Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

New Years Eve is a time to look back at your past, and more importantly, to look ahead to the coming year. It's hard to believe 2010 is about to arrive! It's the time to make those New Year resolutions. I don't usually make out a list but in the back of my mind there are always things I wish for, or resolve to follow through on. Love, Health, Happiness, and Organization wishes follow me through the years. What's on your wish list?
The poems below are timeless treasures written by my Grandma Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson.

Hallowed Remembrances
Memories bring
Light and love to the soul;
A song, immortal, fills the heart
With faith.

Prairie Poets III, An Anthology of Verse gathered by Pasque Petals 1926-1966 and The South Dakota State Poetry Society 1927-1966. Edited by Adeline M. Jenny, Published by The Lund Press, Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota 1966 pg. 116-120

In the New Year
Heaven grant me grace to find
Darkened clouds all silver lined;
Joy in lowly tasks I do,
Health and friends to see me through;
Life abundant, love to share,
Much to do and heart to care.

(Written in January of 1957)
Prairie Poets II, An Anthology of Verse gathered by Pasque Petals 1926-1958 and The South Dakota State Poetry Society 1927-1958. Edited by Adeline M. Jenny, Published by The Lund Press, Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota 1958 pg. 98-100

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Wordless" Wednesday

I didn't get everything brought in from my flower gardens. This little fairy sits on a bench among some hosta. Now she is wrapped in a blanket of snow.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ahhhhh... Massage

Yesterday I had a massage. The owner of the salon called me about a half hour before my appointment and offered to come pick me up so I wouldn't have to drive down and back, wanting to make my experience last as long as it could. (Small town Iowa, remember) I took advantage of the offer and relaxed into the pamper mode.

There are many health benefits to receiving massage therapy on a regular basis: Relieves stress, Encourages relaxation, Improves circulation, Improves posture, Lowers blood pressure, Helps manage pain, Relaxes muscles, Improves flexibility, Improves breathing, Relieves tension headaches, Strengthens immune system, Decreases depression,...

Now, I could use any and all of those benefits and about now you may be jealous or think "I should schedule a massage too" (and you should). I was told to go home, drink lots of water for the rest of the day, take a bath (they gave me some sea salts to bathe in) and then take a nap.

As I was being dropped off at home I was surprised at seeing a neighbor and his dog out clearing the snow from my driveway, could this day get any better? Buddy the dog gave me some lovin and wags of his tail as I went in the house. I'm on vacation now and those things on my to do list were put on hold as I continued my day of relaxation. I talked with family and friends on the phone, watched a movie or two and had some homemade lefse. May you have relaxing days ahead of you too.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A repeat of Grandma's Christmas Poem

Jul-Tide Pilgrimage

In fancy, I go to the Northland, At Christmas time long, long ago,
When my Mom was a small girl in Sweden
And forests were laden with snow.
She helped choose the spruce on the hillside -
The prettiest one to be found;
Granddad felled it and loaded the stoneboat With small folk and tree, homeward bound.
Red lingon have long since been gathered
For jam as a holiday treat;
They grow in the moss-covered marshes,
With promise a future so sweet.
Come hither to fill their wood buckets
And thrill to the cuckoo's call,
That chimes from the top of a pine tree -
A peace and good will song to all!
The candles are moulded from tallow,
Good Julbread and fruit soup is made;
Round cheeses, stuffed sausage and lutfisk,
Will humble festivity aid.
Preparedness is now in full motion, The floor is sand-scrubbed and looks white,
With a door mat of evergreen branches -
Some on stove for incense delight.
This Christmas is full of surprises,
Red apples now sway in the tree;
Dear presents - so graciously home-made,
And eyes that are starfilled, I see.
It's Christmas Eve! In this lowly dwelling
The true Jul-tide Spirit abides,
The head of the house reads the Story -
The love of the Christ Child presides.
At dawn, on their brisk walk to God's House,
Groups carol the long six-mile way -
Thus honor the Babe with their presence
And worship on this Blessed Day.
May you, too, have a heart-warming Christmas,
Find you in each good thing God lends
And thrill as each candle-light hallows The Gift that His Love to you sends.

Phoebe Carolina Swanson Johnson
December 1962
, Sioux Falls, SD

Joe and Phoebe Johnson, 1951.

Each year Grandma would print a poem or write a song to include with her Christmas Card.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Past

Christmas is a time for memories. Family is tops on my list, even if we're spread out across the miles this year, you can't take the memories of Christmas past away from each of us. Last year I posted most of the old Christmas photos I have scanned so far, so here are a few sights from my past for you.

