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Swan Anderson


Carrie Nordstrom

Senior High Division


Anders Anderson immigrated by ship to the United Statesfrom Sweden in 1886. He came to Minnesota and settled eight miles east ofNoyes. He stayed for eight years to get his homestead rights, then wentback to Sweden to get his fiance, Anna Pearson. They came back to the UnitedStates and were married in Hallock, Minnesota. Their little six room housewas blessed with seven children. Swan Harold Anderson was second to theyoungest. He was born April 2, 1909.

Christmas was spent at home with the family. They neverwent anywhere because they were usually blocked in by snow. Their holidaysconsisted of the same meals including lutefisk, flatbread, and rusks.

County fairs were an all day event for the Anderson family.They would have a picnic and join in the activities. At a picnic at Orleansin 1921, an airplane crashed. No one was killed but two or three were hurt.Swan still has a piece of that very airplane.

You started working at an early age then. When they weren'tworking in the fields or doing the chores, they played around with whateverthey had. One winter, Swan took care of eighteen horses and eight cows allby himself.

Swan started school when he was six or seven. He attendedGrampion School through the eighth grade. It was a one room country school,located two miles east of the North Star Church. There were only twelveto fifteen students with one or two in each class. The school was heatedby wood and coal. The teacher was the janitor. His favorite subject wasarithmetic. He didn't care for history.

When Swan was in the third grade, he went out to get theschool mail and the newspaper said, "War Is Over." (1) He gotall excited and ran into the school yelling. The teacher told him to sitdown and be quiet because he was disturbing the rest of the class. Thenshe asked him what he was yelling about and he told her that the war wasover. She was so happy she said, "Swan, you can shout out that kindof news anytime."

One of the things Swan remembers well is the time the preacherfrom the Presbyterian church took ten or twelve boys camping. They wentup to the Roseau River about five miles north of Ridgeville. On the firstnight everyone went swimming. Swan couldn't swim so he walked down alongthe edge of the river and was going to cross. When he went to cross, hestepped into a hole beside a big stone and went under. When he drank enoughwater where he couldn't float he walked out. He says, "that night Iactually drowned, but still survived."

When Swan was a teenager, about fifteen, he started aninsect collection. He continued it through high school. He always went aroundwith a jar in his pocket. He started mounting butterflies, moths, and otherinsects. He had a perfect collection. When he finished, he had over 1,100different types mounted in cigar boxes. His brother took them to the Universityin Minneapolis. His class reclassified them by their Latin names. They hadthe collection for about a year. When they were returned, about two-thirdsof the collection was ruined. All the moving around ruined them. Swan stillhas some of the collection left. Some in his shop, in his garage and someupstairs in his home.

In high school, Swan was known for his fountain pen repairing.He'd take home four or five each night and fix them. They had a point anda rubber tube. He would have to squeeze the tube and such the ink up. He'dcharge fifty cents for repairs and labor. He says that he fixed hundreds.

In the winter, he'd drive the car to school and drain outall the oil and water and take it into the school to keep it warm. Whenschool was out, he'd put the oil and water back in and drive home.

Swan finished his last four years in the Humboldt School.He graduated in 1929. His class started out with thirteen, but ended upwith only five. The other four were: Virgil Bockwitz, Robert Ash, WarrenSylvester, and Estella McCrystal. He never graduated with a person who wentall the way through school with him.

When Swan was young, their closest neighbors were two milesaway. Swan's family had one of the first radios. Some neighbors would comeover and listen to it. One night Swan listened to the radio until 3:00 inthe morning. When he took off the earphones he said he had a real bad headache.The radio had six or seven dials and you had to synchronize them just rightor the radio would howl. It ran on a battery and you had to keep rechargingit. He manufactured a battery charger by taking an old generator from acar and mounting it on top of a swinging haystacker.

They had their first electricity in 1948. They got theirfirst telephone in 1911. They used it all the time. One time they had seventeenpeople on a line, so they heard quite a bit of gossip.

They purchased their first car in 1917. It was a 1917 ModelT. The car wasn't their only means of transportation, horses and buggieswere also used.

In the time of Prohibition, there was a lot of smugglingout by their home. They stopped one time and asked the Anderson family ifthey would help. They refused them and they never stopped again. Seven Packardswent through each week. They would meet the Canadians one mile east of theirhouse. They could see the transferring of the goods.

