Blackwell Genealogy

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Van Loon Memories  3                                                             Page 1    Page 2    Page 3

William Minor VanLoon & Charity Davenport
           Miner Van Loon and Charity Davenport
        Photo 190

What we Remember
What we Remember

Written by the Grandchildren of Miner and Charity VanLoon that details moments in time of all the connected Families.
This is a good chance to go down memory lane, and if you are too young to remember, don't worry.  You will feel the moments your ancestors did.  Just let your imagination go wild.  These writings are wonderful for young people to learn a little of their everyday history.  Turn off the TV, shut off the cell-phone and take a little trip through time.  It's Free. 
I have entered comments, links, and numbers for website reasons.  This allows you to click to the individuals info on the site.

On this Page -  Stories of how it was -

The Van Loons  Grandpa's Van Loon's New House  New Years Day at Grandpa Van Loon's  Van Loon's New House

The Homestead  Going to Grandparents  Grandpa's Birthday  Grandma's Birthday  Draper's Timber Claim

Wolves  Hollis Boyd and Minerva Moore  Christmas at Grandpa Boyd's  Living at Grandpa Boyd's  Red House

Note: Names in this writing are not linked to the Surnames Page.

Family Numbers inserted by Webmaster are only for reference - Shown as (V9.1.6.2)

This writing was copied exactly as written.


MINER VANLOON AND CHARITY DAVENPORT  Written by the Family and Grandchildren of Miner VanLoon

In writing of the events remembered and told to us, in the lives of our pioneer grandparents, our impressions will be different because of our difference in ages.  Our grandparents were among the earliest settlers in Southern Minnesota, and the very first beyond the Army Post and Stockade at Alexandria, Minnesota.

Miner Van Loon and Charity Davenport VanLoon were born in Plymouth, PA.  He in 1818 - she in 1817.  Miner was an orphan.  They were cousins.  Charity came from a large family and comfortable home.  As a young man, Miner lived much in the Davenport home.  They both came from Pennsylvania Dutch Stock.  At one time Miner worked on a Canal Tow Path.

They were married in 1838.  We do not know what he did in the years they lived there.  They must have left about 1855.  Like so many others, they were hungry for land of their own and started out with ox team and covered wagon.  Their goal was the rich black soil of Minnesota of which they had heard.  One wonders at the courage - to leave the home land and family, going into the unknown, and the feeling of the family left - to see them go.  Letters and pictures were exchanged during the years but Charity never saw any of her family again.

In all, they had nine children.  Three born on the way to Minnesota.  John, (V9.1.6.3) the third child died in Plymouth.  They were left with five children.  Think of feeding them, getting them to bed at night in the wagon.  I think it took about six months to reach Carroll, Illinois where they stayed two years.  That was sometime in 1858.  

They couldn't go far each day and often rested in camp several days.  They would meet up with other families and then go their separate ways.  They never talked about hardships, at least in later years.  The children walked a good deal and it is a certainty that Grandpa walked most of the way.  Much of the rest days were for the oxen.  They carried feed for them and food for themselves.  Grandma brought along a lovely cherry bureau from her home, partially to have a place for their clothes and a place out of the dust.  They must have started with some money.  We never heard of Grandpa working on the way.  They passed through Chicago but would have none of that.  The wagons got bogged down in swamp land.  Poor soil.  They were not looking for town sites - but good land.

They lived in Illinois for two years.  There they knew the Sioux were restless, and in 1858 they went on to Acton, Meeker County in Minnesota and lived here four years.  Charles (V9.1.6.6) was born in Pennsylvania.  Jane (V9.1.6.7) was born in Illinois, or soon after.  William (V9.1.6.8) and Mary Elizabeth (V9.1.6.9) in the log house, shown in the picture.  We wonder if Grandpa built that log house?  William was born September 2, 1858.  The youngest, a little girl, March 25, 1862.  In this story I am going to call her Mary Elizabeth.  They gave her that name and it seemed to fit her.  ("little girl was Mary Elizabeth")

They were worried about the Indians becoming more restless.  When the baby was about two months old they left for the Army Post about a hundred and fifty miles away.  That was some time early in June.  While in Meeker County they met the Blackwell family.  Father (George Blackwell 10.2) and three sons. (John 10.2.3) (George Jr. 10.2.4) (Henry 10.2.5)  They (Blackwells) came from England to Canada and on down, also looking for land.  During that time, Amanda,(V9.1.6.2)  the eldest VanLoon daughter married Henry Blackwell.  They reached the stockade in safety on August 18, 1862.  The terrible outbreak and massacre started.  At the very house our family had just left!  The picture shows two covered wagons in the yard where several people were staying.  The Sioux turned on them and killed everyone they could find.  One little girl was found in the woods where she had crawled away.  A baby was found alive in the cellar where the mother dropped her trying to get out the window.  From there, the Indians spread everywhere, killing all settlers, burning everything.  In the Stockade, the men took turns guarding at the openings.  The tower was over the gate.  All oxen and wagons were inside.  The family lived there the rest of the summer.

When the families got back to their little cabins again and down to the homesite, the Indians had been everywhere and had destroyed all that had been done.  The next winter was the hardest time of their lives.  Lots of game of course, but other foods were hard to get.  Grandpa used to tell of "getting a little corn" where he could and taking it home.  Grandma would grind it in the coffee mill and make bread for their supper. The next spring he was working on the house and had a garden in.  The oxen were drawing out the logs for the house.

One day Grandma and the boys were there when a dreadful accident happened to little Willie, six years old.  He fell on a knife and cut his neck. (They were making willow whistles).  That was August 25, 1864.  Grandma was helpless and sent little Jane about nine miles to get Grandpa. The frightened little girl ran all the nine miles.  Little Willie was probably gone by the time she started.  "Jane didn't live long," they used to say, "She died of galloping consumption" they called it.  But she lived a year and three months.  Two children gone in a little over a year.  That same summer, one week after Willie died, little grandson, William Miner Blackwell, was born, September 2, 1864.  He was the first white child born in Douglas County.

The Blackwells stayed on near the cabin.  Took up a claim, later Homestead rights on Blackwell Lake, Holmes City.

By 1866-67, the house was finished and the family moved in.  It was a lovely log house, two stories, large lags all hand hewn.  It faced the north.  Large living-dining room to west end - four bedrooms upstairs, a smoke house, curing his meat.  The Indians were everywhere.

            Photo 191
Inserted Comment: Pocket Lake was a favourite camping ground. 
They named it "Pocket" because it was shaped like a pocket gopher.
Previously called VanLoon Lake.

