Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Decorah Posten Obituary: Gustav Johnson

"Old Decorah Man Passed Away," Decorah Posten (9 Apr 1934). Image and translation courtesy of Verla Williams.

Old Decorah Man Passed Away

Gustav Johnson, well-known former printer, farmer and businessman died last Friday afternoon, 6th April at his home on East Broadway after just a week's illness. He got the cold, as has been so frequent this year, and when it developed into pneumonia, it became his death.

Johnson was born near Oslo, Norway, the 18th October 1855 and so now was in his 79th year. His parents, Andreas and Anna Johnson, immigrated to America in 1864 and settled in Madison, Wis. Three years later, when Gustav was 12 years old, he got employment in Rasmus B. Anderson’s printshop, where he remained for several years and became a fully-studied printer. He told often, how with his lack of schooling it was very difficult for him, and that he and many others from that time have Prof. Anderson to thank for the foundation they got for later private (self) study and further learning.

Prof. Anderson began namely with night school for younger rather than older men within his personal (private) field, which became the first stage so that Gustav not only became proficient in his field, but later in life a practical and very astute businessman.

He remained with Professor Anderson for several years, worked later as printer in La Crosse plus also a time with "Scandinaven" in Chicago, until he in 1879 came to Decorah as foreman in the Lutheran Publishing House's printshop, remaining there for about 1 year. During this time he became married to Miss Henrietta O. Sander, and they bought then the farm and dairy business out in Glenwood Township, where they remained for many years and raised a large family.

It was in 1922 that he retired as farmer and moved back to Decorah, where they bought a home on East Broadway, where they since have lived. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson had in their more than fifty years of happy marriage 9 children, namely George, Charles, Emma, Mabel, Lillie, Esther, Anna, William, and Arthur. Seven of these 9 are alive. They are: Charles, Decorah; Mrs. C. D. Hexom, Waukon, Route 5; Mrs. W. D. Williams, Decorah, Route 6; Mrs. Stanley Ask, Mabel, Minn., Route 1; Hrs. C. H. Rosenthal, Decorah; William and Arthur, both in Decorah. The deceased is also survived by a sister, Mrs. Bertha K. Sivisind, Seattle, Wash.

Johnson was a very active man right until his death, very useful outside of his own properties. He was therefore for more than 20 years Glenwood Township's Clerk, and in addition to have operated his own dairy business out there, he was among them there who pushed for establishment of Decorah Ice Cave Creamery here in Decorah, for which he for a great number of years served as president. He was also for many years president for Farmers Norwegian Mutual Insurance Co. But in spite of his many good qualities as pioneer, it was certainly in his daily life as neighbor and as the man one met at his cozy ballot box or out on the street with a hearty handshake and a friendly word that he won the most friends. One feels inevitably a sad void at the thought that Gustav Johnson is no more. In word and mind he remained a member of the bookprinters group throughout life, because these his professional brothers “stood nearest to him” outside of his own family.

The deceased was a member of Glenwood Congregation before he moved back to Decorah, and since he was active member of First Lutheran Church. He was elected as honorary member of the Luren Choral Society and also the Norwegian Society.

The funeral takes place today, Monday, from the home and from First Lutheran Church, with burial in the family grave plot in Glenwood Cemetery. Pastor T. A. Hoff officiated.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Obituary: Henrietta (Sander) JOHNSON

Last rites for Mrs. H. Johnson this afternoon

Funeral services will be conducted today, Thursday, for Mrs. Henrietta Johnson, 81, at the First Lutheran Church at two o'clock. The Rev. T.A. Hoff will officiate and burial will be in the Glenwood Cemetery. Mrs. Johnson died Monday morning following a stroke she suffered two weeks ago. Her pall bearers will be grandsons and grandnephews.

Born February 27, 1861, she was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brede B. Sander, early pioneers of Madison township. She became the bride of Gustav Johnson October 18, 1882, and they made their home in Glenwood township. In 1922 Mr. and Mrs. Johnson retired to Decorah.

