when I tasted my first potato and it didn’t taste like turnips. There was some supply of milk for winter use, as the pioneers often did not have more than one cow.

For clothing men wore mostly denim overalls and boots were mostly worn for foot wear. In the winter dog skin coats were worn, hair outside. Calico dresses were most-ly worn by women and children. The homespun clothes were also worn by pioneers coming from Europe. The crop grown was mostly wheat as it was best adapted for virgin soil and gave best yields. Little corn was raised, seed being planted in newly broken breaking. The planting was done by cutting a hole with an axe or spade in the soil and dropping the seed in and pressing the opening shut. Oats, barley and flax were also raised.

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The first several years we had very little money. What little farm produce there was for sale, such as butter and eggs, of which there was not much, we exchang-ed for the necessities of life from the stores. The .grain was wheat sold in the fall to pay for debts made during most of the year. What little money was borrowed from the banks, had to be secured by a chattel mortgage drawing 12% interest besides com-mission of 1% per month making the total interest 24%.

Hans Hanson walked to seethe new neighbors, February 3rd, a distance of less than a mile. In the spring of 1883 Hans Hanson relinquished his tree claim to dad with the agreement that each one have 80 acres to plant and cultivate five acres of trees each. Later Hanson sold his interest to dad for $225.00, When father proved up his homestead he took 3250.00 loan for 5 years at 10% interest.

There was much walking in the pioneer years. Father used to tell of walking home from Watertown with Henrik Hendrikson Vehkapera where they had worked stack threshing. It seems that once before Jacob Paso had walked home together with Veh-kapera. Paso being a small man taking short steps, was so tired out that he could hardly get to the Vehkapera place. Dad knew what had happened to Jacob Paso and thinking he was a good walker, had told Vehkapera, You don’t have Paso with you now”, but’by the time they got to Vehkaperas he, too, was all in like Paso. The Vehkapera place is the SE 1/4 of Section 12 in Cleveland Township.

A young man by the name of John Peratalo Mickelson came with us from Finland. He was from a place where Mrs. Kurkela was from, Kello. He got a job soon after we came here at JDB Andrews staying there through the winter. Mother and I went to visit him early in the spring, having in mind to get Mr. Andrews to trade our bull calf for a heifer calf. Mr. Andrews was not at home, so I went there the next day, but Andrews would not trade. They were at the time hauling manure with two teams and a single box wagon. Henry Pura, who too, came from Finland with us was there working. Mr. Andrews hired me for $6.00 a month and I started working at once. I was put driving one of the teams. In order to make my terms when I got to the edge of the field I let the horses walk following the wagon track and kept on pushing the manure off so that when I got to the part of the field where manure was hauled, I didn’t have so much to pitch off and was able to hold my end. At that time, I was not quite 13 years old. When field work began I was given four horses to drive hitched to a 60 tooth harrow. This field where I did my first field work was on the NE of 26-113-54, where some of the trees are still growing. One noon when I was coming tc dinner, I let the horses trot and first thing I knew the horses started to gallop and left me as I could not hold them. Andrews had a big sod barn, it might have been 80 feet long and 30 feet wide with big wide doors in the middle on each side. I did the dragging and Mr. Andrews sowed with an old shoe drill. John Peratalo was breaking for corn. The way the corn was planted on the sod at Andrews was with a hand planter. The planter was struck with a force, the points closed and then the points were opened, to let the kernels drop, opening pressed close with the foot. There was no cultivating, only to wait for the matured corn. Rutabaga and turnip seed was broadcast on the sod and some years gave excellent return.

After spring’s work, one drizzling, rainy day, the cattle were let loose from the corral and I with a dog after them. And the way they roamed the first day surely kept me on the go. There was plenty of range, Andrews had 1 section of land under his control besides a whole school section. There were about 60 head of cattle, only few cows were milked, most of the calves sucked their mothers, even big steers 2 and 3 years old would suck the cows. The dog that I had with me was an excellent shep-herd dog. He always kept heeling the cattle, going acrosswise behind the cattle to and fro. Sometimes some of the big steers kicked him and when he got his bearing he sure did punish the kicker. My brother-in-law, A. E. Koistinen, was herding cattle or his uncle, Peter, a small number compared to mine

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Not one of the dryer Peter Koistinen was opposed to Andrew’s cattle being all over the school section. Abram told me once his uncle had said “if he had money he would rent the whole school section,” to which I bragg-ingly replied, that my boss has lots of money. And he did seem to be well supplied with money which he kept in a shot bag. Andrews had 13 head of horses, rather small type and they were all picketed during the summer. John Peratalo did the breaking having 4 horses hitched to the breaking plow, working them half a day, and taking an-other 4 horses for the second half day. The horses were not grained to speak of and maybe not any. When the haying commenced, Dina Jacobson Bergerson started herding cattle. By the way, when herding cattle a noon lunch was put for me in a dinner pail, consisting of bread, butter and molasses on butter. One morning starting off with the cattle as usual, I looked into the pail and there was the same kind of lunch. I took the pail, throwing it as far as I could and repeating it time after time, until I got to the corral fence where I hung the bucket on the fence ipost. After that I was allowed to come home for dinner, bringing the cattle with me near home.

When haying commenced, I was relieved from herding cattle and was given the job of driving the mower. The mower of an old type having the sickle bar behind the wheels. The hay in those was, after being raked in windrows, cocked up and then haul-ed with wagons to the stack, even if stacks were made in the meadows. There were no hay buckers there. The hay racks had no basket sides. It was always necessary for one to be in the rack while loading and that was my job at Andrews. When harvest cane I helped Andrews drive the reaper to which two teams were hitched, one in the lead and one behind, driving the lead team was done by walking behind them. During that harvest time I was home on only one Sunday. A hail storm came, it only hailed a little at the home place but hail that did fall were the biggest I have ever seen and when they hit the ground they bounced up from 4 to 6 feet or maybe higher. That hail storm damaged about one-half of Mr. Andrew’s field and other neighbors around. That fall I plowed a while for Andrews and later in the fall I plowed for Jacob Dick-son at 500 per day. Mr. Dickson was helping neighbors threshing and got $1.00 per day so he gained 500 a day. The oxen pulled with a yoke which was so heavy that Mrs. Dickson had to help me put the yoke on. That same fall I plowed for Isaacson on their tree claim, on the very same land where Axel Dickson’s trees are. And my last plow-ing during that fall I did for Simon Olson Holi, southeast of Lake Poinsett. During the latter part of the fall I chored a few weeks for Ole Romsdahl when he was hauling grain to town. This all was in the year of 1883 when I was thirteen years old. How many boys now days would do the same thing, the plowing was all done by walking plow.

