This collection contains oral histories pertaining to life and events in Chippewa County, Minnesota. The oral histories range greatly in topic and time period.
The digitization of these oral histories was made possible in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Any views, findings, opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Historical Society, or the Minnesota Historic Resources Advisory Committee.
Arnold Anderson was born in Montevideo where he has lived and worked all of his life (barring a few years in the service and a few years in Benson). He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mortuary science and took over the family funeral home which he still operated at the time of the interview. He also was the treasurer of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) Board of Regents.
In this interview, Arnold Anderson discusses early funeral practices, his personal life and time in the service during World War II, the history and urban renewal of Montevideo, and the MNSCU system.
Emil Anderson was born near Wagdahl, Minnesota on October 11, 1895. He lived and farmed in Chippewa County all his life and served as Chippewa County Commissioner from 1941-1965. He also served on several community boards.
In this interview, Emil Anderson recalls experiences related to the Olaf Swensson family and working for them. Then he talks of his years as County Commissioner, describing his duties, work with the WPA during the Depression, and issues during his terms.
Iva Andres was born December 8, 1890 in Chippewa County. She attended school in Duluth and worked as a librarian in Iowa. She was trained as a school teacher and taught for seven years in three country schools. Later, she worked as a receptionist for Dr. Smith of Montevideo for 15 years. She was married later and lived in Montevideo at the time of the interview.
In this interview, Iva Andres discusses life as a rural school teacher, some reminiscences, and her job working for Dr. Smith. She has insights on medical changes during the time she worked for Dr. Smith.
Frank Austin was born on January 29, 1899 in the home in which is resided at the time of the interview. He had been a sign painter and lived in Montevideo, Minnesota all his life.
In this interview, Frank Austin gives a history of how his family arrived in the United States and in Montevideo. He talks about the reaction to World War I, the Crash, the Depression, and World War II in Montevideo. In addition, he talks about changes in Montevideo's atmosphere and city government.
Frank Austin was born on January 29, 1899 in the home in which he lived during the time of the interview. He was a sign painter and lived in Montevideo, Minnesota his whole life.
In this interview, Frank Austin discusses his participation and the history of the Montevideo bands.
George Grussing, a lifetime resident of Clara City, Minnesota, served seven terms as state representative from 1955 through 1967. In Clara City, Grussing had a stone and carpentry business.
In this interview, George Grussing discusses how his political career started, some bills sponsored by Grussing, and working for the area watershed program. He discusses the place of a rural background in the State Legislature, the growth of Clara City, area farming, the Great Depression, and Clara City businesses. He discusses his time as a legislator, the relationship between Grussing and his constituents, and the role of lobbyists in the Legislature.
J. O. Hembre
In this intervew, J.O. Hembre talks about his work as an insurance salesman during World War II. Mr. Hembre was born in Wisconsin in 1892 and moved to Minnesota in 1938 or 1939 and moved to Montevideo in 1940 where he sold insurance.
Harry Holzer was born in November of 1900 in Montevideo, Minnesota. He graduated from Montevideo High School and Carleton College. For 47 years he was a journalist with the Montevideo paper. He served in World War II and at the time of the interview was working at the print shop in Montevideo. During his years in Montevideo, he was very active in civic affairs, serving on the school board for 12 years, working with the Chamber of Commerce, aiding in founding Fiesta Days and numerous activities.
In this interview, Harry Holzer discusses a variety of topics including remembrances of college, prohibition, World War II activities, and the development of Montevideo.
Rowland Norman and Gertrude Norman
Rowland Norman was born in 1903 on a farm in Chippewa County, Minnesota. He graduated from country school and farmed in the area most of his life. He was a member of the Chippewa County Historical Society for 20-25 years. Gertrude Norman was born on March 15, 1908 in Wheaton, Minnesota. After graduating from country school, she went to high school in Montevideo, graduating in 1926. She took one year of teacher training in Montevideo and taught country school for 4 years. She then married and farmed along with her husband until their retirement. The Normans were caretakers of the Swensson House from 1968 to the time of the interview.
