This collection contains short interviews done with residents of local counties in West Central Minnesota for KMRS radio station. The pieces were aired from 1975-1979 as the segment "Reminiscing in West Central Minnesota: a Saturday KMRS News Feature."
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.
Tom Riley was 72 years old and was born in Murray County, Minnesota. His family then moved to Stevens County when he was a child. He was a farmer for his whole life.
In this interview, Tom discusses the stagecoach in Murray County. He then talks about country life in Stevens County and St. Mary's Catholic School in Morris, Minnesota. He discusses living on a farm and threshing. He talks about picking corn by hand. He talks about the various crops he planted through his lifetime, and the changing trends in farming. He talks about bad winters and blizzards in the area.
Al Rinkenberger was born in Illinois in 1892. At the time of the interview, Al lived in Morris and worked in Stevens County and in Hancock since 1926. He was a policeman in Morris before the department had a car.
In this interview, Al remembers living in northern Minnesota. He recalls blizzards of the north and compares farming in northern Minnesota with what he did in Stevens County. He talks about his work as a police officer, and how he got into the position.
Mike Roggeman is 70 years old and was born in Belgium. He immigrated to the United States when he was 4 years old.
In this interview, he discusses immigrating to the United States and his time working as a farmer. He discusses playing as a musician at barn dances and other parties and shivarees. Then he discusses other occupations he held, such as working in a blacksmith shop and creating a new farm implement and purchasing and operating the liquor store in Alberta, Minnesota. Finally he discusses the softball games played in Alberta and the surrounding area.
Mary Ronnie was 90 years old and was born in Norway. She worked in the tourist trade with her father in Norway.
In this interview, Mary Ronnie discusses the government-operated churches and schools in Norway. She reminisces about emigration to the United States from Norway. She also discusses Cyrus in days past.
Fred Rust was 67 years old and was born in Fargo, North Dakota. His father was born in Norway. His family moved to Cyrus, Minnesota, then moved to Norway for a year. After his father died in Norway, the family moved back to Cyrus, Minnesota.
In this interview, Fred mostly talks about the various occupations he had. He worked for some time doing farm work. He then worked in road construction and setting pins in the bowling alley. He then worked as a welder and blacksmith; he talks briefly about an accident that occurred on the job and about what being a blacksmith entailed. He also discusses fishing as a hobby.
Art Sand was 77 years old and lived in Wendell. His grandparents came from Norway and settled in Grant County. He had an active political interest and was mayor of Wendell twice. He farmed for a few years and then worked as a car salesman, ran a general store, and was a director of the bank and had a real estate license at the time of the interview.
In this interview, Art discusses his political activity and some of the issues in Wendell when he was mayor. He talks about meeting Hubert Humphrey. He discusses his time as a car salesmen and the cost of cars at that time. He talks about his general store and what they sold. He discusses the bank he directed. He discusses the fraternal organizations he was member of, and his trip to Norway.
Anna C. Sather
Anna C. Sather was 74 years old and was born in Madagascar to Lutheran missionaries. She lived in Madagascar until she was 9 years old when her father died. Her family then moved to Minneapolis where she grew up.
She discusses living in Madagascar and the trip back to the United States. She talk about her education in the United States, including getting her degree at Augsburg University. She discusses the differences of rural and urban living after she married her husband and moved to a farm with him. She talks about her misadventures in cooking and the difficulties of being a farm wife. She discusses being a teacher and the differences between education when she was teaching and modern teaching.
Rev. Vern Schendel was 62 years old and was born in Renville County, Minnesota.
In this interview, he talks about he came to Norcross and helped develop the church there. He discusses the 40th anniversary of his marriage and the 40th appointment in the Norcross United Methodist Charge.
Harold Schinzel was 77 years old. Harold's father helped work on the inside work of the Le Grand Hotel and built the steeple of the Pepperton Church. In South Dakota, Harold herded cows on the Sutton Ranch. He also worked for the railroad in the Twin Cities and talked about tying up locomotives. He farmed in Donnelly with failing eyesight and now he makes doll furniture that has gone even to Africa and Tokyo.
August Schmidt was 83 years old and was born in Illinois in 1893. His family moved to Minnesota when he was 7 years old in hopes of making a better life.
In this interview, he discusses life on the farm and changes in farming. He also talks about the shoe shop he ran for 10 years in Clinton, Minnesota and getting electricity on his farm. He talked about county fairs and one year when he brought bees to the county fair. Finally, he talked about playing the fiddle.
Henry Schmidt was 89 years old and was born in Illinois. He moved to Morris in 1900.
In this interview, Henry Schmidt remembers Morris as a town with "19 saloons where everybody drank." He talks about pre-tractor farming and farm prices. He operated a thresher for surrounding farmers. He talks about self-reliance and discusses the dwindling number of family farms and makes some judgements as to its cause.
Jacob Schmitz was 81 years old and was from Wheaton, Minnesota.