Grandpa's idea was to be friendly with the Indians.  They soon came to him for many things.  The whole family could talk with them.  A lot of it was sign language.  Grandma used to tell of "being about her work and looking up to see an Indian in every window".  Just curious about what she was doing.  One day a tribe moved from one place to another - nine hundred went by their place in one day.  One night they were in bed.  Indians walked in - nine of them.  They had caught some muskrats and wanted to cook them.  So, Grandpa made a fire, put on big kettles, and when they thought they were done just sat there on the floor, and ate them with Grandma looking on from her bedroom.  It took nerve with their small children upstairs.  No one knew what they did with their dead, mounds were never found around the lake.  Many settlers carried their guns while they went about their work but Grandpa never did.

Knowing so well what the settlers needed most - a cabin to get their families out of the wagons they had lived in for months, he built three log cabins off the side yard.  They would drive in "had been told to go to VanLoon, he would help them find a claim".  He would and did, also fed them garden (vegetables) and smoked meat.  Sometimes there would be two covered wagons in the side yard.  One evening a family came in.  Some of them seemed to be sick.  Next morning, it was the dreaded smallpox.  Everyone had it!  It was soon epidemic -- they were helpless.  (Thank God this couldn't happen today).  The heartbreak was, three members of Grandpa's family lost the sight of one eye -- Grandma, Uncle Drape and little two year old grandson, Willie Miner Blackwell, a little boy to go through life that way.  And Grandma, a young woman with all she had to do.  About this time Grandpa realized that a cemetery was needed so he gave land at the west end of his farm for it, reserving the east side for his family.  Then too a school was needed so he gave land for the school.  The school house was built.  He wouldn't be able to name it, but today, we would call it "Community Spirit".

In 1869. son Jeff (V9.1.6.4) took up a claim five miles to the east of the old home.  It was near timber on two sides but lay in the prairie lands.  It had more of the black rich soil.  Grandpa built his house.  The logs hauled by ox team from the home place all were hand hewn.  It was a good sized house though on a smaller scale than the big home.  The same plan, faced the north, was a story and one half house.  Placed in the shade of a glorious cottonwood tree.  Improvements in a claim meant a house built and a well sunk.  In two years Father had Homestead Rights, and April 2, 1871 was married to Emma Boyd, daughter of Judge Hollis and Mrs. Boyd of Hudson Township.  He was now 24 and she 17, a young girl leaving a comfortable home to go out on a prairie homestead.  She did have a good sized house, very comfortable and a wonderful shade tree.

In 1872, their first daughter was born - September 22, Minnie Gertrude.  Now, Uncle Steve  (V9.1.6.5) decided not to take up a homestead but work the farm with Grandfather so Grandpa built him a log house very near the big house.  This was sided over and painted red.  He married Emma Hill, daughter of Lou Hill, living across the lake. 

They lived in the little home nearly a year when the dreadful think happened.  Uncle Steve was trying to get an old boat across from Mr. Hill's landing before the lake froze over.  He clung to it and was washed part way in.  It was more exposure than drowning, but help was too far away.  The stunning horror of that night, darkness coming on.  Almost two miles around to the house.  Lanterns (no telephones) ..... I don't think the family ever got over the shock.  That was October 22, 1873.  Uncle Steve, liked by everyone.  Doing the things he liked to do, married, his own little home..... from pictures he looked more like Grandma than any of the others.  As the years went by, the families grew.  There was a Stephen in each family. -- Stephen Hollis Van Loon, Stephen Blackwell, Stephen Geer, and Will Miner Blackwell's son, Stephen Blackwell-- a tribute in itself!

Now, Aunt Emma went to live with Grandpa in the big house and taught the school just a quarter of a mile down the road. Mary Elizabeth was on of her pupils.  I do not now how long she stayed there, I think two years.  Mary Elizabeth was growing up.  She was a tall girl with sunny hair.  Despite the strain under which she was born she had the gayest nature of any of the children.  When she was seventeen, she married good-looking Frank Geer, a Welshman from Wisconsin and went to his home two miles north of town.  How they missed her!  I never heard that the parents objected, just seemed to expect it.....perhaps they did.  The family was down to four now so they moved into the "Red House".  It must have seemed crowded after the big home.  The children didn't notice that.  The Uncles had an "Organette."  They kept it upstairs.  We could play it all we wished.  It really was lovely music.  They had many records.  Always getting more.

About this time it was decided the school must be moved to a more central location at the head of the lake.  So, a new building was put up set in a grove.  Road between school and lake.  The same school building is in use today.

They lived in the "Red House" several years and were getting ready to build the new house.



They too were pioneers, coming a little later.  Both were born in Chautauqua County, New York. 
They had six children, all born there. 
Henri LaVerne, Harlow James, Emily Irene (Emma), David De Forest, Herbert Moore, and Aeshel Kidder
David died November 2, 1861 - age 6 years.  Kidder died Mar 3, 1863 - age four years.

In the spring after Kidder died, they left for the West, with the other three boys and one daughter,
(1863) Ox team and covered wagon.  Their goal was the Government land and rich black soil of Minnesota.  While the Van Loons were one jump ahead of the "Indian Uprising," the Boyd's waited for them to quiet down at Hudson, Wisconsin.  They were there five years.  They must have found good schools there.  The children were growing up and went along in school so well later.  I would say they were all well educated.  It was in 1867 when they found their home on the east back of Maple Lake.  All through St. Paul and Minneapolis, only villages then.

The new home was in Hudson township - Douglas County.  Later Homesteaded.  At that time you got Homestead rights in two years.  This was later raised to three years.

We do not know if they found the cabin there.  I would think so, it was of logs, low built.  Had a low upstairs with bedrooms built on.  As I remember it, it stood in the shelter of low hills.  The Indians were peaceful now.  They never had to go into the Stockades.  Many settlers were coming in.  Soon after they came Grandpa was made Justice of the Peace.  As such he remained all his life (Hudson Township).  Later, the new house was built near the log house.  It had four bedrooms upstairs.  It faced East.  Back to Lake.  Large living room with south bay window; bedroom off this room; large kitchen; Grandpa's and Grandma's room off kitchen; small porch off living room to east; pantry opening into both living room and kitchen.  At one end of sink was the pump.  On back of range was a large copper reservoir.  We thought this the last word in convenience.  Hot and cold water in the house but the reservoir had to be kept filled. 

Maple Lake school was only a couple of blocks away.  Grandpa was not well for years.  While we knew him, not able to do heavy work, only light chores.  He had a bad heart condition and serious case of Bright's Disease.  With careful diet and good care he did not improve much so we children had his companionship.