Right: 1961. Steve and I opening our presents. Love my pajama's with the feet in them and the snaps at the waist. (I now have that coffee table with a new tall pedestal under it as my dining room table.)

Left: 1961. Joe and Debbie tearing into their presents. Debbie must be speedy since she's in a blur! (Blue pajamas were popular for the Johnson kids I guess.)

Right: 1962. I think this was before we headed off to the Christmas program at Church or to Grandma Phoebe's for Christmas Eve. I remember posing for this photo. Debbie and my dresses were black velvet. We have one with Grandma Wettestad with us too at this same time. She always stayed with us around the Christmas Season.

Left: 1962. Christmas Day at our house. Up front: Grandma Wettestad, Steve, Diane, Beth Swanson, Debbie, Priscilla Swanson, Dad. Back: Emil Swanson, Joe, Mable Swanson, Elmer Swanson, Grandma Phoebe

Right: 1962. Coffee and desert around the dining room table at our house. Phoebe, Beth, Priscilla, Elmer, Joe, Dad (Calvin) Emil, and Mable.

Left: 1962. Deb, Beth, Joe, Steve, Pris, Diane and Dad. Am I praying that pictures will be over soon? Beth and Pris are Dad's first cousins and daughters of Elmer Swanson. Beth was a professional singer and Priscilla was still in college to become a Dermatologist.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Remembering Steve - 2

Steve has had his heavenly home for two years today. It is a day of remembering him, I still miss him and guess I always will.
We teased him as a kid, for his bottom lip that would protrude in a pout, no one could do it better. He was lucky too, like the time he was shooting his BB gun in the barn and it ricocheted back at him, landing in the lens of his glasses. He had a lifetime love of animals, especially dogs. I can picture him sleeping on the couch with a dog snuggling on his chest or playing on the floor with a dog and his toys. He loved old movies - westerns and war movies were favorites. He loved history.
Steve loved to travel and later in his life loved taking photos of those places, bringing his adventures back to the rest of us.
He was a techie and because of that we were able to keep in touch no matter how many miles were between us. We talked via video cams on the internet back when it wasn't as popular as it is now. He'd make the rounds talking to each member of the family via video after his cancer diagnosis and it was such a blessing to be able to see him and see how he felt and if he didn't call you knew it was a bad day. Those last visits on the video with him are ingrained in my memories since I couldn't be there with him.
Because he's gone doesn't mean he was a saint. We fought, had times of silence, shouted... but those times aren't what I remember. It's the protective big brother full of mishief, advice, smiles and love that I remember. Those cherished memories live in my heart forever.
May you not have to say good-bye to someone too soon due to cancer. The assurance of everlasting life through our belief in God, does give us comfort that we will be together again.

John 14:1-3 (New Living Translation) “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park. Photo by Steve

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"Wordless" Wednesday

Christmas Season 1961. Diane and Steve portraying Mary and Joseph. (with my sister Debbie's doll as baby Jesus)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad

Having another day off due to snow I was able to talk via video to my folks this morning to wish them a Happy Anniversary. They are celebrating 59 years of marriage today in Mesa, AZ, at their winter home. I wish I was there to celebrate with them.

There is something about you that sets you apart. Something so wonderful it fills my heart. You have a special way in the things that you do. I guess that's why, Mom and Dad, I LOVE YOU!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Johnsons

My interest in genealogy guided me towards trying Tombstone Tuesday postings.
My Great Grandparents tombstones at Grandview Covenant Cemetery, Rural, Larchwood, Lyon County, IA. Anders Per Jönsson changed his name to Andrew Peter Johnson when he and his family immigrated to the Canton, Lincoln County, SD area in 1881. He was born May 6, 1835 in Slätmontorp, Ljung Östergötland, Sweden and died September 13, 1920 in SD. Albertina (Gustafsdotter) Johnson died from pneumonia in 1935. She was born April 25, 1849 in Nybrofaller, Stjärnorp, Östergötland, Sweden and died February 14, 1935 in SD or IA. She had lived on the family farm near Tea, SD with her sons but also lived with her daughter Emma Long across the river in rural Larchwood, IA. The documents I have, have her named spelled Albertina, while this tombstone has Albertena?
Not far away to the west from our Great Grandparents graves is my brother Steve's grave and tombstone at Grandview Covenant Cemetery, rural Larchwood, Lyon County, IA. Born at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, SD, he died of cancer in 2007 in Fresno, Fresno County, CA.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Memories from my Auntie Joyce

