Saturday, January 2, 2010

Grandpa Joe Johnson

I haven't posted anything lately about my ancestors and their lives so here is a little about my Grandpa Joe who died six years before I was born.
Joseph Edward Johnson was born on the "May Place", approximately eight miles north of Canton, Lincoln County, SD, then Dakota Territory, on October 28, 1882 to Andew and Albertina (Gustafsdotter) Johnson. He was the youngest of five children born to these new emigrants from Ljung, Östergötland, Sweden.
His parents left Göteborg Sweden on the ship Orlando for Hull, England, on June 3, 1881, with a ticket for New York. They arrived in Canton on June 22, 1881. Joe's mother gave birth to his sister Lena on July 5, 1881. What a trip she must have had, being pregnant and traveling with a 6, 4, and 2 year old to a new country. Their chosen destination met them with relatives, as Albertina's sister (Carolina Swanson) and brother were already established pioneers in the area, raising their families on the Dakota Prairie along the Sioux River north of Canton.
Peter (Albertina's brother) and Anna (Olson) Newberg were Godparents at Joe's baptism at the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Mission Church of Swedona (Corson, SD) on January 1, 1883 and he was baptized by Pastor John F. Wretlof.
Material and personal financial resources were all but nonexistent. Together with many early settlers of that era, they had to start at the very beginning. Earning a livelihood in those pioneer days was a cooperative family endeavor. Father, mother and children all worked at the common and immediate task of acquiring necessary food, shelter and clothing. As soon as possible they rented a farm. The settlers were periodically subjected to the rigors of drought, grasshoppers, hot burning winds of summer and cold story blasts of winter. The children worked with their parents doing daily chores and fieldwork, it was a way of life and survival for them.
When I asked my Dad for some stories about his Dad's youth he shared; When Joe was confirmed he had "orders" not to wear his shoes until he was close to the church as to not wear them out. Once he snuck into the back of the buggy when his sister Emma and Charley Long were courting, once discovered, about two miles from home, he was made to walk back home.
Joe saw a kaliopee pulled by horses when he was young and always thought it'd be great if he could pull into the yard with one of them.
He liked to sing and when a youth we went to rural school for a short time but they wouldn’t let him sing along as he spoke Swedish and he would sit on the bench mad as he loved to sing and say “feda” repeatedly. (we were told this meant Shit in Swedish but I am unsure of the spelling and can't find this in translation programs.) No one knew what he was saying. In later years Joe and his wife, Phoebe Johnson, would often enjoy singing together in church for special music.
In 1903, Joe and his brother Carl and sister Lena moved with their parents to their own farm near Tea, SD.
Joe's Papa, Anders Peter Johnson, was known as quite a gardener. Joe would take some of the produce into Sioux Falls, coming in from the Tea farm by buggy to sell when he was a young man. My Dad said when he was a kid he went with his Dad (Joe) into Sioux Falls and stopped at the Lyon home down by now Lyon Park (and the statue of David) near the post office and he remembers looking at the old cars in the garage there (Calvin always had a fascination with old cars) and the maid came out and telling him it's time for lunch and Mrs. Lyons told Calvin she remembered his Dad coming in and selling vegetables to her when he was a young man.
Son Calvin told of when the family had a table downstairs where they would take the milk to after milking the cow. Dad also remembers his Dad and Uncle Carl going downstairs with a bowl and spooning the sour cream off the top of the milk and eating that as a treat with a little sugar on it.
Some of the cars & trucks he owned: 1918 Luverne Truck, 1919 Franklin - drove this on his honeymoon to Chicago. 1928-9 NASH, hit coming home from Rock Rapids in a dust storm and the car got wrecked. His family was with him. Calvin remembers crying when he got home because he thought they wouldn't have a car now and Uncle Carl told him to BE QUIET!, that they were lucky to all be alive and unhurt! 1935 Dodge Truck, 1936 Studebaker, 1939 Diamond T Truck, 1939 Buick, 1940 Diamond T Truck, 1941 Chrysler, and 1948 Dodge. This shows my own Dad's love of vehicles to remember the cars his Dad had.