Grandma had her cross to bear--she was so crippled with arthritis.  Arms so stiff.  She kept her hair short.  Her hands and feet so swollen and out of shape.  She had her shoes made to order of cloth.  We understood she had the pain from it years before but she surely suffered much-so many days it would be hard to get on her feet.  But how active she was.  She could not knit or sew, hardly hold a book but worked about the house best.  For several years she had an odd little woman to help her.  The family called her "Dutch Mary".  Later Lillian Wood came to them from Osakis.  She and Uncle Herbert were married February 24th, 1888.

Grandpa was head of the School Board, Deacon of the Methodist Church.  A Republican.  It was very upsetting to the family when Harlow James came home from Medical School at Columbus Ohio a Democrat!

Grandpa was six feet tall, a little on the heavy side, blue eyes, thick graying hair, wore long white whiskers.  How we children loved to brush his hair--the one brushing would stand behind the rocker, the rest of us perched all over him.  He loved it, so did we.

Grandma--hair hardly gray, brown eyes.  Emma, only daughter, had her eyes and dark hair.  The three sons, blue eyes, like Grandpa.

I can see them walking home from church (School House), Grandpa with his cane, she tripping along with her black lace cap.  Hands folded across her black and white shawl looking so calm and pleased--"they had been to church."

At Grandpa's, after breakfast, our chairs were pushed back.  A chapter was read from the Bible.  Grandpa used to do the reading.  When Aunt Lillie came she always did.  Then we knelt by our chairs and Grandpa said a prayer.  No matter how rushed the season in the fields, this was done.

Uncle Herbert, with the help of a man, had to take over the running of the farm very young.  Uncle Henri went to a farm of his own.  As a young man, Harlow, for a time, drove for the freight line hauling flour from Minneapolis into North Dakota.  In spite of all they could do, dust would sift into the barrels six inches.  Later he went to school in town, worked for Dr. Vivian in his drug store.  From there to Medical School at Columbus, Ohio so he was not home very much after he grew up.

Those days, it was hard to get through school if a young man wanted to take something special.  When Harlow needed help the worst, his parents were "hailed out"--a complete loss.  Not even seed was saved for the next year.  There was no "Scholarship", no "Student Fund", could not borrow at the bank so Harlow worked every summer.  One year cleaned the whole college by himself.  When through school he opened his office in Watts Flats, Chautauqua County, New York and lived with Uncle Gilbert Moore at their hotel.  Later he came home for a few days.  Was a young Doctor now.  The folks hardly knew him. Next day, Uncle Herbert brought him to see Mother at the Homestead.  "Her loved brother."  She clung to him and cried so.  The first time I ever saw anyone "cry for joy."

Grandpa and Grandma raised a wonderful family!



As far back as we can remember, we spent Christmas at Grandpa Boyd's.  That was their family reunion.  If we could go the day before, they had the "tree" Christmas Eve.  If we got there Christmas morning, "tree" was then.

Christmas Eve, Papa would be the Santa Claus.  He made a good one with his fur coat and a pillow in front.  String of bells from the horses' harness.  Grandpa in his rocker by the bay window.  Grandma in her straight chair.  Everyone had worked for weeks making gifts.  Most of them on and under the tree were home-made, but lovely things.  They always got a nice tall evergreen tree from town.  One year they could not get one.  I do not remember why.  Anyway, there was no tree.  Then Uncle Herbert came in with a bare, leafless tree from the wood, reaching to the ceiling.  Grandpa Van Loon was right, "about his giving us money".  "Children remember only a few things".  I've forgotten most of the lovely evergreen trees, but always remember the leafless tree.  How hard everyone worked to make it beautiful. The families usually went together to get Grandpa and Grandma something nice.  One year, a beautiful hanging lamp with prisms.  Another year, a lovely silver castor for the table.

A big dinner; sliding down hiss...and a Happy Day!  Uncle Henri's had moved from their old place by then.  Lived across the road so Georgie and Verne were with us all day.  Uncle - Dr. Harlow - had come west from Chautauqua County.  Was in partnership with Dr. Vivian now.  Leon was two years old when they came.  Sometimes we would all stay overnight, Christmas Eve.  One Christmas Eve we went to Uncle Henri's.  We must have been very young.  Probably only three of us.  They got our nice supper and the stocking hung up and off to bed.  "We would be up early next morning".  Yes, we were up early.  We kept hearing things downstairs.  Georgie "just knew the folks were up to something".  She heard cans rattle.  They were getting themselves a nice oyster supper.  Next morning we were trying to find our clothes in the dark to get our stocking so the folks got up too.  Got us dressed and breakfast.  I had walked in my sleep (as usual) in the strange place - had fallen downstairs - no damage!

We had horses then.  Aunt Anna and the children going with us the four miles to Grandpa's.  When Uncle Henri got there we had the "Tree". Oh, the 'HAPPY MERRY CHRISTMAS" over and over.

At last the day was over and everyone homeward bound.   "MERRY CHRISTMAS AT GRANDPA BOYD'S"


THE HOMESTEAD: - where we were all born
THE HOMESTEAD: - where we were all born.

Having no picture of the house we will try to create one "in our minds' eye."  It was of logs, sided over, never painted, so it always had a weather-beaten color.  Standing in the shade of a beautiful cottonwood tree.  When we were children, it was three times the size of the house.

The house faced north.  Front door in the middle of the house.  Living room west end.  Small pane window, one north, one west and one south.  The table always stood under the south window.  Bedroom to front, east window, next door leading upstairs.  Three bedrooms, east and west windows.  Next - kitchen and pantry.  Down cellar here, south window.  Back door south, out of big room.  Woodshed over back door - a door out of that opened east.  A huge flat, gray stone was our front door step found in the field and brought home by Dolly and the stone boat.  There it was - all the years.  Our door yard grass was a beautiful dark green - "Knot grass."  It had many small leaves on each stem.  It came up each spring.  Never needed cutting.  I learned years later it was of the alfalfa family.  I wonder where it came from and that more use was not made of it. 

Soon there were many trees planted to west and north for windbreak.  Trees each side of path to the road.  Mamma always had flowers.  I do not remember what they all were.  There were lilac bushes, always a "stone pile" with moss roses growing over it.  There was a bed of Sweet Mary.  In the shade of "the tree" a barrel stove hammock.  It was a wonderful place to rest.  Also a little tricky.

Much of our lives centered around the big tree.  In warm weather eating our meals in its shade.  Down the path to the road was our "Black Martin" bird house.  Grandpa had made it.  They came each spring.  We looked for them.

The land lay spread out on three sides of the house.  Hard wheat was raised on the velvet black soil, always a beautiful crop.  Often grew as high as a man's head when green, moving in the wind, looked like the ocean.

Our rooms always had rag carpets.  We children sewed carpet rags in winter by the mile.  Our mother's home was always in order and cheerful.  White tie-back curtains and flowers.

