Sorenson Family Memoirs
Written at age 86 in January of 2000
Typed for the Sorenson Family Web Page
by Fred Kunze in 2005
Fred note: I was instructed by Dora to leave out some comments (“use your very good judgement”) from her document. I honored that, and I also resequenced some parts for clarity. In most cases I left Dora’s original spelling and grammar. Most family members have copies of her handwritten comments and can read the unabridged version. This, abridged version, inlcudes clickable links to related images. When you see a highlighted, underlined word, it will be a clickable link. When you click on the underlined part, it should bring up a picture or a message of some kind.
I’m Dora (Sorenson) Huncovsky, the last living member of the USA original Sorenson family.
I’m a descendant of Rasmus Sorenson Skaarup, a respected farmer and stone mason, who was born Jan. 7, 1859 in Slisvig Holstein, Denmark. He followed his father’s footsteps in masonry by trade.
Upon hearing the progress of the U.S.A., he immigrated to USA as a middle-aged man, dropping his last name by request.
Hoping to follow his masonry trade in the new country, he was very disappointed to find not much call for it.
Entering the USA, he ended up in Minnesota in a community of swedes where he met his very young bride-to-be, Selma Nelson, who was born Sept. 25, 1884 to Nels and Nannie Nelson .
They were married Oct. 31, 1898 in Montevideo, Minn. The span of about twenty four years in their ages probably made my father the dominant half of this union. My Mother--with her swedish temper eventually found she too had a voice in this union.
Seven children were born to them every two years--from 1901--1913 in the state of Minnesota, County of Lac Qui Parle (Camp Release Township.) where our father was a farmer.
Seeking a more promising future, on March 25, 1916 they moved their family to N. Dak., where their eighth child was born--(Doris, June 3, 1916.)
The move was difficult with a large family and a very pregnant wife. Brother Denis used to relate stories of many hardships and disappointments we all shared.
Denis told of us all living in a two room sod house the first year in our new country, near New England, N.D. Near this vicinity they built a large family home and also farmed some acreage in Strehlow twp.--(only to find out my father was dealing with crooked people and lost it all! There we were, neighbors of the Stein’s, Kramer’s, Hjart’s, Gutensohn’s and the Kirschner’s.
Living in this big home, Della, Denit, Devene, Doris and I all went to the Strehlow school where Roy Kramer’s sister-in-law (Grace Norton) was the the teacher. We almost filled up the whole school! We walked 3-4 miles, but brother Delver drove us by buggy or sleigh, if needed.
Denit and Devene were in and out of school a lot to help make a living. Della eventually became a rural school teacher.
Losing the homestead we moved to six miles south of New England--to a nicer house-- but smaller! There the school kids were picked-up by bus early in the morning and dropped off at home late afternoon. So, Doris and I finished our last years of grade school in New England, plus four years high school.
After that move Denit and Devene didn’t have much schooling--they were kept busy helping around the farm, working more acreage.
At our new location the neighbors to the west of us were the Evan Johnson family--to the north of us were the Zahn’s, Larson’s, Stardig’s, and eventually the Belland’s (on the Stardig’s farm)
We were considered a large family and I really don’t know how we all fit into that small house south of New England. Denis and Viola, Denit and Devene, Doris and I and our mother were still left at home and had only two bedrooms. One of the rooms was used for the kitchen and dining area--no bath room (except outside with Sears Roebuck catalogs). A kitchen and bath eventually was added on. Needless to say, we all lived through it!
Being a large family we always had a number of people at the house. There was a pasture between the Johnson’s and us and it always had some water on it (kind of a slough) that froze over and made a fair skating rink for us. Many neighbors came to skate and ended up at our house. My mother would bake waffles for everyone on one waffle iron! I believe Linda (Kanan) Kamolz (Della’s daughter) has that iron now.
My father passed away at New England on Dec. 3, 1931 and my mother on Nov. 24, 1963 at Bismarck hospital while visiting Al & I. We had a storm and when we tried to phone Denis, the lines were down at the farm so we had to call their neighbors the Bellands and he drove to Denis place to let them know.
My Mother once told me that my father used to play for weddings in Minnesota. When he played his accordion for the dances (Sometimes all night) he would wear out the bellows on his accordion for one wedding dance! I guess Denis (who played by ear) got that music talent from his dad!