During harvest I was with Mr. Andrews driving the reaper. Finally he let me drive the leaders as I insisted he should. The reaper was an old, wornout machine and when it broke down, we would drive to the yard where he had a blacksmithing outfit, fix it and go back to our cutting. It was during that harvest Henry Hovila and An-drews fields being side by side, Andrews wanted me to ask Hovila if he could borrow his reaper on Sunday. Hovila said, if he would not break it he could, but I did not know the word break in English. I said if he would not make trouble. Andrews did not borrow the reaper. Andrews had a horse power threshing outfit. It was customary, as soon as grain was harvested to take a load or so of bundle grain where the threshings were to get early feed. Mr. Andrews also threshed feed grains and among others Abram Koistinen Sr. came there with a load and I acted partly as an interpreter and about one year ago when this same man was hitching up oxen on my first day in Hamlin County I honestly thought if I could even learn enough English to be able to drive the oxen. And in one year after that, I was acting as interpreter it was very few words of Eng-lish that I knew. After working for Andrews nearly or about six months he gave me my time.

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Once when I was to the west end of the field while plowing with oxen and not intending to unhitch, the oxen driven by mouth, in these words “get up” for ‘go”, “who haa for left” “gee for right” and and “whoa for stop” if if if if I got to the end where it was still prairie and the oxen started for our house. I lifted the plow up and it went in so deep in the sod that the oxen had to stop as they could not pull it. I had Quite a time to get the plow loose again.

Later that same fall I plowed for Simon Olson Hoel on the SE 3-112-52 the land that the buildings are on now. At that time Olson lived nearly a mile farther north not far from the lake in a dugout on the south bank of a hill. It was there one even-ing that I had fever. I may have got up from bed crying that the house will fall. I remember Simon Olson’s father, a big tall man, took me in his arms and held me until the fever was over. In fall of 1883 I chored some for Ole Ramsdahl. He was consid-ered to be a well to do farmer, but they ate without butter. But as poor as we were, I never remember we went without butter.

In the middle part of March, 1884, I went to southeast of Lake Poinsett with in-tentions of finding a place to work for English speaking people as I could only speak a few words of English. I got Charley Adams to act as guide and interpreter. It was a nice spring day. We started towards Estelline. Charley being acquainted in that section of the country, if we met a farmer on the road or at their farm Charley would ask if they wanted to hire a boy. At noon we were at the place of a farmer by the name of Al Cooper. Walking half a day we must been pretty hungry. They gave us din-ner and I, for one, must have eaten a lot, as when we left the place Charley told me that he was ashamed of me the way I ate. We have many times laughed about it after-wards. I was then not quite fourteen years old and Charley three or four years older. Went near Estelline and turned back to northwestern direction. Finally along near evening I got a summer job with Dick Horswill. He agreed to pay me $11.00 a month. We walked from there back to Adams, a distance of about seven miles. I think I stayed overnight at Adams and in the morning started back home, a distance of about 17 miles.

On the 24th day of March, 1884, a date which I well remember even now, Father and I walked to Poinsett carrying a small bundle or sack with some clothes or maybe some underwear in it. We stayed overnight at Torsten Estensen. In the morning; I started to Horswills. On the way, about one mile from Horswill, I came to two men plowing with sulkies. Having met D. Horswill only once, I would hardly have known him. These men asked me if I wanted work and I said yes. They asked me how much I wanted a month and I said $12.00, thinking of getting one dollar more than my former agreement. And somehow, I was under the impression that one of these men was Horswill. I ought to have known better, that he would not give me higher wages than he had promised me the first time. The time of day was before noon. Well, I started to work cutting the cuttings from cottonwood trees and planting them. The men themselves kept on plowing. When dinner time came, instead of going northeast, the direction where the Horawills place was, they started southwest. Then I knew that it was a different man than the one I was supposed to work for. .But I thought, whats the difference where I work. The name of this man was Starling. They kept me only a few days and then fired me. The only time that I was ever fired.

Well, the only thing I could do then was to go to Horawills. He asked me why I had not come before. I did not dare to tell him that I had been fired for fear he would not take me to work for him, so I lied to him. I do not remember just what I said as I could speak few words of English. I had been to Horswill’s maybe a week or two when a man by the name of Dan Steel came to visit Horswill. This same man had visited at Starling’s (the place where I worked first) while I was there and he told Mr. Horswill that he had seen me at Starling’s. After he was gone Mr. Horswill re-buked me about lying to him. I told him the best I could that I did not dare to tell him that I was canned at the other place for fear that he would not take me to work for him. Years afterward, Mr. Horswill had told Peter Thompson that he felt a pity for me. Why Mr. Starling fired me, I do not know, as I worked faithfully at whatever work he put me. Maybe he really did not have work for a boy.

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When I started working for Mr. Horswill, for several days there was a cold spell. Not having anything to do I walked around the place and while doing so saw a dead horse lying in the field. Sometime, maybe weeks afterwards, one partly rainy day Mr. Horswill sent me with a team, doubletrees and chain to haul something, pointing to me which way to go and asked me if I understood. To which I answered, yes, thinking that the thing would explain itself. I went toward the direction that I was pointed to go. I went on past the carcass of the horse, over a low hill, where I was away from the sight of the buildings. I drove around looking for something to haul but not finding anything I started back towards the buildings. As I came to the view of the buildings, I saw Mr. Horswill walking double quick and when he got within hauling distance he yelled at me. When I came near to him he asked me why I had said I under-stood when I did not. I did not have anything to say, or maybe did not dare to say, as Mr. Horswill was a quick tempered man, about six feet tall, weighing about 175 pounds or so. Mr. Horswill slipped the chain around the carcass’s neck and I hauled it to the school section which was adjoining Horswill’s land. While hauling the car-cass I began to get mad on account of the fuss he made about so small a matter, think-ing about leaving the place. Mr. Horswill had walked back to the buildings which was a distance of about 100 rods. When I came back Mr. Horswill acted so friendly as if nothing had happened.