In winter the snow would pile up over fences.  When hardened the teams could be driven anywhere over the country.  Father brought his wood fuel from Grandpa's.  One day coming from school, we had a narrow escape from freezing.  Going to school was sometimes rather rugged but the neighbors took turns taking us.  On our road was the Truax family.  Jessie and I were the youngest - about seven.  Sister Minnie and Anna a little older, about 10 - 11.  Two boys, we thought were big, about 13 - 14.  Father was late.  We thought he was not coming and the six of us started out the half mile to our house.  It grew stormy and very cold.  About half way we could go no further.  The boys dug a hole in the snow and we all crawled into it.  Father had been to Grandpa's for wood.  He got home.  We had not arrived from school so he hitched up the sleigh, tired man and team, started looking for us.  He found us in the hole, most of us asleep.  I do not remember anything about getting into the hole until at home.  How he got the team turned around and six freezing children into that sleigh, but perhaps the boys could walk.  Back at the house the Truax team was there.  Mrs. Truax and grown son.  How frightened they must have been, and the shambles in the house with all the snow they rubbed us with all the coats, overshoes and all.  The first thing I remember is the hurting when forced to stay awake.  The sleep from freezing is very sweet.

A stormy winter evening, typical of many I remember!  The stock fed and bedded down, all snug in the barns, Nick in the woodshed on guard.  We had a warm supper - mamma, under the lamp, sewing, probably making one of us a pretty dress - which she could do so well.  We children "playing house", our favorite pastime, under turned over chairs with blankets over them.  We could go from room to room.  Our parents didn't seem to mind if we took up the whole room.  It was snowing hard outside - snow creeping up the windows making a perfect mirror.  Our Sunday night supper, often, was corn meal mush.  Like Eisenhower, we ate it with cream.  There was much sunshine in winter -- four distance seasons.

Into the summer we had many thunder and lightning storms.  Often in the night we children would be brought downstairs.  Frightened Nick, in from the storm house and under the e bed, shaking.  We would go to sleep so they just draped us on the bed anywhere.  Those storms were frightening to go then.  One day at school the sky grew green then hail came.  All windows on the north side were broken.  Hail stones and glass heaped in a row.  In a few minutes it came on the other side doing the same damage.  The teacher put us under desks and got under one herself.  With all that flying glass not a pupil was cut.  Then our nice neighbors across the road came running to see if we were all alive.

It must have been quite a blow to the School Board.  Some one had to go to town for all the glass.  One day in April a cruel thing happened to our good neighbor, Mrs. Truax.  A terrible cyclone tore by just missing us.  Struck her home behind the hill.  Her two story house was turned over and over, landing on its roof.  She and Anna heard the roar and ran out of its path just in time.  But what destruction!  It  hit two other farms then spent itself in big Lake Mary.  Mrs. Truax had hundreds of big black chicken, they lay dead everywhere.  Old and young helped with the clean-up and the family came to live with us until a new house was built.  We cannot leave the homestead without paying tribute to Mrs. Truax.

She was a widow living on her farm over a big hill about a mile to the west.  She raised her six children well.  She brought us all into the world.  Was a neighbor - friend, and a fine nurse to everyone.  If any of us got sick papa would go for Mrs. Truax.  When we saw her coming we knew it was "into bed and I'll give you a good sweat".  She would bring us out all right.  She adored and admired Mamma and Manna must have had great pleasure and comfort from her companionship.  "Bless her big heart".



It didn't seem to make any difference which end of the line, if the "team" was going, a little girl would want to go.  So getting her little bundle of clothes ready we would be off--so happy!  The pattern would be the same, both places, - if the "team" came in a couple of days, some little girls was homesick, want to go back.  Perhaps in two days we would want to go again.  They let us do as we liked, just thought it natural.  At Grandpa Boyd's we did not get homesick so easily.  Grandpa was around the house most of the time and it was a wonderful outlet for us.  But we were used to the other children to play with.  How dear and understanding they were to handle us that way.  At times it must have seemed like an "endless chain" to them but no matter which child came they gave us good care and we knew they wanted us.  How fortunate we were having four wonderful grandparents in our growing years.



In winter, many farmer had a man to help with the chores.  It might be the same man who worked for wages in the summer.  For several winters we had Mr. Streeter.  He was with us this evening.  Coming from Grandpa Boyd's it was clear and very cold. We had crossed Maple Lake and onto Long Lake, where the timbered shoreline came down close on both sides, when we heard of wolf's howl - then answering - on the other side.  More and more of them -- the horses were frantic and going as fast as they could...still the answering howls were just as near.  Then we were off the lake and near home.  The trembling horses, completely wet.  Mr. Streeter said "he had his gun on him", but it wouldn't have done much good if they had attacked.  Think of our poor little mother in that low sleigh box - with her little children.

Our baby brother, Stephen Hollis, had a fancy buggy to ride in.  I do not know where it came from, outgrown by some child.  It must have been expensive when new.  It was black and had a top you could raise and lower, wonderful springs.  He loved it an so did we.  We would take him to ride down the road.  In getting him on and off sometimes tip him over.  He had a town bought crib too.  The rest of us rocked in the cradle Grandpa made.  Perhaps Minnie was helping get supper.  "Getting to be a big girl now .. setting the table".  Kittie playing with her loved dolls.  I would be set to rock the baby to sleep.  That would be Olive Charity The harder she cried the harder I rocked until she would be rolling from side to side.  Make you dizzy, Olive?  Yes, children were rocked those days.

We had an organ too.  Mrs. Barnard got a piano.  We were sent for to hear her play it.  The first one we had seen and did not care for it (children).  Then the folks bought her organ.  How happy Manna was with her organ.  A low built organ with wonderful tone.  It made a fuller life for us, as well as the whole community.  How hungry they were fro music.  In Grandpa's neighborhood lived a retired Professor of Music, Professor Howley.  He gave them all lessons on organ and singing.  Old and young went (School House).  They called it "Singing School".  How well he taught them.  In the short time Mamma was at home, marring at seventeen, she could still play and sing by note.  Uncle Henri was the musician of the family but Uncle Harlow James played the organ for Sunday School for a time.  Winter evenings, neighbors would come in all standing around the organ and how they would sing!  Mamma always kept the Sunday School going where ever she ever lived.  The organ was our prized possession all through the years.

