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Ida Christensen's Memoirs to my Grandchildren

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1875 to 22 Aug 1969
Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: Christensen Betzer
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by Idarose Betzer Christensen

This is a story of our family, where we lived, and happenings in history that were closely related - such as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. After I read "Sacajawea" I realized how often our family had traveled much of their trail. Perhaps this is why the book was so exciting to me, and why I want to relate it to you.

Starting with my mother, Clara Rose Rogers, born of English, Irish and Scottish decent, was born in Illinois in 1875. My father, Parker Howe Betzer born in Illinois 1875 was of Pennsylvania-Dutch decent. They married in Chicago and moved to Britton, S.D. My oldest brother Roger Howe, sister - Esther Marie and brother Willard Douglas were all born in Britton. The folks then moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota where I was born in 1910. My mother died in 1929 and my father died in Springfield, Va. in 1955.

Many of my mothers ancestors dated back to 1555. Thomas Rogers came here on the Mayflower in 1620. In 1635 James Rogers came. He brought with him the family bible which belonged to John Rogers, the protestant martyr who was burned at the stake by Bloody Mary in Smithfield England.

This bible was a version dating back as early as AD-1549. It was given to Alfred University at Alfred, N.Y.

On the map of the Lewis and Clark expedition you will note places and times where we as a family lived our lives.

Halliday, N.D. where I lived from the age of five to seven years bordered the Berthold Reservation. My father and mother had many contracts with the Mandan Indians of the Sioux nation. My father ran the lumber yard in Halliday, servicing the Indians on the reservation.

Some of our summer vacations were spent on the reservation where mother and father organized the first Sunday school. My brother Doug and sister Marie being older than I spent much of their time riding Indian ponies with their friends. They rode bare-back and would call out "hittie-up" having great fun in these races. My one recollection was the day they took me with them and visted an Indian squaw sitting beside an open fire stirring a wild blueberry pudding.

Edgar Crowsheart bought lumber from my father to supply the Indians for their shelters. The picture I have of him sitting on the steps with my mother was the house he provided for us. This picture is very special to us because the Indians never allowed pictures taken of them.

In 1936 your grandfather together with two classmates from the University of Minnesota panned gold along the Salmon river in Idaho. They were all students of the school of Mines and working on their thesis. This project they had to complete between their junior and senior year - a field trip of actual minning.

In 1938 your grandfather and I were married in Minneapolis. Harlan was of Danish decent, his father and mother both born in Denmark. He had two sisters - Myrtle and Alice.

Our first home was in Ft. Peck, Montana. He was working on the Ft. Peck dam which was the largest earth filled dam built in this country at that time.

The beginning of World War Two Harlan was sent to Edgemont, S.D. on war essental work constructing an underground ammunition depot. In 1942 we moved to Edgemont where Gene was born at Hot Springs, S.D. When Gene was seven months old and after two pyloric-stenosis operations. Harlan was sent to Gladstone, Michigan, where a navy pier was being constructed at Escanaba. After seven months again we were transferred to Milwaukee. We lived in Greendale, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.

1945 Gary was born in Milwaukee and when he was three weeks old we were called back to Ft. Peck, just after the war had ended.

1947 we moved to Minot, N.D., here Harlan was resident engineer on a Veterans Hospitol built by the Corp of Engineers. From October until June we lived in a seventeen foot trailer. This was one step better than the Indians who went before us.

In June of 1947 we moved to Riverdale, N.D. where the Garrison Dam was to be built. We continued to live in our trailor until February, when our government house was completed. What a joy that was, real running water, heat from a vent, electricity, and room to run around in. We had a good life here and many lifelong friends. Gene and Gary both started school here.

When the dam was completed and the lake formed behind the dam, it was named "Sacajawea". I'm glad they gave her this honor. When we visted there in 1969 we saw the lake and the campsites and picnic areas.

In 1952 our trail ended in Aiken, S.C. Gary was now seven and Gene ten years old. They finished school in Aiken and both graduated from the University of South Carolina.

During these years Harlan worked at the Savannah River project for the Atomic Energy Commission. He retired in May 1969. We then took our long planned trip of retirement to California. Picked Marie up in Minneapolis and she went the rest of the way to Salinas, California with us. We celebrated our thirty third wedding anniversary beside the Columbia river in Oregon. Marie prepared an anniversary dinner for us which we ate in the trailer.

We returned to Aiken on August 22nd, Gary's birthday. Harlan died on August 24th of complications of heart disease and asthma.


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