My Uncle Jim and Aunt Elaine came to Minnesota for a conference, they brought their delightful granddaughter and offered to show us around the Hasleton family beginnings in America.
WARNING...lots and lots of family details to follow. Non-family will want to skip.
First Stop—Andrew and Martha’s White House/Farm
There was a little dugout and house on a hill behind the white house that was the very first house on the homestead built by Hendrick Erickson, Martha’s father. She remembers playing in it. Uncle Jim said that he remembers (heard?) that the dugout was later used to hold broken farm tools.
Martha Erickson-Hasleton got the farm through her stubbornness and persistence from her sisters even though she was not the oldest. Uncle Jim made vague references about how the other sisters had upset their father but even so, Martha was a person who could get what she wanted by her will and tenaciousness.
Uncle Jim told us about how (great) Grandpa Hubert Hasleton would lie on the porch as a boy at night and listen to the wolves howl.
He, Uncle Jim, also showed us the Blue Spruce that (great) Grandpa Hubert Hasleton backed into with the truck (maybe a car), but he staked it up and now it is 40 ft. tall.
Another story Uncle Jim remembered when he saw his bedroom window. He said that he and Uncle Dick would saw they’re prayer every night, the one that goes “Now I lay me down to sleep…” Then they would hop into to bed and stare at the ceiling to watch where their prayer had gone.
One winter, when Dick was young, his grandparents (Shulstad? or Hasleton?) saw that he was wearing a short pea coat which was not enough to keep him warm in the harsh Minnesota winters. They gave Ardes and Hubert $20 to go into town and buy him a new one. The next day, someone came round to the white house to say that if they didn’t pay the light (electric?) bill, then the power would be shut off. Only having the $20 for the coat, they gave it to pay the bill.
Uncle Jim remembered that his father was worried that his mother, Martha, was too old to care for the farm. He bought (rented?) it from her and she got an apartment in town. But they still had a farm a couple of miles away. Jim says that they would move from farm to farm depending on what needed tending at the time. He said that moving back then was not like moving today. They had very little to pack only some furniture, a few books, clothes, and the refrigerator.
I asked Uncle Jim if their family was uncommonly poor. He said that they were very much like their neighbors. It was a hard time for farmers in Alexandria.
This is the house that the gospel was taught to the Hasletons.
Sometime in the fall of 1954, Hubert took a tire to be repaired to a man name Harold Hill. While repairing the tire, Harold asked if Hubert would like to hear about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hubert did not answer yes or no.
Harold figured that was invitation enough and later he and his wife, Alice, called on Hubert and Ardes. Uncle Jim remembers that on the first visit he was sent up to his room with Dick. Uncle Dick knew something was happening and told Jim in a disgusted voice that “Catholics were downstairs.” Uncle Jim replied that he "didn’t want to be no Catholic."
The next time the Hills called on the Hasletons, Jim and Dick were invited to join in on the discussion. Uncle Jim says that the Hills brought with the most wonderful feeling and spirit. Later, February 5, 1955 on a Fast Saturday, the Hasletons were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were confirmed the next day. Martha Hasleton was not pleased. As Uncle Jim recalls they were shunned for joining the church but were not persecuted.
2nd Stop—Ever Green Cemetery
This is a picture of the Hendrick and Borghild Erickson graves.
Aunt Elaine has a different date then the graves have. Birth 1846 and Death 1900.
Hendrick came from Norway to Minnesota (stopped first in Wisconsin?) and built the dugout near the white house. His family lines originally come from Finland. [Aunt Elaine believes that this is where the Hasleton’s get their brown eyes. She seemed sad that I had blue eyes. She recalls telling her mother that Perry Hasleton had the prettiest brown eyes in grade school.]
The Erickson family would have come into Norway around the 1500s by the command of the Finnish king who sent some of his subjects (willingly?) to farm the Finnskog (Finnish?) Wood, which was at the border of Norway and Finland. The border was unknown to many of the farmers and many Fins settled in Norway by mistake.
3rd Stop—Lake Latoka “the swimming hole”
According to Uncle Jim much of life revolved around this lake, which I didn’t understand at first because it was a long ways from Martha’s farm, but I later realized it was close to Hubert’s farm.
Uncle Jim said it was a good lake and I asked what made a lake good. He said that it was deep, therefore cold and not weedy. Also, it has a sandy bottom. It turns out that the lake was much cooler than at Hubert’s muggy farm.
Aunt Elaine told a story of when she was a girl and road from town on a hot day to swim at the lake. The only problem was that she had to ride her bike back home on the warm day. Her mother thought it was a waste of time because came home as hotter than you were when you left. Aunt Elaine disagreed and felt it was very much worth it.
Here at the lake, Uncle Jim told of the “break up of the farm,” meaning the family. The family was so poor that when Hubert saw an ad in the paper stating the need for teachers “Dad,” Hubert, told “Mom,” Ardes, to go find out about it. She went to find out and came back reporting that she would need a certificate to teach. Hubert and Ardes discussed what it would mean to get a teaching certificate. It meant school in the cities (Minneapolis) for Ardes during the week. She would come home on the weekends. (I never did get the information of how she got back and forth from the cities to Alexandria.) The younger children would be farmed out to relatives during the week. The older ones would stay and help with the farm as usual.
