Helmer Ness

by

Michael Ness

 

My grandpa Helmer Ness was born in Erskine, Minnesota onJune 26, 1901. His mother, Hilda Cromquist came over from Swedenin 1885 and a few years later married Ole Ness. From his father's name mygrandpa got his nickname "Ole."

My grandpa was raised on his father's farm in Erskine.Here he helped his father with the farm work as well as taking care ofa livery barn. My grandpa likes to kid about his childhood days. Hesaid he used to be a pilot on the farm. His dad would tell him to go andclean the barn and he would "pilot" here and "pilot"there. On this farm he had many good memories.

In 1918, when my grandpa was 17 years old he started towork for Jim Hill's Great Northern Railroad. His starting salary was fifty-fivedollars a week, which was pretty good pay in those days. Here he stayedwith Jim Hill's railroad for fifty-two years before retiring last year.

My grandpa was never in the army because he was too youngfor World War I and too old for World War II.

In 1923, my grandpa was married to Florinda Melquist. Thiscouple had four sons: Nolan, Gerald, Francis, and Ronald. In 1942, his wifepassed away and four years later he married for the second time to StellaMone. This couple did many things together like fishing and hunting downby their cabin on Union Lake south of Erskine.

While my grandpa was working on the railroad he workedin many different towns like Crookston, Fosston, Bagley, and Red Lake Falls.While working on the railroad he said that the biggest change that camearound in the railroading business was that of the diesel-electric locomotives.The diesel can be hooked together so that two or three locomotives are controlledby one engineer and today's trains travel faster and don't have to stopto load up with coal and water.

During the summers of 1966, l967, and 1968 my grandpa helpedto man a station during the summer tourist season in the East Glacier Parkin Montana.

In 1964, his second wife passed away. On November 15, 1971,my grandpa retired from the railroad after fifty-two years of service. Henow plans to spend his retirement at his favorite hobbies: hunting and fishing.

Ness, Francis: Interview (February 25, 1971)

Thief River Times: November 12, 1971: Vol 12 No. 32imes: November 12, 1971: Vol 12 No. 32