Lena and Ole Johnson Family
(Donald's paternal uncle and aunt)
Top: Oline Andrie "Lena" (1869-1949) and Ole Halvor Johnson (1868-1939) and six oldest of their 10 children. From left: Oscar, Lena (holding Eva), Harry, Ole (holding Alex), Mabel, Alphie. (There are various spellings of the children's names on photos.)
Bottom: By the summer kitchen at Lena and Ole's farm; beehives in back on hill, washtub on wall. Children from left: Raymond, Vernie (sitting), Ardelle (George's daughter), Irene. This was the farm famous for having such steep hills that a cow once fell out of the pasture.
Ardelle recalls that Ole and Lena's house was one big room with a china cupboard, a big table and a rocking chair. Ole would sit in his rocking chair and tell a story and if the listeners laughed he would tell it again. He would repeat the same story until no one laughed anymore. Ole farmed but some said he wasn't overly ambitious. The family always had bread and lard to eat, but never enough.
Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:
"On the way to Wisconsin [in 1921], we ran into places where they were building roads with horses. They were almost impassable with the Model T. One place was so bad they had to hook a team to the Ford to get us through, and the low bands were all worn out by the time we got there, on a brand new car." [2.62-5]
"We visited relatives on several farms and I remember when we came to Aunt Lena Johnson's (Pa's oldest sister's) place, her husband [Ole] was having a bowl of bread and milk for supper. I remember him saying, 'This is the best I can get.' They lived in a house that had never been painted, and ... they raised 10 kids."
"Pa said when Ole built the house he bought cull lumber from the sawmill in LaCrosse for $1.50 a load and the total bill for the house was $100 or $150."
"The house was set right at the bottom of a steep hill and had a door on each side. Aunt Lena told about one of the boys opening both doors and then coming down the hill on skis and going right through the house." [2.63-6]