RED RIVER VALLEY KERNELS

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This is my grandfather Lorentz Elden's homestead house built in 1879 - picture taken in 1916, just before house was taken down.
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''In action''. This is my father Adolf Elden's 31 in. Gaar Scott separator bought in 1913, picture taken 1917.
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This is a picture of the barn on my home place. The right hand section was built by my father in 1905 as mentioned in my article. Picture was taken in 1916.I am in the hayrack.

Oslo, Minnesota 56744

Hello, folks, long time no see.

Back in the year of 1895 one of our neighbors was building an
addition to the house, and he had another neighbor to help. The
helper would walk back and forth across the fields morning and
evening. One morning, after walking across the field, he said,
‘Now the devil has taken everything.’ During the night
there had been a heavy frost so the grain had all frozen down. This
was during the first part of June. After that, though the weather
got just perfect-nice and warm, and light showers just about every
day–so the grain grew real good, and they harvested the biggest
crop of wheat they ever had. That record stood until just recently
when they started using new varieties of wheat and commercial
fertilizer. The crop was so big, however, and threshing machines
were so few that they got behind in the threshing and didn’t
finish that fall. There was one farmer who was already farming
pretty big, and he had ten settings of grain with about six stacks
in most settings. He could have had his crop threshed, but he
couldn’t agree on a price with the thresher. The thresher
wanted one cent per bushel more than the farmer was willing to pay,
and neither would budge, so he didn’t get any threshing done
that fall. Normally the stacks would keep pretty well until the
next spring, but the spring of 1896 was very wet and the grain
spoiled about two feet up into the stacks, so the farmers who
didn’t get the threshing done in the fall took a big loss.

My father, together with several of the neighbors, bought a
threshing rig in the early part of 1896. They thought it would be a
good deal since there would be two crops to thresh that year. As I
have said, though, the spring of 1896 turned out to be very wet,
and they didn’t get near all of the land seeded, so the crop
didn’t amount to much, and the stacks left over from the year
before spoiled. They didn’t get much to thresh after all that
year, and because of this, many of those who had gone together to
buy the rig couldn’t pay their share. They had signed a joint
note, and therefore those few who could pay had to pay so much
more. I don’t know whether the company finally repossessed the
rig, or what took place, but at least my father didn’t talk
very much about it. He did say, though, that he didn’t like to
sign a joint note anymore; in payment for anything; he bought.

In 1905 the Soo Line railroad came through this territory one
mile south of my home-place. I came from Thief River Falls, east of
us, and ran mostly straight west to Kenmare, North Dakota, a
distance of about three hundred miles. This line is sometimes
called the branch line, and they also called it the wheat line
because of the amount of wheat they shipped on it. Some of the
farmers who had the land the railroad was to cross didn’t want
the railroad on their land. One of them, several miles east of us,
thought he would try to stop them. They had already built up the
grade past his place, and it was fairly high, too-four or 4 feet.
He got a bunch of teams and slipscrapers together and made a long
cut in the grade. When they came with the train or
‘tracklayer’ as they called it, he stood on the side to see
what would happen. A big Irishman came and took him aside, and they
filled the cut with ties instead of dirt, and just went right along
laying track. Later they came back and replaced the ties with earth
fill. One of our neighbors living closer to us had intended to try
to stop them, too, but he was waiting to see what they did to the
man farther east. When he saw how easy it was for them to keep on
with the operation, he gave up the idea. I remember my father took
us kids over to see the tracklayer. We rode in the lumber wagon.
The train was a fairly long one, consisting of many flatcars loaded
with ties and several with track. They had a sort of a conveyor
going along one side of the train and up past the engine which took
the ties up front to be laid down by several men working there. On
the other side of the train was a similar conveyor for the rails.
They would lay enough ties for one rail length and then lay the
rails and just tack them in place in front of the engine. Then the
train would move up for the next section. Behind the train was a
crew of Italians constantly chattering in their native tongue as
they spiked the rails to the ties with their brand-new glittering
sledges.

Also in the summer of 1905 my father built an addition to the
barn at home-the cowbarn. In 1905 our hometown, Alvarado, and the
town six miles west, Oslo, were built up. Many other towns sprang
up along the railroad about the same time. The railroad went
through many older towns along the way, too. Warren, for example,
had’ been there since 1878. It was on the main line of the
Great Northern railroad between St. Paul and Winnipeg, which came
through in 1878.

In that year, 1905, Lars and John Bergman threshed for us. They
had a used 14 horsepower Advance engine and separator.

In the year 1906, our closest neighbor built a barn. At home, my
father installed a track and hay carrier in the cowbarn, and this
was something new in those days. We used slings for pulling the hay
into the barn rather than the forks which some used. That year
Andrew Nordlund and Ed Norbohm threshed for us with another Advance
rig. One day they were threshing in the barnyard and the wind
switched, so they had to reset the rig. The engine was setting
pretty close to the strawpile after resetting. My grandmother lived
in another house on the place, and during the night she saw a fire
out by the stack. She woke my parents, and they in turn work the
threshing crew who was sleeping upstairs.

They got excited and hurried to get out there and put the fire
out before the machine burned. There were no electric lights in
those days, of course, and they didn’t take time to light any
lamps. So Ed Norbohm fell down the stairs. Luckily he didn’t
get hurt, though. Then when they got out there, they saw there was
no machine anywhere near the fire, and only then did they remember
they had reset the day before. They got the fire out, though, and
saved the strawpile. I guess the fire had started from hot
ashes.

Then there’s the Irishman who says the Rolls-Royce is a good
car because ‘if you rolls ’em they roise again’.

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