Saturday, November 18, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - November/December 2006 - Sgt. Melvin Moudahl

Remembering my uncle, Melvin Maudal (Moudahl) he was the second oldest of the six Maudal children, born in February 28, 1914. As a Marine, he would receive the purple heart and other medals. He enlisted in the Marines and was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack. Melvin fought the war on various islands in the South Pacific, including Guam where he died trying to rescue drowning sailors.

Mevlin died before I was born, but his niece remembers him bouncing her and her sister on his knee. On the cover, Melvin is with his brother-in-law, Elmer Westmark, and his sister, Emma Maudal.

Melvin was confirmed with his brother, Thomas, in 1930 by B.L.Opdahl at the Wild Rice Children's Home. Emma Maudal, born on March 13, 1913, was confirmed in 1929. Once they were confirmed, the children left the Home.

Lloyd Aronson sent this picture of him with his brothers, Milton and Reuben, on the steps of the Wild Rice Children's Home in March of 1925. His mother was a cook at the home. Lloyd writes "My family is spread out all over, I have a son and two daughters in Michigan, a daughter and son in Arizona, and a son in Wyoming. I have 18 grand children, 27 great grand children, and 9 great great grandchildren. We had a family reunion last summer with other 150 people, and some couldn't make it. It sure was nice to see everyone,a some I had never see before or for many years.

"I am now 90 years old, so I am thankful for what I can do, and I am always puttering with something. That keeps me going."

Florence Mortensen is doing very well, after her successful surgery at the Mayo Clinic. She sent the following picture from the Wild Rice Children's Home News, November 1931. (She is sitting on the right side of the couch).

This issue also contains a letter written to one and a half-year-old Donna Orvedahl, (the daughter of Superintendent Orvedahl) by Caroline Ness and Alma Maudal (Margie Westmark) both who were at the home at the time of the fire:

"Dear Donna,

We haven't written to you for a long time so thought we would drop you a few lines.

How are you getting along Donna? I hope you will never forget Caroline and I. We miss you so much. We hope we can come down and play with you again some time. When you get big we hope you will help your mama and daddy with every little thing, and be a good little girl as we know you will.

You will have to try and come down this fall. It is so long since we have seen you. I bet you have gotten big, and we supposed you can say quite a few words now.

Donna, what do you do all the time when you haven't anyone to play with? I presume you play with your daddy.

Many times Caroline and I sit and talk about all the good times we used to have down there at the Home. We sure hope they build up the Home again. We miss it so much. When you go down to South Dakota you must be sure to come and see us. I suppose you have been away most of this summer, haven't you?

We have received letters from the girls at Lake Park. It seems that they are having lots of fun. Well we too are having lots of fun. We are getting along fine in school and in Sunday School, too. Why didn't you come down for the Fall Festival? I presume you went to Lake Park. The Ladies' Aid from Fairview served dinner. It sure was a big feast, that is what all us kids call it.

Last year do you remember how after school Caroline and I would come running down and ask if we could play with you, and we would have lots of fun, wouldn't we, Donna? We hope we can get to play with you again even if they don't build up the Home again.

May God bless you little Donna and your mama and daddy and all the rest.

Lots of love, your everlasting friends,

Caroline (Ness) and Alma (Maudal)

Thursday, November 9, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - September/October 2006 - Fall Festival

Honoring VETERAN'S DAY - November 10th - I've been journaling my uncle, Rudy Maudal's World War II diary, he writes: 1/21/42 - Wednesday, "God and my Country are fighting within me. I don't wish to kill, for the Bible teaches it's wrong. On the other hand, I love America and it needs me."

Gerda Larson Haglund's daugther, Yvonne Lowe, called to let me know that Gerda passed away on Saturday, October 28th. Gerda was 94. She had made a lot of friends at the nursing home where she lived. Yvonne said her mother enjoyed sharing the "Wild Rice News" with the ladies and workers where she lived. I thought about the treasured photgraphs and stories she shared with us, and I know she is at peace and in heaven with the other children from Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home.

I've been busy working on a new web site: Wild Rice It features the newsletters, and will make your memories, and photographs available to more people. The web site is not completely finished, but it's a start.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY wishes to Sophie (Judy) Hilstad Tragethon, October 13.

Pictures on the Cover: Thomas Maudal (Moudahl) 1915-1998, Rudy (Moudahl), Alma (Margie Westmark) and Emma Maudal, Thanksgiving 1987. Selma Maudal. Marian Merhiy Shoemaker and Selma Maudal Hamilton, Carlsbad, California (2004).

Fall Festival - Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home - Twin Valley, MN. Usually held the last Sunday in August, this annual festival was also marked as a thanksgiving day, for the bountiful crops harvested and the blessings enjoyed during the year. The 1930 festival records about 800 cars, and 4,000 people attending. After the March 18, 1931 fire, it was moved to September. In September 1931, J.R. Orvedahl writes" "The annual Fall Festival of the Wild Rie Chidlren's Home was held Sunday, September 13th. The weather was threatening in the morning but it soon cleared and we had a beautiful day. During the noon hour every one enjoyed their picnic dinners on the campus. Hot coffee and cream were served by the Home. The Twin Valley Concert Band supplied the crowd with splendid music during the noon hour. The male chorus of Fertile furnished the assembly very liberally with their splendid music thruout the afternoon meeting. A harvest offering was taken. Two hundren fourteendollars and eighty cvents were collected."

He also paints a poignant picture of autumn at Twin Valley:

"Fall is here with all its splendor. The wood are clad in scarlet and gold. Because of the late rains the grass seems greener than usual. This is indeed a time for artists to glorify nature. All the colors of the spectrum can be seen among the wild trees in the woods. The valvet green carpet of grass, the winding stream with the late fall flowers blooming on its banks, the hillside covered with the majestic oak, the hardy ash, the royal birch, the scarlet maple and the stately elm, with here and there a twining of bittersweet showing forth its rare fruit and above, the azure autumn sky with the lazy floating cumulus clouds makes a most beautiful picture. It reminds one of the handiwork of the the Almighty One, and one cannot help but feel that he is walking with God when one roams about in the out of doors at this time of year.