Mr. Johnson preceded his wife in death in 1934. Five of their nine children survive: Mrs. Carl Hexom, Waukon; Mrs. C. H. Rosenthal, Mrs. Walter Williams, William and Arthur Johnson, all of Decorah. The four children who preceded their parents in death are: Mrs. Stanley Ask, Mabel, George and Charles. The following relatives are here to attend the funeral: the Brede Sander family of Howard, S.D.; Luverne Ask, Detroit, Mich; and Lyle Williams, USNR, Boulder, Colo.

SOURCE: "Last rites for Mrs. H. Johnson this afternoon," Decorah Journal (27 July 1944) p. 3, col. 1.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gravestone of Gustav and Henrietta (Sander) JOHNSON

Gravestone. Gustav (1855-1934) and Henrietta (Sander) (1861-1944) JOHNSON. Glenwood Lutheran Cemetery, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Vincent D. Williams.

Gravestone. Gustav (1855-1934) and Henrietta (Sander) (1861-1944) JOHNSON. Glenwood Lutheran Cemetery, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Bill Waters, Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

George B. and Amanda (Hexom) JOHNSON

Wedding portrait. George and Amanda (Hexom) JOHNSON (8 Sep 1910). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gauken Chorus

Gauken Chorus (Bef. 1911). Obverse. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Gauken Chorus. Obverse. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gravestone: George B. JOHNSON

Gravestone. George B. JOHNSON (1882-1911). Glenwood Lutheran Cemetery: Glenwood, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Verla Williams (29 May 2011).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Charles A. and Hilda (Berge) JOHNSON

Wedding portrait. Charles and Hilda (Berge) JOHNSON (Decorah, IA: Solberg, 4 Oct 1911). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Memorial: Hilda (Berge) JOHNSON

Memorial (Outer page). Hilda (Berge) JOHNSON (1882-1960). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Memorial (Inner page). Hilda (Berge) JOHNSON (1882-1960). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gravestone: Charles A. and Hilda (Berge) JOHNSON

Gravestone. Charles A. (1884-1941) and Hilda [Berge] (1882-1960) JOHNSON. Decorah Lutheran Cemetery: Decorah, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Verla Williams (4 Jun 2011).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Descendants of Charles A. JOHNSON (1884-1941)

Descendants chart. Charles A. JOHNSON (1884-1941), p. 1. Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Descendants chart. Charles A. JOHNSON (1884-1941), p. 2. Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Descendants chart. Charles A. JOHNSON (1884-1941), p. 3. Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Carl and Emma (JOHNSON) Hexom

Wedding portrait. Carl and Emma (JOHNSON) Hexom (9 Jun 1909). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gravestone: Carl D. and Emma G. (JOHNSON) Hexom

Gravestone. Carl D. (1875-1949) and Emma C. [JOHNSON] Hexom (1887-1963). Glenwood Lutheran Cemetery: Glenwood, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Verla Williams (4 Jun 2011).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Descendants of Emma C. (JOHNSON) Hexom (1887-1963)

Descendants Chart. Emma C. JOHNSON (1887-1963), p. 1. Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Descendants Chart. Emma C. JOHNSON (1887-1963), p. 2. Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Descendants Chart. Emma C. JOHNSON (1887-1963), p. 3. Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gravestone: George D. and Corrine M. (Langland) Hexom

Gravestone. George D. (1911-1976) and Corrine M. (Langland) (1912-1976) Hexom. East Glenwood Cemetery, Winneshiek, IA. Photo by Barb Hemesath, courtesy of Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.

Detail of Gravestone. George D. and Corrine M. Hexom. Image courtesy of Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.

Obituaries & Memorial: Arnold H. Hexom and Family

Obituary. Arnold H. Hexom. Image courtesy of Horton-Plainfield Historical Club.

Memorial (Inner page). Arnold H. Hexom. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Memorial (Outer page). Arnold H. Hexom. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Arnold H. Hexom, 76, of 1005 12th St. N.W. Waverly, Iowa, died Thursday morning, May 3, 1990, at the Kaseman Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after suffering a massive heart attack on April 25, 1990.

