When I was cleaning the house just before Easter this year, I found two yellowed sheets of paper folded together. They must have fallen out of an old photo album; I don’t really know. They were carbon copies of a letter written in 1931 by my great-grandfather Jacob Hans Jacobson on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary with Ann Matilda. I transcribed the letter just as he wrote it, complete with errors in spelling and grammar, which were not that many, considering that he did not speak English in his childhood and had little schooling. What a blessing it is to have ancestors who took the time to write their stories! I am posting parts of the letter here.
I (Jacob Hans Jacobson) was born in Nansted, Norway Oct. 22, 1857. Came with my parents by sailship to America in 1862, being 9 weeks on the ocean, landing at Quebec,Canada. Came by train to La Crosse, Wisconsin, then by boat to Winona, Minnesota. There was no railroad in Minnesota yet.
We settled in Filmore County, where the people fled to a central location, and prepared to fight the Indians, who were massacreing the settlers further west and the reports were that they were coming our way very fast.
In 1875 we moved west, with two covered wagons and five pair of oxen, 250 miles to MurrayCounty. I walked all the way and drove 11 head of cattle. There were no bridges, so we had to ford all the rivers and muddy creeks, being stuck many times, doubling up the oxen on one wagon to get out. The mosquitoes were very bad.
We settled near what years later became Slayton Minn. We had 30 miles to the nearest town, no roads, just trails driving oxen taking 3 days for the trip. Our camp was to lay bedding on the prairie and find our lunchbox for our meals. We would drive for hours and not see a house. The grasshoppers took our crops for 4 years in succession and the next 2 years was rust and blight, so we lost 6 crops straight, and over half the settlers left the country, but my folks stayed. I trapped muskrats and mink in the sloughs where they had built their houses and made their holes. There were a lot of half civilized Indians trapping but they never touched my traps.
I was the oldest of 5 having 2 brothers and 2 sisters. I went150 miles with 6 others in a wagon with just a box on and a pair of horses, camping on the prairie along the way, to get east of where the grasshoppers were, to get work in the harvest and threshing to earn some for winter living. I found a place where I could work for my board and room and go to school. I was 17 years old now, and had very little schooling as there were no schools for many years where we lived and I felt that I wanted some education and ended up with one term at St. Olaf College at Northfield, Minn.
When I came home in April the railroad was blocked with snow, so I had to walk 50 miles through snow. It took me 5 days. I got snow blind and very tired as I had just gotten up from a sick bed and I was very weak.
< Then he met Ann Matilda, married, and had children>
In 1914 we went to Scobey Montana in the homestead rush again, where we have been farming ever since during the summer months, spending the winters in Grand Forks and other places until we moved to Long Beach Cal. in 1930.
We have settled in new homestead country 3 times and years later the railroad came through our land in all three places, so we have had lots of pioneer life. Lots of the time it was far to market, poor roads and slow transportation, so there was lots of hardships, which most all settlers in new countries have to contend with, but now we have it comfortable and injoying the fine climate in southern California.