"As I was walking over the hills and thru the woods where the children loved to roam so well, I could not help but feel the loneliness of it all. Where once could be heard the merry voices of children in their play now only the audile sounds are the singing of the birds and shuffle of feet and pulling of grass as the cows go grassing by. It seems that the woods never looked more beautiful than they do this year. There has been more wild fruit on the trees than there has been for years. It seems too that the trees have been lonesome for the companionship of the children and have used all their efforts in making themselves beautiful and producing a bountiful crop for the children to gather. One cannot help but feel the loneliness as here and there one sees the remains of a log house, a fort, or camps. As a rule these were never completed, but in the minds of the children they were equal to any heard on in history. The rustic bridges built by the boys are going to ruin. The lookout for the Jacobs ladders in Adolph's camp is also going to ruin.

"The thing that impressed me the most in going over the favorite spots of the children in the woods was the discovery of carvings on the tree trunks. The significant date in the hearts of every little child in a children's home is not his birthday nor the day on which he came to the Home, but the day on which he leaves. Every child has that day in his mind every day. Not that he is dissatified at the Home but he knows that sooner or later he will go, and he hopes that he will be permitted to live in a home with a good father and a mother like other fortunate children. I have just recently discovered that when that significant day arrives some of the boys had made a last trip down the hill in the woods to a well selected spot and there with their knife they had carved their initials and these simple words "left the Home" and the date. That was their important date. It was the turning point in their lives."


I had hoped to get home to see all of you, and up to Twin Valley to visit Joe Merhiy, who reports that after about an inch of snow, which melted, they've been enjoying a little of "Indian summer." Marian Merhiy Shoemaker said she remembers one thing about Thanksgiving, sometimes the Indians would go hunting, and they would give some of the deer meat to the Home. She said "wild venison" is one memory she has of Thanksgiving.

I had hoped to walk over the grounds, see the swimmign hole and creek, and take photographs before the "snow flies." I'd also like to see and photograph some of the trees, where the boys carved their names--which was a way of saying "goodbye" too, I suppose.


It's hard to believe that "Thanksgiving" is only three weeks away. Selma and I wish you all a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

WILD RICE NEWS - July/August 2006 - SweetHeart Memories

We note the death of Capt. Arlo Ray Liebeler on June 27, 2006 in Florida. Arlo was 94, a former pilot. His sister, Mabel, lives in Portland, Oregon.

Florence Mortensen Glover wrote her story about marrying a boy from Wild Rice Home:

"How We Met" -- I graduated from Central High School in St. Paul in 1934. I then went to Austin and Blooming Prairie to look for work. I took a house work job on a farm near Blooming Prairie. One day in November, the newspaper ran a story about a local man's brother being killed by a falling tree in Blue Earth. His name was Clarence Glover, and his brother, Russell, worked at Nelson's Grocery Store. I had known Clarence Glover at Twin Valley, but I didn't know he had a brother, Russell. My boss, Mary's brother owned Nelson's, and she said she would introduce me to Russell. One day, we took some baked goodies to her brother Martin's apartment above the store. Mary called the store and asked Russell to come upstairs to meet someone. He did! That was in November of 1934, and by December 1935 we were engaged. We married July 15, 1936. I was working at Hormel's.

Other children from Wild Rice who grew up and married each other, including Ethel Watne and Hans Helseth, also Florence Guldbransen.

Arlene Mortensen Smeby's story -- covering the years 1927 - 1936:

"After being scrutinized for about two months in 1929, I was placed with a family at Maple Bay, Minnesota around December 7. I was not adopted, but was to be taken into a home as a baby-sitter for a two-month child. I was not happy to leave Wild Rice Children's Home and my four sisters, Florence, Gladys, Dorothy, and Marcine. This also meant leaving many little friends I had learned to love during the two years I lived there after our parents passed away. I was the first of my family to be placed in a foster home, and I think the reason I was chosen to live with Nora and Martin was because of my work in the nursery with very young children. I was eleven years old at this time.

En route to my new home, I had to sit in the back seat of a Model T Ford with the wind blowing on me and I caught a terrific cold. I'll never forget my first night - after being told where my bedroom was and that I should go to bed, I found myself in a huge almost empty room and was very frightened. I was used to a big dormitory with lots of beds and friendly--fun girls. About 3 a.m., after I had coughed and coughed for hours, Nora came up with what seemed to me a huge glass of home-made wine made from choke cherries. I thought I'd die - but after I got it all down, I slept like a rock for the rest of that night.

As hours and days passed, it was getting near Christmas. I adored and took good care of little Doris, also cooked, cleaned and did various other chores as carefully as I could. I was told Santa was going to bring me a barrel of candy. I was thrilled! A whole barrel of candy! I'd finally get lots of it -- almost too good to be true! Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a quart jar in the shape of a barrel. I also received a pair of cloth-top overshoes with buckles which I badly needed as I had to trudge nearly a mile through the snow to school. After Christmas, but near that time, I remember that one day, a huge box was left at the mail box. My sisters and others from Wild Rice Children's Home had prepared a box of toys and clothes for me. In the box was a doll with hair -- I loved it so -- but was never really able to enjoy it as I had "chores and more important things to do than play with dolls," so that ended my little girl days. Christmas was over and chores, school and tending to baby Doris, and getting meals, etc., kept me very busy.

One evening while the weather was still very cold, I was told to prepare supper, set the table and so on while the adults were out doing the barn and milking chores. Nora had placed then three-month-old Doris in a huge over-stuffed chair about 10 feet from the pot-bellied stove in the living room. I remember all this so vividly. The living room was painted at light green, with wood wall and low ceiling in this part of this house. Nora had washed goosedown feathers and placed them in three cardboard egg crates on three chairs by the stove to dry. I had just tended to the baby, and went into the kitchen to check on supper. Suddenly, something told me to turn around. As I did so, I saw the whole mess of feathers burst into flames that nearly touched the ceiling!