Swan has done a quite a bit of traveling, all inside theUnited States. He traveled to Chicago to the Worlds Fair. In 1936, he traveledsouth to Brownsville, Texas (in the southern tip) across into Mexico. Then,he followed the Rio Grande to Del Rio, Texas. He went north into New Mexicointo the Carlsbad Caverns. Then he went to Denver, then east to Kansas andNebraska and Iowa and went north back home. Last fall, Swan flew to Oregonand drove home through Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Hetook the southern route.

Swan married Myrtle Turner in 1939. Swan made their house.It is now the home of Gary Sommerville. When he finished the house, he estimatedthe cost of the house to be about $1,100.00. A very small price comparedto the cost of today's house.

Swan and Myrtle had two sons, Dean (the oldest) and Paul.Swan has four grandchildren. Sandra and Jeff are Dean and Charlottes, andStaci and Jimmy are Paul and Susans.

Mrs. Anderson died in April 1974 after a very serious illness.

In 1941, Swan manufactured a rotary lawn mower. He madeeverything including the bearings, axels. He sold them for three years beforethey went on the market. He made 76 of them. Swan said that nearly everyonein the county bought one. Also, two in California, two in Arizona, and onein South America.

Swan has never taken patent on anything he has invented,including the lawn mower. A lot of things he thought up and invented, andnever patented, were patented by someone else a year or so later. This happenedmany times.

Swan has many hobbies. Mechanics and carpentry are justa couple of his many talents. He's always been repairing and this kind ofwork. When he was living at home, he did all the mechanical work. Makingthings nobody else made were more his hobby than anything.

Swan moved many buildings in his life. He moved governmentgranaries (wooden bins) and sold them. He moved them from Humboldt, St.Vincent, and sometimes even Hallock. The shop he has in his yard now, wasthe St. Vincent city hall.

Swan has done a lot of recording on records. He cut hisown disks. He can play them on a new machine he has. He hasn't played themall yet. Swan has a couple of tape recorders. He's going to try and recordhimself and then record it again and harmonize with it, like groups andsingers do when they cut records. He said he doesn't know if it will work,but he's going to try it.

Swan has never taken any interest in sports. Swan saidthat when they were kids, they went to school to learn, not to play. Hethinks sports have taken over our schools. They would work for six hourswith no study periods. They had to study at home.

Swan has had some unusual pets in his lifetime. When hewas young, he had pet skunks. A mother and four or five young ones. Theykept them all summer in cages. They had them eating bread right out of theirhands. They never sprayed them once.

Just a couple of years ago, Swan had another unusual pet.A goat, Nanny. A truck with horses couldn't take the goat across becausethey didn't have the right papers for her. They brought her to Swans andwanted him to take care of her for a couple of days. She wouldn't be anytrouble. If they weren't back by Tuesday, Swan could have her. That Tuesdaynever came. Swan never saw the guy again. He sold Nanny and she had a kidin the spring of 1974.

Swan is a diabetic. While in Minneapolis last fall he wentto the University of Minnesota Service for the Blind to see about a specialcourse after going blind. He asked them if they had anything he could buyfor measuring insulin, without seeing what he was doing. They didn't haveanything. He went home and went out to his shop and made a device for measuringinsulin. He took it to Dr. Larter and had him approve it. It was a veryaccurate measurer. Swan uses it every day. He told Dr. Larter to get thepatent rights. He gave it to Dr. Larter last fall but he doesn't know ifhe patented it or not.

Swan is now living at home in Noyes. One of the thingshe has to help him out in his home is a microwave oven. He says he has tomake sure he sets the table before he even thinks about cooking his eggs,because it only takes two minutes and twenty seconds for them to cook, andhe'd never make it if he started the eggs before he set the table.

When I interviewed Swan, he had five stereos sitting inhis living room. He hooked them up and is going to sell them.

Swan is always eager to help someone. The weekend of thestorm in January of this year, the whole town of Noyes was out of electricity.He was going to go out and hook up this system thing he had to give us allelectricity.

Swan is a very religious man. He is losing his sight butnot his faith. Swan is still capable of doing a lot of things although heis nearly blind. He says the thing that helps him most is his complete faithin God. He is comfortable by Him and has let Him take over.


Anderson, Mr. Paul, Interview, February 3, 1975

Anderson, Mr. Swan, Interview, January 28, 1975

Anderson, Mr. Swan, Interview, January 30, 1975

Anderson, Mr. Swan, Interview, February 3, 1975

Nordstrom, Mr. Robert, Interview, January 29, 1975

Nordstrom, Mrs. Sigrid, Interview, January 30, 1975

(1) World War I


Nordstrom, Mr. Robert, Interview, January 29, 1975

Nordstrom, Mrs. Sigrid, Interview, January 30, 1975

(1) World War I