This collection contains oral histories pertaining to life and events in the West Central region of 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.
George P. Kampmeyer
George Kampmeyer was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and moved to Iowa, where he farmed for a period of time. At the age of 36, he was employed by the railroad. He served as an agent of the Northwestern Railroad, Currie, Minnesota, until his retirement at the age of 66.
In this interview, George Kampmeyer discusses the history of railroads in Murray County and also recalls experiences working with the railroad.
In this interview, Jim Kenny discusses his recollections of his experiences as a stagecoach driver.
Kathryn Kohn was born in Kiel, Germany on September 21, 1899. She immigrated to the United States with her family in 1907. Moving first to Luverne, she eventually settled in the Barrett area.
In this interview, Kathryn talks of her early memories of Grant County, drawing some comparisons with life in Germany. The interview opens with her description of Theodore Roosevelt's speech in Luverne in 1912(?).
Rodney Koser was born in 1929 and presently lives on a farm near Herman, Minnesota. He was a neighbor of the Helsene Prairie since 1941.
In this interview, Rodney Koser talks about the prairie as private property, and as a part of the DNR Wetlands.
Orrin Larson was born in 1894 in Lien Township in Grant County to Herman Larson and Christianelle Anderson Larson.
In this interview, Orrin Larson discusses working for Chris Rigg in Hancock, working for Ben Barlow in Barrett, and the jewelry business which he had operated since 1910 and was running still at the time of the interview. He discussed running the Herman Movie Theatre from 1920 to the time of the interview, and General Barrett and his sons.
Victor Larson and Oscar Scholquist
In this interview, Victor Larson discusses the history of his family's settlement in the area, farming, and the Elim Lutheran Church in Clinton, Minnesota.
In this interview, Oscar Scholquist discusses early automobiles and some of his reminiscences of the area.
William C. Larson
Bill Larson was born on January 27, 1891 at Chadwick, Michigan. His parents settled in Roseville Township in Grant County in 1894. He became a U.S. mail carrier for the Barrett area in May of 1909. 50 years later, he retired from the job.
In this interview, Bill Larson talks about his experiences delivering mail in the county. He talks about the blizzard of 1894 and the fire of 1900 which destroyed almost all of the buildings in Barrett, Minnesota. He discusses all of the businesses and businessmen of Barrett for most of the tape.
In this interview, Marcus Lee discusses his experiences as a soldier in the Army in World War II. He was a member of the Devil's Brigade, known as the daddy of the Green Berets. He mentions the countries his troop went through as well as the types of military projects he was involved in. He has lived in the Elbow Lake / Erdahl area all his life and works as a carpenter.
Robert Lewis was a native of Moorhead, Minnesota and moved to Perham, Minnesota in 1959. At the time of the interview, he worked full time for the National Farmers Organization (NFO). He eventually left the dairy farming business in 1974 to concentrate more on his NFO duties.
In this interview, Robert Lewis discusses recruitment policies, meeting procedures, NFO farm protests, and the basic history of how the NFO has progressed over the years and the direction it is taking for the future.
Richard Martin and Helmer Benson
Helmer Benson was born March 14, 1923. He lived and farmed outside of DeGraff, Minnesota. Dick Martin was born November 27, 1940. He lived in Murdock and drove a truck for a meat company.
Murdock and Kerkhoven School Systems were planning a possible consolidation for many years. The 1978 school year was the first year the consolidation was utilized. Both Dick Martin and Helmer Benson were active in the school board in the consolidation proceedings.
In this interview, they discuss the origins of the consolidation effort and the success which the proceedings had in consolidating the Kerkhoven and Murdock schools.
In this interview, Alvah Matthews discusses her personal history, family history, and remembrances of early Big Stone County.
Mildred Young Meyers
MIldred (Young) Meyers was born in Beardsley, Big Stone County in 1910. She attended nurse's training in Graceville and lived in West Central Minnesota until 1939 when she moved to Rutland, North Dakota. She lived there until 1961 when she returned to Wheaton, where she was living at the time of the interview. While in Rutland, she organized a maternity hospital, was active in school board politics, secretary to the health association, and active in the Republican Party. In Wheaton, she continued her nursing activities and served as Traverse County Republican Party chairperson from 1966-1972.
