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Pathways Through Our Past

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Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Pathways Through Our Past
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Stories and memories of families and their descendants that lived in this area are fun to research and write about. Often times we're lucky to have family histories already written and donated to the History Center's Library.


Norm Sessing provided us with books on the Augstreng and Sessing families that are very detailed with pictures, maps and family trees. This is one of those stories.

Memories of the Sessing Siblings

By Norm Sessing

Chester and Elvira were special to me since they took care of me for a period of time when I was ill with Brights Disease, and mom was pregnant with Linda. Their house was very small; they had Carole, Lorraine and grandma Stomberg, and they gave me their bedroom!

In the summertime when we went over to Chester and Elvira's place, it was always a treat to have homemade root beer. I remember Chester, Elvira, their girls and our family going to Red Lake in their model T car for a picnic. It started to rain and I was standing in the front seat between Chester and dad; my job was to run the windshield wiper by hand.

Leonard worked in Rugby, N.D. but he came back to his roots frequently during the summer. He was an avid baseball fan. He was also an unabashed Democrat and had heated arguments with Gay, who was equally a strong Republican. Leonard and Marie were married later in life. They both enjoyed golf and supported their local golf course financially.

Olga -- 'Ollie' had moved to Minneapolis early in my life, but never forgot her family ties. Each Christmas she and Sig and Mil and Chet would send presents. It was during the depression and the families on the farm would send produce and meat to Olga and Mildred.

Gerhard was always called Gay -- this was before it became a life style. Gay worked at the Blackduck Meat Market in his early years. He was a rather fast driver. One time, he ran over my dog and killed it. I placed flowers on the grave all summer.

In the late 40's, Gay worked in a meat market on Lake Street in Minneapolis, which was adjacent to the Minneapolis Millers baseball park. We frequently went on the roof and watched the ball game for free.

Before Ing and Eva were married, Eva was the teacher in the one room school -- District 87. Eva was the best teacher I ever had. Eva boarded at our home which was just ½ half mile north of the school. Ing lived at the Sessing homestead and courted Eva.

Ing and Eva started their married life on the farm formerly owned by John Forsberg. They started in a small house and built a new barn. The future was rather bleak, so they moved to the Carr Lake area of Bemidji where Ing worked for the state highway department driving truck. He was extremely proud of doing a good job of plowing snow and maintaining the highways. During one extremely bad snowstorm, Ing walked five miles to the highway garage to get the snowplow.

Mildred and Chet lived in South Minneapolis just a few blocks from Chet's service station. During World War II nylon stockings were difficult to buy, so Mil and I would go to Dayton's and stand in line and buy nylons for mom. They had me over for Sunday dinner frequently when I was going to Dunwoody Industrial Institute. I remember Chet lying on the floor reading the want ads in the Sunday paper.

Mabel did the housekeeping for Ing and Joe until they married, and then inherited the responsibility to care for grandpa Nels in his later years. The surroundings were frugal, but always clean and the food was always nutritious. When Mabel moved to Minneapolis she was employed as a domestic caregiver and was appreciated a lot.

Joe was the youngest, and seemed to be my older brother. Occasionally, Joe would take Lorenz Nelson and me to a movie. As a teenager and getting to a dance in Kelliher, I needed a ride home and Joe would give me a ride home even when he was courting Irene!

Before the acreage increased at the farms, Chester, Ing, Joe and dad would go to the Red Lake meadows to cut some of the slough grass to sustain their cattle and horses through the winter.

As a youngster, I remember them pitching hay by hand and stacking it outside. Later they used a hay loader pulled behind the hay wagon drawn by horses, pulling the hay up into the barn with slings and/or a hayfork using horses, later tractors.

Later yet came the bailers, silos, elevators, etc., cutting down some of the sweat labor. I also remember Joe and Ing had a subscription to the Minneapolis paper. During haying time it was someone's job to walk up to the mailbox about 1½ miles one way, just to get the paper. The discussion always led to what happened to 'Lil Abner, Daisy Mae and Dick Tracy?

Those were the days.

Pioneer staff reports