He was born on May 7, 1913, on a farm in Union Prairie Twp., Allamakee County, Iowa,
the son of Carl & Emma Johnson Hexom. He was baptized in the Lutheran Faith on June 1, 1913, and was confirmed in the Glenwood Lutheran Church near Decorah, Iowa. After
graduating from the 8th grade in a rural school near his home, he helped his family farm, and also became an auctioneer. At the age of 13 Arnold bought a black colt which really started him in the horse business, and he has been in it ever since.

On December 27, 1941, he was united in marriage to Lorine L. Ludeking. On January 10, 1942, Arnold entered the U.S. Army during W. W. II, serving in the Asiatic Pacific Theatre of War. He was discharged on November 14, 1945, and returned to Iowa, lived in Waukon for a short while. They moved to Waverly in 1946 and Arnold worked for the T. H. Bany Implement Co.

He later formed a partnership with Ted Bany, Wilbert Oberheu and Ed Engelbrecht and started the Waverly Sales Barn in 1947. He later bought out his partners and owned and
operated the sales barn until 1972 when he sold the business. He then started the Hexom-Sweeney Sales Co., which he was involved in until his death. Lorine died on May 9, 1980, and on December 11, 1980, Arnold was united in marriage to Myrtle Johnson
Westby. The couple have spent the last nine winters living in Scottsdale, Arizona, and
were on their way back to Iowa when Arnold suffered a heart attack near Albuquerque.

He was a member of the Glenwood Lutheran Church, Decorah, was a former member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Waverly, and a former member of St. Paul’s Church Council. Arnold founded the world renowned Waverly Draft Horse Sale in March, 1948, and it has continued successfully to the present time. He is a member and past director of the Percheron Horse Assn. of America, a member of the Belgian Horse Assn. of America, and a member and past president of the Iowa Auctioneering Assn. He is a member of the Clydesdale Horse Assn. of the United States, and was one of six in the United States presented with a lifetime membership. Arnold had been an active participant in the Iowa Fair Assn., and his portrait hangs in the Draft Horse Hall of Fame in the Iowa State Fair Horse Barn in Des Moines. He is a member of B.P.O.E., Son's of Norway, V.F.W., American Legion, and Amvets.

He is survived by his wife, Myrtle, and his three sisters, Esther Hill of Decorah, Mabel, Mrs. Merle Jensen of Bennet, Neb., and Helen, Mrs. Erwin Basler of Northbrook, Ill. He was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, two brothers, George and Carlton, and one sister, Florence Folstad.

Obituary. Lorine L. (Ludeking) Hexom. Image courtesy of Horton-Plainfield Historical Club.

See also the IA GenWeb site for the following obituaries:

Arnold H. Hexom. Image courtesy of IA GenWeb Obituaries and also Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.

Gravestone: Arnold H. and Lorine L. (Ludeking) Hexom

Gravestone. Lorine L. (1914-1980) and Arnold H. (1913-1990) Hexom. Image courtesy of Iowa Gravestone Photo Project.

My Life as a Rural School Teacher

[NOTE: The first paragraph of text below appears at the top of the document in handwritten script.]

In the spring of 1986, I was interviewed on the story of my life as a rural school teacher, and also attending a rural school, and why I became a teacher, etc. This interview is now recorded in the book of “archives” at Luther College. I decided to make copies of it for my close family at Christmas of 1986.

I am Esther Hexom Hill and live at 806 East Main Street in Decorah, Iowa.

I was born in Allamakee County a daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Carl Hexom. My mother’s maiden name was Emma Johnson. I came from a family of seven children, George, Arnold, Carlton, Florence, Mabel, and Helen. I grew up on a large dairy farm of over 300 acres. I had very loving and Christian parents and we were a very close-knit family.

I attended all eight grades in a rural school. It was called the "Bell" school located in Union Prairie Township, Allamakee County. All our neighboring rural schools had a number but our Bell School did not have a number. It was called the “Bell” school because it was the first school with a large bell in it’s tower in Allamakee County. Each school day the Bell was rung at 8:30, we called it the first Bell, and the last Bell was rung at 9:00 o’clock and that meant classes would commence. It was rung again at 1:00 o’clock after lunch and the play period. In its earlier years this Bell was also rung for neighborhood emergencies.