Spring came early in the Prairie country.  Our farm site seemed to be laid out well--Barns to south east--end of big pasture up to drive in--big farm yard--pump out from the house--oh yes, down a "quartering" path- the Privy.  Where we loved to sing...Why?...I do not know.  It might be evening coming on, frogs doing their concert, or just feeling we were away from it all.  Father did NOT approve!  He said we would wake up the neighbors.  (our near neighbors loved us, didn't care what we did).  I suppose he was brought up to go there in quiet and mystery.  Or any the cows.  Mamma did not worry about the cows and when Papa was away she let us sing.  The garden was to the west.  I am sure God planted that lovely tree knowing we were coming and would need it.  It was just in the right place, not another like it anywhere.  Right distance to the road.  My birthday and harvesting always came together.  Sometimes I had a party - cake and lemonade.  Then earthen jug cooling under the pump.  It was such a nice time of year.  Next excitement, thrashing.  The bailing began days before and kept right on - they would be there about two days most of the men neighbors.  Table loaded with food...It was lots of work and fun too,  Today they came with cook house and bunk house too.

The stacks were placed so the new straw went in the right place, near the barn.  As soon as the "rigs" left, we were out with our clean bet tick to get filled.  That night we would need a chair to get into bed.  No "Beauty Rest" ever was so good.  Straw was so important - could hardly have gone through winter without it.  Nothing could take its place for bedding for horses and stock.  Feed and protection for stock.  For think bedding for the Sleigh box-matting under our carpets, etc.

Do you all remember my don, Nick?  He was given to me when both of us were less than a year old.  He was everybody's dog of course, but he would do things for me he would not do for the rest.  He was black with a white ring around his neck.

We had two thrills no "Roller Coaster" could ever give.  Sliding down a big new straw stack and climbing away up in the "Tree" on a windy day and singing with the Blackbirds.

And so we leave the "Homestead"

Minnie Gertrude Van Loon
Winnie La Pearl Van Loon
Kittie Minerva Van Loon
Olive Charity Van Loon
Stephen Hollis Van Loon


William Minor VanLoon & Charity Davenport


At last he has his frame, plastered house--one he did not have to build of logs.  Quite a large house, painted white.  A lovely setting for it.  In the background the big grove of Black Oaks, Maples and Basswood.  It faced south looking toward the old home.  The slop was the garden.  The entire place was enclosed by an iron fence.

A two-story house, four bedrooms upstairs, a parlor (seldom used), a bedroom off that--good windows.  Large kitchen where most of the life was carried on.  Front door into a large porch to south.  Window looking onto porch.  Grandma's bedroom off kitchen - big range then into the "Meal Room".  A long table top, the length of the room with bins underneath for all kinds of flour, sugar and storage.  On the other side, shelves for storing things, mainly tobacco and pipes.

Then the back door opening onto the large back porch.  The pump was out there.  Then into the pantry, or "Buttery", kept cool where her food was kept.  Then into the basement, stone-lined.  Between buttery and parlor were the stairs, and four bedrooms--Uncle Drape's room to the front.  He had a heater and plenty of heat.  He enjoyed his room, would ready way into the night detective stories, "Saturday nights", by a reflector lamp.  Grandma had her rocker by south window in the kitchen where she could look out into the yard and onto the porch.

Coming from the old place, or "Red House" down a little path over the foot bridge, where a spring fed stream rushed to the lake.  Through the gate to the right to the barn.  To left up to gate and front door.  They had evergreen trees planted about the front yard.  They still used the old willow protected garden.  Uncle Drape's bees were there.  Here grew several crab apple trees.

They had a beautiful team of grays, "Fred and Jim".  Hitched to the wagon coming from a day's work in the field they were still prancing.  Uncle Charlie holding them back hard.  Uncle Drape would be on hand to see if they were too tired to rub them down and feed.  They were treated like babies.

Uncle Drape, ill so much, got so little out of life.  He always worked some in the garden, had his horses, the bees.  Both uncles had many pets.  He could make rings out of $5.00 gold pieces, beautifully made.  He always wore one.  I do not know who got one but I am sure he made more then one. 

The stone basement had an outside covered entrance out from that a big iron gate to the barns.

All, a lovely setting for the new house.


NEW YEARS DAY - at Grandpa Van Loons
NEW YEARS DAY - at Grandpa Van Loons

The family Reunion was a big event.  All four families came; the Blackwell; Jeff Van Loon; Geers -- about twenty.  They started coming early.  Much greeting of "Happy New Year".

Uncle Frank Geers had the farthest to come.  The day was usually bright and clear but cold.  The heavy coats, overshoes and scarfs nearly filled the house.  So much food.  The women tried to bring some of it, but Grandma had kept on making and baking things "for fear there might not be enough".  So much fresh bread, pies, mincemeat, pumpkin, custard, plain cake, big pan of rice pudding, a ham baking in the over -- perhaps also kettles of big "Rhode Island Reds" on the stove!  All those preserves; tomatoes, all kinds, ripe ground cherry - the table loaded; the same homemade table Grandpa made, always in the kitchen.

There were so many of us it took the second and third sitting.  The children last.  The highlight of the day was opening the barrel of apples.  We didn't see many big apples those days.  It was a treat for old and young.  Put down in the stone cellar, they come up by the milk pan full.  We could all eat all we wanted.  If two members of the family met before New Year's the talk would be something like this: "Coming to Father's New Year's?", "Yes, if it's not too stormy".  "Is Father going to have his barrel of apples this year?", "They are nine dollars a barrel, but father says he doesn't care what they cost, he is going to have them."  Then after dinner dishes washed more coffee made and the real visiting got into full swing.  The men in a cloud of smoke across the room, perhaps arguing politics.  The women seemed relieved they were out of it.  Grandma once said "I think they all believe alike but have to argue anyway".  Perhaps there was a letter from the east to read., a dress to try on Grandma Mary Elizabeth (Lib) and a granddaughter, Nettie made her clothes along those years.

Once she got out the lovely black silk laid away so carefully in her bureau.  We had all seen it before, there were 16 yards in it, cost a dollar a yard.  Grandma worked sixteen weeks to buy the material when a young girl.  It had a very full skirt, floor length, plain bodice, puffed short sleeves, low neck with wide shirring all around.  It could be perfect today (1954) for a dinner of afternoon dress.  Her granddaughters Minnie and Emma could hardly get into it.  During the afternoon big chinks of wood would be heating in the oven to put in the sleighs.  Late afternoon preparations began for going home.  Uncle Frank would go first.  Food was brought out again, if wanted.  The bundling in warm clothes again--it would be a real problem if one of us decided we needed to go to the toilet. (privy) after these were on (long underwear and all, but the mothers usually saw  to that.  The sleighs were all bedded down with straw.  Between blankets with the warm wood chinks, Mary Elizabeth and her four boys in the sleigh, Annie, Steve, Will and Milton, could hardly move until some one lifted them out (that went for the rest of us too).  The men driving from a sheepskin covered spring seat in big fur coats.  The road to town , up the lakes, Pocket, Big Lake, Mary Lake, Lake Winona and into town.  The lake roads would be like two lane highways.  You could skim along real fast.  We were next to go.  When we lived on the Homestead Uncle Henry Blackwell would sometimes ride across the lake to their home; Will and Steve outside, riding on the runners.  The rest inside blankets with us.  We would leave them in their snug home among the trees and go on the four miles.  At home again to fires and chores; another day of feasting and visiting over; another New Year's Reunion at Grandpa Van Loons.  SUCH A GOOD DAY!  "HAPPY NEW YEAR"


GRANDPA'S BIRTHDAY - April 11th (Van Loon)
GRANDPA'S BIRTHDAY - April 11th (Van Loon)

After New Year's day, the nest family reunion came on his birthday.  All the family gathering there again.

