Upcoming winter triggers
memories of long ago
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 2:14 AM
With winter fast approaching, have you unearthed your coats, scarves and boots or have you bought new ones? In the photo we see two fine young ladies in their new winter outfits. Alma Haugen Johnson and Emma Hande Wentworth are standing on the sidewalk in front of the Hande home at 304 East Church Street across the street south of the Lobdill stone barn, built in 1900 from limestone blocks quarried right on site. The stone stable was part of the S.C. Lobdill estate to the east, now long gone.
Alma Haugen (later Mrs. Harry H. Johnson) and Emma Hande (Jack) Wentworth, in their new winter coats and hats in 1912.
Knud Hande and Marit Brandt were natives of Valdres Province near Oslo, Norway. They each came to the United States in 1877, met and were married in Decorah, Iowa. They moved to Spring Valley in 1878 and first lived at 407 Division Avenue, where their son, Carl, was born in 1879. They were unable to purchase the home on Church Street that Mrs. Hande coveted, but about 1880 they prevailed upon the builder, John Rossman, to sell, and happily moved in, where their daughter, Emma, was born in 1882. The elegant home was set on an entire quarter city block, surrounded by growing evergreens.
Hande, a tall husky Norwegian, operated a hardware and blacksmithing establishment on the corner of East Main Street and South Section Avenue together with his partner, C.C. Sheldon, until his death in 1921. Mrs. Hande was a Brandt, a family of Norwegian scholars and clergymen, who were among the founders of St. Olaf and Luther colleges. Mr. Hande returned to Norway for six months to visit his family in 1893. Mrs. Hande was to go the next year, but she was called to North Dakota, where her dear sister, Anne Haugen, had died. The widower, Ole Haugen, was so distraught over his young wife's death, he felt he could not rear the children. Mrs. Hande then brought three of the youngsters back here to her home - Bessie, Theodore, and Alma, the latter only three months old. Alma's twin brother, Alexander, was very ill with pneumonia (the same thing that had claimed his mother), and not expected to live. However, he did survive and later was adopted by other cousins, the John Hansons, and raised in California.
Emma Hande graduated from Spring Valley High School in 1900 (along with my grandfather, Harry Steffens), and went to Winona Normal School and the University of Minnesota. She taught school in Spring Valley and Mabel for 20 years, and was married to Jack Wentworth. Knud Hande bought the Lee Block in 1907 for Emma and Jack, where they operated the Amuzu Theater. Today it is the site of Phil Sheldon's Plumbing & Heating. Jack died unexpectedly of appendicitis in 1916; Emma later worked for Interstate Power Co. with offices on Broadway. She died in 1956.
Alma Haugen graduated at age 16 in 1912, and chose not to attend college, but worked for the telephone company, then in the post office, which was located in the business district on the east side. She remembers playing the piano during silent movies for her aunt and uncle, the Wentworths, at the Amuzu Theater. Her future husband, Harry H. Johnson, graduated that same year, 1912, and after several odd jobs, decided to attend watchmaker's school in St. Paul. He also completed their three month optometry course. After working for a jewelry store in Iowa, he purchased Harry Bandel's jewelry store in Spring Valley and appeared to prosper. Harry served in the army from 1917 to 1918; then came home to the jewelry store, and married Alma Haugen in 1919 at the Hande home. He planned to build a home for his family, but the 1929 Depression hit, and they ended up living in the Hande home. Their only child, Harry Richard, was born in 1921. His mother, Alma, developed tuberculosis in 1922 and lived for several months at a sanitarium in Walker, Minn. A sleeping porch was added to the house for Alma when she returned from the sanitarium. Harry R. was raised by his Grandma Hande and Aunt Bessie, along with Uncle Ted and Aunt Emma, in the lovely Hande home. He told of a joyous boyhood, lavished with attention from relatives, and having the freedom to roam the streets and railyards. He told many stories of life in Spring Valley and about his love of trains. The town was blessed with two railroads, and Harry became good friends with the train crews who loved the little boy who was fascinated with the engines and often climbed into the cab with them. A graduate of 1939, Harry majored in journalism at the University and often ushered at their musical and theatrical events. Many of us knew Harry as our voluble postman, a job he enjoyed for most of his life after spending time at the U.
Of note: Harry's grandfather was a Canadian, Dr. Jonathan Rossington Johnson, a graduate of McGill Medical School. He practiced here from 1883 until 1905, dying at a very early age. J.R.'s sons were Dr. C.H. Johnson, and Harry H. Johnson, jeweler, both of Spring Valley. J.R. also had a brother, Dr. C.H. Johnson, who located in Austin. His half-brother, Dr. Kendrick, delivered Harry R. when he was born.
We, too, have many memories of Harry, the postman, son of Alma Haugen Johnson shown here. Just ask me.