In this interview, Mildred Meyers discusses her family history, her life biography, organization of the health association and maternity hospital, the Republican Party, a comparison of North Dakota and West Minnesota, and many refelctions on her activities in the health care field.
Agnes Nelson's parents were born in Sweden and emigrated to the United States in March 1882. They settled in Atwater Minnesota (Kandiyohi County) for six years before moving to Big Stone County in 1888 where they farmed. She was among nine children; one died in infancy. Following her education in a rural elementary school and high school in Ortonville, Agnes Nelson taught in the rural schools. In 1934, she ran for superintendent of the rural school system in Big Stone County and won. This career occupied much of her life until 1958 when she resigned. She did some teaching with special needs children early in the 1960s.
Since much of her life was involved with rural education in Big Stone County, this became the central focus of the interview. A rather complete outline of her career as a teacher, and later, her accomplishments as a superintendent are provided. Agnes Nelson delved into her own growing years in a rural school, her parents' philosophy of education and the experience of alternating the Swedish language and English between home life and school. Much of Agnes' philosophy on education is reflected in the interview; both in terms of how she taught and a critique of elementary and secondary education at the time of the interview.
Edward Nordgaard was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1900. He graduated from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa and began a 44-year teaching and administrative career in the Glenwood area. More than 30 years was spent as Glenwood Superintendent.
In this interview, Ed Nordgaard discusses his family history, rural schools, city schools, the Minnesota High School League, school consolidation, teacher-administrator-community relations and related material.
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.
Edward Ohman discusses the discovery of the Kensington Runestone by his father Olof Ohman.
Harold J. Olsen
Harold Olsen was approximately 63 years old and was a butcher and resident of Hoffman for 38 years. He served as a City Councilman for six years.
In this interview, he primarily discusses the changing responsibilities of government in Hoffman. He talks about World War II in Hoffman as well as the city government.
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.
Henry Olson was born in 1894 in the town of Pomme de Terre.
In this interview, he discusses the village of Pomme de Terre and the businessmen that were once there. He also discusses the living descendants of the former residents of the village of Pomme de Terre.
Myrtle Olson was born in Benson, Minnesota in 1893. She was the daughter of a thresher mechanic and graduated from high school in Starbuck. She spent 44 years teaching in the Glenwood area, the first 4 years in a one-room rural school three miles west of Glenwood. Twenty of those years were spent as a junior high principal in Glenwood. She retired in 1960 and lived at the time of the interview in Glenwood.
In this interview, she discusses early schools, rural schools, the role of a principal, Norwegian ethnicity, religion, and school consolidation.
Wesley Olson is 33 years old and was born and lived in Clinton all of his life. His occupations are farming and being a substitute high school teacher with an emphasis on speech and political science. He farmed most of his life, before going to the University of Minnesota Morris to get his teaching degree.
In this interview, Wesley discusses farming, government grain storage, and problems in farming past and present.
Dr. Lillian Parson was born on June 15, 1896 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She spent some time abroad, including school in Switzerland. She attended the University at Grand Forks and finished her medical schooling at the University of Illinois. She came to Elbow Lake in 1923 and was one of the first women doctors to practice in Grant County.
In this interview, Dr. Parson discusses her personal and family background and her medical background and practice. In particular, she discusses her work on insulin for the treatment of diabetes, a diphtheria epidemic in Minnesota, maternity services she provided, and various accidents and incidents she helped treat. She also discusses general life in Elbow Lake, Minnesota.
In this interview, Reuben Parson recounts his Swedish grandfather's pioneering days in Otter Tail County with an emphasis on the role of the Swedish-Lutheran Church in Swedish American life.
In this interview, Mabel Knutson Pederson discusses the process of changing church services conducted in Norwegian to church services conducted in English at the East Zion Lutheran church in rural Starbuck, Minnesota. The transition lasted from 1925-1951 with two thirds of the services in English by 1951. She also touches on the problems the changeover caused in the community as a whole.