Conversations - March 1983

These are the transcripts of taped conversations between Doris Kirkpatrick and Orville Oberg.

Orville Clayton Oberg is the son of Oscar William (Willard) Oberg (Emma's brother) and Mary Anna Mohberg.

Aron (Johannesson) Oberg  Anna Lisa (Elisabeth) Petersdotter
Fritjiof Fritz/Fred Backman   Emma Mathilda Oberg Oscar William (Willard) Oberg   Mary Anna Mohberg
Orville Clayton Oberg

Early Years in the USA

Oberg Family

Obergs July 31 1943 - Oscar, Orville, Maurice, Adeline, Phyllis, and Chloe

Orville: In talking with Uncle Leonard some years ago - he related that when they first homesteaded in North Dakota then grandpa Oberg and his brother were there. Apparently the brother wasn't really interested in homesteading or farming. At that time, something caused him to want to go back to Sweden. He went back and never did return to the United States. It was about that time that grandfather changed his name from Aaberg to Oberg. I"m not sure why, other than they thought that it was easier to spell.

This doesn't seem to add up, because they originally came to Welch, Minnesota, and bought a farm. In fact, the farm is right on Highway 61 as you go towards Red Wing. It was apparently a good farm except that the rolling countryside was kind of frustrating for a farmer with horses. He then got the idea that he should look at the farmland up in North Dakota since they were homesteading up there. When he went up there and saw the wide open prairie and level ground, he got all excited and came back to Red Wing and wanted to pack up the family an go up there to homestead. Well, Grandma Oberg, as I understand it, didn't like the idea of being buried out in the wilderness of North Dakota so she put up some weak resistance, but they eventually went up there anyhow. That was the start of the homestead.

One of the things that Grandpa Oberg did in Red Wing and also the Welch area was to build barns - he was a carpenter, along with his farming. Then he built a few houses that are still standing and numerous farm buildings as well. I have seen a couple of them, and I'm sure that I have driven by others not realizing that they were part of his work.

In the North Dakota area he continued with his carpentry work and his farming. As Uncle Leonard and my dad, Oscar, got old enough to do farming, he would ride his bicycle out to the various building projects to do his work. I was told that one day, on his way out, he had an attack of appendicitis. His appendix ruptured, and he died from that. I believe that he was only 45 at that time.

As we look at these dates - the change in name must have been made when they came over from Sweden because Grandpa Oberg's brother was actually visiting them in North Dakota when they had actually homesteaded. He stayed on the homestead with them for a year or two, and then returned to Sweden. The change in name, if there is any validity to it, had to come when they came over from Sweden (in their early married life).

When you ask the questions, I realize how little I know about these people who have gone on before us. This is true about my mother's side of the family, as well. I find that my Aunt Nora, having traveled in Sweden, was able to find the Moberg family and the location where they lived. Their family had been in merchant operations and banking. It seems strange that they would leave a profitable business to go over to the "Land of Milk and Honey" in North Dakota. But this they did and I was told that they went through Alexandria, Minnesota, in a covered wagon. My mother's older brother was the only one of the kids at that time. The rest of them were born on the homestead in North Dakota. Both families, I was told, lived in sod huts. The validity of this, I don't know, the timing would certainly indicate that there was very little lumber around at that time. They may have used the sod huts until they could get something built. Of course, my dad and his father had no problems with construction if they could get the lumber.

I should have something around on Milnor, North Dakota - when the town was first started and some of its history. This could be incorporated into the scope of the Obergs and the Mobergs and maybe enlighten us a little more on what was available to them once they got into homesteading in the area.

We were talking about the marriage of my mother and dad. We thought that they were married in Minneapolis. I recall that my dad's cousin was their best man. I remember him talking about his cousin Robert - and I did meet him when he was probably in his fifties or sixties. They stayed in Minneapolis for awhile. I assume that they intended to live here and found that they did not like it. I recall now that I think back, they loaded up a boxcar with lumber and furniture and what-not and sent that up by railroad to Milnor. Then they started farming - It was probably west of where Uncle Leonard's farm was - it was down the road toward Hoving, anyhow. I suppose that they did grain farming - corn and wheat. Wheat farming was the big thing during World War I. They were able to sell all that they could grow. I believe that even before or during WWI my dad gave up farming and went into Milnor and worked in the lumber yard. At that time we lived in a small house just across the railroad tracks - off the main street of Milnor. I was the youngest and was born at that location - my sister, Adeline probably too - but I think that sister Eleanor, my brother Morie, and sister Myrtle were all born on the farm, or, at least before we got to Milnor. And then in 1925 they had a big tornado (or cyclone) in Fergus. There was quite a bit of work down there. My dad decided to go down there to get some of the construction work. We moved down there when I was one year old. That was in 1920 and we left there when I was six years old because I had finished the first grade. Then he pursued his carpentry work in Alexandria constructing many farm buildings. I recall one house that I went out with him to do some finishing. It was something that he was doing on week-ends and whenever he had extra time. But then the economy dropped out and there was no work at all. I recall one winter that he spent on a farm working for his board and room while the rest of us lived in Alexandria.

In 1928 we moved to Minneapolis because it looked like there was more work there. He did find a job after we had been there a few months. He continued to live there until he passed away in January, 1953. He had fallen out of bed in a rest home, breaking his hip and then developing an infection. He apparently succumbed to the infection and fever, and possibly pneumonia.