THROUGH HALF A CENTURY
August 10, 1969! We gather at the family home in Bagley, Minnesota to pay tribute to Mom and Dad in this the 50th year of their marriage. As we race toward 1970 and the jet-space era takes on new dimensions of speed, we pause to look back over 50 years.
The First World War was over and a wave of prosperity was sweeping in "the roaring twenties" when John and Theresa pronounced their marriage vows in St. Catherines Church, Luverne, Minnesota. Father Mangan officiated and Frances Brandenburg and Laymont Baustian were their attendants. John was a convert to the Catholic faith. St. Catherines was to be a focal point of family life the four oldest children were baptized there, and all six made their first Holy Communion there.
Theresa was born April 3, 1897, the second child of Anna and Henry Brandenburg. John was born may 24, 1897 near Garretson, South Dakota, some 30 miles to the northwest, the 11th of 14 children of Henry and Lizzie Baustian. Her childhood and teen years were spent on the farms of the Brandenburg brothers, which bordered the country road on both sides for several miles. Johns growing up years were spent in widely separated parts of the country. He tells of childhood experiences in the home at Garretson, in Lemmon, South Dakota, parts of Texas and back to Garretson.
Theresa attended school through the 8th grade in the frame school on the southwest corner of the family farm. Johns education ended in the 8th grade. Both were good at figures, avid readers and always interested in current happenings. In later years they enjoyed movies, radio and television.
The newlyweds settled down on a farm near Beaver Creek where John went into partnership with his brother Walter. It was here that the first child Edward was born on May 24, 1921. Romance found its way into the family again, and Walter married Theresas sister Frances and the two brothers went their separate ways. Several farm sites were the family home during the next five years and the family grew. Evelyn was born on August 19, 1922 Leo on March 14, 1924 and Betty on January 11, 1926.
The young father decided to strike out and acquire a farm of his own and picked out an area near page, North Dakota, 90 miles west of Fargo, in the fall of 1925. Soon Theresa and the four excited youngsters, Betty in Moms arms, boarded a passenger train for a trip that we enjoyed and often recalled. This first try at becoming an independent farmer soon showed signs of failure. After three moved in three years and two additions to the family, it was time to take counsel. John Jr. was born on September 18, 1927 and Mary on August 23, 1929 a difficult birth that threatened the life of the wee one and Mom, too. In September, Theresa and the children returned to Luverne in the company of Johns brothers Ray and Hans. They had one of the new Model A Fords and the trip was made in one day at the daring speed of 35 miles an hour!
Jobs were scarce during this pre-depression period and it took more capital than they had to start farming again. John found work in the rock quarry of the Blue Mounds, an outcropping of usable rock jutting out into high cliffs about 6 miles northeast of Luverne. At first the family lived in a rented home on the outskirts of town, Dad driving to work each day, and Ed, Evelyn and Leo trudging across town to the grade school on standpipe hill. Later, workers quarters were made available at the quarry site and all rejoiced at being back in the country. Cows and chickens were acquired and the way back to farming was started.
Soon the nest egg was big enough to make a 50-50 deal with R.B. Hinkley, a landlord who owned much of the poor rock-strewn land in Rock County and we moved to a small farm adjacent to the rock quarry. We still went to the same school, walking across a large pasture area and climbing down the cliff. These were adventuresome days as we climbed and explored and had hair-raising escapes from serious injuries in the caved and crevices that abounded. Colorful local history of that area related that certain caves had been hideouts for such well-known desperadoes as Jesse James.
During the depression days of the 30s, farm prices dropped to rock bottom hogs for market brought less that 2 cents a pound and the price of corn was so low that it was burned in place of coal. There was enough to eat, but new clothes and entertainment were real luxuries. By now the children made a real contribution to the farm work with regular chores for all and man-sized field jobs for the boys. Ed joined the 4-H club and raised pigs as a project Evelyn, being quite a tom-boy wanted to follow suit, but was persuaded to tackle more feminine pursuits such as sewing, cooking and baking and through the years was a top award winner at the county fairs.
Hard work paid of and another move was made this time to one of R.B.s larger farms north of Hardwick still in a rocky area. There was more acreage and the herd of milk cows increased rapidly, furnishing a regular daily chore for Dad and all who were big enough to sit on a stool and hold a bucket.