This was shared with me from my Aunt, Joyce (Johnson) Whitcher, in December of 1999. Auntie Joyce passed away four years ago now, but it's memories like this that we hold dear. When I read these lines I'm transported to a time long ago. Pass on some of your memories to loved ones this Christmas and anytime of the year.
Right: Dale and Joyce Whitcher, 2005

Below: Joyce Johnson, 1927
“The old sheep shed hill and creek were a couple of my favorite places as a child. Uncle Carl, who lived with us, would just shake his head at the things we would do as kids.
Wish I could remember many memories of my childhood at Grandma Anna's. (Mrs. Charley Swanson) She was such a kind gentle person, everyone loved her. The neighbor children would fight to deliver eggs to her. This was after they moved into the new house and the renters would supply the eggs. She would always reward them with a treat or a gift. The old home where mother grew up was a place of beauty & charm to me. The grove of apple trees in springtime was a maze of pink fragrant blossoms. Auntie Mabel had a hammock under the trees which intrigued me as the ultimate way to go. Of course she had her favorite books there.
Below: The C.T. & Anna Swanson home.
Inside the gate where the sidewalk led to the house, were evergreen of spruce trees. Grandmother always had geese in the yard & they liked to chase me so I'd run for the porch. The house seemed so large to me, the favorite place to me was the pantry. So many good things emerged from there. The icebox had a big block of ice from the ice house, she made butter in a churn in the basement. The kitchen was very large where a table seated at least 12 people. But the parlor was the most mysterious of all, no one was allowed in there except for special occasions. There, the Christmas tree stood at the special Christmas I remember, when Santa came in the back door and placed a large box under the tree! And to my amazement it was my first beautiful doll.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"Wordless" Wednesday

A view of old Stockholm, Sweden from the top of city hall.
(photo by Robin Whitcher Fodness)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Be what it is that you're seeking...

"You can’t expect to draw people into your life who are kind, confident, and generous if you’re thinking and acting in cruel, weak, and selfish ways. You must be what it is that you’re seeking—that is, you need to put forth what you want to attract." - Dr. Wayne Dyer

Artwork above: A recent painting I did as an example for students in my painting class. We were painting faces with a focus on adding color, using a 1 inch brush or rag, working on large pieces of canvas.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


A longtime neighbor and family friend passed away this week, Axel "Junior" Bonander. Junior and my Dad grew up together as neighbors. Although he was three years older than Dad, Junior and Dad shared the same childhood church, closeness as only neighbors can know and raised their families at the same time about a mile apart.

Junior and Dad reminisced and talked of world events many times over coffee. The coffee pot was always on when Junior stopped or started when his truck drove into the yard.

They passed on many stories to me over the years. For example, one day in the 1930's, Axel "Junior" and Dad "Kelly" walked down to Granite to Ray Jensen's store and each had saved money to buy a pint of ice cream. Thinking ahead, the two boys each brought spoons from home and took their cold purchases to a ditch outside of town to enjoy their treat. After finishing their containers of ice creaem they scraped up enough money to go back and buy another carton to share. They also rigged up a telephone between their two rooms to keep in touch the quarter mile between their farms.

In January of 1943, Dad and Junior went to work in the Glenn L. Martin - Nebraska Company in Omaha, NE. They worked for $.60 an hour from 12:45 am- 8:30 am. Employees were expected to work five days in a row and then take off the sixth day and start again with the five day cycle.

Junior entered the U.S. Navy in October of 1943, serving in Pearl Harbor and Okinawa, Iwo Jima and China. A local newspaper wrote the following article in the 40's In the Pacific.- Axel R. Bonander 22, electrician’s mate, third class, of Larchwood, Ia., is serving aboard an attack transport in the Pacific. He participated in the invasion of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Bonander wears the American theatre and Asiatic-Pacific theatre ribbons. He graduated from Larchwood high school in 1940 and before entering the navy was employed as a machinist at the Martin bomber plant in Omaha. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Axel Bonander, Larchwood. His ship was the USS Berrian. He was discharged in April of 1946 and returned home to Larchwood.

Junior was Dad's best man at Mom and Dad's wedding in December of 1950 and Dad was Junior's Best man in his marriage to Donna Mae Hocke in 1952.
Left: Neighbors going out for an evening, January 27, 1057, Tracy and Carl Dieters, Junior and Donna Mae Bonander, and Calvin and Darlene Johnson. Below: Goofing off before going out, Mom in Juniors lap! and Virgil Bennett over to baby sit the kids.

