The Green Valley Cemetery

Rose and I went to Canada in 1979 to visit the remaining relatives living at Rocky Mountain House Alberta. There were only 2 cousins still living there at that time. Many had passed away years before or scattered all over Canada. In later years some moved to the United States to attend college or find employment.

At one time the wilderness area of Alberta was filled with cousins from our family tree. Many different families came from Norway in the late 1800. Most of them went to Michigan first and worked in the copper mines. Some stayed there others moved to Minnesota working in the iron mines. They saved money, most had the same goal, to reach Dakota Territory and become farmers. There was rich land for homesteaders to claim. Almost everyone encountered hunger, dry years, prairie fires and unimaginable hardships on the bitter cold, windswept plains of the Dakotas. Circumstances continued driving them northward until they reached the last frontier in Alberta Canada.

I decided to share this story about the Green Valley Cemetery. One of the cousins donated land from his farm to start a family Cemetery. Eston Olson was the first person to be buried there in 1911. The following pictures show the people attending Eston’s funeral. There were no roads at that time only trails, travel was difficult to impossible most of the time.

There was no church or building to meet in. These families brought their food with them and had a Cemetery picnic, burial on the day of a funeral, weather permitting.

The other picture shows my great grandfather Ole Olson’s funeral in 1925. You can see the reins from the horses on the ground, used to lower the casket into the grave. I noticed a hole had been gnawed in one corner of the wooden casket. That gives me the feeling my grandpa was not buried alone! The cemetery became vandalized in later years, before the land was protected by the government. There were about thirty people buried there, the remains are still at that location. Monuments were placed in the city Cemetery.  

Eston Olson
Son of Ole Estensen Hoel and Ingebor Olsdatter. 
Husband of Maria Kaisa Johansdatter Olson Hoel.
Father of : Edvard, Ingaborg, Ole, Ida, Annie, Hedwig, Hattie, and Felix.

Hunger on Earth

“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” “Native American proverb”

Hunger on Earth

Man has always felt he has the power to outwit nature, He often does things his way, instead of the way nature would dictate. In the early pioneer days on the US plains, times were very hard. The biggest fear was how to survive the long, dreary, cold and hungry first winter. There was very little food, most of the flour was full weevils. The busy, bronze, bold, bugs in some flour bags got so active it became hard to determine what there was more of, flour, or weevils.

Man, with his infinite wisdom devised a flour sifter to separate the bugs from the flour. The weevils got quickly thrown out into the howling wind, of a frigid, winter day. The bugs were happily received with great delight by the snowbirds. They thrived on them, thanking nature with happy songs.

The poor pioneers might have chosen to leave the weevils in the flour, pretended to be eating cracked wheat bread and the extra protein may have helped some survive that first nasty winter.

The Internet is filled with sites on how to survive by eating insects, hope we don’t destroy this planet to the point there will be no insects left to eat.

Syringomyelia Hand Damage

Syringomyelia has resided in my spinal cord for about 50 years. The doctors say it was from an original spinal cord injury 55 years ago. Neurologist have found little evidence to show the disease is hereditary.

I have just found evidence from an old picture showing my great-grandfather had syringomyelia damage to his right hand. It looks exactly like it.

He was born in 1842 and died in 1925 The picture of his right hand look exactly like someone who has had siringomielia long-term. My hands are starting to take on those changes.

I have almost made it to my 79th birthday. I do feel a little better now knowing that great-grandfather lived to be 83.

Siringomielia was considered very rare, until the invention of the MRI machine. It is much easier to diagnose now. My symptoms got progressively worse for almost 20 years before I was diagnosed. It made the left side of my body numb, even the left side of my tongue. The first drain shunt was placed in my spine in 1985 to relieve pressure and drain excess spinal fluid. That helped stop some pain and slow the nerve damage. Another drain shunt was put in 3 years ago, the pressure is still being controlled. My great-grandfather had none of these preventative treatments available. The pain he endured must have been unbearable at times. How he could have lived that many years is a true miracle! He was mostly Norwegian but must have also inherited Sisu from the Finlander side of the tree.

