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Hilma Nordling Olson, Pioneer Mother


Julie Bahr

Hilma Nordling Olson was born in the Red River Valley,still lives here, and probably always will.

Mrs. Olson's parents were Andrew and Beata Nordling. AndrewNordling had come over from Sweden with his parents when he was nineteenyears old. He came to this part of the United States because he wanted togo to "the land of milk and honey." What he found was "theland of Indians and brush."

Beata Nordling came over a year later in 1886 when shewas twenty. She also came to the northwestern part of Minnesota. She andAndrew had known each other before coming over to the United States andhad decided to get married. They had eight children. Of these, Hilma wasthe second oldest.

Hilma had a twin sister, Anna, who died at the age of threebecause of a piece of meat caught in her throat and she choked on it. Shewas born in their home which was about five miles east of Hallock. She livedthere all of the years of her childhood.

Hilma attended a one room school. There were over thirtystudents in this school. When Mrs. Olson was first going to school, shehad the unfortunate experience of being in the middle of a three seateddesk. One girl would pinch her on one side, then the girl on the other sidewould pinch her. Hilma finally got so mad she gave them each a good pinch.The teacher asked Hilma why she was crying. Since Hilma spoke no English,and the teacher no Swedish, there was a problem, but finally Hilma got tosit with her cousin.

As Mrs. Olson got older, her mother became more sicklyand had nervous breakdowns. Hilma and her next youngest sister, Freda, tookturns staying home from school and taking care of their mother and theiryounger brothers and sisters. That was tough because they were always behindin school.

Hilma completed the fifth grade at the country school,then went to the Hallock school until she finished the eighth grade. Next,Hilma went to summer school and got a certificate so she could teach. But,she never had a chance to because she had to stay home and take care ofher mother and family. She stayed with her family until 1913 when she marrieda neighbor, Mr. Albin Olson. Albin Olson was the son of Mr. and Mrs. JohnOlson. He was the only son and had four sisters.

They had a big wedding. Hilma's brothers invited all ofthe neighbors. Her father butchered, and her cousin came and cooked foodfor two days before the wedding.

Since Mr. Olson was the only son, and his father had died,it was natural for Mr. Olson and his wife to take over the farm four mileseast of Hallock. They had no running water, so to get water they had togo down to the river. If they needed drinking water, they would have togo across the river to a well. What conveniences!

Hilma's mother-in-law and two sisters lived with them.The two sisters lived there until they were married. Her mother-in-law stayedwith them for twenty years because she didn't have any other place to stayand wanted to live on her farm.

In 1929, Hilma gave birth to her first and only son, Keith.Later, Keith was active in sports, church and boy scouts.

Mr. Olson was fortunate in having a threshing machine.Mrs. Olson was not so fortunate in having all of those hired men to cookfor with a youngster running around the house also. She must have been very,very busy.

In 1934, due to family hardships, Ronnie Nordling, whowas Hilma's nephew, came and lived at the Olson house. Ronnie was five yearsold at this time, the same age as Keith.

Mr. Albin Olson was in a car accident which took his lifein 1941. Keith and Ronnie were both twelve at this time.

When Keith was twenty two years old, he had kidney trouble.This took his life.

Hilma's brother farmed for her until he got married. Thentwo of her cousins came an farmed for her. But through rain or shine, Mrs.Olson smiled.

Mrs. Olson had a fall in 1956. She broke her hip whichdidn't heal properly so she has been on crutches ever since.

It became too hard for her to stay at her house on thefarm in the winter, so Hilma would travel or live someplace else in thewinter. Then she would return to her house for the summer.

Ronnie Nordling recently bought her farm. Hilma is nowliving in the new rest home at Hallock getting along "beautifully"with life as she always has.


Olson, Hilma Interview: Hallock new rest home: Saturday,January 30, 1971


w: Hallock new rest home: Saturday,January 30, 1971