Axel and Donna raised their son Bruce, who was the same age and grade as my sister Deb, on section 20 of Sioux Township, in the same house where he died. Donna Mae died on October 14, 2002 in Rock Rapids, IA.

Junior always stopped by when I was home visiting my parents. He'd see my car up in the yard and drive in to say his hellos and share that cup of coffee with Dad. He died in his sleep on Wednesday, November 25th, 87 years old. Raising a cup of coffee to you Junior...
Click here to be taken to Junior's on line obituary and guestbook.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Swanson Homestead

My cousin, Russ Swanson, recently flew over the old Swanson homestead (11/09) over by the Sioux River in Lincoln County, South Dakota and took this photo of the log cabin and surrounding land. The cabin, built in 1871-72, has had additions and changes to it over the years of course, but the structure still stands, a testament to Carl's building skills and the family who cared about the first log home built on their land in Dakota Territory.
Carl August Swanson (Svensson) and wife, Carolina (Gustafsdotter), immigrated from Ljung, 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 approxdimately 8 miles north and one mile east of Canton, in what is now Dayton Twp. Their covered wagon was overturned on a sand pit, near a spring, for the family's first shelter. Twins were born under this shelter in August 1870, while a sod dugout was built for their 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. 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.
Above: Grandma Carolina in front of the cabin.
"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.
Check out an earlier post I did on Carl and Carolina at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Be Thankful

I'm thankful for memories. Those of the past, and look forward to those to come. Passing down my own memories and those of my forefathers is what this blog is about. Maybe it's therapy for me in some way and my genealogy searching and home history interest has become my connection to those important memory makers in my life.

My Grandma Phoebe Johnson was a poet. Her poems give us a glimpse into the days she wrote about. She along with her brothers and sisters wrote little books about their parents and grandparents life. I treasure those stories and rejoice in their content that many others searching and researching their ancestors do not have access to for their families. I appreciate that I come from a family of collectors and savers. (most of the time) How we found papers at Grandpa Charlies that have filled in a story or added to one. Pass down your own stories, write down your memories, someone will be thankful for it in their own time.

Photo: Top left: Mom and I in the church in Linkoping lighting a candle. Top right: Deb and I at Globe, AZ on Christmas Day 2006
Bottom left: Four Generations. front: Calvin, Grandma Carolina, Joyce. back: Grandpa Phoebe and Grandpa Charlie. Bottom right: Our last family photo with all 6 of us, Christmas 2006. We'd just come back from swimming and Steve set up his tripod and camera and took our photo. Remember you can click on the photos to see an enlarged view.

Hallowed Remembrances
by Phoebe Swanson Johnson

Memories bring
Light and love to the soul;
A song, immortal, fills the heart

With faith.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Half-way through November!!!

Where have the days gone? I've been sick on and off for the past three weeks so that has taken me away from my normal activities to some degree and to my regular viewers, I apologize. The flu, cold and cough made sleeping tough, then I topped it off with pink eye and some blown blood vessels in my eyes from all the coughing... Missing school and not feeling well puts you behind in more than one activity or task. I feel I am on the mend and hope to be getting "back to normal" with posting, grading, housework, laundry, and the million other things on my to do list. What is normal? Have I ever been "normal"? I guess you'll have to stay tuned...

