Census records are interesting not only for information about family members, but also about their neighbors. The census taker goes up and down the street or road, so the adjacent names on the census form are usually nearby neighbors. Here’s what I learned from the 1910 U. S. Federal Census.
In 1910, Bertinus and Maria Estensen, great-grandparents to us Borreson Cousins, were residing in Pigeon Falls. (They had moved into town in 1904 and this would be their home until Bertinus died in 1921. Then Maria went to live with daughter Thea and her husband Thomas Stalheim.) Only 15-year-old Thea was residing with them in this census year.
I knew from Clara’s history that Pastor Oerke who resided in the parsonage of Evangelical Luth. Church (the lower church) was her grandparents’ neighbor. But I was surprised by the variety of information I learned about others. I’ll list some names and then make comments.
On the list immediately above them, we find Hannah Pederson, 71 and living alone; Sven and Karin Lokken and their 26-year-old son Bendick; Bendick Sletteland, his wife and three sons; Christian Haugen, his wife and three daughters; Ole and Liza Paulsrud, both 63; sisters Alice and Minnie Thorbus, 28 and 26; John and Mary Haukom, their daughter and son. Let me stop there.
On the list immediately below the Estensons, we find: Henry and Anna Jacobson and two young children; Ole and Nettie Holmen; Olous and Mary Brovold, daughter Mollie; Andrew and Olga Orke, 5 daughters, 2 sons, and hired girl. Again I will stop.
The variety here is a picture of life in Pigeon Falls. Bertinus was a farmer; Bendick Lokken a bookkeeper at a merchandise store; Bendick Sletteland manager at P. Ekern Co. (at his death in 1935, he was president of the company and the bank as well); Louise Haugen and the Thorbus sisters public school teachers; Christian Haugen miller at the flour mill; John Haukom buttermaker at the creamery; Henry Jacobson a general store proprieter; Holmen a stock farm manager; Brovold a meat market laborer; Orke a minister; and his hired girl Louise Galde a servant. How’s that for a list?
In addition, three members of these families were college students: two of Slettelands’ sons and the oldest Orke child, a daughter (noteworthy in 1910?). Most of these people had immigrated in the 1860s, 70s or 80s, but on the two sheets I examined listing 100 people, only three arrived after 1900. In age, there was but one eighty-year-old, five in their 70s, and all the others were younger. Bertinus and Maria were 67 and 60, respectively.
Another interesting tidbit is that the Lokken family was also from Biri, Norway. We know this because Bendick’s grand-daughters have shared that information previously on this blog. So, Thorsons (Maria Estensen’s family) and Lokkens were neighbors in Norway and in America!