Listen to the Weekly Radio Readings by Sheila Winstead, RCHS Board Member, or tune in to WILD 102 Radio Sunday mornings.
Starting this month recordings will be linked to the Wild 102 “looking Bac in Time” page for the rest of the story.
Recorded June 2022
June 5, 2022:
As part of a project to document the descendants of my immigrant ancestors Inger and Johannes Elton, I’ve been helping a Norwegian relative gather stories from the Americans while he documents the Norwegians. He has now reached my father’s generation, and today I’ll read Dad’s sister Martha Haaby’s story.
Hi, I’m Martha, the youngest of 6 kids born to Gilbert and Ida Flaten.
I was born 4 months and 3 days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared the United States was now in the 2nd World War.
I was 80 on April 10, 2022, and I use that magic number for anything I don’t want to do and things I should remember but don’t; it’s a good generic excuse…it works… mostly.
I was born at home, as each of us was. The folks farmed, and raised milk cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens, add in some horses, dogs (1 at a time), cats, and kids and it was a busy place. Mom always had a big garden and canned every vegetable and a lot of meat (chicken, venison) that we would need till the next garden was ready. Seemed to me the best weapon we had was a wheelbarrow. Could move a lot of stuff fast. I didn’t realize till much later that mom was the best weapon with her ‘get ‘er done’ attitude.
Since I was the baby my next 2 brothers were supposed to watch me when the folks were in the barn doing chores. Years later I found out why I had such an aversion to pepper…they would shake some on my nose because they thought I looked so funny when I sneezed. I still sneeze from it. When I got older, I was in the house during that time by myself and I sat on the table in front of the window so when mom looked out the ½ door of the barn she could see me there. Once I wasn’t there when she checked so she had to come in and I had fallen off the table and had a cut over my eye.
There were 16 years between my oldest brother, Gilmore and myself. I remember when each of my brothers went in the service, Gilmore in the Navy sailed all over the south Pacific in WW II on the U.S.S. Winged Arrow. He had some really amazing experiences. The other 3 were in the Army. Emil in the Korean War was part of a demolition squad of 4 guys. After the main troops crossed the bridge, their job was to blow up the bridge so the enemy couldn’t cross. Emil became separated from the other 3; he didn’t really know what happened in the chaos, but he didn’t see them again and, in the end, didn’t think they made it back to their lines. At one point the folks were notified he was missing in action. Took him 30 days to make it back to his unit. So we didn’t know what news was going to come. Emil said he hid during the day and ran at night, but hunger rules and after some days he was able to steal a chicken. Between it squawking and the Korean woman screaming and waving her arms and fist at him it was a noisy affair, but like he told Gilmore, “I got the chicken”. The Army extended his time in the service as they needed more fighters, no choice, had to stay. He was discharged as a Master Sargent. When the enemy was close enough so you could hear the tall grass rustle and the commander hollered ‘you’re on your own’ he got the nick name “Lightning Legs”. No war time when the last 2 brothers were in. Edwin was a paratrooper with the Screaming Eagles, his unit parachuted into Little Rock, Arkansas in fall of 1957 during the riots there over blacks being able to integrate into the schools. There was a bad wind when they landed, no one died but plenty injured as they were dragged along the ground by the wind. Then they stood guard so the kids could enter the school. Albert was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, no outstanding emergency that I know of for him, just served his country, which he did with honor. My sister Irene went to Roseau to work, she was a waitress and a store clerk at one time. She was very generous with gifts and seemed to know just what to buy. One Christmas she bought Mom a set of silverware (real silverware). It turned black when we ate our lutefisk, no one cared, it looked good on the end of a silver (turned black to prove it was silver I think) fork, and tasted even better. I do remember I ate enough to get a belly ache.
I never did learn how to milk cows. I fed and watered the pigs and …listen for the rest of the story here.
June 12, 2022:
Last week I read a story written by my Aunt Martha Haaby to be included in a collection of family stories by a relative in Norway. Today I’ll read about Martha’s brother Albert Flaten. This story was written by his daughter Joan Dahl.