Before they had gone out to do chores, Martin had brought in a large milkcan of fresh water. I knocked the lid off and picked up the entire milkcan and doused the burning feathers. Needless to say, that put out the fire! The smoke was so intense that I put Doris into the downstairs bedroom. I then proceeded to mop up, still shaking and scared. I couldn't even carry the huge can with a little bit of water in it back to the kitchen. By this time, before I finished the mopping up, Nora and Martin came in from the barn. (I couldn't take time or leave the baby along to run for their help during the fire). I never will forget the terrible look and tongue-lashing I got that evening! I ruined Nora's feathers! I couldn't figure out how the wet feathers were more important than saving the baby, and possibly the house from burning down. She couldn't accept that, but Martin seemed grateful though.

Finally, Spring arrived, baby Doris was seven or eight months old and things seemed a little brighter. My birthday on June 10th had come and gone with no particular notice. Summer was busy with picking berries, planting the garden, and canning everything we could get. Preparations were underway for another winter ahead.

During my years with Nora and Martin, we moved a few times from farm to farm -- Maple Bay to Mentor to Fosston. They then commenced building a new home on a parcel of land they had purchased some years before near Fosston. It would be so nice to live in a new home. Most of the others had been rundown older places that we worked so hard to make livable.

I had lived though a lot of turmoil and heartaches. Nora had one miscarriage, but another daughter was born about four years later so I had another little charge to care for -- cute little Aryls. She was only about 1-1/2 years old when I left the family to help out my sister Agnes at Warren. I had been with Nora and Martin about seven years, and I missed the little girls so much, but I was never to spend any time in their new home.

I stayed in Warren with my sister and her family for about a year and they was called to Austin where my brother, Allen, and sister, Florence, were living. I immediately got work at George A. Hormel Company there and soon received my first paycheck for "real work."

Guess we can all count our blessings over the years. We have all had good times, bad times, and very trying times, but we all survived and are the stronger for it. At the time we were left all alone, we were ages two months to sixteen years - A story of the ten little Mortensens and how we each survived. I'm especially grateful our family has not lost contact over these years.

My husband Harold Smeby and I continued to live and work in the Austin area for the next 36 years, where we raised our three daughters (Jean, Lois and Kimberly). For the past 20 years, we have been enjoying our retirement in Arizona. (Arlene is now widowed and lives in Owatonna, Minnesota).

WILD RICE NEWS - June 2006 - Photos of the children on school steps, barn and home.

This issue has an alphabetical list of the names of the children who lived at Wild Rice Children's Home,Twin Valley, Minnesota from April 1899 to March 1931. The Home was founded in 1898 by the Norwegian Lutheran Synod. Children came from North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Nebraska, Minnesota and Saskatchenwan and Ontario in Canada. It was located 4-1/2 miles east of Twin Valley, in Norman County, Minnesota. The first child was admitted in 1899. Altogether, 602 children lived at the Home, until it "burned to the ground" in 1931. The Home was never rebuilt, and the land was sold in 1948.

