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Pathways Through Our Past

Summertime seems like it has been here forever and the summer activities are just getting started. Blackduck's Woodcarvers Festival, along with the Community Ed's craft fair, is just around the corner -- July 31 and the Backwoods Bash, with it's feature attraction, Sponge Bob Square Pants, will be here in no time -- Aug. 21. Mark your calendars and spread the word that these are fun family events.

The History and Art Center volunteers keep busy looking for ways to keep the center fresh and alive with new displays and information. We try to think of history as being the 1940s and beyond, so if you have "stuff" to share from that time period please call us or stop in. One exception -- right now we are seeking Elvis Presley memorabilia, which we would like to have before Aug. 1.

Ethel Ferdig Klempel and Myrtle Olafson Kelley are volunteers who are researching and writing stories about residents who live/lived between Blackduck and Alvwood in Moose Park, Summit and Alvwood Townships.

If you have your family's history documented, or can help them identify former residents, please call Myrtle at 835-4623. Don't forget significant events that happened over the years. Some names you may remember -- Sinclair, Skarns, Chose, Brooks, Safe, Yankowski and Terry Morgans.

How about the CCC camp, saw mills, schools, Skimmerhorn and activities that went on during this period? These stories and family histories will be housed in the History Center library for your ancestors to read someday. Our goal is to discover and document history that occurred within the Blackduck School District.

The Langie family of Good Hope Township

This information was obtained from a story written by Doris Langie Nelson about her family.

Ole Gunsteinson Langie was born in Khristianson, Norway in 1882. At age 20, Ole and his brother, Gunder, age 11, immigrated to America. They came on the Alan Line from England to Canada. It was a nine day trip of which six days were spent below deck because of bad weather. Doris recalled her dad telling her they thought they were going to die because they were so seasick until the storm passed and the stewards brought them up on deck for fresh air. Then their stomachs settled down and they could eat again.

"They came to Bemidji and homesteaded by Grace Lake in 1902. Her dad didn't like the land because it was too rocky, so he sold it. In 1905 they came to Third River Township and homesteaded there. Later he bought a 40 in Good Hope Township where he lived and farmed while keeping the Third River land. Gunder was with her dad when he moved to Good Hope and started clearing the land to farm. He later bought his own 40 in Good Hope Township.

"Ole married Karn Sophie Westrem March 12, 1924. She was 19 years his junior. They had nine children; Bernice, Thomas, Sidney (Benny), Gena, Olga, Doris, Arnie, Reuben and Palmer.

"Farming took a lot of work. While the men got the fields ready, the women got to spring-cleaning. We had a big garden, cows to milk and pigs, chickens and horses to tend. There were always chores to be done. We picked and canned blueberries and raspberries for sauce and other berries for jelly. The milk was put through the separator morning and evening. The Cream and eggs were sold weekly.

"We had no running water but did have a good well between the house and the barn. We got electricity in 1945. What a blessing that was!

"In the fall of the 1950s the wild rice harvest was a big thing. Nancy, Ben's wife, and I went ricing on the Indian Reservation. One of us would pole the canoe while the other pulled the rice stalks and whacked the grains off with regulation sticks. It was hard work, but fun.

"Every November we had a group of deer hunters come up from Minneapolis. The house was full with lots of cooking to do. The hunters had deer stands and drivers and usually got their game.

"Ole was Good Hope Township assessor for several years. He was an active member of the Gethsemane Church and built the fire every Sunday in cold weather. The church was built in 1924 and burned in 1972. I never heard my dad swear, but when things went wrong, he said one word -- jissus.

In the mid-1940s, my mother and oldest sister, Bernice, left the farm and moved to Bemidji. Gena had to leave school and come home to help. Thomas was with the CCC at Camp 707 before he went into the Navy in 1941. Later, Ben was drafted into the Army.

"Gena and Olga were both married in 1950 and I graduated from high school. Because there was no bus service for us, we had to board in town to attend high school until bus service to Blackduck was begun in the rural areas for my last two years. Dad had sold the Third River 40 to Emerson Goltz around 1948 but continued to cut hay on it. He remained on the family place with the four boys.

"Ben married in 1952 and left the farm. Arnie joined the Army in 1954, Rueben in 1958 but Thomas stayed on. I went to Beloit, WI to work, came back home when I was laid off but then went to Minneapolis to work for several years before I married Veryl Nelson in 1957. Dad stayed on the farm until poor health forced him into a nursing home in Grand Rapids. Thomas inherited the farm and lived there with his wife, Geraldine, until he died in 1989."