Monday, September 29, 2008


The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love. - H. Humphrey

A little over a month ago I was diagnosed with Psoriatic [pronounced sore-ee-AA-tic] Arthritis. I have had Psoriasis, a noncontagious lifelong skin disease, for about 19 years (since moving to Denver). I am now one of the 10-30% of people with psoriasis who have it develop into this form of arthritis. It is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, although milder in most cases; it can develop as severe.
I've had pain for a couple years now but had gone undiagnosed until finally getting an x-ray, MRI, blood tests and seeing some specialized doctors.
Currently I’m taking Methotrexate, a chemo drug, to help relieve pain, inflammation and prevent progressive joint damage. My ankles and knees are affected the most right now with swelling and pain.
My neighbors have been great, I think I’ve only mowed my yard three or four times this year. Walking on uneven ground has been tough. My art room at school is cement, so that gets tough too. I’m reluctant to ask for help but would appreciate you adding me to your prayers.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Granite, Sioux Township, Lyon Co., IA

Granite will celebrate it's 125th Quasquicentennial in 2012, who's making plans for the celebration? :-) I compiled and wrote the following years ago with some help, first for a sign placed in Granite and adapted it later adding more information for the book I wrote, "A West Ender's Scrapbook", finishing it in 2004. It's my heritage, close to home, and full of familiar people and places to my minds eye. Think of all the seeds spread by these early pioneers of our community.