He had a barn built of lumber with a straw roof, the door of which was fastened with a rope. There were about 20 hogs on the place and for them ground barley feed was soaked in barrels that were kept in the barn. One day as we went to the field to work I happened to be the one to fasten the door and when we came home for a meal three cows that he had and being loose outside had somehow opened the door, had eaten all the feed they wanted and one of the cows, the oldest one, died from overeating. I felt it was my fault, as I shut the door and I cried many a time fearing he would take the price of the cow from ray wages.

In the month of May, Mr. Horswill, with the aid of his brother, James, and his cousin Al Horswill, butchered 18 hogs. As in those days there was no market for live hogs, the pork was salted in barrels in the basement of his brother, Jims, as the sets of buildings were only about 15 – 20 rods apart. But during the summer most of the pork spoiled. There were many a wheelbarrow load of pork that I buried.

After Spring’s work, I planted 3 or 4 acres of corn with a hoe throwing the seed by hand, beans, potatoes, onions and other garden stuff. I had to picket the three cows to the prairie, lead them to the well to drink and milk them. He also had hogs that I took care of and four horses that he had me help take care of. But between spring’s work and haying my main job was to hoe the corn and potato grounds, etc. I sure got stale of it. Worked in a fashion that the government relief workers do.

Mr. Horswill bought a new Esterly Binder that harvest with a 7 foot cut. There were no bundle carriers yet. Bundle carriers came out in 1885. He had a man by the name of Del Buckley working for him through harvest stacking and threshing. We shock-ed side by side, same number of rounds. Or the way we did, we put ten rows of bundles in each shock making one shock at a time between us. The older man was getting $2.00 a day and I $11.00 a month and I shocked as much as he did besides taking care of the cows and hogs and he only helped boss take care of the horses. At one time the bind-er had missed binding several bundles which was on the other man’s side, but he said they were for me to bind, so they were left in the field. At dinner Mr. Horswill spoke about binding the bundles. The other man said they were mine to bind. I said

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If which I had what little clothes I had, which was not much, as I had no Sunday clothes. I only spent I think, less than $10.00 during my stay at Horswills, which included a pair of boots. On my way home after walking as far as the Poinsett school house which stood on the southeast corner of the farm now owned by Sam Isaacson about half a mile west of the school house on the south of the road was a farmstead house dug in the side of a slope. I turned there intending to inquire about the road. As I walked to-wards the house two dogs met me barking savagely. It turned out to be the Nautapuces place. Mrs. Peter Linstrom seeing me come, had run in the house saying there is a boy coming and the dogs are attacking him. When I got close to the house there were a lot of people outside and among them was John Antijuntti and Peter Aitamas. They gave re a ride towards home as far as they went. I only had a mile or two left to walk home. It was during my stay at Horswills that our neighbor Hans Hanson and Mary Palvalehte Johnson had been married. About two weeks or so later I again went to Horswill after my wages which were about $70.00.

When I got back from Horswills as far as Adams’ place, I had a chance to get a ride home. Mary’s mother, Mrs. Kurkela, happened to be at Adams, so I gave the 870.00 to her to take to Erik Holsti to make the first payment on a team of oxen which dad had bought that fall, the price being $130.00. By the way, after working near Water-town the summer of 1885, I earned enough to make the balance payment for the oxen and some besides. When dad bought his first pair of oxen he bought a 16 inch walking plow, which we still have and he bought an old wagon that by repairing the wheels we were able to get along with, just a single box, no spring seat, only a board laid across the side for the driver to sit on. It was always the custom, especially when going to church to have plenty of hay in the wagon box for two reasons: to sit on and feed for the oxen. In those days people would walk distances of miles and think nothing of it, especially us youngsters, 2 – 4 – 6 or even more miles meant nothing to us. Our clothing was not the warmest sort, as we had no underwear such as used now days. Just one muslin shirt and drawers and shoes especially in the winter were shoepeck boots, made at home, which I never really liked.

Early in the spring of 1885 father and I took a ride with Israel Martin to Castle-wood. He was driving oxen. I could have had a summer’s job again at Horswills but I wanted a change. Dad and I started walking towards northwest, stopping at farms and inquiring for work. We walked about 7 or 8 miles, finally found a place to work for a renter by the name of Ed Bennett, at $14.00 per month for a summer job of six months. He only had one span of mules and two horses. He sowed with a seeder and I did the dragging. He had six mulch cows. They were picketed, water was taken to them with a stone boat, once a day. Boss and I each milked three cows going and doing the milking where the cows were picketed and carrying the milk home. I made a yoke which rested around my neck and my shoulders, having ropes at each end to which the milk pails were fastened. We would be milking early in the morning about sunrise.

Bennett had land joining Clear Lake near Thomas on the east side of the lake and that is where we did the haying, having about four miles to go after haying and har-vesting was done with a six foot cut binder which had no bundle carrier. The bundle carriers first came out that year, 1885. He had 125 acres of grain to harvest. I shocked all the grain. The way I had to shock wheat was to put ten bundles for a base and adding two bundles for caps on each shock. Then bending and spreading the tips of the bundles and then pressing them on the shocks. I pitched every bundle to the stack and I was only fifteen years four to five months old at the time.

After stacking at Bennett’s, I went to work for Helbings to haul water for the threshing engine. The engine was a small straw burner, I think about ten horse power, the separator must have had a 32 inch cylinder, hand fed straw carrier and 1/2 bushel measure used to measure the grain. I hired out for one month at $17.00 a month. I paid for him.

Years afterward, Mr. Horswill had told Peter Thompson that he felt a pity for me. Why Er. Starling fired me, I do not know, as I worked faithfully at whatever work he put me. Maybe he really did-not have work for a boy.

