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August Magnus Swenson

Gussie's Childhood


Nicole O. Engstrom


6th Grade 1996, Lancaster School, Lancaster,Minnesota


Honorable Mention

Kittson County Historical Society GenealogyContest


My grandpa's life history is rather interesting. I'vefound out many things about my grandpa that were unknown to me. Thingslike his sense of pride and respect he has kept his whole life. Also, howhe had to go through his share of tough times and still be the head of afamily.

Gussie's life began on the cold day of December 10, 1910. Gussie was born to Gusina Mathea Gudmundson Swenson (Thea) and the lateMagnus August Swenson, who died six months before Gussie's arrival. Hewas born at their home in McKinley Township, ten miles east of Lancaster. He joined a family of four sisters, Eppie, Ida, Annie, Emma; a half sister,Signe, and a half brother, Peder Melvin Peterson, all who gave him the nickname,"Gussie."

They lived in a small house that was like one big livingroom. The children gathered wood and hauled it on a sled. They alwayshad a family dog, a couple of cats, and the farm animals. Some of theiractivities were jumping rope, making angels in the snow, playing Hide-n-Seek,tag, Old Maid, and marbles. They traveled by horse and buggy. One timethe children caught scarlet fever and were quarantined. When Gussie was3 or 4 years old, Thea developed neuralgia for the brain. She went to Rochesterand they put a steel plate in her right temple area.

During one winter storm, they were completely snowed inso they had to crawl out an upstairs window to get to the barn and milkthe cows. During one Christmas season, some men brought a tree. Thea fedthem a big meal in exchange. They decorated it with little candles, tinyhome made dolls, and cranberry and popcorn strings. In the spring, thechildren tended the garden. They planted corn, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers,and lots of flowers. In the summer, they waded in the ditches. In thefall, they raked the leaves. Gussie completed his first and second gradesat Lindquist School in McKinley Township. In October of 1919, Thea movedthe family to the Hilman residence in Lancaster so the kids could go toa larger school while she operated a restaurant. Gussie was one of thefirst students to attend the new Lancaster School. He usually got goodgrades and he had leading roles in plays and skits. He even had singingparts! Gussie attended Lancaster during his third, fourth, and fifth grades. In 1922, they moved to Gussie's Uncle Gust's. He completed sixth, seventh,and eighth grades at Center Grove School. Remember how at Lancaster Gussiehad lead singing parts. Well, one of the teachers at Center Grove madefun of his singing so he said, "O. K., I'll never sing again,"and he hasn't!

Gussie's Adulthood

On December 10, 1936, Gussie Swanson and Birdella Clausonwere married in St. Paul. In the fall of 1937, they moved to St. Paul. That winter their first child, Darlynn Joy, was born. In 1939, their seconddaughter, Sharon Lee, was born. Jobs were tough to come by because of theDepression. Once he tried selling vacuum cleaners door to door with Birdella'sbrother, Swede. It didn't go too good! In the fall of 1939, they returnedto Kittson County. They lived with Gussie's Uncle Gust. In 1943, theybought a house on the far south side of Lake Bronson. In 1945, Gussie beganworking at the Danielson Garage in Lake Bronson. In 1947, their third daughter,Gloria, was born. In 1975, Gussie retired from the Danielson Garage. In1990, he retired from his substitute job as a mail man. In 1992, Birdelladied from a heart attack. Since then, Gussie has kept up with the cooking,cleaning, and shopping. He enjoys playing cards, gardening, and attendingsenior citizens' meals and activities. As you can now see, my grandpa isa very special person.

Bibliography: Family Book

ecial person.

Bibliography: Family Book