This area, where Blood Run Creek passes on its way to the Big Sioux River, was inhabited by Native Americans between 1300 and 1750. As many as 10,000 Oneota Indians lived on the surrounding fertile prairies. There is also evidence of the Sioux inhabiting the area for some time in smaller numbers. The first European explorers and traders arrived in the area in the late 1600’s. Pioneers would follow full of courage and faith, to build dugouts and sod houses, on the 1870’s prairie and Sioux River Valley they chose to call home.
D. C. Rice surveyed and staked out blocks, lots, streets and alleys in the southwest quarter of Section 19, Township 100, Range 48 on June 12, 1886, at the request of the owners; Richard and Bessie Pettigrew and Samuel and Bell Tate. The town of Iuka was officially filed March 14, 1887.
Left: Book 1 of Town Plats of Lyon County, Iowa, pg. 384. Feb. 1887
Transportation through this area was new as stagecoach trails passed on their way to Dakota Territory. Railroads traveling west across the prairies brought the Cedar Rapids, IA, Northwestern Railway coming through in 1886, bringing the need for waterwells and tanks where they could fill their steam engines. In 1893, the Board of Supervisors established a “Granite Highway” to go through the Village of Iuka, easing the way for transportation to and from the young town.
The town name of Iuka was officially changed to Granite in late 1887. Although many documents still used Iuka, the new name of Granite appeared on state maps as early as 1895. In 1900, fifty people resided here with A. Parker serving as postmaster and shopkeeper.
A blacksmith was vital to a community and Gust Anderson wore that title.
The railroad changed in 1903 to the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and had W. J. Brown serving as its agent. The Depot, on the southeast edge of town found many visitors gracing it’s doors and platform. A passenger train went west through Granite about 10 a.m. daily. People often left their horse and buggy at the depot and would go to Sioux Falls to conduct their business. There they could shop at the dime store or other stores on Phillips Avenue or maybe go to see a doctor. They made sure to be on the train when it left Sioux Falls and arrived in Granite about 3 p.m. They were the first commuters. The freight train came thru later and on the return trip they pulled several cars of meat from Morrells.
Organized baseball was played in the “ball park” that was a pasture on the north edge of town. The Granite team had competitors nearby, playing teams from area towns. In 1915 the team included players; Ralph Anderson, Melvin Anderson, Sam Bennett, Herman Grotewold, Walter Grotewold, Bill Hughes, Tom Hughes, Claire Lind, Francis Martin, Henry Parkinson, Ed Portice, Charlie Riley, and Melvin Scott. A later team included Malc Rabey, Frank Lewis, the Grotewolds, Herb Gottlob and sometimes Melvin Burns.
Left: Looking North in Granite, the white building on the left is the DeZotell grocery store and the dark middle building is the Granite Savings Bank. Years later the grocery store was turned into a hatchery and the bank and bank building were moved to Larchwood. The white building on the right is the Zimmer grocery store and post office. The silhouette of one of Granite’s two elevators is seen on the left edge of the photo and the railroad tracks for the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad are visible near the fence line. Willow Street, running east and west, and First Street, running north and south can also be seen. (Granite Threshing Bee book 1997)
James DeZotell moved into town in 1918 and started a grocery store where a sack of candy accompanied grocery orders. DeZotell’s Store was a community gathering center. On cold winter days Herbert Bjork, Pete Cox, the Swanson brothers Anton and Ed, Henry Viereck, and Clint Vosberg could be seen playing Whist, the card game of choice, around the pot bellied heater in the back. There were some hot games but when it came time to go home and milk the cows, they left as friends until the next game. He also had a gas station and later operated a “night club” in the basement of the store. Locals smile when talking about the happenings in DeZotell’s basement but some excitement came to the community as a result of it.
In 1920, J.C. Zimmer moved into town and became the new postmaster, opening a Drug Store that included a soda fountain. Area residents often found the need to “call central” where the phone operator in Granite routed their call to its destination.
A parsonage for the Grand View Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church, that was located south of town, was also a gathering place for many community members.
Two grain elevators with titles over the years such as the Farmers Mutual Elevator Co., the Sioux Elevator Co. and Skewis-Monen Elevator, operated next to the railroad tracks providing for area farmers’ needs.
Stockyards and a scale house operated by Charlie Riley, were put to use by farmers who brought their livestock to Granite. In late June of each year, preparations were begun for a special trainload of cattle to be shipped to the Chicago Union Stockyards. The railroad made a commitment to the area farmers that if a whole trainload of beef was shipped at one time, they would guarantee arrival in Chicago early Monday morning if loaded the prior Saturday afternoon. The special train had right-of-way over all other rail traffic for the incredible 36 hour trip. These shipments reached their peak shortly after World War I, and continued until the late 1920’s.
Right: The Granite Depot, next to the Rock Island railroad tracks, and the elevator office.
A Saturday night in the summer found Granite the favorite shopping and visiting place. After the eggs and cream were traded for groceries, the women folks visited from car to car while the men talked about crops and livestock, the kids played games after they got their pop and ice cream if there was money left over from the cream and egg money.
Early in the fall, DeZotell’s store started taking orders for a carload of flour. Farmers with large families ordered 25 to 30 sacks of flour. They came with a team and wagon to haul the flour home. Periodically they would move the sacks to keep the flour from spoiling. Store bought bread never tasted as good as home baked bread.
The Granite Savings Bank, chartered in 1920, had Oscar E. Holly as its first president and L.L. Penning was cashier. Original board members were T. G. Bennett, Wm. Grotewold, Oscar Holly, Lars Jensen, Nels Martin, C. T. Swanson, and Ed Swanson. In 1931, C.T. Swanson, president and R.W. Wyant, cashier, saw the Granite bank become the only bank in Lyon County to remain open through The Great Depression. In the fall of 1934, as the small village was disappearing, the bank and bank building were moved to Larchwood by Brandt Engineering Co. of Sioux Falls. The brick building was 22 x 42 feet and moved a distance of eight and one half miles on November 19, 1934 without breaking a glass window or dislodging a brick. Now known as the Security Savings Bank, it is the oldest chartered bank in Lyon County.
Well known to the long time residents, Paul the Prophet came to Granite in the mid 1920’s. He was a drifter, walking the tracks but Jim DeZotell took him in and gave him a bed and food for doing some work around the store. He knew his Bible and in the evenings the farmers gathered around to hear him prophesy. Paul told them that dry weather was coming and the dust would blow so thick they wouldn’t be able to see the depot as they stood in the store. He also predicted the great depression. No one believed him but we got the dust bowl and many farmers went broke and moved to CA.
All of the business places are now but fading memories as the years go by. The flood of 1972 took out the railroad tracks. The last old store building to go was the DeZotell Store, purchased by Ralph Wineman, who turned it into a chicken hatchery that was in operation until 1973. A few homes and one business, Miller Loaders Inc., are what remain of Granite today.
It does thrive once again, when the town swells with people who travel from near and far to reminisce those days of long ago, during the Annual Threshing Bee in July. What once was a prosperous business and farming community is now a community full of shared memories, of those who came to this area before us and the days that have passed since they walked our path.
Right: A drawing by Dolly Zangger, of Larchwood, gives an overview of where the old buildings once were.

