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Cannon Falls on the eve of the First World War saw the "Gilded Age" generation of our families--those who came of age in the 1880s--in the prime of their lives.

The Dibble Brothers meat market, Dick and Dan Dibble, proprietors, was prospering on 4th. Street. Dick tooled around town in his new 1914 REO five-passenger touring car (REO stood for "Ransom Edward Olds", who had previously founded Oldsmobile). By that year Dick had taken over Dan's 50-something-acre plot in northeast Stanton Township (the land was along the river, whose course periodically wandered, likely changing the size of the plot), and he had also recently acquired a 160-acre parcel of land on Spring Garden Road just southeast of the Cannon Falls city limits. His plan was to start a cattle farm that would provide meat to the butcher shop as well as milk for the local creameries. He had a large stone barn built on the property in the summer of 1915, and a one-story house with a full basement was added that fall. Dick and Dan dissolved their partnership in the late summer of 1916. From that point on, Dick focused on raising prize-winning cattle and maintaining his real estate holdings, including the store building on West Mill St., and Dan continued as sole owner of the meat market.

Their cousin Ed Dibble was continuing his political career and was re-elected to the Town of Stanton Board of Supervisors in March 1914. Ed was a local business leader as well; he had been a member of the board of the Cannon Falls Canning Company, along with his brother-in-law Dr. Hiram "Ed" Conley and the town's "summer Santa", Citizens State Bank President Cliff W. Gress, for ten years. Unfortunately the company suffered from increasing difficulties in convincing farmers to grow enough corn to make the operation profitable, and they were unable to attract enough other vegetables to make canning them worthwhile, though they frequently advertised for "any kind of beans". The company changed hands a few times over the next several years, during which Ed left the board. He was elected to the board of the Farmers Shipping and Produce Association in February, and he continued his long history as an officer of the Leon Farmers Mutual Insurance Company, with which he had been associated for at least eight years. He was also still running his 466-acre dairy farm in Stanton, which had recently also begun raising Poland hogs, although his son Willard was about to assume a larger role there. Ed was a Ford man, with a classic Model T touring car (also known as the "tin lizzie").

Meanwhile, the younger generation was just getting started. Dick's son Archie was still in business school in Minneapolis, where in January of 1914 he and some other young Cannon Falls men attended a dinner given by Mrs. N. A. Winslow (probably a friend of the furniture-store Danielsons). By the summer he was back home, playing left field for the Cannon Falls amateur baseball team. On July 12 they got drubbed, 10-2, by the Red Wing team: "Peters of Cannon Falls pitched a good game, but poor support at times caused the defeat. The game was interesting and several double plays were pulled off on both sides." Ed's twin sons, Willard and Willis, graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Agriculture at the end of March, 1914. Willis was elected president of the Cannon Falls High School Alumni Association in June. Ed's niece Ora Conley (daughter of Ed's sister Sarah Dibble and "Dr. Ed" Conley), was still in school there. Dan's daughter Jean and her husband the bank teller Milton Holmes ushered their first child, Merlyn Donald Holmes, into the world on April 14, 1914. Dan's son Don played basketball and baseball for the Cannon Falls high school teams. After graduation he went to Faribault, about 15 miles southwest of Cannon Falls on the Cannon River, to work for Consumers Power Company, and he played baseball (as catcher) with his cousin Archie that summer. The big social event of the season was the wedding of Ed's daughter Della to John S. Aslakson, at Ed's home, on June 20, 1914. Willard and Willis were ushers, and John's sister Pearl and Della's cousin Ora Conley were bridesmaids. After a fine wedding dinner, the couple took off for Green Bay, Wisconsin, for their honeymoon.

Almost a week later, on June 26, the often nostalgic Cannon Falls Beacon republished a poem by John Woodman that it had first printed in 1877:


The truth's worst foe is he who claims
To act as God's avenger,
And dreams, beyond his sentry beat,
The crystal walls in danger.

Who sets for heresy his traps
Of verbal quirk and quibble,
And weeds the garden of the Lord
With Satan's borrowed dibble."

Two days after that, on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Duchess Sophie, were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist from Bosnia, a province of the empire. The killings were an unlucky break for the royal family, and would not have happened at all had not the couple's driver made a wrong turn onto a side street in Sarajevo that afternoon. Little notice was taken by the people of the Cannon River valley; the Beacon reported it as merely the latest in a long line of unhappy events suffered by the Emperor, Franz Joseph. Life went on.

On June 5, Dick's nephew (son of his late sister Minnie), Charles Milford Elder, the Annapolis graduate whose adoptive parents took him to live in Georgia, achieved the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade) in the US Navy.

Alva Alonzo Conley, son of Dr. Ed's older brother Dr. Alonzo Theodore ("A. T.") Conley, got his MD from Minnesota State University (although he had already briefly taken over another doctor's practice the previous winter), and he began his own practice in St. Paul. The old man had a grand 67th birthday party near the end of the year, on December 6, at the home of Sarah and Dr. Ed. Many Conley family members attended.

In July, Ora Conley and some of her friends formed a "young ladies club" to meet and discuss important issues of the day. Ed Dibble's niece Cora, daughter of his sister Alice and Frank Richardson, was the editor of the Chicago Herald's children's page. She came to visit friends and family in Cannon Falls later that month. Alice herself had been in town a couple months earlier, visiting from Perkins County, South Dakota on the North Dakota border, with daughter Louise and her husband John Peter Nicolaisen. The couple had married some two years before, in 1912. John, a farmer, was born August 18, 1873 in Iowa to German immigrants Peter Paul Nicolaisen and Kathryn Harkert; he was 21 years older than Louise. They lived near Mount Vernon in Davison County, SD, about 75 miles northwest of Sioux Falls.

So Cora was in town in Cannon Falls on July 23, 1914, when the Austro-Hungarian government, with the support of the German military and diplomats, sent an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, demanding that Serbia accept an Austro-Hungarian investigation of the Archduke's assassination, including allowing Austrian police to operate in Serbia, as well as requiring Serbia to suppress "anti-Austrian" propaganda and all "terrorist" organizations operating within its borders. Serbia was given 48 hours to reply. Before the deadline expired, the Russian Empire, believing that Germany was using the opportunity to increase its power at the expense of other European nations, decided that it would intervene on the side of Serbia if war erupted. Russia was an ally of Britain and France. French diplomats had by then assured Russia that their alliance included supporting Serbia in a war. But the Russians told the Serbians to accept the ultimatum, perhaps to gain time to complete a planned miltary modernization project. Although historians disagree on some of the details of subsequent events, Serbia's response, though couched in conciliatory language, was perceived by Austria-Hungary as a rejection of the ultimatum.

Austria-Hungary's ally Germany was a multi-party constitutional monarchy with an elected legislature, albeit rather weak. The monarch, the Emperor or "Kaiser", while conveniently portrayed as a monstrous villain in the years to come, was a mostly-ceremonial head of state. The elected head of government, who had the real executive power, was the Chancellor. Kaiser Wilhelm II, an often bellicose first cousin of King George V of England who has been characterized as "insecure", "unstable", "irresponsible" and "reckless" by historians, was not really in charge, and he blew hot and cold as tensions rose. In early July he strongly supported the German ambassador to Austria-Hungary, who pledged German support to that empire "through thick and thin". In late July Serbia, Austria, and Russia (whose Tzar Nicholas II was also a cousin of both King George and Kaiser Wilhelm) mobilized troops, and France began preparing to do the same. But when Kaiser Wilhelm finally got to read Serbia's response to the ultimatum on July 26, he concluded that Serbia had capitulated and there were no grounds for war. He wrote a note to the ambassador proposing that Austria could send an occupying force to the Serbian capital to ensure that the Kingdom kept its promises but should not go to war. He also said he would not support a German military mobilization. This turn-around outraged the Chancellor and the army generals. The Chancellor edited the peaceful overtures out of Wilhelm's note and instructed the ambassador to avoid "giving the impression that we want to hold Austria back." The foreign secretary also instructed the German diplomatic corps to ignore the Kaiser's peace offer, and the minister of War suggested to Wilhelm that the army would stage a coup and replace him with his son the Crown Prince if he didn't drop his peace initiative.

Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28. Diplomatic maneuverings among the other "Great Powers" continued, to try to keep the hostilities confined to those two countries, but the German foreign secretary played both sides of the fence. He falsely told the British ambassador that he was trying to restrain Austria, but when Britain sent a message stating that it would join the war on the side of France and Russia if Germany attacked France, the foreign secretary began backpedaling in earnest. By then it was too late; Austria-Hungary refused to stand down. Germany mobilized and Kaiser Wilhelm switched sides again, expressing his support. By early August, the Great War had begun.

On August 7, the Beacon took the position that while Austria was primarily responsible for the conflagration, there was plenty of blame to go around. An editorialist wrote, "When this crisis came in Europe none of the powerful and influential men maintained their balance. To use a common expression they 'got rattled,' panic stricken, and what at first was a quarrel between Austria and Servia [sic] drifted into a a war involving nearly the whole of Europe. There are men, and many of them, in the humble walks of life who are more capable of acting calmly and thoughtfully than most men in whose hands are placed the destinies of nations."

Fortunately, there were some calm and thoughtful women on the scene. Just a couple of days before the Beacon published its views, Ora Conley's ladies' club held a meeting at which "Miss Alice Lewis read a paper on the present war." However, their calm should not be equated with acquiescence to the circumstances that led to the omission of women from the Beacon's editorial, or from the diplomatic table in Europe: "Miss Alice Smith talked on different women of importance," and "Miss Ora Conley gave a very interesting talk on Mrs. Pankhurst." This was the highly militant British suffragist Emmeline Pankhurst, who by 1914 had been imprisoned at least once, and had taken her organization, the Women's Social and Political Union, in a radical direction, condoning the destruction of property as a means of protest. The activities of Ora's organization might have grown even more "interesting" had it continued, but it seems to have disbanded after a September 5 meeting during which nothing more contentious than card games took place, and Ora returned to college in Minneapolis on September 15.

Meanwhile, Red Wing City Attorney Charles P. Hall, husband of Dick Dibble's first daughter Olive, was raising his public profile. On September 28, he introduced the Democratic candidate for Minnesota governor, Winfield Scott Hammond, at a political meeting in the Red Wing Opera House. In October he delivered an address to a convention of the League of Minnesota Municipalities on "Taxation of Abutting Property for Local Improvements in Minnesota." He favored what he said was a "constitutional provision" that "assessments should be made according to the benefits" that would result to the municipality, rather than following a formula based on street frontage, as was the common practice. But he also called for scheduling days in court before and after assessment proceedings to "give the property owners every chance", and he advocated that the state university produce a model provision for uniform assessment procedures to be used in every city charter in the state. Charles' father, former Democratic Congressman Osee Matson ("O. M.") Hall, must have been proud to see his son operating in a wider political sphere before he passed away on November 26, 1914. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Red Wing.

The year 1914 saw other life-and-death events among the more distant outposts of our families.

Up in Fergus Falls, Arne Kvern's son Paul and his wife Sena's second child, Alfred Reuben Kvern, was born on May 18 that year. Alfred was the grand-nephew of Anna Marie Kvern Halden and her husband Lars, whose daughter Eline and her husband Ole Morud were busy raising a pack of kids even further north near Warren, MN. Leonard M. Halden, the son of Lars' brother Mathias and his wife Manda, had moved to Big Sandy, MT where the rest of the family now lived, and their daughter, Irene Lavonne Halden, was born there on September 15, 1914.

George Willard Engstrom, a son of Dr. Ed's sister Mary Anastalia Conley and her husband Augustus E. Engstrom, married Ada McLeod (born January 21, 1890) in Blue Earth, Faribault County, Minnesota, about 100 miles southwest of Cannon Falls, on December 18, 1914.

William John Crook, nephew of Ed Dibble's wife Laura, and his wife Hattie M Hine also had a boy child, Clyde Kenneth Crook, born February 7, 1914 in Bozeman, MT.

Dick's brother-in-law Herman Kowitz had moved out to Hysham, on the Yellowstone River in what was then Rosebud County, eastern Montana, earlier in the century, where he and his wife Beda had a 160-acre ranch a few miles south of town along Box Elder Creek. On February 8, 1914, the day after Clyde Crook was born, Herman's mother-in-law Kate (Katherine Trenter) Kowitz, apparently visiting or living with Herman, "died from a fall on ice." In 1912 the county commissioners had proposed to build a new road along the creek between Hysham and Tullock Creek. They did not follow the procedure required by the state for the taking of land for road-building, so Herman staged a nearly two-year legal battle to block the road from crossing his property. He won a permanent restraining order against the county in November 1914. Meanwhile a new board of commissioners was elected and the Billings, MT Weekly Gazette reported, "it is doubtful if the new board will take any action" to start a new, legal process to take the land. However, somebody eventually did build a road between those points (although today there is only an actual Tullock creek, and no town of that name), and Old US Highway 312 and US Interstate 94 seem to follow the proposed route, at least approximately.

Considerably further east, in Cleveland, North Dakota, on September 24, 1914, Sidney and Evelyn Ahlers had their second child, Roberta Josephine Ahlers. Roberta was a great-niece of Alonzo Dibble's first wife, Louisa Ahlers.

That fall both Don Dibble and Milton Holmes played amateur basketball for the Cannon Falls team. The annual Dick & Bertha Dibble Thanksgiving dinner had a relatively small number of attendees for that tradition, with only 24 people, including Ed and Laura Dibble and their son Willard and daughter Della with her husband John Aslakson, who now lived in Minneapolis; Sarah and Dr. Ed Conley and their daughter "Miss Ora", son Eldridge and son Alonzo D. Conley and his wife Edith; Dick's brother Dan, his wife Isabel, and their son Don and daughter Jean with her husband Milton Holmes; and Dick's daughter Olive Hall.

As the year came to a close, Cannon Falls citizens were thinking about the war in Europe. In early August Germany had invaded Belgium en route to Paris and had installed a particularly cruel occupation regime over most of the country. On December 4, the Beacon urged: "Cannon Falls Should Help the Belgians...All over the country, from farm, village and city, relief is being sent to the suffering people of Belgium. ... Up to this time no action has been taken in Cannon Falls and vicinty but in the name of our common humanity we should delay no longer. The Cannon Valley Milling Company that is building up a large mill here offers to supply flour for the Belgians at cost, or $1.50 a sack. Let us now subscribe for and pay for 200 sacks of flour to begin with before December 15..." These sorts of agricultural relief efforts, just beginning, continued to expand during the war, and they were to have profound economic consequences for rural America in later years.

Dick Dibble's storefront building on Mill Street continued to see turnover in 1915. On January 8, the Beacon reported, "The postoffice has been moved from the Bremer building on the corner of Fourth and Main streets to the central room in the Dibble block on Mill street. The room where the postoffice is located was occupied by C. O. Lundquist, grocer, until leased by the postoffice department. The change is a change without any improvement, and was occasioned, it is understood, by a disagreement between the postoffice department and the owners of the building about the price of rent. The location was satisfactory to the public in every way. But powers that be in Washington decided in favor of a new location." We don't know if Dick's feelings were hurt by Beacon Editor Silas Lewis' characterization of his building, but his pocketbook was not.

Dick's nephew Don was living in Minnepolis that winter. We don't know for sure what he was doing there, but he may have been studying mortuary science at that time.

Don's great-aunt Louisa Ahler Dibble's nephew, Courtney Pearl Ahlers, and his wife Ethel Jilson Walker had a baby boy, Ahlen Leroy Ahlers, born January 22, 1915 near Webster, in Day County, South Dakota. The following month Don's cousin Alice Dibble Richardson saw a new granddaughter's arrival: Phebe Alice Nicolaisen, born to Alice's daughter Louise and her husband John P. Nicolaisen on March 18, 1915.

Dick's nephew-in-law, Milton Holmes, joined the "Cannon Falls male quartette", and a local audience was "greatly pleased with their singing" on April 5. Later that month, Ed Dibble led a discussion on alfalfa at the Stanton Farmers Club, and his wife Laura gave a talk on her successful method of raising chickens in an incubator.

On April 21, 1915, Ed, Past Master of his Masonic lodge, awarded the degree of Master to his twin sons, Willard and Willis. The Beacon remarked that, " It is not probable that such an incident ever took place in Minnesota before."

The next day, April 22, 1915, Johan Peter Johannesson (John Johnson), Swedish patriarch of our Johnson family in Pierce County, Wisconsin, on the other side of the Mississippi, died. He was buried there, in the Clayfield Cemetery near Bay City.

About two weeks later, on May 7, a German submarine torpedoed the British passenger liner Lusitania roughly eleven miles south of the Irish coast, and it sank 18 minutes later. The death toll was 1195 people, including 128 Americans. Although the ship was owned by the Cunard Line, the British government had financed its construction, in return for which it was to be made available for military purposes in time of war. Germany was open about its intent to sink any commercial traffic sailing to or near the British Isles, and it had placed 50 advertisements in American newspapers warning people not to sail on the Lusitania. At the time of its sinking it was an open secret that it was carrying "munitions", though the British denied it. There was a second explosion on board the ship shortly after the torpedo strike, and while it has been speculated that the cause was the ammunition, that portion of the cargo was mostly small arms bullets which aren't really explosive when stored in bulk. There are other theories to explain the second explosion, none of which have been proven, and the torpedo damage was likely enough to sink the ship on its own.

Much of the American media reacted to the sinking with outrage, but all the Beacon had to say about it was published on May 14: "If the State of Georgia persists and executes Leo Frank on no better evidence than that on which he was convicted we can keep our mouths shut about the injustice of sinking the Lusitania." (Frank was a Jewish factory superintendent who was convicted of murdering a 13-year-old employee of his factory named Mary Phagan. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment about a month after the Beacon article appeared, and in August he was lynched by a mob that included a former governor of Georgia and a future president of the Georgia State Senate.) Elsewhere in the media there were some calls for war, but President Woodrow Wilson said, "There is such a thing as a man being too proud to fight. There is such a thing as a nation being so right that it does not need to convince others by force that it is right." However, behind the scenes he sent three increasingly bellicose notes to the German government, the last of which said that any further such events would be considered "deliberately unfriendly". On September 9, 1915, the Germans announced they would no longer carry out unrestricted warfare on commerical shipping, and would not attack passenger liners at all, and the crisis dissipated--for Americans.

Ora Conley graduated from the University of Minnesota in early June. Her cousin Della Aslakson and husband John had their first, and only, child, Jessie Louise Aslakson on June 20, 1915 in Minneapolis, exactly one year after they were married. Also in June, Ora's cousin George Alonzo Richardson (son of Alice Dibble and Frank Richardson, and Louise's brother), was attending a meeting of the Cannon Falls Alumni Association when something strange happened. He "developed a mental ailment". We don't know what that means, though it may have been a matter of heredity, since his father experienced a similar, though rather more serious, episode about dozen years earlier. Whatever the issue was, it got worse until, back home in Perkins County, South Dakota a couple weeks later in July, he was hauled before the "county board of insanity for examination". Unfortunately, we don't know what the board decided.

On July 16 the Beacon reported that "Oscar Swanson made application for a renewal of his license to operate a shooting gallery for the year beginning July 1, 1915, in [Dick Dibble's] building. Motion that license be granted on condition that all screens and blinds be removed to give a clear view of interior of room from street--carried." We can't even begin to imagine why the city would want to ensure that people on the street could see what was going on in there. In that same issue we learned that Dick's brother Dan sold his house to Harry Hine, whose motorcycle repair shop moved to the basement of Dick's building (accessible from the alley in the rear) a few months later. (Harry's sister Hattie had married Ed Dibble's wife Laura's brother, William John Crook, back in the gay '90s.) This may have been the house near the corner of Hoffman St. W. and 7th. St. N. where Dan was living in 1907. He likely moved to a house on the north side of Colvill St. near the corner of Fourth St. S., not far from where Dick had lived a few years earlier.

That same issue of the Beacon reported that Goodhue County had voted on July 12 to reject the "county option" to go dry--that is, to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. This didn't have as much import as one might think, because nearly all of the towns in the county, including Cannon Falls, had already voted themselves dry. Pine Island, though, reversed itself and became wet; the only other two wet towns were the village of Goodhue and the city of Red Wing.

The Hine family (or "Hines" family; they were known by both names) had another connection to the Dibbles: Laura's sister, Eefluda Crook, was married to Harry's uncle James H. Hine (yes, her name was Eefluda, or, perhaps, Elfleeda; we wouldn't believe it ourselves except that was also Laura's daughter Della's middle name; the Beacon apparently didn't believe it and rendered her as "Alfreda"). On August 15, Laura learned that her sister was gravely ill and she took a train to Fair Oaks, California to visit her. Sadly, she didn't arrive in time; Eefluda died on August 16, 1915. She was in her mid-50s, and her daughter Laura P. Hine and her colorfully-named husband Monte Cristo Freeman (not likely related to the sandwich) had just had a baby six months earlier: Willard James Freeman, born February 3, 1915 .

In September Ora Conley began her career in domestic science by taking a teaching job in that subject at the Sauk Center high school. Sauk Center is about 50 miles southeast of the Haldens' hometown of Fergus Falls.

Almost 200 miles north of Ora's new home, the oldest son of Ole Morud and Eline Halden, Leonard, was attending North Star College in Warren. The "college", which was started by the Augustana Synod of the Lutheran Evangelical Church in 1908, actually seems to have been a cross between a high school and a community (what used to be called "junior") college. Leonard pursued the "commercial" course there and graduated, at the age of 17, in May 2015, when he received an award for penmanship from the "Business Journal of New York City". Apparently he was so excited about it that, according to the Warren Sheaf, he "fell off his bicycle on commencement day and dislocated his shoulder. He was immediately brought to the hospital where the joint was replaced. On the following day he was brought to his home by Arthur Willson. On Tuesday he came to Warren on his bicycle. It did not take him long to mend."

While in school Leonard used some of the family acres to grow popcorn, which he sold to pay his tuition. After graduating, he got a job as a bookkeeper for a lumberyard down in Fargo, North Dakota (about 100 miles south of Warren).

Meanwhile Eline's cousin, Emma Louisa Halden, daughter of Eline's uncle Mathias, got married, to Clyde Franklin Knotts on October 5, 1915 in Great Falls, MT. Emma's older sister, Ida, stayed home with her parents and remained single for many years. On the same day that Emma was married, October 5, 1915, Elina's uncle Arne Kvern, her mother Anna's brother, passed away in Fergus Falls. Also in October, a grand-niece of Sarah Dibble Conley was born: Janet Helena Engstrom was born on October 9, 1915 in Hills, Rock County, MN. Janet's parents were Dr. Frederick A. Engstrom and Lilian Rubena Olson. Frederick's mother was Mary Anastalia Conley, a sister of Sarah's husband "Dr. Ed" Conley.

In the early years of the 20th century, tuberculosis was consistently among the top three causes of death in the United States. Public health campaigns against the disease were organized by volunteer organizations, which raised money for education efforts and the construction of sanatoriums, and also advocated for government funding to address the scourge. Health experts thought most tuberculosis infections began in children who were exposed to family members who had the disease, and this was an important reason why isolating adults with TB was favored. We now know that santoriums had little if any effect on the curtailment of the epidemic; reporting of cases to public health authorities and better sanitation, including laws prohibiting shared drinking cups in public places, were more effective. Goodhue County opened its Mineral Springs Sanatorium on November 2, 1915. The facility was located about a mile east of Cannon Falls on the north side of the Cannon River, south of Forest Road near the intersection of 95th. Avenue Way. It had 34 beds for patients, and admission was free to "indigent" county residents; more prosperous residents paid $7.00 a week, and out-of-county patients were charged $10.00 a week. The people of the county were quite proud of this facility.

At some point that same November, Don Dibble moved from Minneapolis to West Concord, in Dodge County, just over the Goodhue County line, about 25 miles south of Cannon Falls. He apparently began working as an undertaker there, perhaps for the West Concord Funeral Chapel.

Also in November, a new member joined Della Dibble Aslakson's extended family. Laura Mathilde Aslakson, sister of Della's husband John, and her husband Edward H. Lidstrand, welcomed Paul Delbert Lidstrand into the world on November 19, 1915.

As the year came to a close, Dick Dibble's daughter Glee was elected president of the eighth grade literary society, and she, along with Wilbur Scofield (likely a descendant of his namesake, Wilbur H. Scofield, first teacher at the Dibble School in Stanton Township), was also elected to represent the eighth grade on the "executive council for the ice skating rink." Glee had a small blue velvet-covered autograph book in which several of her friends and relatives wrote little verses and signed their names during her school years. Leona Peters wrote, on July 20, 1913: "Glee:- Think of me long/Think of me ever/Think of the fun we/Have had together." In October of 1917, Eldridge Peters wrote, "The pen is poor,/The ink is pale,/And my hand shakes/like a little dog's tail." At 9 pm on the evening of September 11, 1916, her longtime buddy Frances Thill wrote, "Dear Friend Glee, Always think of me as I think of you," and she signed it "Your Schoolmate". Relatives were a bit less sentimental in their musings. On August 2, 1914, her cousin George "Dode" Wilson wrote: "Glee:- As you stand beside the tub/Think of me before you rub." And, date unknown, Glee's brother Archie inscribed thusly: "Dear Sister Glee, One day as I sat at the table/weary and ill at ease/There suddenly came upon me a/strong desire to sneeze." He credited this little gem to Shakespeare.

Archie, home from business school, was working as a clerk at Scofield Brothers drug store. He was mentioned in a half-page ad for Christmas toys in the Beacon on December 17, 1915, headlined "Santa Claus Headquarters", that told a story of how he had "inadvertently left the door to Noah's Ark open and a large number of the animals had made their escape and at once went to carrying on in high style, evidently bent on having 'a hot time in the old town to night.'" The ad also featured several nasty racist stereotypes, common in those times.

On February 18, 1916, up in Fergus Falls, John Alfred Halden and his wife Ida welcomed a new daughter, Margerie Eleanor Constance Halden. She was a grandchild of Mathias Halden, and so a cousin of Eline Halden Morud. John, a jack-of-all-trades, may have been running a threshing rig for local farmers and also working as a machinist at this time. One month later, on March 18, out in scenic Kalispell, Montana, Eline's brother Alfred and his wife Olga had their second child, Ruth Elida Halden. Alfred worked as a baggage handler for the Great Northern Railroad. Ruth's middle name was the same as her mother's.

George and Ada Engstrom had moved from Blue Earth down to Winona, where he took a job as superintendent of the Jones & Kroeger Co. printing plant, and that is where their son, George McLeod Engstrom, was born, on April 12, 1916. Later that month, on April 22, Alice Dibble Richardson came to visit her brother Ed and sister Sarah in Cannon Falls. By this time Alice was working as a teacher in Ruthton in Pipestone County in the southwest corner of Minnesota, about 50 miles northeast of Sioux Falls and several hundred miles southeast of the Richardson farm in Perkins County, SD. After a few days she went to Chicago, where she stayed with her daughter Zelle, a schoolteacher, and her husband Roy C. Mills, a streetcar motorman.

Dairy production was the main occupation of many of the farmers in southeastern Minnesota in the early 20th. century. The University of Minnesota's School of Agriculture Experimental Station and its Cooperative Extension program undertook several activities to help farmers in those years. Ed Dibble's twins, Willis and Willard, had taken temporary jobs with one of these programs following their graduation, and were involved in testing the milk output of dairy herds in Goodhue County in the late winter and early spring of 1916. The Cannon Falls Cooperative Creamery had been a local institution in Cannon Falls since 1894. Its incorporation papers, though, included a limitation; they would expire on March 9, 1916. So in January of that year, the company was reorganized and renamed the "Farmers Creamery Company of Cannon Falls", with Ed as Secretary and local banker and "summer Santa" Clifford W. Gress as Treasurer. The Beacon happily--not to say cheesily--reported, "The cheese manufactured by this establishment has gained a reputation for excellence throughout the west and northwest and always finds a ready market."

Things were less happy on the southern border of the United States. In early March of 1916, the Mexican revolutionary and bandit Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico with about 500 raiders, and they killed 12 US soldiers. President Wilson sent 12,000 troops over the border on March 15 to chase Villa down.

As the attack on Columbus was winding down, on March 9, the Cannon Falls Civic Improvement Club held a meeting featuring a talk on "Preparedness" by Dr. A. T. Conley, Dr. Ed Conley's older brother (the club's president was A.T.'s son, the dentist Samuel L. Conley). As quoted in the Beacon, the elder Conley said, "All the nations of Europe will no doubt after this war is over, find themselves impoverished and will look with envious eyes upon us. The Japanese, for instance, are a very proud people and they insist that we treat their people as we do the people of this nation and this we do not do." (We don't know if the Beacon quoted some of this out of context, but it seems unlikely that the well-educated physician thought that Japan was in Europe.) "Preparedness" was already becoming a topic of discussion throughout the United States as the war raged on in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and the Mexican border troubles gave it a big boost. Its most extreme form was promoted by former president Teddy Roosevelt, who felt that all the talk of staying out of war was unmanly; he was for a national conscription program. Dr. Conley was more moderate; in his view recruitment of young men by the military was a problem because civilians starting out in the workforce could make two or three times as much money as new soldiers were paid. He proposed that the military offer training in the trades and arts and sciences in return for a three-year enlistment. However, when he began to describe the potential threats the country was facing, his talk seemingly ran off the rails. He suggested that impoverished England and "proud" Japan might ally against us, with Japan coming at the US mainland from the west through the Philippines and Hawaii, and then joining up with the British in western Canada to invade the Pacific Northwest. He also speculated that an equally "envious" France might also get into the act, invade Mexico, and then take Texas and other southwestern states. He said, "These are not idle dreams but only the forebodings of wise men today."

Some individual Americans did not wait for their goverment to act. On April 20, the "Escadrille Americaine" (American Squadron; later known as the Lafayette Escadrille) was formed by American volunteers with the French Air Force. Some Americans joined the Imperial German Flying Corps. Others crossed the Canadian border and signed up with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Still others joined the French Foreign Legion.

Yet in early 1916 there was an equally strong peace movement in the United States. Industrialist Henry Ford, who believed that capitalism could defeat war by offering stronger incentives for peaceful economic development, organized a "peace ship" that carried anti-war activists to Europe, where he hoped to convince European leaders to convene a peace conference. Most American religious leaders were pacifists, as were the leaders of the women's suffrage movement. Although the cause was later strongly identified with the political left, including labor unions, syndicalists, and socialists, the so-called "old right"--Republicans who didn't like Teddy Roosevelt--were also in favor of keeping the US out of the war.

In May, over in Northfield (about ten miles up the Cannon River from Cannon Falls in neighboring Rice County, and some five miles west of Ed Dibble's farm as the crow flies), there was a showing of the film The Battle Cry of Peace, which tells a story of how the nation's enemies manipulate pacifists to prevent the US government from spending enough money to prepare for war, and as a result the country is invaded and taken over by the enemy. The 1915 film had a bad reputation among peace activists, and a local man, C. A. Ryan, the "secretary of the World Peace Association", had sent out a flyer the week before to organize a boycott of the showing. He claimed he had several city aldermen on board in opposition to the film, but the film's promoters issued a rebuttal in which the aldermen said they had been "misquoted". This became a big topic of discussion around town, and the film drew large crowds two nights in a row, leading the Northfield News to remark sagely, "that the best way to advertise a thing is to oppose it."

Congress began debating how prepared the nation needed to become, and in June reached a compromise between war and peace. The National Defense Act of 1916 was enacted on June 3. It provided for an increase in the standing army to about 200,000 troops and the National Guard to 450,000 over the course of five years. It created the Reserve Officer Training Corps, which offered summer training camps, and increased the size of the army's Aviation Section, providing funds for 375 new airplanes. The Beacon was most impressed with the Act's reduction of the term of service required of an enlisted man before he became eligible for appointment as a Second Lieutenant from two years to one, and with the additional educational opportunities to be provided to those who enlisted, a la the suggestion of A.T. Conley.

In mid-June the Minnesota National Guard, including Company D of the 2nd. Infantry, Northfield's own, was mustered into the US Army in preparation for service in Mexico. The men of Company D were ordered to report to the armory in Northfield. They were allowed to go home for meals but required to remain in uniform. It was expected that they would soon be ordered up to Ft. Snelling in Minneapolis, which had been preparing to receive an influx of soldiers, to receive training. The company was not up to its full complement of 65 men, so a request for recruits was sent out. Over 50 young men responded, and many more would have but their parents objected. Sure enough, a few days later the company was ordered to report to Ft. Snelling. On the morning of June 26, 1916, the men paraded proudly from the Armory at the corner of Division St. S. and 6th. St. W., crossed the river, and marched north to the depot at 3rd. St. W. and Linden Street, where they boarded a special train that was headed for the fort.

Also at Fort Snelling, with Battery F of the Minnesota 1st. Field Artillery, was Sarah Dibble Conley's nephew, 19-year-old Gordon Charles Curran, a son of Dr. Ed's sister Emma and her husband the Reverend Charles William Curran. Gordon, a student at the University of Minnesota Agricultural College whose family lived in LeSueur about 40 miles west of Cannon Falls, was a frequent visitor to his relatives in the latter city. With him at the fort was Leland Mullen, a brother of Samuel Conley's wife Maude. Samuel and Maude had seen the arrival of their son Kenneth C. Conley just a couple of weeks earlier, on June 13.

The Minnesota boys were sent to the Mexican border in late July to be ready to repel more invasions. As members of the National Guard, they were considered to be "militia", which under federal law could not be sent to fight outside the nation's borders. Gordon wrote two letters to the Beacon from Camp Llano Grande near Mercedes, Texas, about 50 miles west of South Padre Island and five miles north of the Rio Grande, the Mexican border, to describe his work in the camp kitchen, where he cut bread, washed dishes, and performed other "odd jobs". Battery F returned to Fort Snelling by mid-September, apparently without seeing any combat, and Gordon went back to college that fall.

Back in Goodhue County, an idyllic summer was getting underway. Dibble Springs, on Ed Dibble's farm in Stanton Township, had been a frequently used and well-beloved recreation spot for the people of the Cannon River valley since at least the early 1890s. Located along the Little Cannon River, the spot featured a swimming hole and picnic area large enough for school and corporate events. The precise location was just east of what we believe to have been Jonathan Dibble's first homestead cabin, a building that later became the Dibble School. The spring still exists, east of the corner of Stanton Trail and Oxford Mill Road, although the course of the Little Cannon has changed over time, making it unsuitable for picnics today. The spring got its name not long after the Dibbles settled in the 1850s; there's a story that during the Civil War, men from Warsaw Township, just south of Stanton, were receiving military training in the area and "members of this company engaged in a hunt near Dibble Springs when 75 deer were shot." On June 14, 1916, two of Ed's organizations, the Farmers Shipping & Produce Association and the Farmers Creamery Company, held a huge picnic at the Springs, featuring "some of the best speakers of the Northwest", as well as a baseball game between the two companies.

A few weeks later, the Cannon Falls baseball team beat the Nerstrand (about 15 miles southwest of Cannon Falls) nine. The Beacon reported, "Dibble of Cannon Falls [first baseman] was about the busiest man on the diamond and when the game ended he had fourteen put-outs to his credit." He also stole a base. Sadly, we don't know which Dibble this was: Dick's son Archie, his nephew Don, and his cousins Willard and Willis, Ed's twin sons, all played baseball with the high school and local amateur teams of the time. Archie played left field and Don was a catcher, so the game's hero, also featured in other July 1916 baseball games, was probably one of Ed's twins, although we can't rule out a different Dibble entirely; there were other Dibble families located in most of the counties surrounding Goodhue.

That same week, eight young girls established "Camp Linger Longer" at Dibble Springs. The Beacon reported, "The evenings were always spent around a huge camp fire, where everyone enjoyed making candy, popping corn and toasting marshmallows. Cloudy skies did not frighten visitors or campers and the cooks did not put off one breakfast on account of the rain. ...

On Sunday the girls were prepared for company. Misses Irene Carlson and Laura Lockrem spent the day and Wendell Westman, Willis Dibble, Foster and Russell Barlow and Russell Kraft were entertained for supper. In the evening they increased the camp fire circle and entertained a car load of boys. The guests were entertained by vocal selections and Edison records by Bugs, the clown of the bunch, and also by the Linger Longer Comb Orchestra.

Monday night an unbidden prowler was seen around the outskirts of the camp. After he took one of the coziest hammocks, the sentry guard went after the Dibble twins and after a regiment was organized, they searched the woods for all traces of the Mexican bandit. By the bravery of Corporal Bugs, the bandit was almost captured and was court martialed out of camp by a shot gun. ...

The girls also appreciated the kindness of Mr. Dibble for allowing them to pitch their tents near his spring."

Near the end of that month, Ed Dibble's sister Alice, the schoolteacher, returned to town for a few days on her way back from Chicago to Ruthton.

After Dick and Dan Dibble dissolved their partnership on September 1, Dan advertised the business in the Beacon as the City Meat Market, and he sought recognition from former customers: "The meats I handle are Government Inspected and guaranteed to be as represented. A share of the public's patronage is respectfully solicited." The name change seems not to have gone over well though, so by the end of the year his advertisements referred to "The Dibble Meat Market".

In October, Dick's son Archie joined a new 32-piece orchestra in Cannon Falls, where he played second trombone. Archie's little sister Glee was elected president of the Cannon Falls High School freshman class. Glee was also a musician; back in June she had played a piano duet with her friend and rival, Frances Thill, at the eighth grade graduation ceremony. Both of them must have been pretty worried that fall, though, when their father went into the hospital for hernia surgery. He was gone for two weeks, and returned home the Monday before 1916's national election on November 7. We don't know if he voted, or how. We'd guess that his cousin, the local Democratic Party leader Ed Dibble, voted for Wilson, though.

The election was very close. American sympathies for the European Allied Powers, England, France, Russia and Italy, were growing stronger, although many Americans of German descent favored the Central Powers. Left-leaning labor leaders, socialists, and peace activists, who had argued that the United States should stay out of a conflict that was mostly about which colonial empire would have the upper hand in world affairs, were losing the war of ideas. Pancho Villa's invasion of New Mexico had changed many people's thinking: war wasn't just something that happened to decrepit monarchies on the other side of the Atlantic; it had erupted on our own border. And Wilson's invasions and occupations of Haiti in 1915, and of the neighboring Dominican Republic a few months before the election, were still popular with voters. Despite those events and the ongoing military buildup, Woodrow Wilson's opponent, former Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, had been effective in criticizing what many still felt was the president's failure to prepare adequately for potential hostilities. Probably the difference in the election was made by Progressive Republicans, former followers of Teddy Roosevelt, who didn't like Hughes' opposition to a recent federal law establishing an eight-hour weekday for interstate railroad workers, or his opposition to the 16th. Amendment, which established the federal income tax.

Yet still, the war only impinged slightly on the concerns of our families at this time. On December 4, 1916, Dick Dibble's nephew Lieutenant (jg) Charles Milford Elder took a position as Aide to the Commandant of the United States Naval Station at Key West, Florida. A few days later his cousins, the twins Willis and Willard Dibble, were once again in their familiar home, on the basketball court, and their team, the Cannon Falls Independents, beat the Minneapolis Beavers. Ora Conley came home too, from Sauk Center, during the winter break to spend the holidays with her parents.