In this interview, Jake discusses the first Schmitz moving to the Wheaton area in 1876. He also discusses his father's journey from Germany to the United States. He talks about his father's work as a blacksmith and his father moving to homestead in the Traverse County area. He discusses the conditions and life his father had homesteading in the area. He talks about his parents collecting buffalo bones to sell.
In the second part of the interview, he talks about his father helping to start a school in the area. He discusses the smallpox epidemic in the area during his father's life, and the neighbor who had his own method of smallpox vaccination. He talks about the blizzard of 1880. He then talks about his own experiences farming in the area. He talks about his family (he and his wife had 20 children) and about how one of his children made a record for the largest baby born at 16 pounds and 24 1/2 inches long. He talks about the newspaper publicity of the story of his son being the largest baby.
Earl Scribner was 74 years old. His parents settled in Stevens County in 1895.
In this interview, Earl Scribner talks about the depression and the drought that occurred in 1933, 1934 and 1935. He also talks about his different types of jobs he had and being the only saw sharpener in Morris at the time of the interview.
Roy Simpson and Frieda Simpson
Roy and Frieda Simpson were both born in Janesville, Iowa and met in school. Roy was 97 and Frieda was 95. They had been married for 77 years.
In this interview, they talk about farm life, canning and washing clothes, early town life, and the "dirty thirties" (aka the drought back in the 1930s).
Charlotte Skrien was 87 years old and lived in Morris. Her grandparents came to the United States from Norway.
In this interview, Charlotte relates some stories about her grandparents' and mother's trip from Norway to the United States. She also discusses childhood deaths and diseases, as well as medical care during that time. She talks about her son, who played football with the University of Minnesota Gophers.
William Sloneker was originally born in Illinois, but moved to Minnesota as an infant. William lived in Hancock at the time of the interview and was 91 years old. He grew up on a farm and farmed throughout Stevens County. He retired from farming in 1948 and moved to Fairmont, Minnesota for a few years before moving to Hancock.
In this interview, William Sloneker recalls early forms of power on farms in Minnesota and South Dakota using horses and artesian well water pressure. There is some mention of farming in the "dirty thirties."
Mrs. Merton Smith
Mrs. Merton Smith was 88 years old. She was born in South Dakota and when she was old enough, she decided that she wanted to homestead for herself. She got 160 acres for $2.50 an acre. She had to build a shanty, plow up five acres of land, have a well, and live on the land 14 months before she could prove her land.
In this interview, she talks about how they built her shanty and some of her dealings with rattlesnakes. When she got married, they moved to Minnesota because of the dry land.
Amy Spaulding was 83 years old and was born in Iowa. She moved to Chokio area at 10 years old. She attended country schools and taught for a year before marriage. She was a 4H group leader, Sunday school teacher, and superintendent. She was a charter member of "Country Girls", a homemakers group. She reflects on a farm wife's experiences then and now.
Art Splitstoser was 74 years old and was a lifetime resident of Morris. Art owned a meat market for many years, and his father also was a butcher.
In this interview, Art discusses some of the changes in processing and in pricing that have occurred through the years in butchering and the meat industry.
Zola Stohldorf was born in Haddam, Kansas in 1893.She moved to Minnesota in March 1914 when she became engaged.
In this interview, Zola discusses farm life in Kansas. She discusses travelling by covered wagon as a child to Nebraska. She talks about farming in Minnesota as a newly-married couple. She discusses a bad hailstorm that destroyed their crop and the blizzards in the area. She mentions the first radio their family had and all the moving around that her family did. She talks about Morris when she first moved to the area.
L. O. Strand
L.O. Strand was 87 years old and was born in Terrace, Minnesota. His parents were from Norway. He lived in Donnelly, Minnesota for most of his life.
In this interview, L.O. discusses his schooling, farming, the cyclone of 1916, road construction, and some of the positions he held including county commissioner, member of the PCA board and member of the creamery board. He talks about the Kongsvinger Cemetery in Donnelly and his record keeping of the graves in the cemetery. Finally, he discusses his recent trip to Norway.
Luther Sunquist was 83 years old and was born in Nebraska. He was forced to support himself at age 12 and worked as a hired hand. He came to Morris in 1913. He worked construction and built some of the WCSA buildings. He worked 44 years for Home Builders.
In this interview, Luther Sunquist discusses his time as a hired agricultural hand. He discusses the Corn and Alfalfa Show in Morris. He reflects on his various jobs and experiences.
Rose Taffe was 80 years old and was born in Nebraska. Her family moved to Minnesota to get away from the drought. She lived in Barry at the time of the interview. She worked in a bank for three years.
In this interview, she talks about working in the bank in Barry and describes what main street used to be like in Barry. She talks about what housekeeping was like before electricity, especially concerning washing clothes, ironing, butchering, and gardening. She discusses the school her children went to and her introduction to radios.
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.
Otto Thurmer was 72 years old and resided in Morris. He was born in Jackson, Minnesota and grew up on a farm.
In this interview, he discusses his career in carpentry. He also relates his experiences in professional wrestling.