In this interview, Gertrude Norman discusses the first floor of the house, describing the various rooms and the artifacts in each. Rowland Norman then goes on to talk about the upstairs of the house, describing what is in the rooms and what they were used for. He also tells about the construction of the house, mentioning particularities and unique details. Both the Normans make references to the family during the course of the interview.
Cora Nygaard was born on a farm east of Wegdahl, Minnesota on December 12, 1897. She married in 1923 and had a variety of jobs before and after her marriage, all of which were in Minnesota. She and Emil Anderson are brother and sister. Having been a neighbor to the Swenssons, she often helped the Swensson women on a variety of occasions.
In this interview, Cora Nygaard discusses her experiences with and recollections of the Swensson family.
Florence Olson and Joe Olson
Florence Olson was born August 28, 1913 on a farm in Chippewa County. She attended school through the eighth grade and did house and farm work until she married in 1935. She worked as a nurse's aide for 19 years in and around Granite Falls and was retired at the time of the interview. Her father and Olof Swensson were related, making her a cousin to the Swensson children. She spent many summers with the family on their farm.
In this interview, Florence Olson reminisces about her family, talking about the members and their activities.
Otto Pieper discusses the starting of Clara City and the effects of World War I and the Depression on prices. Also mentioned were businesses and cooperatives in Clara City, and he comments on the coming of a revolution in the United States.
Otto Pieper was a German immigrant to Minnesota in 1890, where he worked for awhile in Steel County, Minnesota, as a hired man on a farm. In 1898, he married and moved to Clara City, Minnesota (Chippewa County) where he started to farm. He purchased a 120-acre farm.
In this interview, he discusses farm life and changes on the farm from 1898 to the 1940s when he retired. References were made to the Farmers' Alliance, Non-Partisan League and Farm Holiday. He was active in the organization of the Farmers' Co-op Elevator and Farmers' Co-op telephone company in Clara City.
Henry A. Roust
Dr. Henry Roust was born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota. Upon graduation from the University of Minnesota Medical School, he established his private practice in Montevideo in 1928. From 1953-1956 he held the mayor's office. At the time of the interview, he was the oldest living doctor in the area and was residing in his home in Montevideo.
In this interview, Dr. Roust discusses a brief history of the Chippewa County Hospital and its Board, and also comments on the centralization of medical facilities and personnel. He then proceeds to talk about urban renewal in Montevideo and the development and future of the area.
Oscar Sorby's parents arrived in Montevideo in 1879 and he was born here in 1884. After attending public school through the 6th grade and spending one year at Windom Institute, Oscar Sorby began his career with the railroad. He was affiliated with the railroad for 71 years.
In this interview, Oscar Sorby discusses Montevideo before the turn of the century and his father's lumber, carpentry, and ice businesses. He talks about his first assignments with the railroad and the life of a fireman on the trains in the early 1900s. He discusses the need for a strong railroad union, the union and management, and railroad union action. He discussed life on the railroad during World War I. Finally, he discusses politics, including meeting Taft and William Jennings Bryan campaigning for the presidency in 1908 and George McGovern.
Gordon A. Yock
In this interview, Gordon Yock describes the beginning of the Variety Supply Company of Clara City, Minnesota (a warehouse and distributing enterprise which functioned like a cooperative. He discusses the difficulties in obtaining merchandise during World War II, the difficulties of convincing rural merchants to join with the VSC, and attempts of large jobbers to keep VSC out of the distributing field. He discusses the early days in Clara City and Emil Yock's General Store in Clara City. Emil Yock was Gordon's father and a pioneer settler of Clara City.
Gordon A. Yock
In this interview, Gordon Yock talks about the Clara City Telephone Company, its good services and low rates, problems of other communities with phone service, and the Continental Telephone Company of Minnesota and Appleton, Minnesota. He also discusses the Variety Supply Company and some of its problems, his years as Republican State Chairman, the Boy Scouts in Clara City, and the churches and the German ethnic community in Clara City.