Compiled and written by Diane Johnson in 1999. Excerpts of this article are on a sign in Granite. Sources for this document include:
- Alvord Centennial Book, 1893-1993
- Compendium of History Reminiscence and Biography of Lyon County, IA 1974.
- Historical Sketch of Lyon County, IA by, S.C. Hyde, Perkins Bros., Printers and binders, Sioux City, IA 1873.
- Larchwood Centennial Book, 1872-1972
- Personal Papers of C. T. Swanson (1862-1954)
- Remembrances of Russell Bonander, Ruth (Bjork) Hansen, Calvin & Darlene (Wettestad) Johnson, Larchwood, IA

Sioux Township was set off from Larchwood in January, 1879. It is comprised of all of township 100, range 48, and so much of range 49 as is east of the Big Sioux river. Its population is 449, including the hamlet of Granite, on section 19, which has about fifty persons (1900 Census). This township is bounded on the north by South Dakota and Minnesota, on the east by Larchwood township, on the south by Centennial township and on the west by the meanderings of the Big Sioux river. A line of the Rock Island system of railway passes from east to west through its territory en route to Sioux Falls. (Compendium of History Reminiscence and Biography of Lyon County, Iowa., 1904-1905)
The 1880 Census listed people of the area under Lyon Township, Lyon County, Iowa.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Homecoming

Left: Cowboys and Indians Day. Sarah in the back said she was a true Indian with a red dot on her forehead and the others were Cowboys and "Native Americans".

Right: Cowboy Kurt, he dressed up each day, really getting into the Homecoming spirit

Left: Tradition, I always paint any HS art student's face who wants me to. I had kids coming in at 7:30 am. I also sold temporary tattoos for the art department of our school mascot, the cyclones!

Right: Senior art students helped me with painting faces too.

Left: Barb, the HS resource teacher who's class is across the hall from mine, at the pep rally.

Left: The homecoming court had to race through a costume change at different stations during the pep rally.

Right and below: The seniors won the spirit stick!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Homecoming Week

It’s Homecoming week at Denver. I’m a senior class sponsor so my kids are wound up for a memory making week that they have been making plans for since the first day of school this year. They choose the theme of the Olympics.

Left: One of my students, Rachael, dressed up as a cave woman, including ugly teeth.

Right: Our Family and Consumer Science teacher, Judy, has been getting into the swing of things each day. This was Theme day and she is a character from Star Wars for the Freshman class, which she is a sponsor.

Sunday I spent the afternoon at school supervising the kids decorating their hallway for four hours. They have a contest all week long involving: daily dress up days, window painting, hall decorations, skits, and the Homecoming Olympic Games on Friday. Dress up days include: Monday - Theme Day, Tuesday - Toga Day, Wednesday - Decade Day, Thursday - Cowboys and Indians, Friday - Spirit Day.
Above: Some kids in my Art 1 class on Decade Day. Some decades got a little mixed up and punk rock imitators and kids wearing leggings were declaring they were from the 70's so I had to set a few straight. They always ask which decade had the hippies? The best question I got was "Miss J., were you a hippie?"

The "end all" is to win the “Spirit Stick”. A highly coveted stick the IT teacher made on the lathe and I painted a few things on the side, MANY years ago. This years seniors won the stick last year, upsetting the class of 08. They aren’t going to let a senior class lose bragging rights again.
In Friday nights football game we play BCLUW (my college roommate Beth's kids school). Our team isn't that great this year but the kids are having fun. Making memories...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Loving Hands

Have you ever looked at your hands? Slowly open your hands and stare down at them. Turn them over, palms up and then palms down. Stop and think for a moment about these hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.

These hands have been spreading seeds for many a year. They are framed by my desk. Looking at them gives me comfort. These hands have supported, led, comforted, applauded, helped, and taught me for more than 50 years. They are Mom and Dad’s Hands.