I liked, respected and loved all my teachers. Each relationship with my teachers was a good learning situation. Older pupils helped the younger children with their studies if their lessons were completed. I was so proud when I was asked very often to be teachers helper to assist younger pupils that needed help. Doing this aiding of pupils helped me decide that I wanted to become a teacher and work with children.

Much of my play time as a child on the farm was to play school. When my sisters or brothers got bored and refused to be pupils (because I always insisted on being the teacher), I’d line up dolls and use my mother’s clothespins as imaginary pupils. I loved playing school.

I have happy memories of my days at the Bell School. Some of the highlights during the term were Spell Downs, Arithmetic Drills and Contests, Geography games, and History Quizzes on Fridays after last recess. We also looked forward to school programs in the fall of the year, the Christmas programs in December, and the big annual picnic at the close of the term.

I attended Waukon High School and took normal training in preparation to teach at a rural school.

I taught my three first terms in a rural school in Glenwood Township, Winneshiek County. I have happy memories of teaching these three terms in this school. The first term I received forty-five dollars a month. The second year I received sixty dollars a month. The third term I received sixty-five dollars a month. We were paid for nine months each year. I did my own janitor work. I paid three dollars and fifty cents a week for room and board at a farm house close to school. This was Monday through Friday.

In the fall of 1936 I married Chester Hill and became a homemaker and mother of two children. I could not continue to teach because a married lady would not be given a contract. So I stayed home and raised my children until they entered the upper grades in school, then I decided to renew my teaching certificate and continue my career. There was a shortage of teachers now and they hired married ones.

I attended Luther College and also took correspondence courses from State Teachers College, and went back to teaching in 1952. Again I enjoyed working with children, so very much and am so grateful for the opportunity I had to work with and help them.

From 1952 through 1960 I taught eight terms in Frankville, No. 7 located in Winneshiek County. This was a one room rural school with an oil burner for heat. There was no basement. At the entrance we had a large room which served as a cloak room, and provided a place for wraps, boots, and rubbers. It provided a place for the water cooler, wash basins and towel racks. Water was carried by bucket from a nearby farm.

I was paid three hundred dollars a month for nine months or twenty seven hundred dollars for the last term I taught. I was very happy in this environment and surroundings. I felt I was well reimbursed for my work.

A typical school day opened with the raising of the flag, as the pupils gave the pledge of allegiance. Then "Good Morning" greetings to all and a short prayer asking for guidance in all our work and play, for this day and also through our learning experiences so that we will all become good citizens, in our homes, schools, state, and country.

The forenoon schedule consisted of Reading, Math, and Spelling. In the afternoon we worked with lighter subjects that consisted of English, Arts, and Social Studies. Friday afternoons were for catch up, or makeup work, and drills. After last recess on Friday we had Art, Music and cleanup.

Our school organized a very active Mother’s Club with the first meeting at the very beginning of the term. New textbooks, new methods and curriculum were introduced. At other meetings we had classes with pupil participation. Also on the agenda were discussions of programs, picnics, and at some meetings educational films were shown.

These meetings brought teacher, pupil, and parents very close together. They solved many problems and misunderstandings. Parent participation was 100%. Two mothers hosted a lunch. We met on Friday from 2:30 to 4:00 pm. We averaged six meetings a term. All parents, pupils, and I, as a teacher, looked forward to these meetings.

In a rural school we were like one big happy family helping each other and working together. Older pupils assisting younger ones if they had time. Thus much individual help was given where needed. My two children attended Decorah Public Schools and they received an excellent education. But, I feel that much togetherness of the neighborhood, and working together and helping each other is now lacking in the community with the closing of the rural schools.

