Some of Marshall County’s history that could have been lost but was not came to the Historical Society through essays written in the high school English classes in the early 1930s. Those students were still able to interview pioneers and record their stories to leave them behind for us.
One such writer was Bernice Erickson of the Warren High School and a granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ole J. Melo. Her neatly written paper was rated as a first place entry and her teacher was Miss Margaret Powers. Her account is valuable because it contains some of the day-to-day happenings in those early days of settlement.
First of all she tells us what the Melos brought with them on their trip from Norway and the poor conditions on the ship that brought them across. She states: “Some of the main supplies [they brought ] were as follows: mattresses that were made by covering feathers, spinning wheel and weaver, cooking utensils that were made of copper, forks, knives and spoons that were made from the horns of cows, ten quilts and eight skin robes.” She told of how the early farmers got together to build their first rude houses and how the Indians would stop by to warm themselves and got something to eat, as Mrs. Melo was known to be kind to them.
Many early settlers began their farming operations by working for the bonanza farms and earning the money to buy their own stock and open their own land. Their first school was a newly built granary that was pressed into use until a better building could be erected. Church services were even held in that granary and any event could be considered a celebration. The tall prairie grasses they found here were a god-send for feeding their stock, but proved to be a quick burning fuel for the prairie fires that happened at times.
Bernice’s report probably paralleled a number of other pioneer stories, but not every one was written down to share with others. That is what makes these student essays so valuable to the Marshall County Historical Society.
|Written by:||Ethel Thorlacius|