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Family of

Gustave Albert Franzen, Sr.
Ellen Carlson Bladlund Franzen



Gustave Albert Franzen, Sr. & Ellen Carlson Bladlund Franzen
Wedding Photograph June 7, 1905

Photo courtesy of Gustave Franzen family

Pilkington Slough Ranch



Listening to the Burton D. Hurd Land Company agents give the following description of Collegeport: "These lands are rich and fertile as man ever tilled. The production beyond, being capable of producing three or four crops a year. They offer the one-crop per year northern farmer opportunities never dreamed of. To the orchardist and truck grower the soil responds so quickly as to make yields of $700.00 per acre not uncommon" were the words that induced by father, Gust Franzen, a farmer in Essex, Iowa, eagerly to come to Texas and join the Hurd Land Party at Hotel Collegeport on May 20, 1909. On August 23, 1909, he wrote a check on Commercial National Bank, Essex, Iowa, for the amount of $586.00 as a down payment on 140 acres in the DeMoss area, four miles southeast of Collegeport.

On December 24, 1909, Papa, Mama, Arnold (18 months) and I (2 1/2 years) arrived by train at Blessing, Texas, and drove our big buggy to Hotel Collegeport (the railroad tracks did not come into Collegeport until September 8, 1910) where we spent the night. Uncle Richard Franzen, who had ridden on the freight car with the livestock, buggies, wagon, and household goods, hauled our possessions to DeMoss minus the warm bedding which Mama had left in Iowa since "it never gets cold in Collegeport." We boarded with the Olson family, who lived where the Fred Law home is today, for three months while our large barn and temporary home were being built and our artesian well was being drilled by L. E. Liggett. The following year the folks built a white cottage which stood east of the present day home. The following children were born in this home: Clifford (b. 1910); Mamie (b. 1913); Gustave, Jr., (b. 1917) and Carl (b. 1918). In 1920, Mr. Will Shubring built the two-story home in which Ellen (b. 1921); Alexander (b. 1923) and James (b. 1925) were born.


The bright picture turned dim when the weather got very cold and the first year's rice crop was lost since the irrigation canals were not completed. The second year the pumps on the Colorado River which furnished the irrigation water pumped too much salt water and damaged that crop also. We made our living farming cotton, corn, sorghum, raising cattle, and selling cream and butter, and chickens and eggs. We also raised a garden and gathered fruit from the orchard south of the home. There were no roads from our house to Collegeport, and we had to travel through the Jonathan Pierce Ranch and ford Pilkington Slough because there was no bridge across it. One time Papa was on his way to deliver some ducks we had raised to Hotel Collegeport and when he crossed the Pilkington Slough, the water was so deep that the ducks swam out of the back of the buggy.

Papa was born in Röd, Sweden, January 18, 1881, and came to Essex, Iowa, to visit his mother's relatives, the Malmbergs, in 1902 to escape serving three years of compulsory service in the Swedish army when he became 21. Mama, Ellen Carlson Bladlund, was born in Stockaryd, Sweden, August 20, 1886, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Anderson. She came to the United States in October, 1903 to make her home with an uncle, John Almquist. On June 7, 1905, she was united in marriage with Gustave Albert Franzen. They made their home in Imogene, Iowa, and became American citizens. Papa was so proud to be an American citizen. He always told his children "pay your taxes and your poll-tax so that you can vote."

In 1928, a good cotton crop and good prices made it possible for the folks to rent an apartment in Houston for Arnold, Clifford, and Dorothy while they were attending Rice Institute.


Papa was a member of The Industrial League and served as trustee in DeMoss and later, after consolidation, in Collegeport. He was an Elder in the Presbyterian Church and always had room in his buggy or his car to take another person to church. The family regrets that he never got to enjoy receiving the royalty checks from the gas well drilled on his land before his death.

I can remember when we first came to Texas that Mama would point to the articles of food she wanted when we came to the stores in Collegeport as she couldn't speak English. Her reputation for hospitality was wide-spread though, and she always had that pot of coffee on the stove every morning at 10:00 and again at 4:00 in the afternoon when relatives and friends dropped in. She was a member of the Presbyterian Church. The Fellowship Hall bears her name. Dean and Dorothy Merck, who had the hall built in 1969, gave it in memory and honor of their mothers, Mrs. B. V. (Sadie) Merck and Mrs. Gust (Ellen) Franzen and it was named the Sadie-Ellen Hall.

Alex owns the old Franzen home place and that is where he lives; Gustave and his family own the other farm where they have a brick home; Mamie Wells lives a mile or so east of the Franzens in the former Louis Walter home which she has remodeled; Dean and I live on Farm to Market highway 1095 in Collegeport; Arnold's widow, Mildred, lives in Houston; Clifford lives in Lone Oak, as does Emma Ellen and her husband, Billy Bryan; James and Ann live in Pearl River, Louisiana.

Papa (1881-1945), Mama (1886-1970), and Carl (1918-1921), who died of diphtheria, are buried in Collegeport Cemetery. Arnold (1909-1953) was killed in a plane crash and is buried in a Dallas cemetery.


Dorothy Franzen Merck - 1986

Historic Matagorda County, Volume II

Franzen Family - Photo taken in Iowa
Brothers standing - Oscar, Karl, Richard and Gustav Franzen
Seated - Helma Franzen Doherty and her daughter, Alice Doherty Elsner
Older couple unknown
Boy - Clifford Franzen, son of Gustav

Photo courtesy of Jeff & Michelle Franzen and Asa Bjenning-Garnbratt

Siblings - Gustave and Hilma Fransson/Franzen

Photo courtesy of Jeff & Michelle Franzen

Brothers - Gustave and Richard Franzen


Richard Franzen, Arnold Franzen (son of Gustave), Gustave Franzen


Clifford, Dorothy, Mamie and Ellen Franzen
(horses Lulu and Babe)

Photo courtesy of Gustave Franzen family

Arnold and his bicycle


Gust & Ellen Franzen Home Place


The Franzen Family (ca 1950)
Alex, Dorothy, Arnold, Gustave, Ellen, Clifford, James, Emma, Mamie
(deceased at time of photo--Gust and Carl)

Photo courtesy of Gustave Franzen family

The Franzen Family
Dorothy, Clifford, "Goose", Ellen, Mamie, James, Emma, Alex
(deceased at photo date--Gust, Arnold & Carl)

Photo courtesy of Gustave Franzen family


Alex Franzen

Photo courtesy of Gustave Franzen family


Copyright 2007 - Present by the Franzen Family
All rights reserved

May 28, 2007
Jun. 14, 2017