Willis didn't do so well in the first game of 1917; on New Year's Day the Hotel Sherman team from St. Paul clobbered his Independents 42-20. Also that week, Alice Dibble Richardson was back in town visiting her sister Sarah Dibble Conley. Willis and Willard were featured in another Independents loss, this time 33-19, to the South St. Paul Hook 'Em Cows on February 10.

Some of the farmers in Stanton Township had organized a club in November 1916; the club met in the Oxford Church and was known as the Oxford Farmers Club. Willard Dibble was initially the club's treasurer, but by February 1917 he was its secretary. His father Ed was a delegate to a "Federation of Farm Clubs" at that time, though we don't know whether that was a county or state organization. Earlier on the same day that the Hook 'Em Cows slaughtered the Cannon Falls b-ballers, the Oxford club held a big meeting that featured a sumptious noon-time dinner, musical entertainment from the high school orchestra with Maude Conley on the organ, and several interesting talks. Maude's husband, the dentist S. L. Conley, spoke on "Teeth and their Relation to Health", including the "resultant ills of improper mastication." He also said that "a child with bad teeth took six months longer to complete the eight grades than the average child." Willard gave a talk on the "Farm Credit System"; explaining the benefits of the new federally-guaranteed cooperative land bank mortgage loan program.

The bank cashier Milton Emmons Holmes took a job with a new branch of the American National Bank that was being opened in Forsyth, Montana, about 25 miles east of Herman Kowitz's ranch in Hysham, and on February 16 he and his wife Jean Dibble Holmes boarded the train for the journey to their new home.

At the beginning of March it had been six months since Jean's father Dan Dibble and his brother Dick disbanded their partnership, and the old company had still not been paid everthing it was owed. On March 2, the Beacon carried this stern announcement: "Final Notice: All accounts due the late firm of Dibble Bros., if not paid before March 15, 1917, will be placed for collections together with interest on the accounts."

Meanwhile, some other accounts were coming due on the world stage.

By late December of 1916, the British had successfully blockaded most of the German navy in its home port of Kiel, and their blockade of German commercial shipping was causing critical food shortages. The German military leadership had been growing increasingly concerned about American preparedness activities, and feared that a US intervention in the war would massively increase the Allied Powers' already considerable advantage in numbers of troops on the ground. A study completed earlier in the year had suggested that if Germany could sink 600,000 tons of commercial shipping per month, Britain would have to come to the bargaining table in six months--well before the Americans would be able to send over a large force. Germany therefore announced its intention to resume unrestricted submarine warfare on January 31, 1917.

This was a bad miscalculation on their part, but their worst mistake, unknown at the time, had already been made. On February 1, 1917, President Wilson cut off all diplomatic relations with the German Empire.

A few days earlier, the US Army, having failed to find Pancho Villa, gave up trying. General John J. Pershing, who had commanded the expedition, withdrew his troops to the place where the trouble began, Columbus, New Mexico. However, this had not been the only recent hostilities between the United States and its southern neighbor. Back in April of 1914, some US sailors from a ship in the harbor at Tampico had gone on an errand in a whaleboat to pick up some fuel oil, and were arrested by the Mexican authorities. Relations between the US and Mexico had already deteriorated in the wake of a 1913 coup that replaced a fragile government of democratic reformers--themselves installed in the first phase of the long-running Mexican Revolution--with a dictator. The coup had been engineered by a rogue US ambassador, whom an appalled President Wilson immediately fired, but the damage was done. In Tampico, tempers flared, communication got tangled, and an American admiral on the scene demanded that the Mexicans disavow the arrests, hoist an American flag on the shore, and give it a 21-gun salute--or else the US Navy would attack. This demand was refused. The situation then escalated to the point at which President Wilson ordered the Navy and Marines to invade and occupy the Mexican city of Veracruz for seven months.

Historians have said that the resulting bad feelings between the United States and Mexico were a primary reason why Mexico chose to remain neutral in World War I. It also seems to have been one of the reasons why the German government thought it could enlist Mexico as an ally. On January 17, 1917, a German diplomat named Zimmerman sent a cable to the German ambassador to Mexico, proposing an alliance in the hope of tying up American resources in a war with that nation. If the United States declared war on Germany, the message said, Germany would provide financial assistance to Mexico for an invasion of the US to reclaim its former territory in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The British having cut Germany's direct trans-atlantic cables, the message had to pass over a series of relays and through a station at Land's End in the extreme southwest of England, before reaching the German embassy in Washington, where it was re-transmitted to Mexico. The British were monitoring all cable traffic through Land's End, and they picked up the message. They finished decoding it about a month later and passed it to the Americans. Wilson released it to the press on March 1, and Zimmerman admitted it was genuine on March 3.

On March 2 the Beacon took its stand: "From all appearances it is now time that the American people should be aroused to the dangers of actual warfare. No declaration of war has yet been made openly, but the intrigues and acts of the German government are sufficient to bring on war at any moment. In common with all neutrals Americans have been ruthlessly murdered by the direct order of the German government. No sane man doubts this unless he be a German sympathizer. The time is rapidly approaching from all indications when all American citizens must be known as patriots or traitors. Call the roll and stand by President Wilson."

The Mexican government seriously considered accepting the German offer, but after some investigation concluded that it lacked the capability to successfully invade its northern neighbor, and also that the Germans could not be trusted to come through with the promised funds.

Meanwhile the Germans had sunk ten American merchant vessels since the resumption of unlimited submarine warfare, and although isolationists in Congress were still trying to block Wilson's effort to arm merchant ships, the public was outraged. Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war on April 2, and it was issued on April 6, 1917.

US military planners believed that an army of at least 1 million men would be needed to fight the war. The National Defense Act did not envision such a huge increase, but President Wilson hoped that patriotic Americans would be stirred to volunteer for service. He was mistaken; despite constant drum-beating in the press, by mid-May, only about 73,000 men had enlisted. Forced conscription was deemed necessary, and on May 18 the Selective Service Act of 1917 became law. It called for drafting men between the ages of 21 and 31 initially (ultimately there were three rounds of the World War I draft). Every man who was not a resident "alien enemy", or who wasn't already in the military (including the National Guard) between those ages was required to register, though they could claim exemption from service on various grounds. Any exemption claim would have to be supported by quite a bit of information and affidavits from the people involved. The draft board would then review this information and decide whether to reject all claims, place the man into one of three different "temporary deferment" classes ("temporary" meant the man would not be called for service until all members of the non-exempt class were inducted), or into the "permanently discharged" class.

We've found draft cards from this first round for several members of our cast of characters, but not for all of them. Having a draft card, of course, did not mean the man participated in the war, and not having a card doesn't mean he did not participate. For example, we have no card for Archie Dibble, who certainly did serve in the war. We also don't have access to the local draft board records of how they processed requests for exemptions, but we do know that nationwide, almost 78% of those requests were granted. We have not found many details of service for most of our relatives who did serve, and it seems likely that some served for whom we have no information at all.

Draftees for the first round were required to show up at the nearest local board on June 5, 1917 to register and fill out detailed questionnaires. The venerable Peter S. Aslakson, and Olive Dibble's husband and Red Wing City Attorney Charles P. Hall, served as Associate members of the Goodhue County Legal Advisory Board, where their job was to advise county residents on how to complete those questionnaires. Members of our families who registered on that day included:

John Selmer Aslakson, the husband of Ed Dibble's daughter Della, claimed an exemption but didn't give a reason.

Floyd Ernest Chapman, a son of Edward A Chapman, whose aunt Rebecca Chapman was Alonzo Dibble's second wife, was working as a laborer on his father's farm near Redwood Falls, about 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis. He was single and claimed no exemptions.

Three Cichy brothers, whose sister was the Wisconsin farmer Francis A. Johnson's wife, Rose: August Cichy was working on his older brother Stephan's farm in Ortonville, MN, about 150 miles west of Minneapolis on the South Dakota line. He did not claim an exemption. His actual registration date was June 1, 1917. Frank Paul Cichy and William Cichy, who lived together on their parents' farm near Millersville, about 25 miles southeast of Fergus Falls, both claimed exemption on the grounds that they were their parents' "sole support".

Alonzo D. Conley, a son of Sarah Dibble and Dr. Ed Conley, claimed exemption due to having a wife and child. Dr. Alva A. Conley, son of Ed's older brother A.T., claimed a physical disability, though we don't know what it was.

Jean Alonzo Curran was a son (yes, son, and that is the correct spelling of his first name) of Dr. Ed's sister Emma Conley and Charles Curran, of Mankato; Jean was a medical student at Harvard when he filled out his card.

Dan Dibble's son Donald Nathan Dibble claimed exemptions because he worked as an undertaker and at the local power utility, both of which he thought were "necessary industries"; he also claimed that his wife was fully dependent on him. Ed Dibble's twins, Willard and Willis Dibble, claimed no exemptions.

George Willard Engstrom, a nephew of Dr. Ed Conley, claimed exemption for his wife and child. His younger brother Glenn M. Engstrom did not.

Alfred Halden, a brother of Ole Morud's wife Eline Halden, who was living in Kalispell, Montana and working as a baggage handler for the Great Northern Railroad, claimed an exemption for his wife and two children. The date on his draft card is May 21, 1917 .

Milton Emmons Holmes, the husband of Dan Dibble's daughter Jean, claimed exemption for his wife and child.

Carl and Helmer Kvern, sons of Lars Halden's brother-in-law Arne, from Fergus Falls, claimed no exemptions.

Some members of a National Guard machine gun company from over in Faribault came to Cannon Falls on a recruitment mission in the last week of June, 1917, and collected several men, but the Beacon mistakenly reported that Archie Dibble was one of them. Archie and his aunt Edith Kowitz Wilson (wife of the barber Ed Wilson) went out to Hysham, Montana, to visit Edith's brother Herman Kowitz in mid-July. They returned about a month later, and Archie went back out there again in mid-September. Herman had greatly expanded his holdings over the previous three years. He owned a meat market in Hysham, and he and his wife Beda (known as "Minnie") now had 640 acres spread across three sections east of Sarpy Creek Road (Rte. 384) and south of where I-94 now runs. The place today is a collection of scrub-covered hills, dry washes and small ponds about three miles southeast of the Hysham Airport.

Among all of the men of our families of an appropriate age during this time, we only know of two who enlisted during the early call for volunteers in the spring of 1917: Charles Clark Ahlers, a son of Alonzo Dibble's first wife Louisa's brother, Alonzo Ahlers, from South Dakota, enlisted on May 2. He served as a Private First Class with the 110th. Infantry Regiment of the 28th. Division, US Army Expeditionary Force. Dr. Frederick A Engstrom, a nephew of Dr. Ed Conley, enlisted on July 21.

Some members of the then-still-small US standing army arrived in Europe in June 2017, and the entire National Guard was activated as part of the army on August 5, but no Americans saw combat before October of that year. Meanwhile, life went on for our families, though the war and its political and ideological imperatives became increasingly intrusive.

A few days after the declaration of war the Minnesota state leglislature passed a bill to create a state Commission on Public Safety, intended to manage and mobilize the state's resources for the war effort. The legislation, passed just before the legislators adjourned for the summer, was not much-debated or scrutinized, and it granted sweeping powers to the Commission to regulate just about everything in the state. Under the law, each county established its own Commission, which carried out the directives of the state body. Ed Dibble's son Willard served on the Goodhue County Commission, representing Stanton Township. Simultaneously the federal government launched the Liberty Loan program, an opportunity for citizens and organizations to purchase interest-bearing bonds to help finance the war. Local officials were also appointed to promote sales of these bonds. The Public Safety Commission got to work immediately. One of its first helpful actions was to issue instructions to the county boards and the railroad companies to ensure that freight cars were used efficiently, and not sent out half-full; counties were told to increase local storage facilities for freight. One of its first examples of overreach was an order that all saloons and cafes that sold liquor must be closed between the hours of 10:00 pm and 8:00 am. More was to follow. A Beacon article on December 14 called the Commission "the official head of our government in Minnesota" and praised its activities in assisting the United States to defeat "Prussian autocracy" and "make the world safe for democracy", including the fact that its seven-member unelected Board had largely replaced nearly 200 members of the state legislature, whose diverse opinions when deliberating on how to address war issues would have been too "unwieldy, expensive and slow." The Commission's efforts so far had been difficult, because, "At the time of the entry of this nation in to the war the people of our state were in anything but a warlike mood. They were prosperous, happy, peace loving and had no idea of the deadly peril that threatened them at the hands of the Prussianized autocratic power seemingly so far removed as to make any thought of danger now or in the future too ridiculous to contemplate." But the Commission and its county coordinators had succeeded in changing people's attitudes, and loyal Minnesotans were now prepared to begin the next urgent task, to "smoke out the Huns within our gates."

Meanwhile the local Liberty Loan boosters, in cooperation with the Commission, began an increasingly aggressive campaign to convince people to buy bonds. Names of buyers were published in the Beacon, and among the earliest were Dick and Dan Dibble, their cousin Ed Dibble, Dr. Alva A. Conley, and barber Ed Wilson's brother George Elmer Wilson, a Cannon Falls judge and city clerk, as well as loan financier and cemetery monuments retailer. Ultimately sale of these bonds paid for about 58% of the total US cost of the war. An "America First" association was established nationally as well; its statewide and local chapters focused on staging "loyalty" rallies.

Noting that the Minnesota National Guard had been mustered into the regular army, theoretically leaving the state without its protection, the state Commission ordered the establishment of a "Home Guard" in late April to ensure public safety. Home Guard volunteers had to be at least 26 years old and were not paid except when placed on active duty. They added a military flavor to patriotic gatherings and parades, provided honor guards at funerals, escorted newly-enlisted (or drafted) men to the troop trains, and even harvested crops on farms whose young men were serving in the war. Although the Home Guard performed some heroic functions, including assisting survivors of at least one tornado, and of a massive wildfire that swept through northeastern Minnesota in 1918, it also functioned as a military enforcement tool for the Commission's efforts to track down "slackers" (people who failed to enlist in the army or register for the draft), harass people of German descent and those who did not purchase Liberty Bonds, and to quell labor unrest. Spanish-American War veteran Charles J. Ahlers, President of the C. J. Ahlers Electrical Company in Red Wing, nephew of Alonzo Dibble's first wife Louisa Ahlers, and himself a German-American, was the only member of our families known to have joined the Home Guard, though we don't know what Guard activities he participated in. Dan Dibble may also have been a member, though he was only referred to as an appointed member of the "volunteer body organized in Goodhue county, Minnesota, to respond and assist in case the peace of our community should be threatened." Paul Kvern, up in Fergus Falls, may also have been in the Home Guard; he was eventually a member of the Minnesota National Guard unit that it became.

All of these organizations were supported by the federal Committee on Public Information (CPI), whose job was to spread pro-war propaganda to the diverse population of the United States, including many millions of German Americans, some of whom were uneasy about whose side we were on, millions more Irish Americans who did not favor an alliance with Great Britain, and many others who had strong isolationist beliefs. One of the CPI programs was the "Four Minute Men". The name played on the Revolutionary War militias known as "Minute Men", and referred to the time it typically took for a movie theater projectionist to change reels on a feature-length film. The Four Minute Men were trained as public speakers and given topics and outlines, and would stand up and deliver speeches during the reel changes, on topics such as rationing food, supporting the Red Cross's efforts on behalf of soldiers overseas, registering for the draft, and, of course, buying Liberty Bonds. They also spoke at churches, lodges, schools, public parks, auctions, and labor union meetings. Charles P. Hall, and the dentist Samuel Lewis Conley, both served as Four Minute Men. Hall also wrote the lyrics to two songs, "Loyal Red Wing" and "Loyal Minnesota: Star of the North", with music by Ernst Smith, that were sold to benefit the Red Cross in 1917.

Despite all the military and patriotic folderol, and the increasingly sinister repressions of free speech and civil rights happening around them, our folks did manage to do other things.

Ed Dibble helped test phosphate fertilizers on his farm beginning in April. Phosphates had been tested in other parts of Minnesota and not found worth the effort, but they had not been tested in the southeastern part of the state, whose soil was similar to that of other locations where those fertilizers had been effective. The Cannon Falls High School Agricultural Department, working with the University of Minnesota, organized the research. Two six-acre fields on Ed's farm and that of another local farmer were used for the tests, in which different quantities of phosphate were applied and the progress of crops of corn, clover, and "small grains" such as oats or rye, was observed. Unfortunately, we can't find a report on the results of the tests.

On April 6, the Beacon reported that James Andrew Elder, the adoptive father of Navy Lieutenant Charles Milford Elder, had "died very recently at his home in Cordele, Georgia." The paper had reported in February that he was "in very poor health" and he and his wife were planning to return to Cannon Falls. Apparently they didn't do so, and the actual date of his death is unknown. James's widow Elizabeth came to visit her sister near Cannon Falls in late June, and she relocated permanently to Minneapolis shortly thereafter.

Isabel Dibble, Dan's wife, was elected to attend a regional meeting of the state Federation of Women's Clubs in late April. These clubs were a primary means of social and political expression for American women prior to their receipt of voting rights. They operated on the basis that since women were allegedly naturally inclined to take care of the home, they would be good at so-called "municipal housekeeping", which became a synonym for community activism in various public policy arenas. Representatives of these federations gained entry to the offices of male politicians and bureaucrats, who usually listened to them respectfully and sometimes acted on their recommendations. Unfortunately, we have very little information on Isabel's specific beliefs or activities. She was a member of Eastern Star, a mixed-gender offshoot of the male-only Masons, along with Ed Dibble's wife Laura. She also belonged to the "Home Economics Club", along with Bertha Dibble (wife of Dick Dibble), at whose meetings such important topics of home management were discussed as "The Emancipation of the Slaves to Johnson's Administration", "Problems Bequeathed by the Civil War", "Johnson's Administration to Cleveland's Second Administration", and "The Early New England Poets".

On May 12, 1917, Isabel and Dan's son, Donald Nathan Dibble, the West Concord undertaker, married Margaret C. Brooks in a very small ceremony at his parents' home in Cannon Falls.

That same spring, the Morud farm near Warren, MN was besieged by fire. Prairie fires were always a threat. The farmers would turn over the earth in broad strips around the farmyard each year to try to keep fire away from the house. On this occasion, Ole Morud had left for the grain elevator in the town of Radium, about 5 miles away, with a load of grain. A prairie fire came whipping up from the southeast. Ole's wife Ella tried to start a back-fire to burn out the ground between the house and the prairie fire, hoping to stop it in its tracks. It didn't work, and the barn caught fire. 14-year-old Emma was home from school with a cold, and she managed to get four horses out of the barn. But several calves and chickens, and Ole's prized hunting dog, died.

The Moruds survived this disaster, however, and despite the hardships of life on the cold, windswept prairie, continued to maintain a bastion of culture and education for their nine children. School was so important to the Moruds, in fact, that when the children were in high school--at this time this would have included Alice and Mabel--they rented their own apartment in town near the school to ensure they would be there every day even in rough winter weather. As we shall later see, this determined approach to education produced a high number of educated, professional women among the Morud children, at a time when that was definitely not the norm.

In June, Ora Conley, another educated professional woman who certainly stood out from the norm, and who had been teaching high school home economics in Sauk Center, moved to Minneapolis "to attend summer school at the University" of Minnesota.

On July 7, over in Northfield, another young Dibble was married; this time it was Willard, and his bride was Cora Rose Hanson. Cora was a nurse who graduated from St. Luke's Hospital nursing school in St. Paul. She was "one of the head nurses at the hospital at Phalen Park"; this may have been the State Hospital for Indigent, Crippled and Deformed Children, which was located on land adjacent to Phalen Park in St. Paul (and later known as the Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children). Cora was born on September 13, 1890, probably in Sioux Falls, Lincoln County, South Dakota. Her parents were Thomas and Mary Hanson.

In August, yet another local booster group, the Cannon Valley Agricultural Association, was incorporated with Ed Dibble as its president.

There's a story that Dick Dibble was awarded a contract to supply meat to the US Army during the war. We don't know when, or even really if, that happened. But Dick's farm on Spring Garden Road was certainly producing fine cattle. He won a first prize for Holsteins at the Cannon Falls Fair in late September. Ed, now styled as "E.A. Dibble and Sons", took two first prizes and a second prize for the same breed.

Dick's wife Bertha had broken her arm the previous week while "cranking an automobile"; nevertheless she hosted Dick's daughter Olive and her husband Charles P. Hall as visitors the next day.

Certainly the availability of food for the troops was a big concern, and all Americans were expected to avoid wasting food products. The state of Minnesota, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota and the Federal Department of Agriculture, established an "emergency" Food Conservation program. The program sent out trained "demonstration agents" to teach women new ways to use food substances frugally. Ora Conley took a position as the agent for Pipestone County in early October.

Also in October, Glee Dibble won second prizes in dressmaking in the "combination suit" and "Night Gown" categories; her friend and frequent competitor Frances Thill took the first prizes in both. Glee also played girls' high school basketball that fall and winter.

In November, Laura Dibble, her sons Willis and Willard, and their cousin Alonzo D. Conley were all listed as Liberty Bond buyers. On November 20, 1917, Della Dibble Aslakson's sister-in-law, Pearl Martha Aslakson, married Mark W. Bray in Kenville, New Jersey. At around that same time Dr. Ed Conley and Ed Dibble attended a Loyalty meeting in St. Paul as delegates from Cannon Falls and "towns adjacent". On November 30, Lieutenant Charles Milford Elder was assigned to a post at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

On January 17, 1918, Dick Dibble's brother-in-law, George Kowitz, was working as a supervisor in a railroad shop in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and he criticized the work of one of his underlings, Lloyd Knutson. Lloyd "became peevish" and beat him up. He was charged with assault, and he pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $5 plus court costs. Apparently he also lost his job, because he told a newspaper reporter that "he didn't mind the fine as much as he did the enforced idleness."

Later that month, Loring Miner was a doctor in rural, sparsely-populated Haskell County in southwestern Kansas, about 30 miles southwest of Dodge City, and about 30 miles south of Garden City, where Elizabeth Dibble (of the Indiana Dibbles) and her husband William Pate settled around the turn of the 20th. century. As the winter of 1918 progressed, Dr. Miner became concerned about a local epidemic of influenza of a type he had never seen before. Young adults became severely ill very quickly, and many of them developed pneumonia and died. And then, abruptly, the local outbreak ended. But Dr. Miner was so shocked that he published a paper about it in the US Public Health Service's journal, Public Health Reports. Little attention was paid at the time. But in the following weeks some young men from Haskell County reported to Camp Funston at Fort Riley, about ten miles southwest of Manhattan in northeastern Kansas, for military training.

Also in February, Dr. Alva Conley was chosen to be vice president of the Goodhue County Medical Association, and at that time there was no mention of influenza in the Beacon or the Northfield News, except in the usual, endless advertisements for patent medicines.

On another disease front, Dan Dibble's meat market was still going strong in late February 1918, when he was reported to be the primary supplier of meat to the tuberculosis sanatorium.

Meanwhile, efforts to enlist all Americans in some aspect of the war effort had reached even institutionalized disabled people. On February 15, the Beacon reported that "nearly 12,000 inmates" of state institutions in Minnesota were knitting sweaters, scarves, socks, and "helmets", and were also sewing "hospital shirts" and making gauze surgical dressings, for the Red Cross. This included children in the state school for the "feeble-minded" in Fairbault, schools for the blind and the deaf, and the hospital for "crippled children" at Phalen Park in St. Paul, where Cora Hanson Dibble had worked. Sixty allegedly "feeble-minded" knitters were using up $100 worth of yarn a month, or about $1900 in 2021 dollars. The children were also contributing money to the Red Cross, organizing dances "and other entertainments" and charging ten cents admission which they gave to the cause, and even selling Liberty Bonds.

Disabled children weren't the only kids being encouraged to contribute to the war effort. Late in 1917 the federal government came up with "war savings stamps", a less expensive, less remunerative type of bond. A "savings certificate" stamp cost $4.12 on January 2, 1918, and could be redeemed for $5.00 on January 1, 1923. Now, $4.12 in 1918 equates to about $80 in 2021, not an amount every school child could be expected to cough up. But the feds also sold 25-cent stamps, which did not accrue interest, but if a child accumulated sixteen of them over time he could exchange them for a full savings certificate. And if a quarter every so often (worth a bit less than $5.00 in 2021) was still too steep, kids got kits distributed by their schools, with penny and nickel savings booklets so they could save up for a 25-cent stamp. Willis Dibble served on the Stanton Township War Savings Committee, which also included a member of the school board that operated the Dibble School. His brother Willard joined the Colvill War Savings Society, one of many such organizations dedicated to bringing together people who would serve as good examples of "frugality" and who would also buy, and recruit others to buy, war savings stamps. This Society was named for William J. Colvill, who led a Minnesota volunteer infantry regiment in the Civil War.

Of course, efforts to get the grown-ups to buy bonds were not neglected, and Ed Dibble was elected Chairman of the Stanton Township committee for the "Third Liberty Loan Drive" in mid-March 1918.

Around this same time, Ora Conley got a new job closer to home; she was "elected county agent of Olmsted County", home to the city of Rochester, about 35 miles southeast of Cannon Falls. County agents were a relatively new idea in 1918. In the beginning, they were experts who helped farmers improve their knowledge and productivity by disseminating agricultural research and information about new techniques and products. They were initially associated with the agricultural departments of the new "land grant" colleges that began to be established in the midwest and west after 1862, and only counties near such colleges had them. Early in the 20th. century the federal government enacted the "cooperative extension" program that provided funding for partnerships between these colleges and universities and county governments to put more trainers into the field. A low-population county might have just one county agent, but larger counties like Olmsted could have several, allowing for specialization and outreach to more urban populations. Ora's field was "home economics": training and demonstrations for housewives in various money-saving techniques for tasks such as cooking and preserving foods, making clothing, sanitation, and other aspects of managing a home.

Back out in Kansas, on March 4, 1918, Private Albert Gitchell, a cook at Camp Funston, was diagnosed with influenza. By noon on March 11, the camp hospital had 107 flu patients. Two weeks later there were over 1100 hospitalized patients on the base, and thousands more had been treated at various base infirmaries. As time went on, Camp Funston soldiers were transferred to other army bases on their way to moving overseas, and in April there were newspaper reports from several American cities of massive numbers of pneumonia and influenza cases with symptoms like those first observed by Dr. Miner. The Army tried to keep a lid on it; on April 4, the Duluth Herald carried a brief notice of an official statement from the War Department that "the health of the army in the United States is good ... although bronchitis and influenza, complicated with pneumonia, in many northern camps increased the death rates slightly over the preceding week." The Warren Sheaf carried a similar report on April 17, noting that death rates are "somewhat higher than in the last report due chiefly to prevalence of influenza and bronchitis with complicating pneumonia." But by mid-April, the existence of a nationwide influenza epidemic on military bases was well known, and was acknowledged to be affecting civilians in Minneapolis and other cities.

We aren't sure when the first cases appeared in Goodhue or surrounding counties. The Northfield News reported on March 8 that "people on the sick list are still numerous [in Randolph, Dakota County, just north of Cannon Falls]. Grip and colds seem to fight for first place." "Grip", or "grippe" or "la grippe" were synonyms for "the flu". We don't find mention of the disease in the Beacon until September 27, when a Cannon Falls native was reported to have died of it at Fort Dix in New Jersey.

The disease became known as the "Spanish influenza", and it came in multiple waves. Although the first wave caught the attention of a few people like Dr. Miner because of its unusual characteristics of producing severe disease in young healthy people, and causing pneumonia with lung hemorrhages, it didn't actually kill significantly more people than the worst winter/spring flu outbreaks of previous years. By the time the extremely deadly second wave began in August in Europe, people did not connect it with the earlier epidemic in the United States. As returning troops brought it back to American soil, it was thought to be a completely new and different illness. The press seems to have begun calling it "Spanish" because, unlike most of the warring European nations, whose armies had been significantly disabled by the spring outbreak, Spain didn't censor news reports about it. But the best scientific evidence so far uncovered shows that it likely jumped from birds to humans somewhere on the central plains of the United States, and was first transmitted to Europe by American soldiers who began arriving in France in huge numbers in early April.

Meanwhile, another kind of fever had taken hold in Goodhue County: paranoia. And as is often the case when the body politic is weakened by that disease, it was fertile ground for the sowing of political mischief. The county was home to a lot of people of German descent, and some who were recent immigrants from that country. Today it is generally not disputed that the German military engaged in despicable atrocities during World War I, especially in Belgium, but it's important to understand that at the time, Germany was the subject of an endless stream of ridiculously overblown propaganda, accusing its soldiers of eating babies and sexually mutilating nuns and so forth, and it was possible for a reasonable person to believe that other charges leveled against them were also false. Some German-Americans were not particularly enthusiastic about the war, believing that, on the world stage, Great Britain, France and Russia had no better reputation for kind treatment of their colonial subjects or minority populations than the Germans did, and none of them had a more justifiable claim for dominance in Europe than did Germany. Many Germans in this country were fed up with the constant suspicion and hostility from their neighbors, and were not inclined to back down when challenged.

On the other hand, we must note that German saboteurs were at work in the United States, and had blown up factories and railroads and poisoned horses, beginning even before Congress declared war in 1917.

Nevertheless, those in America, whether German or not, who expressed skepticism about the war were persecuted to an extent that has not been seen in the United States before or since. Many of their homes and businesses, in Cannon Falls, Red Wing, and other towns in the county, were splashed with yellow or red paint. A miller in Red Wing named John C. Seebach called the war a "rich man's war", and said the Germans would win. He was convicted of sedition and sentenced to 18 months in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth. These events took on a more sinister hue as it emerged that people with certain types of progressive political beliefs were also becoming prime targets of the authorities.

The Nonpartisan League (NPL) was a leftist political party in the upper midwest that grew out of the Farmers Non-Party League, which had been formed by farmers who were tired of mainstream politicians who asked for their votes and their financial support but did not work for their issues once in office. Its founder was a former Socialist, Arthur C. Townley. Some Socialist Party members were opposed to US involvement in the war on the grounds that it was, indeed, a fight between rich men over control of colonial empires, but other Socialists supported the war. NPL and Socialist Party members were favorite targets of local and regional authorities who, of course, were politicians of a different stripe.

In mid-March, a crowd in Kenyon, in Goodhue County, grabbed George Breidal, an NPL organizer, and forced him to "kneel and kiss an American flag. They paraded Breidal to the railroad depot and put him on the next train out of town," according to the Minnesota Historical Society. Charles A. Lindbergh Sr., of Swedish descent (and father of the famed pilot), a former Republican congressman who had opposed the war, was running for governor on the NPL ticket. He staged a caravan of 150 cars through the western part of the county. A crowd in Stanton "pelted Lindbergh with rotten eggs and hanged him in effigy. Cannon Falls' authorities steered the NPL autos out of town, avoiding awaiting protestors. A Lindbergh trip through Red Wing met with red paint-throwing citizens. A mob chased him across a field and onto a passing train."

Also that March, three other Goodhue County NPL leaders were indicted for violating the Minnesota Sedition Act of 1918. One had "publicly criticized the draft", another "told an audience the wealthy avoided military service", and the third "stated Germany counted on Germans in America to win the war." Two of them were convicted and given a year in jail and a $500 fine.

The New York Times alleged that there were organized efforts to prevent people from buying Liberty bonds or to keep local banks from handling them, as a way to protest the war. However, the extent to which this was "organized", rather than anecdotally-reported individual acts by anti-war newspaper editors, German-American bank customers, and influential citizens who freely spoke their minds, is unclear. It is certainly true, however, that all over the country, including in Goodhue County, people who had expressed unwillingness to buy bonds--or who simply were known or believed not to have bought them, for whatever reason--were verbally abused, roughed-up, and/or had their property vandalized, by people who supported President Wilson's call to make the world "safe for democracy".

In Europe, by 1918 the western front had been in stalemate for three years. British and French generals were seemingly unable to learn the two main lessons of early industrialized warfare: That well-entrenched defenders with machine guns and rapid-fire rifles, protected by barbed wire, could make any frontal assault very costly, and that artillery barrages intended to "soften up" those defenses were not very effective at reducing that cost. Although tanks, designed to roll over barbed wire and trenches to even the odds, had been introduced in 1916, the first models were slow and mechanically unreliable, and there weren't all that many of them. Instead, the generals kept sending tens of thousands of soldiers "over the top" of their own trenches into a maelstrom of fire that decimated them, only to capture a few hundred yards of ground that would be recaptured almost immediately. A few days later, but none the wiser, they would do it again. These battles lasted for months on end and soldiers called them "meat grinders". After three years the warring nations had very few soldiers left and the battle lines had not moved much at all.

But things changed in the spring of 1918. The Germans, lacking both resources and men, knew the Americans were coming, and while they didn't know how many there would be, they thought that fresh Yankee soldiers could make a decisive difference for the exhausted western powers. So if Germany was going to act to change the course of the war, it would have to be soon. Following the first wave of the Russian Revolution, which had installed a weak democratic government in their Eastern Front enemy in February 1917, the Germans had arranged for Vladimir Lenin to return to Russia from exile, hoping he would stir up trouble. They were right; after Lenin's Bolsheviks overthrew the democratic revolutionaries who had deposed the Czar, he negotiated Russia out of the war on March 3, 1918. That gave the Germans 50 extra divisions to work with, and they planned a spring offensive aimed at Paris to bring the British and French to the bargaining table before the Americans could put large numbers of troops into the field.

The Spring (or "Ludendorff") Offensive was launched in late March. It was not as successful as the Germans hoped, though they did gain about 30 miles of territory along about half the front lines west of Belgium, bringing them within 40 miles of Paris. There the movement stalled in mid-June. Part of the reason for that was the arrival of over 50,000 "doughboys" in the First and Second Divisions of the American Expeditionary Force, who had finally progressed from months in training camps the previous autumn, to occupying trenches on the front lines of "quiet sectors", and were now deemed ready for combat. These soldiers helped hold the line at Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood. They also transmitted the "Spanish" flu to each other, the British and French, and across the lines to the Germans. As April faded into May, this began taking hundreds of thousands of men out of the trenches and putting them in the hospital, and the Germans, already short of food and medical supplies, were the hardest hit.

Archie Dibble had returned home from his stay with his uncle Herman Kowitz in Montana at some point before April, and he got a job with the Northern States Power Company as an "engineer". He probably didn't have the flu when he boarded a train in Cannon Falls on April 7, 1918, on his way to fight in the war. He had gone up to the Twin Cities in late March or early April to visit friends and/or relatives. It may be that someone there convinced him to join the army, so he enlisted there, returned home for a couple of days to settle his affairs, and then followed orders to report for formal induction into the service on April 8.

Archie's first taste of army life was at Fort Myer, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington DC in Arlington. Archie wrote that he "got along fairly well and found out what the meaning of K.P. was."

A few days before Archie's departure, up in Fergus Falls, Selma Pauline Kvern, the last child of Paul and Sena Kvern, was born on April 5, 1918. She was a cousin of Ole Morud's wife Eline Halden. Archie would learn all about the Moruds in the fullness of time.

Later in the month down in Rochester, County Agent Ora Conley staged a week-long "clothing clinic ... devoted to the remodeling of old clothing". "The work was carried on in the domestic art room of the Rochester high school and Miss Conley secured the services of Miss Emma Burggren as the chief demonstrator who showed many wonderful transformations. Special features were put on each day including Pressing, Dyeing, Fitting, etc. and the services were secured of an expert milliner, tailor and cobbler, who each showed new wrinkles in their trades. There were large crowds present each day, the clinic lasting for six days, and the Rochester people speak very highly of the work done by Miss Conley and Miss Burggren."

On May 5 another of Eline Halden's cousins, Helmer Kvern, enlisted in the army and was sent to Columbus Barracks in Ohio.

Around this time Archie said goodbye to "some mighty good friends who I hated to leave" at Fort Myer, and moved across the Potomac to the Washington Barracks in what is now known as Fort McNair. He said, "there we drilled our heads off every day but we were anxious to get over and were afraid they wouldn't take us unless we made good soldiers of ourselves."

Archie's dad Dick Dibble put his 4-year-old REO car up for sale in the Beacon that month, along with some "burr oak posts"; it took over a month to find buyers. We don't know what kind of car Dick bought next.

On May 11, Cannon Falls held a huge fundraising event for the Red Cross. A booth was set up in the middle of 4th. St., and a large variety of items, including food, livestock, machinery and farm implements, pictures and "bric-a-brac" were donated and auctioned off--some of them several times. One of these was a "service flag" with 45 stars, one for each of 45 soldiers from Cannon Falls, including Archie Dibble. The flag was sold, donated back to the auction, and re-sold over half a dozen times, and eventually donated to the Civic Improvement Club, with total proceeds amounting to $2375 (worth almost $45,000 in 2021). The event also featured a "kangaroo court", in which prominent citizens were "locked up" in a corral and required to pay (donate) "fines" to get out.

A symbolic "changing of the guard" also took place in May 1918. Ed and Laura Dibble moved away from the farm in Stanton Township and into Cannon Falls. They bought a house that another former farmer, Severt Ohnstad, had built just two years before, within a house or two of Dick Dibble's home at the corner of Second and Mill Streets (we can't positively identify Ed's new house, which was fourteen feet high--not really a two story home, and everything in that neighborhood today has two stories). This may have marked the point at which Ed formally handed over the reins of the farm to his son Willard.

As May 1918 ended, Dick Dibble's daughter Glee ended her junior year of high school without having been absent or tardy a single day--just as her older brother Archie finished his senior year five years earlier.

June 5, 1918 was the day that men under the age of 31 who had turned 21 after June 5, 1917 were required to report to their local draft boards. We only have one family member that we know of who did this: Gordon C Curran. However, why he did it is unclear. He had previously served with the Minnesota National Guard, which was nationalized in August 1916 to guard the border against Pancho Villa. He returned to college at Hamline University in Red Wing sometime around January of 1917. According to the Beacon, he then enlisted in the "submarine chaser" branch of the US Navy in the summer of 1917, when he was still too young to be drafted. He was sent to the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis for training, and was transferred to Pelham Bay Naval Training Station in New York City in October 1918. We don't know why a man who was already in military service would be required, or allowed, to register for the draft.

June 12, 1918 was Archie's 22nd. birthday, a day he said he would never forget, because it was the day he boarded the SS Dante Alighieri, a passenger liner converted into a troop transport, in Hoboken, New Jersey, in preparation to sail for France. It must have been something of a letdown that the ship stood at anchor for three more days before it finally departed the harbor on June 15.

Very early the following morning, June 16, rising flood waters of the Yellowstone River crashed through an emergency levee and roared into the west end of Forsyth, Montana, spreading two to three feet of water through the business district. The flooding, caused by a particularly rapid spring snow melt, lasted 2 1/2 weeks. The women and children of the town "were taken to the railroad station in boats" and sent to safer ground. Among them was Archie's cousin Jean Holmes and her four-year-old son Merlyn, who arrived in Cannon Falls on June 19. Her husband Milton remained in Forsyth to do what he could for the bank that employed him.

On June 24, 1918, August Cichy, brother of Rose Cichy Johnson, "enlisted" in the US Army. (Actually, we don't know if he voluntarily enlisted. He had registered for the draft in June 1917. There came a time during World War I when men eligible to be drafted were no longer allowed to enlist, though we're not clear on when that rule took effect. The source of this "enlistment" date is August's BIRLS death file, which records an "enlistment" date for everyone, whether they were drafted or not. These files seem to consider "enlistment" to be the same as "induction".)