These hands, though wrinkled and worn have been the tools they have used all their lives to reach out and grab and embrace life.
They braced and caught their falls when as a toddler they crashed upon the floor.
As a child their mothers taught them to fold them in prayer.
They put food in their mouth and clothes on their back.
They tied their shoes and pulled on their boots.
They wrote the letters home and to loved ones.
Decorated with their wedding bands they showed the world that they were married and loved someone special.
They were uneasy when they held their newborn children.
They soothed many animals and led them to safety.
They dried the tears of their children and caressed the love of their life.
They have been dry and dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.
Yet, they were strong and sure when they worked the farm for many a year.
They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, cold and chapped.
Yet, they have held children, consoled neighbors, and clenched in fists of anger when they didn't understand.
They have covered their face, combed their hair, and washed and cleansed their bodies.
They have held many books and the written word to read and learn from.
They trembled when they buried their parents and son.
These hands hold them up, lay them down, and again continue to fold in prayer.
These hands are the mark of where they've been and what they mean to me.
(Inspired and adapted from a hands quote by an unknown author)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Memories

Tomorrow is my brother's birthday.
Here is a photo of Steve on his first birthday. It was common for us to be placed on the dining room table with our cake for the photo op when we were small.
Last year I was recuperating from pneumonia and happened to be on the farm when he was home for a visit, days surrounding his birthday. Dad had had artery surgery the week before so Mom had her hands full taking care of everyone, while I tried not to breathe on Steve or Dad. On Steve's birthday, Mom, Steve and I went to Sioux Falls together. We went down to the Sioux River Falls to view the falls and then went to the Washington Pavilion to see a movie about dolphins in their large domed theater. I remember they had a car outside the pavilion that was balanced so a quick pull of a rope lifted the car. I can visualize Steve going over to lift the car with little effort. I wish I had my camera with me to capture that moment but it is engraved in my memory. I didn't feel very well that day and was still weak but it was all in God's plan... I came home for Dad's surgery and to see Steve with a long weekend away from school, caught pneumonia and was down and out for a few days, staying an extra week than originally planned, and because of all those happenings, got to spend his last birthday with him and my last time with him in person. Indulge me as I share a few photos and memories through the years of Steve, I miss him...

Cowboy Steve, five year old desperado. This reminds me of a time when all us kids were pretending to be the Cartwrights of Bonanza and were riding our horses by jumping on the davenport (not acceptable practice according to Mom and Dad) We had a record of the music from Bonanza and would often put the record on to "go riding" One day while riding Mom quietly walked in on us. Slowly one by one we stopped; Joe, Deb, Diane... while Steve continued at a full gallop urging the rest of us to get back on our horses,... until he saw Mom standing at the end of the couch watching. As an adult I can now imagine how difficult it was for mom not to smile and laugh at the scene she came in on.

1964, At Lake Alvin across the river in SD, a few miles from church. Family friend Otto Lund had his boat there and we had a family day at the lake. Steve found a frog. He always came up with frogs and turtles, snakes and things. He even had a rock and shell collection that's on the farm somewhere.

1970, A sophomore in high school.

Steve and his 350 Yahama, his first bike. I remember going to watch him and other area guys race in the back fields or hill climb up Lynch's hill. It made Mom nervious so I'm sure she never knew all of what he did on the bike. A good friend, Karl, owns the bike now.

Steve and I fixed the Thanksgiving turkey back in 1977. Mom and Dad had gone up to Fairbault, MN to be with Debbie as she had hand surgery the days before and they were all due to return on Thanksgiving Day. Steve and I were supposed to get the meal prepared. It was a first for both of us. We laughed so hard cleaning out the bird it was a turkey experience we never forgot. Look at all that hair on his face and head!

Grandview Covenant Church made a church directory back in the 90's. The photographer set up in the basement of the church and did a good job getting a smile out of Steve.

Back in 2004 with his new Harley at Yosemite. He loved riding his bike. We were glad the year before his death he got to ride it so many places. California, Yellowstone, the Continental Divide, Devils Tower, the Black Hills and the Sturgis Rally and back home in and around Larchwood. It was hard on him later when he couldn't ride safely anymore. He tipped it a few times pulling into a parking lot or driveway, they are pretty heavy bikes. He continued taking photos for his Harley group in Fresno up until October 2007. He'd drive his truck to the events and help in any way he could, that way staying close to the biking community.