When I started working for Mr. Horswill, for several days there was a cold spell. Not having anything to do I walked around the place and while doing so saw a dead horse lying in the field. Sometime, maybe weeks afterwards, one partly rainy day Mr. Horswill sent me with a team, doubletrees and chain to haul something, pointing to me which way to go and asked me if I understood. To which I answered, yes, thinking that the thing would explain itaelf. I went toward the direction that I was pointed to go. I went on past the carcass of the horse, over a low hill, where I was away from the sight of the buildings. I drove around looking for something to haul but not finding anything I started back towards the buildings. As I came to the view of the buildings, I saw Mr. Horswill walking double quick and when he got within hauling distance he yelled at me. When I came near to him he asked me why I had said I under-stood when I did not. I did not have anything to say, or maybe did not dare to say, as Mr. Horswill was a quick tempered man, about six feet tall, weighing about 175 pounds or so. NT. Horswill slipped the chain around the carcass’s neck and I hauled it to the school section which was adjoining Horawillis land. While hauling the car-cass I began to get mad on account of the fuss he made about so small a matter, think-ing about leaving the place. Mr. Horswill had walked back to the buildings which was a distance of about 100 rods. When I came back Mr. Horswill acted so friendly as if nothing had happened.

He had a barn built of lumber with a straw roof, the door of which was fastened with a rope. There were about 20 hogs on the place and for them ground barley feed was soaked in barrels that were kept in the barn. One day as we went to the field to work I happened to be the one to fasten the door and when we came home for a meal three cows that he had and being loose outside had somehow opened the door, had eaten all the feed they wanted and one of the cows, the oldest one, died from overeating. I felt it was my fault, as I shut the door and I cried many a time fearing he would take the price of the caw from my wages.

In the month of May, Mr. Horswill, with the aid of his brother, James, and his cousin Al Horswill, butchered 18 hogs. As in those days there was no market for live hogs, the pork was salted in barrels in the basement of his brother, Jims, as the sets of buildings were only about 15 – 20 rods apart. But during the summer most of the pork spoiled. There were many a wheelbarrow load of pork that I buried.

After Spring’s work, I planted 3 or 4 acres of corn with a hoe throwing the seed by hand, beans, potatoes, onions and other garden stuff. I had to picket the three cows to the prairie, lead them to the well to drink and milk them. He also had hogs that I took care of and four horses that he had me help take care of. But between spring’s work and haying my main job was to hoe the corn and potato grounds, etc. I sure got stale of it. Worked in a fashion that the government relief workers do.

Mr. Horswill bought a new Esterly Binder that harvest with a 7 foot cut. There were no bundle carriers yet. Bundle carriers came out in 1885. He had a man by the name of Del Buckley working for him through harvest stacking and threshing. We shock-ed side by side, same number of rounds. Or the way we did, we put ten rows of bundles in each shock making one shock at a time between us. The older man was getting $2.00 a day and I $11.00 a month and I shocked as much as he did besides taking care of the cows and hogs and he only helped boss take care of the horses. At one time the bind-er had missed binding several bundles which was on the other man’s side, but he said they were for me to bind, so they were left in the field. At dinner Mr. Horswill spoke about binding the bundles. The other man said they were mine to bind. I said they were not. Mr. Horswill told the other man to bind them. I had my mind made up rather than to bind them to leave the place. During stacking I was on the loads. Stacked with two teams, three men besides me.

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Mr. Horswill had an old horse power threshing machine. The power did not even have wheels under it but had a wooden frame similar to hay rack bottom with winches at each end with chains by which the power raised and lowered. The only one of its kind I have ever seen. Threshed only one setting of four stacks a day, two men pitch-ing one on each side of the machine. One man on the power driving the horses. This was ten horsepower, two men feeding who would change off with one another with one man on a small rig like this on the straw pile. There usually were two band cutters, one on each side of feeder, but with this machine I cut bands on one side and the feeder himself for the other. The old make of machines, they were really dusty and I standing and cutting bands the whole threshing time. Much of the grain was barley ‘ and my eyes got real sore. It was that fall, 1884, that I,first saw cutting bands on a steam outfit. The engine must have been 10 horse power portable which was moved from place to place with oxen. The place this threshing took place was 2 4 miles west of Estelline.

The first road work I did was when I was sent with a team to work on the grading of Sioux River bridge west of Estelline.

I have often heard said of being homesick. sick at first when I was at Horswills it would gether strangers to me, and I could only speak I visited with my awn country people southeast although the distance was only about six miles. faithful dog.

But if I would say that I was home-be putting it mild. They were alto-a few words of English. The first time of Lake Poinsett was about haying time I was always on the place like a

When they were butchering the hogs in the month of May, which I have mentioned before, I was sent by horse back to a place of Al Horswill after a stone. I kept re-peating the word so as to not forget it.

Horswill had a large straw shed with a lot of manure in it. And I was afraid that someday I would have to clean it out. He would have kept us longer into the fall, but I was resolved to leave the place without cleaning the shed.

On the whole, Mr. & Mrs. Horswill were good to me. They lived in a granary up-stairs which stood north and south. The stairway outside was on the north side. The upstairs was divided into two parts. South end living room, north end kitchen. Dur-ing Sundays they would sleep near mid-day. I would get up and do chores, then come in the house and wait for them to get up. There was always coffee in the morning and sugar on the table, but dinner and supper it was always tea and to sugar. I got so that I did not care for sugar. Otherwise they had good board. The only time I saw folks during my stay at Horswill was father at Estelline on the 4th of July. During my stay at Horswill’s their first child, Clyde, was born in the fall. In the fall no other man was working and I slept in the granary. I would often mention young Dick which the Mrs. must have heard. But it turned out to be a boy. Clyde Horswill told me that Dr. Hess would call him his first baby boy, as that was the first Dr. Hess’s baby case. I went with Dr. Hess to Estelline and brought medicine for the mistress.