On the next day, June 25, as Archie's ship neared France on its slow, zig-zagging course, it engaged in a "submarine fight but no one was hurt." Three days later, on June 28, the ship arrived in the French port of Brest, in Brittany on the northwest coast, "and we were all glad to put our feet on land once more." Archie and his companions "hiked about three miles out of Brest and were put in some barracks which were built in the time of Napoleon."

June also saw some new additions to our extended family: Oscar Halden, a son of Lars Halden and brother of Eline Halden, and his wife, Pearl Mae, saw the birth of their child, Lester Oscar Halden, on June 16, 1918, in the tiny hamlet of Robsart, Saskatchewan, about 20 miles north of the central Montana border, in Canada. Oscar was 35 at the time. Pearl Mae was 16, but the age of consent in Canada at that time was 14; we don't have a marriage date for them. Pearl was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1902, in La Crosse, Wisconsin; her parents were Norwegian immigrants Lars and Lena Rogstad.

Oscar's brother John L. Halden and his wife Mary may have also been in Canada around this time. The peripatetic couple was living in Kalispell, MT before their daughter Mabel Jeanette Holden (sometimes called "Janet") was born there on October 23, 1912. Their daughter Ethel Halden was born there in around 1917. They had a son named Julian on August 4, 1919, and they told the census enumerator in January 1920 that he had been born in Canada. When Julian filled out his draft registration in 1940, he gave the same place of birth as his cousin Lester--Robsart, Saskatchewan. The truth seems to be that he was born on a farm just north of the US-Canadian border on that date, and his parents arranged for a delayed birth certificate to be filed giving the location as the nearest American town, which was Chinook, Montana.

Eline Halden's cousin Carl M Halden, a son of Lars Halden's brother Mathias Halden, married Agnes Kvern on June 26 at the Kvern home in Fergus Falls. This was a second connection between the Haldens and Kverns. Agnes was a daughter of Eline's uncle Arne Kvern. George Engstrom, a nephew of Sarah Dibble, and his wife Ada had a second child, this one in Winona, just two days later: Mary Beverly Engstrom, born June 28, 1918.

In July, Carl Kvern followed his brother Helmer into the army. Both were posted to Camp Wadsworth, at Spartanburg, SC, during the month, but may not have seen each other there. Helmer shipped out for France on July 6. But Helmer might have encountered Anton Cichy, who also sailed on July 6 for France, on the Belgic, out of New York City.

At just about that same time, after a week or so at the Napoleonic-era barracks near Brest, during which Archie reported, somewhat forlornly, that "Of course everything was interesting to look at but France is not nearly as up to date as I had expected," Archie boarded a train for a "replacement camp" near Angers, about 50 miles east of Nantes and a good 250 or so miles southeast of Brest. This was a large supply depot and training base for heavy artillery and engineer units. From that point on, Archie said, "we did most of everything and had some hardships of the real soldier life to endure." Archie did not report many details of those hardships, then or later, but we have been able to reconstruct a very great deal of what he went through. Note that previous versions of this web page were almost completely incorrect regarding Archie's military service, because the only information I had at the time was that he had served with Company A, 7th. Engineers. He did serve with that unit, but only later, after the war had ended. He was first assigned to Company B of the 2nd. Engineers, Second Division, First Corps, American Expeditionary Force.

By July 1918, the French were ready to launch a counter-offensive. The German line formed a salient whose southwest tip lay on the southern side of the Marne River and enclosed Chateau-Thierry. The French field marshal Ferdinand Foch planned to move east north of the river toward Soissons to get behind Chateau-Thierry and cut the Germans' supply lines, forcing them to withdraw.The American First and Second Divisions served, as American General John Pershing had demanded, as discrete contiguous units, but at this time they were under the control of the French. The attack began on July 18 and lasted for four days. The 2nd Engineers were given the jobs of clearing and patching roads and digging trenches, typical for combat engineers. But the fighting was fierce, and used up the Second Division so rapidly that many of the engineers were sent up to the firing line near Vierzy on the southern end of the battle as ordinary combat infantry--a role not typical, but also not unheard of, for engineers. The attack was successful in removing the salient and liberating Chateau-Thierry, after which the Second Division was pulled back for a much-needed rest.

The 2nd Engineers Regiment rested at Monthyon, north of the Marne about 35 miles southwest of Soissons and 25 miles northeast of Paris, from July 27 to July 30. They had had a hard time at Soissons and taken casualties, including in Company B.They bathed in the Marne, their "first real bath since June 1". Archie, presumably still pretty clean, and certainly very "green", was assigned to the regiment on July 28, one of 92 enlisted men who came in as replacements in the second half of July.

On the 30th the regiment boarded a train and arrived on the 31st at Nancy, about 200 miles east of Paris. From there they marched a few miles north to Champigneulles, near where the Meurthe River joins the Meuse. There they took part in "special engineer drills" for five days.

On August 5 the regiment was ordered to go about 7 miles north along the west side of the Meuse, to a position in the woods about a mile northwest of the township of Belleville. They marched through what a member of the regiment called "the heaviest rain we saw during the war", in the dark of night, and when they reached their destination they had to lie down in the rain in the forest and wait for morning to build a camp. Two of the six companies were involved in digging trenches and building fortifications in this area, but Archie's B Company was not. We're not sure what he did for the next ten days except set up tents and try to stay dry. But much of war is just waiting for something to happen.

On August 15 the entire 2nd. Division was relieved by the 82nd. Division, and the four idle engineer companies, including Archie's, were marched about 7 miles back southwest to Camp Bois de l'Eveque near Toul (bois is French for "woods"). The two "working" companies stayed in the area for three more days to finish the job.

At this camp of about 5,000 soldiers, Archie and the engineers, as well as just about everybody else, worked on building an infantry target range. They started by working around the clock in 8-hour shifts, but near the end, when a rush job was demanded, they all worked from sunup to 9 pm. They built 80 targets in five days. Almost the entire 2nd Division went through target practice there in the second half of August.

The engineers also received their own training at the camp. They practiced erecting pontoon bridges and "hasty fortifications", and wire-cutting. They established four-man wire-cutting teams and assigned one to each infantry platoon. These teams would move forward with the advancing infantry to clear the multiple coils of barbed wire, several yards deep, that guarded the enemy trenches. Two engineers had wire-cutters and two had axes. The wire-cutters went forward first to cut the wire. One man with an axe followed to knock down the wooden posts that supported the wire, and the second axe-man came through to clear out an area wide enough to get a wagon through.

There was also some training in the use of "Bangalore torpedos". You can think of these as "bombs on a stick", used for blowing up barbed wire and other defensive obstructions. Made of five-foot sections of threaded iron pipe, you could connect as many as ten sections, including the "business end", which contained explosives and was tipped with a pointy nose cone. From the safety of a trench, the pipe could be slid out into the barbed wire to where it was needed. Then a detonating cord running through the pipe was yanked and BOOM! you now had a five-foot-square hole in the wire.

On the evening of September 1, the regiment left to march several miles to another location, Bois de la Cumejie. They stopped at sunrise, and resumed the following evening, arriving at about midnight. This time they had to construct the camp from scratch. Archie and the men spent about seven days in this woods, three of those days practicing infantry drills and learning more engineering skills.

On the 9th. they moved out for another woods, Bois des Hayes. This might have been somewhere west of today's village of Fey-en-Haye, which is some three miles east of Limey-Remenauville. They arrived on September 10, but as soon as they got there, they were ordered to prepare to advance to the front lines.

By this time there were well over a million American soldiers in France, about half of them in combat units, and General Pershing now had them consolidated under his own command. Gone were the days when he felt compelled to act as a subordinate to the French and British generals and allow them to control his troops. Now he collaborated with those leaders to prepare a coordinated final push to overrun the German lines and win the war. Pershing's forces had responsibility for the southern end of the front west of Alsace and Lorraine, from the Swiss border north to Verdun.

Just southeast of Verdun was the last important German salient in the line, an arrowhead-shaped bulge pointing southwest with its tip at the town of St. Mihiel. Pershing's men planned to attack the salient from the south as French and British forces moved in from the northwest, and this would be the first American offensive of the war that was solely led by American officers.

For the next few days Archie was very near the action in the St. Mihiel offensive. Company B is not specifically mentioned in that context at all in the historical record, but Archie reported participating in a rapid advance through the German lines.

The First Corps, including the 2nd Division, was given the job of capturing the ground in the eastern part of the salient. Their immediate objective was to get north of the town of Thiaucourt. The Rupt de Mad river flows in meandering fashion southwest to northeast some 15 to 20 miles east of St. Mihiel. It is crossed by the north-south route the 2nd Division wanted to take through Thiaucourt. There were bridges in the town but it was expected the Germans would destroy them. The primary task of Archie's 2nd Engineers was to ensure the roads to the bridges were passable by soldiers and heavy equjpment, and to see to the bridges, if necessary rebuilding them.

(Today the Rupt de Mad in Thiaucourt is a lily-pad bedecked stream flowing sluggishly between banks perhaps 100 feet apart. There are two bridges over it in the town, about 300 feet apart, one for motorized vehicles and one for pedestrians and bicycles.)

The attack was set to begin before dawn on September 12, 1918--the day on which Archie later told the Minnesota War Records Commission he "first went into action."

The Germans had constructed some pretty strong defenses along the edges of the salient, involving multiple layers of trenches surrounded by barbed wire and dotted with machine gun nests. But by this time the German war effort had just about exhausted itself. These positions were undermanned and the soldiers were ill-fed; many were sick with influenza.

The Germans were weak, but the Americans were undisciplined. Apparently some of them had been bamboozled into talking about the plans for the upcoming offensive. A Swiss newspaper had published the date, time, and duration of the planned pre-attack artillery barrage, an event whose sound and fury impressed Archie. The Germans realized they could not hold the position in the face of the coming assault and they began to withdraw just before the American doughboys went "over the top". They went over and kept going, encountering almost no resistance, and were in Thiaucourt in just a half day's time. (Archie reported they covered about five miles by that evening.)

"Almost no resistance" does not mean "no resistance". The Germans continuously shelled the oncoming Americans to protect their retreat. As one soldier reported, "A large shell had made a direct hit upon four boys. All were dead. Limbs were mangled, bodies were torn. It was a sight revolting beyond description. Of one of my comrades I could only find small fragments of his poor body. None were larger than my hand with the exception [of] his head, jerked completely from body. The powder-blackened face of a young Jewish boy stared immobile into eternity. Nearby was his hand which had been popped off at the arm just [at the] back of the wrist."

Not only was the attack more dangerous than modern historical summaries suggest, it was also grueling. The official history of the regiment explains just how hard the work was.

The 2nd. Engineers had around 1650 men at any given time. They were divided into two battalions of three companies each. Each company had about 250 enlisted men and officers, divided into four platoons (the World War I "square company") of around 60 men, broken into five or six squads of eight to twelve men each.

The planning for this attack was thorough. They had detailed maps and arial reconnaissance photos to work from. The regiment was expected to need to do just about every traditional task of military engineers, and they allocated portions of the men to do them. The pre-assigned tasks included:

Wire-cutting, by the four-man teams that had been trained at Camp Bois de l'Eveque. Almost two companies were assigned.

Four platoons (240 men) to load and unload trucks at the equipment dump.

Fifteen squads (180 men?) to "go with" the smaller tanks and artillery. World War I tanks were fairly unreliable. Men were needed to repair them, and even more were needed to dig them out of the mud in which they constantly became mired. Heavy artillery, though pulled by teams of horses, needed this kind of help also.

Two platoons (120 men) of "trap hunters". These men followed the fast-moving foot soldiers while staying ahead of the slow-moving tanks, looking for tank traps (big holes camouflaged with leaves and branches) and filling them in before the tanks got to them.

Two and a half companies (625 men) to follow the invaders and repair the roads behind them. You might think this came a bit late, but tens of thousands of marching men, with heavy horse-drawn wagons and artillery, and tanks, could really tear up a road. Unobstructed supply lines were absolutely critical to the men moving forward, and rapid routes of retreat might also be needed to save their lives. Road-building and repair was a major task for combat engineers.

For bridge work, the engineers constructed sections of small bridges in advance, to place over creeks and the German trenches. They also made "fascines", large, thick bundles of brush tightly roped together, for tanks. The tanks would carry one on the roof, and these could be pushed off and into a trench for the tank to roll over. They also had 24 large bridge trestles pre-built and loaded on trucks, ready to replace the Thiaucourt bridges if needed.

Archie's engineers got a quick start, right behind the infantry, and most of them went to work on two roads: the east road for forward movement of troops and equipment, and the west road, reserved for empty supply wagons returning from the front to pick up more stuff.

Those on the west road did a great job and covered a mile of ground (about a third of the total distance) with temporary bridges and adequate fill and paving for the wagons by 10:00 am. Then they found out that responsibility for that road had been switched to the 89th Division and its engineer units a day earlier. Sadly, much of war is not only waiting but also dealing with screw-ups. These men were pulled off and sent over to help the east road crews.

Those guys had to start by figuring out where the east road was. The maps, though detailed and widely distributed, showed a paved road north from the village of Limey to the little church crossroads of Remenauville, and thence north to Thiaucourt, that did not seem to exist. The men found that some of it did exist, under 12 inches of mud near Limey. However, the road wasn't there at all north of Remenauville. Rather than use the existing round-about route northwest to Euvezin and then back northeast to Thiaucourt, the engineers decided to build their own road straight north from Remenauville to join up with the main highway to their destination (probably the D3 highway today). Some of the men got to work on that project (today there is a thousand-foot-long, very straight, north-south treeless track through the woods north of Remenauville that may be the remains of that road), while others shoveled the mud off the existing road--and all of this under a continuous artillery barrage.

The men found two very big tank traps, ten feet deep and eighteen feet long, and six smaller ones that had to be filled. They also encountered about 20 ditches and craters to fill. By 2:00 pm they could get a car over the road, and they kept working to improve it thereafter. It wasn't really good enough for heavy vehicles, but in the middle of the night it was decreed that ammunition was needed immediately. So some engineers were detailed to wait at points along the road to repair the wheels of the ammunition trucks that were broken by the road. By 5:00 pm on September 13 the road was marginally adequate for trucks, and two companies of engineers were given a break to get supper and rest until noon the following day.

Fortunately, the Germans had not blown up the bridges at Thiaucourt, enabling the soldiers to get over quickly on the first day. Two platoons of engineers stayed closer to the advancing troops, again doing road repair, and when they got over the river they found a German engineer supply dump and inventoried its contents. The Germans had not forgotten about the brideges though. They shelled them on September 14 and got two direct hits, doing minor damage. Meanwhile, on the 12th, some of the tank-trap hunters had gotten involved in direct combat; they helped "clean out" the little village of Bouillonville, just west of Thiaucourt, and captured some German prisoners. Other engineers in Archie's brigade worked on repairing the nearby railroads. Additional engineer units were brought in to improve the water supply.

The activities of Archie's Company B during this battle are not specifically mentioned in the official history. The plan for the attack assigned every man in the regiment to some job, so Archie wasn't held in reserve. He was a buck private--he didn't have even the minimal leadership duties of a Private First Class. Most likely, based on the numbers assigned, he worked on the roads, but he might have been a truck loader at the equipment dump, or a wire-cutter, or assigned to any of the other jobs needed. He did report that "the evening of the next day [September 13] we were relieved and went to the rear once more."

That likely referred only to his company, or maybe just his platoon, because on the 15th, the entire 2nd Engineers were relieved by another regiment, and they marched about twelve miles south to camp southwest of Ansauville. During the couple of weeks that followed, as Archie reported, "we wandered about and camped at many different places until the beginning of the Champagne drive where everything went fine until the second day ..."

The regiment remained near Ansauville for four days, and then was sent back up to work on the road between Limey and Euzevin. They only worked one day there, then marched about 20 miles south to Toul, arriving on the 21st. There the men were issued new uniforms and "given the opportunity to readjust themselves." This they did by drilling eight hours a day, but each evening ten percent of the men got passes to go into town.

Having cleaned up the St. Mihiel salient, it was now time for the western powers to make the final thrust into Germany.

By early autumn, the German officer corps understood clearly that the game was up. The military high command and the Kaiser were still rather deluded on this point, though that would change in late September, when General Ludendorff experienced a "nervous collapse" and realized that all was lost and Germany must make peace. Well before this, though, most of the military leadership really had only one thing on its mind--an orderly retreat that preserved as many men's lives as possible. In order to do this they had to stoutly defend a series of entrenched lines long enough to move most of the men and equipment out from behind them and back into Belgium, and then Germany.

The western powers were determined to help the Germans with their retreat--but a lot faster than the Germans wanted. The final push was aimed at the French city of Sedan, an important road and rail hub on the Meuse River just west of southern Belgium. During this last phase most of Pershing's troops were assigned to roll north through the Argonne Forest toward the heavily fortified towns of Montfaucon, Cunel and Barricourt. Meanwhile, a bit further west the French were pushing northeastward from Soissons and Rheims, in the Champagne region.

The French had driven the Germans out of the village of Suippes, about 20 miles southeast of Rheims, and had pushed north some 12 miles, through the even smaller village of Somme-Py. This ground had been fought over earlier in the war. Somme-Py was obliterated, its people evacuated; only a collection of ruined stone buildings remained. North of this rubble lay several layers of heavily fortified German lines covering the Aisnes River valley, to whose north side the slowly retreating Germans were heading. The first defensive line was anchored on a wooded 10-mile long ridge rising 200 feet above the surrounding farm fields and woodlots. The ridge was called Blanc Mont. The Germans had been working on it for years. It was covered with machine-gun nests and artillery emplacements, and permeated with trenches and even underground tunnels. There the French were stopped, exhausted. They asked Pershing for three divisions to help them out. Pershing was able to loan them two, the 36th. Division of mostly under-trained and inexperienced national guard troops, and the Second Division, including the 2nd Engineers.

On the night of September 27, the engineers boarded a train and traveled about 100 miles west from Toul to the city of Chalons. Archie's First Battalion encamped with the regimental headquarters group in St. Germain-la-ville about seven miles south of the city. The regiment received orders to head for the front the next day, and on the following day, September 29, the men boarded buses that took them about 20 miles northeast, to a spot south of Suippes.

Some of the engineers were sent forward to help the artillery get through. The rest remained behind to work on the roads. A striking fact about this battle was that there were no real worries about the road conditions here. The French had already done some work in the area. Although the roads had been shelled and mined at times and definitely needed repair, the situation was not nearly so bad as at St. Mihiel.

The Second Division moved from Souain-Penthes-les-Hurlus north about five miles to its takeoff position southeast of Somme-Py on October 2. At 0530 on October 3, they charged northwest up the heights. They took heavy casualties but they had control of Blanc Mont within a couple of hours. In this they were far ahead of the French who were moving with them to either side. As a result they were exposed to artillery and machine gun fire for quite a while longer, but they held the position until the French got to them.

Many of the engineers were sent to work on the road north from Souain on October 2. At first they were kept south of the Navarin Farm, owing to a dispute with the French officers as to where they were supposed to be. But at 11 pm that night, the dispute was resolved, and the engineers, including Archie, moved up to a low ridge beyond the farm a couple miles north of Souain, near where the Monument de la Ferme de Navarin stands today. This hill was visible to the German gunners on Blanc Mont, and they had its range nailed down. They shelled the ridge through the night and into the next morning, October 3, 1918.

At some point on that date, Archie said, "a shell hit a little close to me and a piece of shrapnel hit me in my left groin. It was not much of a wound but it was in such a place it crippled me from walking so I was taken to a field hospital in the ambulance and from there to a couple of hospitals during the night and the next day was taken to one in Paris."

Back home in Cannon Falls, the last thing Dick Dibble had heard from his son was a card "announcing his safe arrival overseas" in late July. This was reported by the Beacon on July 26, the same day on which Selmer Aslakson, a son of the prosperous lawyer Peter's brother Samuel O. Aslaskon, joined the army.

And life went on for those far from the battle that late summer, as life must do.

On July 13, 1918 Sarah Dibble Conley's nephew Lawrence E. Engstrom married Nancy Julian (or "Julia Ann") Anderson in Goodhue County. Nancy was born on July 1, 1898.

Around August 20, Jean Dibble Holmes' husband, Milton, arrived in Cannon Falls from Forsyth, which had recovered enough from the flooding to enable him to spend some time with his refugee family. Jean was expecting their second child at the time.

Also in August, George Valentine, who had bought the Danielson Furniture and Funeral Service company two years previously, hired Don Dibble as an embalmer and funeral director, bringing Don and his wife Margaret back home to Cannon Falls from Dodge County. Don was hired to replace Carl Swanson, who had gone to war. (It may seem odd to combine a furniture store with a funeral home, but in fact this was a common type of business in those days, probably owing to the similar cabinet-making skills and supplies required to build furniture and caskets.)

On September 12, 1918, as American fighting in the war was reaching its climax, another round of draft registrations was held, this time for any man between the ages of 18 and 46. Many members of our families registered on that day, and their cards provide brief snapshots of their lives at the time:

Three sons of Alonzo Ahlers, the brother of Alonzo Dibble's first wife Louisa who may have been named after Louisa's husband, registered. Julius Alton Ahlers had a farm in Webster, Day County, South Dakota. He had moved there from his farm in Stirton Township, Stutsman County, North Dakota some time after 1911; he was 36. Leon Edward Ahlers, age 38, remained on his farm near Julius's in Stirton Township. Sidney, 33, also had a farm near Julius in Webster.

Lewis Eldridge Conley, Ora's brother and a son of Sarah Dibble, was working at Sonnman's Canning Company in Cannon Falls when he signed up.

William Clayton Crook, a nephew of Ed Dibble's wife Laura, was out in California, where he was an apprentice printer for the state Printing Department.

John Alfred Halden, age 39, was living in Fergus Falls and running a threshing rig which he hired out to local farmers at harvest time. John was a son of Lars Halden's brother Mathias, and a cousin of Elina Halden Morud.

Forty-year-old George Kowitz registered in Hysham, Montana, the home of his brother Herman. He was visiting there with his 15-year-old daughter Vera when the appointed day arrived. He recorded his job as "butcher" even though he had been working for the railroad earlier that year (and was again in 1920). Herman also registered that day. He was 37, and claimed exemption due to a "deadened arm".

Paul Kvern, a nephew of Lars Halden's wife Anna Maria Kvern, and a cousin of Eline Morud, was 33 years old and working as a carpenter for his mother in Fergus Falls. Paul's brother Oscar, just 20, was working on his mother's farm when he signed up.

Elina's 20-year-old son Leonard Morud actually registered three days early, on September 9. He was working as a bookkeeper for the Fargo Lumber Company and living in the Fargo YMCA.

Forty-year-old Charles Albert Johnson, an uncle of Clarence Casper Johnson of Bay City, WI, was another early bird. On September 8, he reported that while his residence was still with his wife Lucy in Espelie Township in Marshall County up in far northwestern MN, he was working as a laborer for R. I. Olson, a banker located about 75 miles away in Drayton, Pembina County, North Dakota.

Alice Dibble Richardson's son-in-law, Roy Charles Mills, husband of Zelle, was one day shy of his 38th. birthday, and working as a streetcar motorman for the Chicago Surface Line, when he signed up.

Bertha Dibble's 18-year-old nephew Clair Edward Wilson was living in Cannon Falls and working as a laborer for the Great Northern Railway.

Bertha's husband Dick's nephew, Charles Milford Elder, had achieved the temporary rank of Lieutenant Commander, and on September 18 he left the naval academy to begin service with the US Navy Submarine Force in New London, CT. He joined the crew of the submarine N-3 on October 1. The N-3 had been designed for coastal patrol, without a deck gun, and was built less than 3 years earlier. It was a bit over 147 feet long, and just under 16 feet wide at the beam, with a top speed of 15 mph on the surface and 13 mph submerged. It had four torpedo tubes and carried eight torpedoes.

At some point between September 2 and September 14, Anton Cichy, brother of Francis Johnson's wife Rose, shipped out for France with Company A of the 333rd. Machine Gun Battalion.

As September neared its close, E. A. Dibble and Sons won four first prizes, two second prizes, and a third prize in the Holstein cattle exhibition at the Goodhue County Fair. They also had the champion dairy bull, and they took a first prize in Chester White hogs.

The month of September ended with a shock. At around 2 in the morning on September 30, 1918, Bertha Dibble's youngest brother, Herman Kowitz, shot himself in the head in a second floor hallway of the Commercial Hotel in Forsyth, Montana, and died instantly.

He had been in Forsyth (about 25 miles east of his ranch near Hysham) that weekend for an upcoming court date; he was suing one of his neighbors for damages. He ran into a man he knew on Sunday, Hysham sheriff's deputy Dan Rooney, and offered to share his hotel room with him. Rooney said that he was awakened by a gunshot and immediately went to his suitcase to get his gun. It was gone. He pushed the bed against the door of the hotel room, climbed on it, and looked through the transom window over the door out into the hall. There he saw Herman's body, the gun in his hand.

Rooney called Herman's wife Minnie and gave her the sad news. Although Herman was successful and well-regarded locally, and considered a "prominent" and "well-to-do" rancher, she said she wasn't surprised. He'd been drinking heavily for the past two weeks and threatening to kill himself. Friends and neighbors said that he'd actually been drinking hard for over a year, and had been despondent "over his weakened condition, due to liquor." The "deadened arm" that he reported on his draft registration in June may also have figured into his distress. Just before he left for Forsyth, Herman spoke to his friend Fred Pulver, who had been subpoenaed as a witness in Herman's case. He told him, "If anything should happen to me, Fred, take good care of Minnie."

Minnie came from Hysham to Forsyth to claim Herman's body, and together they returned by train to the home of his youth, Cannon Falls. The funeral was held in his sister Bertha Dibble's home, with his two other sisters, Emma Gorton and Edith Wilson, and his brother George, in attendance, on October 3, 1918. He was buried in Cannon Falls Community Cemetery.

Just as the war reached the boiling point for Archie in France, the situation was also heating up on the home front. On October 4, 1918, the Beacon reported, "Order No. 44 which has just been put into effect by the Public Safety Commission will give County Chairman of the Liberty Loan organization in connection with the County director of the Pubic Safety Commission, an opportunity to run down 'slacker' dollars in a most effective manner. The order extends the power of subpeoena to the County director where it is necessary to invoke it in order to conduct investigations in cases where citizens have failed or refuse to subscribe for Liberty bonds or [War Savings Stamps]. This order will be of material assistance to the Liberty Loan campaign but, it is to be hoped that it will not be necessary to use it generally. In such cases however where certain unpatriotic and slacker dollars refuse to 'come across' it can be used with effect and the guilty ones will discover that it has teeth sharp and long."

Then, about a week later, Dr. Ed Conley found it necessary to post the following notice:

"Notice of Board of Health

All Public Gatherings Are Prohibited--Schools, Churches, Theatres Are Closed until Further Notice

As an aid toward prevention of the spread of influenza in Cannon Falls the local board of health has ordered that beginning this 12th day of October and continuing until further notice, there shall be no public gatherings permitted, this to include all church services, moving picture theatre, public schools, lodges and all public gatherings. People are advised and urged to remain at home as closely as possible and to keep the children at home. Those who find it necessary to transact business in the business houses are requested not to loiter in the places or to gather in groups for conversation. This is done for your protection. Aid all you can. Dr. H.E. Conley, Health Officer."

As his neighbors back home were getting sicker, Archie Dibble was getting better. He had arrived at American Camp Hospital No. 4 in Joinville le Point, a suburb of Paris, on October 5. The hospital had been "established April 26, 1918, in a small group of old and dilapidated school buildings. At first there were neither modern plumbing nor sewer connections; no hot-water plant was available, and baths had to be prepared from water heated on small oil stoves." By the time Archie got there, several wooden barracks had been erected and the hospital was in decent shape. He said, "I want to say that the Red Cross surely treat us fine. As soon as I had a good bath and was put in a bed with white sheets I felt a lot better." On October 16, he wrote to his dad:

"Well here goes for that letter I owe you and I guess it is about time I am writing you or you would forget you had a son. Well dad how is everything at home. I suppose it is getting cold there now. It is just getting about time for the rainy season to start over here. What do the people at home think of the war now days anyway. They sure have drove back the Germans quite aways and I think all us fellows will be home before long. They are bound to get cold feet pretty quick. If they don't there won't be much Germany left in a few months. They gave me a little souvenir in my leg but it don't bother me a bit and I will be walking around as well as ever in a few days. I tell you dad one consolation to me is that they did not get away before I could pay them back with a better souvenir than the one they gave me. This is some life all right but it will soon be over and then for civilian life once more. I am getting good eats here at the hospital and plenty of it so why should I worry as long as you are all in good health at home which I hope you are."

A few days later, "After lying in bed for two weeks, reading the Beacon and writing letters, I was able to walk around some." Archie was discharged from the hospital on November 6 and was well enough to return to active duty. We don't know what he meant by being able to pay the Germans back, unless he was talking about the fact that the German army was on the verge of defeat. He probably had a rifle with him while working on the road but he was well back from the face-to-face fighting up on Blanc Mont Ridge and would have had no opportunity to shoot anyone, had he been in any shape to do so, while waiting for medics to get him off the field. He was sent to a replacement camp--not near the front--after being released from the hospital, and stayed in such camps until well after the armistice was signed.

Back home, the Army was claiming more members of our families. Lewis Eldridge Conley, a son of Dr. Ed and Archie's cousin Sarah Dibble, entered the Army on October 10. Willis Dibble the basketball phenom was called up for duty, and he boarded a train for Camp Cody, New Mexico in Red Wing on October 21. He was formally inducted there on Halloween. He served with the 34th. Infantry Division, known as the "Sandstorm Division" because of the frequent dust storms at their desert base.

Willis' brother Willard and his wife Cora had an overall happier month: On the same day that Archie wrote home to Dad, October 16, 1918, Willard Alonzo Dibble Jr. was born.

A couple days later, Archie's dad, Richard "Dick" Dibble, "purchased the largest and highest priced two year old in Lady Segis Aaggie Grahamholm, a very promising individual. She is sired by Sir Winana Beets Segis and is out of an 18.38 pound dam. This heifer is bred to Dutchland Creamelle Colantha Lad, whose dam is a 30 pound daughter of Colantha Johanna Lad, the sire who has more daughters producing above 600 pounds of milk and 30 pounds of butter than any other size."

Not to be outdone, on the same day, "E.A. Dibble and sons [mostly Willard by this time, as Ed was not actively running the farm and Willis was pretty busy with sand storms and such] purchased the highest priced cow of the sale when they bid on Katie Kimble Korndyke, a splendid individual with a record of 20.59 pounds of butter in seven days as a four year old. This cow won first prize at Waterloo in 1915 and is bred to that prize winning herd bull, Sir Winana Beets Segis, owned by the Grahamholm Farms of Rochester."

As this exciting news came on the same day as Dr. Ed's influenza lock-down order, we hope the good folks of Cannon Falls at least enjoyed a laugh at Dutchland Creamelle's expense.

Dick's brother Dan's daughter Jean and her husband Milton Holmes had gone back to Forsyth, MT a few weeks earlier, after the town had cleaned up from the flood enough to again be "suitable" for women and children. But Dan and his wife Isabel received a telegram from Jean saying that Milton was "very sick". Isabel immediately boarded a train and went out to help her daughter, on October 17. She brought Jean back to Cannon Falls early in November, and the Beacon reported that "Mr. Holmes is expected soon and they will again become residents of Cannon Falls."

In that same November 8 issue, the Beacon carried a half-page display ad that said:

"Let All Read This

Since the epidemic of Spanish Influenza appeared in Cannon Falls all of our people have done all they possibly could do to prevent the spread of the disease in town and country.

As a matter of precaution to protect all who live in town and all who may come to town everyone was asked to wear a mask.

By taking this precaution it is far safer for people to come to Cannon Falls than it is for them to go elsewhere where this precaution is not taken. Since the people have begun to wear masks no new cases have developed except in homes where the disease already existed.

Citzens Committee"

And then, finally, at the 11th. hour of the 11th. day of the 11th. month--November 11, 1918--the shooting stopped "over there".

But the soldiering did not, and not for a while longer.

On November 22, Archie was transferred to Company A of the 7th Engineers. He said that by the time they were ready to move him out of the replacement camp, "my old company was already into Germany so that is why they put me with the 7th Engineers." Another soldier from Cannon Falls recorded in his diary that, two days later on November 24, "we were working on the road [near Louppy-sur-Loison] when a big bunch of the 70th division passed through, and I hear someone say, 'Hello, Art Wright,' and who should it be but Archie Dibble. He is the first one I've met although Richard Peters came through here the day before. Vera Lidstrand saw him while we were at mess." ("70th division" seems to be an error, whether introduced by Wright or by the Beacon's typesetter we can't say. But there was no 70th Division in the US Army in World War I, and this was probably intended to refer to the 7th Engineers.) Louppy is about 30 miles northeast of the place where Archie was wounded. Archie's Company A arrived in Longwy, France, on the Luxembourg border, about 15 miles further northeast, on November 26, and he was there on the 29th when he wrote "It is now the day after Thanksgiving and I managed to have a half franc to buy this book of stationery with which I am going to try and give you an account of some of my experiences in this 'no man's country.'" (That letter, extensively quoted here, was published in the Beacon on January 17, 1919.)

Longwy had been continuously occupied by the Germans from August 1914 until the armistice took effect. It seems to have been a central dispatching point for several US army units; others whose letters the Beacon published also referenced the city. Archie's November 29 letter concluded, "We expect to move tomorrow and push ahead a little farther into Germany. I do hope I get some mail before we go on any farther but will keep on writing anyway." "A little farther into Germany" doesn't make sense geographically from the point of view of someone in Longwy; taking the most direct route from there, Archie would have had to cross about 25 miles of Luxembourg before reaching the German border. As it happens, he never made it that far. The 7th Engineers were billeted in Rumelange, a suburb of the city of Luxembourg (a description that applies equally well to every town in the entire tiny country) about seven miles east of Longwy, on December 17. They remained there until they returned to the United States. While there they built barracks, mess halls, bath houses, airplane hangars, warehouses, and electrical plants. They also spent time "dissembling a large German lithographic plant", operated saw mills, inspected and inventoried German ammunition dumps, and, of course, built and repaired roads and participated in "intensive drill".

Up to this point we've left out some details of the World War I service of other members of our families. We don't have many, actually, but here they are:

Charles Clark Ahlers, son of Alonzo Ahlers, served as a Private First Class with Company C, 110th Infantry Regiment of the 28th Division. He voluntarily enlisted at the age of 19, on May 2, 1917, less than a month after Congress declared war. He seems to have spent a lot of time in training in the United States before going overseas, including a stint at Camp Cody, where his distant cousin Willis Dibble was coping with sand storms. He sailed from New York City to France on the Horatia on June 28, 1918. He was assigned to Company C on October 12, 1918. By this time the regiment was no longer involved in active fighting. It was assigned to the Thiaucourt Sector (where Archie had seen his first action in the St. Mihiel offensive) near the end of the month. The regiment participated in the capture of Haumont, on the Belgian border, on November 10. Thereafter the regiment was allegedly part of the army of occupation, but does not seem to have left France. Charles was sick in the hospital from January 9 to January 26, 1919. He departed from St. Nazaire, France, on April 29, 1919 on the Edgar F Lukenbach, and arrived in Philadelphia on May 11. He received his discharge on May 28.

George Alonzo Richardson, son of Ed Dibble's older sister Mary, allegedly served with Company C, 109th Engineers in the 34th Infantry Division. This unit had been part of the South Dakota National Guard and was mustered into the army. It was reorganized and became part of the 147th Field Artillery on October 3, 1917. However, his name does not appear in the latter unit's Record of Service, though other Richardsons do. He apparently incurred a "disability" during his war service, but I am not convinced that the information on which unit he served with is correct.

Dr. Frederick A. Engstrom, Ed's sister Sarah Dibble Conley's nephew, was an established physician, living in Red Wing and working in the little village of Wanamingo, about 15 miles south, when he enlisted in the Army Medical Department at the age of 34, on July 21, 1917. He seems to have done nearly all of his service with the 163rd. Depot Brigade, a training unit, at Camp Dodge, about 10 miles north of Des Moines, Iowa. He surely would have been busy there, as the influenza epidemic began ravaging the camp in October 1918. There were 300 cases there on October 1; four days later there were 1500, and by the end of the first week of that month, 6,000 Camp Dodge soldiers had the flu, according to a 2020 historical article in the Des Moines Register. Frederick worked with 100 medical officers and 370 nurses, and together, they simply could not keep up. One hundred soldiers died in the first week of October, and another 350 died the second week. One doctor wrote, "Autopsies, many of which I watched, all showed the same complete congestion of the lungs. Rather than lobes of tiny air sacs, the lungs were masses of bloody tissue." They could not keep up with the body count either; many bodies were sent to a funeral home in Des Moines, but it couldn't process them all. Some were stored in refrigerated rail cars for a while. There were many reports of un-embalmed bodies being shipped to families, and when they arrived the decay and stench were horrific. One family member reported that a body had swollen up so much from decay that it popped the lid off the casket. The epidemic in the camp mostly burned itself out by the end of the month. The official numbers were 10,008 cases, with 702 deaths. Most historians believe those numbers are low, and that more like 1,000 people died there. Dr. Frederick doesn't appear to have gone overseas, and he was discharged from the Army on January 13, 1919.

Clair Edward Wilson, nephew of Dick Dibble's wife Bertha, entered the Marine Corps on October 16, 1918. He was sent for basic training to Parris Island, South Carolina, where almost all Marines go. He served as a private with the "393d Bn." "Bn." probably stands for "battalion", but I can find no history for such a unit in World War 1; the highest recorded Marine battalion number that I can find for that war is 12. Clair was discharged on April 19, 1919.

Helmer Kvern, Eline Halden's cousin, served with the 53rd. Infantry Regiment of the US Army's 6th. Division. The 6th. was known as the "Sightseeing Sixth" because they marched and trained "all over western France" before being sent to the mountainous Vosge area north of the Swiss border on August 30, 1918. This was largely a quiet section of the front lines, as the very difficult terrain made large-scale operations impractical, though it was subject to daily shelling with both high explosives and gas. The soldiers in this area mostly trained and conducted routine patrols, but the 6th. was ordered to carry out numerous "fake marches" to trick the Germans into believing a major offensive was about to be launched. Things could also heat up at times when one side or the other staged a raid. The 6th. was located near a picturesque lakeside village in the Gerardmer Sector of the line, which covered the Schlucht Pass inside Germany. On October 4, 1918 about 60 6th. Division soldiers "near Sondernach, east of Gerardmer, were attacked by a party of 300 Germans, equipped with machine guns and flame throwers. Although cut off by a barrage and greatly outnumbered, the Americans repulsed the attack and captured five prisoners." We don't know which units were involved in that battle. After October 10, most of the 6th. was reassigned to the reserves for the Meuse-Argonne offensive, but that doesn't mean they weren't busy. They engaged in a series of forced marches, often towing machine-gun and ammo carts by hand through the mud. They were scheduled to move up to the front in the final days of the war but by the time they reached their assigned jumping-off point on November 12, the war was already over. They remained in Europe until June 1919, and Helmer was discharged on June 21 at Camp Dodge.

