Musings: Early Barbers

What better way to start the review of stories of Marshall County than to relate the story of Patrick McC]ernan, an early barber in Stephen.

“Johanna Cadson”, my little old story teller from the early settlement days, likes to tell of how he studied law by correspondence after he had closed his barber shop for the night. Listed in the “Our Town”, Stephen’s Centennial book, Mr. McClernan had done his work through the Spraque Correspondence School (address unknown) in 1895 and finished to take his bar exam in 1900.

Johanna tries to instill, through her story, just how important it was for people, especially men, to become educated to earn a better living. She also points out the fact that the immigrants who came to America found that education opened new vistas for their children.

In her lilting accent, she says, “Dey know in the Old Country dat da boys can only do vat der papas do: if his papa be a farmer, den he can only be a farmer; if he be in da store, he only be in da store”. There was little hope for advancement in the “Old Country”.

What a wonderful place America was to become! Settlers Square’s ox cart and ox are a focal point of the museum and efforts are made to learn all we can about this important part of Minnesota’s history. I ran across a piece about ox carts in the Red River Valley Historical Essays, written by students at the Humboldt School in 1974. Ronny Pede had found that the ox cart had changed in construction about 1841 when pioneer Joseph Rolette made a lighter model so they could carry extra furs in their loads. Furs carried were mostly otter, beaver, martin and muskrat.

Written by: Ethel Thorlacius

Author: W Saewyc

An amateur genealogist and internet hobbyist.

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