I worked there for some time after the general fall election. It was the year that Grover Cleveland was elected the first time. It must have been the latter part of November that I quit at Horswills and started home. Going past Spauldings West Ranch and between Poinsett and Dry Lake. Before I left, Horswill had Mrs. Horswill bring me 250 worth of apples from Estelline and I carried them home in the bag in

14 which I had what little clothes I had, which was not much, as I had no Sunday clothes. I only spent I think, less than $10.00 during my stay at Horswills, which included a pair of boots. On my way home after walking as far as the Poinsett school house which stood on the southeast corner of the farm now owned by Sam Isaacson about half a mile west of the school house on the south of the road was a farmstead house dug in the side of a slope. I turned there intending to inquire about the road. As I walked to-wards the house two dogs met me barking savagely. It turned out to be the Nautapuces place. Mrs. Peter Linstrom seeing me come, had run in the house saying there is a boy coming and the dogs are attacking him. When I got close to the house there were a lot of people outside and among them. was John Antijuntti and Peter Aitamas. They gave me a ride towards home as far as they went. I only had a mile or two left to walk home. It was during my stay at Horswills that our neighbor Hans Hanson and Mary Palvalehte Johnson had been married. About two weeks or so later I again went to Horswill after my wages which were about 570.00,

When I got back from Horswills as far as Adams’ place, I had a chance to get a ride home. Mary’s mother, Mrs. Kurkela, happened to be at Adams, so I gave the $70.00 to her to take to Erik Holsti to make the first payment on a team of oxen which dad had bought that fall, the price being 5130.00. By the way, after working near Water-town the summer of 1885, I earned enough to make the balance payment for the oxen and some besides. When dad bought his first pair of oxen he bought a 16 inch walking plow, which we still have and he bought an old wagon that by repairing the wheels we were able to get along with, just a single box, no spring seat, only a board laid across the side for the driver to sit on. It was always the custom, especially when going to church to have plenty of hay in the wagon box for two reasons: to sit on and feed for the oxen. In those days people would walk distances of miles and think nothing of it, especially us youngsters, 2 – 4 – 6 or even more miles meant nothing to us. Our clothing was not the warmest sort, as we had no underwear such as used now days. Just one muslin shirt and drawers and shoes especially in the winter were shoepeck boots, made at home, which I never really liked.

Early in the spring of 1885 father and I took a ride with Israel Martin to Castle-wood. He was driving oxen. I could have had a suEtner’s job again at Horswills but I wanted a change. Dad and I started walking towards northwest, stopping at farms and inquiring for work. We walked about 7 or 8 miles, finally found a place to work for a renter by the name of Ed Bennett, at 614.00 per month for a summer job of six months. He only had one span of mules and two horses. He sowed with a seeder and I did the dragging. He had six milch cows. They were Picketed, water was taken to them with a stone boat, once a day. Boss and I each milked three cows going and doing the milking where the cows were picketed and carrying the milk home. I made a yoke which rested around my neck and my shoulders, having ropes at each end to which the milk pails were fastened. We would be milking early in the morning about sunrise.

Bennett had land joining Clear Lake near Thomas on the east side of the lake and that is where we did the haying, having about four miles to go after haying and har-vesting was done with a six foot cut binder which had no bundle carrier. The bundle carriers first came out that year, 1885. He had 125 acres of grain to harvest. I shocked all the grain. The way I had to shock wheat was to put ten bundles for a base and adding two bundles for caps on each shock. Then bending and spreading the tips of the bundles and then pressing them on the shocks. I pitched every bundle to the stack and I was only fifteen years four to five months old at the time.

After stacking at Bennett’s, I went to work for Helbings to haul water for the threshing engine. The engine was a small straw burner, I think about ten horse power, the separator must have had a 32 inch cylinder, hand fed straw carrier and 1/2 bushel measure used to measure the grain. I hired out for one month at $17.00 a month. It was the nicest job that I have ever had.

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Frank Helbing, who ran the engine, was 24 years old. Fred Helbing and Louis Schultz, who fed the machine, were about 21 and they were all good to me, as was all the Helbing family, although they were well to do. That summer, 1885, Helbings built the new house, which even now looks prominent. Mr. Helbing, himself, was a light complexioned German, weighing about 200 pounds. There was another boy working on the place and he had broken a fork handle. Mr. Hel-bing made lots of fuss about it and I thought to myself, so rich and makes so much fuss about one fork handle. At that time, Helbings had about or over 20 head of horses and land by the sections. At my home at that time, we had two oxen which I finished Paying for from that summer wages. One or two cows and two or three calves. After my month’s time was up, which happened to be in the middle of the week, I was determined to start for home. Mr. Helbing wanted me to stay until Sunday that he would have one of the boys take me home, but I said no, that I would go home at once. One reason for wanting to go home was that my shirt and drawers were worn so badly they would hardly stay on my body. I slept with Fred Helbing in the best kind of bed, all feathers. I had quite a time to get into bed so he wouldn’t see my worn clothes.

As Mr. Helbing paid me my wages, I was going to put the money in my pocket with-out Counting it, but Mr. Helbing told me to count the money, to which I replied “you would not cheat me,” but he said “always count the money when you receive it, my boy.” And since that time, to this, I very seldom take even a small amount without counting it first. After receiving my pay from Helbings I went to Bennett a distance of about 11 miles and collected the balance of my wages there, having in all about $60.00 which I carried in a woolen mitt (I had sent some money home before this). I started hiking for home a distance of 20 miles or little over. I remember on the land which years later belonged to Erick Kinnunen, there was a big rock by the side of the road. I sat and rested on it. This road was only a wagon track which cut across. By the way, the Bennett that I worked for most of the summer were nice to work for too. My season’s wages went for the final payment of a pair of oxen bought in 184 from Erik Holsti for $135.00.

I attended school a winter at the Winturi school located just across the road from the old Antonen farm now awned by Mrs. Sam Peterson. I started with a second reader as I was fairly well educated in the Finnish Language. I still can name a few of the pupils: Efriam Johnson, Chas, Suonta, August and John Hestad, Andrew Karinen, John, Frank and Walter Winturi, Hogan Ruden, Ida Paso, Kate Hovila and others. Our teacher’s name was Scott, a fine man and a good teacher who was the County Auditor of Hamlin County later. During the summer of 1885 that first school was built near Peter Hoika’s.