At Sequoia National Park. Steve and I enjoyed walking the trails around the big trees. Steve wasn't big on having his photo taken so I had to sneak in a few and got quite good at it. This was taken at the end of the trail in 6/2006.

The Christmas holidays in 2006. Steve drove to AZ from CA and connected with Joe in Phoenix. They drove down to Tucson to pick up Deb and bring her back to Mesa at Mom and Dads. Here's Steve on Deb's computer with her cat, Max, looking on. Max loves the computer, especially the printer. It was the first time in many years we were all together for Christmas (and the last.) We went swimming on Christmas Day, a first for all of the Johnsons used to snow and ice on Christmas. Happy Birthday big brother.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We Love Our Pets

The Johnson family have loved animals our whole lives. I don't have all of our pet photos scanned or in a digital format but the following will show you some of the animals who have found a place in our hearts over the years. I'm missing photos of a lamb, various turtles, birds, hamsters, chinchillas, a raccoon, and a couple dogs.

Right: Sophie watching me drive up in my driveway in Denver. She was a great companion for 14 years.

Left: Diane in 1961 taking a nap with the kitties.

Right: Duke guarding Steve on the swing in 1957.

Left: Steve and Sheba watching TV back in 1983. Sheba started laying on the boys chest as a little puppy, as she grew she still thought she could lay on any of us when we laid on the couch. Imagine the plop she'd make as she'd surprise you and jump up. It took your breath away.

Right: In the winter of 1961, they said if you were looking for me outside I would be sitting with Bibsey out in the yard. She was so old, her hair was long and she leaned on anything when she did stand. But I loved her.

Left: Benji and baby Sheba taking over Steve's lap back in the late 70's. Benji was so smart. He was definitely Mom and Dad's dog and protector.

Right: Steve on our pony Spotty. Seems I remember Spotty was involved in broken arms for both Steve and Joe...

Left: Deb with her kitties Max and Mikaela opening their Christmas presents. Our animals always open their presents first.

Right: Winnie and Mom having a heart to heart talk. He loves to sit on laps and is quite a handful once he gets there.

Left: Joe and our new puppy, Blondie in 1958. A cocker spaniel, she was with us for 13 years and loved to have her tummy vacuumed.

Right: Back in 1972, Steve with Sally and Cappy on the kitchen floor. It looks like Sally was jealous at the time of this photo.

Left: Joe and Winston in the spring of 08. Winnie loves taking a ride to do chores or to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

Right: Mom (Darlene) with Deb's cat Max down in Tucson last winter.

Left: Kelly (Calvin/Dad) with his pony Jack on the farm.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Garage Sale - DONE!

I had a garage sale at my place today with some friends. It was Garage Sale Days in Denver where, I live. It rained the entire time, even last night when we opened for a couple hours. I thought for sure people would stay home but I underestimated the resolve true garage sale shoppers have. Everyone was wet and many tired but we had a good steady crowd. What is one persons trash is another ones treasure. I like the idea of recycling and reusing things. I managed to find plenty of treasures myself and I only went to two places! I found the exercise bike I was looking for, so it was a good day. Then of course it's also a huge social event. I get to see many former students and parents too and of course get to spend time with my friends. We do this every year so we have regulars who stop back each year. Due to the rain, my neighbors were kind enough to open their two stall garage and we had a two garage sale.
Now it's time to put the feet up and rest up... how was your day?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Karl & Carolina Swanson

Because of my interest in genealogy, I try to piece stories from different sources together so I can try to create a picture of the life of my ancestors that have long passed. Here are some notes and stories I have of my Great Great Grandparents.

Left: Mom and I standing in front of Brohemmet in 2001, the birthplace of Karl August Swanson

Karl August Svensson (1832-1890) was a crofter at Fallhemmet on Norrby lands in Ljung, Östergötland, Sweden. Carolina Gustafsdotter (1839-1932) grew up at Skuttet near Ljung (1/2 mile NE of Fallhemmet) They were married May 9th, 1862 in Stjärnorp. After Karl's father's death he and his brother Adolph built Fallhemmet in the woods above Brohemmet. The two brothers and their wives and children lived together at Fallhemmet until Karl's young family left Sweden in 1869.