Spring was opening up now, fields being prepared for seeding.  Grandpa marking out his garden.  We would spend much of the day outside.  The same good dinner.  No barrel of apples now.  We would have ice o the lake, honey-combed, getting ready to break up.  This would depend on warm days and wind, but it usually "went out" around April 20-26.  When it started to move it would go the way the wind was blowing, east or west - shore - no one wanted the pile-up on their sandy beaches.  As the years went by Grandpa didn't change much - always active and well.

And so, another birthday for him.  


GRANDMA'S BIRTHDAY - September 18th  (Van Loon)
GRANDMA'S BIRTHDAY - September 18th (Van Loon)

All the family here again!  Blackwells, Van Loons and Geers.

A beautiful time of year, leaves turning in the maples and Black Oaks.  Much time spent on outside garden.  So many things to pick and take home.  The largest cabbage, squash, pumpkin ever seen; ripe tomatoes of every kind; ripe ground cherries, watermelons.  Grandpa's early "sun up" hoeing was paying off.  He had the finest corn - always saved only perfect ears for seed.  Another big dinner.  I do not remember us children giving her gifts.  Perhaps the older ones did.  We knew nothing about Birthday cakes with candles.  What fun it would have been.

And so, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to Grandma!



Uncle Drape's timber claim consisted of 40 acres.  Just below the farm but not adjoining it.  The prairie people, mostly from Morris, a town thirty miles to the south, began coming for their year's supply of wood.  They would come one day, load up the next, and leave for home before daylight the next.  Always three came together in case of trouble on the snowy roads.  The young men of the town, they came every two weeks.
In the mean time, wood cutters were getting it ready.  Often neighbor boys worked too.  They could always get work at Van Loon's in the winter.  Extra stables were put up for the teams.  The men slept in the house.  I seemed to be there a great deal along then to help Grandma.  I do not remember the cutters having lunch along.  Just come to the house for a hot dinner.
The morning the teams were leaving, Grandpa and Grandma were up at three o'clock, getting a hot breakfast, while the boys fed their horses.  Plenty of hot coffee.  Lots of fat ham and fried potatoes--they were great believers in fat for cold weather.  The loaded sleighs were standing in the road outside my window.  I would hear them hitching up.  See the lanterns.  Finally they were off with much creaking in the snow.  It would be dark when they reached home.  I do not know what arrangement was made as to the income and expense--it must have been considerable.

The claim was Uncle Drape'sGrandpa hired the cutters.

After the drivers left, Uncle Drape would come up to his room to put his money away-in books-usually a spelling book.  With his fumbling bad eye-sight, often drop some on the floor.  Grandma making up the rooms would put it away in her "Bureau".

These years there was much hauling wood up the lake from timber farther down.  Many of the prairie people had "Norwegian bells" on their horses and the sweet sound of them would come to us from the lake roads.  Those were busy days at Van Loon's.



When we new him, through the years and hard work, he was quite stooped but he was six feet tall and weighed around 180 lbs. most of his life.  Had strong, rugged features, blue eyes, thick graying hair, was left-handed.  I started out that way.  He wanted me left alone, Said "he wanted one grandchild left-handed, but my folks got me about half way out of it.

Grandma was a tall woman and remained rather slender all her life.  Hair very little gray.  It would curl about her face if she would let it.  When we stayed there, there were two things we were supposed to do--Clean up everything on our plates!  Go to bed early and get up early!  The last they did not insist on.  They knew when at home and no school, we could sleep as long as we liked, but it certainly worried them if we slept on and on.  Grandma would say "she is sleeping her life away"

They had some eating habits which must have come from the Dutch.  They nearly always had pie for breakfast, usually custard.  Grandpa liked syrup on fried potatoes.  I remember being there on cold nights Grandpa would come in, carry me to their bed--oh the delicious warmth between them - and under a feather bed.  I never seemed to crowd them.  Grandpa and Grandma in their long flannel nightgowns - she with her white night cap.  They seemed to know when a little girl was cold.  Used to sleeping with warm little sisters.  They must have done this with their own little ones.

There was much laughter at the table.  If neighbors and strangers came in, it was just put on another plate.  There seemed always to be enough food.  There was much talk about the "Van Loon Temper".  I think it must have come through the sons.  I never saw Grandpa angry, or Grandma either.  I never heard them quarrel.  I do not know what arrangement they had about money.  When something was sold he must have given her some, not talk or fuss about it, she always had money, aside from the spelling book haul.  If they wanted to buy something, not quite enough money, it would be "Mother, have you got any money?"  "Yes, I've got some", and she would get it from her bureau. 

She called him Miner.  He called her "Mother" or "old woman".

I do not remember either of them being sick.  She once asked him "why he felt he had to give us money every time we came?  I don't, and they think just as much of me."  He said, "when they have forgotten everything about me, they will remember Grandpa gave them money."  "Children only remember a few things."  One time Grandpa was with us going into town.  On the front seat smoking, so content.  We seldom saw him dressed up wit a good hat and black overcoat.  He looked so nice.  He seemed to know everyone we met.  Would wave to them and their greeting, so full of respect "Good morning. Mr. Van Loon."  I was so proud of him.

Her favorite expression, "Be moderate in all things."  As she would be quietly rocking in her chair how much she had to remember!

Some time, while they lived in Plymouth, Grandpa was made an "Odd Fellow."  Years later we learned through the Odd Fellows at Alexandria that he was the first Odd Fellow in Minnesota.  He was a Democrat and Methodist as all the family were.  That was all they had.  Just a traveling preacher would come through then everybody went to church in the school house.

He raised everything in his garden he heard of and believed to get thing to grow you should be "hoeing by sun-up."  He could make anything the families needed.  Their houses, cradles, high chairs, bread and butter bowls, spoons, ladles, all of satin finish.  He made the big table they always used in the big kitchen. He brought skillful hand and a big heart to the Frontier.

Remember Grandpa's wood pile?  Wood would be brought behind the fence.  There he could split wood when he wanted to.  Small perfect sticks.  Then he would throw them up on top of the pile - higher and higher.  At times it would be as high as the house.

