One character often dominates a family history. To preserve the worthy tales of all, we stripped out the colorful aspects of such a member to present the family of Alette Hemmingson. That is, we give you what the standard documents tell, and withhold a broader narrative. A separate post will follow soon, to disclose the sibling, whose contribution will only be better understood, because of this greater context.
We have been acquainted with Ole Hemmingson and his family with Berith Hass Mathisdatter.1,2 One of their six children was a much loved subject in our “Memories” section. He was our grandfather, the Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967) of the woods of British Columbia.
This is about Granddad’s half-siblings; Ole’s children with Alette Ingebrigt. She arrived from Norway, June of 1888.2 It is not known if she came expressly to housekeep for Ole, but keep his house, she did, bringing along her baby boy, Torger.
We will assume she was soon at Ole’s homestead in northern Wisconsin; Mason, Bayfield County, to be exact. She was probably delighted, if not a tad apprehensive, to find that one of her charges would be his infant, George, a “twin” for Torger, since both had been born in 1887. 2,3A
Alette would be hopeful of help from Henriette who, at thirteen, was keeping her bereaved family together. Perhaps there was more than a little adjusting to do, for Alette was not her mother. Nor was she mother to Matt, who was closing in on twelve. Now, had we read “Dear Granddad; If only November had been August” and its sequel, we would understand what else Alette had stepped into. Then, we would know that many “Maria” moments awaited her, as she approached her governess duties. Would her first ally be either of them, or would it be the younger Harry or Marie. Perhaps, six-year-old Ed?
The homestead! Now, Matt did not go to that one-room schoolhouse we saw last time. No. He was out on the farm doing his chores, which Matt’s son told us, included clearing the land, cleaning horse stables and cow barns, bringing in cows for milking, then churning and separating milk.1 Just as he saw his father do in Norway. He was itching to turn those chores over to the younger boys.
The next thing we know, is that Ole married Alette in April of 1892, just in time for Henry, who was expected in June. 3C,3E Those events probably went smoothly, after all, the “twins” were now around five.
So, Matt was out in their field determining that he did not have the heart of a farmer. Henriette did, but she was inside cajoling Harry, Marie and Ed to ready themselves for school. We know all this because Ole was off surveying and constructing roads for the County.1 Did the requisite big breakfast fall to Alette, who was struggling with baby Henry and the twin plotters? There is nothing like a lively homestead. We guess.
That tranquility was not for long because Alette would soon enjoy the harbingers of Arthur who came onto the scene in 1894.3D,3F We shall see that the dear child may have brought some special challenge.3D
Harry did not last long in that schoolroom, nor Matt in the field. Of that we are certain, because Matt had Harry out logging in this timeframe, whereby Harry was lost in a terrible accident.1 It would take until 1895 for relief to arrive in the form of a new blessing; Clarence.3D
To interject for just a moment, that one-room school we showed you was ten years too modern to fit our needs. Plus, situated a few miles away. This derelict from 1872, should its plaque be true, is right from Mason and a dozen years too old. The pictures are not tidy, because they come from this Ranch Park video, curtesy of Flashing Star Productions, who created its content. Careful, now, it is quite creepy. We wonder if Ole commissioned one of those statues.
The museum site is not monitored and some articles within the room seem out of period.
We do not know if any of ours sat upon those seats.
Henriette was an adult when Clarence was born, as was Matt, who was off working in the woods. So was Ed.3A She may otherwise, have been a wonderful help to Alette as Mildred’s birth approached, in 1897, except, she was more likely to have been absorbed in the care of Marie, who was in dreadful decline with tuberculosis.1 Plus, the farming duties.
Marie succumbed in the late 1890s, as Alette prepared for baby Ole.1 We know that Henriette soon married, and took George with her.3A Alette’s little Grace was born in 1901, coincidental to young George’s demise. Paul was 1903’s newborn.
With the advent of Paul, Ole Mathias Hemmingson (1851-1903) had offered the world fourteen children, including Torger. We have already presented Berith’s Henriette, Matt, Harry, Marie and Ed.
ALETTE AND HER ADULT CHILDREN
We begin their further chronicle by telling that Alette was most fondly spoken of, at Granddad’s table in British Columbia. She was an amazing step-mother, too.