Right: A view from the grounds surrounding Stjärnorp church and castle ruins. We met descendants of Karl's youngest brother Alfred on the grounds here for a picnic and then went to church with some of them. Alfred was the master gardener and grounds keeper of the Stjärnorp estate until his death in 1910. We found his gravestone in the cemetery there.

Below: The front of the church and a view towards the back of the church and the organ and balcony.

Emmigration Records, Carl Svensson, age 39, profession "Arb" = worker, workman, date of move 09 April 1869, from Ljung Östergötlands län, depart from Göteborg, Sweden - destination New York, code 1:71:684 From Göteborg they traveled to Hull, England on the ship "Hero" and took a train to Liverpool to embark on a transatlantic liner to the United States.

*The following is excerpts & adaptations from the booklet "Father's Pioneer Days" written by Mable, Emil, & Elmer Swanson & Phoebe Swanson Johnson in 1942 for their father Charley Swanson. Additional notes from Alice Jacobson Bennett & Diane Johnson.
While in Sweden Karl August Svensson built a bridge with sixty men working under him and paid them with cash. He also acted as clerk when some of the families sold their belongings and left for America. (His son Charley said Karl could figure quicker in his head than most men could with a pencil & paper.)
They left Göteborg, Sweden in a sailboat and it took them three weeks to get to Chicago in the Spring of 1869. (note written by my Grandmother Phoebe Swanson Johnson: "My father, C.T. Swanson said that before they left for America his grandmother, Johanna came to say goodbye to them. As she was leaving she kept waving to them and walking backwards. All of a sudden she fell and Carolina said, "Now Mamma fell in the ditch!" Poor dear, she never saw her daughter again. It must have been hard for the parents in those days to part with their children.")
Karl, wife Carolina, Charley- 6, John- 3, and Annie- not quite 1 year old, lived in a little house in the outskirts of Chicago in a town by the name of Crete. Karl and a beeswarm of all nationalities of men dumped dirt with wheelbarrows on a new railroad bed. There was a creek nearby where Karl played with children who found goose and turkey eggs and floated them in the water. Carolina took Charley to school where he got acquainted with other children and quickly learned the English language. In the fall the family left for St. Paul, Minn. They together with several other Swedes, rented a house by the Mississippi River. All the families cooked on the same stove.
During the winter Karl got work clearing for the building of a railroad between St. Paul and Lake Superior. Large trees were chopped down and a road cleared wide enough so two-yoke ox teams could get through with skids holding four tons of provisions, which were piled up on high places along the way about ten to twelve miles apart. The sixty men were supposed to clear one mile each day. They got behind schedule and then they got double pay when they worked over-time. A cooking outfit followed the crew on skids pulled by oxen. The men were given tin plates which the cooks filled up for them. Their fare was mostly dried peas, beans, pork and meat. The men sat on the 4-5 ft. snowdrifts to eat, and sometimes it was so cold they had to keep their mittens on. After work at night they would smoke and talk. When they were ready for bed they would tramp down a place in a snow-drift large enough in which to prepare their bed. Then they would put some evergreen branches into this space and cover the branches with a blanket. This was their bed with another blanket as a cover and a little tent or tepee over it to hold out the snow. They would sleep with their clothes on. Their hair and whiskers would grow long at the camp, and in the morning some of the men were sometimes froze fast to the snow and had to be chopped loose with an ax. They would get so lousy they would have to boil their clothes. One of the men caught a cold and died. Karl was appointed to write and tell his family in the old country and send the money that this man had. It was thought that Karl conducted the funeral services. He was a gifted Christian man. While the way for the railroad was being cleared up toward Lake Superior, the Indians came around by the hundreds. They wanted to buy tobacco. The Indians had snow-shoes that some of the men bought from them. When the men got their pay and left, they had to look out of robbers. Two of the men were robbed. When a company that Karl was in left the camp, the robbers were after them later on a hand car on the track too, but they hid in the woods and outwitted the thieves. They found a man with his hands tied around a tree not as lucky.
Karl wanted to homestead outside of St. Paul where Minneapolis is now located, but Carolina wanted to go to Lansing, IA where her brother, Peter Newberg, worked on a farm. When spring came and the ice on the Mississippi River was gone, the family boarded a steamboat and went to Lansing, IA. Karl's family moved in with another family at Lansing. Peter had a sweetheart, Anna Olson, and they would go to Karl's house for a courting meeting place in the evenings, then they would go out strolling. Anna and Peter soon married. Karl and Carolina, still young, and this newly married couple wanted to homestead.

