These stories can also be heard Sunday mornings around 10 am on WILD 102’s “Looking Back in Time” program. Each week’s radio story will be posted in its entirety here on our website.
Weekly radio stories are researched, compiled, and read by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member.
Available recordings are also linked to the Wild 102 “Looking Back in Time” page.
May 7, 2023
On June 13, 1968, the Roseau Times-Region published an article celebrating the 50 th anniversary of Mr.
and Mrs. Anton Skoien. Here’s their story:
A young girl’s bravery in the face of the dread flu epidemic in the early 1900s was climaxed Sunday when
she and the patient she risked her life to treat observed their golden wedding anniversary. She was the
daughter of Eli S. Carlson, Malung, who had come here with her parents from Sweden when she was
five. He was Anton Skoien who had come from Norway at the age of 22 to find opportunity. Five
children and a half-century later they marked a lifetime of hard work on the farm and retirement in
Anton had fallen ill with the dread flu and she was working nearby at the Charley Beebe place in Pencer.
She was told she could go care for the sick man if she dared … and she did. “All they had done was put
some bread out for me … they didn’t dare risk the flu,” Anton said. But she took care of him, “and even
yet, I’ve never had the flu,” she laughed.
They were married on December 28, 1918 in Roseau with Mike Holm performing the ceremony. He had
driven a load of grain to town for Beebe and she had come in via horse and sleigh for the wedding.
They took up housekeeping on the 40 he had purchased adjoining the Beebe farm, building their own
house, milking cows and raising sheep and a big garden.
“We had everything on the farm – pigs, cows, chickens, geese, sheep,” he recalled. “We had our own
food alright,” Anton said. Mrs. Skoien used to card wool and make her own yarn with which she made
mittens, socks and other items for her husband and sons.
He worked in the woods in the winter, cutting logs and getting them sawed at her father’s mill. They
built their own buildings and although “it wasn’t all roses, we can’t kick … what we had was our own,”
Mrs. Skoin was right in there working with her husband. She helped milk as many as 50 cows and do the
chores too. She was pretty handy with the hammer and saw as testified by “two shanties which are still
standing on the home place,” her husband smiled.
Once she designed a chicken feeder and sent it to a magazine from which she never heard. Several years
later she saw the design, somewhat improved, in the same magazine!
The Skoiens recall that there used to be a family on “nearly every quarter of land.” Now they are sad to
see many of the fields growing up in brush and weeds. “I never thought it would get that bad,” he
They added to their original 40 acres and a full set of buildings. He cleared much of the land (“It was all
in woods … the worst in the area,” he said) with dynamite and a grub hoe. “I blew the place all to pieces
but I knew how to handle the dynamite,” he laughed.
There were no roads to Roseau in those early days and a trip to town was a long trek. Later, when there
were some “rutted trails”, he got the first Model T in the country and used to haul groceries and
supplies for his neighbors. “I can remember following Dr. Delmore on those gumbo roads several times,”
he recalled. He didn’t have too much trouble with getting stuck with the Model T. “I had the power in
those days and could pick it up,” he said.
Anton was somewhat of a community veterinarian and was often called to attend sick livestock. “I
learned from old Doc McGillary in Roseau … but it got to be a nuisance — people were always calling me
and I didn’t charge for it,” he said.
They raised five children on the farm: Alvin and Elmer, now in Oregon; George, who farms near the
home farm; Doris, (Mrs. Joe Stromstad), International Falls; and Harold who is on the home farm. They
also have 18 grandchildren, many of whom were home for the golden wedding anniversary as were all
They have retired in Roseau now but still have a big garden (she had a 19-1/2 pound cabbage last year)
and both tend to it. Roseau has changed since they first came … “It was just a bunch of junky shacks
then,” and they plan to continue living here.
They flew to Oregon to visit their children last year and Anton feels “It is the only way to go” .. and so
does his wife.
Despite retirement, they retain keen interest in the farm. “I think we wanted him to come to town so he
couldn’t see the barn,” she laughed, “he still wants to do chores.” Anton admits he misses it but his
heart condition will not permit the hard work.
Anton feels that the soil bank “put them on the go” out of Pencer area … a fact which makes him sad. He
remembers furnishing lumber and helping build Salem church in his community and feels that the
younger generation has little concept of what the pioneers went through to create this country. “It has
been lots of hard work and I feel ashamed that the whole country has gone on the bum … it was our
idea to build progress and create something for ourselves … but nowdays they are not satisfied when
everything is given to them,” Anton said. “Even then some of them can’t make it go,” Mrs. Skoien added.
The country has come a long way since her grandfather threw a mattress in the well so they could get
under it and hide from the fire sweeping through the country – and from the time he lost his overshoes
in the mud in Roseau’s main street “and never did find them.”
“I don’t think the young people would take our kind of life anymore … and I wonder and worry what
would happen if that kind of time came again,” he mused.
They hope it doesn’t, but if it should, they feel that “hard work” is the answer to most problems. It gave
them 50 years of happiness.
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