Conversations - March 1983

These are the transcripts of taped conversations between Doris Kirkpatrick, Hortense (Johnson), and Hortense's husband, Ralf Swanson. Hortense was Emma's half cousin. Their mutual grandmother, Maria Lisa (Elisabet) Magnusdotter, married Emma's grandfather, Peter (Pehr) Jonasson, in Notteback Parish, Sweden. They had three kids there. Peter died at the age of 40. Sixteen months later, she married Israel Magnusson, Hortense's grandfather. They had four children in Sweden and emigrated to the United States in 1870.

Peter (Pehr) Jonasson  Maria Lisa (Elisabet) Magnusdotter  Israel Magnusson
Aron (Johannesson) Oberg  Anna Lisa (Elisabeth) Petersdotter Amanda Magnusdotter  Claus Alfred Johnson
Emma Mathilda Oberg Hortense Miriam Valeria Johnson

Emma and Fritz

Doris Kirkpatrick - I'm in St. Paul talking to Hortense and Ralf (Swanson) and she just started telling me about my dad. Here it is ---

Hortense - Emma and Fritz came to Hastings and Welch, Minnesota, on their wedding trip. He had just rebuilt an automobile. I don't remember the make of it but it was a big car. I still remember how beautiful he had made the upholstery and everything. We had many rides while they were there - enjoying the visit very much.

I don't remember being with Emma much after she was married. Only once I had a chance to go to Fargo on vacation. I went by train and paid my own fare. Emma and Fritz had two little tykes -- Donald and Raymond. I had a very beautiful dress that had a bunch of grapes on it - a dress-up dress. Raymond got hold of that dress and he ate a grape off it - and I nearly died, I thought that the child would. And you know, it was shortly after that visit that Raymond met his death. The first thing that I thought of was "Oh, you don't suppose that he died from that grape?" At that time I didn't know that he had met with an accident.

At your home in Hawley - We were on vacation and had been up at Milnor - at that time we did meet all you children. But of course, it was so many years ago that I don't remember much about that.

Hand Painted China

Your mother used to do such beautiful hand-painted china work. I remember that your dad had these dishes on the table. I felt that these dishes should have been so prized that they should have been put aside and not used. And here I was - criticizing - but I just didn't dare say a word so I just shut up. I imagine that a lot of those were broken.

DK - I still have some of them. Not many though.

H - She had, I guess, a whole set of them.

DK - I have part of a tea set - that is I have a plate, saucer and cup - service for four, and then a cake plate that doesn't quite match. My Auntie Alice (Backman) has given me another plate. I gave some - a couple of pieces to Fred and Margret and Donald and Janet have a few pieces too - but not very many.

H - I had a pickle dish and I don't know - something happened to it - but I know that I had it glued together just to keep it. Right now it is with all my things that are packed away. I don't know really where it is - but I still have it. It is a good memory since she made it. Her name is printed on the back. She used to do that work - all very beautiful.

DK - Oh yes - do you know where she learned to do that?

H - Well, she must have learned it in Fargo. Perhaps before she was married.

DK - Yes, some of them had Oberg written on the back.


H - Oh yes - Emma Oberg - so it had to be - she and her mother lived in Fargo.

DK - I didn't know that.

H - Yes she lived with her mother all her life. Auntie had her home there. Of course there wasn't any other place for her . Orville's family -and Leonard's family had all that they could take care of.

DK - You said that she didn't really like Milnor anyway.

H - Well, she always said to me that she wanted to be in Welch. As I told you, she stood by the graves of her mother and father and then there was room for another grave so my dad said "You know if you want to be buried here, you can" and she said "No - I've got to go where Oberg is". His first name was Aaron, but she never called him anything but Oberg. When she spoke of her husband, it was always Oberg. "I've got to go where Oberg is" - she went back to Milnor, of course.

Then of course, Leonard was the one she lived with before she died. So she was right up in Milnor. But I know that she liked it down in Welch best. Every time she would come down to the home place she would say "Now I'm home again". After all those years - "Now I'm home again".

There were so many summers she would pack up her trunk and sometimes bring the two girls - Emma and Mabel. Then of course later on she would spend the summer down there with my mother.

Magnuson Homestead

DK - That was where the Magnusons homesteaded?

H - Yes, and that farm was bought in 1876 and it is still in the family. Our son Jim is on it now. His address is Welch - Route 1.

Orville - Did you get the Magnusons and the Petersons straightened out?

DK - Yes, this morning.

H - Peterson was the first husband, and Auntie belonged to Peterson. But you see, she never recognized Peterson as her father. You know, she was a little child when Grandma married Magnuson.

DK - and he treated grandma so well.