“Google Syringomyelia damage images”
“Google images”
“Ole Olson Hoel’s right hand”
Ole Olson and his caregivers at Rocky Mountain House Alberta, Circa 1924″

I have looked at this old picture many times but never zoomed in on his hands. I wanted to see if he was holding a bible, or a KENO ticket. I’m glad I did, because it looks like my syringomyelia was inherited from him. That is not something to be happy about inheriting. I think he gave me a large portion of his Grit and Sisu, that has helped me cope with the dreaded disease.

The top two pictures are from Google Images, showing the hands of syringomyelia victims. There were several pages of hands in different stages of damage or deterioration.

The golfer Bobby Jones also had syringomyelia and I believe he lived to be almost 80, so it’s not always a death sentence. A definition is not easy to describe as it affects each person differently. It is a genuine neurogenic nightmare for both the doctor and patient. A victim might imagine some evil power placed a curse on them.

You can find out more information about syringomyelia at this website.

Life’s Check Out Lanes

Life on this earth could be compared to a Super Center, or Big Box Store. There is something for everyone, but not all good things. Wants are always in conflict with needs. The stores, like life, gives us a choice on everything. What we choose can have good or bad effects on our lives, especially how long we live on this planet earth. It is best to remain vigilant every day about the choices we make. We may not want to but must admit those daily decisions can affect our lives until we leave this life.

Human nature makes it easy not to dwell on life after death. If we spend eternity in some other place, so be it. It is easier to have a human, Ho hum, attitude about it, instead of making a final choice, now, today or even soon. If you believe in reincarnation, you have the option of considering what you might come back as. I sometimes feel my mother in law came back as our house cat. She was determined to keep an eye on me, and how I took care of her baby girl.

My eternity choice has seemed easy. A fiery furnace or Heaven with streets of gold, love, and Angels singing and praising God. Visiting family members who had gone on before. That is an inviting picture for eternity. I know that would be my choice, instead of hauling heavy buckets of boiling grease. to lubricate the hubs of hell, near a roaring fiery furnace, for an eternity yet!

Life on this earth, is limited, it does not go on willy-nilly forever. We can have some choice in determining how long that life will last though. We should also take the time to consider where would we like to spend eternity. It is well known there are many stories about the fires of hell that make it a place not to spend eternity. I believe there are other things in hell to aggravate and torment the soul of those who are unfortunate enough to go there.

On a much brighter note, most of us are taught about spending eternity with a loving God who forgives our many weaknesses and trespasses, as he knows we are mere human beings, we cannot help ourselves on our own, we need him to give us little nudges and reminders from time to time. Be prudent and safe, invite him into your heart and have him travel with you on life’s path. If God is riding shotgun for you, by your side all the time, He will surely watch out for your every step, so you avoid the traps and snares that the devil sets up throughout this world of sin.

The point I’m trying to make is, in Life’s big box store, take care which checkout lane you choose, if you’re in a hurry with your life and taking a lot of chances you might take the express lane, consider the consequences. Life in the express Lane could be dangerous indeed, you may be called away from this world at a young age.

If you feel truly independent, you may opt to use the self-checkout Lane. That is, if you have everything thought through in your own mind, your satisfied with what you have, you don’t have any questions in the back of your mind about eternity. The self-checkout Lane could be very practical and useful for decades.

Most of the other checkout lanes always have seemingly endless, long lines, of agitated people. The majority have decided to leave it all up to the cashier.  Life is far too busy for them thinking about the here and now, they have no time to worry about eternity.

My body is worn out, completely exhausted, kaput! It keeps telling the spirit, “FOR CRYING OUT LOUD,” go to the checkout Lane! I have concluded, we don’t go to the checkout lane until the creator decides the time.  Does He have me waiting around for a Blue Light Special or what?  

When I get to Heaven, to the Spirit World, one of the first things I want to do is make a trip to Norway.  I believe it must be a lot like Heaven anyhow. I want to make the trip with my dad, my grandfather, and my great grandfather and have them show me all the places they traveled to in their youth.

I pray my father will be in heaven to make the trip with us. He swore up and down that he did not believe in heaven or hell. He swore all the time, even in front of a faithful preacher who would go out to visit him at his farm. I believe Dad used more foul language in front of the preacher, mostly to antagonize him. The preacher even asked him, “please don’t use that language in front of me.” that didn’t bother Dad or slow him down!  I often thought afterwards, that preacher never got a chance to do missionary work with the jungle tribes deep in New Guinea. He chose a mission field nearly as wild, my father’s farm. I do believe Dad will be making the trip to Norway with us. Even with the loud vulgar noise he made, with extremely, colorful expletives the end of his messages usually showed he had faith in a higher power.