Helmer's brother Carl Kvern went overseas on August 28, 1918. He was a private with Company A of the III Corps Artillery Park. This was not an active artillery unit, it was a storage and repair base for artillery guns, and for amunition delivery trucks. The artillery units Carl's group served participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, beginning September 26, 1918. The III Corps began that campaign situated just west of the Meuse River near Brabant-en-Argonne, about 50 miles southeast of the place were Archie Dibble was wounded. Their initial objective was the Cunel Heights about seven miles to the north. The III Corps guns were assigned the responsibility of suppressing fire from the German guns sitting atop several parallel east-west-running ridges just east of the Meuse. Overall this battle was a hard slog characterized by fighting "of the most desperate character", with the troops only nearing their objectives on October 3, when they paused to reorganize. Their next push carried them only a mile further north and onto the heights by October 13. Another pause, another jump-off on October 17, and they made another mile of progress by the end of the month. Beginning November 1, the III Corps pushed northeast, across the Meuse and into Germany. We can infer that Carl's unit was a mile or more in the rear during these operations, though, like all other similarly-located units in World War I, not safe from artillery shells coming in from their opposite numbers. Finally, on July 17, 1919, Carl departed the port of Brest on the SS Martha Washington, arriving in the United States on July 27. He was sent to Camp Merritt in New Jersey, just a stone's throw northwest of New York City. He was discharged on August 4, 1919.

August A. Cichy, a brother of Clarence Johnson's mother Rose, began his service with the 333rd. Machine Gun Battalion, 172nd. Infantry Brigade, 86th. Infantry Division. This division was deployed to Europe in August of 1918 but did not see any combat service. At the time of his return from France he seems to have been serving with a quartermaster unit. He returned to the United States as a member of a Class A "casual company" organized in Bordeaux; his return date is unknown. These companies consisted of wounded or sick soldiers who required at least two months' treatment, so he may have been seriously wounded, or developed a chronic illness such as tuberculosis. He was discharged on June 9, 1919.

August's brother Anton Cichy also served with a machine gun company, but he was with the 54th. Infantry in the 6th. Division, which saw heavy action with the III Corps in the Meuse-Argonne offensive described above. He left Brest earlier than Helmer Kvern, on June 3, 1919, sailing on the Mount Vernon, and he arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 10. He was sent to the demobilization center at Camp Mills in Garden City, on Long Island in New York. He was discharged on June 18.

Selmer Andreas Aslakson, a cousin of Ora Conley's husband John Selmer Aslakson, served with Company K of the 54th. Infantry Regiment, 6th. Division, III Corps, like Anton Cichy, and presumably participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. He was discharged on July 5, 1919.

Ora's brother Lewis Eldridge Conley entered military service on October 10, 1918, and was released on December 18, 1918. We have no details on his service.

Eline Halden's son Leonard Morud was inducted into the army on November 2, 1918 in Minneapolis, nine days before the war ended. He was sent to the Students Army Training Corps at the University of Minnesota, and was discharged on December 18 of that year as a private.

On December 1, 1918, Ed Dibble's son Willis was promoted from Private to Corporal. On the 10th, he was transferred from windswept Camp Cody to (fortunately mostly influenza-free, by then) Camp Dodge, where he joined the 322nd. Headquarters Train and Military Police of the 97th. Infantry Division. This division was only partially organized when the war ended and it was never deployed. Willis was discharged there on December 20 with the rank of Corporal. Or was he? On December 18, in Cannon Falls, according to the Beacon, Willis was elected Worshipful Master of Oriental Lodge No. 34 of the Masons; his brother Willard was elected Senior Warden on the same day. Willis was elected in absentia. The Beacon didn't report his return until its issue of the following week, in a story on the "latest arrivals from army camps", published Friday December 27. It was likely known at the time that he would be home soon (indeed, it scarcely mattered for some purposes whether he was physically in town or not; he helped pay for a full-page ad for the Liberty Loan Drive in the Beacon on September 20).

News of the armistice reached Cannon Falls remarkably quickly. In fact, it reached Cannon Falls three days before it actually happened. On November 8, the Beacon printed the following: "Have you heard the glad tidings from over the sea? Jehovah has triumpled, his people are free. Germany has surrendered. The armistice was signed Thursday morning November 7th and hostilities ceased at 2 p.m. The end of the war is here." The following week the paper sheepishly followed up by blaming a news service: "The United Press on November 7th perpetrated the greatest hoax of the age by announcing prematurely to the world that peace had been declared. ..."

But on the real day the people of the town turned out in force to celebrate: "In spite of the 'flu' the lid flew off in Cannon Falls, as it did everywhere else, on the ever-to-be-remembered November 11, 1918. Early in the morning the clanging and the gangling and the wrangling of the bells and the blowing of whistles aroused the people from slumber, and cries of 'Peace,' 'Germany has surrendered,' 'Old Kaiser Bill is busted,' and the like was [sic] passed from mouth to ear all over town. .Preparations for a lively afternoon were hurriedly made and shortly after one o'clock business houses closed and every conceivable thing that would knock silence senseless was requisitioned for the occasion. Brass bands and cow bells, horns and sirens, stove pipes and tin cans, oil tanks and tin wash tubs, sawmills and bewgags and what else deponent sayeth not. Among all the roar and racket autos decorated in the national colors glided along in the procession like gilded chariots over the fields of pandemonium. Golly, it was surely a terror. After the noise had subsided sufficiently to see a man open his mouth patriotic addresses were made by Mayor Mensing, T. R. Johnson and J. L. Scofield. The speakers were heartily applauded by the assemblage and after the speaking came more noise. Verily it was a sad and inglorious day for [Kaiser Wilhelm's family] the Hohenzollerns."

Our families had a while to wait for the boys to come home, but the influenza pandemic gave them plenty to worry about in the meantime. Up in Warren, MN, home to the Moruds, the city issued a ban on public gatherings and closed the schools, including North Star College, on October 12. Radium schools (about five miles northeast of Warren, where the grain elevator that stored Ole Morud's wheat stood) were closed on October 17. Schools closed in Pelican Rapids, about 20 miles north of Fergus Falls, where the Haldens and Kverns lived, on October 11. The Minnesota State Board of Health outlawed public funerals for people who died "from influenza or pneumonia following it. This includes the bodies of soldiers who have died in camp." In Winona, the hometown of the Orzechowskis, the city health officer refused to order any closings of schools or public gathering places despite a request to do so from the city council. He insisted that there were no known "effective measures", and he said that "if the people would comply with his suggestions the epidemic would soon be over." Despite his views, operators of movie theaters closed voluntarily for a week, and streetcar service was curtailed, at least in part because drivers were too sick to operate the cars. The Winona Republican-Herald reported 50 deaths in the city between October 10 and October 30, which does seem like a low number for a city of its size. In contrast, the Cannon Falls city council issued a resolution effective November 3, 1918 that stated, "... it shall be unlawful ... for any person to be found upon the streets or in any public building or place within the corporate limits of [the city], unless said person shall at all such times wear a face mask: this regulation to remain in effect until revoked by the City Council ... Any person found guilty of violating this resolution shall upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not exceeding Five Dollars, or by imprisonment in the city jail for not more than five days." Five dollars then was worth about $90 in 2021. On November 8, the Beacon reported, "It is hoped that the epidemic of Spanish influenza has reached the crest and is subsiding, although a number are sick, some seriously. The order for wearing masks is very generally observed, and should not be given over until conditions have greatly improved. It is easy to obey the order, and whether one believes it does any good or not it certainly does no harm. It is always well to consider the wishes of others as long as no harm can possibly come to yourself."

But people were eager for this misery to be over. Every downturn in the number of new cases was heralded as the end of the epidemic, and there were constant reports that, although there was still a large number of cases, "very few are of a serious nature." The Beacon announced on November 22 that schools would reopen the following Monday (November 25) and churches would "hold regular services on Sunday." Sadly, this hope was short-lived. Cannon Falls closed its schools again on December 16, and they stayed closed into the following year. On January 24, 1919, "at least one hundred cases" were reported in New Trier, a little village about three miles north of Cannon Falls in Dakota County; the outbreak was "attibuted to a dance." Schools were closed again on February 24, 1919, and again on February 6, 1920. But after that, the pandemic finally faded away.

And the "return to normalcy"--the 1920 campaign slogan of Republican presidential candidate Warren G. Harding--began early for our families, with hopes for a brighter future.

Local organizations in Cannon Falls held annual elections in January 1919. Dick Dibble was elected treasurer of the Allegory Lodge No. 33 of the International Order of Odd Fellows. Willis Dibble was on the Membership Committee of the Cannon Valley Agricultural and Poultry Association, along with Alonzo D. Conley, while the dentist Samuel L. Conley served on the Executive Committee. Willis' father Ed was re-elected vice president of the Leon Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company.

After the war ended, the federal government ended rationing and price controls. People eagerly sought to buy things that had been rationed, and the businesses that sold them quickly raised prices to make up for lost time. This led to rapid inflation. Our families did not escape the effects. On January 24, the Beacon reported that the butcher "Dan Dibble was seen looking through a telescope one evening of late. When asked what he was looking at the reply was, 'Pork chops are going up and I'm trying to see where they will land in the sky.'"

As expected, Dan's son-in-law Milton Holmes returned from Montana to the family that had been awaiting him in Cannon Falls, and went back to work at the Farmers and Merchants National Bank. This was reported by the Beacon on February 7. He arrived none too soon; his wife Jean gave birth to a daughter, Betty Dibble Holmes, on February 8, 1919.

About a week later, Laura Dibble's niece Elizabeth K. Crook married Purl Slater Huff in California.

The Cannon Falls Civic Improvement Club met on March 13, when much of the discussion involved a proposal to build a new "25 or 30 room modern hotel" in the town. A committee of three members was formed to consider how to raise funds for the project and choose a site. But the club's members also enjoyed an "interesting talk on the world's record milk cow" from Willis Dibble.

Also in March, Ed Dibble's political career took a step forward. He was nominated by the Democratic Party's "citizen nominating convention" to run for one of four Cannon Falls alderman seats. Dr. Alva Conley served as committee secretary. Although the Beacon reported that the convention was "the tamest on record. No interest was shown whatever, and this seems to show that city affairs are being conducted satisfactorily," Ed was "the only new man on the ticket" (the incumbent chose not to run again), which suggests somebody was interested, at least in Ed. Barber Ed Wilson's brother George was nominated for city clerk (again). All were nominated "by acclamation", with the exception of one of the alderman races, in which a total of 33 votes were cast for two candidates. Ed won his alderman seat in the May election with 28 votes.

Dick's daughter Glee Dibble appeared as "Mrs. O'Connor, with no liking for goats" in the Junior Class play, Mrs. Briggs of the Poultry Yard in March. The Beacon reviewer noted that Glee's friend Frances Thill, along with Glee and Theodosia Whitney, "carried off their roles like 'old stagers'".

Dick's cousin Alice Richardson was back in town that March, visiting her sister Sarah Dibble Conley and brother Ed. She was now living in Garretson, South Dakota, about ten miles northeast of Sioux Falls, and about 35 miles southwest of her last known address in Ruthton, MN.

Dick's brother-in-law Ed Wilson and his wife Edith moved from town onto a farm not far from the Dibble & Sons farm, now doing business as "Spring View Farm", on April 1, 1919. Really; no April fool, though the location is mysterious. It was in Oxford, now a so-called "ghost town" which is not found on any modern map, but was in the neighborhood of the ruins of the 19th. century Oxford Mill, and somewhere near the Oxford Methodist Church. Ed's farm and Oxford were in Stanton Township, but the 1920 US census has Ed living in neighboring Leon Township. His brother George owned a 75-acre farm in the northwest corner of that township in the mid-20s, and Ed was listed as a tenant in the township in a 1924 county directory, so perhaps that's where Ed was. Dick's brother Dan also made a real estate purchase that month; he bought the former John J. Lee residence, built in 1905 on two Cannon Falls city lots. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find the address.

Although the war had been over for five months, the government was still pushing war bond sales. Dan's son Don, as well as his cousin Willard, along with six others, sponsored a full-page ad for them in the Beacon on April 11. Willard's dad Ed co-sponsored another full-page spread the following week.

Willard's brother Willis captained the Cannon Falls Commercial Club's basketball team that season. Don Dibble the undertaker frequently refereed the games.

In early May Don and his wife Margaret moved into "the new Eamon house on the West Side." John Eamon was a farmer and landlord who owned several houses in Cannon Falls that he rented out. We don't know which house this was. Margaret was injured in a car accident while visiting in Winona a couple months later. The injury was "thought not to be serious."

May 7, 1919 was the birthday of Alfred Clair Holden, known as "Bud", in Williston, Williams County, SD. His parents were Eline Halden Morud's brother Alfred Halden and Olga Elida Overby, whom we last saw in Kalispell, Montana, about 600 miles to the west. It was about this time that some members of the family began spelling their surname with an "o" instead of an "a". Another baby, this time a granddaughter of Alonzo Ahlers, was born on May 15, 1919: Naomi Mae Ahlers, daughter of Sidney Earl Ahlers and Evelyn Moore of Day County, SD. Alonzo's older brother Julius Ahlers got a great-grandchild the following month: Marjorie Juliet Ahlers, whose father was Julius' son Charles Raymond Ahlers, was born on June 27, 1919 in Ada, Norman County, MN, near the North Dakota border about 70 miles northeast of Fergus Falls. Marjorie's mother was Helen Pfund.

Up in Fergus Falls, the Kongsberg Church was destroyed by the second deadliest tornado in Minnesota history, on June 22, 1919. This was the Halden family's original congregation, though it's unclear which physical church building was destroyed. The original building was likely next to the Kongsberg Cemetery and there is no building there today. A successor parish, which the Haldens may have joined, Bethlehem Lutheran, had its building destroyed by the tornado (at least four church buildings were wiped out), and its current location is at 102 W Junius Ave. in Fergus Falls. But most of the damage was on the city's north side. The Kongsberg Cemetery was just northeast of town, while Bethlehem Lutheran is in the southern portion of the city. The tornado completely or partially obliterated the Otter Tail County courthouse and jail, the three-story, 100-room Grand Hotel, and hundreds of other buildings across 44 city blocks encompassing the business district as well as residential neighborhoods. Fifty-seven people died.

It was a mostly quiet summer for the Cannon Falls folks. Barber Ed Wilson was prospering in his shop next to Dan Dibble's meat market; he hired George Sears as "another assistant in his tonsorial business". Ed Dibble was serving as secretary of the Farmers Creamery Company. Ed's son Willard was vice president of the Goodhue County Holstein Breeders' Association. On August 16 the Association met at the Dibble farm in Stanton Township. There were over 125 farmers present. "The program began sharply at eight o'clock in the evening with a talk by J.C. Cort of the University Dairy Division on the things to look for in a herd sire. The splendid sire of the Dibble herd was led into the ring and Mr. Cort judged the sire, thus showing the points to look for. ... The Dibble farm is building up a splendid herd of pure-bred and grade Holsteins which was an object to all attending the meeting." Perhaps it was also an opportunity to promote the Perfection milking machine, a new-fangled piece of dairy farm automation equipment that the Dibbles began selling around this time.

Dick Dibble was elected Scribe by Chapter 75 of the Royal Arch Masons in September; Art Wright, who ran into Dick's son Archie in France, was elected King. Archie himself had returned home on August 5. According to the Beacon, after all he went through, "he says that Cannon Falls looks good to him and he likes it better here than going over the top." (Archie likely never "went over the top" in the usual sense of leaping out of a trench and charging the enemy, but this Beacon reporter got other details of his service wrong as well; Archie may never have said that at all.) Despite a slight limp from his wound that never left him, and occasional pain, he was happy to walk out to the park near the Lake Byllesby hydroelectric dam (perhaps near what is today Lake Byllesby Goodhue County Park) for the annual summer picnic. Strung between the trees was a large banner that said, "Cannon Falls--the best town by a dam site." (This is cute but Cannon Falls gets no points for originality; probably just about every little town that has a dam has had such a sign at some time.) Now in need of a job, he expressed interest in becoming a farmer, so his father put him in charge of his cattle/dairy farm. He spent several months there but eventually decided the work didn't suit him. At some point after that, Dick rented the farm to tenants who continued to run dairy cattle, and he received half the milk check for his rent.

Alice Richardson was back in town for a visit at the end of the summer. She brought her son George, also a war veteran, with her. She had moved on from teaching to become a matron at the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls, where she lived in on-campus housing. Also visiting in September were Hattie Coplin Colby and her husband George. Hattie was the sister of Dick Dibble's first wife Ella Coplin.

Willis Dibble, an Army veteran though never a participant in the war, was elected vice-commander of the Cannon Falls American Legion post in September.

October brought two tragedies to our families. On October 9, Julius Ahlers of Ada, MN, died. He was the last of the Ahlers who came to Goodhue County from Germany in the 1850s. Owner-operator of a general store, he had also been an important local leader, serving as a city councilman and as mayor. Such was the respect the townspeople had for him, many Ada businesses closed for his funeral. On October 25, Leslie A. Johnson was out hunting with his brothers Clarence, Frank and Sidney, all sons of the Bay City farmer Francis A. "France" Johnson. Something went wrong, and Leslie, just a month shy of his fourteenth birthday, was shot and killed.

In a telling, if small, signal of the advancement of women on the eve of their achievement of a national right to vote, the Cannon Falls Home Economics Club changed its name to the "Study Club" in October. At the meeting scheduled for October 14 at the home of Margaret Dibble, the Beacon reported, "Mrs. Dibble will read a magazine article."

On November 14, 1919, over a year after he was wounded, Archie Dibble was issued a silver lapel Victory Button, the standard medal for wounded soldiers at the time (the Purple Heart didn't exist until 1932).

Despite its soon-to-become-a-ghost-town status, Oxford still had a Community Club in December 1919, and when it met on the twelfth, the farmer Alonzo D. Conley, son of Sarah Dibble and Dr. Ed Conley, was elected president. Vice president was Alonzo's cousin Willard Dibble. Edith Wilson, newly ensconced on a farm nearby, was chair of the refreshment committee and Alonzo's wife, also named Edith, chaired the entertainment committee.

The year ended with a couple of blessed events. On December 6, 1919, John Aslakson's sister Pearl and her husband Mark W. Bray were greeted by their new daughter, Virginia P. Bray. And on December 27, Emma Conley Curran's son Clay Conley Curran married Mabel Louise Glecker (born November 6, 1884) in Pierre, South Dakota.

By now we've reached 1920. The "Gilded Age" generation is at the height of its prosperity and powers, but their children are getting ready to take the reins. The cattle farmer and commercial real-estate landlord Dick Dibble is 58; his second wife Bertha is 51. His cousin Ed the rising local politician, corporate leader and dairy farmer is 60 and Ed's wife Laura is 53. Ed's twin sons Willard and Willis are 27. Dick's son Archie is 24, his daughter Glee is 18 and their half-sister Olive Hall is 36. Dick's brother Dan, the meat-market owner, is 51, his wife Isabel is 50, their daughter Jean Holmes is 28 and their son Don is 25. Dick's brother-in-law the barber and horse-fancier Ed Wilson is 53; his wife Edith is 47. Their son George ("Dode") is 19; George's brother Clair ("Tug") is two years older. The northern prairie farmer Ole Morud is 51, his wife Eline, often called "Ella" is 50. Their oldest son, Leonard, is 23; their oldest daughter, Alice, 20. The Winona factory worker Steve Orzechowski is 43; his wife Mary is 33; their daughter Angeline is 11. Francis Johnson, the Bay City farmer, is 40; his wife Rose is 43, his son Clarence is 16.

Due to improved medicine, transportation and nutrition, people are living longer. Young men and women come of age, but now their parents remain vigorous and involved for many years thereafter. The "changing of the guard" from one generation to the next is more gradual this time around. Each generation is larger than the last, and each young person more likely to pursue a life that is different from that of his or her parents. The themes that unified our families' story--pioneering new land, building businesses and traditions from scratch, frequent childbirth punctuated by sudden early death--and that required their close cooperation and support, are fading. Increasingly in the 20th. century, it's every man and woman for him or herself.

And the entire nation, finally released from the emotional and economic stresses of the war years and the flu pandemic, responded with an immense outburst of commercial activity and social liberation that came to be known as "The Roaring 20s".

A variety of other inputs contributed to this phenomenon. Most important were the ratification of the 18th. and 19th. amendments to the US Constitution. The 18th. amendment prohibited the manufacture, importation and sale of "intoxicating liquors ... for beverage purposes" throughout the United States. Congress was given authority to pass legislation to enforce the new rule, and Goodhue County provided just the man to do it--sort of: Andrew Volstead, native of Kenyon, was a Republican Congressman whose name went on the resulting Volstead Act, but he wasn't the principal author of that unfortunate law, which was passed over President Woodrow Wilson's veto in October 1919. The 19th. amendment declared that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." It was ratified in August, 1920. Both of these were products of the growing political influence of women like Sarah Dibble Conley in the late 19th. and early 20th. centuries. By the 1920s, many middle- and upper-class American women had become accustomed to making their own decisions and pursuing their own interests, whether in small towns or big cities. Many of them had worked outside the home during the war years (working outside the home was not quite as uncommon for women in those times as some people think; working-class and immigrant women, and women of color, in urban areas have always worked outside the home at much higher rates than native-born white middle-class women). The spread of electricity also had a big effect. While that process was slow outside of Cannon Falls and Red Wing, by the early 1920s many women had acquired new labor-saving devices, such as washing machines and vacumn cleaners, that cut down the time required for housework. Now, with their own sources of income, more time to do pretty much as they wished, and the right to enforce their wishes through the electoral process, women ushered in major cultural changes, symbolized by the short-skirted, bobbed-haired "flapper", commonly depicted partying in speakeasies, that continue to reverberate throughout the world to this day.

Those speakeasies were illegal, though the Volstead Act didn't have a great deal to do with that in Goodhue County, most of which was already dry and had been for several years before 1919. Still, there was some "roaring" going on, though mostly in Red Wing and its environs, which had its own "den of evil" on Trenton Island in the Mississipi River. Cannon Falls and its surrounding villages does not seem to have had nearly as high a rate of Volstead violations as Red Wing and its suburbs did. That part about "for beverage purposes" in the amendment was also a loophole large enough to drive tanker trucks full of whisky through; "medical" prescriptions for booze, and its importation for that purpose, were perfectly legal and, notably, the editor and publisher of the Red Wing Daily Republican, whose editorial position was strongly anti-alcohol, apparently had a great "medical" need. "Near beer" was also carved out of the definition of "intoxicating liquors", and people brewed their own at home, though the typical alcohol content of home-brew was quite a bit above the legal limit. A Red Wing deputy city clerk remarked in 1923 that he could hear the corks popping off bottles of home-brew in people's houses as he walked home from work in the evening.

The county was also not completely immune from another, darker phenomenon of the 1920s--the rise of the Ku Klux Klan as a national political force. It has been reported that for the most part people in Goodhue County contented themselves with joining up, donning robes, attending meetings and marching in parades, apparently enjoying the ceremonial trappings without taking the racist idealogy very seriously, but these sorts of benign descriptions of Klan followers have also been promoted by certain people in many of the most obviously racist parts of the country. The Klan seems to have been more active in neighboring Steele County, making it difficult to believe that those sentiments were not strongly alive just a few miles to the northeast. Goodhue County had only a handful of black residents and evidence that anyone targeted them as a group has been hard to find in online searches. They may have been fairly well integrated into their communities--which is not to say that they were always treated respectfully, as equals in all aspects, by the majority white population. Information about this sort of thing is often suppressed, or ignored, by local boosters. There were likely more Native Americans in the county than black people at that time, but I haven't found any information on how they were treated in the 1920s. The Klan also hated Catholics and most immigrants, and there was an incident in which some high school boys announced that a Catholic church--again, in Red Wing--was going to be burned to the ground, but it did not happen. Klan membership in the county declined later in the decade, while Volstead violations increased. In the end, most of these folks knew where the real fun was.

The 1920s saw many of our family members striking out in new directions.

The disillusioned farm manager Archie Dibble went back to work for the Northern States Power Company, out at the Lake Byllesby dam, as an electrician late in 1919. A year later he was serving on the executive Committee of the Cannon Falls American Legion Post. In March 1921, he moved to Pine Island in the southeast corner of the county to work as a lineman for the power company. This was a difficult and dangerous job, and Archie was soon once again in the market for other work. He took, and passed, the US Mail Clerk civil service exam, and on July 31, he moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to begin his lifelong career as a railway mail clerk on the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad.

Other, more disabled, war veterans were having a harder time returning to work. On June 17, 1921, the Beacon published this piece: "Disabled veterans of the World War, nearly all of them overseas veterans and members of the Walter Reed post of the American Legion in Washington D.C. have adopted what they term, 'The Creed of the Disabled Man,' which, called to the attention of President Harding upon a recent visit to the hospital, was by the President pronounced fine. The 'creed' reads as follows: Once more to be useful--to see pity in the eyes of my friends replaced with commendation--to work, produce, provide and to feel that I have a place in the world, seeking no favors and given none--a man among men in spite of this physical handicap."

That spring, up north in Warren, Minnesota, Ole and Eline Morud's first daughter, Alice, graduated from the Warren Hospital's nursing school. The school was religiously oriented, as the Warren Sheaf reported: "It is the earnest purpose of the school to instruct and train the pupils so that they may be efficient in the care and treatment of the sick while in the hospital, and to be prepared to meet the manifold duties that await them after leaving the school. Morning devotion is conducted every morning. Bible class on Monday evenings during the term of the theoretical instruction. Realising that without the Christ-spirit there can be no loyal and devoted service to the sick." One of Alice's first jobs after graduation was to serve as a live-in nurse for the ailing Swedish farmer Peter Erickson on his farm near Viking, a tiny hamlet about 15 miles east of Warren. Erickson was in his early 60s, his wife Laura about 8 years younger, and three of their grown children, along with a ten-year-old son Melvin, were living with them. Mr. Erickson died on November 10, 1921, and Alice returned home to Warren four days later. Not long after that, she moved south, to work at Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis. Still later, she took a job at the Mineral Springs tuberculosis sanitarium in Cannon Falls.

Although Archie spent his days and some nights on the train, he got back home frequently, and since he didn't have tuberculosis, he likely met Alice Morud through friends or perhaps at a local social event. They began spending lots of time together.

Archie's little sister Glee wasn't so little any more. She appeared in two theatrical performances in 1920. The first was a Cannon Falls Civic Club presentation of the comic opera Pocahontas, in March, in which she sang with the chorus. Then in April she played the part of Mrs. Gwendolyn Perrington Shine, a Philadelphia matron who hosts a wedding reception at which all kinds of mischief occurs under the influence of a magical Egyptian scarab ring that is given to the groom as a wedding gift, in the high school's senior class play, The Hoodoo. She also sang with the high school glee club that year, even though it was not named after her. In June, Glee graduated from Cannon Falls High with a solid B (86) average. Sadly, her friend and competitor, Frances Thill, beat her again with an 87.7. Glee went to live and work in Red Wing after graduation.

There she met a young bank clerk, Victor Leroy Johnson. Victor was born on May 4, 1901, in Red Wing. His parents were Karl August Johanson (Carl A. Johnson) and Alma Josephine Ottason. Karl was born in Habe in what was then Skaraborg County, Sweden on August 15, 1867. He immigrated to the United States in 1891. He may have initially gone to Middleville Township in Wright County, about 15 miles northwest of Minneapolis--but if he did, he had the misfortune to be recorded as a "lunatic" in the 1895 Minnesota State Census for that region. In any case, he married Alma on October 10, 1894 in Goodhue County, and by 1900 the couple was living in Red Wing, where Karl worked as a laborer in one of the potteries there. Alma was born on October 13, 1875 in either Pine Island or Red Wing; her Swedish father was John Ottason and her mother's name was Christina Appelquist. Victor had two older brothers, Carl Raymond Johnson, born December 11, 1895, and Mearl William Johnson, born September 4, 1897. The elder Carl died on January 22, 1903. At some point between 1911 and 1920, possibly on May 25, 1912, Alma remarried, to Patrick I. Galvin. Patrick may have been born on Christmas Day, 1872, in Indiana. He may have played professional baseball for teams in Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY, as a young man; allegedly these were major-league members of the National League at the time, but so far no evidence of that, beyond claims made in a brief newspaper death notice, has been found (a query to the Baseball Almanac returned five Galvins who played pro ball, but none was a match). Victor continued to live with them, and they seem to have had three children of their own: Francis Wilfred "Pat" Galvin, born March 19, 1913 in St. Paul, Marvin Bryant "Red" Galvin, born August 12, 1917, and Roger Vincent "Rod" Galvin, born March 20, 1919. Red and Rod were both born in Red Wing.

Glee Doris Dibble married Victor Leroy ("Vic") Johnson on May 20, 1922 in Red Wing. Their daughter, Shirley Ann ("Tink") Johnson was born there just one day less than a year later, on May 21, 1923. Sometime later, Glee won third prize--$50--for her submission to an Atwood's Private Brand Coffee essay contest. Her essay appeared in the newspaper under the name Mrs. V. L. Johnson, of 1857 W. 5th. St. in Red Wing. Glee wrote, "When we started housekeeping, like most young married couples, we had not much of an idea what brand of anything to get. I went to our grocery store and picked out the numerous things needed for the kitchen, and when it came to coffee I was sort of puzzled--I had always been told there was such a difference in coffee. Then all of a sudden I happened to think 'why, Mother uses Atwood's Private Brand coffee and she makes the best coffee I've ever tasted.' ... One night I had a crowd here and while I was serving them their second cups of coffee, one of my guests exclaimed, 'Will you please tell me what brand of coffee this is---it is just delicious--it tastes just like it smells.'"

Just a few months after Tink's birth, Archibald Richard Dibble married Alice Morud, on November 15, 1923, at Glee and Vic's home. The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Joseph N. Barnett of Christ Episcopal Church in Red Wing, although Alice (and Vic, for that matter) had grown up in the Lutheran church. Thus Archie, raised Episcopalian, won the first round of the cultural and political tug-of-war that shaped this marriage. By this time the home base for Archie's railroad job was St. Paul, and the young couple moved just across the river to Minneapolis, into a small house at 5304 39th. Avenue South. Their only child, Richard Kenneth Dibble, was born in that city on February 27, 1925. Archie's cousin Willard Dibble and his wife Cora had their second child, Margaret Dibble, on April 25, 1926, down in Cannon Falls. Margaret became known as "Peggy". Back in Minneapolis, when little Richard was a toddler, a young girl from the neighborhood named Lucile Mattson babysat for him. She recalled doing this while Archie was at home, sleeping--probably after working a night shift in the railway post office car. (Lucile's father was a plasterer who immigrated from Sweden; she was not related to Hamline Mattson, a sometime Cannon Falls resident who now lived in Minneapolis and played a leadership role in annual reunions of Twin Cities residents who came from Cannon Falls and held their events at Dibble Springs on Willard's farm.) Nearly three quarters of a century later, Lucile and Peggy were living in the same retirement community just a few blocks away from Richard's first home, when Lucile related the story. Peggy noted that Alice "probably had something she wanted to do." We don't know what that was, but we do know that Alice went back to work as a nurse, certainly when Richard began going to school but perhaps sooner. Archie and his family moved to a somewhat larger, and nicer, house on a corner lot at 4001 East 50th. St. at some point in the late 1920s.

Also in Red Wing, the city's attorney Charles Pierce Hall, husband of Dick Dibble's oldest child, Olive, won election as one of two state district court judges in the 1st. District on November 2, 1920. A Democrat like his father, he seems to have served a six-year term, and then ran again (apparently for the district's other judgeship) and won in 1928. While a judge he remained active in municipal affairs. He continued his work and public speaking on taxation issues throughout the 1920s. He served as the legislative chairman for the League of Minnesota Municipalities between 1923 and 1927. On March 5, 1929, the St. Cloud Times reported that he supported passage of a state law requiring a five-day waiting period for issuance of marriage licenses. Another judge said Hall supported the bill because it would prevent marriages resulting in "feeble-minded" children. Already a (briefly) published songwriter, during this period Charles also enjoyed a brief career as a literary critic and novelist. Main Street, Sinclair Lewis's satirical novel of grasping small-town midwestern America (the novel's fictional town, Gopher Prairie, was based on Lewis's birthplace, Sauk Center, where Ora Conley once taught school), was published in 1920. Hall, upset by Lewis's mocking tone, published a response entitled Sane Street in March of 1922. In its fictional Minnesota small town, people were fortunate "to feel everywhere at home: to feel that people are really friendly and helpful." The short little book was distributed free of charge by the Citizens State Bank in Cannon Falls. Charles was a member of the Masons, the Elks, and the Odd Fellows. His and Olive's only child, Elizabeth "Betty" Hall, was born on May 30, 1923 in Red Wing.

About a hundred miles further down the Mississippi, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the children of Dick Dibble's brother-in-law George Kowitz and his wife Alma were beginning to build their adult lives. Their daughter Evelyn Myrtle Kowitz married Oscar C. Patterson before 1920; he was born on August 10, 1887 in Nebraska. They had three children: Joyce Eilene Patterson, born March 22, 1920, Warren George Frederick Patterson, born September 28, 1921, both in La Crosse; and Russell D. Patterson, born September 30, 1923 in or near Sioux City in Woodbury County, Iowa. George and Alma's daughter Vera Kowitz married John Lihle Tabbert of Winona in 1922. Their first two children were John Henry "Jack" Tabbert, born September 22, 1923, and George Edward Tabbert, born June 29, 1928, both in La Crosse. George and Alma's daughter Faye Bertha Kowitz married Orford Willard Prisk on September 17, 1927 in Houston, MN, about 15 miles southwest of La Crosse. Orford was born March 20, 1904 in Mt. Pleasant, Green County, WI.

Back in Cannon Falls, the undertaker Don Dibble and his wife Margaret welcomed their son, Ralph Brooks Dibble, into the world on January 28, 1920. Don may have felt he needed a little music to liven things up around the Valentine mortuary. Fortunately, it was also a furniture store, a good place to sell home appliances. Don became a distributor for "The New Edison, 'the Phonograph with a Soul'", and large display ads for this product--and for Don as its salesman--became regular features in the Beacon beginning in September 1920. Carl Swanson, the man Don replaced at Valentine's when he went off to war, had started his own funeral business when he returned. In 1923 Swanson bought Valentine out--not only the mortuary but the furniture store. So Don and Margaret returned to her family home in Dodge County, where Don bought a furniture and mortuary business in Kasson and named it after himself.

Don's dad Dan added a new ammonia-condensing refrigerator to his meat market in April 1920 that could keep the temperature just below freezing, "thus insuring the safe keeping of meats through the summer," as reported encouragingly in the Beacon. Although commercial refrigeration and ammonia condensers were not particularly new technology by that time, Dan may have been relying on ice to preserve the meat before that date. Dan took a two-week trip down to Rising Sun, Indiana to visit those Dibbles in February 1921. There he may have met descendants of George Dibble "Junior", a brother of Dan's father Jonathan, who were living in or near Rising Sun at that time, such as George's son Rufus Dibble, his daughter Mary Amanda Dibble and her husband Marcus Powell, and his granddaughter Ava G. Lostutter and her husband Hale C. Collins. Earl Driver, a descendant of Jonathan's brother Henry Dibble, was running the Dibble Hardware store in Rising Sun; the store was founded by Henry's son Henry J. Dibble in around 1895. Jonathan and George's nephew Harvey Dibble, himself a former meat-market owner, was still living nearby in Patriot, IN as well. Back home in September 1921, Dan bought one of John Eamon's houses, known as the "Copeland property", on Third Street in Cannon Falls. Thanksgiving that year fell on November 24. The next day, Dan was included in a Beacon announcement of merchants who were reducing credit terms to a maximum of 30 days: "There was a time when the merchants could gladly extend 60 or 90 day and even longer credit. At that time the wholesale firms would give us 30, 60 and even 90 days, but as money conditions tightened up, so did the wholesale firms. Today most goods are sold to us on a Cash Basis, with a few exceptions of 30 day terms. ..." Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. In March 1922 Dan, heretofore seemingly uninterested in politics, was chosen as a delegate to the Minnesota state Democratic Convention.

Dan's daughter Jean and her husband Milton Holmes saw the arrival of their third child, Robert Milton Holmes, in February 4, 1921.

We don't know very much about what Dan's brother Dick was doing during the Roaring 20s. On January 21, 1921, the Beacon reported, "Richard Dibble who has been very sick for some time is now gradually improving." That summer he was selling off horse-powered farm equipment from his cattle farm on Spring Garden Road, including "A pair of trucks, a combination stock and straw rack, a double wagon box with spring seat, new, also light delivery wagon and light bobsleigh." One wonders whether he was selling meat to his brother on a Cash Basis, or with 30 day terms. Dick may have served on the board of the First National Bank of Cannon Falls during this period--the bank in which his uncle Alonzo and father-in-law Ferdinand Kowitz were original stockholders.

Dick's nephew Lieutenant Commander Charles Milford Elder came to visit both Dick and Dan in July of 1921. He had some tales to tell: He had been named the skipper of the USS R-6, a coastal-defense submarine, on its launch day of March 1, 1919. The boat joined the Atlantic fleet at the navy submarine base in New London CT. It was swept away by a gale and grounded on rocks, but was eventually freed. It went on to Norfolk, CT and then to San Pedro, California in June 1921. Although the Beacon reported that Commander Elder was stationed in New London that July, he may actually have still been assigned to the R-6. In any event, the submarine sank in San Pedro Harbor due to a torpedo tube malfunction in September of that year, but was refloated a few weeks later. In late winter of 1923, it was used in chase scenes in the 20th. Century Fox silent action film, The Eleventh Hour, featuring Alan Hale Sr., whose son and namesake later played the shipwrecked Skipper on Gilligan's Island. The following July it was transferred to Hawaii. Minnie Dibble's orphaned son may still have been its captain in the spring of 1926, when he spent over five weeks sailing from San Francisco to Hawaii on the passenger/cargo ship SS President Garfield, arriving in Honolulu on June 15. But a year later, he took command of the destroyer USS Pruitt, operating between Hawaii and Hong Kong, a job he held until January 10, 1929. He departed Manila, in the Philippines, on January 19, 1929, and arrived in San Francisco on February 10 on the army transport ship US Grant, ready to resume new naval adventures.

Dick's cousin and agricultural competitor, Ed, was nominally still in charge of the big farm in Stanton Township, but most of his energy was expended on managing various businesses and on Cannon Falls politics. As an alderman, he served on the City Council's Finance & Equalization, and Purchasing, committees. He was elected president of the Council in June 1921. He continued to hold various offices in the Leon Farmers Mutual Fire and Lightning Insurance Company, and he was vice-president of the Fred C. Carlson Company, Inc., successor to the Cannon Falls Dry Goods Company.