We used to have what might be called a spelling match every day. We would line up, the teacher would give a word to spell to the first one at the head of the line and he or she, would spell it. If spelled wrong the teacher would not say only giv-ing another word to the next one in line. The second, third or fourth might have spelled their words right, but the first might have spelled the word wrong – when com-ing to say the fifth one in the line, but instead of the fifth one spelling the word given, he or she, would pronounce the word missed by the first one, and if spelled right would get to the head of the first one who had spelled wrong. It worked on through the line. It made it real interesting and quite axciting. The winter of 1885 and 86 we had a teacher by the name of Mary Cole. We used to sing “There is Music in the Air” and other songs. Just what music there is in the air nowdays after the radio was invented. Some of the pupils during the first several terms of our school were 16 to 18 years old. During the winter of 1886-7 I went to school in our cwn school quite regularly.

Page 16

The first Finnish church in Hamlin County or any other congregation was the Apostolic Lutheran Church, 1 1/2 miles west of Lake Norden which was built in 1885. My dad, with others, hauled the lumber from Castlewood and helped build it. The first church stood north and south. It was wrecked by a wind storm in 1888 or 1889. It was light and only finished on the outside. The present church was built soon after the first one was wrecked. Prouty, Lehtola, Suonta and dad were the head carpenters.

The year of 1886 was the first year that I was home during the summer. I did not go to work for others as I had done the three preceeding summers. Dad being a car-penter would work out whenever there was time to spare. We had only one pair of oxen so dad did the breaking in partner ship with Peter Halonen who also had one team of oxen. They took a turn in breaking a week at a time. The breaking was commenced in the month of May all through the month of June and some forepart of July. We had no seeder so I went to Halonens to borrow their seeder. We had a three year old steer that we had driven during the spring’s work. I went to get the seeder with the steer, tying one end of the double tree to the seeder frame. I hitched up the steer putting one end of the neck yoke with a strap to the steer’s neck, carrying the other end my-self and leading the steer. As we started to go, the steer started to run and I was unable to hold him. I fell down on the ground and the seeder went over me; that was the only time in my life I saw stars in the dayLime. The harness broke and the steer ran home leaving the seeder a short distance from where I fell. I was not hurt badly. Mrs. Halonen, being a kind of nervous woman, was excited about the steer running a-way, not giving any thought to my being hurt. I said to her “to h— with the steer”.

During the spring as we had a three year old steer we did our spring’s work with three oxen. We had only about 40 – 50 acres of field, some of which was breaking. In those days we had no disc harrow, the way the breaking was worked down was by putt-ing extra weight on the harrow, usually sod and dragging it about four times, so as to have some loose dirt to cover the seeds. The seeding was by seeder with two hoes behind that stirred up the ground, it was a very slow process but that was the only way. It was considered that Mr. Halonen and my father broke about the first ten acres of land on this home quarter of ours. Mr. Braaten was a blacksmith and he lived on the NW 1/4 of 6 in Cleveland Township. He was to make a breaking plow for Halonen and dad using an old moldboard, but having other parts new, for doing ten acres of break-ing. The breaking was done in due time, but Mr. Braaten was very slow in getting all the new parts, such as a new rolling cutter and an extra lay. I made by foot many trips to Braaten before we got all the parts. After we were through breaking then commenced haying which took a long time as the hay was all hauled home next to the stable, two stacks side by side and then before the winter set in we cut the hay with a hay knife and took the hay off from the two stacks making a place to keep the hay and using the hay rack for a ‘roof. The racks in those days were built in three parts so they were easy to take off and put on as there was only one wagon on the place.

It was during that same summer we built our first pasture using 2/4 for posts. Prior to that time, we picketed all cattle and it was quite a chore as the cattle were led to the well for watering each day and twice a day when the weather was warm. Some young cattle and even the cows would take a notion to run, when they ran the rope would be slipping in the hand and burning the hand. As they ran bringing the end of the rope where the stake was to ones hand and then by throwing’ yourself down and lett-ing them drag you for a ways they would come to a stop. There were no pumps. The wa-ter was hoisted from the well, with a bucket, rope and pulley or either a wheel about 8 inches in diameter which had a groove, for keeping the rope on the wheel.

Page 17

Dad had planted some box elder seeds on the tree claim in the fall of 1885 and in the spring of 1886 we planted cottonwood plants. Some part of the field planted into trees-grew weeds thick and tall. I remember picking the weeds by hand. Dad, sister Hannah, Betty and I cultivated the trees with a five hoe hand cultivator, one would walk behind the oxen with a whip in hand and the other would hold the cultivator. We had two oxen along and would change off several times a day and put in long days and when I say, long, days, I mean it. The days seemed unusually long and cultivating the trees several years in succession was much harder ground to cultivate, than corn ground which always was plowed for each season’s crop. We had no binder, dad hired Peter Thompson to do the cutting. He lived on the SW of 9-113-54, which he homestead-ed. Dad did the shocking after his cutting. I shocked for Jacob Dickson who had six oxen to do the harvesting. Using three oxen at a time and changing the oxen four times a day. I shocked and changed the oxen, there were no bundle carriers. The way I shocked was to follow two rows, picking up two bundles and carrying them where the other two bundles or so were making a part of a shock, and finishing it with the next two rows on the next round, in the evening on the last round. Mr. Dickson sat all day long. I shocked my two rows about as fast as Mr. Dickson’s oxen walked. During the stacking we stacked in partnership with Mr. Thompson. Two teams and three men.

By the way, our old house or summer kitchen was built by Mr. Thompson, I think during the year of 1885 and after buying the land from John Maatta in 1892 to whom Thompson had sold it in 1890 or so. In the spring of 1889 we moved the house to where it now stands.

