Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967) Memoirs: Healing On A Logging Horse – THUD.

Our Matt Hemmingson, already an accomplished logger at 18, proudly asserted “Cant hook work (rolling and lifting logs) could be mastered only by the most skillful, strong, and agile and those not allergic to long hours of work … “.1 That was 1894. His 1900 counter, “After Harry’s funeral, I decided against any further cant hook work”, was uttered in deep regret and profound misery. (Part VII, last post). With his younger brother, Harry, killed in front of him, Matt had to find a path forward. It will be offered in the Memoir extract, next.

As 1901 opened, Matt had returned to his home in Mason WI. It is evident that there still remained logging to do around Lake Superior. Yet, the unrelenting tug of business toward the Pacific toyed with family matters, unspoken.

Note: WordPress Reader does not display columns. Please click “Visit Site” to view the balance of this post where descendants have added side-by-side historical and genealogical data to Matt’s Memoirs.

THIS IS PART VIII: Healing On A Logging HorseTHUD.

From Mathias Hemmingsen’s Memoirs

“After Harry’s funeral I decided against any further cant hook work. I was fairly handy with horses and, in fact, could fill any job in the woods, so was not worried about a job. Dad was in the logging game in a somewhat bigger scale that winter, and as business generally kept him away from camp a good part of the time, which was a detriment to production, he decided to hire a foreman to run the logging end of the business, and consequently asked me to take the job. I hesitated for a moment before accepting the offer because certain questions had developed between us which we did not seem to be able to come to any agreement on.

Descendant Notes

The “Bronco Buster” in Part I which resulted in Matt being confined to wheelchair later in life, likely happened around this time. The Hemmingson boys would otherwise be horse competent since the beasts were part of Ole’s homestead in WI, as well as at the farm they left in Norway.

Ole was a Civil Engineer. It was this primary business that kept him from camp.

My Dad was very well liked for his square dealing with everyone concerned and was perhaps a little too amenable for his own good. His word was his bond and kept religiously. He liked to attend social functions, and at some of those gatherings became mellowed to the extent of bargaining with supposed friends.

Everybody respected his word, and he was occasionally taken for a “ride” by his would be friends. I, however, decided to take the offer temporarily at least, which proved to be the latter, because the social functions it seemed took precedence in his itinerary. This was the question between us on which we could not see eye to eye on.

This uneasy father-son dynamic may have emerged in Part I when housekeeper Alette became step-mother. The first children felt diminished.

Matt was proud of Ole’s square dealing, as was his half-brother Clarence. We saw that in the entrepreneur vs radical socialist post. We also saw then, that Clarence had a different, more enamored take, on Ole and “his itinerary”. Clarence, though, was a youngster when Ole died, so was responding with a child’s love to his father’s legend.

However, I finished the winter of 1901 as foreman successfully, for both of us, and my brother Ed, then 18, made himself useful as a horse teamster.

Ed/Einer was born in Norway in April 1882.2 This was likely the reason for Berith to stay put, while Ole emigrated that same month. She followed in 1886 with Ed, Marie and Harry. They left Matt and Henrietta whose awful 1887 migration was subject of the post Dear Granddad: If Only November Had Been August.

That period was the beginning of my career as superintending logging operator in the mid west and the Pacific Coast areas.

My reputation as camp foreman evidently had some good points to its credit. In the spring of 1901 the owner of the O.P. Lumber Co., offered me the foremanship of his logging operation which I accepted and stayed with the ship a full year. It was a year of good schooling for a young man.

In the meantime, my brother George passed away during an operation for appendicitis.

Subsequently, I hired out to the IXL Co. (Humbird) to run a crew on the river. The following winter the woods superintendant put me in charge of one of the camps. Being employed by a corporation of such gigantic size was an honour very seldom bestowed on a young “punk” by a hard boiled walking boss. This was to be the starting point in my life career.

George was born October 1887 in WI according to the US Census 1900.3 At 13, he was apparently living with his sister Henrietta, adding to the appearance that Ole dispersed his first family, as hinted by a miffed Matt, when just a child. But the record shows Alette had six youngsters at home including a baby. Farming out was typical of the day.

On May 5th 1903 word came to me by special messenger that I was wanted at home urgently. On arriving home in the afternoon it surprised me to find the family doctor and nurse there. After a few minutes chat with Dad, I prepared to leave the bedroom, and as I entered the living room the Doctor called me back. It was too late, my Dad had passed away. I missed the attachment between us then, more than ever.”

The resting place for Ole, indeed, for Berith, Marie, Harry and George has not been located.

No obituary for Ole Hemmingson was found by search in local papers of the day.4

“It was too late” hints of the anguish one feels for that which cannot be resolved.  What could be hidden in the heart of Matt, the man, lingering from the eleven-year-old boy who confronted his mother’s death in the arms of this Dad, who had been absent for six years? This Dad, now passed, who emancipated him young, but nonetheless, had held him close to teach him everything he knew.

Of Ole’s first family with Berith, Henrietta, Matt and Ed, all of Norway, survived. They treked west; Mathias “Matt” Hemmingson, born in Norway, presently of Wisconsin was soon to become Matt Hemmingsen, born in Wisconsin, of British Columbia.

THIS ENDS PART VIII. Please offer comments or questions below.

Left: Hemmingsen Logging at Cowichan Lake B.C., ca. 1912. Matt emigrated from Norway in 1887, was logging in the Wisconsin woods at twelve and migrated to Vancouver Island in 1906. Our woods pioneer retired in 1946 after significant innovation. CLICK for our broader genealogy and Memoirs of Matt Hemmingsen (1867-1976).

Notes and Sources

1 The “Memoirs of Mathias Hemmingsen – Victoria B.C.” is a 25-page volume dictated to his daughter Margaret Henrietta circa 1956. It is unedited and unpublished, and graciously provided by Mathias’ grandson, Matt via the Matt Hemmingsen Family Collection. This post covers pages 15b to 16a. The work is protected here and published at copyright © 2018-2019. All rights reserved.

2 The National Archives of Norway, the Digital Archives  Church book for Hatfjelldal parish 1878-1898 SAT/A-1459/823/L0325 [Einar/became Edward 4JAN1882] and Trondheim politikammer (1)Emigrantprotokoll V 23.07-25.04, 1880-1882//SAT/A-1887/1/32/L005 for Hemmingsen, Ole counter.205/239 in 1882 (2) (2i) for Mathis., Berit with Einer, Marie and Harrold in 1886 counter 78/190 (2ii) for Olsen Henrietta and Mathias in 1887 counter 177/190

3 Document accessed at © 2017 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.: US Censuses 1900 from United States Archive and Record Administration (NARA) for George Hemmingson in Sanborn town, (excl. Ashland city) Ashland County Wisconsin.

4 Conducted by August 2, 2019.

6 thoughts on “Matt Hemmingsen (1876-1967) Memoirs: Healing On A Logging Horse – THUD.

  1. Matt took on so many responsibilities at a relatively young age. This post reminds me of how many people died at a relatively young age in days gone by.


    1. So true, Sheryl. People generally died young. They either grabbed life passages early on, or were denied them. Many in affluent societies of longevity today, feel like they can sew their wild oats indefinitely. I often wonder how postponing best effort responsibility relates to lack of accomplishment and middle age discontent.


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