Most notable, or perhaps notorious, was his service as Manager of the Farmers Creamery Company, a role that he took on in January 1920. The competition among creameries for farmers' milk was cut-throat. Spreading nasty rumors and challenging the personal integrity of managers was all in a day's work. On August 27, 1920, the Beacon carried this item: "To the Patrons of the Farmers Creamery Company. ... certain parties are circulating the report that our factory would be condemned. This report is absolutely false as I can show the patrons of our factory by the Inspector's report made last June. Any patron wishing to see this report can do so by calling at our factory. The parties circulating such reports will be held responsible for any false statements they make about our factory. E.A. Dibble, Mgr." That December, W. F. Schilling, President of the Twin City Milk Producers Association, a dairy farmers' cooperative that paid its members for milk and then sold it to bottling plants or creameries, attacked Ed personally in a letter that was published in the Beacon. He accused him of paying farmers unfairly competitive differential prices for milk in different localities. A clear understanding of the issues involved in milk pricing and procurement is beyond the capabilities of your humble author, but some of the language in the public correspondence is interesting. On December 31, Ed replied to Schilling: "Mr. Schilling states that the difference we paid for milk testing 3.5 and 3.6 [measures of milkfat content] was 8 cents a point while the difference between milk testing 3.6 and 3.7 is 9 cents. To enlighten Mr. Schilling, the fraction of a cent was not carried out which he very well knows. As far as the price we are receiving for our milk from the Metropolitan Milk Co., it is not one cent more than Mr. Schilling's T.C.M.P.A. get for their milk in the Twin Cities. I am not fighting the Metropolitan Milk Co.'s battles but if they are such a dishonest concern why does Mr. Schilling sell milk to the Minnesota Milk Co., which is owned by the same men? Mr. Schilling states that his organization does not hold back a few thousand dollars in May and June to fatten up the fellows that haul milk in the fall months. It is strange that the Schilling organization did not meet our price in May if they do not hold back a few thousand. Judging by the prices Mr. Schilling has paid in the past he does not intend to fatten anyone up no matter what time of the year they haul milk." On January 7, Schilling responded, "You say, 'I am not fighting the Metropolitan Milk Company's battles.' I say you are fighting their battles and taking their money to help knock out a farmers' cooperative association that has been the means of getting you a decent price for your milk and you are doing this at the expense of the farmers in the fifty-four towns that comprise the Twin City Milk Producers association and you should be ashamed to take the money and use it without paying in your just share to help fight the battles of the 3,000 farmers who are responsible for your getting it. Now, don't dodge around, Mr. Dibble, come out square-toed and show your books, tests, etc..." Ed came back with an offer to compare fat-content testing data from his company with that of Schilling, and ended with "Now, Mr. Editor, I think the Beacon is too valuable a paper to carry on these little petty squabbles in, so I will not carry this discussion any further but our annual report will be out in a few days and that will give the entire business of the year in detail."

Ed's son Willard continued the day-to-day management of the Stanton farm in the early 20s, but his brother Willis had lost interest in farming. He moved to St. Paul, where he was "a salesman of aluminum specialties" in December 1923. By 1927, he was living in Detroit where, like his second cousin Archie, he worked as a railroad mail clerk. This is where he met Gertrude Von Boos. They were married on August 10, 1927 in Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. Gertrude was born April 21, 1887 in Germany; at 40, she was six years older than Willis.

In January 1920, Ed's sister Alice Richardson had told the census enumerator who found her at the School for the Deaf in Sioux Falls that she was a widow. Some folks around Cannon Falls may have been given that impression as well by a July 16, 1920 announcement in the paper that the "Mrs. Alice Richardson place", a six-acre truck farm, was up for sale. That was not true. Alice had left the family's farm in Perkins, South Dakota at some point before April 1916, apparently without her husband Frank. The circumstances of her departure are unknown. But at the same time that Alice was claiming he was dead in Sioux Falls, Frank was living about 50 miles to the southwest, in the Yankton State Hospital, formerly known as the Dakota Hospital for the Insane. Frank had a run-in with the Goodhue County mental health authorities in 1902 and had been institutionalized for a while at that time. (His son had a similar episode in 1915.) What motivated Alice to lie about Frank's situation? The hospital's name had been changed, in part, because it served people with conditions other than "insanity"--alcoholism, for instance. Although no one was proud of having mental illness in one's family in those days, drunkenness was a real scandal. Alice and her son George Richardson, a student at the South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, came to Cannon Falls for a visit in March, 1921. Frank died in the Yankton facility on August 15 of that year. His funeral was managed by the Valentine mortuary, where Don Dibble worked. Many members of the family gathered around. In his obituary, the Beacon observed, "Mr. Richardson was for years a resident of Cannon Falls where he was known as an honorable and upright man. His former pastor, Rev. J.W. Stebbins adds the following tribute to his memory: 'Mr. Richardson in his active life was thoroughly devoted to the things which make for the good of humanity. As a teacher in the public schools he improved the opportunity to help the boys and girls get a right start in life. As a citizen he was always on the side of right and progress. For many years he was a loyal and faithful member of the church. He loved his home and family. Frank Richardson was a good man and to the best of his ability discharged all of life's duties with fidelity to his God and the community.'" He was buried in Cannon Falls Community Cemetery. In 1925, Alice took a job as a schoolteacher in the small city of Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota, about 50 miles west of Sioux Falls. She may have moved there to be near her daughter Louise and her husband John P. Nicolaisen, who lived about ten miles further west on their farm near Mount Vernon. One can imagine that she may have taught the young George McGovern, future Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, while he was growing up in Mitchell. Louise and John welcomed their new son Daniel Robert Nicolaisen on October 18, 1920, in Mount Vernon. He was their third child. Their second, Peter John Nicolaisen, arrived there on May 27, 1916.

Alice and Frank's daughter Cora had moved from Chicago to New York City, where she worked as a milliner and had an apartment in Manhattan with a lodger named Eliza Fogg. On August 8, 1920 she married Peter Frank Amerhein, a salesman for the Koenig & Schuster grocery wholesaler who lived in Yonkers.

After graduating from the School of Mines, Alice's son George worked as a construction foreman in Minnesota, spent some time in Mexico, and then "took a summer course preparatory to teaching." By February, 1923, he was teaching mathematics and physics in the Burbank High School in Long Beach, California. But something was wrong; the disability he incurred during the war caught up with him, and he died on March 8 of that year. He was buried with military honors, including a gun salute (reported as a "Firing Squad" by the Long Beach Press).

Alice's sister Sarah Dibble Conley's daughter Ora, the county agent, now also serving as Secretary of the Olmsted County Public Health Association, underwent surgery for an "abcess of the mastoid bone" (likely caused by a bad ear infection) on July 8, 1920, at a hospital in St. Paul. This was rather striking because Ora lived in Rochester, MN, home of the famed Mayo Clinic, where, presumably, she would have received excellent care. Perhaps, though, her father Dr. Hiram "Ed" Conley, who accompanied her to the hospital, preferrred the St. Paul facility. It took her quite a while to recover; she returned to work around October 1.

Ora married Charles Edwin Dreher on May 27, 1921 at Dr. Ed's and Sarah's home in Cannon Falls. Charles was born on November 7, 1880 in Stroudsberg, PA to parents Edwin S. Dreher and Josephine A. Bartholomew. This was his second marriage; his first wife, Eva Louise Shugart, died on December 2, 1918 in their home in Nevada Township, Story County, Iowa, about 20 miles northeast of Des Moines. Charles, a graduate of Northwestern University in Illinois, had moved to Minnesota in 1920 to take a job with the newly-formed Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation, a trade association of county Farm Bureaus, in Grand Rapids in Itaska County in the Minnesota north country, near Hibbing. Ora and Charles likely met while working together, as the Farm Bureaus were closely associated with the county Cooperative Extension program. The organization was considered progressive in its time for requiring at least one of its board members to be a woman. (The Goodhue County Farm Bureau held its annual picnic at Dibble Springs that June; the event featured a horseshoe pitching contest with teams from the township farmers' clubs, a "kitten" (softball) baseball game between "Cannon Falls & Community" and the "Rest of County", and music from the Cannon Falls Band.) Charles brought two children to the marriage, Donald Shugart Dreher, born September 24, 1913 in Nevada Township, and Robert E. Dreher, born February 6, 1915. Charles and Ora moved back to more familiar territory pretty quickly. By the time their first child together, Eldridge Conley Dreher, was born on January 9, 1923, they were living in Owatonna in Steele County, about 30 miles west of Rochester and 40 miles southwest of Cannon Falls. Their second child, William Conley Dreher, was born on December 1, 1925 in Owatonna. Ora spent the 1920s raising her children, but the professional world of home economics had not yet heard the last of her, nor had the literary world.

Ora's uncle, the venerable Dr. Alonzo Theodore ("A. T.") Conley, passed away on September 11, 1920. He had been very ill for more than four years. His brother Melvin DeLoss Conley died on March 13, 1922 at his home near Wayland, Iowa. He had been a farmer all his life. Just over two months later, and one year to the day after his daughter Ora's wedding, Cannon Falls' "other" town doctor, Hiram Eldridge "Dr. Ed" Conley, died, on May 27, 1922. Another brother, the minister John Wesley Conley, died on November 22, 1925 in Kansas City, MO.

Ora's brother the Stanton Township farmer Alonzo Dibble Conley and his wife Edith had a second child on May 29, 1923: Hiram Eldridge Conley. Their third child, Mary Elizabeth Conley, was born March 16, 1925. Alonzo served on the Board of Directors of the Goodhue County Farm Bureau during this time. He was described as "very charming, fun, and all that" but also as a "black sheep" by a Dibble family member.

Ora's other brother, Lewis Eldridge Conley, was a 20-year-old hardware salesman in Cannon Falls in 1920. He married Ida Marie Klenzman around 1924; she was ten years older, having been born June 17, 1890 in Iowa, to August Klenzman and his coincidentally-named wife, Augusta Frost. Lewis and Ida were living in or near Ora's home of Owatonna when their daughter, Donna Marie Conley, was born on May 26, 1927. By that time Lewis was likely working as an undertaker there.

Ora's cousin Dr. Alva Alonzo Conley had bought the house of Cannon Falls' "summer Santa", the banker (and Ed Dibble's business colleague) C.W. Gress, in December of 1919. He married Grace E. E. Shotola on February 21, 1920, at the age of 30. Their daughter Ruth Luella Delight Conley was born on January 4, 1921. Their son Glenn Alva "Bud" Conley was born October 16, 1923. Alva was elected Mayor of Cannon Falls in 1927, and he served as a Past Master at one of the Cannon Falls Masonic lodges. Grace had a beautiful singing voice and sang at weddings and other gatherings around Cannon Falls.

Two of Dr. Ed's sister Emma's children, Mary Elizabeth Curran, a school teacher, and Paul John Patten Curran, were living with A. T. Conley in early 1920. Emma had died on March 27, 1907 in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, about 80 miles northeast of La Crosse. Her husband Charles remarried in 1909, at around the age of 50, to a 19-year-old woman named Julia. They were living in Great Falls, Cascade County, Montana when he died on May 8, 1911, after which, presumably the youngest children went to live with their uncle in Cannon Falls.

The Currans' first child, Clay Conley Curran, became the principal of the Lead, Lawrence County, SD high school. He and his wife Mabel had a son, William Charles Curran, born November 19, 1924, in Lead.

The second Curran child, Jean Alonzo Curran, who had supported his medical studies at Harvard by working as a busboy in the medical school's restaurant and as a technician in the Boston City Hospital laboratory, received his medical degree in 1921. He went to work as an intern in Brooklyn Hospital where he met a nurse named Frances Rose. Frances was born on April 14, 1898 in Alford, MA, to parents Lansing Sheldon Rose and Maud Strevel. They were married on August 5, 1923 in Salisbury, CT. Soon after, the couple traveled to Fenchow in China's Shansi Province to work as medical missionaries. There, on June 24, 1924, their first child, Jean Alonzo Curran Jr., (known as "Jac") was born. A second son, William Sheldon Curran, was also born in China, on March 19, 1926.

Paul John Patten Curran married Pearl E Miller (born December 4, 1902 in Cannon Falls) on November 6 1929, in Hennepin County, MN.

Another Conley descendant, Lawrence E. Engstrom (son of Dr. Ed's sister Mary), and his wife Nancy welcomed their first child, Delores Hattie Engstrom, on March 24, 1920, in Goodhue County. Lawrence's brother Glen M. Engstrom and his wife Cecelia had a son, William Augustus Engstrom, on April 22, 1922, also in Goodhue County. A third brother, Paul Augustus Engstrom, married Gertrude Albertine Stenstrom on June 30, 1927, in Spokane, Washington, but Mary did not live to see it; she had passed away on January 7, 1924 and was buried in the Cannon Falls Community Cemetery.

Doris Lucille Conley, daughter of Dr. Ed's brother, the Le Sueur dentist Clinton E Conley, married Russell M. Kraft on August 24, 1921 in Le Sueur. Another of Clinton's daughters, Elizabeth Catherine "Bess" Conley, and her husband, George Edward Osgood, a postal clerk, welcomed new son William George Osgood on October 28, 1923. Their second son, Conley Ellsworth Osgood, was born on March 9, 1925, in St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan.

Frances Williard Conley, the granddaughter of Dr. Ed's brother Melvin Deloss Conley, the Iowa farmer, married John Finn Wilkins (born on Christmas Day, 1898) on May 1, 1922 in Burlington, Iowa. Their daughter Marilyn Frances Wilkins was born July 11, 1926 in New Hampton, Chickasaw County, Iowa.

Ruth Lucile Conley, a daughter of Dr. Ed's brother the Baptist minister George Lewis Conley, married a Scotsman, Arthur MacGregor (born March 26, 1891) on September 1, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. George's first wife, Etta Meridian Palmer Conley, died on March 16, 1926. George wasted very little time in marrying his second wife, Effie Conley Anderson, on May 4, 1927, this time in Niagara County, Minnesota. Effie, a widow, was likely a cousin of George (daughter of George's father Lewis's brother George W. Conley).

Over in Red Wing, Charles J. Ahlers III (known as Charles J. Ahlers Jr., apparently because nobody remembered his German settler grandfather), the former basketball star, took an interest in civic affairs during the 1920s. He served a term on the Red Wing city council from 1920 to 1922, and he was active with the local Chamber of Commerce and YMCA. His electrical supply business, C. J. Ahlers Electric Company, continued to expand and in 1921 it took over the local Studebaker dealership (the location was 213 East Avenue, now the site of "Studebaker Park"). His wife Sylvia's family, the Wordens, were part-owners. Sylvia was among the first group of women to serve on a jury in Goodhue County; she served on a grand jury in September, 1921. For recreation, Charles was a fanatical angler, and he also enjoyed singing as a member of the Melphia Octette and various male quartets.

In the fall of 1920 Charles had a visitor from the western part of the state. His brother Henry Charles Ahlers, age 57, a former general agent for International Harvester who had worked in Mankato and St. Cloud, was on his way to the State of Maine but stopped over for a five-week stay with his brother. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in Charles' home on November 8, as a result of heart disease.

There were other deaths in the Ahlers family during the decade. Emma L. Grosse, a daughter of Charles' aunt Wilhelmina Ahlers, died on April 28, 1921 at the age of 49. Emma was one of eleven children, four of whom had died in infancy, and another who died at the age of 25. Yet another, her brother William Friedrick Grosse, died on March 30, 1929. Marjorie Juliet Ahlers, a granddaughter of Charles' uncle Julius Ahlers, died on December 16, 1927, at the age of 8.

Charles' uncle Alonzo Ahlers, the "old settler" of Day County, South Dakota, died there on August 24, 1923 and was buried in Webster. Fortunately, his descendants experienced many happy events during the 1920s.

Alonzo's daughter Naomi A/M Ahlers married Harold Valentine Hoover (born February 14, 1896 in Spink Township, Union County, SD) on June 6, 1920 in Webster. Their daughter Regina M. Hoover was born on July 10, 1921.

Alonzo's son Charles Clark Ahlers married Rozella M. Alwin on October 20, 1921 in Aberdeen, Brown County, SD. By 1928 they had moved to Ramsey County (home of St. Paul) in Minnesota, where their daughter Helen June Ahlers was born on April 2, 1928.

Alonzo's son Percy Alonzo Ahlers married Anna Christine Bergland (born Aug 1, 1900 in Chippewa County MN) on March 13, 1922 in Webster. They moved to St. Paul later in the decade and were living there by 1928.

Alonzo's son Julius Alton Ahlers and his wife Florence welcomed their new daughter, Arlene Ahlers, on November 21, 1922 in Webster. Their oldest daughter, Georgia Ellen Ahlers, married Glen Leroy Vanatta on October 24, 1928 in Day County. Their daughter Irene Joyce Vanatta was born there on June 18, 1929.

Alonzo's son Courtney Pearl Ahlers and his wife Ethel saw the birth of a daughter, Betty Ahlers, on January 26, 1923 in South Dakota.

Helen Marion Wheeler Ahlers, the first wife of Alonzo's son Leon Edward Ahlers, died on December 3, 1921. Leon married Mary Mae Mizener on New Years Day, 1925, and they had a daughter, Verda Ahlers, on February 9, 1926.

We don't know as much about the family of Alonzo Dibble's second wife, Rebecca Chapman, as we do about that of his first, the Ahlers. But we do know that Edward A. Chapman, Rebecca's nephew, died on April 4, 1922, in Redwood Falls, MN, about 100 miles southwest of Minneapolis. He married Addie Root in 1889. Their daughter Grace Stevens Chapman, born February 25, 1894, in Redwood Falls, married Dr. Douglas S. Corpron in July, 1922. Their first child, Douglas Ogden Corpron, was born on September 13, 1928 in Burlington, Vermont. Edward and Addie's son Floyd Ernest Chapman became a merchant seaman, and was planning to serve as a radio operator on the cargo vessel SS Englantine in November 1922. Their daughter Marguerite Estelle Chapman, born April 15, 1898 in Redwood Falls, married C. M. Corwin. Their son Joseph Edward Chapman was born on November 20, 1900. In 1920 the young man was living with his parents and working for the county surveyor as a "rodman", the worker who holds the pole that the surveyor looks at through his telescope.

The (possibly wounded) war veteran August A. Cichy, a brother of Rose Johnson, married a widow named Alphonsine Prody at some point after January 6, 1920. Their son, Sidney France Cichy, was born on March 23, 1922, in Kent, Wilkins County, MN, about 25 miles northwest of Fergus Falls.

August's brother Joseph Cichy married Anna Mary Able on November 8, 1921 in the Cichy stomping grounds of Douglas County, MN. Their daughter Marcine Cichy was born there on September 11, 1923.

Gertrude Cichy, the wife of another brother, Stephan "Steve" Cichy, died in Big Stone County, MN on June 26, 1926.

A couple of months later, on August 28, 1926, yet another brother died suddenly in a terrible farm accident. The 38-year-old war veteran Anton Mathias Cichy, who was unmarried, had been running a steam threshing rig for Karrow Brothers in Douglas County for four years; his job was to keep the engine's fire burning. As the Park Region Echo reported, "The accident happened on the Alvin Peterson farm in Brandon township near Lake Chippewa. Cichy had shut off the power and was going to throw off the big drive belt, which was still traveling when he got caught in it in some way and was carried three-fourths of the way around the big pulley on the engine. His skull was crushed, but his body was uninjured. Workmen around the rig saw him go to shift the belt but could not tell how the accident happened. Dr. Meckstroth of Brandon was called and he notified County Coroner McCabe. The latter went to the scene of the tragedy but found that no inquest was necessary."

Back in Cannon Falls, in 1920 Dick Dibble's nephew Clair "Tug" Wilson was living with the pool hall owner C. George Pfremmer and performing duties as both a domestic servant and a clerk in the pool hall. Tug's younger brother George (known as "Dode") was living with his parents on their Leon Township farm and working as a farm laborer there. There's a story that both Tug and Dode also worked as gravediggers. Perhaps they got this job through their uncle, George E. Wilson, who, among a variety of other occupations, owned a cemetery monuments business and served as an officer of the Cannon Falls Cemetery Association. On June 18, 1924, Tug married Sarah Serena Connors (known as "Sadie") in Goodhue County. Sarah was born on May 26, 1900. Around the middle of the decade, Tug partnered with Justus Widholm to open the Widholm Cafe in Cannon Falls. Widholm was probably a relative of Alfred Widholm, who built Dick Dibble's farmhouse on Spring Garden Road. Tug and Sadie's first two children were Wilbur Clair Wilson, born on March 21, 1925, and Robert Edward Wilson, born on April 7, 1929.

Up in Minneapolis, Tug's cousin Eleanor Elizabeth Gorton, the only child of his mother's sister Emma Kowitz Gorton, was striking out on her own. She had a job as a saleswoman in 1930, and she married Donald Ernest Wirth on February 2, 1931. Donald was born on July 18, 1909 to Ernest C. Wirth and Mabel A. Fosterman in Vermilion, South Dakota. The two had met in 1926 when, as teenagers, they attended a summer program together at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Don was a dental student at Creighton University, a Jesuit college in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time of the marriage, and Eleanor worked there in a downtown dress shop. An honor student with grades above average, Don was also a talented artist. He painted portraits, including one of Dr. Hugh A. Hipple, dean of the dental school, that was hung in the dentistry building. He carved animals and other things in ivory and briarwood, including a hippopotamus and several miniature elephants in ivory, and a model ship in briarwood for which he was once offered $150 (worth about $3,200 in 2022). Sadly, only three years after the marriage, at the age of 24, this promising young man died, on June 3, 1934.

It was not a good end, though some details of the story are fuzzy. Don had been expecting to graduate that spring when he was told he must first pay an overdue tuition bill. He tried for several months to find a part-time job to make the payment, with no luck. Apparently he had been able to arrange to graduate with the summer class in August, and it may be that his wife, who had been supporting him for three months, made the payment for him. But Eleanor said he was worried about money, and he was very upset that he could not graduate with his classmates in June. "Don was a man who kept his troubles largely to himself," she said, and added that "he had been terribly depressed for weeks." Nevertheless, the couple went to a party at the home of some friends on Saturday evening, June 2, where they played cards. At about 11 pm, Don said, "I'm going out after some cigarettes." Eleanor said, "I'll go with you." Don retorted, "If you do I'll kill you," and left. He didn't come back. Eleanor stayed at the friends' house overnight because they had convinced her that she might be in danger if she went home. But around 3 pm on Sunday afternoon they went together to the Wirths' apartment and found Don dead; he had shot himself in the head with a .22 pistol. The police found "a rambling letter" dated May 30. It said, among other things, "Omaha is so hot I can't stand it any longer. I'm nearly screwy," and it ended with one word: "Love". It was not signed.

Eleanor, a resilient soul, carried on, returning to Minnesota to work as a clothing saleslady in Red Wing, where she met a clothing manager named Francis Wilfred Galvin, probably on the job. This was none other than the step-brother of Glee Dibble's husband, Victor Le Roy Johnson. Eleanor and Francis got married on November 15, 1937.

Winona, Minnesota is about 50 miles down the Mississippi River from Bay City, Wisconsin. Somehow, Clarence Casper Johnson, son of the Bay City farmer Francis Johnson, met the Winona Polish immigrant Angeline Orzechowski in the late 1920s, and they began courting. They were married in Winona on Angeline's nineteenth birthday, May 1, 1928. Soon afterward, they moved to Potosi, Wisconsin, on the Mississippi about ten miles north of Dubuque, Iowa--and over 100 miles south of Winona--where Clarence had a job as a railroad signal maintainer, perhaps in the rail yard that was located there. The job involved keeping the electrical and mechanical parts of railroad signal equipment working, including the gates that come down to block grade crossings. There, on March 12, 1929, their first child, Gladys Ruth Johnson, was born.

Clarence's older brother Francis Edward Johnson also worked on the railroad, as a section foreman. He married Lillian Florence Bening, who was born on July 24, 1904 in Winona, sometime in early 1928. Their daughter, Betty Jane Johnson, was born on September 29 of that year in "Dorchester Crossing", Wisconsin. That town cannot be found via a web search; the closest we can get is a small city called Dorchester about 20 miles west of Wausau. But not much later than that they moved to the easily-found city of Waukegan, Illinois, where their son Eugene Leslie Johnson was born on October 20, 1929. Clarence's younger brother Sidney, a garage mechanic in Bay City, was the third of the brothers to get married in 1928. His bride was Alice Natalie Johnson (that's right, same last name), from Red Wing. Their daughter Mary Louise Johnson was born July 29, 1929, probably in Red Wing.

Perhaps Francis Edward's move to Waukegan resulted from a visit to his uncle, Charles Albert Johnson. Charles may have been growing tired of farming the cold northern Minnesota plains by the time of the Great War. In any event, he took up carpentry, and he moved his family to Waukegan in 1923. By 1929 he was a building contractor. His 22-year-old daughter Ella Agnes Johnson, known as "Aggie", was working as a sealer at the National Envelope Co. factory, and his 17-year-old son Casper Coleman Johnson was learning his father's carpentry trade. His oldest daughter, Florence Ada Johnson, married John Joseph Henderson, a Canadian born on May 6, 1902 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in around 1926 in Waukegan. Their son, Donald E. Henderson, was born there in November of 1929. Charles's youngest daughter, Mabel Mary Johnson, married Guy P. Lund, also a Waukegan building contractor and eleven years older, in about 1928.

On the northern Scandinavian side of the family, the Haldens had long been divided between those who remained in Fergus Falls and those who had moved west. Two sons of Alice Morud Dibble's mother Eline Halden's uncle Mathias Halden were in Fergus Falls in 1920: John Alfred Halden was a laborer at the Fergus Casket Works, and Leonard Halden, who had returned from Montana to Fergus Falls to work as a machinist at H. B. Solberg's Studebaker dealership before the war, was now working as a "battery man" for a "steel railroad". We're unsure what the latter occupation involved. There were electric locomotives during this time period and they needed batteries, but that's about as far as we can get.

John and Leonard's sister Ida M. Holden married Olaf O. Larsen at Havre, Montana, on July 2, 1927. Havre is about 30 miles northeast of Big Sandy, where Ida's father Mathias and her brother Carl lived. Olaf's parents were Ole and Gunhild Larson, Norwegian immigrants. He was born in Spring Grove, MN on July 25, 1891. Spring Grove is near the Iowa border and less than 20 miles east of Preston, where the Haldens first landed in Minnesota over 50 years before. Ida and Olaf moved to Collins, MT, a "populated place" about 50 miles northwest of Great Falls and about 100 miles southwest of Big Sandy. Mathias and his wife Mina celebrated their 50th. wedding anniversary in October of 1927; over 75 friends and family members attended. Sadly, just a bit over a year later, Mina died, on November 14, 1928 in Havre. Mathias went to live with Ida and Olaf in Collins in 1929.

Carl Halden and his wife Agnes Kvern welcomed their son Norris Halden into the world on October 5, 1920 in Big Sandy. Carl was well known in the area; in addition to running his own ranch he had several side businesses. He planted grain for other farmers; he milled grain, some for animal feed and some for flour; and he acted as an agricultural real estate agent, matching people hoping to move into the area from back east with land owners willing to rent crop land.

Carl's cousin Oscar Halden (like other members of this family, his last name was sometimes spelled "Holden"), was living in Fergus Falls with his wife Pearl and their toddler son Lester and working as a carpenter in 1920. Thereafter, his life underwent a nearly complete transformation. Oscar gave up carpentry, attended and graduated from the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis, and began teaching violin students in Fergus Falls in April 1924. Somewhere along the way, he and his young wife divorced, and she took their son with her. Oscar married his second wife, Ruth Clarice Torgerson, on June 13, 1926. Ruth was born on March 31, 1904 in Otter Tail County; her parents were Onan G. Torgerson, a native of Fergus Falls, and Ella Westberg, who was born in Sweden. Oscar and Ruth's first child, Gwendolyn Mae Halden, was born on June 27, 1928 in Otter Tail County.

Oscar lived next door to his sister Inga and her husband Gus Johnson. Their son Melvin G. Johnson married Mabel C. Westerhaug (born 1907) on October 8, 1927 in Fergus Falls.

Oscar's brother Alfred Halden was working as a railroad laborer in Williston, on the Missouri River near the Montana border in northwestern North Dakota in 1920, but he seems to have returned to his former home of Kalispell, Montana by 1922, where he worked as a clerk. Sadly, Alfred's little daughter Ruth Elida Halden, just seven years old, was struck simultaneously by measles and acute appendicitis in the winter of 1924; she died after surgery in Kalispell on February 4 of that year.

Alfred's brother John and his wife Mary were still in Canada when Alfred returned. Their son Merrill F. Halden was born there in around 1922. But they were back in Kalispell by June 16, 1925, where their daughter Norma Harriett Halden was born. Their son Harold Irving Halden was born there on May 10,1928. Less than four months later Mary suffered an intestinal rupture and died at age 40 on September 4, 1928.

Most of the Kverns, descendants of Arne Kvern whose sister Anna married Lars Halden, and whose daughter Agnes married Carl Halden, remained around Fergus Falls. Arne's widow Oline was living there in 1920, and her son Paul owned land there in 1923. Arne and Oline's daughter Eleanor married Harry Landburg (sometimes spelled "Landberg") on February 21, 1923 in Otter Tail County. Harry was born November 9, 1892 in Randolph, Nebraska. His parents were both immigrants: his father was Eric Landburg, born in May 1849 in Sweden; his mother, Louisa, was born in March 1865 in Norway. Harry came to Fergus Falls in 1910, and he served in the US Navy during the Great War and was stationed in France. Arne and Oline's son Carl A. Kvern married Ethel Kristine Thompson (born November 11, 1903 to Esten and Christine Thompson) on April 5, 1925. Their daughter Carol Ann Kvern was born on December 23 of that year. Their daughter Elaine Kvern was born on August 30, 1927.

Up in the far northern flatlands, Alice Morud Dibble's brother Leonard Morud was living in a rooming house and working as a bookkeeper for a lumber company in Fargo, ND in 1920. He married Myrtle Stehjem on May 17, 1921. Myrtle was born on September 21, 1899; she came from Kindred, a Fargo suburb.They may have been in a hurry; their first child, Clayton Oliver Morud, was born just a bit over two months later, on July 23, 1921 in Moorhead, MN, just across the river from Fargo. However, he may also have been adopted;'s "California Death Index" gives his mother's maiden name as "Jones". Their son Wallace Arlo Morud was born on January 25, 1924 in Fargo. Their son Leslie Duane Morud was born on March 2, 1925. Their daughter Elaine Morud was born October 5, 1927. Their son Gordon Earl Morud was born on March 28, 1929. Leonard was a serious bowler; he competed in tournaments beginning in 1926 and served as the secretary of the Fargo-Moorhead Bowling Association in the late 1920s.

Leonard and Alice's younger sisters and brother were still in school as the 1920s began. Emma graduated from Warren High School in June of 1922. She attended Moorhead State Teachers College for three years; in May of 1925 she was one of the members of the senior class who had signed contracts to teach in subsequent years. Emma accepted a position at Red Lake Falls, about 30 miles southeast of Warren. However, she also managed to enroll at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks at about this time, because she graduated from there in 1927 with a B.S. degree in education. Then she took a job as a history teacher at the Valier High School in Valier, Montana. Valier is on the shore of Lake Frances, about 100 miles west-northwest of Big Sandy, where her uncle Mathias Halden and other members of his family lived, and about 100 miles east of Kalispell, where still other Halden relatives were situated.

Clara Morud won a gold medal for penmanship at North Star College on May 25, 1921, but transferred from there to Warren High School, from which she graduated in in 1924. She went on to Moorhead State College. She was there with her sister in 1925, where she served on the Decorations Committee for a Women's League Party that took place that May. She later attended Bemidji State College, and then became a schoolteacher.

We don't know where Clara was teaching during the 1928-29 school year, but in the summer of 1929 she took a trip out west with her friend Emmy Lou Blau and Emmy Lou's sister Freda, both of whom lived in Sauk Rapids, a suburb of St. Cloud. They went out to Yellowstone National Park for a week, then spent a few days in Billings, MT, and finally visited Emmy Lou's brother Ben in Butte, MT for the fourth of July and the following weekend. Freda returned at that point, but the St. Cloud Times reported that "Miss Morud and Miss Emmy Lou Blau remained at Butte for an extended visit."

That extended visit grew into a romantic adventure, then became a nightmare, and finally, perhaps, a blessing for Clara, resulting in a name change and a daughter. Both she and Emmy Lou may have traveled further west from Butte, or they may have returned to Minnesota, before joining a traveling magazine subscription sales crew that was led by a very dodgy character known as Edward N. Strainchamps, and his wife Martha, in late July or early August. At least some members of the crew traveled throughout the midwest and west over a period of several months. In any event, Clara may have had a brief romantic encounter with a 34-year-old resident of Seattle, Washington named Stiles Stoughton Harvey in August or September of 1929.

The traveling subscription sales "business" was well known then and now to be a scam. At the very least, these crews were recruited by unscrupulous people who promised young men and women a glamorous opportunity to travel and make money, and instead transported them from city to city, put them up in the worst possible rat-and-roach-infested hotels or boarding houses, provided skimpy allowances for meals, and sent them out on the street for ten or twelve hours a day, to peddle magazine subscriptions door to door. The young people may not have been told initially that they needed to pay for this transportation, room, and board, out of their sales commissions before they could keep any of the money they earned, and certainly they were told that the earnings potential was far greater than it actually was. But in many cases it was much worse; when the young women (and sometimes men) could not earn enough to pay the overhead costs, they were pressured or forced to engage in prostitution to make up the difference.

Something of the kind is what the police in East St. Louis, Illinois thought was happening when Clara and Emmy Lou's crew appeared there in late October of 1929. On the afternoon of October 24, a little man (the common term in 1929 was "midget") going by the name of Jimmy McLean walked into a drugstore in East St. Louis that also housed a postal station and offered to sell the druggist a $10 roll of stamps that had been marked as originally having been sold in Kansas. As the Belleville, IL News-Democrat told the story, "'How many have you?' the druggist asked. 'One roll,' was the reply. Told that this number was not enough, McLean replied, 'I got about 50 more rolls in my valise.' This reply astounded the druggist who called police. ... At the time of the arrest, they were driving a large Stutz sedan with Colorado state licenses. In the machine, were thirteen valises." The News-Democrat reported that no other stamps were found in any of the valises, but another local paper reported that the "midget" had $40 worth of stamps.

When questioned, "McLean" said that he had taken the stamps as advance payment for magazine subscriptions as part of a crew run by Strainchamps, for whom he also worked as the "chauffeur". Eventually, it was revealed that "McLean" was actually a woman named Laveta Gray, allegedly 34 years old. Research indicates that she was a circus and carnival performer prior to hooking up with Strainchamps. Laveta also "confessed" that she had had "immoral relations" with Strainchamps, and some news stories reported that she made other disclosures that led police to believe they had broken up an actual "white slavery" (forced prostitution) ring. The police rounded up Strainchamps, his alleged wife Martha and the rest of his crew, which consisted of seven young women, including Clara and Emmy Lou, at their hotel. They also impounded the 1928 Stutz limousine, to which had been strapped the suitcases and trunks of the travelers, which bore stickers from Japan, Yellowstone Park, the Minnesota State Fair, Spokane, Washington, and other locations.

Members of the crew had apparently visited a dentists' office before they hit the drugstore. The dentists' nurse said she thought the roll of stamps looked like one that had been stolen from her desk, and two of the dentists' patients said that money had been stolen from their purses "while in the dental chair." Apparently these witnesses reported that a male little person had been in the dentists' office that morning.

A postal inspector and a federal district attorney ordered the crew held for possible violations of the Mann Act, a 1910 federal law that makes it illegal to transport women across state lines for "immoral purposes". The DA told the News-Democrat that "the arrests may have resulted in solving a gigantic white slave traffic ring that has been operating in the West and the Orient for several years." Strainchamps had in his possession a paper indicating he was wanted for an earlier Mann Act violation in Louisville, KY. The Illinois papers did not report that he had also been arrested on that charge in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 17. He posted $2000 bail there and took off, with his crew, for points east. He was also wanted by the Pacific Coast Adjustment Bureau, a collections agency in Los Angeles, for "embezzling" the Stutz limo. He claimed to have bought the car on an installment plan in Denver that spring but seems to have skipped town without completing the payments. He showed a receipt for what he said was the last payment, made on October 19, but the police believed it was forged.

Neither Clara, Emmy Lou, nor any of the other women told the police that anything "immoral" or illegal had been going on, though they were all held in jail for four days and we can only imagine what those cops did to try to encourage them to confess to crimes or implicate Strainchamps. According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, on October 26, "The seven women were asked if they wished to make statements ... as they sat, lounged and stood in the room for women prisoners in the East St. Louis jail. One looked up from the red-covered book she was reading, most of the others listened to the question, and a slender one in the middle of the floor, with bright eyes and a curly bob, served as spokesman. 'We have nothing to say,' she said pleasantly, and added, 'Sorry.' Then she made an exception, 'If we could only have some dinner!' Like a well-trained chorus the six other women agreed with her." They were finally released on October 28, after which the other Belleville paper, the Daily Advocate, referred to Clara and her associates as a "bevy of winsome sales ladies," a phrase that was repeated in at least one other newspaper. Strainchamps, his wife, and Gray were held for a grand jury investigation.

But that wasn't the end of it. On December 21, 1929, the News-Democrat reported, "The police department today was in receipt of two Christmas greetings sent by two Minnesota women who figured in an automobile accident here last October 25. Both cards thanked the officers and the department for the courteous work and treatment accorded them." The women were Emmy Lou Blau, of Sauk Rapids, MN, and Clara Morud of Minneapolis. Yet no car crash had been reported in connection with the arrests in October.

Although Clara had returned to Minnesota, she probably did not resume teaching, because she was pregnant, nor did she stay in Minnesota for long. Her daughter, who was given the name Geraldyne Harvey, was born on June 11, 1930, in Colorado, by which time Clara was no longer using that name; from thenceforth she was known as "Donna Harvey". Previous versions of this page reported that Clara was married to the aforementioned Stiles Harvey, based on two sources, but that claim is at least questionable.

Clara's sister Hilda, later known as "Heidi", graduated high school in 1927; she was class valedictorian. She took the local teachers training course offered by the Warren school district and taught school in the area for a couple of years.

Clara's brother Elmer was reported by the Minneapolis Tribune to be living in nearby Radium and leading a "standard" junior agricultural club on March 11, 1928.

The third oldest Morud child, Mabel, attended North Star College like her brothers and sisters. She received secretarial training there, and was employed as an office worker in Fargo for several years.

As the Roaring 20s approached an end, Cannon Falls was graced with a visit from President Calvin Coolidge. The occasion was the re-dedication of a memorial to local Civil War hero Colonel William Colvill. Colvill was a native of New York State, and he came to Cannon Falls with the earliest of the town's settlers, in 1854. He then moved to Red Wing, where he opened a law office and founded the Red Wing Sentinel newspaper. He was elected by the men of Company F, First Minnesota Volunteers, as their captain when the war began, and he served in several important battles, including Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Colvill was promoted to Colonel in June of 1863. Later that month, on the way to Pennsylvania to stop rebel General Lee's invasion, Colville's unit was attacked by rebel cavalry commander JEB Stuart, and he was arrested for allowing his men to cross a shallow river on logs when he had been ordered to have them wade across. By July 2, Colvill had been released and was back in command of his regiment, which was held in reserve on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. Late that afternoon, when rebel troops charged through a wheatfield and were about to break the Union line, General Winfield Scott Hancock ordered Colvill to carry out a suicidal charge against the rebels, although they were outnumbered five to one. The charge succeeded in slowing down the rebels long enough for reinforcements to be brought up to strengthen the line, but Colville was shot three times and was hospitalized until February 1864. He returned to Red Wing, this time to serve as editor of the Red Wing Republican. He also served in the Minnesota state legislature and as the state's Attorney General.

