Diapers on the Clothesline

3.20.2022 [archived ~ previously published 4.12.2018]

In the March 21, 1908, issue the Itasca News reported that the “population was increased to the village this week by four. On Saturday, last, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Collard. On Tuesday, the 17th to Mr. and Mrs. Sam Lance, Mill Division, a son.  On the same day to Mr. and Mrs. A.G. Hachey, daughter.  On Monday the 16th, to Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Obert, a son.”

Twenty-five years later, a very similar story was published about four more children.  I decided to follow the lives of these eight individuals using ancestery.com. It was easier to find information on the 1908 babies because the census records go through 1940, but I found some on those born in 1933 as well. All were too young or too old to be drafted into WWI or WWII. One of the eight did not live to adulthood. Most moved from the area.  At least two are buried in local cemeteries.  And only one is still living in Deer River.

Born March 14th, 16th, & 17th, 1908

Fernandel Ida Collard was the second child born to Joe and Mary.  She was named after her paternal grandmother, though everyone called her Fern.   Joe was the proprietor of a temperance (alcohol-free) pool hall in Deer River, which he established shortly before Fern’s birth.  Her mother, Mary (Wallace) Lozway, was widowed and pregnant with her 10th child in 1905 when she and Joe married. In addition to Fern, the Collards had two other children, Joseph Jr. and Helen.  In 1921 Joe died of an accidental gunshot, and the siblings were split into several homes. 

When Fern was 17, she married Claude Couillard, who quite possibly might have been a distant cousin on her father’s side.  She and Claude resided in Duluth and had three children, later they moved to Moose Lake for the remainder of their lives.  Fern lived to be 90 years old.

Vernon Cedric Lance was the first of ten children born to Samuel and Alma (Christopherson). Sometime after 1910, the Lance family moved to Wisconsin.  As a young man, Vernon returned to Minnesota, settling in Olmsted County.  He married Irene Luhmann, and they had four children.  Vernon had a dairy farm which supplied milk and butter to the St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN.  He died in 1961 at the age of 53.

The baby born to Albert and Mabel (McAlpine) Hachey died just two short weeks after her birth.  The Hachey’s moved to Grand Rapids, and according to the 1910 United States census, Albert was a deputy sheriff, and there was a son, Ronald several months old.

Lincoln Eugene Obert was the fifth child and only son born to William and Thalia (Post). The Oberts had moved from Fergus Falls, and Lincoln was the first child born in Deer River.  It was his uncle Arthur Obert whose murder was the subject of two recent Reminisce columns.

Lincoln enlisted in the Navy and spent four years at the Panama Canal Zone.  After discharge, he married Hazel Krumholz.  They lived in St. Paul where Lincoln was employed as a streetcar motorman for the Twin Cities Transit Company. The Oberts had three children, LaVaughn, Rosemarie, and Michael.  It appears that Lincoln moved back to Deer River as he died at the age of 63 years in Grand Rapids and is buried at the Pine Ridge Cemetery.

Born November 28th, 1933

Four New Boys ~ Deer River News 11-30-1933

“Four brand new boys came to town this week.  Sons were born Tuesday to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Jurvelin, Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Garner, and Mr. and Mrs. George Hawkins, and on Wednesday to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Tripp.”

According to the Minnesota Birth Index, the Tripp baby was also born on 11-28-1933, which meant the four Deer River boys were born on the same day.  I wondered if this was unusual, so I looked a little further.  In all, there were seven children born in Itasca County on November 28, 1933, and statewide there were 136 births. (For those of you with a curious, analytical mind, the day before there were 102 Minnesota, and two Itasca births.  The day after there were three County and 116 state births. I checked the full moon was December 1st.)

John Robert Gardner was born to ambitious parents.  William, his father was an attorney and his mother Bessie (Milne), a teacher at the high school. When they married, they were 45 and 31 years of age, respectively.  John’s brother George was born two years later.  The 1940 census shows that William was the probate judge for Itasca County, and the family lived in Grand Rapids.  I could find nothing more on John, except that he died at the age of 39 years in Los Angeles, CA.

Ruth Hill’s father was a road building contractor at the time she met and married George Hawkins, who might have been working on the roads as well.  Their first child, Ronald George Hawkins, was born on November 28. Not long after his birth, the Hawkins family moved to St. Paul.  In 1940 they were living in Cedar Rapids, IA, where George was employed as a mechanical engineer for a road machine manufacturing company.  As with John Gardner, I could find no additional information on Ronald Hawkins, other than his death in 1998 in Cass County, Texas.

Harvey Tripp was the sixth child born to Fred and Wilma (Sharp) Tripp. In 1940 the Tripp family was in Kinghurst where Fred is a truck driver for a logging camp.  The 1958 voter registration for Los Angeles documents Harvey as a Republican.  He has lived in Kettle Falls, Washington for quite a few years, and is living there now.  The internet is amazing; I even found his phone number!

And last, but not least is Richard Henry Jurvelin.  We all know him as Dick, the guy who early each morning places seasonal merchandise out in front of the family hardware store.  He is the only child of Henry “Hank” and Olga (Sjolund). Hank and Olga worked for Deer River merchants for many years and secretly married on April 27, 1930. 


  1. youngv2015 says:

    I love how you took the announcement of these two sets of four births in a week, and found something about their lives.


  2. youngv2015 says:

    P.S. Great title: Diapers on the Clothesline


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