Death is always at the end of a genealogical account. Its cause, even for ordinary persons, is detailed and those that are interesting get a good deal of ink. Too often, births and marriages are simple statements of fact, unembroidered of attendant festivity that had certainly happened. The result can be an unfairly glum story.
Can we not imagine their kitchen sawdust hopper and wonderful farm sink? Preserves? Cold winter drafts interrupted by crackling home-split log-fire heat? Do we not know the aroma of farm fruit and veggies and a long simmering stew? Baked pies cooling on ample window sills? Sleeping on linens unpegged from a line strung in rural air? OK, so the kids did the pegging. Chores done, dogs in untethered glory, wagging their happy tails while keeping a good sniffing distance from their romping charges? Ah, frolicking has all but been forgotten; we get high now, otherwise. More sophisticated, you know.
They had homestead and the childhood pleasures that go with it. Yes, the youngest were robbed of their own loft, except that it was still for the taking at uncles, aunts and cousins. Their backyard was the gorgeous and invigorating environment of Lake Superior.
We will not leave the impression that this family had but a sad hard life. Rather, they had the best lessons that come from a family pulling together, more so than from the school house. A fierce closeness tied both Ole’s families; a liberating one, that said family can be involved, with members independent at the same time. They learned the freedom of children growing up in a large family, the right to engage in hazard to learn, an autonomy that today’s sheltered ones and twosomes just cannot fathom.
Torger, Henry, Arthur, Mildred, Clarence, Ole, Grace and Paul was her children’s birth order. Except for Alette, their story will mostly be told in order of demise, for that is the arc of it all.
Ole acquired the farm in the early 1880s under the Homestead Act of 1862.1 It was mortgage free. Taken two years after his death, the Wisconsin State Census showed it under mortgage. Shades of hardship to come. Grace was captured in this, her only census.
Grace Hemmingson (1901-1905) We have not discovered what ailed little Grace. Alette had barely recovered from Ole’s passing, when Grace became the first of her children to go. She rests in Mason Cemetery with her mother and siblings: Torger, Earl (Ole), Arthur and Henry.3F
She speaks to us of the grace of her mother, for her father is not with her.
Berith left Ole first, followed by Harry, Marie and George. Then, Ole himself. We suspect that Alette’s kind heart allowed Ole to lay with them, for they are yet to be discovered.
By 1910, Alette and her seven surviving children were in a rented home in Mason.3A It was the last full family enumeration because the aging children were moving on.
Torger Ingvald Hemmingson (1887-1911) was born to Allette Emilie Bergith Ingebrigtdtr. and Arne Tollefson.2 They had left Hatfjelldal, Nordland, just like Ole and Berith. It is not known why his biological father was absent from their emigration.
Torger, particularly, must have been devastated at the loss of his “twin”, George, just as their teenage years were upon them.
Torger pulled his weight as a farm laborer in his newly fatherless home, so told by the State Census of 1905.3B Five years later, at 23, he was still at home and working, but now at odd jobs. Although employed, he had been out of work for 10 weeks during the prior year. We do not know what took him, but those knowns are consistent with slow decline.
Recall that Marie had passed of tuberculosis around 1898.1 High incidence of the disease in the tri-county area of Bayfield, Ashland and Iron had been under review since the 1890s. The Pureair Sanatorium was opened as a result, but not until 1920.4
We grappled with the seemingly odd order of immigration for half-siblings Henriette and Matt with regard to the demise of their mother. It is possible that she did not go at childbirth. Rather, she may have had TB, with it exacerbated by childbirth, for a more uncertain timeline of death. Experience has taught us that where one TB death occurs in a family there are likely others. It is quite possible that one, or more, of Berith, Grace and Torger died, consequent to the disease. It is just a hunch though.
CENSUS 1920 and LOCAL GEOGRAPHY
Alette remained in Bayfield County until at least 1920. Paul was approaching seventeen. She had raised them all in the Mason area.
That census lists her as married to Christ Iverson, with Ole and Paul, step-sons.3A Young Ole’s draft registration detailed his next of kin as Mrs. Alette Iverson.3D Otherwise, no document has been found to support an Iverson marriage. Alette Hemmingson was a widow in Elkhart IN at the 1930 take. Arthur was with her.