During the spring of 1887 we did our own work with three oxen and also broke with three oxen. During that summer we had one team of old oxen called Jerry and Tom and one three year old steer called Bill. We did our breaking with three oxen and later on had more oxen – if I recall correctly, we had three teams. In those days it was first spring work, then tree cultivation, then breaking followed by haying. The hay was hauled home. Then harvest with the oxen and a 7 foot binder which was a second hand Plano bought from Must ola. It had no bundle carrier which was slow although the fields were small. We harvested at Mustola’s and home. Mr. Mustola himself had gone to Oregon. We could cut with 6 oxen, changing oxen several times a day. Driving oxen hitched to a binder was no pleasure as they had to be urged along all the time by voice and whip. I drove oxen all through the summer season of 1886 – 90. I have broken most of the land on the tree claim with the oxen, There was a well there and the oxen would be picketed on the prairie. I would be up on or before sunrise, slip on my clothes, go breaking until the long noon rest and then working late in the even-ing. They brought me the breakfast. When there was plenty of rain and the ground moist, the breaking even with oxen, was enjoyable.

That summer dad and I built a sod stable 18 by 50 feet or so. The walls were a-bout three feet thick and it was about six feet high. That summer we built a new sauna. It was also in 1887 that the railroad was built to Bryant. I remember the first time I went to Bryant, walking and carrying a gallon pail of eggs in my hand.

We did our harvesting with oxen entirely the years of 1887, 88, 89 and 90 and the year 1891 we changed from oxen to horses. We bought a span of old horses in the fall of 1890, from Martin Ward paying $135.00 for them, same price that dad paid for the first pair of oxen in 1884. When driving oxen hitched to a binder it was no pleasure job, as drivers would have to urge and poke them all the time by voice and whip and at times the driver’s voice would become so hoarse that one could hardly talk. The binder had no bundle carrier that year dad and I did our awn grain stack-ing. Dad had a hard time when stacking the grain from the breaking to keep the bundl-es from slipping when making the lower part of the stack. Dad did not use a fork the first years when stacking, but was on his knee, as was the custom during those days. Later Mr. Kurkela taught dad how to stack grain and dad got to be a good stacker us-ing a fork for laying bundles.

Page 18

Whenever we had time to spare from our own work we would work for others, especially dad, doing carpenter work. Some of the buildings that dad was the carpenter for during their building are still standing, namely the shack built on the ice with a stove for heating. They had a long line sunk under the water and ice which was fastened and into this line a certain distance apart were fas-tened short lines with hooks and baits and other end of the main line was inside the shack. The main line must have been several hundred feet long. There must have been a pulley at the outer post and an idle line which worked through the pulley so that hooks could be baited and fish taken out through the opening in the ice inside the shack. Live minnows were used for bait which were caught with a minnow net in the fall and kept live in the lake in a cage. The fishing did not bring returns hoped for. Old Efriam Johnson and I drove with Johnson’s team of horses to Big Stone Lake and brought Mr. Walhros to Poinsett. We stopped overnight at Milbank.

It was in the summer of 1888 that dad with several others went to DeSmet to a session of the Circuit Court and got his naturalization papers and became a citizen of the United States. In order to make final proof on the land a person had to be a U. S. Citizen.

In the month of June 1888, folks built a stone house with similar thick walls as were in the sod houses. The house may have been about 20 by 30 feet on the outside of the walls. There were layers of stone on the outside with a filler of clay dug from the cellar. The walls were about three feet thick at the base, tapering in a little on the outside and seven feet high with a shingle roof and a ceiling inside and floor upstairs. It was plastered smooth inside and some plastering outside.

We bought the lumber in Castlewood. It was then that I went with our old pair of oxen called Jerry and Tom, hitched to a single box wagon to Castlewood after shin-gles. I had 36 bundles which made a high load. I started from Castlewood about 1 p.m. The weather was warm and the oxen got tender footed so the going was extremely slow. Near sunset : got to the creek near George Meisel’s farm, where I unhitched the oxen and drove them to the creek to drink and cool off. I went to the Meisel house for a drink of water but Mr. Meisel said he had no drinking water. But he had milk in pans in the cellar, the way milk was kept in those days. I must have drank to my heart’s content as I was quite thirsty. Mrs. Meisel had gone to Cooke after water and when she returned she prepared supper and I had supper with them, After supper I went to the creek and hitched up the oxen and pulled the load on the hill opposite the house. Mr. Meisel came to the road and seeing the condition of the oxen, he invited me to stay over night and I must have been more than willing to stay. Aft-er staying overnight, they gave me breakfast, and I must have thanked them for it, as that was about the only thing that I could have done as I think I had no money to of-fer, and think, if I had, they would not have accepted it. But I have always felt very grateful for the kind hospitality they gave me. At home mother and father had worried that something had happened to me and when I was about three miles from home I met dad with a pair of steers, coming to meet me. The distance I traveled in that June afternoon was 12 miles in about 7 hours time. Not very fast, travel. Summer 1897, going to-Watertown by bicycle and stopped for dinner at ffeisels, before I was married.

As I stated before we had no factory made furniture. For stools to sit used grocery boxes. The first rocking chair was bought in 1888, the year we stone house. That fall I had typhoid fever and may have been sick a week or medicine used was quinine and alcohol. The frame house which folks built about 1902 stands on the same site as house stood, the same cellar being used. The first confirmation school of the Apostolic Lutheran Church was held fore part of January at the residence of Efriam Johnson.

Page 20

The school was held by Torsten Estensen and John Koistinen. We were confirmed at Tikka’s school house which now stands in John Paso’s yard, on Sunday January 15, 1888. T am unable to explain why the school was held in the severest part of the winter. It was during the time of this school that the terrible blizzard of Jan. 12, 1888 came on about 2 or 3 p.m. The weather was mild and foggy at about the thawing point, and all at once a strong gale from the northwest came. It sent the snow so flying that a person could hardly see anything as the snow was like flour in a whirlwind. Many lost their lives during that blizzard as it came up so sudden. I have not seen such a one since. All of us that were at confirmation school stayed at Johnson’s until next morning when the blizzard was over. It was cold in the morning with a breeze from the northwest and it could have been 30 below zero.

On January 12, 1888, we had the worst blizzard that we had during our time before or since. The weather during the day up to about 3 or 3:30 o’clock P.M. when the storm came was mild and still with lot of loose snow on the ground. All of a sudden the hard blowing storm wind came from the N. W. and the air so filled with powdered like snow that one could not see, only most of the time a few feet ahead.