Ed and Evelyn graduated from the 8th grade in the rural school and entered high school at Edgerton, driving the 15 or 20 miles a day, picking up paying passengers along the way to help defray expenses. The family made real sacrifices to keep them in school until after New Years and then with bad weather and the sad burden of having Mom away in the hospital, they became "drop outs". Ed never went back, but Evelyn did, later on and in another chapter of family life.
Mom had not been well since Marys birth and in the fall of 1936, the family doctor diagnosed possible cancer and recommended surgery. These were prayerful days of decision-making as the medical prognosis for cancer surgery in those days was not goo. Family friend, Fred Groteguth, told them of a cancer hospital in Muscatine, Iowa where the doctors were achieving good results with a special treatment that did not involve surgery thought to be quite unorthodox and not approved by most doctors. What a decision to make! With financial assistance from R.B., the chance was taken and Mom spent about six months there and recovered. In later years, doctors were to affirm that there were evidences of an abnormal growth that had been arrested. It was at this time that Evelyn Left school and took over management of house and family.
John realized that the investment needed to increase income was too great and he sold out and moved to a vacant farm near Luverne and went to work for other farmers. This assured a steady income, they had their own cows and garden space, and a truck brought in hauling jobs. The dream of a farm of their own grew stronger and near the end of the summer, 1938, John and Leo headed for northern Minnesota where land was cheap. They started near Red Lake where they stayed with old friends, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Parsons. From there they went to Lengby and looked up Charlie Thompson, the family of Wesley who had married cousin, Wayva Baustian. Here they found what appealed and soon a quarter section of wooded farmland was in the name of John Baustian.
The big move to Lengby was made in November of that year with the trek to the north made in two trucks and family car all loaded to the brim. It took two days of driving with a stopover at Detroit Lakes, the first real look at the beautiful lake country that we were to know and love as home in the years ahead.
We felt like real pioneers when we drove up the wooded roads, into a yard studded with huge pine trees and found a three-room house one section made of logs and an addition constructed of sawed lumber. The farm was to produce pulpwood and lumber; sheep for wool and market; hogs for meat and market; cows for milk and cream to sell; enough hay and grain for the livestock and such specials as clover seed. There were chickens and a big garden for food and some income. The woods abounded with fruit and berries, which were picked and canned.
To supplement the income in the first lean years, Ed joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government tree-planting project near Grand Rapids. After 18 months there he worked as a hired hand for Chris Weise, a former Luverne Friend who now farmed near Crookston. He was drafted in 1941. Evelyn worked out, too, as a hired girl in several homes, but once again her thoughts turned to high school and in the fall of 1939 she entered Fosston high school. She finished the four years in three, graduating as valedictorian in 1942. Leo and Betty followed her into high school; Betty graduated in 1944; Leo quit at the end of his sophomore year. The war was on and he joined the Air Corps where he finished his education, going on to be a navigator with the rank of 1st Lieutenant when he was discharged at the end of the war. He re-entered in 1949 and retired a couple of years ago with the rank of Major. Ironically, he finally received his high school diploma from Fosston High a couple of years ago in recognition of the amount of college work he had completed. Betty went to work after graduation, locating in Oklee where she quickly found her niche as a bookkeeper, first at the bank and later for the elevator. Here she met and married Harold Mickelson in 1946. They had two children, Allen and Karen, before they were divorced.
Ed was discharged before the end of the war, due to a crippled arm from a childhood accident. After Leo returned from the Air corps, the two set out to get a job in the Twin Cities and ended up as magazine salesmen and traveling around the country. Sales was to become Eds chosen career. He and Phyllis were married in 1948 and after a couple more years of travel settled down in Omaha, her hometown, where he is now a district sales manager for Mutual of Omaha.
During World War II, Evelyn went to work for the Air Force at an airbase near Ogden, Utah in 1942-1943. Then in the fall of 1943 she joined the Marine Corps becoming a communications technician and serving in Hawaii until her discharge in 1945. She then went to a special radio school and carved out a career in radio, working at stations in Mankato, Thief River Falls and Crookston. In 1955 she consecrated her life to God and the Church as a Sister in the order of the Daughters of Charity. She spent 10 years in a Chicago black ghetto as a social worker and in January, 1969 returned to St. Louis and reactivated her interest in creative writing as assistant public relations director for the Community.
