A Barn Dance Question

When I posted the old newspaper announcement of Emil and Gina’s July 4, 1904 barn dance,  it raised a question too good to ignore (even though I added it as a comment). Aunt Irene had e-mailed me this:

“Sid was informed by his mother that this dance was a benefit toward building the Whitehall Community Hospital. They hauled barrels of beer from town. The food was donated and made and served by volunteers of the community. Gina was below [in the barn] milking cows who were very jumpy due to the music and the dancing above. Gilbert was attending ministerial school at the time, so he spent his time upstairs in his room.”

The problem, we discovered, is that this barn dance was in 1904 and the Whitehall Community Hospital (below) was not completed until 1917 following the sale of stock to 843 shareholders in 1916. The hospital would not have existed at the time of the 1904 barn dance.

Irene tells me again, however, that “Sid has told me many, many times about the fundraiser dance for the hospital.” So, we have questions. Was there another barn dance at a later date? If Gilbert was at studying at Gale College or Luther Seminary, could such a barn dance date have been as early as 1919 or as late as 1930 based on calculations about when he attended each school? Whitehall Community Hospital also made a $20,000 addition of 19 beds in 1924. This seems within the time frame, so could there have been another Borreson barn dance in 1923 or 1924 for the addition?

Sid’s vivid memory raises several other fascinating issues: 1) the involvement of his parents in the community with this fundraiser; 2) his mother Gina’s usual role in milking the cows (in Norway this was women’s work but less so in America); and 3) his brother Gilbert’s need to distance himself from the dance due to his preparations to become a pastor.

If anyone has any insight into resolving these questions – or if you’d just like to comment – I encourage you to click on “Leave a comment” at the bottom of this post. Even our questions are fun!

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