A - Aaserud, Albert, Joseph, Helmer; Amundson, Alfred, Clarence, Herbert; Andersen, Cleon Ernst, Lester Sherman; Anderson, Baby, Arvid, Carl, Emma, Martin, Mary, Murial, Robert, Walter; Aronson, Ester, Lloyd, Milton, Reuben. B - Balken, Halvor, Lars, Sievert; Barsted, Ralph; Benson, Lillian, Lily, Lloyd; Berg, Arthur, Borghild, Conrad, Ida, Lillian, Melvin; Bergley, Alfred, Bertha, Ella, George, Hazel, Hellen, Selma; Berglund, Lloyed; Bergquist, Edward; Bohn, Harold; Bollingmore, Arnold, Arthur, Ella, Elmer, Harold, Thea; Borge, Melvin; Branaman, Chester; Brazzell, Carroll; Esther, John, Margaret, Schilda; Brown, Jerome, Marian. C - Campos, Douglas; Canfield, Mildren; Carlson, Helen; Chapin, Chester; Chase, Irvin, Ivy, Fern; Chistohersen, Alfred, Emelie, Selma; Cosgrove, Frank, Fred, Harriet, William; Covertseon, Alta; Cusler, Maurie. D - Dahl, Christina, Gina, Inga; Donahue, Charles, Philip James, Robert. E - Egertson, Jordan Wennes; Eggen, Leonard; Eickler, Lowell Bryant; Enger, Odin, Arnold, Vernon; Ericksen, Arnold Theodor, Carl Benjamin, Jacob Arris; Erickson, George, Milton, William; Eschpeter, Earl. F - Fair, Herbert, Robin; Falaas, Nina, Tina; Falk, Elmer Edwin; Falleso, Mabel; Farstad, Kenneth, Russell; Fevig, Myrtle; Fjeld, Alice, Elmer, Hilda, Lawrence; Fogner, Ladvard; Forsland, Clifford, Katherine, Orleans, Richard; Fox, Viola; Fredricksen, Edna, Lillian, Mabel. G - Gronsdahl, Andreas Martin, Knut, Oleana Bertine; Grove, Arnold Judian; Guldbrandsen, Edwin, Glen, Minnie, Ruth; Gulligsrud, Cora, Gladys; Gundersen, Clara, Gertie, Annie, Lewis, Myrtle; Gunderson, Dagny, Gladys, Pearl, Twila, Walter; Gusk, Bernice; Gustafson, Carl, Elenor, Lillian; Gerg, Oliver; Glover, Clarence, Russell; Grantham, Ross; Grassman, Luella, Pearl, Marie, Myrthel; Griffin, Dorthea, Lyle; Grinde, Florence Thorine, Margaret, Norman, Roy Phillip, Russell Peter. H - Hagberg, Fridolphia, Quno Hest, Virginia, Vivian; Hagen, Bertha; Hagen, Earl, Ediwn, Elma, Gerhard, Magnus, Nina; Haldiman, Edith, Halvorsen, Carl, Peter, Ole, Curtis Wendel, Curtiss, Levaughn; Hammersmith, Donavern, Dorothy Mae, Lorriane, Winnifred; Hansen, Albert, Anna Marie, Ella, Gyda, Harold, Helmer August, Hjalmer Jul, James; Hanson, Handy, Helen, Kenneth, Magdalene, Morris, Virgil; Haugo, Hazel, Margarethe, Morris, Ruth; Hauske, Allen, Alma, Edwin Lillian, Manley, Marion; Hearn, James Johnson; Herbert, Emma, Harry, Ralph, Sara; Heibert, Elsie; Heiberg; Johnny, Harry; Lillie; Helseth, Lillie, Armanda, Hilda, Thomas; Hembre, Evelyn; Hendrickson, Oscar, Victoria; Henistad, Bruce, Eugene, Howard, Lyle, Warren; Herom, Elwood; Hjistad, Clara; Hilde, Anna; Hilstad, Marcus, Selmer, Sophie; Hofstad, Tome; Holen, Alice Eveline, Lawrence Arthur, Mabel Josephine; Holte, Earl, Isabelle, William; Hosford, Edwin; Hoyez, Laurence. I - Idel, Hilda; Iverson, Kenyon. J - Jackline, Ben, Melva, Robert; Jacobsen, Edwin, Frances, Gordon, Hazel, Joseph, Milo, Norman; Jennevive, Verie; Johnsen, Alice; Johnson, Amaila, Borghilde, Cora, Deborah, Helmer, Isabelle, Ingvald, Johan Markus, Ruth, Sidney, Tarjus Julius. K - Karum, Genevive; Kempfest, Mildred, Kiefert, Frieda, Kilpatrick, Mae, Carl, Lloyd, Robert; Kittlesen, Blance, Howard, Malla; Knutsen, Frank, Hartvig Richarc, John, Lena Martha, Marie, Oscar, Ruth; Knutson, Dewynee; Koppang, Agnes; Kortness, Dorothy, Grace, Irene, Pearl, Vivian; Kragerud, Allen, Norman; Krebs, Metha; Kvale, Alan, Gele, Telfred. L - LaBerge, Bernadette, Noel; Lamkin, Frances Amy, James, George, Joseph; Langseth, Alice, Carl, Earl, Pearl; Lanson, Anna, Frank Hugo; Largis, Alvin Elmore, Clarence H., Marie; Larsen, Alma, Arthur Fritjog, Clarence Gilbert, Gertrude, Eli, Elmer, Esther, Frans, Ida, Karla, Louise, Vera; Larson, Adolph, Archie, Arnold, Evelyn, Lloyd, Kenneth, Leonard, Margery, Ruby; Lawe, Dorthea, Evelyn, Frederick; Layer, Alvin; Lee, Esther, Robert, Rosella; Lethcoe, Bessie, Blanche; Lelum, Ottis; Lider, Ida Victoria, Lina Seline, Mabel; Liebeler, Arlo,Mabel Luella;Lindbert, Anna, Evelyn; Lindgren, Alice, Watler; Lockrem, Charles, Raymond; Lund, Lillian, Nellie; Lyden, Vernon; Lystad, George Palmer, Olga Fredrika, William Walter. M - Maseid, Rogna; Maudal, Alma, Emma, Melvin, Rudolph, Selma, Thomas; McCaskey, Earl, Margaret, Mary; McCasline, Henry, Martin Luther, Melberg, Clifford, Etheline, Gertrude, Erving, Morris, Norman; Merhiy, Ali, Evelyn, Joseph, Marian, Smylie; Mickelson, John, Sadie, Willie; Moen, Edwin, Myrtle; Mortensen, Arline, Dorothy, Florence, Gladys, Marcine; Motteberg, Inez, Inga; Mosebym Helmer, Laurence, Thomas; Myhra, Harold N - Narvesen, Arthur Lawrence, Carl, Lawrence, Martin Olai; Nelson, Clarence Tracey, Ella Francis, Frank, Florence, Leonard, Martin Claudius, William; Ness, Caroline, Katherine; Newstrom, Alice; Nordquist, Albert, Anna, Clara, Esther, Henfred, Rachel. O - Oeder, Beuland, Robert, Vernon; Olsen, Julius George, Alama Ovida, Anner Ingvald, Melvin; Olson, Ernest, John, Jr., John B., Melvin, Stella, Violet; Oren, Alfred, Walter. P - Parsons, Edward Harold, Frans Oscar, John Alfred; Pederesen, Alex, Alfred, Andred, Clara, Goovin, Henry, Nellie Louise; Peters, Donald, Peterson, Edelyn, Enevadeline, Leonard; Pikkarainen, Nestor; Pratt, Gerald, May Viola; Price, Dona Bell, Francis Willie. R -Ramelow, Norman; Ramstad, Bernice, Julius, Raynard, Thomas; Randolph, Amanda, Rogna; Rarden, Evelyn, Pearl; Ravine, Eva, James, Leonard; Reitan, Caroline, Henry, Inger, Stella; Ricer, Henry; Ricker, George; Rickhus, Alfre, Alice, Clara, Ed, Martin; Riggers, Lorene, Mildren; Rishdal, Robert Gordon; Robinson, Charles Benjamin; Rodin, Milton; Ronnie, Arnold, Melvin, Olger; Roen, Francis, Rolette, Victor; Roswell, Esther Mary, Rudh, Irene; Ruud, Bennie, Edwin, Harry, Martin; Ruth, Ann; Ryan, John Odin, Henry Martin. S - Sansness, Carl; Sawes, Charles, Sawyer, George William, Henry Walter; Schanaln, Ola Inez, Schmitt, Bertha, Frank, Lena, Rose; Sedburg, Orville; Shegstad, James, Minda, Norris, Selma; Simonsen, Lillian, Peter, Olaf; Skatvald, Clara, Herbert, Joseph; Skjefte, Alfred; Skogen Oscar; Smudson, Lillian, Sorenson, Alfred, Alvin,Archie, Bertha, Hjalmer, Lillian, Rudolph, Ruth; Stensen, Agnes, Ingvart, Judith; Sundahl, Henry. T - Tange, Carrie; Tange, Sigrid; Tennyson, Gena, Ida, Mabel; Tidahl, Alfred, Bert, Mary, Myrtle; Thompson, Anna, Esther Johnson, Gloria, Jeanette; Thoresen, Emma, Florence; Thorpe, Eddie Lawrence, Rolf William Magnus; Thorson, Anna, Lillian, Oscar; Thorstensen, Elmer Oliver, James Martin; Tollund, Lester Sherman, Clinton, Vernice; Turner, Charley; Tryhus, Minnie. V - Vangess, Pearl, Ralph; Viseje, Clarence, Ruth. W - Waller, Clarence Olbert; Wally Louise, Wam, Donald Kenneth, Wesley Hard: Watne, Allen, Alma, Ethel, Lloyd; Wauters, Arthur, Margaret; Williams, Emil Lewis, Henry Edward, Roy Adolph; Willman, John, Willson, Howard, Mylo; Winner, Norman

