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Rural Superintendents Wife, Theresa CarolineJohanknecht Tri


Linda C. Twamley

How many things have you heard someone say "That manis famous?" But have you ever stopped to think about what or who madethat man famous? No doubt, if you were to consider the situation, it washis wife who prodded him on. Humboldt boasts such a womas. Her husband couldbe none other than Peter Nicholas Tri. Mr. Tri has done a great deal forthis community. But his wife, Theresa, gave him encouragement and assurancewhen he needed it. Peter Tri has been given much attention and its abouttime his wife received some. So here is a tribute to Theresa Caroline JohanknechtTri.

Theresa Tri is an outstanding person. She possesses manysought after qualities. She enjoys life and encourages anyone who is inneed. She has proved this many times. When her husband Peter Tri used tocome home from school on a stormy winter's day she always knew enough totake out some extra blankets, for usually two or three children would betrudging home with him. Mrs. Tri never really minded though. After all shewasn't the type who would send a child of ten maybe eleven years of ageout in a storm. Especially since they either had ridden their horse in orcome on a sleigh. It is just lucky for Mrs. Tri that Humboldt had a barnbehind the school or else maybe she would have had the horses, too.

These experiences were not all sunshine and roses though.Because if the blizzard lasted longer than a day it was very hard to findsomething for the children to do. Mrs. Tri recalls one blizzard in Februarythis time, she had two or three children at her home. It turned out to bea three day blizzard. So when the children ran out of things to do, Mrs.Tri gave them a wallpaper catalogue. She told them to make valentines outof it. They did too! Can you imagine getting a valentine made out of a samplepiece of wallpaper?

Mrs. Tri not only houses students but she also boardedmany a teacher. In fact, she still does. In seems that when a teacher can'tfind a place to stay, he is always directed to Mrs. Tri's. Here he can geta nice room and cheery compoany for a small sum. After all in those days,most teachers were only paid about $60 per month and Mr. Tri only earned$100 per month for being superintendent. Since there weren't too many placesfor the teachers to go for amusement, they had to stay home. So they stayedhome with the Tri's and talked or "made their own fun."

Mrs. Tri has watched many children start in the first gradeand then graaduate from high school. She said, "It makes me feel kindof old to set and watch the children grow up and then become grandparents.It gives me a funny feeling." She has seen many children grow intosuccessful adults but a few have also failed. This really hurts her toobecause it seems they were a part of her life. She has gone to many schoolfunctions and seen many talented children. The majority of these functionswere 4-H project up until a few years ago. Even so, you always saw Mrs.Tri at them until it became impossible for her to get out.

Mrs. Tri has not only watched the neighbor's child growup but she has watched her own as well. On the twenty-second of May 1917,she and Mr. Tri were blessed with their first son, Quinton. He was an activechild and could really keep Mrs. Tri hopping. Soon they decided Quintonneeded a brother or sister. So, on the nineteenth of September 1919, Mrs.Tri gave birth to a dainty little girl who they named Fidelis. The yearspassed swiftly for the Tri's. On August 19, 1923, Theresa gave birth toanother girl, Henrietta. Five years passed before Theresa gave birth toher last child. Bernard was born December 2, 1929. This completed the familyso they settled down to grow, and grow they did. Soon they were all throughschool and had children of their own. Presently, only two of her children,Bernard and Henrietta, are still living. She has twelve grandchildren andseven great grandchildren.

These children belong to a historical family. They canbe proud of their ancestory. Theresa Tri's father was a bodyguard to OldKaiser Wilhelm in Berlin. He once had a picture taken in three of his differentuniforms and to this day she wishes she had it. When her father didn't wantto be drafted into the war, he decided to bring his family to America. So,Theresa came to America when she was only four. She was the oldest of fourchildren. She was born January 25, 1891 in Germany. Only she and her brotherFrank are still alive. Her family's boat docked in New York City. She canstill remember the Statue of Liberty and strangely enough she can even remembervaguely coming straight to Minnesota. Her father settled here and builttheir home. It was a very nice house. Her father was a skilled contractorand a builder and some of this buildings are still standing.

Theresa's education was very limited. She went to an eightgrade class room. She had to walk one and one half miles to school and duringthe winter months lunches were often frozen. If the weather was severe,her father transported them in a cutter (a sled). This was very typicalin those days.

Theresa was a very popular young lady. One time beforeshe was married she went to the Barnam and Bailey Circus in Rochester, Minnesota.It was a very exciting experience for her. They took the cutter till theygot to the depot then they went the rest of the way on the "dinky,"which was a very small train. She remembers that the trapeze acts were themost exciting but the parade was the prettiest.

All this time she kind of liked that certain neighbor boyand after six years of courtship he finally popped the big question. Theresawas very surprised but happy because she thought he'd never ask her. Theywere married July 14, 1915 in Mezappa. They spent their honeymoon in St.Louis, Missouri. They then moved to St. Vincent, Minnesota where Mr. Trihad taught two years previous to their marriage. In 1917, they moved toHumboldt, Minnesota where they started their family.

Mrs. Tri never did learn how to drive a car. In fact, theydidn't own one till 1923, when they bought one from a car dealer in Humboldt.It was a Ford.

They thought that a car was "pretty swell." Afterall not everyone owned one and it meant not having to walk whenever theywent someplace.

Noone can deny that Mr. Peter Nicholas Tri has done a lotfor the Humboldt and St. Vincent communities but if it hadn't been for Theresapushing him along he wouldn't have been such a success as a teacher. Theyraised their family together and learned from their experiences. The wifeof a school administrator in a small rural village works very closely withher husband. Even though she never enters a classroom, she shares all thejoys and the sorrows of her superintendent husband. Theresa has led a fulllife. Even though she was saddened by the loss of her husband in March of1962, she continues to live on cheerfully and enjoy life to the utmost.This is all anyone can hope to do.


Tri, Theresa C. (Interviews) January, 1970

School Records, January, 1970

ONT SIZE=+1>Tri, Theresa C. (Interviews) January, 1970

School Records, January, 1970