In the spring he would tap the maple trees in the grove.  We would hang buckets to catch the sap.  If Florie and her colts didn't beat us to them.  Mother was the one to make the syrup.

Grandpa raised many hogs and sent to market dressed hogs.  His smoke house was running most of the time for himself and others.

Sunday was shaving day.  Grandpa and Uncle Charlie.  Uncle Drape didn't believe too much in shaving.  "Just a little trimming."  John Moses usually cut their hair.  We could follow him through the grove by the sound of saw or ax and see the smoke curling up from his loved pipe.  Doing the thing he loved doing.  Perfect contentment.  How he must have loved that place - no money worries, of too little or too much.  Here he had prospered from the first.  He gave freely of his time, money and hospitality.  Had little money as we knew it, but how rich in other ways!

I am putting down here a rather strange experience I had yesterday.
The night before I had finished page 6 on which "I remembered about them."  In the afternoon a young girl, about 20, came.  I was alone and went to the door.  She seemed so tired, so many stairs all day.  I asked her in to rest, I thought she was collecting for "March of Dimes."  She sat in Chris' red chair.  I sat near her.  She didn't seem to know anything about San Francisco.  I asked if she "lived here"."  She had only been in town three days.  Came by way of Denver from Pennsylvania, near Plymouth.  Said, "I am afraid of San Francisco it is too big for me", though she came to say, came from a farm.  You can imagine what the Bay Bridge looked like to me.  She drove.

She seemed to be heading a Magazine Contest.  She asked question: - "Does it snow here?, Are there places to swim?"  I told her she would find many pools and that people are friendly.  She said, "the people at home are friendly",  Plainly she was homesick.  I told her what I was writing about and just where I was on it the night before.  I asked about the Dutch Superstition about sleeping.  "Yes, they still believe that".  And hoes in the garden at sun-up.  I had only guessed about both.    They must clean up everything on their plates; they use syrup on fried potatoes; have pie for breakfast.  A dish they often east is crumb bread in a dish, pour coffee over it and eat it that way.  I told her about Grandpa's smoke house.  They still use smoke houses, she said.  Her folks "do cure their own meat".  "If an of them get behind or have bad luck they go to help.  They have lots of good food and work hard".  This hoeing at Sun-up and not planting things at the wane of the moon is not so strange when you think of the forces of both.  I told her how I had ended, after Grandpa died.  She said, "In those few words I am sure you covered his life".  They are not all like that, of course, but that is their "creed for living".

After she had gone I sat thinking.  Her coming - and our talk - it seemed to bring Grandpa so near to me, as though the years were wiped out.  I could have cried.  So many thing about their living we did not understand.  That old Dutch training through all of it.  Only we did not know how that influence governed their lives.

How strange that that young woman came just then?  She was glad to see me too.  Her name is Frances McBride.



How we came to live at Grandpa Boyd's that year 1888-1889.  The year before, there had been serious drought in the prairie lands.  water had to be hauled half a mile for all the stock.  So, it was decided to bring our dairy cows to Grandpa's to get the benefit of more mile at the new cheese factory.

So they were brought there.  The young stock left at the Homestead, and the house, as it stood, Father going over each week to look after the stock.  Uncle Herbert and Father worked the whole place together.  It made a pleasant life for us.  Four people already there, seven more stowed away but the big house was equal to it.  Uncle Herbert and Aunt Lillie, taking the small front room; Grandma's rooms was always the large one off the kitchen.  Minnie and I had Uncle Herbert's old room.  Kittie and Olive, the other room.  Mother's the large one toward the lake.  Little Steve, three years old now in with them.  Georgie and Verne across the road.  We all went to Maple Lake School.

Grandpa was not so well that summer.  So many afternoons he would come up to Mother's room where she might be sewing, and they would have long visits.  How good that they had this time together.  Soon after Christmas he grew worse.  He died February 26th, 1889.  It was the first death in the family and we were heartbroken.

Grandma lived two years after he died.  She had only a short "Illness."  Died in the old home, February 4th, 1892.  Mother was with her.

They left four children, thirteen grandchildren; Henri Laverne; Harlow James; Emma Boyd Van Loon; Herbert Moore.

Grandchildren: Minnie Gertrude; Winnie La Pearl, Kittie Minerva, Olive Charity; Stephen Hollis; Georgie Alphia; Harlow LeVerne; Leon Merroll; Marion Rhoda; Lucille Mildred; Hollis Herbert; VeLetti Minerva; and Alive Emma.

The Homestead was sold that spring.  We came to live in the "Red House".  As I remember, the stock went with the sale, the horses coming to us.  Father bought 40 acres from Grandpa, including a homesite, on the "Point" for our house.  We lived there four years.

Sometime after Christmas and the holidays we always had sort of an "after Christmas dinner" at Aunt Amanda's.  We looked forward to it.  The whole warm house strong and smelling of good food.  She always had this left from Christmas - English Pudding - she made it in a cloth bag and steamed some, as needed.  It seemed to last a long time.  We thought it so good.  Never got any any other place. 

In earlier years Will would be there, Emma and Steve.  After Uncle Henry and Aunt Amanda were gone, Will was married then and took over the farm.  He and Minnie (Lauermann) raised a large, lovely family.  So through the many years it was the Blackwell home - since 1883.  Emma married John Anderson.  They had one daughter, La Vone, raised there in the same neighborhood. 

Steve married Hilma Brandon.  They had a lovely family.  Reared in Oregon.  They lived several years in Seattle, Washington.

Thomas Jefferson and Emma Boyd Van Loon
Minnie Van Loon Guiles - three son, four daughters
Winifred Van Loon Bierd - one daughter
Katheryn Ginnever Anderson - one son.
Olive Cannon Stevens - three sons
Stephen Hollis Van Loon

Uncle Frank and Aunt Lib Geer had six children - Amos, Minnie, Stephen, William, Charles and Milton.  Minnie and Charles both dying at about two years of age.  Charles was a beautiful child.

Some of my happiest memories center around their old place.  The huge red barn.  What fun we had!  The fall we all went to school two mile into town.  Quite a band headed towards the old High School Building.  Seven of us one the road.  I do not remember where we met. Coming from different rooms, but we always came home together.  The "highlight" of the day was getting home.  Young Milton running to meet us.  No matter how hard Aunt Lib had worked all day she had a good lunch for us.  My favorite snack was two slices of her "best bread" - the best ever made, with heaped baked beans on top, Yes - that was a lovely time.

Aunt Lib loved her boys.  Had fun with them at the same time.  What a character building she was.  They raised all four well.

Amos lived at home.  Stephen had four children.

