My 99-year-old grandmother has tough Swedish roots. She’s still got all her sensibilities and is in good health. I sure hope she can hang in there to make it to her 100th birthday!
Gramma’s parents came from Kansas, but their parents were from Sweden. Both families came over in around 1869 and headed to Olsburg, Kansas where there was a fairly large Swedish population.
Olsburg, Pottawatomie, Kansas
Olsburg’s standard – with the Swedish horse at the top
Olsburg was founded in 1880. The majority of the settlers were Swedes. I believe it was on the railway line, but later the train stopped going that way. Olsburg’s population is about 200 now. Charles Holm built this house out of sandstone and it still stands in its original site in Olsburg. Charles and his wife Lovissa emigrated from Sweden with two older children in 1868. My great grandfather was born later while they were living in Kansas.
My great grandparents were married 1896 in Westmoreland, Kansas
Frank and Matilda 1896
They had several children in Kansas all of whom died in childhood. After Frank’s parents died, he and two of his brothers moved to Nebraska. I guess Nebraska was good luck for them because the children they had there all survived and lived long healthy lives. My great uncle Eldon worked for Boeing in Seattle. My great aunt Helen lived in California. She and her husband owned a restaurant named Earl’s Restaurant. Tate, Nebraska was another railroad stopping town and the Holm’s had a general store and hotel there.
My Uncle Eldon can tell the story better than I. He wrote it before he passed away.
Tate Nebraska was a little town consisting of a general store, a hotel, one grain elevator and a corn crib. The town was serviced and connected to the rest of the world by a Rock Island Rail Road spur track from Virginia, Nebraska and terminated in Tate about eleven miles away. The spur also had a small depot at the end of the line, and Frank, among other things, was the ticket agent and worked the turntable to head the locomotive around for the return trip to Virginia. In addition to the store, hotel and depot there were two houses up on the hill from the single street through town. Frank was the proprietor of the store but had a man by the name of Neilson to manage it for him because he also operated the elevator and took care of the corn crib. Matilda managed the hotel with the help of Mr. Neilson’s daughter Mamie. Eldon was born in the hotel and Helen was born in the brown house on the hill, where the family moved before her birth.
Frank prospered in Tate, but in 1914, Rock island took the train off this spur because motor trucks were now handling deliveries to the door more efficiently than the train without door delivery. The elevator and the corn crib went out of business and the store lost business because the farmers shopped where they hauled their grain. Tate is no longer on the map.
When Frank closed out of Tate and moved to Virginia the partnership with brother Will led to going into the dairy business. Frank bought a farm just a quarter mile out from town. It was to be a model dairy complete with a milking machine and they would invest in some thoroughbred Holsteins and raise heifers of purebred stock. They secured two registered Holsteins, one from Scotland and one from France, at the outrageous price for that time of over two thousand dollars each. People came from all over the state to observe the milking machine and to see what a $2000 cow looked like. It really was a model dairy with sterilizing equipment to match. However, when the State, in about 1918, mandated that dairy cows must be tested for tubercular strain some of the cows tested positive and milk from this dairy farm could not be sold. Pasteurization was not on the horizon then and the dairy farm was out of business. Frank had to do away with the cows that tested positive, he sold some and kept two for their own milk. The partnership with Will dissolved and the Frank Holm family moved to Canada in 1920. By this time, another child had been born to Frank and Matilda in Virginia; Virginia Aileen Holm born in 1915.
My grandmother Aileen is named after Virginia in Nebraska where she was born, but really the only home she remembers is their home in Saskatchewan.
In about 1918 Frank put the dairy farm up for sale including the milking machine equipment, the farm implements and the 140 acres of land. It took a year and half to find a buyer for the acreage and in the meantime Frank heard about cheap land in Canada. The Canadian government was encouraging settlement in the prairies of Saskatchewan with cheap land, but wanted $15 per acre for roads and schools. Frank took a tour of the land with the White Land Company in Lincoln, Nebraska and apparently made a commitment on a section of land (640 acres). He came home to Virginia enthused about a new life in Canada. Late 1919, the 140 acres was sold and preparations were made to move.
Aileen (Holm) Sharples recalls they traveled by train in an immigrant’s car. There was a cook stove and the car was shared by several families.
The two families arrived at a little prairie town called Milden, Saskatchewan.
Old farmhouse in Dinsmore Saskatchewan 1921
the Holm family in front of the farmhouse
And so during a community dance my grandparents met. My grandfather from Wiseton and my grandmother from Dinsmore. They were married in 1932 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When work got scarce in Saskatchewan they made a move to Edmonton. That finished their Saskatchewan chapter and it was the beginning of their moves west. That will be another post.