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Catherine Hollinger: Her Days In The Red RiverValley


Tony Cleem


Catherine Hollinger, my great-grandmother, was truly agrand lady. She worked hard and was a kind Christian woman. She was alwayswilling to try anything once and she even thought to drive a car when shewas in her late sixties, but decided she might make the other drivers onthe road nervous.

My great-grandma, Catherine Hollinger, was born at a farmat Reynolds, North Dakota, which is south and west of Grand Forks. Herparents were both of German descent, very hard working people.

She attended a country school near her home. She walkedto the school almost every day with her two brothers and two sisters. Onvery cold days, their father would take them to school with the horse andsleigh.

She went to high school at Hillsboro, North Dakota, whereshe lived with her older sisters. There were no cars in her family, sowhen she wanted to go home to visit her parents on the weekends, she hadto ride her bicycle thirty miles!

When she finished school, she had to stay home to helpwith the farm. She often said she liked to work in the fields better thandoing housework. The field was very hard. She would walk behind the horseand a one-shovel plow for seven or eight hours a day. When harvest timecame, she would help her father and brothers bundle the grain and corn. After the grain was tied into bundles with twine string, the bundles wereput into a thresher, where the seed was separated from the chaff. She helpedwith the milking of the cows, with the large garden, and with the otherchores which people must do.

On November 4, 1908, she married Jerome Charles Hollinger,he was a neighbor boy whom she had known for a long time. They had to waituntil he was out of the army before they came to Bathgate, North Dakota. I asked Great-Grandma one day how they came to Bathgate and she laughedand said, "On the train. Why? Did you think we came on a covered wagon?"

She had seven children, three sons and four daughters. My great grandma wanted all her children to finish high school and go tocollege. Out of the seven, five had at least one year of college training. She was proud of the fact that one of her sons received a degree in engineering.

Great-Grandma Hollinger worked at the state school forthe blind in Bathgate for about 28 years, she was the laundress. Therewere over 100 students plus teachers and staff. She washed and ironed forthem every day of the week except Sunday. It was a hard job, but my greatgrandma was a very hard working lady. She retired in 1956 when she was68 years old because they moved the school to Grand Forks.

After she retired, she spent many hard working days inher flower gardens. Great Grandpa Hollinger passed away in 1958, so shefilled her time with gardens. My grandpa gave her two little ducks onetime and they became her pets when she was working in her gardens. Theywere always sitting right beside her or on her feet.

After she retired, she made several trips to the West coastto visit her children. One son lived in San Bruno, California, and oneson lived in Seattle, Washington. She had two daughters living in Longviewand Oreville, Washington. On one trip, Great Grandma went to the SeattleWorld's Fair in 1962. I think that she enjoyed the Space Needle the most. It was the first time she was in Seattle in the spring and she said theflowers and trees were beautiful. When she was 86 years old, she flew toPortland, Oregon. This was her first airplane trip. She enjoyed the planebut decided she would travel by train because she could enjoy the scenerymore.

Great Grandma Hollinger passed away at the grand age of88 years old. She had a beautiful faith which had helped her live a fulland useful life.



Interview: Catherine Chale, Bathgate, ND, December 27,1973

Interview: Catherine Cleem, Hallock, MN, January 16, 1974

Interview: Catherine Cleem, Hallock, MN, January 16, 1974