Heaven promises us a new body, that is one thing I would welcome very much. I sure hope there is a golf course, because with a new body I will play golf with my two brothers Corky and Harlan and my brother in law David. That will be golf at its best. If playing golf in the spirit world really works out to the best of my imagination, we will come back and play at the Augusta National Golf course in Georgia, while the azaleas and Dogwood are all blooming.

There is another trip I would like to take near the Arctic Circle with my grandmother. We will visit her family as they herd reindeer in frozen, far northern Finland. She was proud to be one of the Sami People.

I have a feeling traveling in the spirit world is going to be great and limitless, travel without boundaries and fears, at the speed of light will be overwhelmingly.

Our Old House

We moved back to South Dakota from Arizona in 1975 and were living at Baltic. I came hunting at my dad’s farm near Lake Poinsett quite often. That is how I discovered this house. One weekend  I had Rose and the three girls go with me to look at, what I considered to be a great fixer-upper house for us. We were planning to move near the Lake anyhow. They took one look at the place and unanimously decided I was in desperate need of a mental evaluation. This old house had not been lived in  for nearly 25 years. It never did have running water in it, electricity was installed in 1947, the heavy outside wires had been stolen for the copper value. The place had become party headquarters for all pubescent youngsters from a wide area.

It was evident from extensive damage it was also a training ground for adolescents getting ready for a reign of destructive mischief and vandalism. I believe there was only one window left in the place that had not been broken. With the windows being gone all those years the rain came in causing most of the plaster to be lying on the floor.  I was starting to have doubts if it truly was a fixer upper.

We bought the place and started driving there every weekend to work on it. The original House was built on a rock foundation that was falling apart because of homemade mortar, it had a crawl space underneath it, just like any old granary or out building, it was an ideal place for skunks to live, also raccoons, some raccoons were also in the upstairs rooms. There were a few barn owls in the Attic. One of the first orders of business was to give eviction notices to all of Nature’s Nocturnal Critters. There were many night creatures looking for a new place to sleep their days away. Like people, several needed more than one eviction notice.

The outhouse had fallen apart, no doubt after being tipped over many times. I found a usable outhouse at the local small town dump and brought it home on my boat trailer, that must have been a sight to behold. The girls we’re having a fit about having to go out behind the old fallen down barn. I thought I’d be a good daddy and get them a porta potty. After the running water was set up and plumbing installed an inside bathroom was the first order of business. There is nothing like pooping in the house on a cold winter night, or day either for that matter.

We cleaned the cistern out and started having water hauled from a nearby town when a pressure pump was set up. It was the first time the house had running water in it, felt like we were living on top of the world. An old pitcher pump had been used to pump water from the cistern. There was a small Root Cellar under the original house, it was about 8 by 8 with rock walls, it was part way beneath the new edition that was built in 1898. It had an outside entrance, and was a good root cellar to store things in, that’s where I put the water pump.

It was a very slow process, a tue labor of love. In time the walls were finished with new sheetrock, floors covered with rugs, windows all installed, mostly used windows from various sales. In later years two solar panels were built. Rural Water came through which was a luxury. There was a well on the place, 218 feet deep, we pulled the well pipe one time and put a new cylinder on it, but it plugged up before very long. Rural water was a blessing for us. We fixed the old house up and called it home for over 40 years. It is still being lived in today. I’m proud of helping rescue an old house from demolition. There are many memories from that place, like the first time after we had electricity hooked up again, we sat outside and watched the yard light come on at sundown, that was cause for celebration.

Lillie Peterson and Carl Knutson with one of his daughters came to visit us in about 1985. We all had a good visit and they loved visiting their old home.