Memorial and Obituary: Esther Clarice (Hexom) Hill

Memorial (Outer page). Esther Clarice (Hexom) Hill (1915-2005). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Memorial (Inner page). Esther Clarice (Hexom) Hill (1915-2005). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Esther Clarice Hexom Hill was born January 3, 1915 on the home farm in Allamakee County, Iowa, the daughter of Carl and Emma (Johnson) Hexom. She was baptized on January 31, 1915 and confirmed on April 21, 1929 at Glenwood Lutheran Church, rural Decorah. She graduated from Waukon High School with the Class of 1932. Esther taught at Shegrud School in Glenwood Township for three years.

She was united in marriage with Chester H. Hill on August 30, 1936 at Glenwood Lutheran Church. To this union two children were born: Clyde and Cheryl.

After raising her family, Esther attended Luther College and also took correspondence courses from Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls. She resumed teaching in 1952 and taught for eight terms at Frankville No. 7 School in Frankville Township. Esther then worked in the physical therapy department of the Winneshiek County Hospital in Decorah for fifteen years.

She was a member of First Lutheran Church, Decorah, where she taught Sunday school, was a member of the altar guild, church circle and the deaconesses. Esther loved flowers and thoroughly enjoyed caring for her plants, watering them and watching them bloom and grow. She liked to have her own garden and was a founding member of the Wayside Garden Club.

Esther died Sunday, July 3, 2005 at the Ossian Senior Hospice in Ossian, Iowa of complications of colon cancer at the age of 90 years.

Survivors include her son, Clyde (Joyce) Hill of Brooksville, FL.; her daughter, Cheryl Williams of Houston, TX.; three grandchildren, Tina (Larry) Brown of Houston, Gwen (Daryl) Wilmeth of Houston, Chris (Katie) Hill of Burnsville, MN.; seven great-grandchildren, one sister, Helen Basler of Decorah, IA., and many other relatives and close friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Chester on December 16, 1978; three brothers, George, Arnold and Carlton Hexom; and two sisters, Florence Falstad and Mabel Jensen.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lily Viola JOHNSON: Confirmation (21 Apr 1907)

Confirmation portrait. Lillie Viola JOHNSON (Decorah, IA: Solberg, 1907). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Confirmation Memorial. Lily Viola JOHNSON (Glenwood Lutheran Church, Winneshiek, IA: 21 Apr 1907). Original courtesy of Verla Williams. Scan and digital composite by Mark D. Williams.

Konfirmations = Minde

Lily Viola Johnson
Födt 13de Juni 1892
Konfirmeret 21de April 1907
Glenwood Ev. Luth. Kirke
S. A. Scarve, prest.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stanley and Esther (JOHNSON) Ask

Stanley and Esther (JOHNSON) Ask, (Henning, c. 1924). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gravestone: Esther F. JOHNSON

Gravestone. Esther F. (JOHNSON) Ask (1894-1938). Glenwood Lutheran Cemetery: Glenwood, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Verla Williams (4 Jun 2011).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Descendants of Esther F. (JOHNSON) Ask (1894-1938)

Descendants Chart. Esther F. (JOHNSON) Ask (1894-1938). Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Connie and Anna (JOHNSON) Rosenthal

Wedding Portraits. Anna (JOHNSON) and Connie Rosenthal (7 Oct 1919). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gravestone: Constance H. and Anna S. (JOHNSON) Rosenthal

Gravestone. Constance H. (1896- 1961) and Anna S. (JOHNSON) Rosenthal (1897-1975). Decorah Lutheran Cemetery: Decorah, Winneshiek, IA. Image courtesy of Verla Williams (4 Jun 2011).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Descendants of Anna S. (JOHNSON) Rosenthal (1897-1975)

Descendants Chart. Anna S. (JOHNSON) Rosenthal (1897-1975). Image courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

William N. and Mabel (McCauley) JOHNSON

William N. and Mabel (McCauley) JOHNSON (prob. c. 1931). Images courtesy of Verla Williams. Partial digital restoration by Mark D. Williams.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Life of a Country Boy

William N. Johnson, "The Life of a Country Boy," (Date unknown), p. 1. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

The Life of a Country Boy
By William N. Johnson

I was born April 28, 1900. My mother said it was on a beautiful Saturday morning and that I weighed 8 lbs. and that I was a beautiful blond baby boy, but I think she exaggerated.