On a genealogical note. My first cousin once removed, Myrtle Carlson passed away at the end of August at the age of 92. She was the daughter of my Great Aunt Lena Johnson Carlson, my Grandpa Joe Johnson's sister. After her funeral, my Mom and Dad were given suitcases and boxes of family items. Myrtle and her sister Muriel had done some genealogy research and written down many dates, names, identified photo and there is much to go through. They chose not to share any of this while they were living which makes it difficult now to go through as we can't ask questions. They were private people, never married and to put it nicely a little odd. Mom sent me some papers to go through, some has been given to other branches of their family tree on the Carlson side, actually some relatives on my Swanson side who also married into the Carlson family as well. It will take some time to get through it all. Another project for next summer perhaps?
Here is Myrtle's obituary: Sioux Falls - Myrtle E. Carlson, age 92, passed away on Saturday, August 29, 2009, at Bethany Lutheran Home in Sioux Falls. Funeral services will be 2 PM Wednesday, September 2 at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls. Burial will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery. Public viewing will begin at 12 Noon on Tuesday, September 1 at Miller Funeral Home (13th & Main Ave). Myrtle Carlson was born on January 20, 1917 in Ellis, SD, daughter of Frank and Lena (Johnson) Carlson. She grew up on a farm in the Hartford, SD area and graduated from Hartford High School in 1936. She, and her sister Muriel cared for their mother after an accident on the farm left her disabled. Following the death of her mother, Myrtle and Muriel moved into a home they purchased in the now Historical District of Sioux Falls. They turned the home into a boarding house and had many residents over the years. Myrtle and Muriel were the twins sisters, that weren't; they both wore the same outfits that Myrtle had designed and made herself. They were seen all over Sioux Falls, and especially made a point to attend funeral services in the area. Myrtle kept very busy volunteering with many organizations, including the Minnehaha Historical Society, Bethany Lutheran Auxilary, the Alzehiemers Association and the Old Courthouse Museum. Myrtle was an early member of St. Mark's Lutheran Church and was a very active member. She had served on many different organizations within the church such as Lutheran Circle, Office of Gospel Missions Auxilary, as president of the Church Women United. Both Myrtle and Muriel were members of the First Valiant Women of South Dakota. Myrtle kept active volunteering all of her life. In her free time, Myrtle enjoyed doing ceramics, crocheting and embroidering. Myrtle is survived by many cousins; Randy Maas, longtime friend, and many other friends. Myrtle was preceded in death by her parents, and her sister, Muriel.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

I needed to post something before November got her so I thought what's happening now but Halloween?
Growing up in the country, I don't remember doing too much of the neighborhood trick or treating. We had community parties, hayrides, and bonfires instead. Trick or treating was more of a town kids event. We'd dress up for school parties and sometimes farm kids would go into town to trick or treat.
I found these photos from 1957 when my brothers and sister were in their pjs all cleaned up. Was it after trick or treating? What did the rest of their costumes look like?
Mom saved a couple of my earliest boughten costumes, A Tweetie Bird and Huckelberry Hound. I know there are some photos out there but in a slide somewhere or another album for another time.
One of my earliest Halloween memories revolves around a party we had in our basement on the farm. Neighbors young and old were invited and I was pretty young. I can vividly remember a neighbor who scared me so bad on the stairs to the basement that I ended up hiding under the love seat in the living room for most of the night. I was dressed as a nurse and when my Dad and a different neighbor came into the living room to sit and talk away from the party. I surprised them as I crawled out from the love seat and made myself known. Dad took me back to the party and showed me who the scarey man on the steps was. It was traumatic if I remember so much of the night almost 50 years later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Missing you...

are you missing me? I've been too busy to write! (Ok, add procrastination and my obsession with facebook in there as excuses too) School is keeping me hopping lately, as well as things at home.
Let's see, since I last wrote, my folks came down for a visit. We went to an auction in a nearby town and managed to find a few things that made their way into my folks van. My Dad got a nice Ansonia mantle clock that is now mine as an early Christmas present. That makes four clocks he has "brought" into my home. HA, I think one reason is the folks don't have room at their home for any more clocks. Mom got a beautiful oak library table. It was great having them here.
Grading at school continues to keep me involved... as an art teacher grading is not my most favorite activity so I manage to avoid it at all costs. It's so subjective in my curricular area, I try to justify my grades with comments written back and that takes me a while. First I had midterms for my HS semester run classes and then midterms for my MS trimester classes and now it's time for 9 weeks grading for the HS classes again... you see the pattern here? I also got a new kiln this year, all digital. It is a beauty but I had to learn to operate it... not to mention the extra time it takes to load and fire things outside of the regular teaching schedule.
Today I went to a convention on technology with my superintendent in Iowa City, IA. Next I'll be reporting on what I learned at a faculty in-service in a couple weeks so a presentation will have to be prepared... it goes goes on and on and on... Get one task done and another comes in it's place.
I'll try to get back to my regular posting soon. Just wanted to tell you I haven't fallen off the end of the world, yet!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Thinking of the right strategy to fix a problem. How do I...? What if...? Kids come up with solutions to problems in the oddest ways. While I may not agree with their technique for fixing a problem, I guess I am thankful they are brainstorming to find a solution instead of sitting back and doing nothing. In one of my classes this past week, a girl wanted to get an angle cut off the end of a stick so she could poke it into a sculpture she was making. "Scared" of using the saw, she was trying to cut the end off a stick and didn't trust herself not to cut me if I held the end of the stick for more support.
Two boys in the class quickly volunteered to attack the problem. Without a clamp in the art room, and an old miter saw, one boy stood on the stick while the other sawed the end at an angle. I couldn't let it happen without catching their work with a couple photos. While unconventional, they got the angle cut and the sculpture continued... everyone was happy and no injuries!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Busy Weeks... Always something!