She lived to see her two youngest boys outstanding in their work with young people.  Will head of Y.M.C.A.  Camps during the Panama Canal building.  As the work went forward the camps moved up.  He was in the think of all the worst heat, dirt and illness.  Later - he was head of Physical Education at Harvard doing a splendid work there - he had so little time.  He left his wife Ruth and son Richard.

Milton - the loved principal at Hopkins High School for many years.  It is hard to express in words what he really has done.  Perhaps he won't want me to say these things but I am going to anyway.  What he has done - in help, influence and giving to others of himself in his school and outside can never be told.  That has been Milton's way of living his life.  As I studied Grandpa Van Loon as I have been able to do, I see that Milton is most like him of any of us.  He lived, too, as he saw it, and gave much.  Also from Grandma - a gentle humility she carried.  He married Frances Barry.  They have one son, Robert. 
We love you all, Milton.
                                                                                                                                                     Your Cousins

One May afternoon I came from school.  I seemed to be alone.  Found Grandpa near his gate resting on a small tree he had just sawed down, so I sat down to rest too.  We talked a long time.  One of the best visits we ever had.  Then he went on home.  I went home to the Red House, I sensed that he did not feel well.  I was fourteen and I adored Grandpa.  That evening he started to go to bed.  They heard something and found him slumped on the bed.  He had had a stroke and was never conscious again.

Uncle - Dr. Boyd - came in the night and again next day.  The family in and out - Aunt Amanda came.  Mary Elizabeth.  No one could help him.  Grandma just couldn't sit in her rocker doing nothing so she bake things.  I sat at the end of the table where she worked.  We couldn't  talk but she had tow bright spots burning in her cheeks.  Poor Grandma, her world was toppling.  He died that night.

"Genial, Generous Friend to all"
"Prince of Pioneers"

Died - May 16th - 1892

They had been married fifty-four years. 
He left five children: -
Draper Smith, Amanda Blackwell, Thomas Jefferson (Jeff), Charles Miner, and Mary Elizabeth Geer.  (Lib)
Thirteen Grandchildren:  not listed.



When Grandpa died he left each of his children 40 acres of land, or it's value.  Father's adjoined what he already had - 80 acres of the rich soil.  These fields were all cleared land.  The logs for all the houses he built much have come from this timber.  The men were now working the whole place together.  Now, we were getting ready to move the Red House.  This time, the house was moving us.

The house was moved on rollers.  Down through the trees to the homesite for our house on the Point.  I think it took two or three nights on the way.  We had our meals at Grandma's but stayed "aboard" nights.  Nothing had to be taken down or removed.  When Grandpa put logs together they stayed together!  The last night some young folks came in and we had a little "going away party", and how the "Hoot Owls" hooted that night:  They resented our coming into their woods.

At last the house was "anchored" where the barns were going to be (later it was made over into part of the barn).  We lived there until our house was built.  Such a beautiful place for a home.  The house had living room and bedroom to the front.  Dining room to west looking up the road and the garden.  Dining room door opening to a big curved front yard.   Kitchen toward lake,  Into cellar here.  Three bedrooms upstairs.  You could see the lake from every window in the house.  A huge Maple tree in curved yard.  Many Maples, Basswood, second growth.  Ironwood, many clumps of birch along lakes shore, cottonwood trees,  The lake shore was part of our door yard.  Our lake did not have a wide sandy beach, Maple Lake had.  We had sand, but grass grew almost to the water's edge.  It seems that we were always carrying a table, deciding where we would have supper.  "Under the Maple, or on the lake shore?"  We did not care of the clutter of a "built Table" in our yard.

We must remember the beautiful gray squirrels in our woods.  Big lovely creatures.  When we were drying hazelnuts on top of the buggy shed, they would eat out of our hands.  It we wanted fish for supper, we got bacon, or something from the house.  With our little iron wood poles go out in the old flat bottom boat to our "Pike Hole" and get fish.  I wonder if the tourists ever found our "Pike Hole?"

We knew how to fry them too.  We had a deep double pancake griddle, fitted over two holes on the stove.  Cut them up, dip in flour, salt and pepper.  Have butter slightly brown, enough that the fish was swimming in was a dish fit for a King.  "Minnesota Wall-eyed Pile".  or it might be Black Bass.  How many hours we spend in that boat.  Our lakes all had outlets to another.  But also, they were spring fed.  The official name for our Lake - for years on the maps - has been Van Loon Lake.

Uncle Charles was our best swimmer.  He could stay under water longer than anyone they knew.  We should have had the benefit of his teaching us to swim.  But the men and boys had to be, at least, a quarter of a mile from the girls in swimming.  "Oh, My" !!

After Grandpa died, Grandma must have been very lonely.  The family came as often as they could.  We say her every day.  She carried on for the family.  Got the usual good meals, made her wonderful bread, but she spent long hours alone.  The uncles worried about her.  She was to have another blow.  On June 16, 1893 our Mother died At thirty-nine.  We all needed her so.

That summer her brother-in-law came to see her.  Uncle John Shonk.  The coal mine owner of Bilkes-Barre, Pa., and West Virginia.  He knew Grandpa was gone.  His wife - grandma's sister, had died.  He came all the way out to Minnesota to "see how Charity fared".  His grandson Ed Shonk (Albert's son) came with him to look after his grandfather.  They stayed only a few days but what visits he and Grandma must have had.  I was taking Uncle John for a walk in the grove.  He said, "Yes, they have prospered, Charity has always been taken care of".  "What a table they set".  Ed was twenty, I think , attending Cornell.  Later went to Charleston, West Virginia where he managed the Shonk family coal interests.  He married and brought up eleven lovely children in a big home there.  It was such a pleasure to see Ed and Pauline in Santa Barbara in 1937.  Ed died in 1944.

Grandma was not very well that next year.  A little more quiet.  Spent long hours in her rocker.  No complaints whatever.  Later she became really ill.  Uncle Dr. Boyd diagnosed her trouble - cancer of the stomach.  She was in bed only a short time.

Her daughters and granddaughters took the best care of her they knew how.  She was never left along.  One day she said, "when I wake up some of you are always here".  She was trying to tell us how much she loved us for it.  Unassuming and quiet, as she had lived, Grandma Charity "went to sleep" that night, February 1st, 1895.  The last of our "Pioneer" grandparents.  How precious they were, all four, each in how own right.





It was not the same now for the Uncles in the big house, nor for us on the "Point". 
Our precious Mother gone.  Our world had collapsed too.
The beautiful lake was still there for our comfort and pleasure.

Listen - From "Up Lake"
The "Wild Loons" are calling.

Winifred Van Loon Bierd   -   Olive Cannon Stevens 
Katheryn Guinevere Anderson  -  Stephen Hollis Van Loon  -  Milton A. Geer




Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something.