Right: An old tin type photo that identifies Peter (Gustafsson) Newberg on the right and we believe the shorter man on the left is Karl August.

These folks started out westward in a covered wagon in search of a homestead, and each couple had one horse, one cow and two hens. They drove from Lansing across the prairie on through Storm Lake, Buena Vista county, to Sioux City, IA, and into Nebraska. When they had traveled two or three days into Nebraska, they stopped to camp near a creek. They ate and rested. Soon they noticed two covered wagons coming from the west. When the covered wagons came near, the people stopped and listened. They could hear that the camping party talked Swedish. A man climbed down from one of the covered wagons and went over to the camping party. They looked him over and stared. He was their old neighbor from Sweden! It was a joyous reunion. Peter Newberg knew him too. They talked and talked. They didn't drive any farther that day. This neighbor came from the west in Nebraska, and he told them that it was so hot and dry with drought out there, that they were moving away. Then Karl decided not to go further west, as he had intended to go out where this neighbor was. Lucky they met. Karl's party turned around and went back to Sioux City with this neighbor. Here the party separated. This neighbor went east and our party went north. Our relatives never heard what became of this neighbor. Karl bought in Sioux City, a preemption claim, 160 acres of land, nine miles north of now Canton, SD, in Lincoln County, then Dakota Territory in 1870. When he paid for it he had $1.00 left and half a sack of flour. He did not have much in earthly possession but he did have a pioneer's courage, faith in God and a good will.

Right: In 2005 at a cousins reunion we visited the site of the sod house where the Swanson's first lived on their land. Notice the indentation in the land. Cousin's Tina, Robin and Bill.

A one room sod house was built on the land and a hay stable for the cow and horses. His land adjoined the Big Sioux River from whose timbered sloped he received wood to burn and build with. Karl farmed, at first using a scythe for harvesting. Twins were born in the covered wagon before the sod house was built who were Sophie (Mrs. August Westling) and David (who died within a year). They walked and carried his little body about ten miles to burial in a Norwegian cemetery across the River. (Now near rural Inwood, IA).
The first winter Karl went to work chopping wood thirty miles south of Sioux City and left his family with half a sack of flour and a little corn. They used corn soup to live on. The earth from the sod had sunk down from the roof and Indians would come peering down into the sod house. Carolina kept an ax beside her bed. The Indians never hurt them. As years went on Karl would find beads and Indians trinkets where badgers had dug up Indian bones, yet with gristle on. Near springs, the ground was covered with buffalo skeletons, and buffalos were shot by the Missouri River. In the spring Karl walked home about 80 miles from Sioux City. It would take a week to go to Sioux City, to get provisions. There were two homesteads on the way, the one sod house built over the line of two quarters of land, and each homesteader sleeping in his end of the sod house.
To keep prairie fires away, they plowed a furrow around their dwelling place, then they left a space of grass and plowed another furrow. The space of grass between the plowed furrows was burned and became a protection against fierce prairie fires. Wood thieves would steal wood from the timbered river. They came from the west prairie with wagons. Grandfather got forty acres more land through a timber claim.
Two boys were later born, but died without a doctor, when each was about one year old, (they died in the winter and their bodies were first put out in a snow bank Annie Swanson told her daughter Alice (Jacobsen-Bennett) they were placed by the wagon to help identify their placement during the winter for spring thaws) and were buried in a burial plot on John Juel's father's virgin land, about three miles south.

Right: The log cabin in 2005. A room was added on and plaster was added over the hand cut logs inside. Isn't it amazing that it is still standing 136 years later on Swanson descendants land? Cousin A. J Swanson is working to bring the natural prairie back to the lands surrounding the cabin.