Albert Flaten was born to Gilbert and Ida Flaten on September 28, 1933, in Pinecreek MN. Albert attended Groveside school in Pinecreek. He learned to trap at a young age and was very good at it. Albert was in the U.S. Army from January 21, 1954, until January 20, 1956. He was a paratrooper and his rank was SP4. He married Audrey Kvien on October 12, 1955. They had 5 children: Joan, born May 11 1956; Beverly, born May 23 1958; Harlan, born November 28 1959; Betty, born January 9 1961; and Gary, born July 13, 1963. Albert farmed and lived on the home place in Pinecreek. They raised small grain crops and had cattle, pigs, and a few chickens. In 1965 Albert and family moved to Albany, Oregon for work. Albert worked on the Green Peter Dam project. The family moved back to Minnesota in 1966 and he continued to farm and worked a number of years at the Roseau Wildlife Refuge. Albert died in a car accident May 10th, 1973, at the age of 39. Audrey was left to care for 5 children. She worked at Polaris Industries in Roseau for a number of years. She worked in the fiberglass plant building hoods for Polaris snowmobiles etc. Audrey married Don Thompson from Piney Manitoba on December 21, 1974. They moved to Piney along with Harlan, Betty and Gary, who went to school in Canada. Beverly lived with Joan and went to high school in Roseau MN. Audrey and Don had various adventures, they had a grocery store for a while, a restaurant with a Grey Goose bus stop and also ran a restaurant at Buffalo Point, Manitoba for a few years. Audrey was a great baker and a hard worker. She died during the Covid-19 pandemic on September 21, 2020, from a heart attack. Because of all the covid restrictions with the Canadian border, a funeral could not be held. Her children are planning a memorial service for her this month nearly 2 years after her death.
Joan shared another story relating to her family, which I’ll read now.
After my dad, Albert, died, my mom gave each of us kids a gun of his. I got his Remington 30.06. I used it, very successfully I might add!!!, for many deer seasons. In 2012 my son Jason and his friend Neal Vatnsdal applied for a moose hunting permit and they were drawn in a lottery system to hunt in October 2012. Jason was so excited about this as there are very few moose left in Minnesota and it is very hard to get drawn for the chance to hunt. Jason learned moose calling on YouTube and his family got to hear it a lot over the summer months. Jason needed a powerful gun to get the best possible chance at a kill so we talked him into using his Grandpa’s 30.06. I was thrilled about just the thought of him using it.
The hunt took place about 45 miles northwest of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail. The hunters headed to Grand Marais and spent most of their week in the woods looking for any sign of moose — not much to be found. The weather had been quite warm most of the week. They were to come home Sunday, but with no sign of moose they were discouraged and …listen for the rest of the story here.
June 19, 2022:
I’ve been reading stories about some of my relatives this month, which are being collected by a man in Norway who is documenting all the descendants of a family who created a farm by the name of Sorberg in the community of Dokka. One of those descendants was my great-great-grandmother Inger Elton, of the first generation that immigrated to the United States. The man has compiled hundreds of family members’ biographies and is now working on my father’s generation. Here is my dad’s story just in time for Father’s Day.
Gilmore was born at home in Pinecreek, Minnesota, the first child of Gilbert and Ida Flaten. He grew up on the farm and attended a small school nearby. He spoke only Norwegian until he started school, then had to learn English in a hurry. At the end of 8th grade, his father said he’d have to quit to help on the farm. But he had a creative mind and was a hard worker and made a good life despite the lack of educational opportunities. As a boy, he trapped skunks and gophers, picked snakeroot, and worked for neighbors on their farms as well as at home.
The U. S. had entered WWII when he was a teenager, and Gilmore joined the Navy at 18, serving in the Pacific on the USS Winged Arrow (AP170). He was proud of his service, joined the VFW when he returned home, and enjoyed reunions with his shipmates in later years.
When the war was over, he bought some undeveloped farmland near his parents’ farm and began clearing it for farming.
