My grandmother came to Montana in October of 1912. She brought with her my mother, born in Sweden in 1911, and my mother’s older brother, born in Chicago in 1908. Grandma returned to Sweden to visit family while Grandpa came to Montana to file the homestead and build a house for them to live in. He filed for homestead in March of 1912, before it was Phillips County, at Glasgow, Montana. He joined his sister’s family and his brother in law’s sister’s family to become the fifth homesteader in a neighborhood that would grow to over thirty families.
Ellis Island shows Grandma and children’s destination as Woolrich, Montana. Woolrich was never really a town. It was a flag stop on the Great Northern Railroad. Woolrich consisted of a combination store and post office, owned by the Habadenk family. Today there is no remaining trace of Woolrich. In nineteen seventeen Mr. Habadenk moved his store and post office about two mile west to become the first residents and business in the short lived town of Bowdoin, which was to become a division point on the Railroad.
The family survived hard winters, hail storms, and drought until, sometime in the thirties, they became the last homesteaders to own their original homestead. Grandma and Grandpa had a total of ten children, four of whom died at or before birth and are buried in a private cemetery on the homestead. They lost the homestead for taxes in nineteen twenty nine, at which time Grandpa’s brother in law paid the taxes and took the land. He borrowed money and shortly he lost it to the bank. My oldest uncle leased it from the bank and then bought it back in 1938. With the exception of those few years the land was farmed and or owned by the family for over 90 years.
For most of her life, grandma cooked on a wood stove, and carried water to the house. She was a good cook and I do not recall that she used any kind of measuring device. She made homemade soap which was used both for hands and laundry. She made and sold homemade cheese. As I remember that cheese it tasted like a mild cheddar. She stirred up cakes, right in the pan. She had a spinning wheel, and though I’m not sure where she got the wool, she spun yarn, dyed, and knitted my sisters and I mittens for Christmas. Although she never had a written recipe for the cheese or the soap, I have in her own words the recipe for the cheese, as told to a neighbor.
Grandma was a, self taught, guitar player and knew how to finger pick. She loved to play and sing. She was born in Sweden in 1888 and lived to the age of ninety.