They built a log cabin in 1872 near a spring. Mary and August were also born and were the youngest living of 9 children. From the river as the years went on, they received quantities of plums for sauce, grapes, gooseberries and choke cherries. They swam, dove, boated, skated, chopped wood, trapped, fished seined, hunted, picked fruit and picnicked about the river. The children drove three miles to school. When hearding cattle across the river the children would catch hold of the cows' tails when swimming across the river and thus be towed across the river.
In 1888 America experienced its "first" Great Blizzard. The day started, as most blizzard days do, with very mild, spring-like conditions. By the afternoon the skies were blackened by heavy clouds loaded with moisture. The storm struck the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, all the way down to Texas. The winds howled and the snow came down heavily as the temperatures dropped. In this era before modern, high-tech weather forecasting, people were caught off guard and many got lost and froze to death. When the great blizzard of 1888 came, in which so many people lost their lives and so much livestock died, Karl, Phillip Jacobson and August Newberg were in Sioux Falls, SD. Mrs. Ringdahl had invited the men in for coffee when the blizzard struck, where they remained until the black blizzard broke of its fury. They afterwards drove slowly from Sioux Falls across the country over the snowdrifts which were over the fences, the horses lunging up to get up on the snow drifts, breaking through, and then sinking down to rest. Some men had taken refuge during the blizzard under a sled box turned upside down. In the spring, frozen cattle were standing on high pillars of snow and ice. During the flood of the spring of 1888 when the river was about a mile wide in places with waves, the Banning Mill near East Sioux Falls came floating down the river. Son's, Charley and John boated out to it and tied it by its lighting rods to poles they had driven down into the Iowa side river banks. (*Abraham and David Banning built a grist mill in 1877 to grind locally grown wheat into flour. The mill was swept away and deposited in ruins four miles downstream in the historic flood of 1881. The mill was rebuilt and used until at least 1892. It served as a gathering place for settlers, where they fished at the dam and mill pond. SIOUX FALLS ARGUS LEADER July 5, 1998)
There were seasons of hard times, grasshoppers and drought. Karl would gather his family together on Sunday afternoons and read the sermon for that Sunday. He would send for books, written by colportorer (early evangelists), leaders and forefathers of the church, and read. He was a deeply spiritual and Christian man.

"The History of Lincoln Co., S.D." Copyright 1985 by The Lincoln County History Committee, Canton, South Dakota. Printed in the United States of America by Pine Hill Press, Freeman, South Dakota 57029.
Carl August Swanson (Svensson) and wife, Carolina, immigrated from Sweden in 1869. The family, with three children, arrived with a covered wagon and team in Lincoln Co. in 1870. Carl held a pre-emption claim to lands situated along the Big Sioux River approximately 8 miles north and one mile east of Canton, in what is now Dayton Twp. The covered wagon was overturned on a sand pit, near a spring, for the family's shelter. Twins were born under this shelter in August 1870, while a sod house was built for the first winter. Carl left his wife and children that winter to work south of Sioux City clearing land for wages. At home, Carolina and her children had but a little corn and a half sack of flour to survive on. Over the next years, Carl planted many cottonwood trees and in 1872 constructed a log cabin on a hill. A son, August, was born in the cabin in 1876; the cabin yet stands (as of 1983) and in now owned by Carl's grandson, Virgil Swanson. Three sons died in infancy; two were buried in the 1870's in a plot on the Juul farm, about three miles south, while the other is reputedly buried some distance southeast of the cabin, near what is a very large cottonwood tree known locally as the "hanging tree. In 1889 Carl was riding a young colt on the homestead when the animal stepped in a badger hole. Carl was thrown and the horse rolled on it's rider. Carl was gravely injured and died in 1890, at age 55. Several days before his death, he deeded all his lands to his wife, Carolina, who then lived in the log cabin until 1903. Carolina then lived with her adult children in Dayton Twp. and elsewhere until her death in 1932, at age 92.

Left: Carolina in front of her log cabin in approximately 1928.

Carolina suggested to her husband, tying a rope from the log house to the barn, as a guideline so he could find and feed his livestock during blind blizzards.
In her later years, Grandma Carolina was living with Mrs. Andrew Anderson in Rowena, SD when the Andersons got their first radio. While getting supper one evening Carolina was serious when she thought Mrs. Anderson should feed that man in the box too! (as told by Melvin Swanson)
Her daughter Mary took care of her mother for a time in the 1920's. Hilda Hilberg also helped take care of Carolina in her later years. Andrew & Alvira Anderson lived in Rowena and took care of Grandma Carolina the last year of her life. She fell outside their home, breaking her arm, which set into pneumonia, at 92 years old.

Left: 89 year old Carolina Swanson.


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