Waiting for the Train

By Bill Anderson

Written December 20, 1999; Revised December 23, 2019

When we were kids, back in the early 1950’s, growing up in a small town in southeastern North Dakota, the rhythm of our lives was governed, to a large extent, by the schedule of the Great Northern Railway Company. Our father, Earl Anderson, was the station agent/telegrapher for the Great Northern in our hometown of Rutland, North Dakota. His schedule was set by the Great Northern and our schedule was set by him. Back then railroad trains ran on schedules, with arrival and departure times calculated down to the minute. Tough conductors like Shag Lehmann and Herb Cochrane would cuss a blue streak if their train arrived in the station as little as a minute or 2 ahead or behind the scheduled time, and woe be unto the locomotive engineer or brakeman who was responsible for the deviation. Back in 1951, you could tell what time it was by the freight train steam whistle or the passenger train air horn as it came into town or departed with a load of freight, passengers, cream cans and U. S. mail. It’s not that way anymore. Now, a person can’t even determine the time of the year by the arrival or departure of trains on the Rutland branch line. As the late Ahrlin Hoffman commented some years ago, “I used to set my watch by the old Great Northern, then, one day, I came into town and discovered I was two months late.”

Back in the 1940’s and 1950’s the trains ran on schedule every day, holidays being no exception, and the men who worked for the railroad were on duty whenever the company said they were needed. As the railroad’s agent and telegrapher, Dad had to be at the depot when trains were scheduled to arrive. Everybody knew the train schedule and, a lot of times, folks would go down to the depot in the evening to “meet the passenger train” just to see who got on and who got off. The arrival of the eastbound evening passenger train from Aberdeen was always looked forward to with anticipation. Everything from freight to passengers to postcards moved by rail in those days, and folks were always looking forward to either sending or receiving something. You could drop an envelope containing your order to the Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward Companies into the slot on the side of the eastbound passenger train’s Railway Post Office car on Tuesday evening, and expect the items you had ordered to arrive with the U.S. Mail on Thursday morning. All it took to send a First Class letter back then was a 3 cent stamp. Is today’s internet service any better than that? It’s certainly not any easier.

Continue reading “Waiting for the Train”

The Old Parsonage Newsletter – May 2015

The Old Parsonage at Rutland ND will be open Friday, May 8, from 4-7, Sat., May 9, from 10-4 and May 10, from 12-4. On Friday, May 8, we have a guest on our porch! “Donna’s Bloomers” will be there selling her flowers and plants. We hope the weather stays good so we can enjoy the afternoon.

It’s finally getting a little warmer, but we need rain! Guess there’s nothing we can do about it! I remember how exciting it was to see rain. My brothers and I got to run outside and get soaked. We ran from our house to Grandma’s. She would always have cookies or cake for us. Then back out into the rain and head home. In other words, we messed up two places!

I’m looking forward to getting the Parsonage porch decorated. We have some new ideas if the weather gives us a few days. It’s always fun to try something different. Hope we have it ready by May 8.

We have been fortunate to get a lot of different things in this month. We are very happy that you think of us. We wouldn’t last long if we didn’t have the help. Thank you so much for dropping things off.

My grandmother did a lot of cooking and I was lucky enough to get some of her recipes. This one is Oven Pancakes:
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
Beat well. Add butter & salt to taste. Pour in greased pan size 10X10 and put in oven at 350% until done. Serve with whipped cream and lingon berries or cranberries.

Hope to see you the second weekend in May! Kathy

A Piece of Rutland History

October has been pegged as family history month and Rutland has a lot of family history. There were/are the Narums and Prindivilles, Jacobsons and Christensens, Andersons, Silseths, Sundlies, Dystes, Nelsons, Hoflens, and many more. Doing any family history can be challenging and finding little known or hidden gems can be a wonderful thing.  For those whose roots are in Rutland, I happened across a little gem while looking through Village of Rutland Ordinance books.  I was reading the first four Ordinances from 1908 which, coincidentally, were only four pages long.  The half-inch thick book is mostly blank pages until near the end where there are some family history treasures.  These little gems have been hidden away for a long time and here is what that marvelous little book holds.

Rutland Village Births
Rutland Village Births

1911 – 1912 births in the Village of Rutland.  This single page lists the seven 1911 newest members of the Rutland residents and four of the 1912 births.  Names include Anton Carlson, John Jensen, C.W. Barger, A.M. Christianson and other names familiar to some.

Flados, Rosvold, Johnson

Flados, Rosvold, Johnson

People come and people go and Rutland is no different.  There are some Certificates of Death for 1918 in the book as well.  The first death entry is for Martha Gurine Erickson Flados Rosvold on April 29, 1918. Two others are also included: Bert L. Johnson and Marianne Jenson.

Nadeau Smith Child

Ord Bk Birth Flados Barger
Flados and Barger

Ord Bk Birth Eckstrom Lien Swanson
Eckstrom Lien and Swanson

Nundahl
Nundahl

The last two pages include names of seven children born in Rutland in 1918.  The wonderful part of all these entries is that they include not only the child’s name and date of birth, but also the full names of parents (mother’s maiden name) and their place of birth. That mother’s maiden name can often be a block in a family tree.

I hope you enjoy this brief trip down memory lane and I also hope that this helps solve some of those road blocks in your family tree.