Days fly by and there is always more to do, more to experience, more to fill my mind. This week started with my brother Steve's birthday on Monday. He would have been 54, but life on earth ended for him at age 52. I miss him, my family misses him. We were all full of memories of Steve on his special day.
This weekend Mom and Dad are coming to Denver to visit, so there is a lot to do in preparation of them coming. (is it getting done? procrastination!!!) As always, they're bringing some things down and I'm sending some things back with them. Sort of an on-going exchange between Denver and the farm.
They're cutting trees down across the street from me where the bank is putting in a parking lot. It's sad to see the mature and majestic, tall maples drop to the ground. My windbreak from the north is disappearing.
School continues to absorb my mind. Homecoming is next week. I've been working with the Freshmen class on decorations for their hall. Midterms were due Monday, but there continues to be things to grade and enter. I'm preparing the room for the 8th graders to start clay, let the dust begin. I got a new kiln this year so hopefully I'll be able to learn the new methods of firing pieces. Always something... and much, much more. How are you doing at "hanging in"?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Grandview Covenant Church History

Formerly established as
Grand View Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church
In 1873, religious services of Swedish settlers began when Rev. John F. Wretlof, a 29 year old preacher from from Boone, IA, arrived along the Sioux River in Sioux Township. Pastor Wretlof was born Dec. 26, 1843, in Göteborg, Sweden, and had immigrated from Sweden, August 3, 1864. He came to Rock Rapids on the stage in May 1873, transferred onto a mail wagon to Larchwood, and then set out on foot across the open prairie in search of Swedish settlers that lived in this region. After walking most of the day, he heard a dog barking in the distance and followed the sounds of activity to the Jackson dugout along the Big Sioux River, about one and a half miles southwest of Granite, IA. He stayed with the Jacksons for a few days and met with other Swedish pioneers in the area, sharing God’s Word in preaching, song and prayer, the start of a religious community.
Above: 1888 map of Sioux Township, Lyon County, Iowa.
These settlers introduced him to more Swedes, taking him to Dakota Territory, to the north, where Wretlof eventually started two more congregations, The Beaver Valley Lutheran Church, of Valley Springs, SD and Swedona Mission (Covenant) Church, north of Brandon, SD. Rev. Wretlof soon brought his newlywed bride, of one year, the former Augusta Johnson, to the community, and they homesteaded near Valley Springs, SD.
Various traveling missionaries from Dakota Territory/South Dakota also visited the region regularly from the early beginnings of the community. For the next 39 years, organized mission meetings were held in the woods at John and Johanna Longs, Peter and Anna Newbergs on the Dakota side of the river, and Isaac and Carrie Swansons, for about 31 years families met in a school house near John Longs, with Wretlof coming about every third Sunday to lead the worship service, as well as meeting in other homes near the Sioux River. Mrs. Isaac Swanson gave him lodging most of the time, while he was in the community, in the early years.
Left: Friends and relatives meeting at the Charles and Anna Swanson home.
As years passed, the number of people increased on the land, including more immigrants from Sweden, allowing the religious community to grow. From about 1904 to 1914, the religious meetings were held in the homes and groves of: Axel and Olga Bonander’s northwest of Granite, Charles and Emma Long south of Granite, Martin and Anna Ruud’s southwest of Granite, and Charles and Anna Swanson east of Granite.
On August 3, 1912, the Grand View Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church of Granite, Iowa was organized, in the home of Charles and Anna Swanson on section 21 of Sioux township, under the supervision of Rev. Wretlof. Five families were the foundation of this congregation.
Members included: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Long, Cecelia Martin and Willie, Mr. and Mrs. August Swanson, Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Swanson and Mabel, and Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Swanson and sons Swan, Edward and Anton, a group of 15 members with Rev. Wretlof.
Rev. Wretlof was elected chairman, L.C. Meberg, acting secretary; and more families joined the congregation, and a subscription list was circulated by the congregation members for the building of a church. Trustees; August Swanson, Charles Swanson and Swan Swanson were commissioned by the congregation to build a church, one and one half miles southwest of Granite, on an acre of ground donated by Swan Swanson.
Right: Sunday School at the Granite School in 1912.