The memorial dedication was just about the biggest thing to happen in southern Minnesota in many years. The plans for the event, the expected overload of traffic, and everything else associated with Coolidge's visit were covered in a barrage of articles in the Minneapolis papers beginning on July 15, 1928 and ending 15 days later. The ceremony took place on July 29, when Coolidge spoke before a crowd of 15,000 people, including a number of Civil War veterans, at the Cannon Falls cemetery, where a massive bronze statue of Colvill stood on top of a 12-foot-high stone base. It was designed by Katherine Fallis Backus, and a replica of the statue stands in the state Capitol in St. Paul. The statue had actually been erected in 1909, but the monument was expanded with a stone balustrade and steps, a Civil War cannon, and plaques describing the cannon and commemorating Colvill and the First Minnesota. A new-fangled electronic audio amplification system was used to carry Coolidge's remarks to people as far as a block away, while the equally new-fangled St. Paul radio station KSTP broadcast his words to an even wider audience.

Coolidge, who did not want to run for a second term as President, got out of town right after the ceremony. It might be said that he got out of the town of Washington DC the following March just in time as well, as the prosperity with which his term has been associated was already stretching thin.

The demand to feed soldiers and suffering European civilians during and shortly after the Great War had led to a ramping up of farm production across the United States. Meanwhile, there was a farm labor shortage as young men left the fields to join the military. Farmers put more land under cultivation and purchased more supplies and equipment, often on credit, to respond to patriotic calls to feed the soldiers. Then, when the war ended and devastated European countries began to recover, demand for all this extra food evaporated, wholesale prices for farm products dropped, and farmers were left holding big debts that they could not repay. Some of this sorted itself out in the early 1920s, however unhappily, by means of consolidation of smaller farms into larger ones and migration of rural families to urban settings, but American agriculture had not fully recovered from these traumatic events when the overall national economy began to slow down in 1927 after several years of rapid growth in manufacturing and construction. This mild recession was caused by a series of interest rate increases issued by the Federal Reserve in response to what it considered a dangerously growing stock market bubble. Then, in March of 1929, there was a small market crash, followed by a recovery, then another momentary crash in July. That fall, the stock market began to slide rapidly and continuously downward. Despite the attention focused on the multi-billion-dollar losses of October 29, 1929, known as "Black Tuesday", this process actually took several years of ups and downs before the market finally hit bottom in July 1932, by which time it had lost almost 90% of its value compared to September 3, 1929. Many of these stocks had been bought "on margin", meaning most of the money used to buy them was borrowed, but neither that nor the ongoing defaults among farmers were the only debt problems. The explosion of new labor-saving and entertainment products that began earlier in the century, coupled with what a later economist would call "irrational exuberance", had led millions of people to buy a lot of stuff on credit; they were living beyond their means. As banks began calling in these loans, they found there was nothing left to collect, and this led to a massive financial panic that was international in scope. The money supply dried up, forcing prices to drop, leading to more losses among farmers and manufacturers who could not recoup investments made when prices were higher, causing a downward spiral in monetary value that became known as The Great Depression.

An important result was mass unemployment, but it was not evenly distributed. It was worst in the manufacturing sector in larger cities, where it reached as high as 40%. Unemployment overall during the depression in the United States was, at its peak, about 25%. But in the small towns of rural America, most workers remained on the job, though wages fell.

Many of our family members were farmers and one might assume that they were okay because they could grow their own food. That wasn't universally true though; many farmers, especially those with larger farms, had bet on the international agricultural economy and specialized in growing all grain, or all cattle. Wholesale prices for farm products plummeted; for example, in 1933, in Dakota County, just north of Cannon Falls, wheat fell from the $1.50 per bushel range to 43 cents per bushel. Oats were down to 10 cents per bushel while milk sold for 1 cent per quart. Corn simply wasn't selling at any price. Even if farmers managed to hold onto their land (over a quarter of them didn't, due to foreclosures), they were not prepared to grow a broad range of vegetables and fruits, nor was their land always suited for such crops. A side-effect of the growing trend of mechanization on farms was the loss of natural fertilizer from draft animals pulling plows, cultivators and other implements. This loss needed to be made up by increasing use of chemical fertilizers, which were expensive. Land quality became much more of a problem as the great drought of the 1930s developed across the plains states, bringing dust storms that blew away the fertile soil, followed by plagues of grasshoppers that ate whatever was left, including, in some cases, clothing hung out on clotheslines to dry. This was true for the Moruds of northwestern Minnesota, though their portion of the Red River Valley was not as dry as the homelands of the Haldens who had moved further west into the plains of the Dakotas and Montana. The Haldens and Kverns who remained in Otter Tail County were in much better shape for water in that most-lake-covered region of the "Land of Lakes", but the grasshoppers still came, especially in 1935. The Dibbles and Conleys and related families in Goodhue and the surrounding counties of well-watered southeastern Minnesota were the least affected in the state. In addition to the advantages of living in a less climate-devastated and industrialized region, many of them were in relatively safe professional occupations. No matter how bad things get, people still need doctors, nurses, undertakers, schoolteachers, butchers, judges, and postal workers, and will find ways to pay for their services.

That doesn't mean they were living in the lap of luxury. Regardless of how productive or fully-employed people were, cash money was just plain scarce in the early-to-mid 1930s. Further, the depression wasn't just financial, it was psychological, in nearly the same way as what people today call "clinical depression" is. People could, and did, barter their labor or produce to obtain things they couldn't make for themselves, but there were limits to how far that could go. They wore things out and used them up to a much greater extent than they would have a few years earlier. Making dresses out of fabric flour or feed sacks and recycling the material from discarded men's suits to make clothes for children were common practices. They turned off the electricity that ran their new labor-saving devices and cancelled the phone service that kept them connected, because they couldn't afford the monthly bills. As this situation dragged on, year after year, people grew discouraged. Even as the stock market slowly recovered and more money began to trickle back into circulation, there was a general loss of entrepreneurial spirit. It was tedious and wearing to work extra hours as a form of barter, and to never be able to have a new dress or go out for a night of dining and dancing. People grew physically and emotionally tired, and their health suffered due to poorer nutrition. This is why, decades later, long after prosperity returned, people who lived through the depression remembered it as such a terrible time, even if they always had comfortable, though shabby, homes; plenty of food, if plain and monotonous, on the table; and full-time, albeit low-wage, jobs.

We don't have as much information about the doings of individual members of our families during this period, mostly because many of the online newspaper archives I have used for the previous decades don't run much past 1925. For example, President Roosevelt's New Deal programs had a big impact on Minnesota. Among other things, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which paid farmers to grow fewer crops and raise less livestock in order to boost prices, provided for local boards to make decisions about how to cut production. We can assume that Ed Dibble and his son Willard were involved with these boards, as they had been with just about every other aspect of community governance, but there's no mention of it in the available sources.

Willard did make the Minneapolis Star on March 28, 1934. The paper reported, "When old 'grads' of the school of agriculture gathered at University farm for their annual homecoming, they re-enacted a few of the college jokes current in their day." Willard was shown stretched out in a bed next to Palmer G. Peterson, both of whom "have apparently overslept." Another photo showed some of the alumni "enjoying locking an imaginary professor out of his classroom, just as they did in the 'good old days.'"

Willard's brother Willis was still living in Detroit when he and his wife Gertrude were divorced on March 13, 1932. Divorce required a reason almost everywhere in those days, and the reason given for this one was "extreme and repeated cruelty", though we don't know which of them made that allegation. The divorce was contested, and they had no children.

Everyone in Cannon Falls was shocked when the former mayor, Dr. Alva A. Conley, died suddenly while visiting in Chicago on March 12, 1930. He was just 40 years old and left behind a wife and two children.

They were likely less shocked, though perhaps equally saddened, when Jean and Milton Holmes were divorced in 1931. The story is that Milt was an alcoholic and this led to the breakup. Jean and their children, Merlyn, Betty and Robert, moved in with her parents Dan and Isabel Dibble for a while and Jean went to work at the bus depot. Jean remarried in 1933, to a man named Peter Sanders. Sources are not very reliable on this man. Our best guess is that he was born around 1885 in Kenyon Township in Goodhue County. In 1920 he was married to a woman named Ella and was working as a painter at the Willys Overland automobile factory in Toledo, Ohio.

Jean and Milton's son Merlyn Donald Holmes attended the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in the early 1930s, where he became known as "Doc". A yearbook from that period noted, "Doc has tried everything once, and as a result he is a Red Mike, a satisfied savoir, and an athlete at large. The big, bad East has not had any bad effects on the manners, habits, or tongue of a true mid-Westerner. For a time, he had visions of making the sub-squad, but they wouldn't let him play. He has distinct athletic possibilities, but he confined himself to class football and company basketball. He enjoys trying to fool the Steam Department, because he does not like the way the Profs wear their neckties. His dislikes are few and far between, but he does hate to bid a little slam and go down." While much of that midshipman-ese is incomprehensible to most civilians, we can translate some of it: A "Red Mike"was a guy who had little interest in women, perhaps to the point of misogyny. A "savoir" was brilliant academically. The "Steam Department" was the marine engineering faculty. "Little slam" is not military slang, it means taking 12 out of 13 tricks in a bridge hand. At the age of 21, on June 6, 1935 Merlyn was appointed a 2nd. Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. He made Captain on August 14, 1939. This was just the beginning of a long tradition for this branch of the family.

Another tragedy affected all of the young children in Cannon Falls in the early 1930s. Clifford W. Gress had been the town's "summer Santa" since 1893. That year saw another financial panic, and money was scarce when Cliff, then a cashier at the Citizens State Bank, came across six young boys gazing longingly at a display of fireworks in a store window on the day before Independence Day. He felt sorry for them, so he gave them each a quarter. That was a pretty considerable donation in those days--worth about $50 today--and he said it took a big chunk out of his weekly paycheck. But he felt good about it--and the following year there were a dozen boys hanging around the storefront on July 3, hoping he would show up and do it again. And he did. In fact, he did it every year thereafter, adding a party with free ice cream cones in his back yard to the tradition, through 1930, by which time over 1000 boys and girls were showing up and the party had been moved to Riverside Park. Cliff, who had also been a business associate of Ed Dibble, was now quite a prosperous bank president. He lived most of the year in Minneapolis and California, but he always returned to Cannon Falls in the summer to stage this happy event. The party became a much anticipated local treasure that was always covered in the Minneapolis papers as well as those of other Minnesota cities. In 1930 the money supply was so tight that Cliff had to enlist the help of the other banks in town to come up with enough bright shiny new quarters. Sadly, it was the last year that Summer Santa made his appearance. He became ill, and remained so, finally passing away on July 9, 1936 in Pasadena, California.

Ed Dibble reached the pinnacle of his political career in 1935, when he was elected mayor of Cannon Falls. He served until some time in 1938. His grandchildren Willard Jr. and Peggy enjoyed picnics at Dibble Springs as much as anyone else thereabouts. Local businesses held corporate gatherings there, as did various clubs. Smaller groups also came out to enjoy the swimming hole and picnic grounds, so much so that Willard Sr. started charging 25 cents per carload to picnickers. Archie and Alice Dibble came down from Minneapolis with their son Richard to visit frequently and they played croquet at the Springs, where Peggy also rode her shetland pony.

Richard also spent time with his grandfather and namesake, Richard "Dick" Dibble. In fact, Richard adopted that nickname and commonly went by it, but we'll try to keep confusion to a minimum by referring to the old gentleman as "Dick" and the young boy as "Richard". According to Richard, Dick was quite popular. He was very patriotic and would drive around town putting flags in the ground and greeting many friends and neighbors every July 4th. and on other holidays. Richard was deputized to go around town with him on these errands in his 1927 Chevy with the nonfunctional brakes. Dick never had a driver's license.

Richard remembered Dick as a man who disdained pretensions and people who lived beyond their means. He would build his own fire in the kitchen wood stove, make coffee, trudge out to a tree on which his tenant farmer had left hanging a bucket of milk that was at least 50% cream, and bring it in for the coffee. He taught his grandson Richard the art of making breakfast by soaking bread in coffee and cream. Then he'd lean back in his chair with the rubber crutch tips on the back legs to prevent slipping, light his pipe, drink coffee that was half cream, and tell young Richard how lucky he was to live in this great country. In retirement he would often take his grandson to the Masonic Hall and play checkers with him for hours.

Compared to his son Archie, Dick was a better squirrel hunter. Archie took his son Richard out to the woods for hours upon hours and perhaps would return with a squirrel or two. Old Dick would take his grandson out and return in an hour or two with the legal limit of 14 squirrels. What was the secret? Archie plodded through the woods actively looking for squirrels. Dick conserved energy--sitting quietly on a stump, smoking his pipe, and waiting for the squirrels to come to him.

By the early 1930s, Americans were sick of Prohibition. They were appalled at the power it had given to organized crime and official corruption, they were disgusted by the ability of people with money or influence to get around it, they were deeply exhausted and demoralized by the Great Depression, and they needed a drink. Some national leaders also believed that the reintroduction of liquor sales would boost the sagging economy. Congress passed a new constitutional amendment to repeal the previous Prohibition amendment in February of 1933, and when Utah became the 36th. state to ratify it, the "great experiment" was over at the national level. States, counties and municipalities were free to continue to outlaw alcohol, and some did, but Cannon Falls and other towns in Goodhue County, which had gone dry years before the national law was passed, had no enthusiasm for continuing the ban. It was around this time that Dick's brother Dan began looking for increased revenue to supplement, or, perhaps, replace, his earnings from the butcher shop. He started a liquor store, possibly in a building that Dick owned. The store apparently had a bar for on-premise drink sales, and Dan was the bartender as well as the owner.

Around 1930 or so there was a family gathering--we don't know where--and a photo was taken. Archie is featured prominently, standing next to his mother Bertha, and his father Dick stands behind them. To Dick's left is his first daughter, Olive ("Ollie"), and to his right is Ollie's husband, Judge Charles Hall. To the judge's right are Archie's sister Glee and her husband Vic Johnson. Glee and Vic's daughter Shirley "Tink" Johnson stands in front of her mother. The judge and Ollie's daughter Betty stands in front of Bertha. Strikingly, neither Archie's wife Alice nor their son Richard is present, and Archie is on crutches. We don't know what happened to Archie, but according to family lore he once broke his leg sliding into a base while playing amateur ball. Archie definitely played organized baseball before the Great War, but we weren't able to find a story about him breaking his leg during that time; perhaps he was still playing with friends in Minneapolis in his mid-30s. We just don't know.

Over in Red Wing, Judge Hall defeated his opponent, Theodore N. Ofstedahl, in the elections for the Minnesota First State Judicial District, 14,241 to 10,884, on November 21, 1934. He was also much in the news for his court cases during the 1930s. He oversaw the case of Loomis S. Irish, former president of the Pine Island State Bank, who was convicted of embezzlement, as well as that of a man named A. O. Sederberg, who was convicted of attempted extortion. The guy sent letters to people threatening "bodily harm" unless they paid him anywhere from $500 to $3000. In a case important to those suffering through the depression and its associated debt crisis, in 1933 he upheld a constitutional challenge to a new law that granted discretionary powers to courts to extend mortgages. The case involved Helen Swanson, who was granted an extension of nearly three years after her farm in Cannon Falls Township was foreclosed in August of 1932. According to the Minneapolis Star, Hall said, "the 'superior doctrine of the emergency police powers' is paramount to constitutional provision." We don't know if the ruling was appealed or if it survived if it was, but the legal principle remains controversial to this day. In 1937 he refereed a disbarment case against David Lundeen, who was "director of the Minnesota division of soldier welfare" and a brother of US Senator Ernest Lundeen. Charles and his wife Olive ("Ollie", Dick's first daughter) lived in Red Wing most of the year but like many other Minnesotans, they had a lake cottage where they spent the summers; theirs was on the south side of Lake Pepin, in nearby Wacouta (just across the lake from Bay City, WI). Ollie died on October 19, 1937 in Red Wing. She was only 52. After her death, Judge Charlie found out she had been supporting many of the poor families around Red Wing. When the shock wore off, he continued to do so. Ollie's aunt Hattie Belle Coplin Colby, sister of Dick Dibble's first wife Ella Coplin, had died just a month earlier, on September 11, 1937 in Los Angeles. Her second husband George Alben Colby married Dr. Mabel Morgan Elliott not long afterwards.

Also in Red Wing, Ollie's half-sister Glee and her husband Vic welcomed a newcomer to their family. A boy named Costello O'Connell was born on December 15, 1927 in Minneapolis. For some reason his mother, who named him, could not care for him and he was put under the care of the social services department. On April 28, 1931 Glee and Vic adopted him and renamed him James Jeffrey Johnson.

Over in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the early 1930s were a tough time for Glee's uncle George Kowitz and his family. George and his wife Alma's daughter Faye and her husband Orford Prisk were living with them. Both of them had jobs; Orford was a shoemaker for La Cross Rubber Mills Company, and Faye worked as a laborer in the Moto Meter & Gauge Equipment factory (later known as AutoLite), which made various gauges for car dashboards. But apparently they couldn't afford to live on their own. (Faye's older sister Vera's husband, John Tabbert, worked as a die maker in the same factory, and they had two children but were living alone in La Crosse. The oldest daughter, Evelyn, and her husband Oscar Patterson were in Madison, the state capital, where Oscar was a restaurant cook.) Although George had worked as a butcher and a railroad boiler operator, among other things, by 1930 he was surviving by doing odd jobs around town. George and his wife Alma didn't always get along very well, and they didn't always live together. Alma sought a divorce, and won it on June 30, 1931, after their married daughter Faye and their son George E. Kowitz Junior testified "as to the father's alleged intoxicating habits and cruelty." But then a terrible tragedy seems to have brought them back together. On Sunday, October 18, 1931, 18-year-old George Jr., who had likely graduated high school but was living at home and unemployed, was injured while playing football at Copeland Park. The doctors said he sustained a cerebral hemorrhage and his left side was paralyzed. The La Crosse Tribune reported, "The youth was tackled. After laying [sic] on the ground for a short time he got up and started to run. He fell and was rushed to the hospital by two youths." He died on October 23, 1931. Not much later, George and Alma submitted a request to have their divorce decree revoked. This was granted on February 23, 1932. Since the divorce had not been final for a year, they did not need to remarry.

Vera and John Tabbert had more children in the 1930s: Alma (sometimes listed as "Elma") Tabbert was born in around 1935. Lihle Joseph Tabbert was born on February 4, 1937, and Roger David Tabbert was born on March 5, 1939. The only child of Faye and Orford Prisk, Carol Lynn Prisk, was born on March 7, 1939, by which time the couple had moved to Los Angeles, CA.

Up in Minneapolis, young Richard Dibble was growing up. At around the age of 12 or 13 he learned to drive a car (like his grandfather, without a license), and he got a job delivering groceries for the little store down the block. That job perhaps didn't pay very well, so on June 15, 1937, he placed an ad in the Minneapolis Star to sell an electric train, a toy sailboat, and a bike carrier. His mother Alice had given up nursing, then took a job as a sales clerk at Dayton's department store. The family, like so many other Minnesotans, had a cottage on a nearby lake where they spent summers. It may seem surprising that they were able to afford this luxury during the depression, but they were only taking advantage of the unique geography of Minnesota. There are so many lakes in the state that lakefront property, at least in the early part of the 20th. century, really wasn't particularly expensive, and many people were quite content in those days with a rudimentary cabin without electricity or running water.

Willard Dibble's farm wasn't the only one Richard visited as a child. He also went up north to see his mother's Morud family near Warren. His grandfather Ole Morud developed type-2 diabetes and his health slowly deteriorated in those years before there were good treatments for the disease; he died on December 28, 1931. Ole's son Elmer took over the farm and ran it until 1938, likely living there with his widowed mother Eline. Richard helped out with the chores when he came to visit. He would turn the handle on the cream separator in the kitchen every morning to get the cream, and sometimes he pumped the bellows in the farm's blacksmith shop. He also learned to drive a hay rake and a stone boat (to carry stones dug from the fields) pulled by a horse named Barney. Elmer, still a young man in his 20s, could jump on a running horse and ride it bareback whenever there was trouble in the fields. He taught his nephew to hunt gophers by putting a noose around a gopher hole and waiting for the rodent to pop its head up; when it did, he would yank the noose and pocket the gopher.

On June 21, 1930 Elmer married Elvina Constance Thompson over in Fargo, North Dakota. Elvina was born on June 9, 1906 in the little town of Twin Valley, MN, on the Wild Rice River in Norman County, about halfway between Warren and the Haldens' hometown of Fergus Falls. She was the eleventh of an even dozen children (one of whom died young) whose parents were Knut Thompson (born in Iowa in April 1855) and Anna Otterness (born November 15, 1864 in Aurlandsvangen, Norway, about 50 miles northeast of Bergen, and about 100 or so miles west of the Haldens' homeland). The couple met in Fargo, which is about 100 miles south of Warren, but perhaps they ran into each other when Elmer was visiting his older brother Leonard there, where Leonard was working for the Dakota Transfer Company, a trucking company, as a bookkeeper. Elmer and Elvina's first child was Marilyn Ardelle Morud, born July 11, 1933. She was followed by Beverly Yvonne Morud on February 16, 1935, and Joanne Lavina Morud, on February 10, 1937. In 1938, Elmer left farming behind and moved with his family, and his father Ole's old tool chest and tools, to Midland, a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. He worked at the nearby Tacoma Smelter in Ruston for a while. Elmer and Elvina's last child, Ronald Eugene Morud, was born on December 27, 1938 in Tacoma. Elmer served with the Midland volunteer fire department, and he helped found a new "Red River Valley Minnesota Club" in 1939.

Leonard and his wife Myrtle continued to raise their young children in Fargo in the 1930s, and he continued his avid interest in bowling, frequently appearing in newspaper stories about local and regional tournaments.

Elmer's sister Ida Morud graduated from Warren High School on May 29, 1930. Like her older sister Alice, Ida became a registered nurse, after attending the Fairview School of Nursing in Minneapolis for three years. She worked in the Minneapolis area, then returned north, and became the office nurse and x-ray technician for a group of doctors, including the venerable Dr. Olaf Bentzen, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on the Red River about 15 miles southwest of Warren. She married Elof Allrick Erickson on August 1, 1936. Elof was born on October 9, 1905 near East Grand Forks on the Minnesota side of the Red River; he was the son of Andrew Erickson, who was born August 2, 1875 in Falu Ian, Sweden, and Minnie Amanda Steele, who was born in June 1883 in Minnesota. Ida probably met Elof through her older sister Olga ("Ollie"); the two of them had been boarders in the home of a farmer named Gunner Erickson (apparently no relation) in East Grand Forks in 1930. She did not quit working after the marriage, and the couple never had any children.

Ollie graduated from Warren High School in 1926. She then completed a teachers training course offered by the Warren school district, after which she taught at various rural schools in Polk County until her marriage. She married Harold Amundson, a farmer from East Grand Forks, on June 10, 1933. He was born on March 24, 1905 in Sullivan Township, just northeast of East Grand Forks. Harold's parents were Christian Amundson, born September 9, 1868 in Norway, and Sena Hotvedt, born December 8, 1870 in Wisconsin. Ollie and Harold's children were Lester Wallace Amundson, born February 24, 1935 in Grand Forks, ND, James Deane Amundson, born in about 1937, and Arnold Amundson, born in about 1939.

After Ollie's sister Hilda ("Heidi") Morud got a couple of years teaching experience under her belt she felt she needed more education. She enrolled in the St. Cloud Teachers College two-year course in 1930, and graduated on June 5, 1932. She taught school in Cambridge, Minnesota, about 20 miles north of Minneapolis, for several years. Then she moved to San Francisco, CA, where she took a job as a secretary with a food manufacturing company.

Another Morud sister, Emma, returned to Minnesota from teaching in Montana at some point in 1930 or 1931. She married Marvin Duncan on May 8, 1931 in St. Louis County. St. Louis is a huge county in northeastern Minnesota; it includes Duluth and Hibbing and borders Canada to the north. Marvin was almost six years younger than Emma; he was born April 11, 1909 in Kalo, Iowa, about 50 miles north of Des Moines. His parents were Peter Duncan, a dairy farmer born June 5, 1874 in Pennsylvania, and Stella May Fuller, born February 14, 1881 in Sydney, Iowa. We don't know how these two people met, but this seems to have been a marriage of necessity. Marvin was a farm laborer on his parents' farm near Pike Bay (actually a lake connected by a short stream to the larger Cass Lake, in the Leech Lake Ojibway/Chippewa Indian Reservation) in Cass County, just west of St. Louis County. Their daughter, Shirley Jean Duncan, was born about 4 1/2 months after their wedding, on October 24, 1931 in Cass Lake. The couple divorced before June 1936. Emma may have continued teaching during her brief marriage, but we know for sure she was teaching at the Boy River school in what was called the "unorganized school district" in September 1937, and she taught in nearby Hackensack for the remainder of the decade.

Emma's sister Clara, now known as Donna M. Harvey, moved to San Franciso, CA before 1935, where she worked as a department store sales person. She and her daughter Geraldyne were lodgers in the home of an unemployed 55-year-old widow named Grace Powell. They may have had contact with Donna's sister Hilda/Heidi there.

Clara's sister Mabel Morud moved to Minneapolis before 1930; in that year she was a live-in maid for a Danish immigrant, Henry C. Bertelsen, his wife Frances, both of them schoolteachers, their two children, and a couple of older male lodgers. We can imagine that she was a frequent visitor to her sister Alice Dibble's home during that time. But at some point after 1930 she contracted scarlet fever. This probably degenerated into rheumatic fever, and she likely experienced significant brain damage, because she never lived in the community again. When the doctors could do no more for her, she was placed in the Rochester State Hospital, a long-term institutional setting, and she was transferred from there to the Willmar State Hospital for alcoholics and people with mental illnesses in Willmar, about 70 miles west of Minneapolis in Kandiyohi County, MN, on February 6, 1933.

Leonard Halden, son of Mabel Morud's mother Eline's uncle Mathias Halden, died of complications resulting from high blood pressure on July 12, 1932 in Fergus Falls. He was only 48 years old, and he left behind his wife Manda and daughter Irene. Irene Halden married Gordon Paul Walstrom on June 25, 1933 in Fergus Falls. Gordon was born on September 3, 1913 in Minneapolis. His parents were both immigrants; Wallace Walstrom was born in July, 1871 in Norway and his wife Barbara was born in about 1882 in Bohemia in what is now the Czech Republic. Their children were Beverly Joanne Walstrom, born June 5, 1934, and Barbara Geraldyne Joyce Walstrom, born on Halloween in 1937; both were born in Hennepin County, MN.

Oscar Halden, a son of Mathias's brother Lars, and his wife Ruth lived in Fergus Falls in the 1930s, where Oscar ran the "Halden School of Music" out of his home. Ruth was also a musician; she taught music alongside their husband, and together they played "nuptial music" at local weddings. Their second child, Myles Chester Halden, was born on June 20, 1932 in Otter Tail County. At some point after 1935 the family moved out to the country, to a home in Aurdal Township, east of Fergus Falls.

There were two John Haldens in our family at this time. John L. Halden, the peripatetic traveler with his wife Mary, was a son of Alice Morud's grandfather Lars Halden. John Alfred Halden was the son of Lars' brother Mathias, and he and his wife Ida lived in and around Fergus Falls all their lives. John L. Halden's daughter Leona Halden married Raymond Pederson on May 14, 1932, in Kalispell, Flathead County, MT. Raymond was born on September 12, 1901 in Minneapolis. His parents were Martin Pederson and Josephine Trulson. John Alfred Halden's daughter Margaret Eleanor Constance Halden (who more commonly went by "Eleanor") married Henry Elmer Rasmussen in Fergus Falls on August 3, 1935. Henry had been previously divorced. He was born August 8, 1898, probably in Minnesota; very little else is known about him

Martha Overby, the mother-in-law of John L. Halden's brother Alfred Halden, died on February 24, 1933 in Kalispell. The principal cause of death was ovarian cancer. Alfred's son, Alfred Clair "Bud' Holden, married Dorothy Fuglestad in Missoula, Montana on New Year's Day 1939. Dorothy was born on May 24, 1918 in Fosston, Polk County, MN, about 50 miles southeast of the Morud homestead in Warren. Her parents were Chris Fuglestad and Carrie Gordon.

The Kvern family was very productive during the 1930s. You'll recall that Alice Morud Dibble's mother was Eline Halden. Eline's mother was Anna Kvern, and her brother Arne P. Kvern had immigrated to the United States a few years after Anna arrived. The Kverns remained in Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County for many generations.

Arne's son Carl Arne Kvern, a World War veteran and a carpenter who worked for the Thorvald Brothers construction firm and lived in Fergus Falls, and his wife Kristine, welcomed their child Clifford Roy Kvern on January 25, 1930. Their daughter Phyllis Anne Kvern was born on February 25, 1932. Another daughter, Marilyn Pernillo Kvern, arrived on December 13, 1933. The family lived less than two blocks from the music teacher Oscar Halden and his sister Inga.

Arne's son Oscar Kvern married Edith C.Quam on March 18, 1931. Edith was born on October 3, 1894 in Vining, a little town in Otter Tail County about 20 miles east of Fergus Falls. They were farmers over in Aurdal township. Oscar served as the Aurdal Township assessor and on the Town Board. Edith's parents were Andrew Quam, born in December 1855 in Norway, and Johanna, born January 1856, also in Norway. Oscar and Edith's daughter, Constance Joanne Kvern, was born on June 27, 1936 in Otter Tail County.

Arne's granddaughter Helga Sophia Kvern (her middle name sometimes appears as "Svern") was the daughter of Arne's son Paul and his wife Sena. Helga married George Ferdinand Raguse, a farmer from Friberg Township, about 5 miles northeast of Fergus Falls, on July 12, 1930 in Otter Tail County. George was born on May 6, 1909 in Germany. Their son Duane George Raguse was born on October 17, 1931 in Fergus Falls. Their daughter Helen Pauline Raguse was born on April 13, 1933 in the same place. Helga and George were presumably divorced some time before August 1938, because on August 4 of that year, Helga married a man named Clarence Stanley, also a Fergus Falls native, in Sisseton, Roberts County, SD, just 50 miles or so southwest of Fergus Falls. However, Helga and Clarence had a daughter, Shirley Joann Stanley, who was born on July 25, 1936, in Otter Tail County--two years before they were married. Some of these dates could be errors, of course, but I haven't found enough information to sort it out if they are wrong.

Another son of Paul Kvern was Alfred Reuben Kvern. He married Bernice Nora Eide on June 8, 1935 at Zion Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls. Bernice was born on Christmas Day, 1916 in Gardner, Illinois, the daughter of Edward Eide and his wife Elizabeth. Their son Roger Gordon Kvern was born in October 22, 1935 in Otter Tail County. Their daughter Charles Kvern was born April 19, 1939 in Fergus Falls.

Alfred Reuben's sister Selma Pauline Kvern married Carl Lawrence Muchow on September 14, 1935 in Fergus Falls. Carl was born on April 13, 1908 in Waukon, Allamakee County, Iowa; his parents were Henry C. Muchow, born about 1869 in Iowa to German immigrant parents, and Minnie F., born about 1875 in Germany. As a young man he worked on his parents' "truck garden" (a small farm that grew a variety of vegetables). The young couple lived near Erhard, about 12 miles north of Fergus Falls; later they moved to Fergus Falls where Carl went to work for Winther's Lumber and Fuel. Selma and Carl's first child, Douglas Carleton Muchow, was born on March 10, 1936 in Otter Tail County. Sadly, he died just a bit over three years later, on March 29, 1939. Their second child, Audrey Corinne Muchow, was born in October 1937 in Otter Tail County. Their third child, Norman Lawrence Muchow, was born on October 15, 1938 in Otter Tail County.

Arne Kvern's daughter Eleanor and her husband Harry Landburg returned to his home state of Nebraska before 1930; their farm was located in Eastern Township in Knox County, a few miles south of the Missouri River and about 50 miles northwest of Sioux City, IA. Their son Theodore Wayne Landburg was born there on November 11, 1932.

Arne's daughter Laura Kvern married Kermit James Jensen on June 21, 1933. He was born on June 12, 1909, in Dane Prairie Township, just a couple miles southeast of Fergus Falls. His parents were Jens Peder Jensen, a farmer born March 2, 1871 in Minnesota, and Hannah Elizabeth Christiansen, born in December 1887, also in Minnesota. Kermit operated an automobile wrecking company. Their son James David Jensen was born on May 8, 1935 in Fergus Falls.

Dick Dibble's nephew, Charles Milford Elder, retired from the Navy in June 1937. His adoptive mother Elizabeth Elder, who had been living in Minneapolis since her husband's death several years earlier, died there on February 20, 1936. Charles and his wife Marian moved to Miami, Florida before 1940.

At some point before December 1932, Clarence Johnson, the railroad worker, his wife Angeline, and their daughter Gladys returned to Bay City, Wisconsin from Potosi. They had another daughter, Rosemary Johnson, born in around 1931, but we don't know where. Clarence went to work for the Bay City Sand Company, an underground silica mine about a mile from their home. He was apparently rather important to the mine's operation in those days; he was known as "the man who could do everything", including operating and repairing most of the machinery and running a steam boiler. He is featured in several photos of the miners from that period.

Clarence and Angeline's son Francis Alfred Johnson was born on December 20, 1932 in Bay City. Their son Clarence Charles Johnson was born on April 17, 1935. Their daughter Mabel Loretta Johnson was born on June 14, 1938.

Clarence may not have been paid a wage commensurate with his value, and he may not have handled what money he did have very prudently. There are a number of stories that point to serious difficulties and instability in his family beginning in the 1930s, and the situation may have grown worse over time. When they first returned to Bay City, they lived in a house that had been converted from a chicken coop on Clarence's father Francis ("France") Johnson's farm east of town, and there was no electricity in the house. Clarence could not afford a car and had to walk to work. Not only money, but sometimes food, was scarce. All of the children had to work in the family vegetable garden to help keep everybody fed. None of those things were particularly unusual in rural America during the Great Depression. But his daughter Gladys said that at the age of 6, around the time of the fourth child's birth, she, as the oldest child, had to do most of the cooking, cleaning, and child care in the family because her mother Angeline was "nervous" and spent a lot of time in bed. Allegedly Clarence's mother Rose grudgingly gave Angeline, whom she disliked, eggs, but only for Clarence, because he was the "worker" in the family.

Clarence's brother Sidney Johnson, his wife Alice and their infant daughter Mary Louise also lived in Bay City, where Sidney worked as a garage mechanic. Apparently they did better financially, because when their second daughter, Alma Rose Johnson, was born, on June 2, 1931, it happened in the hospital in Red Wing. Their son Sidney Ernest Johnson Jr. followed on September 26, 1937, and their daughter Elizabeth Alice Johnson was born on April 28, 1939.

Things may not have gone so well during the Depression for Clarence's other brother, Francis Edward Johnson. By 1934 he was no longer working as a railroad foreman. He, his wife Lillian, and their two children Betty Jane and Eugene had moved from Waukegan, IL to Winona where he was working as a "laborer".

Also in Winona, the other immigrant children of Steve and Mary Orzechowski were beginning their adult lives.

Angeline's oldest brother, Casimir Orzechowski, married Rose Augusta Adamczyk (sometimes listed as "Adams") in 1927. The exact date is a puzzler; Casimir's obituary gives it as August 1; the "Minnesota Official Marriage System" (at has January 8. Rose was born in Superior, Wisconsin, a suburb of Duluth, MN, on August 28, 1909. Her parents were Joseph Adamczyk and Mary Styba, and the family came to Winona in 1919. Casimir continued to work as a laborer for the Chicago and North Western Railway at least as late as April 1930. By 1934 he was working as a boiler room fireman for Bay State Milling, a flour mill in Winona. Their children were: Casimir Steven Orzechowski Jr., born February 23, 1930; Laverne Cecilia Orzechowski, known as "Lovey", born July 31, 1933; and Rosemary Ann Orzechowski, born January 2, 1940. Casimir and Rose also had a daughter named Dorothy, who died in infancy; we don't know when she was born.

Casimir's brother Vincent (formerly "Waclaw") Orzechowski married Sylvia Thilmany on August 28, 1933 at St. Stan's Church in Winona. Sylvia was born on October 25, 1914 in Winona; her parents were John Thilmany, a foundry worker who was born in Winona on May 12, 1889, and his wife Frances Kosobucki, also born in Winona, on November 26, 1893. Their first two children were Barbara Frances Orzechowski, born June 16, 1935, and Catherine Mary Orzechowski, born June 24, 1939. Vincent, known as "Vince", had a job shining shoes at the Shiner Star Shoe Shining Parlor in 1929. In 1931 he was working as a laborer somewhere. After his marriage, in 1934 he was listed as a "helper", again with no employer given. Vince seems to have had some issues. Between the births of his first two daughters, he and a buddy, Robert Duff, broke into a cabin near the Winona Dam on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River on May 2, 1937 and stole "between $55 and $60 worth of fishing and boating equipment ... owned by John Reinarts of Winona." That's roughly $1,100 worth of stuff in 2022 dollars. They were both sent to state prisons in Wisconsin a couple weeks later for terms of 18 months to two years. It would appear that Vince, at least, didn't serve the full 18 months, since he was back home in time to father his daughter Catherine somewhere around October 1938. However, that was not the end of Vince's misadventures, as we will see later.

Up in northwestern Minnesota, the Cichy family, maternal relatives of Angeline Orzechowski's husband, Clarence Johnson, experienced a cluster of tragedies in the 1930s.

On July 12, 1935, John Abel, age 56, a leading building contractor in Millerville, went fishing on Lake Moses, about 40 miles east of Fergus Falls. He had his eleven-year-old niece, Marcine Cichy, in the boat with him. Her parents were Clarence's uncle Joseph Cichy and John's sister Anna. Marcine was their only child. She was a parochial school pupil in Millerville who had just recently been confirmed in her Catholic faith. Somehow the boat capsized, and both John and Marcine were drowned.

Almost exactly a year later, on July 9, 1936, James D. Murphy, the husband of Clarence's aunt Cecilia Cichy, died in Seattle, King County, Washington. He was 65.

And almost exactly a year after that, Catharina Anna Cichy, Clarence's grandmother, died, on July 31, 1937 in Millerville. She lived just over six months longer than her husband, the Polish immigrant Constantine Cichy, who died on January 16 of that year.

How did the Conleys fare during the 1930s? Well, first we should note that this is a huge family. Lewis and Betsy Conley, the parents of Sarah Dibble's husband Hiram ("Dr. Ed") Edward Conley, had nine children. I have quite a bit of information on all of them, but by the 1930s they had so many descendants that I have put a limit on how much I can report here. I've tried to cover those Conleys who remained in or around Cannon Falls or maintained connections to that community during that time.

Sarah and Dr. Ed's daughter Ora Conley and her husband Charles E. Dreher continued to live in Owatonna in Steele County. Charles was a "commercial traveler" (traveling salesman) for an insurance company. Ora was home taking care of the couple's four children (two from Charles's first marriage and two of their own) during the early part of the decade. When they got a bit older she returned to teaching public school.