DRAFT CARDS AND LIMIT OF THIS REPORT
That “everything changed” was sorely amplified by World War I. On the puny genealogical front, we now had draft cards. They helped to know our people better for the period leading up to 1920, which were their years of deciding adult direction. WW II Draft gave us one more glimpse beyond the last publically available census of 1940. By then, Alette’s children were well into adulthood, and that is where this report, for the most part, will end.
Alette’s older boys had left Wisconsin; Ole and Paul would soon follow, but always in a stay-close mode. Their lives would play out in the Great Lakes areas of Bayfield WI, Duluth and Grand Marais MN, Chicago IL, Elkhart IN and Detroit MI. Oh, and on the lakes themselves.
Not everyone reading this is familiar with these areas of interest. Mason, Bayfield County, WI is about 70 miles southeast of Duluth MN, which is on Lake Superior. Chicago is about 500 miles south, on Lake Michigan. Elkhart IN is a little east of Chicago. Detroit is eastern yet, on the Detroit River, one of those that connects the Great Lakes. Grand Marais is north of Duluth; a straight line boat-ride into the Bayfield area. In other words, all were assessable, one to the other.
We said we would deal with Alette’s children in the order of demise. Mildred will be the outlier because she stayed put and, anyway, ladies first. Sisters were cherished in our Grandfather’s home; it was learned somewhere, dear Alette.
Mildred Dybedal (Hemmingson) (1897-1987) was the only child of Ole to remain right in the Bayfield area. She best preserved the lifestyle of their youth. Her homestead, likely of Dybedal origin, had to be the family go-to. That is inferred because the wanderers, Arthur, Earl, Henry with wife, Mary and Alette herself, came home to Mason Cemetery. Besides, Mildred had the only large brood of Alette’s grand wee ones.
Mildred married Edward Dybedal, a farmer, 3C Although they wed in Hennepin MN in 1916, they resided in Bayfield County by 1920, along with his mother, Karen. Edward was likely a close relative of Matt’s first wife, Caroline Dybedal. That marriage was discussed in our last post.
Mildred made it to 90. Our family contacted Alette’s descendants in the mid-1960s to gather their input on our shared Norwegian background. If memory serves right, the call went to Wisconsin and Mildred comes to mind. A tape was made. It was wonderfully interesting and delivered mostly in female voice. We must have thought it indestructible, so not put to paper. Decades passed. It rendered itself to dust. One great big genealogical drat!
SINKING OF THE SS HENRY STEINBRENNER
Ole Marion Hemmingson 1900-1953 incurred a name change to Earl Marion Hemmingson sometime after 1920. He lays in Mason Cemetery as Earl M Hemmingson. In the first strong clue to the fact, Earl was found in the 1930 Census as brother to Paul, who was resident of Chicago. He was a single 30-year-old mate on a Lake Steamer. The family was scribed as Hemingson for this take.
Marion: Ole and Clarence bear the middle name of Marion. Ole’s WW I Draft Registration showed his father as Ole Marion Hemmingson.3D His father was born in Norway as Ole Mathias Hemmingsen.2
That draft registration found him working in the Bayfield area for E I DuPont. Henry and Arthur were co-workers. It was 1917-1918; all lived in Washburn, a few miles from Mason, and soon would disperse.
Earl’s 1940 census listed him as married, but, as he was boarding with shipmates, there was no wife alongside to verify. On the contrary, he gave Henry Hemmingson as next of kin at his 1942 Draft call.3E Of course, there could have been a marriage in between, just, not found.
That card put him at 160 pounds and 5’7”. He was of light complexion with black hair and gray eyes. He can be imagined so, at the helm of a freighter used by the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Co. The SS Henry Steinbrenner sank on Lake Superior in 1953. Earl was a wheelsman and casualty of the event.
NO DISABILITY HERE
Arthur Oliver Hemmingson (1894-1962) sounds like one of the “I think I can” types. Between his two draft registrations we know that he was gray eyed with light brown hair, standing 5’2’ at 115 pounds.3D,3E Arthur had a spinal condition that resulted in hunchback. E I DuPont employed him as a clerk as WW I approached.3D
Arthur may have been the only sibling to receive a 12th Grade education. He was a glassblower, in Elkhart IN in 1930 and living with Alette. He kept that trade through the decade, when in 1940, living next to Henry, in Duluth, he was glassblowing for wholesale. Arthur remained single and was usually surrounded by a family member. Perhaps he needed assistance. He was last documented with Paul, in 1942.