The first that I can remember was that I was moved out of my mother & dad's bedroom when brother Arthur was born. I was rather upset as I remember, but mother said I now had a real nice baby brother, and that made every thing O.K. He was so small, weighed only 3 1/2 lbs so mother said I must always be his protector. This stuck in my mind for years. I can well remember when he was old enough for country school no one dared to pick on brother Art, or they would deal with me.

I also well remember my Grandfather Sander. He was my mother's father. He was the original owner of the Johnson farm in Glenwood twp. He purchased the farm in 1870, as I remember. He formerly owned farms in Madison twp. and Decorah twp., the latter being on Hiway 9 close to present airport.

I remember him telling that he carried a sack of wheat to McGregor to be ground into flour and carried it back home on his back. No mills any closer at that time.

We used to kid him because he bought the Glenwood farm, hilly and woods, compared to the farm near [the] airport. His answer was, Water. He started a mill on the Glenwood farm, with a millrace or water directed from Trout River that ran through his farm. Seeing Trout River today, I can hardly realize that the stream was large enough to be able to give sufficient for water power, but it was the millstone from this mill [that] is now at Frankville.

Grandpa Sander told about buying the land west of [the] Decorah Court House, now known as West Broadway including Phelps Park for $200.00, borrowing the needed funds from Weiser, banker, paying 20% interest. He sold it shortly after purchase for $400.00. He thought a great profit for the [18]50's.

We always thought Grandpa Sander was a great man. He was 6'3" tall, bright red hair, tough Norwegian. His wife died when they lived in Madison twp. She was buried in the East Madison Cemetery, now well maintained. Mother was 4 years old when her mother died, and I will always think she was his favorite. Brede Sander died in 1905 and [was] buried in the Glenwood Cemetery. God rest his soul - a good man and a great Grandpa.

My father [Gustav Johnson] was born in Norway, "Nes på Romerike" and came to America when he was 9 years old. They settled in Madison, Wisc.

Mother [Henrietta Sander] was born in Madison twp. near Decorah.

A little history about father: his father was a musician. His mother a housewife. He had one brother and one sister. His brother became what was known then as a goldsmith. His sister, Bertha, was married to a man by the name of Muggy. Her husband died as a young man. She moved to Decorah shortly thereafter, buying a home next to what is now the Elks Home. I remember her well, as we visited her often, a very gracious lady. She later moved to Seattle, Washington. Sister Lillie heard from her often. She remarried a man out there by the name of Sivesind.

My mother's family consisted of three brothers and four girls, mother, Jane Hanson, Ellen Bakke, and Anna Peterson. Her brothers names: Ben the youngest, Anton, a L[uther] C[ollege] grad and Brede Jr.

Now a little bit about my life.

I was born on April 28, 1900 in Glenwood twp., Winneshiek County, Iowa. I can remember so many good things about my growing [up] years: Brother Arthur three years younger, [and I] were such good pals, country grade school, Parochial School always two weeks in the spring and same before school started in the fall. Our grade school called the Baker School had quite a large attendance; always around 30 girls and boys. Think of the job for teachers 1st through 8th grade classes and me at times not too easy to get along with.

My closest pal probably was Henry Johnson, no relation. He lived with his grandparents Hans and Randi Brustad, close neighbors. They were very poor, and therefore his school lunches not too good. I shared my good school lunches with him real often. Henry after some years worked for the Hormel Co. in Austin, Minn. (Meat Co.)

After finishing my 8th grade at the great age of 14, I went to and attended Valders College in Decorah winters 14-15/15-16/16-17/17-18, the first two winters in their Normal Dept. and two years after in the Commercial Dept. learning Business, Banking, and Law.

In the spring of 1918 I was given my diploma - William Norman Milton Johnson -beautiful and large [with] President Valders' beautiful penmanship.