H - and he took her under his wing because he always felt sorry for her. He was always so good to her and she always called him her father. She was very close to my mother. Aunt Christine was kind of a little bit different than the others. I guess I'm the same way because I lived with her twelve years while I went to school in Hastings. Twelve years spent with someone, you get to be kind of like them.

DK - You probably would pick up some of their mannerisms.

H - Anyway, I know that Auntie just enjoyed to come to Welch. That was her long suit. And Emma was there, she came down one summer, alone.

DK - That was before she married my dad ---

H - Yes, and it must have been a couple of years before - and oh, she was having a good time at a party I had there with younger girls, you know. And say, do you know that her leg got so bad - she had hurt her knee before - I don't remember how it started. But anyway she landed at the doctor's and was taken to the hospital in St. Paul. She was in the hospital for quite a while and they did quite a bit to her knee. Then she came back - my uncle went up and got her. She says " I can leave, but I've no place to go" . He said "O.K., get your clothes on and you come back with me" - to Hastings. So he had a cab - they had hacks in those days to take you around in - and he took one of those and got her home. Then my mother came up and she took Emma to her place. So it was my mother, never my aunt - who took care of everybody - that was in her. I don't believe she was down again. Her leg was quite stiff - she walked stiff legged. So she had quite a siege with that leg. Then, of course, every Christmas they would send us gifts, always something real nice. Then my mother would make up a box of food and send it to them. In that box of food was cheese, my mother made cheese. (They enjoyed cheese.) They just waited for that box to come. Your dad told her that was the best thing that he ever ate. She also sent meats and made a roll of butter. It was good that they had good (fast) shipping in those days. The butter was all rolled up in cloth so that it would not leak. It would arrive nice and hard - just as good as when it was shipped. I wouldn't be able to make the cheese - I know what they did, but I wouldn't be able to start it.


It was a very close connection between us (and your mother and father) Mabel would come down sometimes, but she wasn't quite like Emma was. Emma had a different personality from Mabel.

DK - I was told that my mother was a seamstress - at Moody's or some store in Fargo.

H - I don't know what she did, I suppose it was (so).

DK - I still have her old Singer treadle sewing machine. The latest patent number on it is l915. She had it before she married my dad.

H - What year were they married?

DK - I think 1920, I can look it up.

H - I'm sure, because it was before I graduated, and I graduated in 1921. I remember when they came down here on their wedding trip.

DK - I have some pictures, or have seen pictures of them on their wedding trip.

H- Well, I suppose that I am in some of those. Well, somebody had a black taffeta dress with a white collar - it's me. If I find any of those pictures I will mail them to you. ------------- You see, you went entirely to the father's side of the family and nobody knew anything about you. I don't really think your father wanted anyone to know about you. At least, that was the feeling we got. That he would rather not have anything to do with Emma's people.

DK - I think that it was because he was so hurt (by the loss). He never talked about my mother unless I asked him. It was very difficult for him to speak of it.

H - Grandma was the sweetest thing in the world, but she could be so nerve wracking, and I can understand your father, that he did not want her to come in and take care of you children. Not to downgrade either, but she was with us so much, I know little things that happened. Once, Hazel was making rennet and every time she got a cup of water, your grandma took it and dumped it in the dishwater. Hazel was ready to scream - and mother just said " just be quiet, take another one and shut up" you see, that's how mother and auntie got along. Mother never crossed her. I can truthfully say, she would make you nervous. I can understand, for her to be there, and she was getting along in years, Auntie was in her 70's and could not take care of little kids.

Emma died in May - and we were married in August.

Auntie was good, but she was so finicky. Things had to be washed so many times. We always let her have her own way. I'm sure that Emma had a lot of hardships when you kids were little, because grandma had her own way of raising kids.

I never interfered with raising my grandchildren. It's the mother's duty to do it. (and the father).

As for your mother I remember her as a little girl, when she used to come down - we had a lot of fun. She would play with me. We enjoyed her very much. After high school though, I only saw her when I spent one week up there, and that week Mabel spoiled for us. Mabel had had an operation, and she also brought her kid in (Lyle) and he had been circumcised that week. Here Emma had to run to the hospital to see them.

Emma's two and Mable's three - and I was on vacation - and babysitting.

Donald was a fright - he could get into more things - the baby was only 17 months old (Raymond) and he was just the age to get into things. So I had them on the (enclosed) front porch so that they could not run off. Donald got a chair and unhooked the door and they ran off - all in different directions (Eunice, too). When Emma came home, I was so tired. She says "How'd you get along?" and I said, I didn't. Five of them was a little too much for me. Donald was the limit! He was only about four or five.

After that, (about 1925) I never had another visit with Emma. Auntie (your grandma) came down for our wedding in August and there was a lot of crying - ( for Emma and for the wedding).

I don't think that any of us could accept that Emma should go like that. Your dad did well in raising you children anyway. It was very wonderful.