.Many who happened to be on the road at the time lost their lives. At that time nearly all of the land was prairie, no fences to speak of and no graded roads. The houses were of sod which were low and during a heavy snow winter the snow drifted a-round the houses leaving part of the roof exposed, so in case of a blizzard one could .cass the house within a few feet and not know it was there. On the place of Edwin Johnson’s yard there can be seen a place of the old well of Halvor Fedt. Across the section on a knoll a distance from the well of about 15 rods was the house of Pat Garvey, he was at the time of the storm watering at the well a pair of mules and 1-3 head of cattle he had. Although he had nearly with the wind to go, he lost his way, went past the house to the southeast. After the storm his frozen body was found near the slough about straight west from Edwards. His wife had kept the door open during the forepart of the storm, hollering, but all in vain. He was lost, not to return alive.

One writer from near Sioux Falls wrote an article in the Argus Leader about the storm saying that there have since been other just as bad blizzards as the 12th of January, 1888. But he remarks “The one says that he was not in the storm”, and I say the same.

The first snow storm in 1880, starting October 15th, and lasting three days found Mr. Efriamson partly unprepared for the storm. In the stable in which one pair of oxen and one cow were in, the roof gave in from the weight of the snow and the oxen were wholely exposed to the weather, so in order to save the oxen they had to be taken into the house and kept there until the storm was over. They had. to turn their heads so they could get their horns through the door.

On or about the year 1890 Hans Hanson bought a pair of young bay geldings which he trained to trot with quite a speed. They surely were a nice team and had such nice movements, especially when they trotted. Many is the time I went with Mr. Hanson to Bryant as we had no horses at home until the year 1900. In pioneer days those who had horses would race with them, and it was not an uncommon sight to see teams racing on the road. There were no graded roads, only a wagon trail so in case of races there was ample room in the width cf the road. The vehicles driven were single box wagons with a spring seat to sit on. The farmers used these wagons almost entirely for driv-ing the first ten or fifteen years. I remember many a time Mr. Hanson wou7d drive the team hitched to a light sleigh and go at a fast clip through the streets of Bryant to show off his horses and he always liked to talk about horses.

Page 21 uilding

There has been so much change in living conditions during the last fifty years, that such a change has not taken place since the earth was created, in the same length of time. When I was a boy back in Finland there were telegraph lines. The method of farming was about the same as it had been for hundreds of years. In the first place the fields were made with a spade and hoe. The land was worked by one horse outfit, seeds were sowed by hand, grain was cut with the hand sickle and was threshed with a flail. Hay was cut by sythe and raked by hand. The hay after being cocked was carried with poles or ropes to hay sheds in the meadow. The two poles were pushed under the hay cock and carried by two men or by rope by one person with the rope over their shoulder. The grain bundles were carried into a “riihi” which had a stone fireplace like the bath house which had been heated. The bundles were spread out to dry where they were kept for about a day. Flailing or threshing the grain was done by two persons. A days work for each “riihi” full. There were sever-al of these “riihis” on each farm according to the size of farm, as it took two riihis for one set of laborers.

I have often thought of how much different our way of living was when we came here in 1882 in comparison to the present time and even a score or two score of years afterwards. Yet the people, as a rule, were more contented then they are now. The idea that the government should take care of them in case of any adverse conditions did not exist in a large scale until FDR administration began giving doles to people, whether they were needy or not. In the pioneer days they all tried to get along by their own means. To ask aid from the county was very rare. But its all different now. It now looks as though some pride themselves about being able to get aid from the county or state. Which by the way is necessary to be given to needy old men and disabled but young or even middle aged persons with an able body to work should at least make an effort to make a living by their own means.

In pioneer days we did not have the building accomodations that we have had for the last 45 years. The hay for stock and for the fuel had to be taken from hay stacks out in the open and besides there were not trees to shelter from the wind, as nowdays most of the farms have some trees around the buildings and good sized hay mows in the barn. Wind mills to pump the water and fences around the stacks.

The times have gradually changed in all respects. Same way about the fuel, for heating hard coal heaters. The first ones that dad bought was 1891. On our farm we had a hard coal heater except about two first years. But for cooking stove we used nearly exclusively corn cobs. Most of which were picked from the hog pasture, for as a rule we had a lot of hogs. In later years we burned lots of wood. We started f arm-ing in the spring of 1899 and quit farming the fall of 1931. Having farmed continu-ously 32 years. When we started farming we had one child, Mildred and she was about six months old. All children, of which there were ten living, and two that had died in their infancy. We had 320 acres of land when we started farming free of incum-brance and when we quit farming we had 203 8 acres in Hamlin County-, 135 acres in Brookings County, 200 acres in North Dakota, the house in Lake Norden, all free of incumbrance. We sold the threshing rig to the boys in 1938 but the rest of the farm-ing equipment was left for the boys. At present we have the furnace in the basement, combination coal and bottle gas range for cooking and oil heater in the dining room. So there is a great change in the mode of living now from the pioneer days and on an average the morals of the people have descended a lot. There is a class of have nets now, that expect everything from the government sources, seeming to be acting as though they have no responsibility of their own. If a least misfortune happens they are applying for aid from the county and etc. and quite a few will spend their money in the pool halls and for liquor.

First frame houses built in Cleveland Township: Isak lsaakson SE-22- in 1881, it being painted white, it could be seen from a long distance. And one by Prizie on 23 the NW of 2 built same. In the fall, 1882, I was along with Hans Hanson to Olaf Arneson and on the way we stopped at Prizie. That house looked swell being freshly painted and it had the frame window blinds painted green similar to blinds used in school houses those days. In Norden Township the first frame houses were Ole Ander—son, which is built onto and which still stands and Joe Roisum which has been built onto which also stands now.

The first Finnish settler was Torsten Estensen coming here in 1878 from Calumet, Nichigan, followed some years by John Adams (Leinonen), Simon Olson Hoel, Matt Erickson Kanteo. They were on the south and southeast side of Lake Poinsett. On the north and west side of the lake the same year were Ole Anderson, Edw. Erickson, first Finnish settlers in Cleveland Township 1880, Efriam Johnson, Henry Lehtola, Henry Hoivila, Jacob Paso, John Friskey and Kraatari.

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