Rev. Wretlof had started instructing the first confirmation class, of 7 members, which was confirmed in the new church in 1914. Children's Christmas programs were held Christmas 1912 and 1913 at the Charles T. Swanson home. The gatherings for these Christmas programs lasted until 3 or 4 a.m., before the wagons and sleighs headed on their way home in the early hours of the day. (There had been several programs in the community in the past as well.)
Left: Ladies Aid meeting at the C.T. & Anna Swanson home. In the picture is the Swanson's new King automobile.
Mrs. C.T. (Anna) Swanson conceived the idea of forming a Ladies’ Aid society, so on March 18, 1913, the ladies of the community were gathered at her home under the direction of Rev. Wretlof to meet every other week with Mrs. Swanson as their first president. This group did much sewing, including making a large blue block quilt with a yellow star in each square was made with people paying to have their names sewn in red on points of the yellow stars. The Ladies' Aid auctioned the quilt off and it was bought by Charlie Long for $60.00! The society also held large dinners for the community and invited others of the region to their fundraisers. Their income was said to be several hundred dollars a year, used for local and missionary purposes. (In 1982, the societies name was changed to Covenant Women.)
A constitution was adopted and the church was given the name of, The Grand View Swedish Mission Church of Granite, IA, affiliated with the Swedish Christian Missionary Society of South Dakota. Erected during 1913 - 1914, a stone foundation supported the gothic, stained glass windowed church with the grand staircase leading up to the front doors. The new church building was 26 x 48 ft. in size, comprised of eight rooms with a front arched auditorium with a slanted floor and a furnished basement. It was meant to hold about 200 people. The building was lighted with gas and heated with a hot air furnace. Upstairs, furnishings were procured including the beautiful altar oil painting (for $113.) “Ascension” and a piano, won in a contest by Mabel Swanson, for the church. The total cost of the church was $5,094.14, most of which was paid before it’s dedication, on Sunday, May 31, 1914. Before a large gathering of people, this church was dedicated to be a House of God, to worship Him in, and to be a spiritual light, full of warmth and guidance of the people, with the hope that many may find their soul’s salvation. Rev. Wretlof, Rev. O. H. Miller of Stockholm, SD, and Rev. K.O. Axelson, South Dakota traveling missionary, all took part in the dedication services, setting the church aside for its most high and holy mission.
The Sunday School was organized by Pastor Wretlof, on April 26, 1914. Miss Mabel Swanson was the first superintendent and over the years many faithful superintendents, teachers and students have been active in making it a vital part of our church through song, lessons, special programs and summer Bible School.
About 1918, Rev. Wretlof, with old age approaching, was aided by Rev. Emil Bergren from Swedona Mission church, as he was asked to give pastoral aid. He would motor down from Swedona about every other Sunday to preach an afternoon service. In 1919, a seminary student, Rev. Arvid Carlson from North Park College in Chicago, IL was called for the summer. He also interchanged with Rev. Bergren in preaching in Swedona and Salem, SD churches. Rev. Wretlof resigned, March 24, 1919, and only months later, on December 1, 1919, our faithful shepherd and minister of 46 years passed away in his home in Brandon, SD. May there always be a Peace of Christian Love over his memory.
A parsonage was conceived by the congregation and about 20 acres of ground (the former Quist place in the NW corner of Granite) owned by C. T. Swanson, was considered a good central location in the community. Rev. Bergren commissioned the trustees; August Swanson, C. T. Swanson, and Ed Swanson to purchase this land and a deed was recorded and improvements on the house were made.
The church got its first resident pastor, Rev. R. A. Larson, from Worthington, MN, who came with his family, June 9, 1921. At this time he brought about the church opening to the English language, with morning Swedish services and evening English services. Rev. Larson also organized the Young People Society in 1921 with Emil Swanson as the first chairman. This group started out meeting weekly for teachings and social time in area Christian homes. After three years Rev. Larson preached his farewell sermon Sunday, July 13, and left Granite, July 22, 1924, for Buffalo, NY.
Successors to the pulpit at Grandview were Rev. Samuel Hogander, The Rev. Charles Carlson and the Rev. Herman Carlson, who resigned in 1930. During the vacancy which followed his resignation the church was visited occasionally by different pastors. Rev. Bergren, at this time fieldsman of the South Dakota District, assisted the church considerably as did Rev. Raymond A. Johnson.
Rev. H. R. Jacobson began his ministry in the spring of 1934, and served the Grandview and Swedona churches jointly. In 1946, Rev. France Ericson took charge and in the same year the church joined the Northwest Conference but remained in the South Dakota District.
Right: Ladies taking a break out the back door of the church: Amelia Bennett, Olga Bonander, Tresa Grotewold, Tilda Swanson, Anna Monson, and Ella Bjork