WILD RICE NEWS - May 2006 - 1930 Confirmation Class, Supt. & Mrs.N.O. Skauge

There were two reunions of children from Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home, one in 1971 and one in 1981. Pictures and names are included in the newsletter.

Confirmation Photo (1930) inlcludes: Melvin Maudal, Ester Ovaldson, John Olson, Palmer Forsell, Evander Boreen, Richard Seeger, Mayneth Widme, Ethel Rogers Morken, Sophie Hilstad, Grace Kortness, Norma Kjos, Maxine Winters, Lilly Benson, Florence Mortensen, Lloyd Kvidt Aronson, Smylie Merhiy, Thomas Maudal, Ester or Rosetta Lee, Rev. B.L.Opdahl, Lillian Benson, Sndney Prestegaard.

Margaret Haugo Peterson says this time of year makes her think of the Wild Rice River, how when it would flood. "We had a little bridge that would wash out," she said. "Also, a dam that would have to be rebuilt so we could go swimming." Swimming at Wild Rice is one of her best memories, "we had so much fun."

"In the winter, we girls and boys would go downstairs to the gym and play games and sing," she added. Her mother, who was born in Norway, died when she was 5. Margaret, Ruth, 3, and Morris, 2, went to Wild Rice in about 1916. Hazel the baby stayed with a neighbor until she was 6, then joined the other Haugo children.

Margaret remembers learning to read and write in both Norwegian and English when she was in kindergarten and first grade. The teacher, Mrs. Hatzit, was Norwegian, but they spoke English when they played. "Christmas was like nothing I've ever seen again," Margaret continued. "It was the closest to heaven I ever came! The girls all had white dresses and white stockings, there was "no Santa Claus" we celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ and all the songs were religious." Margaret later married and moved to Taylor Falls, Minnesota where she had five children, Raymond, Wayne, Stella, John and Roseyln.

WILD RICE NEWS - April 2006 - Florence, Arlene, Gladys, Dorothy & Mary Mortensen

Photos include: children on steps of classroom (1927) Florence and Arlene Mortensen (1928) at Wild Rice Children's Home, and Dorothy, Mary Marcine, Gladys, Florence and Arlene at Wild Rice (1927)

Children in classroom photo: Mabel Gullingsrad, Selma Shegstad, Amanda Shegstad, Violet Olson, Louise Whaley, Florence Mortenson, Bessie Lethcoe, Evelyn Lindberg, Adeline Peterson, Sophie Hilstad, Gerda Larson, Grace Korness, Mabel Liebeler, Clara Rickhus, Evelyn Rourdon, Mrs. C.A. Wood (teacher) Irene Kortness, Dorothy Hammersmith, Lavonne Halverson, Alma Maudal, Emma Maudal, Lilly Benson, Pearl Langseth, Alice Rickhus, Pearl Rardon, Kathryn Ness, Evelyn Larson, Margaret Brazzel, Caroline Ness, Winnifred Hammersmith, Lillian Benson, Marian Merhiy, Dorothy Skauge, Cora Gullingsrad, Arlene Mortensen, Pearl Kortness, Tommy Ramstad, Curtis Halvorsen, Dorothy Kortness, Marcine Mortensen, Esther Brazzel, Bernice Ramstad, Marcus Hilstad and Johnny Brazzel.

Happy 96th Birthday to Joe Merhiy! Joe celebrated his birthday on Sunday, March 12th, at the "beer joint" in Twin Valley. There were about 14 friends and relatives on hand to help celebrate. His birthday wish is to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2010! I hope we will all be there to celebrate with him.

Happy 90th birthday to Florence Mortensen Glover! Her children have spent many hours planning a "special celebration" for the April 13th birthday, which will be held Sunday, April 9th, at the St. Olaf Church in Austin, Minnesota.

Judy Hilstad Tragethon said she "doesn't have much news" but wants to say "hello" to everyone. She really has good and happy memories of the home. For her, Christmas was "wonderful" and the food was "good," and she was treated well.

Florence sent copies to two short prayers, to share:

God, who probes our deepest thoughts during segments of Solitude, opens our eyes to things that need attention. It is here He makes us aware of those things we try to hide from Others.


O Lord, you have searched me, And you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. -- Psalm 139:1-2

Arlene Mortensen Smeby sent the picture of Arlene and Florence taken about 1928 at the Wild Rice Home. Also, the picture of all five Mortensen sisters, taken about 1927 or 1928 at Twin Valley.

Arlene keeps busy with volunteer work and sews comfort pillows for Gillett Children's Clinic in Minneapolis. She moved back to Owatonna from Arizona after her husband Harold became ill, he died in 1996.

Here are Arlene's memories of Wild Rice, which she wrote for Reminiscence Magazine, and gave us permission to print:

Ten Little Orphans of Otto and Kristine Mortensen, Warren, MN:

Our mother passed away on November 23, 1925, and Dad died on July 16, 1927, less than two years later. For one year our older sister, then about 17, did her best to keep us all together. Our uncles and aunts with families of their own decided it would be best for the 5 of us girls (ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11) to be placed in Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home at Twin Valley in northern Minnesota. A 2 year old brother was adopted by my mother's sister in Marengo, Illionis after the death of my mother.

At the home, our days were busy, school and discipline were strict, but as we got acquainted with children and matrons we each seemed to find a place in which to keep busy. I worked in the nursery to help the littler ones, I was 9 years old at that time.