Two weeks after my graduation, Charles Weiser called our home in Glenwood, talked to father saying Valders had recommended me for a bank job and asked Dad to bring me to his bank, resulting in offering me a "position" (I question) in his bank. $25.00 per month. "Big stuff." I became a teller, after six months doing odd jobs.

I roomed and boarded with my brother, Charles, paying $18.00 per month, so I had $7.00 per month for myself. Not too "extravagant." I had a savings in [the] Bank of $100.00 and after six months employment I was "broke." I remember seeing Mr. Algyer the bank V.P. telling him I couldn't live on my salary of $25.00 per month, and I would seek work elsewhere. I remember telling him Section hands on Railroad paid $4.00 per day.

He answered don't you think your opportunities are greater for promotion staying at the bank? I replied saying I had heard of Section Hands becoming President of the Railroad. He laughed at that, saying he would speak with the big boss, Weiser, resulting in my getting a raise to $40.00 per month. This I thought was wonderful.

I [had] however many wonderful years working in the Weiser Banks. I was promoted to Auditor of his many banks, later to Credit Manager and Cashier. Mr. Weiser treated us well. The bank closed in 1932. Not on account of bad loans, but liquidity. Deposits shrunk but loans did not. Under forced liquidation the Weiser bank paid out about 90%. If properly handled should have paid 100%. Other Weiser banks did. Frankville bank paid 110%. So much for my banking experience except to say I lost my bank stock investment, plus 100% assessment on my stock. It took me four to five years to pay assessment.

In 1932 Ray Algyer and I started an insurance and real estate business - named The A & J Agency, Inc. We struggled the first few years but it became a very successful business. During the first years I was appraising for the Homeowners Loan Corp. Also appraiser for the Regional Agriculture Corp. making chattel loans to farmers on livestock, machinery, etc. My partner Ray was appointed Conservator [of the] First National Bank of Sumner.

All income went into one pot - the A & J Agency - splitting other expenses, our net at year end. Not too much but kept the wolf from the door. Ray was a great partner. I have never heard him say a bad word about anyone. I remember him saying to me at the end of one year, "Bill, we haven't made too much money, but we have had fun."

The A & J Agency was quite a success after a few years. Ray ran the office and yours truly solicited insurance - sale of real estate, etc. It seemed like a real tough job, having been in the banking business where people have to see you for help, instead of you coming to see them for business.

However after some time all worked for the good. Our business grew, and our efforts proved successful. Ray and I owned 50/50 the A & J stock. Later he wanted to retire and offered me his share of the business at a very fair price, and I became the sole owner. Later I hired Willard Linnevold for help and later Stan Hanson as our business grew. Later I sold a percentage to Willard and Stan.

Mabel [McCauley] and I were married on Sept 19, 1931. Father Hogan performed the marriage at the Catholic Parish Home on East Broadway. Melvin and Margaret Sattre were our witnesses. Breakfast at the Calmar Hotel. Our homeymoon was a trip by car out east, to Niagara Falls, Canada and return, about three weeks. My parents celebrated their Golden Wedding the day after we returned home.

Monday, November 1, 2010

From Church to Home

Barbara Hunt, "From Church to Home," (A Decorah Newspaper c. 1971). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

From Church to Home

In 1892, the Baptists found a home in Decorah when a church was built for their congregation. The first pastor was the Rev. Henry Grant, and he apparently left Decorah only to return for a second pastorate. His great granddaughter, Helen Grant Schmidt, lives in Decorah and is seeking information about the Rev. Grant and the church. She knows from a Des Moines Register feature which appeared in 1933 that the Seventh Day Adventists took over the building after the Baptists, whose membership" was dwindling, gave it up. Picture No. 2 shows the demolished steeple of the church which blew down in a wind storm and was never replaced.

The church building was abandoned for a time until Mr. A. Leytze bought it. He, with Hanson and Altfillisch architects and A. R. Coffeen, contractor, transformed the church building into an attractive home. It is located and is now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. William (Bill) Johnson. Mrs. Schmidt would appreciate any information, especially dates of when the storm struck the steeple and when the Baptist church ceased to exist at that location.