Brookings, winner of the Public Opinion’s 190th “Picture Of The Week” series. Pictured are 117 (we hope we counted correctly) beautiful people taken in 1904, back when suits, ties, hats and long dresses were the rule instead of the exception —

This was the farm home of Peter and Maria Knutson located in Brookings County, nine miles north of Arlington on Highway 81. The family with nine children moved into the home in 1898 and built on the part to the right. The house is still in use today. This picture was taken on Oct. 2, 1904 on the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversary of Peter and Maria and their son Carl’s marriage to Garda Rheinholtson. Bride’s attendants were Louise Knutson and Carrie Rheinholtson. Groomsmen were Palmer Christiansen and George Rheinholston. The Knutson’s entire family of 13 children are on the picture: Carrie, Carl, Louise, Clara, Mayme, Ole, Lewis, Lillie (the only one living), May, Annie, Peter, Jr., Fred and Eddie. The house is still standing east of Highway 81, east of the Badger road, south of Lillie Peterson Colonial Village No. 15 Brookings, SD 57006

Troll Watch

Troll Watch

How many of you remember the fairy tale ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff? I recall that story well, as a youngster I heard it many times. We were small children growing up on a farm near Lake Poinsett South Dakota USA. That is a long distance from Norway. My grandfather came from Norway in 1890 with his father and mother and 3 siblings, they lived in Michigan and Minnesota before coming to Dakota Territory. In 1911 he arrived here by oxen and wagon with a new bride and a baby daughter. He also had a trunk full of necessary items for survival and farming equipment. Andrew carried the many troll tails in his head, and he loved to tell them.

We were fortunate to live on a small farm near them. A neighbor had goats grazing in his yard, each trip to town took us past that goat farm. There was one big, long horned, gruff looking Billy Goat and a real colorful group of nanny goats. There were always kids running around vying with each other for the high leaping record, or leaping over each other, jumping into the air for the sheer joy of jumping. Somebody said, “they stopped to visit the owner one time, and they looked out to see their car covered with goats. Goats must be very sure-footed to climb shear, moss covered, mountain rocks, that must be why they did not slide off the car.   

The goats were always out in the yard. Every time we went to town three young boys jumped around in the back seat like little goats. Always fighting for the best view and shouting three cheers for Billy and his herd as we went past in a cloud of dust. The willy goats outwitted the nasty old troll living under the bridge, I recall it vividly. We thought they were the smartest and luckiest three goats in the world. I’m enclosing a link to the Three Billy Goats Gruff story to refresh memories.

Many troll stories took place out in the Woods. I never got to spend much time in the Woods being a Prairie grass dweller, but I love to hunt deer. I would find wooded areas to hunt in. My imagination often ran on the weird to wild side at times in the woods. Conjuring up dead trolls from almost every fallen tree, or stump. I recall one morning; it was just getting daylight. A falcon landed on a tree branch directly in front of my face, it was about 2 feet away. I naturally concluded, he thinks I’m a troll and came to peck my eyes out, by then, in an instant he flew away, without my eyes.

Another time after hitting a deer with my arrow, it ran, full speed ahead until it was out of my sight. I could not find where it fell, following a blood trail on dry leaves is nearly impossible. The blood would disappear then show a few drops showed to start me trailing over again. It was getting dark, spooky thoughts popped into my head. Everything started looking like trolls. Where they all dead? There must be some latter-day trolls out there.

A stump seemed to beckon to me. I cautiously approached it, not remember seeing it before, that seemed unusual. My deer was there, dead behind it.  Was the troll hiding it? I drug my deer out of the trees while looking over my shoulder. It was dark by that time. Loud, or worse yet, soft nocturnal noises in dense woods make an imagination slip right into overdrive, cause your feet to travel faster, with frequent stumbling. I convinced myself there was one good troll, he was watching my deer for me, instead of hiding it.

Modern Day Television

DirecTV has now lost CBS, which leaves them with very little for viewers to watch. I was channel surfing tonight and went through 2 or 3 hundred channels selling junk. I ended up watching Perry Mason. After watching it for awhile I realized TV has made a lot of changes since Perry Mason was on prime time television.

In the episode I was watching Perry Mason was looking in a suspects car. The suspect walked up and asked Perry Mason, “what in the devil are you doing?” I got to thinking 20 years later the fellow would have walked up and said, “what in the hell are you looking for?” After another 20 years, the suspect would have said,” what in the F are you doing in my car?” Today, the suspect would have shouted “YOU M/F er,  what are you doing looking in my G/D car?

I believe TV has taken a few turns down the wrong road.