Rev. David Kline accepted the call as full-time pastor in 1950. In 1952, he was succeeded by Rev. Ralph Powell as supply preacher. In 1953, Robert Fuchs (Fox), a student of the Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, took over the pastorate. Rev. France Ericson resumed duties as interim pastor in 1955.
A Martha Missionary Circle was organized in 1955, in the home of Mrs. Ethel (Swanson)
Palmberg, who was elected the first president. Its activities included projects such as sewing for the mission fields, childrens and retirement centers. They have sponsored various students in foreign countries and after 30 years of faithful service their responsibilities were turned over to the Covenant Women.
Rev. Paul Nelson served Grandview from 1957-1965. During this time a new constitution was adopted in January 1958, establishing the church name as the Grandview Covenant Church of Larchwood, IA.
during the next 12 years, the church was served by students of the Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, they were: David Samf (Sems), Jerry Edinger, Gale O’Neil, David Ehman and David Rushton. From 1977 to 1980, Dr. Ralph Powell returned to Grandview, assisted by John Ziulkowski, another seminary student, served Grandview.
The AWANA Youth Club, was started in 1975. It reaches out to all denominations. When this group started, they met once a week during the school year in the Larchwood Gym. Volunteer leaders and helpers prepared a very spiritual and enjoyable evening for the boys and girls of the community. The AWANA club dissolved for a time but has become active again in 2002.
Terry Lundquist, a graduate of North Park Seminary, served 1980-1981. Dr. Ralph Powell returned in 1981 to serve as our faithful and conscientious pastor. He was assisted by the following Baptist Seminary students: Harold Schroeder, Michael Campbell, Scott MacDonald and Tim Friez.
Modernization and improvements have come to the church as the years have passed. New electrical and pluming brought lights, improved kitchen facilities and restrooms. On May 25, 1941, the congregation had electric lights for the first time at our evening services. Pews, replacing the folded theater chairs and a new pulpit were installed in April of 1962. The pews and new pulpit were a memorial gift in honor of Carl J. Johnson. An addition was built onto the back giving room for another classroom and later office. Evergreen trees were planted to surround and protect the church on top of the highest point in Lyon County. In 1983, an addition was built, expanding the sanctuary to provide seating for an additional one hundred people, adding space for a new entry, sunday school rooms, and a reception area in the fellowship hall in the basement. Dedication services were held November 20, 1983.
Carl and Tracy Dieters donated more land to the East of the church and ample parking was added to the church grounds for the growing church.
The church celebrated their 75th anniversary September 12-13, 1987, when there were 32 families having membership. The church was active with Covenant Women, Sunday School, a Young People group, Daily Vacation Bible School, and the Awana Youth Club.
Constitution and By-Laws of the church were revised Sept. 25, 1988. The purpose of this church is to unite believers in fellowship for spiritual edification, for the winning of sinners to Christ, and for the propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ through home and world missions.
Following those before with faithful service to Grandview were, Rev. Jack Brooks, Rev. Heidi Wiebe and Pastor Hariet Shelton. The last two graduates of North Park Covenant Seminary.
In 2002, the Awana program was reinstituted in an effort to teach community youth about the Bible. Evening meetings are held at the Larchwood Recreation Center. Pastor Hans Eric Nelson, another North Park Graduate served the congregation from 2002 to 2004. Currently Pastor Penny Nance is serving the congregation, with members and the faithful attending from South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.
There is a church cemetery 1/2 mile west of the church building overlooking the Sioux River Valley.
We are happy to celebrate history that is past, experience that is present, and hope and assurance that is our future. Praise be to God for our heritage.

Our Little White Church on The Hill by my Grandmother Phoebe (Swanson) Johnson
(Tune “The Church in the Wildwood”)

Oh, come to the church in the country,
Our little white church on the hill,
Where the Master waits, now, to give welcome,
And each heart with new gladness to fill.

Oh, come, come, come, come
Worship the God of our fathers,
We trust Him as Counselor still.
May His Gospel Light always shine brightly
In our little white church on the hill.

How dear to us now is the chancel,
Where true hearts, in faith, have been wed,
Where our babes in God’s name have been christened,
And our youth in confirmation have read.

Here, loved ones, now gone, seem to linger;
In their stead, we labor today;
May we seek joy and peace in the Savior;
Love and praise Him each step of the way!


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