This collection contains oral histories pertaining to life and events in Douglas 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.
Helen R. Anderson
Helen Anderson was born in 1910 in Eagle Lake, North Dakota. She lived in Evansville township from the time she was five years old until she married Harvey Anderson in the 1930s and moved to the Anderson Farm in Lund Township in Douglas County. She was a teacher in rural schools, a member of the school consolidation committee in Douglas County, and a school board member.
In this interview, Helen Anderson discusses teaching in the rural community, the rural church as a social center, the Depression, Swedish customs and foods, and rural life, elaborating on old time threshing activities. She also discusses the Happy Sun Rhubarb Trucking Farm, a young people's commune formed in 1971 in the area. She talks about the relationship between the local community and the commune members.
Emma Belgum was 90 years old and was born in a dugout house near Kensington, Minnesota. Her parents came from Norway in 1871.
In this interview, she discusses many of her experiences on the farm, both before and after she was married. She talks about a bad storm that occurred on their farm. She also discusses the changes in farming over the years.
Fred Foslien was born July 25, 1895 outside of Alexandria. He completed an 8th grade education. While farming with his father, he was instrumental in organizing the Production Credit Association of Alexandria. He managed PCA for 39 years, beginning in 1933. He bought land east of Alexandria and was responsible in setting up the Victoria Heights Community. As a State Senator for three years in the 1930s he did much to pass vital highway legislation among other things.
In the interview, Foslien discusses the Production Credit Association (PCA), Victoria Heights development, the state highway legislation of the 1930s, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL), and the Non-Partisan League, in which he was very active.
Jessie Getchell was born in Ontario, Canada and was 85 years old. She was only one-year old when her family moved to Brainerd, Minnesota so her father could work in the saw mills. She met her husband in South Dakota and were married in 1910. She and her husband later homesteaded in Canada from 1912-1915. They then moved to Stevens County and Douglas County.
In this interview, Jessie Getchell discusses her family history. She talks about an unfortunate trip to Canada to visit her husband with her young son where she ended up having to work as a housekeeper for a while to support herself as she could not find her husband. She then discussed homesteading and the little sod house they lived in in Canada. She talks about the struggles they had during their time homesteading in Canada.
Emil Halburg was 82 years old and lived in Kensington. His parents came from Sweden around 1892. Emil was born in the United States, one of 10 children.
In this interview, Emil discusses farming, food preservation, gardening, and the role of the horse in farming.
In this interview, Vernon Johnson talks about his days working with the Coca-Cola bottling company out of Alexandria prior and during World War II. He discusses sugar rationing that took place during the war and the impact it had on Coca-Cola.
Clarence Larson was 82 years old and was born near Starbuck. His father was from Sweden and his mother from near Kensington, Minnesota. His family moved to a farm near Kensington when he was 3 years old. He was a farmer for his entire life. The Kensington Runestone was found on a neighbor's farm and Clarence was active in buying and promoting the Runestone Park. After retiring from farming, he spent his leisure time exploring for artifacts.
In this interview, Clarence recalls the early days of Kensington and Alexandria businesses. He talks about blizzards in the area. He discusses horses and farm life. He mentions his talent with water witching (dowsing). He then goes on to talk about the Kensington Runestone.
Art Ohman and Clarence Larson
Art Ohman was a lifetime resident of Kensington and was 88 years old. His parents came from Sweden.
In this interview, he discusses the changes in Kensington and the various jobs he had. He talks about his father's discovery of the Kensington Runestone.
Edward Ohman discusses the discovery of the Kensington Runestone by his father Olof Ohman.
Hugh B. Robards
Hugh Robards was born January 11, 1894 in Alexandria, Minnesota. He graduated from Carleton College in 1916 and served in the infantry in World War I. He was discharged in 1920, at which time he returned to Alexandria to take over operation of the Cowing Robards hardware store.
In this interview, Hugh Robards discusses the early founding and development of the store, obtaining the Our Own Hardware franchise in 1913, advertising, business fluctuations in the Depression and World War II, and the rationing of products during World War II. He also discusses the time he spent in France during World War I, tourism in Alexandria, and the civic duties of citizens.
In this interview, Josephine Sletto talks about the home front during World War II. Mrs. Sletto was born in the western part of North Dakota and moved to the area around Alexandria, Minnesota circa 1939. During World War II, Josephine worked as a clerk for the Selective Service Office.
Bob Thedin was 86 years old and was born in Kensington, Minnesota. He farmed in Kensington for many years, then became an insurance agent for hail insurance. He also got into the real estate business in the Morris area.
In this interview, he discusses his work as an insurance agent for hail damage. He talks about what interesting items he was paid with as an insurance agent. He talks a little bit about car insurance as well. He talks about running a real estate agency, particularly selling farmland.