With the large family grown and only John Jr. and Mary at home, the farm at Lengby was too large, so Dad sold it in 1947 and bought a small farm north of Bagley where he and Mom lived until 1965. Mary had graduated from high school and worked for a year before she married Glenn Curfman in 1948. They moved around for a few years and finally settled on a farm near Lengby where they lived with their eight children until Glenns death in 1967. John Jr. dropped out of high school and entered the Air Corps where he completed his education, being awarded his diploma by Bagley High School. He became a jet plane mechanic and stayed in for a career. While stationed in Germany, he met and married Elizabeth. They have traveled around a lot and been stationed in many places, recently returning from the Philippines. They are now in Oklahoma with their two girls, Lisa and Karla.
These were good years with enough work to keep busy and to provide for their needs. A small lake on the farm made fishing a favorite past time for Mom and for Dad, and for Evelyn on her weekend visits from her job in Crookston. To supplement the farm income in the early 50s, Dad joined the ranks of workers who were attracted to the Mesabi range in the wake of the new taconite industry. They lived in a trailer home there during the winter of 55-56, later returning to the farm. In 1965, they retired, helped out at Glenn and Marys or out on the farm which he had sold. Through the years, both had been keenly interested in agriculture, belonging to the Farm Bureau, and later to the Farmers Union, and always participating in the activities of the 4-H club. One of the momentos that Mom treasures is a small trophy cup from the Farmers Union in recognition of her services as secretary to the Bagley group. And now, Dads conversations, even though they ramble at times, center around the farm.
Leo too was an Air Force career man, serving in all parts of the world. Early in the 50s, he married Toni and they had two children before they were divorced. Later he married Rita and they have eight children two of them born in Spain. After retirement, he stayed on his job as civil service employee and they have their home in North Highlands, a suburb of Sacramento. Betty, too, has remarried and she and Lloyd Leibnitz have three children. They live at Hallock where Lloyd works for the Rural Telephone company. Allen, Bettys oldest is in the Navy, stationed in Maine.
Totaling them up, Mom and Dad now have 27 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. Toni Lee, Eds oldest, married Jim Churchill in 1967 and Jason, the first great grandson was born in September 1968. Marys two oldest, Alice and Tim, both married during 1968 Alice to Lynn Bursheim, and Bruce was born in April, 1969 Tim and Donna are the parents of Mikey (Glenn Michael) born in July, 1969. Mary also remarried in June of this year to Everett Motl and they live in Thief River Falls with Marys five youngest, Ted having graduated from high school this spring and now working in Minneapolis.
It has been an eventful journey from those days of the Model T that carried them to their wedding in 1920 to the age of high power cars, jet planes and moon rockets. We came today by plane and by car even Dad, as he enjoyed an afternoon out from the rest home where he has been living since June of this year. Ed, Phyllis and Chuck drove up from Omaha in less than 10 hours in their golden Rambler; Evelyn jetted in from St. Louis in three hours; Leo called from California to report that the vagaries of the jet-age, a plane strike on the west coast, would prevent him from coming; Betty drove down from Hallock, near the Canadian border with Karen, Billy, Bobby and Marilyn; John called from Oklahoma where Lizs recent illness and extra duty at the base kept him at home; and Mary and Ev loaded their car with Theresa, Sharol, Paul, Evelyn and Audrey and after and overnight stop at Alices arrived for Sunday morning Mass. Then there were Alice, Lynn and baby Bruce from McIntosh; Tim, Donna and baby Mikey from Winger.
And now its time to end another chapter as Mom prepares to close the home in Bagley and move to the rest home with Dad. Greenview was built last year by a group of Bagley businessmen and is a modern, attractive, well-staffed home where they can spend their last years in comfort and security.
These notes have been written as part of the album prepared for Mom and Dad as a token of our love and appreciation in this, their golden anniversary year. Copies to each of the brothers and sisters will be links to draw us close to the folks in their new home. May god bless us all!
Mother and Dad lived at the Greenview Nursing Home in
Bagley until Moms death on May 20th, 1974, when she had a severe heart
attack and died before she got to the hospital. Dad was in vary poor health we and not
believe he understood that Mom had passed away. He remained in Bagley Nursing Home until
Betty had him transferred to Hallock to the Nursing Home, so he would be near family.
Betty visited him every day. Also, the grandchildren would stop in to see him. He did show
signs of knowing who we were. He too passed away very suddenly on December 23rd
1974. They both are buried at St. Joseph cemetery at Bagley, Minnesota.
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