Dad was John Oliver Hemmingsen. We would be pleased if Arthur had something to do with that.
Henry Imbert/Insbert Hemmingson (1892-1970) appears to have enjoyed the most stability of the siblings growing up. He had his father and mother for a full eleven years, then his mother, ongoing. He mastered the electric welder trade upon an 8th grade education and owned his shop.3A Family lore indicates that Hemmingson Inc. in Duluth MN, was very successful.
Henry, and wife Mary, put roots down in Duluth around 1920. There they stayed, and his brothers all lived in his surrounds at various times.
No document has been found to support the notion that his wife, Mary, was Mary Wood of Bayfield County. However, his WW I Registration showed that he resided in Washburn WI in 1917; Census 1930 indicated that Mary’s parents were born in Canada, and the 1905 Wisconsin Census of Washburn WI, enumerated a Mary Wood whose parents, August and Sarah Wood, were born in Canada.
This is brought forward, for two non-surviving children were born of Henry Hemmingson and Mary Wood in Duluth MN; a boy in March 1927 and a girl in March 1936. Otherwise, the couple appeared to be childless.
Clarence Marion Hemmingsen (1895-1987) appears to have struggled with employment. He was first a laborer in a Bayfield sawmill in 1910.3A He was already in Detroit MI in 1917 working as a Marine Steam Fitter.3D His first Draft call found him tall, with blue eyes and light brown hair. It said he suffered pulmonary trouble.
In September 1919, the Marine Steam Fitter married Nettie Jackson, born David, in Macomb Michigan.3G However, his 1920 Census, taken in Detroit, showed his wife as Helen, who graced him with a teenaged step-daughter. That child dropped off the radar screen. Clarence emerged in 1930, unemployed in Chicago. He was in his early thirties, with wife, Nettie, who largely matched Helen’s profile.3A
The census expressed unemployment as raw data, not disclosing the reason for it. We are reminded that his cohort of those born around 1895 opened their adult eyes to greet WW I. They suffered through the Great Depression, as well as smaller ones, and, just as they were dusting themselves off, were confronted with WW II.
The next time we see Clarence, he had repaired to rural life in Grand Marais, MN.3A He was now with wife, Edna, whose profile did not match Helen or Nettie. The 1940 Census looked back to 1935, so, we know that this couple were in Grand Marais by mid-decade. It disclosed 78 months of unemployment on a stated occupation of Contractor, Plumbing and Heating., Edna was pulling some income as a cook.
Clarence was eight when Ole passed and still on the homestead at ten. Recall, he had farming relatives and neighbors all about. He probably had farming arts to apply in that rural setting, to pull them through. There may have been a step-daughter, but it appears that Clarence had no biological children with either wife. It is not known if his first wife died, or if the union was dissolved.
THE FOURTEENTH CHILD
Ole created his legacy over 29 years from Henriette to Paul. For Paul, Ole could be but whisper.
Paul Hemmingson (1903-1995) must have had a sense of humor and expressed it as a genealogical curiosity. That is, he “voted twice” in 1920. He was Paul Hemmingson, a common laborer, on January 6th, step-son to Christ Iverson in Bayfield, WI, and on the 15th, an unemployed brother to Henry Hemingson, in Duluth MN. A head-scratcher early in discovery, the same-person fact soon became evident.
Paul was just a boy of seven in 1910, at the last full count of his family. The double find for 1920 was actually a welcome bonus. We literally witnessed the young man leave home to step forth onto the world stage. His first stop was to Henry. He had but two years of high school, but must have gotten himself re-employed in short order.3A
Paul married Lucille G Lamb around 1926 at 23. They had their only child, a son in 1927.3H Paul had become a streetcar conductor in Chicago. Lucille was “foreman for candy”, whether at a store setting or in manufacturing. This according to Census 1930 when they shared their home with Earl.
The 1940 Census revealed he had stayed in Chicago, on Chicago Surface Lines. He had locked himself into necessary city employment that saw him through the depression. His family was living with his father-in-law, Alfred Lamb.
Alette Hemmingson (1862-1947) died in Duluth MN, ever vigilant over her close knit children. Six were still living. She had seen them through the loss of her husband, their father. She saw them through WW I, the Great Depression and WW II. She guided her step-children to adulthood too. Although they then moved away, we remember and say, thank-you, Alette.
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