I rememer some good meals, but there never seemed to be enough food. At recess we were often instructed to go to the dining room for a bite to eat, which usually was crusts of bread -- dry and ends curled - with karo syrup poured over them. We were hungry so we didn't complain and ate them quickly. We all slept in a huge dormitory which was always clean and usually quiet and fun. We did a lot of whispering together and sharing of wishes at those times.

I don't remember a lot about Christmases, but the kind people from churches and organizations around the area made sure we got some little gift and hard candies for which we were happy. Summers were lots of fun and we spent them playing on the playground equipment and rolling down the grassy slopes to a little creek below.

One summer. we who needed it, had our tonsils removed. This started early in the morning at Orvedahl's home on the grounds (he was the home manager). The surgery was performed by Dr. Brattrud, who I believe from from Warren, Mn. I remember that we were all sitting in the sun porch of his home waiting for our turn and we were scared stiff! My sister Gladys and I would keep pushing each other forward when the nurse came in to see who was next, and then began hiding behind big chairs, Finally around suppertime, after a really l-o-n-g day, I was the only one left and they got me. I was herded into the big kitchen area where the operating table, and the doctor and nurse were. I didn't have time to get scared after entering that area, so I must have been given the anesthetic immediately after arriving in my white gown. I woke up in an upstairs room feeling like nothing had been done. What I do remember later was being carried a short ways to my bed at the orphanage and being given ICE CREAM. What a treat! We should have beentold about the ice cream right away because I think we all would have gone through without so much fear.

On December 11, 1929, I was taken from the orphanage by a couple from Maple Bay, MN. They had a 2 month old daughter. I guess Martin and Nora Christianson thought I might make a suitable baby sitter and worker for them as I was their foster child for 7 years. They had two daughters, Doris and Arlys.. I still keep in touch with them and they are like sisters to me. (The End)

Several people who lived at the home got together to put up a monument for the children who died at the home. I am printing the information we have about these children, along with a "thank you" for the thoughtfulness of Joe Merhiy, Rugh Haugo Stromstad, Margaret Mortensen Glover, Margaret Haugo Peterson, and Malcom C. Gorham in remembering them!

Lot A, Wild Rice Children's Home, Young Soul's Laid to Rest in a Special Section: Bennie Ruud, March 24, 1913; Harry Heilberg, June 1, 1913; Hazel Jackebson, August 17, 1913, Inger Raiten, September 9, 1918; Carl Narveson, March 22, 1920; Alma Watne, August 27, 1920; Ida Larsen, March 22, 1920; John Markus, April 22, 1920; Maurice Curler, August 7, 1923; Clinton Tollund, September 8, 1923; Martha Larson, January 15, 1929.

WILD RICE NEWS - February 2005 - Selma & Alma Maudal

Photos: Alma and Selma Maudal on Foss Farm (Crosby, N.D.); Wild Rice teachers, C.A. Wood, Lela Jacobson and Marlys Estrem (1930); teachers from Lake Park Ella Olson, Miss Fredrickson, Miss Houglum (1932), new barn April 1, 1930, and view of the Home.

Selma Maudal Hamilton remembers both her parents emigrated from Norway to Iowa, where they met and married (1912) at the Lutheran parsonage at Osage. May 6, 1923 the six Maudal children went to Wild Rice Children's Home. Emma, Thomas, Melvin, Selma, Rudi, and Alma.

Her best memory is "the ice cream socials, when the Ladies Aide came. They made home made ice cream, cake, pies and plates of food."

"My brother, Thomas, would skate down the icy hill, how he did it, I'll never know!" she said. After the 1931 fire, the sisters (Alma and Selma) stayed at the Beloit Orphanage, Beloit, Iowa; until the Lutheran Church sent them to stay on the Foss farm near Grenora, N.D. Sally stayed with a family near Hanks, N.D., where she took care of their son, and went to school. She said they "had a lot of fun, playing baseball and other games." The next year, Alma moved to Hanks, and the sisters shared a bedroom, went to school, and worked odd jobs sewing and babysitting.

In 1936, Selma was 18, and the sisters were sent to Minneapolis to look for work and stay with a married sister, Emma. Selma said it was the Depression, and jobs were hard to get. Alma and she were able to get jobs living in with different families taking care of the children. On week-ends they visited Emma. After a year, they were able to save enough money to get an apartment together. Some of the girls from the Beloit Orphanage moved to Minneapolis, so they had friends. "Alma and I had a lot of fun," said Sally, "we would rent bikes and ride around Calhoun Lake. We would go dancing at the Marigold ballroom with the other girls."

One day they were waiting for jobs at a Minneapolis Employment Agency, when in walked a divorced, Irish-Catholic lawyer (Dad) from St. Paul. After interviewing them, he hired both girls to clean and cook at his White Bear Lake house. He spent the winters in Los Angeles, and would send for Selma, marry her, and send her to the Westwood Business College. She loved swimming in the ocean, playing badminton with her husband, and traveling to Mexico and Monterey! They would have three children, Mike, Patricia and Bruce.


Photos: Gerda Larson Haglund, children Keith, Valdor, Yvonne and Marsha. Smylie and Marian Merhiy (1927), Marian Merhiy, Selma Maudal, Pearl Kortness, and Marian Brown (1931), school children from Wild Rice - May 25, 1928. Russell Glover, Mrs. N.O. "Ma" Skauge, and Florence Mortensen Glover - July 15,1961.

Gerda Larson Haglund sent the cover photo of the school children. She went to the Home in 1914, when she was 2, with her six brothers and sisters, Franz (12), Morris (6), Martin (5), Esther (8), Marta (4), and Ida (10). Her best memory of Wild Rice was working in the hospital when she was 9. She was allowed to play the piano and taught herself how to play. "Another favorite memory was learning how to swim--when the Skauge boys threw me in the water! I loved the movies we saw sometimes. I loved singing with Papa Skauge! I loved the apples and oranges we got at Christmas. These were good memories. I sang a solo when I was 9. I was adopted out two times, and each time returned. The first time because I was very sick, and second time because I was so unhappy. The child who was part of the family was very mean to me." Her worst memory was "standing in the hall as punishment because we girls were playing under the clothesline and our underpants were showing."