He met a young nurse at the local hospital, and they were married 22 June 1952 in her hometown of Thief River Falls, MN. Her name was Kathleen “Kelly” Nelson, born 12 Aug 1932. Her mother Tilda had been a schoolteacher and her father Victor E. Nelson was a farmer who died when Kelly was three years old.
Soon they started a family and Kelly quit her job to become a farmer’s wife and the mother of their 3 daughters, born within 4 years.
They spent a few years moving from place to place on Minnesota’s Iron Range while Gilmore worked in construction as an iron worker. In 1959, when their oldest daughter was ready to start first grade, Kelly insisted that they settle down, so they moved back to Pinecreek to the farm Gilmore had bought. They raised hundreds of chickens and grew small grains. Gilmore was a resourceful person, finding ways to subsidize his farming by doing welding for neighbors, cutting wood, and making projects in his woodshop and metal shop. Gilmore continued to go to ironworking jobs off and on for several years, leaving Monday mornings and coming home Friday nights. Kelly and the girls kept things going at home. She had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her 20s, which caused her a lot of pain as it damaged her joints and limited her mobility over the years. With the girls’ help, she still managed to keep a spotless house and always had baked goods on hand for neighbors who came to buy eggs and stayed for a cup of coffee. She was appreciated for her kindness and decency by her neighbors. She died at age 50 on 16 January 1983.
Gilmore continued farming for many years and did fabrication work in the engineering department at Polaris Industries. He contributed to his community by being the Dieter Township Clerk for many years, being an election judge, and was a board member of the Midland Cooperative. He had a lot of friends and loved telling stories with a self-deprecating sense of humor. He enjoyed…listen for the rest of the story here.
June 26, 2022:
In today’s story, I’ll continue telling about the brothers and sisters of my father, Gilmore Flaten. These stories are being collected by a Norwegian relative who is documenting all of the descendants of a farm in Norway named Sorberg. He started with the person who named the farm in 1841, and has now completed stories for five full generations and is working on the 6th, which includes my dad and his siblings. This one will be about Dad’s brother Edwin.
Edwin Flaten was born June 29, 1936 at Pinecreek, the son of Ida and Gilbert Flaten. He was their 5th child. He grew up and attended school in Pinecreek and Ross. He was employed at the Reserve Mining Company at Babbitt before he served in the U. S. Army in the 101st Airborne from December 12, 1956 to December 5, 1958. He went back to Reserve Mining Company and worked there until he was later employed in various states.
Those are facts listed in his obituary when he died in 1988. His life had taken a number of turns in the 30 years after his military service.
His family knew him as a bit of a rolling stone, finding work as he traveled around the United States. He learned to do roofing and shared some photos of hair-raising jobs he did on church steeples. Often he would be out of contact for many months, even years. He wasn’t able to be located at the time his father died in 1962. He remained unmarried for many years, apparently not staying in any one place long enough to form serious attachments.
By the early 1970s he had moved to southern California and had started his own roofing company which he named “Hot Mop”. He had his own truck and could always count on jobs because he was a hard worker. However, he had trouble with drinking and that caused his business to fail.
His mother Ida had moved to California after her husband died in 1962, and she had been given a house in the community of Winchester by the nieces of an elderly woman that Ida took care of there for many years. It was a large house with several bedrooms and Edwin moved into one of them for some time. He continued to do some roofing jobs. As he had a place to live, he was also free to do some creative projects. Edwin was very handy; if you needed something done he would figure out the best way to do it, then do it. He worked quietly, never said much…he was easy to be around. I remember that he made a very cute gnome home for his mom out of the stump of a big tree in the yard. He was also good at wood turning and had a lathe in one of the small buildings in her yard.
That house was later designated a historical site based on the Patterson family’s significance to the community. It was restored and used as a museum for a while.
During his time in California, he met JoAnne who would become his wife. She was working at a Mexican restaurant nearby. They fell in love and were married in 1973. She had a young son from a previous relationship, and Edwin was good to him and treated him like a son while they were married. Edwin and JoAnne also had …listen for the rest of the story here.
Thank you to (www.roseauonline.com) for letting us share the history of our county with your listeners by donating air time, studio time, and production staff every week.