I wrote the following in 1989 about our farm, while taking an Iowa Writers Workshop class: In 1923 my newlywed grandparents Joe and Phoebe lived with great-grandpa and grandma (Charlie & Anna) for a couple months until their temporary structure a quarter of a mile away was built. A farm was being built in Sioux Township #16 in Lyon County, IA starting with the barn, the most important structure, by two men, Sievert Thompson and Otto Lund. They mixed the cement by hand and painted the wood red twice, once on the ground and the second time while the barn was all erected. The 60 ft. long by 40 ft. wide structure complete with bunks and a full length haymound was built at a cost of $500. for labor charges, plus the cost of supplies. To celebrate the completion of the rounded roof barn, they hoisted a piano up into the hayloft and a barn dance was held for those friends and relatives from both near and far. The church ladies aid group also held a meeting in the hayloft to commemorate it's completion. To this day the crowd that attended that meeting was the largest crowd to assemble of the Grandview Covenant Ladies Aid. Imagine the hymns floating through the windows after ladies young and old climbed the stairs, especially built for that occasion, or take the ladder to the loft and sat on fresh bales of hay to share God's word. Other buildings appeared soon as my grandparents attempted to build this farmstead. The "little garage", a white two car garage, was built before the large house to provide shelter for my grandfather's 1919 Franklin car and 1916 Luverne truck.
My father, Calvin, was born in what has now become known as the chicken house on our farm. It was a home at that time with ruffled curtains hanging in windows that welcomed south breezes in the summer and fought against the cold winter winds. Grandma Phoebe fixed her two room home up with little touches like flowers, pictures on the walls and clean linens and cloths covering furniture arranged carefully in the close living quarters. Dad's bed was a bassinet seated upon the piano bench, a simple start to a life spent calling the same address home. Moving into the big house came about three weeks after Calvin was born. Imagine a young wife and mother of two children, Joyce at 1 1/2 years and Calvin only 3 weeks old, overseeing such a transformation of environments and lifestyles. It was December of 1925, and the young family was in the new house by Christmas. The house was a large two story yellow stucco structure with white wooden trim. It was positioned on top of a hill overlooking Blood Run Creek and family farmland. Paths were still in nearby fields where the stagecoach trails of not so long ago transported passengers to their destinations. Trees had been planted to accompany the driveway up the hill. They also provided windbreaks and shelter for wildlife and for the house and family within. Many of the groves surrounding the buildings were planted by Grandpa Joe and his young son Calvin. Grandma Phoebe was a magician with flowers and transformed the yard into a showcase of colorful flowers on all sides of the house. There was a hedge around the front yard with a white picket fence standing next to it. Rows and rows of flowers added backdrop for many family pictures taken outside the home over the years. Lilac bushes now ran the length of the little two room home that had by now been turned into a chicken house, dividing it from the large house and yard. Uncle Carl, Grandpa Joe's older brother, joined the family of five in 1931.
At one time Grandpa Joe fed cattle with farmers on 13 different farms, splitting profits on up to 1200 head, the bookkeeping tabulations he must of performed at his desk without the benefit of modern aides. I'm sure Grandma Phoebe helped. The time came to add cement to the barn floor and troughs.
The youngest Johnson at that time, Carol Ann, lent her feet for footprints into the yielding wet cement. In 1936 the first Johnson owned tractor came on the farm; before then Grandpa Joe had rented the land to others because he also farmed by Tea and Flandreau, SD. In 1938 the "big garage" came after the purchase of two Diamond T trucks on the farm. The farm was growing out of necessity and progress. Grain needed to be weighed and stored, so a scale house and corn crib appeared as did feeders for the feedlots and buildings to house hogs. The set of buildings started to surround the family as if to provide for and protect them. When dad went to the army, Grandpa rented the land out again selling off some equipment; any changes awaited the return of the only son. Upon dad's return home, he and Uncle Carl lived together in the big house. They bached it from 1948-1950 while Grandma and Grandpa moved to Sioux Falls, to 2020 S. 1st. in 1949, leaving their home in the hands of future generations.

Below are some newspaper articles I've found that help elaborate on events in Grandpa's life:

