Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cora Theresa

Born November 2nd, 1898 in Tracy, Minn Cora was the adored baby of the family. One of 4 girls born to, Iver and Caroline, parents of Norwegian descent. Blond haired and blue eyed in a family of dark haired blue eyed sisters Cora stood out.

One year later her, her sisters and their father would lose their mother.

During this era widowers would typically marry again quickly if only to provide a mother for their children. Iver remained a widower for the rest of his life. Devoting himself to his children.

This posed quite a problem for Iver, who was a traveling salesman. What to do with the four little motherless girls while he was out of town? His solution was to send the older two girl to a boarding school in town. The younger two, Cora and Josephine were left in the care of a housekeeper.

During this time Cora contracted an almost fatal case of scarlet fever. She survived but the illness damaged her heart.

In order to take a job that didn't require travel Iver moved the family from Minnesota to Rolette, North Dakota in 1905. Cora attended public school until 1916 then transferred to L.L. Seminary at Redwing, Minnesota. This was the same school that all her sisters attended. 1918 & 1919 were spent at the University of North Dakota finishing her high school and university work. Unfortunately, she had to stop because she become ill from what was then called an aggravated leakage of the heart. That bout of scarlet fever was rearing it's ugly head.

In late February 1920 she took a teaching position in Williston, North Dakota. At this time teachers were mostly young women who lived with sponsor families. From the letters that were saved by her father and sisters she was happy with her job though not always happy with the sponsor families. In one letter to her father she complains that the woman of the house is always grumpy. She believed that the woman laced her corset too tight and that lead to her grumpiness.

On March 12th, 1920 she complained of a little headache. She wrote a long letter to her daddy, went to school and came home at the usual time. At 5:10 pm while sitting on the stairs looking at a catalog she slumped over and died. She was 22 years old.

She was buried next to her mother in Tracy, Minnesota.

If the amount of letters, photos and newspaper obituaries that were kept by her father, sisters, and niece (my mother-in-law) are any indication she was well loved and terribly missed.

Reading these letters and viewing the photos give glimpses of life in the Midwest of America during the early part of the twentieth century. The opportunity to see this part of American history through Cora's young eyes is something I cherish.

Thank you for letting me show it to you.



  1. M, what a beautiful and heartbreaking story. And there are so many like it but not all documented so well. Your family is so lucky to have these photos and letters. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hate it when I come across a post that impedes my natural inclination to be sarcastic. That was well done in its simplistic, yet artful way. Cheers to ya Michele!!

  3. What Matt-Man said.

    This was just so sad and poignant. And you wrote it so well.

  4. Looking at it through Cora's eyes is interesting, thanks for sharing!

    green beans- I often make ahead of time and reheat for my lunch, that works out well. You could do that since kiddos don't like them very well :)


  5. Wow - what a piece of history. Thanks for sharing that!

  6. Knowing about those who share their genepool with us is one of my favorite hobbies.

    Families are one of the best things there is, espically when they are far enough back they can't be annoying.

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed this very much.


  7. I love this post Michele. Heart it, seriously. Thanks for sharing! (And you know I'm writing down all of those beautiful names).

  8. What a sad story and a beautiful girl.. I'm always amazed that you know so much of your family history, thanks for sharing it with us!

  9. Wow, that was beautiful and so sad. You're lucky to have that family history captured like that.
    I love old photos, so you had me at "hello!"
    Thank you.

  10. I love it when you do these kinds of posts. I love all that stuff!!! Beautiful!!!

  11. What a sad story, and you told it so well.

    But I couldn't help wondering why the dogs were allowed to sit on chairs for portraits but the children had to stand up?

  12. This is the type of history the classes are missing.
    Want more!