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My Grandma Bryant


Connie Nordstrom

Junior High Division


Allan McDonald, the son of Scottish immigrants, helpedbuild the Canadian Pacific Railway to Kenora. Then he went to Winnipeg andmet and married Mary Webb also of Scottish ancestry. The couple migratedto Glasston, ND. To this union, five children were born: Wallace, Carrie,John, Gertrude, and Duncan. My story is about Gertrude Bryant, my grandmother.

Gertrude was born April 17, 1898 at Glasston, ND. Her fatherwas a farmer and her mother was a housewife. Her early childhood was uneventfulexcept for one incident she remembers vividly. Her brother, John, lockedher and her brother, Duncan, in a big trunk. They were in there a long timeand started to get dizzy. John finally returned and let them out. If theyhad been in there much longer, they probably would have suffocated.

In 1904, Gertrude started her education. She attended aone room country school which had grades 1 to 8. Her favorite subject washistory. She hated arithmetic with a passion. Every Friday afternoon theyhad spelling or arithmetic matches and chose up sides. She was always thelast one up in spelling, but not in arithmetic. She started out writingleft handed, but her teacher cracked her knuckles with a ruler and madeher use her right hand. As a result, she wasn't a very good writer.

Gertrude doesn't recall any highlights during her teenyears. The family worked hard to farm their land and raise their food.

Saturday nights they would visit with their neighbors andplay whist.

On June 20, 1916, Gertrude married Walter Nordstrom. Walterwas a native of Joliet, Illinois. His family moved to Hamilton, ND arrivingin a severe blizzard. They were so discouraged they thought of returningto Illinois. Gertrude and Walter's wedding took place in Gretna, Manitoba.The ceremony was performed by Rev. Frank Shallcross, a Presbyterian minister.They farmed near Glasston, ND. Their first child, a daughter, was born there.

In 1918, Allan McDonald, Gertrude's father, went to Canada.He settled at Ardath, Saskatchewan. At the request of Walter, he made adown payment of a farm for Walter and Gertrude. Walter took his wife andinfant daughter, Beatrice, to live at Ardath.

Their first home was a four room sod house. It was verycozy and comfortable. Due to severe drought conditions, they returned toN.D. Their first son, Harold, was born shortly after their return. Two morechildren, Doris and Allan, were born while they resided there. The familythen moved to a farm near Bowesmont. Here, their last three children wereborn. Wally, Francis, and Bob. All the Nordstrom children were deliveredby Dr.John McKay, who now resides in Grand Forks, ND. He is 95 years old.

The family lived in a seven room house. They had no electricityor refrigeration. They used kerosene lamps for lighting their home. To keeptheir food cool in the summer, they hung it in the well. In the winter,they kept things in a barrel outside. The family worked hard to make a living.Gertrude had outside chores as well as caring for her family.

For entertainment, the family attended box socials. Thehighlight of the year was the annual county fair at Hamilton. The wholefamily enjoyed this outing and it didn't take the youngsters long to gobroke.

The children attended Fleece school, which was a one roomcountry school, consisting of eight grades. There was a barn at the schooland most of the children attending, rode horse to and from school. The olderNordstrom children completed school at Bowesmont, ND.

In 1946, Walter and Gertrude sold their farm and movedto Joliett, ND. Here, Walter was manager of a grain elevator.

Gertrude was widowed in 1948. She still had three childrenin their teens. They attended school in Pembina, which created hardshipsfor the family. Bob, the youngest son, used to rent a room in Pembina duringsevere weather.

In 1951, Gertrude's oldest son lost his wife. This lefthim with an infant son to raise. Gertrude and her youngest son moved toMichigan, so that she could care for the baby. She lived there until herson remarried several years later.

In the fall of 1960, Gertrude, her daughter and two grandsonsreturned to N.D. They resided in Cavalier. Gertrude kept the home and herdaughter worked. In 1961, they returned to Michigan. Gertrude then madeher home with another daughter and kept her granddaughter while her parentsworked. She lived with them for eight years.

On October 10, 1969, Gertrude became the bride of WillardBryant. They were married at Royal Oak by Rev. Harriet Hink. Willard isretired and the couple make their home at Mount Clemens, Michigan. Theyare active in church activities. Willard has taught a Sunday School classsince 1970.

Gertrude enjoys crossword puzzles, listening to records,reading and is a avid baseball fan. Needless to say, her favorite team isthe Detroit Tigers.

Gertrude says, "My life has been rather uneventful."But I disagree wholeheartedly. She has been a good Christian woman, raiseda family through difficult times and held them all together. She also hada hand in raising some of her grandchildren and has been a strong influenceon the rest of us. She mothered seven children has fourteen grandchildren,and six great grandchildren. She may think she is very average, but sheis very special to all of us.


Bryant, Gertrude, Mr. Clemens, Michigan, Interview, January28, 1975

Nordstrom, Robert, Noyes, MN, Interview, January 28, 1975

Nordstrom, Sigrid, Noyes, MN, Interview, February 3, 1975

McDonald, Duncan, Hamilton, ND, Interview, February 3,1975

February 3, 1975

McDonald, Duncan, Hamilton, ND, Interview, February 3,1975