(Grandpa Larson used the nickname, “Ike,” although I seldom heard it, as he was just “Pa” or “Grandpa” within the immediate family.) After establishing the homestead, Ike returned to Wisconsin to marry Anna Moen on 10 January 1912, and brought her to the new place.
Crops were plentiful, and their family grew rapidly. Their first son, Waldemar, was born in January 1913, followed by Lovell (1914), Vernon (1917), and Robert (1919).
(The names of Lovell and Walt may be reversed.) The fifth boy, Ivan, was born in 1923.
Besides the years of favorable weather, Isaac’s skill with horses probably contributed to his farming success.
In 1926, the Larson farm experienced its first crop failure (see Letter From Anna). By then, Anna’s health was already deteriorating, as also indicated in the letter. Isaac traveled to Washington State, and located a farm for sale near Seattle. He did not buy that farm, perhaps due to lack of cash, but did make the decision to move west. Upon his return to North Dakota, the family began selling their horses and other possessions, in preparation for the move.
Unfortunately, Anna’s health went downhill rapidly; she died in the summer of 1927, and the move was not accomplished. Grandpa and the five boys stayed put on the old homestead. You may be familiar with the popular radio show “A Prairie Home Companion.” Its host, humorist Garrison Keillor, often refers to a favorite stereotype, the “Norwegian bachelor farmer.” Just take that stereotype, multiply by six, and you have my father’s childhood.
Isaac may have continued to entertain the notion of moving to Washington. In the fall of 1929, Waldemar enrolled in Pacific Lutheran Academy, now known as Pacific Lutheran University, in Parkland, WA (now a part of Tacoma). Parkland is also the location of the farm for sale mentioned in Anna’s letter of three years earlier.
Waldemar left Pacific Lutheran after only one semester, for reasons unknown; possibly related to the Great Depression, which began with the stock market crash just weeks after he enrolled. Grandpa and the boys remained on the farm through the 1930’s, despite repeated droughts and crop failures which exacerbated the nationwide economic distress. Waldemar and Lovell both married in the mid-30’s and moved to Washington on their own, while Grandpa stayed on the farm until the younger three boys had all graduated high school, the last of them in 1940.
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Mar 7, 2009
I talked to Dad today and told him about your three-part story of Isaac. He said after his mother died in 1927 he remembered his father saying about not moving them west to Washington: “I couldn’t leave Anna there all alone.”
He can’t see well enough to investigate the website but he was pretty tickled about the notion.
Lois Larson Hall
Mar 8, 2009
That was such an interesting comment Carey about your reading some of the Isaac material to your dad, and him recalling Grandpa’s comment about the change in plans to move the family out to Parkland because he’d have to leave Anna back there all alone.
Call it fate, but certainly in our eyes it all worked out for the best. Lovell wouldn’t have met Reatha, Walt wouldn’t have met Irene, also Vernon/Audrey, Bob/Bernie, Ivan/Eleanor wouldn’t have met, and chances are none of us Larsons would ever have “happened!” What a loss to the world that would have been, or so we like to think anyway!
The Meme Tapes, Part V: The West Coast « Ole's Blog
May 23, 2010
[…] was forced to sell most of his cattle due lack of fodder and the need for money. His dreams of moving the family to Washington state still had to wait, as he was now determined to stay put until the the three youngest boys finished […]