Sarah and Dr. Ed's grandson Gareth F. Conley lived with his dad and mom, Alonzo and Edith Conley, on their farm in Stanton Township in the early 1930s. On June 1, 1935, he married Stella Esther Miller in Estherville, Iowa, near the Minnesota border about 70 miles southwest of Mankato. A scant six months later they were back in Minnesota, this time in Ramsey County (St. Paul), where their daughter Darlene Mae Conley was born, on January 19, 1936. Alonzo and Edith were divorced at some point before July 1938.

Maude Conley, the wife of Alonzo's cousin Samuel Lewis Conley, the Cannon Falls dentist, died on January 12, 1937, in Saint Louis County, up in the northeast Iron Range. Samuel married Alonzo's former wife, Edith, on July 20, 1938.

By 1930, Dr. Ed's niece Mary Curran (daughter of his late sister Emma) had moved out of Ed's house and was lodging with the Edward C. Erb family in Red Wing, while still working as a schoolteacher. Mary's brother Paul Curran was working as an undertaker in Windom, Cottonwood County MN, about 70 miles southwest of Mankato. Gordon Charles Curran, veteran of General Pershing's Pancho Villa campaign and of the US Navy submarine service in World War I, married Lucille Marie Friedman on June 3, 1930 in Lucille's hometown of Princeville, near Peoria, Illinois. She was born there on November 4, 1904. For their honeymoon the couple sailed to Europe; they returned on July 24, 1930. They lived in Aurora, Illinois, just west of Chicago, for several years, where Gordon worked as an agent, and later a manager, for the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. Their son Donald Robert Curran was born there on March 10, 1932. They had another son, Ralph Gordon Curran, in about 1935. By 1938, they were living in Nashville, Tennessee, and Gordon had moved on to the Equitable Life Assurance Society, where his title was Assistant Loan Supervisor. Dr. Jean Alonzo Curran and his wife Frances returned from China in the late 1920s, and he began working in New York City hospitals. Beginning in 1934, "he undertook what became a three-year study of internships and residencies available at New York hospitals. The study eventually became a book."

Lawrence E. Engstrom, a grandson of Dr. Ed's sister Mary Anastalia Conley, hung around Cannon Falls with his wife Nancy. On June 2, 1932, their son Lewis Eldridge Engstrom was born there. Lawrence's brother Paul Augustus Engstrom and his wife Gertrude were still out west in Clarkson, southeastern Washington State on the Idaho border, where he worked as a photographer. Their son Paul David Engstrom was born there on September 23, 1932. Ada McLeod Engstrom, the wife of a third brother, George Willard Engstrom, who had lived in and around Winona, died on January 26, 1938 at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, MN, from a pulmonary embolism. Ada had been a schoolteacher, and later a newspaper editor and reporter. She was only 48 years old.

Up in Cannon Falls, the younger Wilsons were building their lives. By 1930, the barber Ed and his wife Edith had returned from the farm to city living, in a house near the corner of Park St. W. and 2nd. St. S.. Their son George A. ("Dode") Wilson was living with them and working for Northern States Power. Also with them was Ed's brother George E. Wilson. Although no occupation was recorded for him by the 1930 census, it's doubtful that he was retired at age 60. His primary profession seems to have been as an accountant, but throughout his life he owned a cemetery monuments business as well as sidelines in loan financing and in administration of estates and guardianships, and he served as Cannon Falls City Clerk and Justice of the Peace for many years. Likely he was still busy in one or more of these endeavors at this time. George didn't stay with Ed for very long; by 1935 he was living alone in his own house in Cannon Falls.

Dode Wilson was a high school baseball star and he played with the minor league Class D Marshalltown (Iowa) Ansons in the 1920s, as well as with one or more Milwaukee teams. He received a "letter of intent" from the AA Minneapolis Millers but did not actually play for them. In January 1931, Dode married Rose Agnes Proulx. She was born on December 29, 1911 in Centerville, Anoka County, MN, about 15 miles northeast of Minneapolis; her parents were French Candians John Proulx and Agnes Poirier. She came to Cannon Falls to work in the Mineral Springs sanatorium, both in the kitchen and with patients. Their son James Archibald Wilson was born on June 17, 1934. Then came three daughters: Gay Ardes Wilson, on September 9, 1935; Joyce Elizabeth Wilson, May 15, 1937; and Marilyn Lee Wilson, on November 18, 1938.

Dode's older brother Clair "Tug" Wilson had also begun a long career with the Northern States Power Company. In 1930 he was working as a lineman; later he would be responsible for maintenance at the company's building in Cannon Falls. He served as Commander of American Legion Post 142 in Cannon Falls from 1934 to 1935. He and his wife Sadie had a third child in the 1930s: Margaret Ann Wilson was born on March 14, 1937.

1930 saw Ed Dibble's sister, Alice Richardson, age 71, still working as a schoolteacher in Mitchell, South Dakota. Mitchell is about ten miles east of Mt. Vernon, where Alice's daughter Louise A. (for Ahlers), her husband John Peter Nicolaisen, and their three children Phebe, Peter and Daniel had their farm. Alice's daughter Cora and her husband Peter F. Amerhein had moved from New York City to the village of Kinderhook in New York's Columbia County, about 20 miles south of Albany. As best as can be deciphered from the census record, Peter was working as an inn keeper in the village, and Cora, formerly a milliner with her own shop, was not working outside the home. The couple had no children. Also childless were Cora's sister Zelle and her husband Roy C. Mills. In 1930 Zelle was a schoolteacher in Chicago, and Roy was a motorman (electric trolley driver) for the Chicago Surface Lines. They moved out of the city to the nearby suburb of Bensenville, just west of what would later become O'Hare International Airport, in the early '30s. Roy died there on November 20, 1934; he was just 54 years old. Zelle moved a bit west after his death, to Elgin, and continued to work for the Chicago schools through the 1930s.

The drought and dust storms of the 1930s were so bad in South Dakota that the people remembered those times as "the dirty 30s". The dust was finer than face powder, one South Dakotan said. You carried water from the well in a bucket with a lid, and by the time you got into the house it was too dirty to drink. The grasshoppers were everywhere, they got down into your clothing in the evenings. The farmers poisoned them in the fields and then raked their bodies up into huge piles. We don't have many specific stories about the members of the Alonzo Ahlers family (brother-in-law to Alonzo Dibble) who lived in that state, but it appears that two of them--Julius Alton Ahlers and Courtney Pearl Ahlers--may have lost their farms in the slow-rolling agricultural depression that began in the early 1920s.

Their sister Naomi, her husband, the physician Harold Valentine Hoover, and their daughter Regina, moved to Tacoma, Washington before April 1930, leaving behind Naomi's 320-acre land parcel in Webster Township, Day County, SD. They had twin sons, Lon Ahlers Hoover and Larry Clark Hoover, born October 17, 1930 in Tacoma. Naomi's mother, Sarah Ann Clark Ahlers, remained on the farm she had shared with her late husband Alonzo until at least July of 1932, when she came out to visit Naomi. Together they went to see friends of the Hoovers in Longview, about 30 miles west of Mt. St. Helens in southern Washington that month. She may have moved in with Naomi and her family later; at any rate, she died on November 18, 1935 in Tacoma, but was buried back in the Webster Cemetery.

By 1930, Julius no longer owned a farm. He was now renting in Webster Township, though we don't know whether it was the same farm he had owned in 1920. His daughter Georgia Ellen and her husband Glen Leroy Vanatta, also a farmer, had a second daughter, Jane Marie Vanatta, on August 15, 1930. Their son Roger Lee Vanatta was born on April 8, 1934. The couple divorced before May 1935. Georgia then married Herman Rudolph Donat on August 25, 1936 in Day County.

Courtney was also renting a farm in 1930, up in Stirton Township, Stutsman County, ND. At some point in the early 1930s his teenage son Ahlen Leroy Ahlers seems to have gotten married, though we don't know to whom. He and his wife had a daughter, Gwen Ellen Ahlers, in about 1934.

The oldest brother in Alonzo Ahler's brood, Leon, continued to do well farming in Stirton Township; in 1930 he owned 160 acres there. He and his young second wife Mary had a son, Leland A. Ahlers, known as "Bud", on December 18, 1934.

Leon's brother Sidney Earl Ahlers owned 160 acres in the southeast quarter of Section 16, Raritan Township, Day County. He and his wife Evelyn had their third child, Alonzo Sidney Ahlers, on October 1, 1933. This may have come as something as a shock, as Evelyn was 43 years old at the time. On October 8, 1930, Sidney and Evelyn's daughter Genevieve married Wendell Edgar Philbrook in Webster. Wendell was born on September 3, 1906 in Webster; his parents were Laurence Adrian Philbrook and Margery A. Edgar. They rented a farm in Webster township. Their son Robert J. Philbrook was born there in around 1934, and another son, David Edgar Philbrook, arrived in around 1936. Their daughter Lavonne Marie Philbrook was born on July 15, 1937. Sidney and Evelyn's daughter Naomi Mae Ahlers married Leonard Merinus Oveross on December 17, 1933 in Pierpont Township in Day County. By 1940 the couple had moved to Langford in Marshall County, SD, about 20 miles northwest of Webster, where they had a farm. They don't seem to have had any children. Sidney and Evelyn's daughter Roberta Josephine Ahlers married Raymond Rexford Lemmon on October 4, 1934 about ten miles north of Webster in Roslyn, Day County--now home to the International Vinegar Museum. Raymond was born on August 20, 1911 in Day County to William H. Lemmon and his wife Laura. Raymond worked in various capacities for the federal government. Their daughter Leila Angela Lemmon was born on May 28, 1935.

Sidney's brother Charles Clark Ahlers and his wife Rozella were renting a farm in Raritan Township in 1930. By 1934 they had their own farm in Webster Township. Their second daughter, Sarah Marianne Ahlers, was born there on June 16, 1934.

The youngest child of Alonzo Ahlers, Percy Alonzo Ahlers, and his first wife Anna Christine Bergland were divorced, and he moved to Fort Worth, Texas before 1933, and perhaps before 1930. At any rate, in 1933 he was living in Fort Worth with a woman named Eula Mae Ahlers and her daughter, Shirley Mae, who was born on December 18, 1931. This seems to have been a common-law marriage. Percy was an insurance salesman; he worked for National Life & Accident Insurance in 1933, and for Texas Prudential Insurance in 1936.

Now we turn to other members of the Ahlers family whom we have not followed very closely. The 1930s saw the deaths of two of the children of the Hay Creek German immigrant, Charles Ahlers Jr., Alonzo's older brother. Alfred Benjamin Ahlers died on May 9, 1935 and was buried in Minneapolis. Louisa Ahlers Meyer died in 1938 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Red Wing. There was also a marriage in this family. Harriet H. Ahlers, a daughter of Alfred and Louisa's brother Henry C. Ahlers, married Frank C./O. Houdlette on August 28, 1931, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As for siblings of Charles Jr. who came over with him from Prussia: The husband of Maria Sophia Ahlers, Charles A. Buchholz, died in 1934, and a son of Wilhelmina Ahlers and Adoph Grosse, George Benjamin Grosse, died on July 14, 1936.

Alonzo Ahlers' distant cousin Archie Dibble continued his career as a Railroad Post Office mail clerk in the 1930s. This was a difficult, strenous and, sometimes, dangerous job, though it was unionized and paid pretty well for its time. Railroad Post Offices (RPOs) were fully-functioning post offices located on trains. RPOs picked up and delivered mail all along the train's route. Incoming mail was sorted into sacks and the sacks were dropped off at the proper depots large and small, or sometimes just thrown off the train near a pick-up spot. Archie was expected to have memorized about 10,000 mail distribution nodes, and he had to be able to sort at least 16 pieces of mail per minute with at least 97% accuracy. Probably he was a lot faster than that; most of the clerks were. He typically worked a ten-hour shift in the Minneapolis & Omaha RPO with two or three other clerks most days or nights, standing the entire time, though the shift didn't end until all of the mail was sorted. Some of the mail he handled was extremely valuable, including cash, precious metals, gems, and sensitive government documents. Train robberies, a feature of many movie "westerns", still happened, and Archie would have had a handgun strapped to his hip just in case. Train wrecks were not very unusual either, and many RPO clerks were injured or killed over the years.

At around 9:00 in the evening on Saturday, February 20, 1939, the Twin City Limited rolled out of Burlington Station in Omaha, Nebraska on the Chicago & Great Western line, bound for Minneapolis. Engine 759, a 1918-vintage 2-8-2 "Mikado" steam engine, pulled two baggage cars, an RPO car, a passenger coach and a Pullman sleeping car across the Missouri River and into Council Bluffs, Iowa a few minutes later. The engineer was Henry Miller, and his fireman was A. D. Sellers, both of Clarion, IA. Archie Dibble, working in the RPO, was looking forward to getting home to his wife Alice and son Richard in time for Sunday breakfast, with Richard's 14th. birthday just a week away. Archie was 42 at the time. The other clerks working in the car with him were Harry W. Rodgers, age 56, and W. S. Griffith, 47, also from Minneapolis.

Around 9:20 pm the train started up again and moved out of Council Bluffs onto the cold southwest Iowa plains. It was a clear night, but the moon's waning crescent was reaching its last gasp, so there wasn't much light. The temperature was rising; now above freezing, it raised a dense fog from melting snow over the creeks, forests and fields as the train gained speed. Reaching 50 miles per hour, it thundered northeastward toward the little village of Tennant, IA.

Tennant had a working freight and passenger depot. That evening a southwest-bound freight train, headed up by another Mikado, engine No. 755, its tender equipped with an automatic stoker continuously feeding coal into its firebox, and pulling 56 cars and a caboose, arrived at the Tennant siding at about 10:10 pm to pick up a boxcar of shelled corn. It was running late; it was supposed to reach the depot at Magill, a crossroads about four miles away, by 10:15. Its engineer, John Anderson, hurriedly uncoupled the locomotive and tender from the rest of the cars. He needed to move a car of railroad ties out of his way, so he pulled it onto a second siding (known as a "house track"), then ran the locomotive into the corn car to rapidly push it ("kick" it) toward his train of freight cars, where the brakeman was waiting to couple it up. For some reason the car did not couple; instead it rolled back toward the locomotive, which was now backing up to return the railroad ties to their original location. The corn car picked up enough speed on the downward grade to ram the locomotive hard, breaking steam pipes and valves in the cab. The fireman, Ed Sharp, was blown out the cab window by the blistering steam. Anderson was scalded and trapped amid the jumble of broken pipes, so Sharp managed to crawl back in and pull him out. The two men then watched helplessly from the ground at the side of the track as events unfolded. The driverless locomotive was forced backward until it hit the train of cars. The impact derailed some of the cars, and jolted the locomotive's reverse gear back into forward and jerked the throttle wide open. The engine charged ahead, accelerating, plowed into the still-loose corn car, and pushed it out onto the main track.

Miller had been told to hold the Twin City Limited at Magill until 10:15 to let the freight train pass before proceeding on to Tennant. Had the freight been running on time, this would have been fine. But 10:15 came and went, with no freight train in sight, so he got his passenger train moving again. The runaway freight engine with the corn car on its nose was still picking up speed, coming straight at him. The corn car blocked the engine's headlight, and the fog completed the job of obscuring the oncoming train. About a mile northeast of Magill (near the intersection of 300th. Street and Elmwood Road; most of this track has been removed but some is still visible at Tennant) the two trains collided head-on. Both engines were capable of making 100 mph. No one knows how fast they were going when they crashed, but the combined speed of the impact was probably well above that figure.

The two locomotives crushed the corn boxcar between them, splattering corn across the landscape like pale yellow snowdrifts. The freight locomotive was mashed and partially derailed; it was left leaning to the side with its tender still on the tracks. The passenger engine, also mangled, fell over on its side. One of the baggage cars was partially derailed, and the mail car slammed down on its side, completely off the tracks. Miller was thrown from the cab of the passenger engine and died instantly. Sellers, his fireman, was trapped among the ruined drive wheels of the locomotive with a broken arm, but his injuries must have been worse than that, because he died before help arrived. The passenger train's brakeman was thrown through a window of the train and badly cut by broken glass.

Sixteen passengers were injured, though most not seriously. The passenger train's porter, Walter I. Taylor, had a fractured skull and his condition was critical. Over in the toppled mail car, all three clerks were injured, but it took a while to find out how badly.

The collision tore up the telegraph line near the track. It was reported that a member of the passenger crew pulled a length of barbed wire from a nearby fence and used it to patch the line, enabling calls for help to get out. It was midnight before the calls got through and ambulances and cars of newspaper reporters were sent from Council Bluffs. Some of the vehicles slid off the road, and the rescuers had to wade through ankle-deep mud to get to the scene of the accident. One paper, the Iowa City Press-Citizen, reported, "... In the mail car one man staggered around while two lay dazed on the floor. 'I'm all right,' the man insisted to rescue workers. Then he keeled over. ..." We don't know which man that was.

Several newspapers carried the story nationwide, reporting it as a "freak accident" (Archie thus became the second Ole Morud relative to make the national news). One observer remarked that it was a good thing that it wasn't particularly cold that night, or many of the victims would have frozen to death. Another noted that the corn car served as a sort of "cushion" between the two locomotives that kept the destruction from being much worse.

Archie didn't make it to family brunch that Sunday. Instead, he was taken to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs with the rest of the injured. All of the mail clerks, including Archie, were reported as suffering cuts and bruises and listed in serious condition. He was laid up for a few weeks, but soon returned to riding the rails for the Post Office Department. Neither rain nor snow nor train collisions in the dead of night would keep him from his appointed rounds.

Meanwhile, on August 3 of the previous year, 1938, in another part of town, Archie's second cousin Jessie Louise Aslakson, the only child of Della Dibble and John Selmer Aslakson, married Albert Woodrow Wold. Della's nephew Willard Dibble, Jr. came up from the Stanton Township farm to serve as an usher at the wedding. Albert was not related to the jewelry store Wolds of Cannon Falls. He was a "newspaperman" working for the Minneapolis Tribune and he was born on August 21, 1914 in Bismark, North Dakota. His parents were Albert Nelson Wold, born September 15, 1888, in Cummings, Traill County, ND, also a newspaperman--the editor of the Grand Forks Herald--and Margaret L. Pederson, born August 29, 1893 in Christiana, Norway.

The content of the newspapers and magazines that Archie sorted on the train during the 1930s increasingly focused on trouble in Europe. German dictator Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. He began by rounding up opposition political, religious, and labor leaders and sending them to concentration camps. A gradual reduction of civil rights for German Jews followed. In violation of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, he began expanding the German military, and in 1935 he reoccupied the Saarland (formerly under League of Nations control). In 1936 he did the same with the Rhineland. In 1938 he engineered a deal with Austrian Nazis that led to the unification of Austria and Germany. He began threatening Czechoslovakia around the same time, claiming that ethnic Germans in that country were being persecuted. The governments of the United Kingdom, France and Italy agreed to let him annex the Sudetenland, the areas of eastern Czechoslovakia where many ethnic Germans lived. Hitler claimed he had no further territorial demands in Europe, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proclaimed "peace for our time." Much has been made of this apparent "appeasement" of a vicious tyrant, but the historical evidence suggests that neither Chamberlain nor any other European leader was naive about Hitler's intentions. Most of them simply believed that they were not ready to go to war with Germany, and they needed time to prepare. In actuality, the German army was not really the modern mechanized colossus that they thought it was, and Germany, with few natural resources and no signficant overseas empire, had no chance of winning a sustained war. Hitler invaded and took the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939 and began threatening Poland. France and Great Britain both promised that they would go to war with Hitler if he attacked Poland. Hitler made a secret agreement with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to divide up that hapless country once again, and he invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Soviet troops drove in from the east on September 17. Germany invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway in April 1940. They captured Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in May, and they took France the following month. France's army, combined with the rapidly mobilized British Expeditionary Force, was in no way inferior to its German counterpart in terms of size or equipment; this last disaster can be laid squarely at the feet of cowardice and incompetence among the French military leadership, combined with a good deal of sympathy for authoritarian principles. The Soviet Union occupied and annexed the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and attacked and seized territory from Finland in 1940 as well. Italy carried out its own invasions in North Africa. Britain was now the only major European nation standing against Hitler's aggression, and Hitler began a heavy bombing campaign in preparation for invading that country in July.

Many Americans were strongly opposed to getting involved in another European war, and Republicans tended to support an isolationist stance, but President Roosevelt, a Democrat, and at least some other American leaders recognized that Hitler would have to be stopped and that England could not do it alone. When Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain in May of 1940, he and Roosevelt began corresponding and developing plans for the US to provide material support to the British. Roosevelt also brought in American business leaders and gave them the job of voluntarily reorganizing industrial production to produce massive amounts of tanks, airplanes, ships and other munitions for England. By the fall of 1940, enough Americans had begun to see Hitler as a serious threat that the mostly Democratic Congress was able to pass a new Selective Service Act in September with significant Republican support. The draft began in October, with the first round taking men between the ages of 21 and 36, and the first men entered service on November 18, 1940. A year later, after America entered the war, the age range was expanded to 20 to 44, and a year after that 18- and 19-year olds were added. There were a large variety of classifications and reasons for deferral and exemption. Initially black Americans were frequently passed over, but in 1943 a quota was introduced to ensure that the percentage of black men who were drafted matched their prevalence in the general population. These black men at first were restricted to labor battalions, but later they went into combat.

Over time, rapidly expanding war production erased the vestiges of the Great Depression from the American economy, and the movement of millions of men from the workforce into the military brought millions of middle-class white women into the civilian workforce. Plenty of support jobs were available to women in the military as well.

Then, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in the US possession of Hawaii, and Americans went from mostly-sympathetic providers of support from the sidelines to active participants in another world war.

At this writing, in the spring of 2022, I have not yet collected much new information about the involvement of our families in World War II. Nevertheless, I had been working on this page of the website for so long (well over two years, with interruptions) that I felt I should not delay publication of what I have completed up to now. I will continue to collect information and I will eventually add more details. What follows is a preliminary sketch of the war years involving members of our families who were closer to the Minnesota Dibbles.

The early 1940s saw the waning of the "Gilded Age" generation of our families. On November 16, 1940, Richard "Dick" Dibble died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Cannon Falls. His brother Daniel Smith Dibble followed, on April 12, 1944. George Elmer Wilson, the Cannon Falls judge, accountant, and financier, brother of Dan and Dick's brother-in-law Ed Wilson the barber, died on August 2 or 3, 1940. On September 13, 1942, Dan and Dick's cousin and the first child of the Stanton Township pioneer Alonzo Dibble, retired schoolteacher Alice M. Dibble Richardson, was badly injured in a car crash on Highway 16 west of Mitchell, South Dakota. She died of those injuries on September 24, 1942. Further west, Mathias Halden, uncle of Archie Dibble's wife Alice, died at the age of 92 at Maynard Hospital in Choteau, Montana, near his home in Collins, on February 25, 1942.

Ed Dibble's grandson Willard Alonzo Dibble Jr. was living and working with his father on the farm in Stanton in 1940. Willard Sr. was running the Goodhue County "poor" farm as well. Just about a week after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, on December 13, 1941, Willard Jr. married Eleanor Jane Daniels in Minneapolis. Eleanor was born on April 19, 1915 on her parents Henry B. and Elizabeth Daniels' farm in Stanton Township. Eleanor worked as a waitress before the marriage. Although he was of prime age (22) when the military draft took effect, we don't have any indication that Willard Jr. ever served with the armed forces.

May 30, 1943 must have been a terrifying day for the Dibbles and other members of our family in and around Cannon Falls. A major storm blew up to the northwest of town in Dakota County at about 12:30 pm, bringing what were described as "tornadic winds". The Chicago & Great Western railroad roundhouse in Randolph, just across the Cannon River, was completely destroyed. Then the wind blew through Cannon Falls and southeastward into Goodhue Township before winding down about 45 minutes later. The newspapers reported dozens of silos, windmills and other farm outbuildings, as well as two large barns, as being demolished or damaged, and numerous trees were uprooted. Electricity was out for about an hour throughout the region but it took over five hours to restore telephone service. The only casualties reported were two horses, but it certainly could have been worse.

There was time for fun as well. The Cannon Falls passion for baseball continued during the war years. There is a story that, while retired from playing ball himself, George "Dode" Wilson organized a AA minor-league baseball team in the town and managed it for many years during the 1940s. There could be some truth to this, but no evidence has been found that Cannon Falls had a professional minor-league team at that time. There is such a thing as AA amateur baseball, and Cannon Falls has had such a team, the Bears, since 1938.

Willard Dibble Jr.'s uncle, the former basketball star Willis Edward Dibble, was still working as a railway mail clerk in in the early 1940s. In 1942 he lived in an apartment on West Diversey Parkway in Chicago, about a mile south of Wrigley Field. He married Luella Harrop, a divorcee with two grown daughters, Lunelle and Phyllis, on June 26, 1943 in Chicago. Luella was born in around 1897 to Charles Walker and Nellie Cogswell in Illinois.

Willis's second cousin, Richard Kenneth Dibble, attended Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. His parents--especially his mother Alice; Archie, back on the railway post office night run from Omaha after recovering from his accident, often wasn't home or was sleeping during the day--were very strict in a religious way. He wasn't allowed to go to the movies or listen to music on the radio. Nevertheless, he built himself a crystal radio set and listened to hot swing tunes with headphones, perhaps broadcast live from the Radisson Hotel ballroom, or the Nicollet Hotel, where Glen Miller played, under the covers in bed at night. He also palled around with his friend Reed Swanson, with whom he engaged in minor mischief in the neighborhood. In April of 1940, at age 15, he was working 16 hours a week as a grocery store clerk; perhaps this was a promotion from his delivery boy job at the corner store on his street. He graduated from high school in June 1942, at the age of 17. We don't know what he did that wartime summer or fall, but he could see inevitable military service coming along with his 18th. birthday, and he knew he didn't want to be a foot soldier facing artillery barrages like his father.

Although his motto was "never volunteer for anything", he saw an opportunity to avoid that fate when, in January 1943, the local Naval Aviation Cadet Selection Board began a recruitment drive. The Board was offering what looked like a good deal for 17-year-old high school seniors or recent graduates with good grades: Three months of college covering general science, math, and physics suitable for airplane pilots, followed by pre-flight school, aviation training, and officer training (including "how to behave like a gentleman"), adding up to at least 16 months, and a starting rank of Ensign (which paid $291 a month in 1943, worth about $4800 in 2022), before having to get involved in actual fighting. So on February 4, 1943, Richard signed up as one of two charter members of the "Twin City Skyhawks" naval air cadet squadron. After a formal induction ceremony, featuring the lieutenant governor of Minnesota, the day after his birthday, Richard was off to spend three months at St. Olaf's College down in Northfield. After that he likely was sent to pre-flight school in Iowa City, IA for another three months. By July 1944, he was ready to fly in anger. He flew out of naval bases in California and Hawaii, sometimes in B-17 "Flying Fortresses", and from aircraft carriers, but he does not seem to have ever been a combat pilot. Instead, he ferried planes from those places to various naval bases in the South Pacific, where he got an opportunity to admire the local young women and develop his distaste for military organization.

While Richard was away with the Navy, his folks Archie and Alice moved again, this time just around the corner to 5020 40th. Avenue South, on the same block as the corner store where he had worked. The war in the Pacific formally ended on September 2, 1945, when Japan signed the surrender papers on the USS Missouri. Richard returned to this home before October of that year, though he was still enrolled in the inactive Naval Reserves.

Richard's second cousin Ralph Brooks Dibble (son of the funeral home operator Donald Dibble) was a 20-year-old college student living in Minneapolis when he registered for the draft on July 1, 1941. He served in the Coast Guard during the war with a specialization and rank of "PHM3". This could either be Photographer's Mate or Pharmacist's Mate, both with a rank of Petty Officer 3rd. Class. Considering what he did after the war, Pharmacist's Mate seems more likely. He would have been similar to a hospital "corpsman"--much like today's fire or ambulance paramedics.

Richard's cousin Merlyn Donald Holmes, a son of Dan Dibble's daughter Jean, was a Marine Corps Captain stationed at the huge Parris Island Marine base in Beaufort County, South Carolina in April 1940. He had married Elaine Ruth Dosen some time earlier. Elaine was born on January 20, 1913 in St. Paul, MN to Thor L. Dosen (born in about 1891) and his wife Ella (born in about 1892). Merlyn and Elaine's first child, Karen E. Holmes, was born on March 25, 1940 at Parris Island. About a month later the family moved to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Merlyn achieved the temporary rank of Marine Colonel on July 24, 1941, and he survived the Japanese attack on December 7 of that year. Beyond that, we don't have any information on his service.

Merlyn's brother Robert Milton Holmes attended the US military academy at West Point. He graduated in June 1943 with the standard rank of 2nd. Lieutenant; he made 1st. Lieutenant on December 1 of that year.

Merlyn and Robert's mother Jean and her second husband Peter A. Sanders were living in tiny Randall in Morrison County, about 125 miles northeast of Minneapolis, in 1940, and had been since at least 1935. Peter owned and ran a grocery store there, and Jean worked for him as a clerk.

Richard's 21-year-old cousin Betty (Elizabeth) Hall (daughter of Dick Dibble's daughter Olive and her husband Judge Hall) enlisted in the US Navy on May 14, 1945, presumably to serve with the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). WAVES served only in the continental US and Hawaii, in a variety of non-combat jobs, including doctors and nurses, cryptographers, engineers, secretaries, radio technicians, machinists, and more.

Richard's great-uncle George Kowitz, the former butcher, made quite a splash down in La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1940. He was working as a machinist's helper for a railroad in that city when the La Cross Tribune reported on the famous "flowery cross" that he built in his garden at 1803 1/2 Liberty St. He built the tall wooden cross, based on a suggestion from his daughter Faye, in early August and began training flowery vines to grow up and along it. At its base was a bed of marigolds, gladioli, phlox, cosmos and Japanese sunflowers. He set up red, amber, and blue lights in the bed, aimed upward at the cross, and a second smaller red light which gave "the effect of blood running down the cross." The display was popular right from the beginning; the first night he lit it up, he had a crowd of cars and pedestrians out in the street until nearly midnight. He continued to keep the cross lit from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm or later throughout that summer. George retired not long afterwards and he and his wife Alma remained in that house throughout the 1940s.

Ora Conley Dreher and her husband Charles were still in Owatonna in the 1940s; Charles still sold insurance, and Ora still taught school. Charles' two sons from his first marriage, Donald and Robert, in their early twenties, were living with them in 1940; Donald sold fire insurance. Ora's two teenaged sons with Charles, Eldridge Conley Dreher and William Conley Dreher, were also with them. Ora's sons were musical: Eldridge sang with the Owatonna High School Chorus, and William played with the trombone quartet. William was also on the the swim team. When 19-year-old Eldridge filled out his draft card on June 30, 1942, he was still living with his parents and working for the state highway department.

Alonzo Dibble Conley's son Hiram Eldridge Conley, age 17, a grandson of Richard's first cousin twice removed Sarah Dibble and Dr. Ed Conley, was working at a gas station in Blackduck, near the Red Lake Native American reservation north of Bemidji, in 1940, along with his older cousin Kenneth C. Conley, the son of Hiram's mother's second husband Samuel L. Conley. Hiram enlisted in the US Army on September 18, 1943 at Fort Snelling. We don't know where he served or for how long, but he married Helen Lois Tommeraas on August 22, 1945 in Northfield. Helen was born on January 13, 1924 in Northfield to Gustav Tommeraas and Ida Rustad. Hiram's older brother Gareth Conley had his own insurance agency in Cannon Falls in 1940; he was 33 at the time and it does not appear that he served in the military.

Alva Glen Conley, a son of the late Cannon Falls mayor Alva A Conley and grandson of Dr. A.T. Conley, enlisted in the Navy on July 1, 1942. He may have been sent to college by the Navy; He was a member of the University of Minnesota sophomore class, and of the Chi Psi fraternity, in 1944.

George McLeod Engstrom, a son of George Willard Engstrom and Ada McLeod, and grandson of Dr. Ed's sister Mary, enlisted in the US Navy on April 6, 1942, but it seems that he actually served with the Merchant Marine. He was a coxwain, or navigator, on the SS Commercial Trader, a freighter operating in the Atlantic ocean. At about 11 in the morning of September 16, 1942, the ship was sailing, unescorted, with a crew of 38, about 75 miles east of the Carribean island of Trinidad, when it was struck on the starboard side by a torpedo from the German submarine U-558. Most of the crew made it off the sinking ship into a lifeboat and a raft. Nine men, including George, were lost. The submarine got its comeuppance the following year; it was sunk on July 20, 1943, in the Bay of Biscay, near Spain.

At least two other Engstroms served in the war: William Augustus Engstrom, son of Glen Eckstrom and another grandson of Dr. Ed's sister Mary, enlisted in the US Navy on September 15, 1942. He was among the original crew of the brand-new destroyer, USS McCord, when she was commissioned on August 19, 1943. Although we don't know how long William served on that ship, we do know that she departed San Diego, California to join the Pacific Fleet on November 27, 1943, and participated in the Palau, Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. After Okinawa, she left the war front and retired to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in mid-June, 1945. She sailed for the west coast four days later, arriving at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington on July 8 for an overhaul. She was there when the Japanese surrendered on September 2, and she reported back to San Diego on September 15 to join the Inactive Fleet. Conley A. Engstrom was a son of Glen Eckstrom's brother Frederick A. Engstrom (the doctor who served at Camp Dodge during the 1918 influenza pandemic). Conley served in the US Navy at the Allied base in Noumea in the French colony of New Caledonia, off the northeast coast of Australia, in February of 1943. He possibly had the rank of Ensign at that time, but we don't know any more about his service. The brothers' uncle Paul A. Engstrom had his own photography studio in Clarkston, Asotin County, Washington, in 1940, and his wife Gertrude had worked as his assistant there since at least 1935.

Clyde K. Crook, a nephew of Laura Crook Dibble and her husband Ed Dibble who was also Richard's first cousin twice removed, enlisted in the National Guard Quartermaster Corps on March 3, 1941.

Ahlen Leroy Ahlers, son of the North Dakota farmer Courtney Ahlers, and grandson of Alonzo Ahlers, a brother of Richard's great-uncle Alonzo Dibble's first wife Louisa, was living in Jamestown, Stutsman County, North Dakota and working at the state psychiatric hospital there in 1940. He enlisted in the US Army on April 14, 1942.

Richard's cousin Leslie Duane Morud, a son of his mother's brother Leonard Morud who was born just three days after him, enlisted in the Navy on June 13, 1943. He married Frances Sweeney (about whom we know nothing) in December of 1944. Leslie's brother Wallace Arlo Morud, who was about a year older than Richard, worked for the Dacotah Paper Company in Fargo, ND in 1942. He enlisted in the Army on February 22, 1943, and served in Europe during the war, though we know nothing more about that.

Sidney Francis "Sid" Cichy was the only child of August Cichy, a brother of Clarence Johnson's mother Rose Cichy. He was a promising high school athlete in Breckenridge, Minnesota, on the North Dakota border about 20 miles west of Fergus Falls. He was attending North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo when the war broke out, and he enlisted in the Navy immediately. He attended officer candidate school and learned to fly airplanes. He served as both a test pilot and a figher pilot from 1942 to the end of the war and beyond, flying Navy Hellcat and Corsair fighters from carriers. However, he got enough time off to marry Elaine Alice Knutson on January 17, 1944. Elaine was born on October 18, 1921, in Graceville, Big Stone County, MN, about 60 miles southwest of Fergus Falls. Her father, Knute Knutson, a pool hall owner, was born on February 29 in the leap year of 1880 in Norway; her mother, Harriet Ida Patrias, was born on September 30, 1896, in Holdingford, Stearns County, MN, about 80 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Stanley "Puck" Orzechowski, of Winona, was working as a laborer for the New Deal's National Youth Administration (NYA) on a masonry project when he registered for the draft at the age of 24 on October 16, 1940. The NYA was a program that provided jobs to teenaged men during the Great Depression. He later went to work for the Peerless Chain Company, which was founded in 1917 in Winona and manufactured tire chains. Puck enlisted in the US Army on April 9, 1942 and was sent west for training. He served as a private at the Army Air Force Advanced Flying School near Stockton, California. He had been out on the town with three other privates and was returning to the base at 1:40 in the morning on Sunday, September 6, when their car was sideswiped by a woman. This event put him in the hospital for at least a week. Of the remainder of his service we know nothing.

Puck's younger brother Joseph Peter Orzechowski was working for the H. Behrens Manufacturing company, a maker of washpans, buckets and other metal items in Winona, when he registered for the draft on June 30, 1942. He appeared, along with Puck, in an "Honor Roll of Fighting Heroes" in the Winona Daily News on February 11, 1944. He served with the Army Air Corps, and he married Anita Roseann Kostuck at Gowen Field, an Air Corps training base near Boise, Idaho, on June 17, 1944. Anita was born on July 26, 1923 to Bernard Kostuck and Ann Guenther.

Of course, ordinary life went on during this war, as it does in all wars--and it goes much easier when the country at war does not actually have any invading troops or continuous bombardment on its soil.

A couple of descendants of Ed Dibble's older sister Alice M. Dibble had happy events during the war. Her grandson Peter John Nicolaisen, son of Alice's daughter Louise and her husband John P. Nicolaisen, married Ida Edith Pfister on September 19, 1944 in Davison County, SD. Louise and John's daughter Phebe Alice Nicolaisen married Orval Carlos Francis in 1942. Their son James L. Francis was born on December 20, 1945.

Over in Red Wing, Glee Dibble's husband Vic Johnson had moved on from banking and was working as an insurance underwriter. Glee and Vic's adopted son James Jeffrey Johnson became an Eagle Scout in 1942, and he graduated from Red Wing High School in May of 1945. James' older sister, Shirley Ann "Tink" Johnson, graduated from high school in 1941, and from St. John's Hospital nursing school in 1944. She became a registered nurse. She married Phillip Marvin ("Marv" or "Muvy") Nelson on November 11, 1944 at the Church of the Redeemer in Cannon Falls. His parents were Alf G. Nelson and Ellen Soderholm. Muvy graduated from Red Wing High School in 1938. From there he went to the Dunwoody Institute in Minneapolis to learn welding. He went to work on the newly-constructed Red Wing Lock and Dam next. He enlisted in the Navy on June 21, 1940 and served in the South Pacific during the war, both before and after the marriage.

On March 4, 1942, Emma Ellsworth Sanders, the stepmother of Dan Dibble's wife Isabelle Sanders, died in Tujunga, California. Dan's daughter Jean's first husband, Milton Emmons Holmes, died on August 22, 1944, at the age of 51. Near the end of that year, Jean and Milton's daughter Betty Dibble Holmes married Edward Raymond Stafford in Santa Monica, California. Edward was born on August 11, 1918 in Berlin, New Hampshire. His parents were David Stafford, born in New Brunswick, Canada, and Charlotte Charleton, an English immigrant. Edward was a First Lieutenant in the US Army serving at Camp Cooke (now Vandenberg Air Force Base) in Santa Barbara County, CA. During the war Camp Cooke was a training camp for armored units, and also housed prison camps for German and Italian prisoners of war. Following a honeymoon in southern California, the couple returned to live in Santa Maria, just north of the base.