CREED OF THE HOME: Open the door for the children, Tenderly gather them in, In from the highways and hedges, In from the places of sin. Some are so young and so helpless, Some are so hungry and cold, Open the door for the children, Gather them into the fold. This song was also sung by the choir and was sent by Florence Mortensen.

WILD RICE NEWS - December 2005 - Christmas Memories

Photos: Lake Park Confirmation Class - May 3, 1931, Ruth Johnson, Lillian Polliquin, Marian Merhiy, Annie Hilde, Ruth Anneson, Olga Olson, Bob and Philip Donahue. August 1969 - Joe, Ali, Smylie and Marian Merhiy. 1932 - Joe, Evelyn, Smylie, Marian and Ali Merhiy with Melvin Maudal.

(1930) - by J.R. Orvedahl: "Finally the hour had come, Christmas festivities began with a bountiful dinner, served at 6:00 o'clock in the dining room. Most of the "goodies" were donated by kind friends. The room was decorated with the Christmas colors. The eighteen candle scones on the walls and two candle holders on each table, made by the boys in manual training, furnished the illumination during the signing and devotional.

After the dinner, all gather in the school rooms, where their eyes beheld the beautifully lighted Christmas tree, almost buried with gifts. There were toys of every description: dolls with bright eyes and outstretched arms, automobiles, trucks, sleds and skis. The children's part of the program consisted of songs, drills and scripture readings.

(1918 - Carl Narveson) "At the end of the schoolroom, on the north and south sides, were two big Christmas trees...decorated with popcorn strings, baubles such as bells, shells, trumpets, angels and live candles. By each tree was a very large pail of water with wet mop to extinguish fire if that happened." ..."This whole program was in Norwegian...first we sang songs, beginning with "Glade Jul, Deilige" and "Et Barn Er Fodt I Betlehem." Then came recitation time for the children.....Christmas Day we had a real Norwegian dinner....lutefisk, lefse with butter, meat balls with gravy, Christmas bread, cookies, cake and fruit soup."

(From October on, Pa Skauge and his helpers made lists of the children and sent them to the Laides Aids of the various congregations of Den Norske Lutheran Kirke. The ladies would get busy preparing shirts, stockings, dresses, toys, books and whatever might strike their fancy.........the scene on Christmas was awe-inspiring for us children).

WILD RICE NEWS - November 2005 - Orvedahl's Letter to Confirmants (May 1931)

Photos: Mr. & Mrs. Clayton V. Hamilton, Marian Merhiy Shoemaker, Wild Rice Boys and Girls playing, Melvin Maudal, Selma & Alma Maudal.

Letter to the Confirmants (May 1931)

"My dear Children: The time for confirmation will soon be here. We are very sorry that we can not be present on this very important day, nevertheless, our thoughts will be of you and we shall remember to pray for you.

"It seems that you children have met with interruptions and difficulties all through the year. Just after you were well into you work, your Pastor Rev. Opdahl, resigned and moved away. Rev. Aanestad was then called to give a helping hand and took over the work of instructing you. A short while ago, the disastrous fire destroyed your Home and sent you to other Homes where you again changed instructor. Few of you were further sent on to relatives and private homes, and resumed your studies in new classes with different tutors. By this time your original class is pretty well scattered and will, undoubtedly, be confirmed at different times and places. Even though you have been scattered and interrupted so many times, I hope that you will all have the courage and will power to work hard to prepare yourself for "the day when you shall stand before God and promise that you renounce the Devil and all his works, and all his ways, and that you will believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, and that you will, by the grace of God, continue steadfast in this covenant of thy Baptism, even unto the end."

"Before the next issue of the Wild Rice news reaches you hands, most of you will be confirmed. We, therefore, will take this opportunity to congratulate you, and our wish is that you all will, by the Grace of God, be faithful to your promises. We can express our wish in no better way than does the following old prayer which has been handed down to us: "Almighty and merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Thou who through the Holy Spirit dost begin and perfect the good work in us; we thank Thee that in Baptism Thou hast granted these young servants of Thine the gift of regeneration; we thank Thee that through the enlightenment of Thy Word Thou has enabled them to acknowlege Thy saving grace. Perfect, we beseech Thee, what Thou has begun. Grant them an everlasting knowledge of the salvation Thou has prepared in Christ. They are weak, strengthen them with Thy might. They are to meet a dangerous world, guide them with Thy counsel. They are to experience manifold temptations; do Thou help them to resist and to overcome. In every hour of need and sore trial, comfort them with Thy Holy Spirit. Help them to watch and pray, and to seek diligently in Word and sacrament the nourishing of Thy grace, to the end that, in sanctification of the Spirit, together with Thy faithful people, they may before all the world, in word and deed, confess Thee with the Son, and Holy Spirit." Amen. Sincerely, Mrs. & Mrs. J.R. Orvedahl (May 1931)

WILD RICE NEWS - Octobor 2005 - Group Photo Sept. 14, 1924

Group picture of 121 children (70 boys and 50 girls) taken September 14, 1924. Ma and Pa Skauge are in the last row middle, and directly down from them -2nd row is Granpa Skauge, also known as "Si Buck" which probably meant "sawbuck". The names of the Skauge children were: Edith, Ludwig, Olivia, Hartvig, Adolph, Ulrick, Nicolai and Dorothy. (Two died: Paul and Nicky). That means that the Skauges who managed the Home, had 10 children.

Lloyd Aronson Kvidt writes he was 7 years old when he went to Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home in 1923. He had two brothers, Rueben and Milton, and one sister, Esther. His best memory is sliding down hill on cardboard boxes! His worst memory is being knocked down a stairway for a matron" just because I was talking to my sister. Also, I had diphtheria!"

"Yes, my mother cooked at the home where she met and married another worker, John Kvidt in March of 1925. Then we all moved to the farm one mile south of Wild Rice. We had it nice there and still visited with the children at the home. By the way, I saw the Home burn down. Very sad! I went over there the next day and picked up a piece of melted glass which I still have.

