Monday, September 06, 2010

The Holst family

My knowledge of the Holst family--Claude Frederick Holst was my maternal grandfather-- is even more limited.  He died shortly after I was born and I have no independent recollection of him, nor did my grandmother Regina ever tell me many stories, though she spoke of him quite fondly and with great respect.  He was known as Dr. Fred.

What I do have of him comes from a one page autobiography he wrote late in his life.  That, plus some information obtained sleuthing on the internet which is appended below.   The bracketed words are my comments

Claude Frederick Holst Autobiography

"I was born near Red Wing, Minnesota in Goodhue County on February 8, 1874, the third of 9 children.  Father was Henry [Hinrich] Holst and mother was Margaret Damann [or Damman].  Bertha was the eldest then John Burton, Claus Frederick, Margaret, Henry, Clara, Lilian, William and Alwyn.  One child born after Henry died in infancy.

When I was about 41/2 years old the family moved to Mower County where father bought 3/4 section of land.  The nearest town was Dexter, about 5 or 6 miles from the farm.  The chinch bugs were so bad that Father Holst sold the farm after only a few years on the place.  The family then moved and Father bought the first lot in what is now Stevens [County?].  There he built a small hotel which he operated and also 160 homestead and a tree claim of 160 acres (you had to plant trees on it).  I went to the village school through the sixth grade.  John [Burton] and I often went with the threshing machine and cut bands.  We also ran the farm while the folks managed the hotel.  When crops were in we would go back to Stevens to be with the folks.  One year we planted potatoes on July 4th and had a wonderful crop.  In Stevens the folks had a barn and often kept horses for the other people.  Here Father also had a little store and when he sold out he moved his goods to Elkton where he also built another little store.  We only stayed a few years and moved to Claybank and started a store there (I was about 15 years old).  Went to school and finished the 8th grade and then went to business college in Red Wing.  Father was a ticket agent at Claybank so every night I came home on the train (12 miles) and went back again on the morning train. I went there to school for 2 terms (years) and afterwards taught country school 3 miles from home.  I rode to and from school on our horse Mollie.

I taught only 1 term ($50 a month) and went to Boxrud Brothers in Red Wing to work as a bookkeeper for $25 a month as second bookkeeper.  I helped wait on trade when we weren't too busy.  During the summer before teaching I worked for my uncle Jacob Wohlers on a farm near Austin.  They had no children.  Aunt Wohlers was mother's sister.

After leaving Boxrud's (21 yrs old), I went to Hauge Seminary at Red Wing for 2 years until 1897.  In the fall of 1897 I went to the U. of Minnesota Medical School and spent the next 4 years studying.  After graduating in 1901 I went to Hendrix, Minn. for 2 years. It was a Scandinavian community and I did not care for it.  Went to Chicago and did Post Graduate work in eye, ear, nose and throat.  Burton [his older brother] sold out at Lake Benton where he had been for 5 or 6 years and went to Chicago Post Graduate school with me. 

After finishing our course in Chicago we went about the country looking for a location and because of Arloine's (Burton's wife) friendship with Mrs. Herb Snow we decided to locate in Little Falls.  Here we practiced from 1903 until we retired from practice in 1947.

In 1899 Father Holst sold the store in Claybrook, gave up being postmaster and bought another farm at Claybank near Red Wing.  Here he lived until he died about 1924.  Alwyn later sold the farm and Mother went to live in Red Wing.

I belonged to the Upper Mississippi Med., State Med., and American Medical Association[s]."

My grandfather and his Uncle Burton  were friends with a young aviator, Charles Lindbergh, son of the US Representative (R) from their congressional District (now held by Michelle Bachman--the district is rock ribbed Republican).  Lindbergh used to buzz his plane over the clinic and tip his wings so the Drs. Holst would come out and wave at him.  Grandfather was an accomplished sock darner and darned his own socks.  He also played a mean hand of bridge.  The Holst's closest friends were the Mussers, who were associated with Weyerhaeuser in the timber trade.  The Mussers and the Weyerhaeusers had huge mansions next to each other, but Charles Weyerhaeuser moved from Little Falls in 1920 after Weyerhaeuser purchased a huge tract of timberland in Washington state. 

