Happy New Year! We hope that 2023 is starting well for everyone.
To start the new year, we have retitled the “Weekly Radio Readings” to “Historic Happenings.” Each week’s story will be posted in its entirety. The stories can also be heard Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Looking Back in Time” program.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
Available recordings will also be linked to the Wild 102 “Looking Back in Time” page.
February 5, 2023
Roseau County had a family by the name of Sjoberg that started many businesses, contributing a lot to the early years of settlement here. I was recently at the Roseau County Museum and found quite a bit to tell you about in the Family Files for Sjobergs. One item in the Israel Sjoberg file was a document which had no author’s name attached to it. There is a faint handwritten note dated 1994 at the bottom of the photocopied page which seems to indicate it was written by the Knochenmuses who lived in the old Sjoberg home then. An update is added later. I’ll read the document today, which is titled “Early History of Victorian Home on 202 Center St W in Roseau, Minnesota”.
Israel Sjoberg was the son of Jonas & Catherine Sjoberg, who lived at Ormsjo, Sweden. They had eight children. The parents were known to be very hard working, but also very prosperous in their business affairs. It seems their children grew up with a comfortable living and also learned about business and management.
Israel was born in 1866. At age 22, he immigrated to America in 1888. He had a brother, Peter, who also immigrated to America in 1893. These two brothers settled in the young small town of Roseau. Israel opened a business to sell a wide variety of merchandise. He had also started to build a home, as early settlers coming to live in Roseau, said the home was there when they came to Roseau. This bit of information was told by old “Hube” Dieter.
Israel Sjoberg married Laura Miller in 1897. They never had any children but they cared for and raised Carl Dahlquist, from infancy. He was related to Laura, Israel’s wife.
The personal history of Israel & his brother Peter was shared by a distant cousin from Sweden. This cousin and other family members had received many letters that came from Israel, telling of his prosperous business affairs here in Roseau. The letters were written in Swedish, but were translated to English later. This cousin, a G. Lindberg, came to America to visit a friend, and together they came to Roseau to take a little tour of the town, to see the home of his cousin, Israel, and some other family members who had immigrated to live in Roseau. He came on October 12th of 1994 and had a visit with the present owner at that time. He said he wanted to see “King Sjoberg’s home”. Israel had told his relatives in his letters that he was now the Mayor of Roseau, which was the same as being king of a Province in Sweden. At the time Israel was having his home built, he was saying he was going to have a home that was equal to the home of the king of Sweden, Therefore, he was nicknamed “King Sjoberg” in jest. The beautiful Victorian Home was well built in its day and has been a home of interest all through the years. He continued to make further improvements as time went on. He had picture postcards made of the home and would send them to family members back in Sweden and also in Minnesota. By 1994, the present owners had been given several of these postcards which showed the improvements made on the house.
Israel and his brother Peter, were co-partners as “Sjoberg Brothers” on purchases of land and properties. Land had been purchased from Ann Budd, a single woman, on May 23 of 1902. This information was on the Abstract of the home. The two brothers were very capable men. They were active and progressive in business. The cousin told that Israel was very fashionable, in his clothing and appearance. He was always dressed in the latest fashion. He became colorful in clothing as well as a human being.
The two brothers, Israel and Peter, had many activities with business in Roseau and Badger. They owned a Snuff & Cigar Factory in Roseau, a business in Salol, a saw factory and a cheese factory in Badger. They also had some kind of mill in Salol and perhaps more. They bought land and became owners of 5,000 acres.
Israel was chosen to be Mayor of Roseau for several terms. He had an interest in banking and became a Vice President of a bank in Roseau, and a Director for the bank in Badger.
He wrote many news articles for the Swedish newspapers. He also made many trips to Washington for the good of the Roseau community. This was before getting the Railroad to come to Roseau. He often wrote articles in the newspapers which would show how situations were handled back in Sweden, where he was born and raised. The “King” had a good understanding of this, and it became evident as when his carpenters worked on his buildings, he could inspect and discuss their work. He said he didn’t care at all what the yardstick showed because he could see for himself if something was not straight or correct.
Israel Sjoberg died at the age of 74, on May 26 of 1940. He is buried in the Hope Cemetery of Roseau, Minnesota.
The newspaper clippings gathered from the Roseau Times-Region during days of research, gave some good information when some of the improvements were made on the home of Israel Sjoberg. These clippings were given to the present owners in 1994, by Irene Olson.
After the death of Israel, the Probate Court of Roseau probated the Home to Laura Sjoberg on June 14, 1941. Sometime later, Laura was married to Clarence S. Christianson. In September, they sold the home to Julia M. Sillerud and her husband E. B. Sillerud. They became the second owners of the home. June 1st of 1959, Paul and Rosella Knochenmus purchased the home from Julia and Elvin Sillerud. Elvin had retired from being Roseau County Sheriff and they wanted to move to Minneapolis to be near their children. Paul and Rosella became joint owners of the home and lived there for 52 years, as the third owners of the home.
They raised a family of three children and had happy years there. Age and health made it necessary to sell the home in September of 2012. The home was then sold to Kate and Trevor Hammer, who have a young family. That sale took place on September 17th of 2012, and now they are the fourth owner of the old Victorian Home.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share our county’s history with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.