Wedding - Unique Old Fashioned Wedding is Feature of June Day at Granite, Miss Phoe (Phoebe) Swanson, of Larchwood, Married to Joseph E. Johnson, of Tea, With Country Ceremony and Group of Girls from Sioux Falls
What the bounty and hospitality of the old fashioned
wedding used to mean to a whole countryside was recalled last evening in the unique ceremony held at Granite, Iowa, when Miss Phoebe C. Swanson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Swanson of Larchwood, Iowa, and Joseph Edward Johnson of Tea were united in marriage. (June 20, 1923)
Tent Reception
The crowds of friends and relatives from Iowa and South Dakota who were present were almost unlimited because of the size of the great tent where the wedding reception and program were held. As soon as the ceremony was finished in the Mission Church of Granite, the automobile loads of guests including many who could not get into the church arrived at the farmhouse, sixteen miles southeast of Sioux Falls. There, for
days preparations had been made for the feast. Great pots of coffee were boiling on the stove and an abundance of meats, sandwiches, cakes and ice cream in many varieties were waiting to be served.
Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Johnson received their relatives and friends as they entered the tent, and soon the long tables were filled with guests. Following the blessing asked by Rev. R. A. Larson of Granite, Iowa, who had performed the ceremony, congratulatory speeches were made to the bride and groom, and those present expressed the hope that their table might always be filled with good things and that they might find happiness in their future home.
“I Love You Truly,” was sung by Miss Mabel Swanson, sister of the bride, and Miss Edna Hegland (Haglund) of Menominee, Michigan, played two piano solos. Rev. Larson and Rev. E. Begland (Bergland) living north of Brandon made short addresses. Mrs. Larson sang “Perfect Day”.
Friends from Sioux Falls
The flow of refreshments was not stopped by the program, however. Over twenty girls who had motored from Sioux Falls for the purpose served the crowds. Assisting were Elloa McLellan, Maude McLellan, Frances Howlin, Esther Thompson, Gladys Brandt, Alpha Hoyne, Athetha Meyers, Eleanor Martin, Thelma Carlberg, Martha Bradly, Rowena Bliss, Lois Allen, Florence McGilvray, Hazel Lundquist, Lucille Helfert, Helen Helfert, Hilda Carlson, Effie Straight, Vera Hodgins, Ruth Krumm, Mrs. L.A. Johnson, Alma Johnson.
Many went to the room filled with wedding presents for the young people. A piano was included among the gifts. Electric lights and candles illuminated the scene. The tables were arranged around the bridal table as a center and were decorated with peonies, roses of brilliant hues and pink candy baskets.
With little thought of the long distance many of those present would have to drive before they would have to reach their homes, the guests feasted and celebrated for hours. The little flower girls Josephine Larson and Myrtle Carlson and the small ring bearer Robert Larson were gay and sleepy at the same time as the evening advanced.
Church Ceremony
In the church ceremony the bride walked slowly down the isle on the arm of her father as the wedding
march from ‘Lohengrin’ was played. She was gowned in white satin, softly draped and trimmed with pearl medallions. Her long veil of tulle was held in place with a band of orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of lillys of the valley and pink roses. Miss Mabel Swanson, the brides sister, was maid of honor. She wore a gown of pale yellow canton crepe and carried a bouquet of roses. Bridesmaids were Miss Betty Long of Larchwood and Miss Hegland (Haglund).
After an extended trip through the east and south for their honeymoon, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson will make their home on the bridegrooms farm four miles northeast of Tea. (THE ARGUS LEADER, Thurs., 6/21/1923)

Joe Johnsons Celebrate 25th Wedding Anniversary
About 150 relatives attended the silver wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Johnson, living southeast of Sioux Falls Sunday, at which time the latter wore her wedding dress. Practically all members of the bridal party of 25 years ago attended. A program appropriate for the occasion was given.
Messages and good wishes were read. They had been sent by absent relatives and friends, among one being a message from Sweden; while those attending presented the Johnsons silver gifts.
Amidst decorations of many flowers, a social afternoon was enjoyed and lunch was served. The Rev. Franc Ericson, pastor of Grandview church, presided as toastmaster and introduced those taking part.

Obituary: ARGUS LEADER, Tue. April 8, 1952 "Services will be held at the Grandview Covenant Church of Larchwood, IA at 2 p.m. Thursday for Joseph Edward Johnson, 69, of 2020 S. 1st Ave. who died at a local hospital Monday. Officiating will be the Revs. David Kline, France Ericson and Axel Long. Dr. Maynard Berk will be organist. Music will be furnished by the Rev. and Mrs. Kline and Carol Beth Swanson. Burial will be in the Grandview Covenant Church Cemetery. The Miller Funeral Home is in charge."

Ex-Cattle Feeder, J. Johnson, Dies (April 7, 1952)
A retired cattle feeder, Joseph Edward Johnson, 69, of 2020 S. 1st Ave., died at a local hospital this morning after a two-year illness. (Prostrate cancer) Mr. Johnson had resided on a farm in the Larchwood, Ia., vicinity from 1923 until he came to Sioux Falls in the fall of 1949.
Born in Canton, Oct. 28, 1882, Mr. Johnson went into the cattle business with his brother, Carl, from 1903 until 1923.
Joseph Johnson married Phoebe Swanson in Larchwood, June 20, 1923. He was a member of the Grandview Covenant Church of Larchwood and the Sioux Falls Lions Club.
He is survived by his widow; two daughters, Mrs. Joyce Whitcher, Sioux Falls, and Mrs. Carol Ball, Larchwood; a son Calvin T., Larchwood; two sisters, Mrs. Emma Long, Larchwood, and Mrs. Frank Carlson, Hartford; a brother, Carl J., Larchwood, and four grandchildren.
Services will be held at the Grandview Church. Burial will be in the church cemetery. The body is at the Miller Funeral Home.

After compiling this information I see there is more I need to do and find to complete it. I need to find some younger photos to scan and complete more stories on his life. I did find numerous letters he wrote to his bride to be, my Grandpa Phoebe when they were courting. They are a touching reminder of their love to each other. Maybe more for another post sometime...

1 comment:

Robin said...

Love reading those Grandpa and Grandma stories. You are a great writer.
Who's 1998? Ha


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