I went into carpenter work, and married a girl from Bagley, Minnesota, we had six children. After we divorced in 1973, I married a widow from Marshfield, Wisconsin. We settled down 11 miles north of town on 2 acres, with a house, garage and workshop. I am retired, but do a lot of gardening and work at projects like restoring old cars.

WILD RICE NEWS - September 2005 - Orvedahl's Letter After the Fire

Photos: Marian Shoemaker, Sally Hamilton, Joe Merhiy (Cpl in the 4th Calvary under General Collins - WWII), Heritage Center at Twin Valley, Gerda Larson with grandchild, and old Skauge home or hospital.

Letter to Our Children - April 1931 (J. Orvedahl)

Two long weeks have passed since our Home was destroyed by fire. How lonesome and quiet it is around here without you, children. The few of us who remain are always thinking what a good and happy home we had when we were all together.

I am sitting at the desk in my library. On the wall before me is the beautiful picture which used to hang over the fire place, and which you children learned to love so dearly--"Christ Blessing Little Children." As I look at the picture, I am reminded of the many happy evenings spent in our library. There some of you were reading story books, others, the papers or magazines, still others, listening to the radio. I can see you now, crowding around the large library table or seated on the davenport before the fireplace. As I look at the picture on the will again, I see Christ extending His hands to bless you all. God's hand was indeed guiding and protecting you. It now seems a miracle that the fire was discovered so early and that you all marched out in safety. God loves you all and He saved your lives.

I am sure that you will all remember the Home as long as you live, and I know that you have already been homesick for all the surroundings. You will remember all the good times we used to have "down the hill" skating, skiing, coasting, swimming, golfing, and most of all the pleasant strolls through the woods and the picnics. How I used to enjoy looking down over the hill and watching you children stroll along or happily playing.

There are too many fond memories and it would take up too much space to write about them all, so I shall only mention a few: Our gymnasium, where we enjoyed our social gatherings, programs, and basketball; our large and spacious dormitories where you all gathered for rest after a full day of work and play, and after saying your prayers, and the lights were out, you closed your eyes until early next morning, our beautiful dining room where we assembled three times every day for our meals, where we had our family devotion, and our parties with the beautiful decorations on Christmas, Easter, Hallowe'en, and other special events. The school room where we gathered to study with our teachers, and where we gathered every Sunday morning for your Sunday school, will be fond memories. The manual training shop, where the boys spent so many happy hours making all the beautiful and useful things,shall not be forgotten. As I walked about the ruins of the building, I saw the old bell which will ring no more. This old bell has called you all many times for meals, school, and Sunday school. I have also found, in the ruins, some of your play things, such as dolls, toys, cars, trucks, small dishes, etc. Most of your possession which you loved are now in ashes.

Edgar A. Guest says "it takes a heap of living to make a house a home." It is because of all the blessings this Home has enjoyed these thirty-odd years that it had become a "Real" Home. It took us over thirty years to do all this, but the building itself was destroyed in little over two hours. It all goes to show how helpless we really are in this world, and also shows how needful it is to always have the protecting hand of our Heavenly Father guarding us. We feel sad to think that our deal Old Home is lying in ashes, never to be enjoyed again. The doors which welcomed you all when you were homeless are no more, but the fond memories will always stay with us. Even though it is all destroyed, I cannot help but thank God for protecting you. Your beds, where you all were sleeping soundly, were left empty to crumble to ashes.

This summer will be so lonesome and long here for Mrs. Orvedahl, Donna, and I without you children, but we live in the hope that in the near future, a new Home will be erected, and that you all come here together again and start anew. May God bless each and every one of you." J. R. Orvedahl, manager of the Wild Rice Lutheran Children's Home, Twin Valley, Minnsota -- (April 1931)

Wild Rice News - August 2005 - Marjorie Maudal Westmark

Today I was chatting with Marian Merhiy Shoemaker, and I said "hey, we should start a newsletter!" Marian didn't think she would have too much news to share, and I had to do a little selling. Marian and I were talking about the sad, and sudden death of my aunt, Margie (Alma Maudal) Westmark in Minneapolis on July 14, 2005. Sad because I had dreams of her traveling to Norway with her sister (my mother) and seeing their father's old farm. Sudden because she died of a heart attack.

Margie sang in the girl's chorus at Wild Rice directed by J.R. Orvedahl The other girls were, (l-r) Alice Ricklus, Margaret Brazzel, Caroline Ness, Katherine Ness, Lilly Benson, Lillian Benson, Sophie Hilstad, Florence Mortensen Winifred Hammersmith, Ruth Johnson, Arlene Mortensen, Pearl Langthseth, and Dorothy Hammersmith.

One Song: Her komer dine arme (Here come your poor little ones) O Jesu I din stald at gaa (Oh Jesus in your manger to go) Enlys enver I sjael og sind (Enlighten every soul and mind) At finde veien til dig ind (to find the way to you). (Sung in Norweigan)

The girls traveled to three Lutheran League Conventions and many local churches where they sang and raised money for the home. I think traveling to all those Lutheran churches as a girl let her see the "goodness" in people who welcomed them to their hearts and homes. She always looked for the "good" in people. I think her belief in God and the goodness of others taught her to believe in herself.

When Wild Rice Children's Home burned down in 1931, Alma and Selma were sent to the Lutheran Children's Home at Beloit, Iowa. Then to Crosby, North Dakota, where they lived with a family (the Fosses). When they were old enough, they moved to Minneapolis to live with their oldest sister, Emma. Margie met her husband (Elmer Westmark) and became a wartime bride. They had three children, Gary, Scott, and Shari. Elmer begin working as a carpenter, after getting out of the Navy, and he built their home in Bloomington. Margie "taught herself to drive", worked part-time at Dayton's, and later went to beauty school.

She and Elmer bought a trailer in Mesa, Arizona where they spent the winter as "snowbirds." It was fun, with "potlucks," a swimming pool, and lot so friends from Crosby, North Dakota. The Lutheran Church was a big part of her life and she helped with all the church activities and lunches.