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And The House Came Tumbling Down
August, 2000

Just thought you would all like to know that Grandma Rose’s old house in town has been demolished. We hated to see it go but the demand for housing in Humboldt is about a minus 99%.

After the flood in 97, the furnace had been off long enough to damage water pipes and flooded the basement so that the furnace, water heater, etc. would have had to be replaced to make the house usable. We offered to give it away to anyone who would take over paying the taxes and found no takers and we felt that it wasn't fair to neighbors to let it deteriorate any more. Much of the furniture had also come unglued and warped so that it was best left for the wrecking crew. We did save some of the pieces and Cynthia, Kris, Margo and Toms' were all up this summer so they knew what would happen. We took pictures of before and during the operation and will send you all some eventually.

I looked up the abstract information and it was first owned by "THE ST. PAUL, MINNEAPOLIS & MANITOBA RAILWAY COMPANY” and was transferred in December 1902, to James J. Hill. It was sold again, December 2, 1903, by James J. and Mary Hill to Reuben Croaker and his wife Elsie L., subject to the agreement that they or their heirs and assigns, will not at any time manufacture, sell, deal in, dispose of or give away, or suffer to be manufactured, sold, dealt in, disposed of or given away upon the premises above described or any part thereof, any spirituous, vinous, malt or intoxicating liquor.

As far as we can find out, Mr. Croaker must have built the original house transferred title to William Croaker and Emily Ruth Croaker, his wife 096 Feb 1906. When he died in 1916 without a will, the property transferred to his wife. Emily Ruth Croaker died intestate on 17 Oct 1918.The only children and heirs of the husband and wife aforesaid are: S. Louisa (Lottie) Matthew, the wife of Alfred Matthew; Matilda Easter, wife of John Easter; Ida May Munro, wife of John Munro; John A. Croaker; Cleverdon C. Croaker; George W. Croaker; Jemima Ward, wife of Nathaniel Ward; William B. Croaker; Emiline Spencer, wife of John Spencer; and Reuben Croaker; being in the aggregate ten children.

Leonard (Len) Sylvester purchased the house in October1920; an/d added the kitchen area while he owned it. Len sold it in 1941to Sarah Bell.

Joyce and I purchased the place in 1943 and built the garage and little entry on the front of the house. It was our first home and quite a happy time for us. Seven of our children were born while we lived there and as they got older, we needed more space.

We lived there until about 1957 and after Dad died; we traded homes with Mother Rose Baldwin and moved to the farm one mile South of Humboldt. We paid the taxes and maintained the place in Humboldt for her and Rose Jr. to live in whenever they wanted to be in the area. Mother lived in
Grand Forks for a few years and then in California but she decided to come back to Humboldt about 1964 to make that her permanent home. Rose lived thereby herself after mother died until the fall of 1996 when she decided she would be better off in the Rest Home in Hallock and she lived there until her death January 1, 2000.

It was a difficult decision for Joyce and I to make, since we both put a lot of ourselves into our old home and felt sad to see it demolished but I am sure that it would have been harder to watch it unused and slowly disintegrate into a neighborhood eyesore.

By Mark and Joyce Baldwin, 02 Sep 2000

Baldwin House

Mark Baldwin sent me the above item on the razing of his Mother’s house. It was a bittersweet message. I remember well visiting the Baldwin homestead in town which he refers to in his message. The Baldwin’s house was a site for gatherings of neighborhood children.

Mark Baldwin was one of the first to own a television in Humboldt. The Baldwin’s had an open house for all of the kids in Humboldt especially for television programs such as Fess Parker starring as Davey Crockett and the Mickey Mouse Club. It was a magical moment to see these programs. Every boy born in the late 1940s or early 1950s had a raccoon cap and 6 shooters inspired by Davey Crockett.

During the first years of television, neighbors would gather for a particular program just as the earlier generation had weekly card games. I think that when everyone owned their own set, television viewing became a solitary enterprise. I think part of the mystique of early television was to watch programs with friends as we did at the Baldwin home.

I always remember Mark and Joyce Baldwin as being among the most hospitable people in Humboldt. Joyce was often the hostess of our television parties. I can remember that she had a welcoming way with children. I think that the Baldwin’s had a very stimulating household. Later when we were adolescents, Mark and Joyce would have teenagers at the house for card games. I also remember that Joyce Baldwin was a particularly gifted mother: photographer, conversationist, and natural counselor because of her empathetic nature. When Hillary Clinton wrote her book, It Takes a Village, I thought of Joyce and Mark and their role in the education of all of children of Humboldt.

Submitted by: Michael Rustad, 04 Sep 2000

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Submitted by: Michael Rustad, 04 Sep 2000