Nelvina Nelson's Recollections
My grandmother's sister was named Nelvina Nelson. She was born in 1897 to Nels K. and Henriette Nelson.
She was married to Eli Nelson. Nelvina died in Wichita, Kansas in 1974.

Below are some of her recollections.

 Nels Nelson - Born Niels Nielsen at Odense, Denmark. August 3,1861 -Parents Anne Sophie and Knute Nielsen. Came to United States in 1880 at the age of 19, landed in Baltimore, Maryland. It was wintertime and he and two other young men who came with him went to Janesville, Wisconsin. When they arrived there it was very cold and they hired out to a farmer. He took them to the farm in a bobsled. They wore hats and their ears froze. They talked about it was strange that bees were out in such cold weather.

     They thought it was bees stinging their ears instead of the extreme cold. Their mothers had packed food for them when they left Denmark. They were used to three meals a day and on this farm they got three meals each day except Sunday and they were so hungry they found an old soup bone and chewed on. Later he came to Blooming Prairie, Minnesota and worked on the "Big Farm." This farm consisted of several hundred acres just west of Blooming Prairie and was owned by a man named Thurston. He hired a great number of men and was glad to "new comers", as they were good workers. New Comers were people who had recently arrived from other countries. Mostly Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes, as Minnesota was mostly Scandinavian. They were very good to their hired help and Nels was Mrs. Thurston's favorite, as he was handy at repairing and helping around the house. One time he got very sick and Mrs. Thurston took care of him. The doctor came and gave him medicine, etc., but he grew steadily worse. So one day Mrs. Thurston said - now she was going to try something. So when it was time for his medicine, she poured the prescribed amount into a spoon and threw it out of the window. It wasn't long before he got well. One time the "Big House" caught on fire. Mr. Thurston ran into the house to rescue the children, when he didn't come out Nels ran into the burning house. He found Mr. Thurston in the pantry throwing things out of the window. So Nels rescued him and the rest of the family. They had a great number of cattle. Herds of cattle were kept on different locations and when the grass got scarce on one place they were taken to different pastures. Sometimes it took more than a day to take a herd to other pastures and several men would go, some on horseback others walked and one man drove the team on the "chuck wagon", as they had to bring their food supplies. There were two men who worked with him who remained friends for life. They were Rasmus Petersen and Rasmus Miller.

     He used to tell of taking a herd to Taopi to graze. It took them several days and by this time they could speak English fairly well. When they would meet someone they would pretend they couldn't talk or understand English and would just rattle off something and make a lot of motions with their hands and arms. Everyone seemed anxious to help them, but naturally they couldn't understand, as these young men weren't talking any language. And the more confused the other people became the more these "newcomers" laughed, jigged, danced and acted crazy.

     Nels had one sister, Abelone. She married Hans Nielsen in Denmark and they died there. They had two sons Knute Christian and Johannes (John in English).

Henriette Nielsen - born in Odense, Denmark September 12, 1872. Came to the United States in 1889. Landed at New York City with two other girls. They were hungry when they came and saw other people buy bananas and oranges so they did too. They didn't know they had to peel them so they wondered how people could eat anything like that. She went to Blooming Prairie as her uncle Fred Riger lived west of town on a farm. In Denmark the sidewalks and streets were always swept and washed and clean at all times, so when anyone wanted to rest they would sit on the curb. Which she did and had her luggage with her waiting for her uncle to come and get her. Along came Nels and he laughed at her, as [this wasn't done] people never sat on the curb here in the United States. He used to tell us kids afterward that he never forgave himself for laughing at her, as he didn't know then that she would become his wife. Henriette had one sister Christine who had come here before and saved money and sent to Denmark so Henriette could come and be with her. Later Henriette went to Duluth to work and then came back to Blooming Prairie. Henriette and Christine's mother and father died of some epidemic, which swept Denmark when the girls were small, so they were raised in an orphanage. Christine married Gilbert Thompson. Henriette and Nels K. Nelson were married July 3, 1891. They lived at Blooming Prairie, and in ________ they bought 80 acres of land about 5 miles northwest of town. They lived there until 1919 when they moved to Bixby where they resided until their death. Henriette died December 30, 1930, was buried January I, 1931. Nels died July 6, 1935 and was buried July 8, 1935. Both are buried at Union Cemetery - four miles north of Blooming Prairie and two miles west.

     They adopted Stella Christine at birth. She was born September 29, 1892. Then on March 25, 1893 Annie Sophie Knutesena was born. Then Dagmar Hansen came to live with them. She was 9 years old and her mother had died and left 8 children.

     On May 22,1897 Nelvina Mabel was born. In 1904 they took a boy from the Lutheran orphanage at Waupaca, Wisconsin. His name was Anton Frandsen and he was 12 years old.

     Then Christine, sister of Henriette, died and left five children. She died in 1908 at the age of 37 years. The children were:

Clara Thompson
Harold Thompson
Evelyn Thompson
Theodore (Buddy) Thompson
Alfred Thompson - died at age 54 in summer of 1960 in Chicago.