My mother went to the Mussers for piano lessons when they engaged a teacher to come from St. Cloud to teach the girls.  I met one of the Musser girls, Laura Jane Musser, when I was quite young.  She was a formidable woman.

Musser house above, Weyerhaeuser house below

I find it interesting that there is no mention in Dr. Fred's 'autobiography' of his marriage on June 19, 1920, to my Grandmother, Regina.  He was 46 when they married, and she was 24.

Searching the internet revealed that his father, Hinrich  (Henry) Holst (b. July 23, 1842, Ravenehe, Germany, d. Oct. 7, 1925, Belvidere, Goodhue County, MN) came over to America in 1866 on the ship Allemania from Hamburg (depart 14 Apr 1866, arr. NYC 30 Apr 1866).  He was married to Margaretha Damman (29 Nov. 1852-2 Dec. 1932).  Minnesota census shows the following:

Census 1880 Marshall, Mower Co., MN:

Henry Holst,37
Bertha K.,10
Claus F.,6
Henry G.,2
John,2 months

Census 1900 Goodhue, Goodhue, MN:

Henry Holst,57
Fred C.,26
Maggie S.,24
Henry G.,22
Clara A.,18
Lilian M.,14
William F.,12
Alwin R.,2

Interesting to see that the names over the ten year interval have become more Anglicised.  In 1897, Henry Holst and several other parishioners, founded an English language Lutheran church, St. Luke's English Evangelical church.  Henry served as president of  the church and the early services were held in the LK Anderson hall above the post office.  Attendance was about 85.  In 1903 a "neat frame church" was built at the cost of $2,000.  In 1908 a new steeple was erected, housing a 1,000 lb tin copper bell at a cost of $1,000.  At this time attendance at the church was 150.

 Besides his brother Burton, the only sibling I have learned anything about was Alwyn.  This is from the Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) website:

Alwyn R. Holst '20
Inducted 1966. While being a fine all-around athlete in his own right, Alwyn Holst will perhaps be best remembered for the great number of students, many of them athletes, that he encouraged to attend Hamline. Besides lettering in basketball, baseball and track at Hamline, Holst participated in drama, was sports editor of the Oracle and was on the Liner yearbook staff.
Holst pitched semi-pro ball in two minor leagues in Minnesota and was one of the first coaches in the American Legion junior baseball program. He received a doctorate degree in education from New York University. Holst headed Hamline's department of education for four years and served as superintendent in seven Minnesota school districts. He also maintained active membership in thirteen professional and fifteen civic and fraternal organizations. Deceased 1964.

Also found on the web from the U. of Minnesota President's Report, 1944-46:
@ p. 25:
Alwyn R. Holst, assistant professor and head of Center for Continuation Study, effectiveat close of 1944-45, to accept a position at Hamline University, St. Paul.

@ p. 29:
Alwyn R. Holst as assistant professor and head of the Center for Continuation Study.
B.A. 1920, Hamline University; M.A. 1934, University of Minnesota.

My mother told me that her father and Uncle Burton paid for Alwyn's college.  He never married.  Alwyn was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed and was put in charge of the Red Cross there for a period of time.

As mentioned above, the Holsts were devout Lutherans, including Dr. Fred.  It made his marriage to Regina highly unusual for the time, as she was strongly Catholic.  However, they seem not to have let their religious differences interfere with their marriage.  Towards the end of his life, Dr. Fred converted to Catholicism so that Regina would not worry.  Interestingly enough, it was my mother who was the catalyst for his conversion.  She was home from college at some point and asked him why he wasn't a Catholic.  "Well, no one ever asked, me,"  he responded.  Mom said that the bishop himself came to confirm Dr. Fred after he converted.

My grandmother, Regina, and my grandfather, Dr. Fred at my parents' wedding in Little Falls, 1951.

1 comment:

Dan Matyola said...

"At the end of his life, he converted to Catholicism so that Regina would not worry."

I love that line!