It was agreed that the sacrifice was worth it and Hubert and Jim (and Dick?) took Ardes down to the cities in the family car. Jim recalls that “Dad” pulled up to the sidewalk in front of her apartment, set down her small suit case on the sidewalk, got back into the car and away they drove without “Mom.” Jim says she just stood there watching them drive off, “What else could you do?”
4th Stop—Hubert’s Farm
It is weeds now. The house is gone because it burned down. The thought is that the fire was deliberately set by the owners who bought it from Hubert. Uncle Jim doesn’t know why they burned it, maybe it was in the way, but he was astonished that it hadn’t grown over with trees.
A short time before the house burnt down, Uncle Jim had a dream that the whole building was ash and wherever he touched, it crumbled.
As soon as we stepped out of the cars to see the plot where the farm house had been, we were surrounded by long green stem-like weeds. Uncle Jim picked one, put it in his mouth and slyly said, “When I was a kid, I ate so many of these that things came out green.”
Hubert and his sons (and daughters?) farmed corn, soy beans, and wheat.
Here is a picture of an old building that uses the original milk house as its base.
There is another picture of the old white barn and a picture in the direction of where another barn stood.
The last picture is of Uncle Jim standing next to an asparagus plant that was near the house when he was a boy.
5th Stop—Dairy Best
The pine trees are where the old Dairy Best was. It was at a busy intersection on the highway that ran from Minneapolis to Moorhead, Broadway and 110. The Dairy Best was two stories. The boys lived on the top story and sold ice cream on the bottom.
I think it was here that Uncle Jim said that the four oldest Hasleton children, Dick, Gail, Beverly, and he were the ones that were worked hard and the younger ones were spoiled. Something my dad, Perry, has never mentioned.
It was also here that I turned and saw him, one of the things I remember from Alexandria—OLLIE! or as I remember him, “the Viking.”
Ole the Viking and a few images of the resort are all that I remember of Alexandria.
I remember that the Viking was in the middle of the street and he was very run down looking. And it could be my imagination, but I also remember that he was dressed in, or his shield was, blue. In either case, they moved him off the road and repainted him. To me he meant that we were close to the resort, or really that we were close to getting out of the car.
7th Stop—Great Aunt Margaret Hasleton
We visited with Great Aunt Margaret for a bit which was wonderful. She is Hubert’s sister and the only one of her generation from the Hasletons still living. She was in her mid 80s (?) and looked wonderful. She remembered every name that Uncle Jim brought up and was able to discuss family affairs with him. She is moving, before winter, to the cities area so she can be closer to family. She was the last Hasleton in Alexandria.
8th Stop —The Resort
We were only at the resort for a short time because the owners weren’t home and a friend who happened to be doing them a favor was there and just about to leave. He gave us permission to look around and walked with us to see the lake. The resort is no longer a resort; it is a single family home to a doctor. It is HUGE. The fish house has been turned into a guest home. The lawn is large and green and I had a quick flash back of green lawns and little, long cabins. The mosquitoes were fierce! The walk down to the lake was a long way down that I didn’t remember. Uncle Jim said that he didn’t spend a lot of time at the resort but Uncle Hal and Perry, my dad, were important to its operations.
The only memories I have of the resort are of the fish house and one of the cabins. I remember thinking the fish house looked like a fun place to play and hide in. I also remember scales, a dismembered fish eye, and the stink! I did not stay in the fish house long. My other memory is of locking out mom, dad, PJ and Robert from one of the cabins. They thought I was napping, but I woke up and locked the bolt from the inside. When they came back to the cabin I was standing outside of the door listening to them try to get in and then try to wake me up to unlock it. I thought it was hilarious.
9th Stop —Kinkeade Cemetery
We stopped to see where Andrew and Martha Hasleton are buried. They are in Kinkeade Cemetery between Lanes G and F on the north side. The grave looked beautiful and well maintained. It even had live flowers that Aunt Margaret has been keeping alive. They looked a little peaked, so Emma and Megan gave them some water.
While at the cemetery Aunt Elaine told me how she had come to date Uncle Jim. She and Perry were good friends since grade school and connected at BYU because he was the only person she knew there. She, or maybe dad, called each other on the phone one night and talked with Perry. For some reason he handed the phone to his roommate and brother, Jim. Jim and Elaine talked for a long time and he said, with pleased understatement, the he was “impressed” with her.
For some reason, this sparked the memory that Aunt Elaine had of Perry spray painting his and her initials in blue on the sidewalk outside her house.
10th Stop —Aunt Elaine’s Old House
This is a picture of where my father’s act of vandalism might have been. Aunt Elaine’s house is gone now, but it was a duplex and the neighbor, who worked for the city, was extremely annoyed by the blue graffiti. Apparently it stayed on the sidewalk long after Elaine left and went off to college.
11th Stop—Elementary School where Elaine and Dad were Educated
This is where Perry and Elaine attended the sixth grade together. It is now a law enforcement center, but back in the day, when children were seated in alphabetical order, Perry Hasleton sat right (?) in front of Elaine Helgeson; it was love according to geography.
Before Perry and Elaine, this was the high school Hubert Hasleton graduated from.