     Evelyn, Theodore, and Alfred came to live with Nels and Henriette. Their father remarried and Evelyn went back to live. Later Theodore returned home and Alfred who was not much over a year old when his mother died stayed until he was nine years old. He didn't really know his father or stepmother or sisters. Harold and Theodore used to spend summer vacations on the farm. Their home was then at Anoka, just outside of Minneapolis, Minn. Alfred couldn't get adjusted to his new home so he ran away. He left one cold day from school without coat or cap on. They thought he had started for our home and phoned but we hadn't heard from Alfred. One night we were all in bed and Gilbert (Alfred's father) and Gilbert's brother from Austin, Minnesota came and wanted to search the house. They thought Alfred had come there as they said when he played he always kept repeating "Route 5 Box 15", the address of the home he had loved. Alfred never came back until in 1932. But he didn't stay. He was with some other young man and Theodore was along. He said when he ran away he hid in a barn and Clara and Harold would bring him food they had "swiped" at home. He ate what he could find out of garbage cans in Minneapolis. A man found him and took him along and Alfred cared for the man's dog. They did a lot of traveling. He finally was heard from at Chicago where he worked in a tattoo shop.

Dark Glasses - When dark eyeglasses were first introduced in our neighborhood, N. K. Nelson, my father, who was always bothered with "watery eyes", bought a pair. When in direct sunlight his eyes would water until tears ran down his cheeks. He put them on and drove to visit Dagmar and family. He decided that the sky was getting cloudy and it would start to rain so he kept the horses on a fast trot. When he got there Herman (Dagmar's brother) asked him why he had driven so fast, as the horses were wet with sweat. "Well," he said, "I sure didn't want to get caught in a real cloud burst. It sure is cloudy." When he took his glasses off he was surprised to see that it wasn't cloudy at all!
Nels Larson - Out west of our farm was a couple named Nels and Marie Larson. They didn't have any children and had very odd ideas. When I was a little girl my father was going to Blooming Prairie, a distance of 5 miles. He drove a team of horses on a lumber wagon. This is the town we got feed ground for livestock and got most of supplies for the farm and also groceries. When I was helping hitch the team to the wagon I saw Nels Larson walking on the road by our place, so my father had him ride along to town. He had already walked 7 or 8 miles. He bought a 100 lb. sack of "Red Dog" flour. They used it for baking bread, etc. It was a very low grade of flour. When they were ready to start for home Nels Larson put the sack of flour on his lap. So my father told him to put it in the back of the wagon with the rest of the feed. "Oh, No!" Nels said, "I will hold it in my lap so it won't be so heavy for the horses to pull." When Lars and Marie Larson came to church, Nels always wore his wedding suit, which was supposed to be black, but was green from age. But he always wore a pair of overalls over his suit so it wouldn't get soiled. Then he hung them in the horse barn until he was ready to go home. This horse barn was a real long building and had stalls to accommodate 30 or 35 teams.

     We had another neighbor who was a bachelor, just kind of odd. Some of the neighbors made fun of him and were mean to him. [One day he came] They would tip his machinery and scare him at night. We felt sorry for him as he was harmless and tried to do his best. One summer day he came walking across the fields to see us. It happened to be Eli' s and my birthdays, so I had baked a cake and we sat in the back yard eating our lunch. So we asked him when it was his birthday and he didn't know. A few days later he came back all dressed in his Sunday best. He said, "Today is my birthday." So I fixed a lunch and he was happy. He always drank water from an old coffeepot. He said it tasted better. He told us a dream he had. He dreamed he was standing on an oak leaf, which was floating on the water in an old well. He said he was so scared, he hollered for his neighbor, John Krell, to come and help him but he never came.

     We left Minnesota in the winter of 1942. We purchased a "second-hand" trailer house at Rochester, Minnesota. It was one of the coldest winters we ever had. There was so much snow it was impossible to get through. So we waited and one day we heard a snowplow coming. We hitched our car to the trailer and Eli went out and asked what roads the snowplow would go on. We followed him as far as he went and got on a fairly good highway, but it was covered with ice, and it was almost impossible to drive. We drove on ice through southern Minnesota, all across Iowa and Missouri. We stayed at Blue Springs, Missouri and next morning we started out again. The roads were all covered with ice. When we finally got to Waco, Texas, Eli was sick and had to stay there 3 or 4 days. Then we started out again. We got north of Alice, Texas and we had a flat tire on the trailer house. Eli was sick and I couldn't change the tire by myself. I got out and stood in the middle of the road trying to get the cars to stop and help me. The white people whizzed by and the Mexicans stopped. Most of them couldn't understand English. I asked them to tell a garage man to come out and help me. But no one came. Later on we learned that they didn't believe what the Mexicans said. While I was on the road I walked up a farmer's road and was going to ask if they would call a garage man. They had two big dogs and each time I tried walking on their driveway a woman would come out and make the dog run after me. Eli [finally] felt better and he helped me put out spare tire from the car on the trailer and we got into Alice that night. The next morning we started south again.

Gypsies - When I was about six years old, our cousin Amerda Riger from Minneapolis would come and spend part of her summer vacations. We used to like to walk over to the highway and railroad tracks. There were wild strawberries and a lot of wild flowers growing on the railroad right-of-way. One day we were so busy playing and picking flowers we hadn't noticed a caravan of Gypsies on the road. In those days Gypsies would come in covered wagons and sometimes as many as 20 to 40 wagons all in a row. They were drawn by horses and there were also men riding horse back. The Gypsies would go to the farms and beg for food, feed for their horses, clothing or anything else they saw. They would also steal anything they could get their hands on. They were expert pickpockets. Some of the men got out and ran after us and we were on the opposite side of the tracks from home so we ran into a wheat field. We stooped down and ran as fast as we could, but they were coming closer so we laid down and crawled on our hands and knees or slid on our stomachs. We were about 3/4 of a mile from the tracks and near a big woods and they had all stopped following us so we lay quiet in the wheat field. When they drove away we still waited until they were quite a ways down the road then we ran for home as fast as we could.

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