Up in Minneapolis, Della Dibble Aslakson's daughter Jessie Louise and her husband Albert Wold welcomed their first child, Ann Louise Wold, on September 17, 1940. Their son John Theodore Wold was born on October 3, 1942. Also that year, Albert made a change of career; he gave up the newspaper business and went to work for the American Red Cross. Della's mother-in-law, Maren Christine Ullevig Aslakson, passed away on April 2, 1943 in Cannon Falls. Her husband, the venerable Cannon Falls lawyer, city attorney and recorder, and school board and fire department member, Peter Stuart Aslakson, followed on November 14, 1945. His son, Della's husband John Selmer Aslakson, was elected a Knight Commander of the Scottish Rite of Free Masonry, along with perennial Republican presidential candidate Harold Stassen, on October 17 of that year.

Richard Dibble's first cousin once-removed Eleanor Elizabeth Galvin (daughter of his great-aunt Emma Kowitz) and her second husband Francis Willard Galvin moved about 100 miles south of Red Wing to Austin, in Mower County, MN, some 30 miles southwest of Rochester, before April of 1940. There Eleanor continued her career as a clothing salesperson, and her husband continued his as a clothing manager. But not much later, the couple moved back north to Stillwater, an eastern suburb of St. Paul on the La Croix River in Washington County. There Francis worked for Lloyd B. Kolliner at Kolliner's clothing store. They adopted a boy, Terry Roxy Galvin, who was born on August 11, 1942 in Portland, Oregon. In April 1942 Eleanor's father, Benjamin John Gorton, was still working at the age of 62, for the Home Trade Shoe Store at 924 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, and apparently his daughter Eleanor was living in an apartment in the same building.

Another of Richard's cousins, Clair "Tug" Wilson, son of his great-uncle Edward Wilson, the Cannon Falls barber, was elected to the Cannon Falls School Board in May of 1941. Ed's other son, George Alexander "Dody" Wilson, listed himself as a farmer when he filled out his draft registration on Februry 14, 1942. Ed himself and his wife Edith Kowitz Wilson celebrated their 50th. wedding anniversary on September 6, 1943 with a big open house that got a write-up in a newspaper (we don't know which one). A photo of the couple was featured and many guests attended, including Judge Charlie Hall of Red Wing and his daughter Betty, granddaughter of Dick Dibble and his first wife Ella.

George Alben Colby, the wealthy sheep rancher and citrus grower who was the second husband of Ella's sister Hattie, passed away on June 16, 1941 at his home in Hollywood, California.

For the Conleys, life was good in the first half of the 1940s. Janet Helena Engstrom, a daughter of the flu pandemic doctor Frederick A. Engstrom, and a grand-niece of Sarah Dibble Conley, married Donald Hendricksen, a salesman who was born in around 1918, on March 7, 1940, in Decorah, Iowa. Their son Bruce Conley Hendricksen was born on February 26, 1941 a few miles southwest of Cannon Falls in Rice County, MN. Another of Sarah's grand-nieces, Mary Beverly Engstrom, a daughter of George Willard Engstrom and Ada McLeod, married John Carlton Pendleton on May 5, 1945. And Sarah's grand-niece Deloris Hattie Engstrom (daughter of Lawrence E. Engstrom) and her husband DeWayne William Schissler, had a daughter, Nancy Mae Schissler, born in a world finally at peace, on November 11, 1945, in Hennepin County. The late Cannon Falls mayor Dr. Alva A. Conley's daughter, Ruth Luella Delight Conley, who had been a charter member of a Girl Scout chapter organized in Cannon Falls in 1937, married John Theodore Bradford Hultgren on July 18, 1942 in Nueces County, Texas, home to the Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi. A Navy chaplain officiated.

The early 1940s weren't nearly so good for the Ahlers, relatives of pioneer Alonzo Dibble's first wife Louisa Ahlers. Louisa's niece Arthur Adolph Grosse, son of Louisa's sister Wilhelmina who came over with her from Germany, died on April 8, 1941 in Goodhue County. Arthur's sister Clara Louise Mary Grosse passed away on December 27, 1944. Louisa's nephew, Charles Julius Ahlers III, the Red Wing basketball star and electrical supply company president, died in that city on July 27, 1942. As a Spanish-American War veteran, he was given full military honors, with a gun salute by a squad of Red Wing veterans, and a bugler to play "Taps", at his graveside. Another of Louisa's nieces, Rose Elizabeth Buchholz, whose mother was Louisa's immigrant sister Maria Sophia Ahlers, died on June 10, 1943. But the news wasn't all bad. Louisa's American born brother Alonzo Ahler's son Percy Alonzo Ahlers married his second wife Eula Mae, a clothing saleswoman, on June 16, 1942 in Rockwall County, Texas. Percy was a life insurance salesman, and this wedding seems to have formalized a common-law relationship; he and Eula Mae, who was born April 30, 1908, had been living together in Fort Worth since at least 1933. And Arlene Ahlers, a daughter of Alonzo's son Julius Alton Ahlers, married Magnus Reuben Gilbertson on Independence Day, 1943 in Day County, SD. Magnus was born on July 11, 1915 in Day County.

The Scandinavian members of our family were quite busy during the war.

Among the Haldens, the family of the father of Archie Dibble's wife Alice's mother Eline: Louis Mahlon Holden (as we've said, some members of this family spelled their surname with an "o", others with an "a"), a nephew of Eline whose parents were Eline's brother Alfred Holden and Olga Elida Overby, married Louise M. Zacharies on April 14, 1940. Louise was born on New Year's Day, 1913, in Broadview, Yellowstone County, Montana, about 30 miles northwest of Billings, to Hans Zacharies and Colombe L. Conseth. Olga's father, Christian P. Overby, died eleven days after the Pearl Harbor attack, on December 18, 1941, in Kalispell. Eline's brother John also celebrated a marriage; his son Julian L. Halden, also of Kalispell, married Opal M. Mohn about two weeks before the attack, on November 22, 1941. Opal was born on October 22, 1919 in Grafton, North Dakota. Her parents were Erik E. Mohn and Alma J. Lee. Julian had reported himself as unemployed when he filled out his draft registration the previous October; let's hope he was doing better on his wedding day. Another of Eline's brothers, the peripatetic musician Oscar L. Halden, was living in Fargo, ND and teaching music in 1942, but in 1944 he and his second wife Ruth were in Minneapolis, and he gave his occupation as piano tuner.

The Kverns were the family of Eline Halden's mother, Anna Marie Pedersen Kvern. Anna's brother Arne Kvern had many descendants. Two were added to the line of Arne's son Paul during the war: On March 27, 1940 Dennis Leonard Stanley, the son of Shirley Raguse and Clarence Leonard Stanley, and grandson of Paul's daughter Helga Sophia (or, sometimes, Svern) Kvern and George Ferdinand Raguse, was born in Otter Tail County, MN. Paul's son Alfred Ruben Kvern and his wife Bernice Nora Eide produced Katherine Elizabeth Kvern on May 5 of that year, also in Otter Tail County. On May 22, 1944, Arne's son Einar Kvern and his wife Alma Clara Fischer welcomed their son Lester Darrell Kvern, in the same place.

As for the Moruds, Alice's brothers and sisters:

Leonard Morud, of Fargo, remained an avid bowler in tournaments around the upper Midwest, and at some point he picked up the nickname "Shorty". His teenage son Gordon now began to appear in tournaments with him. Gordon's older brother Clayton Oliver Morud was working as a "burner"--a foundry worker who handled molten metal--at one of the three shipyards in Portland, Oregon, and living in the YMCA, when he married Audrey Maxine Johnson on December 18, 1942. Audrey was a clerk at the shipyard. She was born in around 1923 in Galesburg, ND; her father was Anges Johnson and her mother Mabel Skogstad. Clayton and Audry had a daughter, Dianne Chris Morud, on April 6, 1944.

Alice's sister Mabel, who had become permanently disabled several years earlier, remained in the Willmar State Hospital through the war years.

Alice's divorced sister Emma Duncan continued to teach at Pine River High School up in the north country, near her home in Hackensack, Cass County, MN, during the early years of the war. She was an "assistant English teacher" and the school librarian in 1941. In March of 1942 she was one of four assistant forensic and dramatic speaking coaches for the school. That June, she "accompanied a group of young ladies to Alexandria ... where they attended the Bible Institute at Mount Carmel." The trip lasted a week, and while it appears that Emma's job was primarily to be a chaperone, she seems to have developed a much deeper interest in religion thereafter. In October of 1943, she was still living near Pine River when she and her daughter Shirley "visited a sister who had recently arrived from Denver, Colo," in Minneapolis. We don't know which sister that was (Donna--formerly Clara--had lived in Colorado in the early 1930s but likely not during the 1940s), but probably both of them were visiting Alice, Archie, and their teenage son Richard. On May 19, 1945, the Minneapolis Star-Journal reported that Emma was planning to speak at a "missionary rally ... Sunday in Calvary Lutheran church under auspices of the World Mission Prayer league." This was just the beginning of a long career as a missionary for Emma.

Speaking of Donna: She was 35 years old and still living in San Francisco, California with her nine-year-old daughter Geraldyne, in 1940, in the home of Grace Powell, and Donna had a job as a "sales lady" in a department store. Geraldyne attended school in San Franciso throughout the 1940s.

Alice's brother Elmer Morud continued to live in Tacoma, Washington during the war. He was elected first vice-president of the Harvard-Midland PTA in Tacoma's Franklin Pierce School District in May of 1945; that November his wife Elvina was also elected a vice president of that PTA. Harvard and Midland were (and still are) elementary schools in the district, and Elmer and Elvina had four children in elementary school at this time. Although he had left farming behind, he could not quite give up the independence and security that growing one's own food confers. He continued to keep a cow and some chickens, and grew a garden. This served him well when wartime rationing came; his wife was able to trade the family's meat coupons for shoe coupons for the children.

Alice's sister Hilda, better known as Heidi, lived in San Francisco throughout the war. At some point she left her position as a secretary at a food manufacturing company to work for General Motors.

Nothing is known of Alice's sister Ida's activities during this time, but her husband Elof A. Erickson changed jobs at some point, from a parts manager for a Ford dealership to a salesman for Flatt Farm Supply Company in Moorhead, Minnesota.

As for Olga, known as Ollie, all we know about her war years is that she and her husband, the farmer Harold Amundson, were living with their three children, Lester, James and Arnold, near East Grand Forks, Polk County, Minnesota, about 25 miles southwest of Ollie's girlhood home in Warren, with a "hired girl" named Emma Armstrong, in 1940.

Clarence Casper Johnson and his wife Angeline Orzechowski, of Bay City, Wisconsin, had three more children during the war. Patricia Ann Johnson was born on June 18, 1941 in the hospital in Red Wing. Genevieve Leslie Johnson was born there on May 13, 1943. James Steven Johnson was born there on October 16, 1944. Clarence's brother Francis Edward Johnson was living in Winona and working as a road laborer in April of 1940. He, his wife Lillian, and their children Betty Jane and Eugene, moved to Portland Oregon in 1941, where he took a job working in a Libby, McNeil & Libby cannery. Clarence's other brother, Sidney, was living with his wife Alice and their children Mary Louise, Alma Rose, Sidney Ernest and Elizabeth in Bay City in 1940, where Sidney worked as a truck driver for the same sand mine where Clarence worked. They had another child, Douglas Charles Johnson, born February 2, 1942, in Red Wing.

Clarence's uncle, the building contractor Charles Albert Johnson, whose wife Lucy was a sister of Clarence's mother Rose Cichy, moved from Waukegan, Illinois about 45 miles northwest to Sharon, on the Illinois border in Walworth County, Wisconsin in around 1940. He died at the age of 58, on November 26, 1945, after an illness of about ten days, in the county hospital in Elkhorn. Charles and Lucy's unmarried 34-year-old daughter, Agnes "Ella" Johnson, was living with her sister Florence, Florence's husband Joseph J. Henderson, a general building contractor, and their ten-year-old son Donald F. Henderson in Waukegan, and working for National Envelope Company, in 1940. She moved to Sharon to be with her mother after Charles died, and took a job with the Borg Instruments Company, a maker of mechanical clocks for cars, in nearby Delevan, WI. Ella's sister Mabel Mary and her husband Guy P. Lund, also a building contractor and carpenter, lived in Waukegan with their eight-year-old daughter Marcene in 1940. Another child of Charles and Lucy, Casper Coleman Johnson, at age 28 was a carpenter in Benton Township, Lake County, IL, about five miles north of Waukegan, with his Canadian wife Margaret and seven-year-old stepson William Snyder in April of 1940. When he filled out his draft registration in October of 1940 his address was in Zion--part of Benton Township--and his employer was "Henderson & Lund". We can't be absolutely positive but it's a good bet that those partners were his brothers-in-law, Donald Henderson and Guy Lund.

Tragedy struck another of Clarence Johnson's uncles in the winter of 1942. This report from the Park Region Echo, in Alexandria, Douglas County, MN, tells the story:

"Despondent because a broken leg left him permanently limping, William Cichy, 50, Millerville bachelor farmer, committed suicide by hanging himself in his shed Saturday [January 24, 1942].

Anxious about Cichy's prolonged absence Saturday, his brother [Frank] began looking for him early Sunday morning and was rewarded with a gruesome find. He found his brother's lifeless body dangling from a rope in the shed. It was an awful jolt to him because the two were very close. They kept house together since neither was married.

Cichy apparently was a man of his word for he had told friends in Parkers Prairie that he was going to end it all as there was nothing to live for with a physical handicap. He became a victim of despondent spells, enduring them until he could stand it no longer.

Claims of many psychologists that persons who openly declare their intention to commit suicide never do so, were refuted by Cichy's act. He was buried today [in Seven Dolors Catholic Cemetery in Millerville]. He is survived by many relatives around Urbank and Millerville."

William's sister Mary Cichy, who had survived two husbands and was married to a third, Fred Link, passed away in 1945 in Menomonie, Dunn County, Wisconsin.

Clarence Johnson's in-laws, the Orzechowskis, were both busy and prolific during the early 1940s.

Vincent Orzechowski, who you'll recall had an earlier run-in with the law, had been unemployed for at least a year when, on January 12, 1940, he got into some more trouble. At around 5 pm, he was driving "an old model Jordan coupe" west on Second Street near Zumbro Street in Winona when he "struck a loading platform on the north side of" Second and "ran partly up on the platform and was thrown in his car to the right against a large oak tree, around which the right side of the car bent itself, wrecking the car." (This location may have been the site of RTP Plastics in 2019; there was a loading dock and a very large oak tree there, at any rate.) The Jordan, said Vince, belonged to a friend. "Old model" was right; the last Jordan was built in 1931 but the coupe was probably older than that--we hope so, anyway, since if he wrecked a 1931 model he would have destroyed one of only 263 that were made. He was arrested for drunk driving and thrown in jail, where he received a rudimentary medical exam that found nothing serious, but as the old cliche goes, he was apparently feeling no pain, because it wasn't until the following morning, as he tried to get dressed, that he realized he had rib and shoulder injuries. The judge sentenced him to a $100 fine plus $2 court costs, or 60 days in the county jail, on Saturday. Apparently he could not afford to pay the fine because the judge delayed "execution" of the sentence until the following Wednesday, and he was sent home to await a more thorough going-over by a doctor. We don't know if he ever served time, or how much, but he was still unemployed when the census enumerator recorded him on April 2. He and his wife Sylvia had a third daughter, Jeanette Sylvia Orzechowski, born August 19, 1940 in Winona. They also had a daughter named Carol, probably born later, about whom we have no information so far. By the time he filled out his draft registration in October, he was doing better; he reported that he had a job, working for "I B Hart", an employer about which we could find no information.

Vince's sister Sophie Orzechowski married Robert Thomas Duff on April 13, 1940. Robert, you may remember, was Vince's partner in crime in the big fishing cabin heist of 1937. He was born on December 21, 1916, in Chicago; his parents were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Duff of Winona. He worked for the Joseph Leicht Press company in Winona, which published German-language and religious newspapers and magazines. Their daughter Sandra Marie Duff was born on June 21, 1941, in Winona. Sophie worked at Donovan's Manufacturing Company in Winona, which made armaments during the war, including hand grenades. She was known for being an excellent cook of traditional Polish dishes.

Sophie's sister Stella Orzechowski married Edward Ambrose on April 20, 1940 in Decorah, Winneshiek County, Iowa, about 65 miles south of Winona. Ed was born on December 16, 1911 or 1912 in Winona. His parents were John Ambrose and Kate Miller. He had a job as a truck driver's helper on a government road construction project at the time. Their son Edward Frank Ambrose was born soon thereafter, on August 10. By October, when he completed his draft registration, he was working for the Brom Machine and Foundry Company in Winona. Perhaps strangely, he listed his uncle, Chauncey Bambenek, rather than his wife, as next of kin on that document. The couple had a daughter, Nancy Marie Ambrose, on October 8, 1945.

Stella's sister Cecilia ("Celia") Orzechowski married Robert Henry Gatz on October 27, 1942 in Winona. His parents were August Gatz and Emma Doebbert; he was born on March 27, 1916 in Winona. Early on he worked in a stone quarry, but by the time of the marriage he was with Stein's Plumbing and Heating, located in the south Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee. This was a large enough company that it could have had an office a hundred miles southeast in Winona, where the couple made their home--though perhaps not for long. Robert enlisted in the army just a couple of months later, on December 15, 1942. Their daughter Bonnie Louise Gatz was born there on August 3, 1943.

Our family members survived the two most destructive wars in history, and one of the worst pandemics ever, with the considerable advantage of living in a country that was not significantly damaged by them, and without very many lives lost. They also lived through the worst economic downturn in the modern era, though again, most were lucky to live in places that were only moderately affected by that disaster. As 1945 came to a close, some already had a head start on producing the Baby Boomer generation, whose stories we will follow next.

Black and white photograph of the west side of 4th. St., Cannon Falls, looking north from Main St., in the early 1900s

Black and white photo of a black 5-passenger convertible automobile, top down, with four doors, horizontally-divided windshield, running boards, and black tires on white wide-spoked wheels

Black and white photo of a black 5-passenger convertible automobile, top up, with four doors, horizontally-divided windshield, running boards, and white tires on black wide-spoked wheels

Black and white newspaper ad with line drawing of mechanical milking equipment and text that reads 'Perfection Milker. Milks like the Calf. The only machine with the downward squeeze. In Use on our Farm Now. Come and See it Work. E. A. Dibble & Sons, Salesmen Cannon Falls Minnesota'

Sepia-tone photo of Ora Conley, in her early 20s, wearing a white dress and gold bracelet, hair bobbed, seated on a leather-upholstered armchair, in about 1914

Black and white photo of large boulders in a crevice through which flows a stream; a high stone and earthen bank stands above the water. Handwritten in white ink on the photo is 'Dibble Spring, Cannon Falls, Minn. Engstrom Photo.

Black and white cameo-style portrait photo of Charles P. Hall in his early 40s wearing a jacket, vest and tie

Printed sheet music cover featuring a stylized drawing of a bird's wing with a blue field of white stars at the shoulder and red and white striped feathers leading back; 'Publishied by Authority and for the sole benefit of the Red Wing Chapter of the American Red Cross'; the initials C.P.H. are at the lower left corner.

Black and white newspaper ad reading: 'Spring View Farm Pure Bred and Grade Holsteins Herd Headed By Far Oaks Sir Ormsby Johanna' with information on milk and cream production; 'Phone 188-2 E. A. Dibble & Sons Cannon Falls, Minn.'

Black and white photo of North Star College in Warren, MN; a three-story stone building with black hip roof, ornate dormer window, and arched main entrance, with two young trees in front

Black and white photograph of the Morud family circa 1914

Sepia-tone studio portrait photo of a girl in her early teens, dark hair pulled into tight buns on either side of a center part; wearing a satin blouse and looking toward the left.

Black and white  photograph of the Mineral Springs Sanatorium in Cannon Falls during the 1920s

Sepia-tone portrait photo of Glee Doris Dibble, her dark hair pulled back loosely and tied with a dark ribbon, wearing a modified 'sailor' blouse with a large dark ribbon bow in front; unsmiling, eyes slightly to the right.

Black and white newspaper photo of dozens of men in World War I army uniforms and campaign hats standing in rows before a large brick armory building.

Colorized black and white photo of Gareth Franklin Conley, about ten years old, with close-cropped blond hair, smiling with eyes nearly closed, his right hand inserted between the buttons of his shirt, standing in a grassy yard in front of a tree

Black and white studio portrait of Ora Conley, a young woman with softly-curled dark hair wearing a lace-trimmed white blouse.

Sepia-tone photo of serious-faced Alice Dibble Richardson, wearing round wire-frame glasses, her hair in a tight bun, standing, with her daughter Louise Nicolaisen, smiling, her hair piled on top of her head,seated in front of her with a blond baby, Phoebe Nicolaisen, on her lap; all are wearing white dresses.

Black and white newspaper head shot of an elderly gentleman with thin close-cropped grey hair, prominent cheekbones, and thick white moustace wearing a wing collar and dark jacket.

Color poster, showing the American flag, that says 'Buy 'til it Hurts! No sacrifice you can make can be compared to what our boys are offering. Buy Liberty Bonds

Black and white portrait photo of Archie Dibble, wearing a World War I US Army uniform jacket with high collar and a garrison cap.

Simplified hand-drawn map, in black and green, of the St. Mihiel salient, showing the locations of the villages of St. Mihiel, Thiaucourt, Vigneulles, Hattonchatel, and Fresnes, with the approximate starting points of the American I and IV Corps and the French II Corps, and their directions of movement from the starting line on September 12, 1918 and the line as of September 16 of that year.

Black and white detailed hand-drawn ma of the 'Plan of Attack of First Army Sept. 12, 1918 at the St. Mihiel salient. Limey and Thiaucort are both visible, as is the specific line of movement of the 2nd. Division.

Black and white photo of hundreds of soldiers on foot and on horseback, along with trucks and horse-drawn wagons, marching in a single zig-zagging line across a broad plain, toward a round-topped hill in the distance.

Black and white photo soldiers, one bearing an American flag, led by two officers on horseback, crossing a short bridge with a white church steeple in the background.

Black and white photo of a long, high wooded ridge, partially shrouded by fog in the far distance. In front of the ridge a gently undulating field stretches away from the camera, punctuated by many small trees in the middle distance.

Black and white photo of a long, high wooded ridge, partially shrouded by fog in the far distance. In front of the ridge a gently undulating field stretches away from the camera, punctuated by many small trees in the middle distance.

Black and white photo of two small French Renault light tanks, one towing the other, rolling along a muddy road with crumbling stoneworks behind them. A single French soldier stands behind foliage in the foreground. Behind the tanks a line of soldiers on horseback moves in the opposite direction from that of the tanks.

Black and white photo of army engineers wearing broad-brimmed flat World War I helmets, some holding tools, standing along the edge of a wide plank road supported by multiple layers of thick timbers and stones that stretches from the foreground into the distance; others work a few yards away in a long line in the ditch parallel to the road. An officer on horseback is visible in this second line.

Black and white photo of several large white buildings; on the left a two-story building with large vertical windows is fronted by a line of leafless trees, before which stand several parked ambulances in a muddy parking lot. In the distance a large single-story building with a high steep roof is partially obscured by more leafless trees.

Black and white college yearbook photo of three rows of college-age men and women standing and sitting before a drapery backdrop.

Sepia-tone photo of two young boys, Peter with brown hair in dark turtleneck sweater, Daniel with blond hair in sailor suit, and a young girl with dark hair pulled back tightly, wearing an embroidered blouse

Yellow-tinted portrait photo of a young man with short dark, wavy hair, a thin face and prominent cheekbones in a dark jacket, vest, and tie; the photo has four staples through it.

Sepia-tone photo of a young woman with dark flat curls and a shallow V-neck dress with a young girl with short blond straight hair and bangs

Color postcard photograph of the Warren City Hospital in 1908, with some nurses in white uniforms standing near the door

Black and white  photograph of Mill St. looking west from 4th. St., Cannon Falls, about 1920, showing buildings presumably owned by Dick Dibble, with a crowd of people celebrating a patriotic holiday

Black and white three-quarter page length newspaper add for the 'New Edison Phonograph' featuring drawings of the phonograph--a tall wooden cabinet with a door in the bottom half; the top half is an ornate wooden inlay grill in front of dark fabric; the lid is closed. There are also drawings of a man performin in concert with a xylophone. There is too much text to reproduce here, but the ad describes the New Edison as 'the phonograph with a Soul'. The bottom of the ad says 'Donald N. Dibble Distributor See My Display at Valentine Furniture Co.'s Store, Cannon Falls, Minnesota'.

Black and white photo of Glee Dibble and Victor Johnson standing together on a sloping hillside and smiling; Glee, with bobbed dark hair wears a blouse with a wide white collar and a dark skirt; Victor, hair parted in the middle, wears a white long-sleeve shirt and short dark tie. Behind them is a frame building and trees. The photo is affixed to a black album page, on which is written in white ink 'When we were single'.

Sepia-tone photo of middle-aged Bertha Kowitz Dibble, dark curly hair worn short, with thin round wire-frame glasses and an elaborately decorated dress with white lace on the back of the collar.

Sepia-tone portrait photo of Alice Morud as a young woman with thick dark hair in large curls, wearing a white nurse's uniform with cap.

Separate black and white portrait photos of Glee Dibble with bobbed hair and white dress, and Victor Johnson, slicked-down hair parted in the middle and wearing a dark suit jacket and thin tie, on a photo-album page. Between the photos the hand-written caption reads 'Our wedding pictures 1922'.

Black and white photo of Ora Conley Dreher with bobbed hair and black rimmed glasses, holding her baby son Eldridge Conley Dreher, standing next to her mother, white-haired Sarah Dibble Conley and grey-haired and -moustached Alonzo Ahlers, on a summer lawn before some trees in Cannon Falls.

Grey-haired and -moustached Alonzo Ahlers in a three-piece suit, Ed Dibble with thinning grey hair and moustache wearing a work shirt, pocket protectors and pens and work pants, Willard Dibble Sr, in a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves and aviator-style glasses. Ed and Willard are holding Willard Dibble Jr, about 4 years old, in their arms between them.

Black and white photo of a curly-haired toddler, Eldridge Conley Dreher sitting on the wooden steps of a frame house and kicking his right foot high; his mother Ora Conley Dreher, her hair piled high and wearing black-framed glasses, sits on the step next to him in a long light-colored dress.

Black and white photo of Richard 'Dick

Black and white newspaper photograph of the First National Bank of Cannon Falls interior, showing Dick Dibble leaning on the counter, with some bank employees

Black and white photo of Archie Dibble in white short-sleeved shirt and flat cap and Alice Dibble with black-framed glasses, hat, and knee-length skirt and blouse; Alice is holding baby Richard Kenneth Dibble in a white baby dress.

Black and white photo; elderly Sarah Conley Dibble with white hair and long black dress stands behind Eldridge Conley Dreher, about six years old, in white shirt and shorts, her left hand on his left shoulder; behind them is a massive tree.

Black and white photo of Shirley 'Tink' Johnson sitting on a tricycle with Jimmy Johnson standing on the rear axle.

Black and white photo of Bertha Dibble smiling in a polka-dot dress, Glee Johnson smiling in a white flowered dress, and Tink, about four years old, standing between them grinning.

Black and white photo of a young girl with black, straight close-cropped hair, black-framed round glasses, white blouse and a pearl necklace.

Black and white photo of a tall young man in a three-piece suit and fedora, standing in front of a 1920s-era crank-start car.

Black and white photo of Richard Kenneth Dibble, about three years old, on a tricycle behind his parents, Archie in a white knit shirt and Alice with bobbed hair, black-framed glasses and a flowered dress, seated on a bench.

Black and white photo of a young man with thick curly hair, wearing a suit, and sitting in a rocking chair on the lawn outside a white shingled house, a baby in a dress on his lap.

Black and white photo of two very young children, a blond boy in a white onesie and a black-haird girl in a short white dress holding a stuffed animal, standing before a tall tree.

Black and white outdoor photo of men, women and children in summer clothing. Standing left to right: Richard 'Dick' Dibble, Ben Gorton, Archie Dibble, Bertha Kowitz Dibble, Emma Kowitz Gorton, Edith Kowitz Wilson; seated left to right: Shirley 'Tink' Johnson, Alice Dibble, Richard Kenneth Dibble, Eleanor Gorton, Glee Dibble Johnson.

Black and white  photograph of Ed Wilson, George 'Dody' Wilson and Jim Wilson

Black and white photo of a small railroad depot building with a steam locomotive puffing smoke on the nearby tracks; workmen stand between the depot and the locomotive. Behind them stand a steep wooded hill and an antenna tower under a grey sky.

Top portion of the front page of the Minneapolis Morning Tribune for October 25, 1929; the headline reads 'Stocks Plunge Five Billions'.

Black and white  photograph of the west side of 4th. St. Cannon Falls, looking north, in the 1930s; an oval sign over a one-story shop about halfway up the street says 'Quality Meats'

Black and white photo of several dozen men, women, and children standing or sitting in descending rows on a steep wooded hillside. A small frame building is visible behind them amongst the trees at the top of the hill. Sarah Dibble Conley, with white hair, is visible at the center of the crowd; behind her and to her right is Ora Conley Dreher.

Black and white cameo-style portrait photo of Emma Morud, a young woman, smiling, with short flat-ironed curled hair in a V-neck dress, from a faculty page in the 1930 Valier, Montana High School yearbook.

Black and white photo of Bertha and her husband Dick Dibble sitting on a wicker loveseat in front of a young willow tree, some time in the 1930s.

Black and white photo of Eleanor Gorton in a lacy white dress and white cap, bobbed hair peeking out, sitting with her knees up, arms wrapped around them, in a grassy field with trees in the background.

Black and white photo of Donald Wirth, a thin young man with thinning hair in a black suit standing in front of a thick tree trunk.

Black and white photo of Eleanor Gorton with blond flat-curled hair, wearing a floor-length white dress with a frilly top, standing close to Donald Wirth, wearing a black cutaway jacket and white pants, standing before a frame house and tall tree.

Sepia-tone photo of Eleanor Gorton smiling with bobbed hair, wearing a diaphanous slinky dress, standing barefoot with one knee lifted, on the lawn behind a house, holding up the long trains of the dress with both hands.

Sepia-tone photo of Edith Kowitz Wilson, Richard 'Dick' Dibble, 'Ed', Bertha Kowitz Dibble, Shirley 'Tink' Johnson, Emma Kowitz Gorton, Victor Johnson, Ben Gorton, Eleanor Gorton, and Don Wirth, standing before a frame house wall.

Black and white photo of Alice Dibble Richardson standing before a white stucco two-story arts & crafts-style home in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Black and white photo of Richard Kenneth Dibble, about age 5, wearing a wide-collared shirt and shorts, sitting with several other unknown children on the back of a wagon.

Black and white photo of Victor Johnson, Glee Dibble Johnson, Judge Charles P. Hall, Bertha Kowitz Dibble, Richard 'Dick' Dibble, Archie Dibble (with crutches), and Olive

Black and white studio portrait photo of Jessie Aslakson, a young girl with short curled hair wearing a dark top with white shallow scoop-neck collar.

Black and white photo of an unidentified black-haired man standing with his arms crossed on top of a tall white wooden frame from which hangs three signs, in descending order of size. The top sign says 'DIBBLE SPRINGS'; below it a smaller sign says 'Picnic Grounds', and below that an even smaller sign says '25 per Car'.

Black and white photo of Zelle Richardson Mills in dark floppy hat and dark dress with fur collar, wearing wire-rim glasses, standing next to her husband Frank Mills, a tall man wearing a homburg hat and black three-piece suit, in front of a brick house with ivy growing up the porch pillar.

Black and white photo of Leonard Morud family circa 1932: Front row--Leonard, Leslie, Elaine, Myrtle, Gordon; back row--Clayton and Wallace. Leonard and all the boys except Gordon are wearing black bow ties and whit shirts; Gordon is wearing a sailor suit, and Elaine is wearing a black dress with wide knit collar.

Black and white newspaper photo of Willard Dibble, Sr. lying in a narrow metal-framed bed under a plaid blanket with an Agricultural College alumnus as three professors look on, one holding a can of water about to be poured on the 'late sleepers'.

Black and white photo of Richard 'Dick

Black and white photo of Victor Johnson, Shirley 'Tink' Johnson, James Jeffrey Johnson, and Glee Dibble Johnson sitting on a log bench in front of a stone walkway behind a frame house.

Black and white photo of Richard Kenneth Dibble, about 10 years old, sitting on the roof of a black four-door 1932 Chevy, with Archie Dibble standing on the running board beside him.

Sepia-tone Annapolis Naval Academy yearbook portrait photo of Merlyn Donald Holmes in a Navy uniform jacket with anchors on the lapels and tie.

Black and white photo of an elderly woman and man standing together with a stone church in the distant background. The woman wears a black hat, large black-framed glasses, and an ankle-length dark loose-fitting dress with a large white shawl tied loosely around her neck and hanging to below her waist. Her hands are clasped at her waist and she has a close-lipped smile. The man has a very bushy white beard and moustace; he wears a baggy dark suit and a dark broad-brimmed hat; his hands are clasped behind his back and there is a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes.

Black and white photo of two mine tunnels branching off with railroad tracks running into them; Clarence Casper Johnson, in overalls, his helmet light a bright round dot, stands at the entrance to the left tunnel; two other miners stand in the right tunnel.

Colorized photo of Clarence Casper Johnson, with heavy 5 o'clock shadow, wearing a mining helmet with light, heavy work overalls and jacket, and heavy gloves and knee boots, standing on white sand against a rock wall.

Colorized photo of Clarence Casper Johnson with helmet and dark work clothes, holding an electric drill with a very long bit near a rock wall in the sand mine. At his feet are a satchel of explosives and a wooden toolbox; next to him stands another miner inserting a fuse into a stick of dynamite.

Black and white photo of a two-story brick school house with hip roofs and a belfry. It is winter and snow is on the ground and on the roof of the small entry porch under a grey sky.

Black and white photo of Alonzo Dibble Conley, standing in front of trees in a black suit with open jacket showing a white shirt and short wide tie, holding a white fedora at his knee, next to his son Gareth Conley, in black suit and white bow tie, holding a dark object with both hands at his waist.

Black and white photo of tow-headed Hiram Conley, about six years old, barefoot and in sorts and white shirt, holding a white-frosted and decorated cake carefully in both hands. His sister, about three years old, with short blonde hair, wearing a long-sleeved sweater and short skirt, also barefoot, stands behind him and to his left. Both are outdoors in a yard dotted with dandelions, standing near a structure with a white frame church in the background.

Black and white photo of Jessie Aslakson, a slight young woman in a thin printed knee-length dress with corsage at the neckline, high-heeled sandals, and hair pulled back with ribbons, her left arm around the back of Albert Wold, a tall man with wire-rim glasses, thick dark hair parted on the left with a pompadour, wearing a pin-striped baggy double-breasted suit jacket with wide lapels and polka-dot tie, holding a pipe in his right hand. She is smiling at the camera; he is gazing downward at her lovingly.

Black and white photo of four men wearing railroad engineer's caps and holstered pistols sorting mail at long counters while standing in a narrow railroad car whose walls are covered with cabinets and cubbyholes.

Black and white newspaper photo of twisted wreckage of two locomotives scattered across a railroad track; several men stand among the wreckage. The newspaper caption reads, 'Afterward--a job for the wreckers and hospitals. What one wild locomotive can accomplish.'

Black and white newspaper portrait photos of Joseph Sexton (left, in suit and tie) and A. R. Dibble (right, in jacket and tie). Above the photos is the headline 'WRECK VICTIMS'.

Black and white newspaper story and photo. The headline reads 'Serves as Cushion - Car of Corn Softens Impact of Train Crash'. The photo shows severla men standing in front of a tank car; a boxcar to the right leans at a 45-degree angle partially off the tracks, and another car in the opposite direction behind it. The ground is covered with snow.

Black and white photo of teen-aged Richard K. Dibble in white long-sleeved shirt, white pants and black shoes standing on the wooden stoop or a log cabin, right arm extended and leaning against the closed screen door. An upside-down metal bucket is on the ground behind him.

Black and white photo of teen-aged Richard K. Dibble wearing a light-colored sweater, white t-shirt, dark pants and shoes, lying semi-prone on a large rock outcropping, propped up on his elbows and smiling. To his right his father Archie kneels on the rock, leaning on his right hand; Alice in a white dress and glasses, with short curled hair, sits on the rock next to them. The calm water and bright sky stretch away from them into the distance.

Black and white photo of a family group on the back steps of a white stucco house in early 1940. Standing: Vic Johnson, Bertha Dibble, Glee Johnson, Richard Kenneth Dibble, Tink Johnson, Betty Hall. In front, squatting: Judge Charles P. Hall, Jimmy J. Johnson with a small black and white dog, Archie Dibble, Richard 'Dick' Dibble.

Black and white newspaper portrait photo of a young man with oiled dark hair, wearing a basketball jersey and a thin chain around his neck.

Black and white photo of Edward Alonzo Dibble, a dapper old gentleman with sparse greying hair, thick white moustace, light-colored suit jacket and bow tie.

Black and white photo of Robert Dreher, Ora Conley Dreher, Charles Dreher, Don Dreher, Bill Dreher, and Eldridge 'Al' Dreher sitting on the broad front steps of a frame house surrounded by leafy foliage, in the early 1940s.

Portion of a page of the Roosevelt High School yearbook from June 1942 showing black and white portrait photos of three young men, wearing jackets and ties, left to right: Donald J. Delong, Donald Owen Dencker, Richard K. Dibble; the names appear to the right of Richard's photo.

Yellowed black and white newspaper portrait photo of Edith Kowitz Wilson and Edward R. Wilson. Edith has short white hair in flat curls; she wears round wire-rimmed glasses, a dark dress with flowers at the neck, a pearl necklace, and a rather pensive expression. Ed's short white hair is parted in the middle; he wears a three-piece suit and a closed-lip smile. Above the photo is the headline: 'Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Wilson Observe Golden Wedding', below which someone has handwritten the year: '1943'.

Black and white photo of Eleanor Galvin with short hair parted on the left, wearing a black knee-length skirt and blazer with a lighter-colored blouse standing with her left arm around the shoulders of Bertha Dibble, with curly grey hair and wearing a pin-striped calf-length dress, on a snow-covered winter day in front of bare trees.

Rose-tinged portrait photo (possibly from a newspaper) of a full-lipped young woman with dark hair curled on top of her head and falling down behind her neck in a characteristic 1940s style. She is wearing a blazer with wide lapels and a printed blouse.

Black and white photo of a baby wearing a knit cap, knit sweater and knee-length dress sitting in a highchair outdoors; houses and leafless trees are visible behind her.

Black and white photograph of Eline Halden Morud at about age 60

Black and white photo of Richard Kenneth Dibble in a double-breasted Navy dress uniform and cap, standing in front of the steps of his parents' home on 40th. Avenue South in Minneapolis.

Black and white portrait photo of Willard, Sr. in late middle age

Black and white photo of Willis Dibble with greying hair, standing next to the boulders, and in front of the leaf-draped stone bank, near the water at Dibble Springs. He holds a coffee cup in his right hand and a cigarette in his left, and looks frankly at the camera. A dalmatian dog sniffs the ground nearby.

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Photo of a dibble, a gardening tool for making holes
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