I learned one lesson when I was growing up--don’t get smart “aleckie” with your parents!! I remember a day well! I was very flip with my Mother making a remark abut having so many kids and naming them all with names starting with the letter “D”. I told her if she had any more she would have had to call them “Damit or Darnit”. I was sent to our grove of trees for a switch to be punished with! I got smart and trimmed off all of the nasty little twigs before I arrived back at the house! But remember youngsters, parents usually catch on to that too!
Nov. 27th, 1963--I remember that well, home from my mother’s funeral and listening to the news of Pres. Kennedy’s assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald.
When Denit and Devene still lived at home, Denis had help to plant and reap the crops. When they married and left home Denis was left alone. His farmer friends kidded him and asked what he was going to do now? He remarked, he still had a wife and two sisters at home! The reaping season came and out we went with Denis. I used to tie my pant cuffs so tight I almost stopped my blood circulation, a scarf around my neck and one under my hat! And it got hot! Doris refused to dress like that--so when the grasshoppers got the best of her--she’d hop off the reaper box and walk home! Denis put me on the reaper and he on the tractor. The first time he turned a corner--that reaper pole nearly landed me behind the reaper on the ground--he forgot he had a girl on the pole. We were known as “Denis’ all girl crew”.
I don’t remember how long we had to do that. I know I was glad when my mother found a job for me!
I remember one time Delver picked us up at school--we had deep snow. On the way home (nearly home) the horses bolted forward and Delver could not stop them--but he was very calm. They got to our drive-way and went around the corner so fast we almost tipped over. I swear we were on two runners! They got to the door of the barn and stopped dead still! Delver just looked at us and grinned! He was a quiet one. But I remember one time he got worked up, a near tragedy happened in the family. His car was stolen from a Dickinson street while they were shopping with baby Bonnie asleep in the back seat. Black Hills police found his car in an empty lot the next day with Bonnie, bottle and all--that really upset him!
Devene and Denit usually created a competition between themselves, trying to outdo the other. There was a trouble spot on the cross-road, south of the Larson’s from hiway 22 over to the road past our house. It was a good “gumbo spot”. Somebody got stuck there, and came to the house looking for help to pull him out. Denit offered to pull him out with his truck. He got stuck! Then Devene went to show he could do it with his truck--he got stuck! Denis, watching from the house saw it all, laughed and said--”Well, that leaves me and my tractor”! He pulled them all out!
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I remember a family picnic at Cedar Dam--of course Denis and Devene loved to fish, so they packed their rods, reels and bait . Della and Fred were with us that day and Devene was showing all the little kids how to fish. He got one on the line but it got off the hook--it just kind of looked up at him and started to swim away. Devene dived in after it and came up wringing wet with a small crappie in his hand. All the kids laughing as he was pouring water and mud out of his shoes! Bertha didn’t think he was teaching them a good lesson!
Dena was rather quiet like Delver and very loving. She was like a mother to Doris and I. She just wasn’t with us long enough! I remember her as a kind and loving person.
Della had a heart of gold--but you had to do thing right for her! She was tough on her kids--but they were good kids because of that. When Della was still at home, I remember she and I were going to give each other a new hair-do with a new curling iron we got and then take pictures of it. I wanted to get mine done first and she said, “no, she was the oldest and wanted hers done first.” I never did get mine done, she told me she got too tired (I’ve got a picture to prove this) I was rather glad--it didn’t look to good! But, she proved her heart was in the right place--when I graduated from high school, she gave me my first wrist watch--and she couldn’t really afford it!
Devene loved to pick on you with mischief in his eyes! I remember one day he took my mother up town to shop and I decided I’d bake a chocolate pie. I didn't know much about cooking at that time so I didn’t know there was any difference in starches. Not knowing the difference I used clothes starch--it was like rubber! He never let me live it down. Devene was the only brother who knew how to cook a little. He made a real good “Mulligan Stew”.
I remember a day when Doris and I were left at home on the farm alone--the rest went to town. Doris decided we should do something different--we did! We went out to the barn to do some riding. Since we didn’t have any riding horses and no other horses around--Doris decided to ride one of the cows that were standing near a big manure pile. I helped her on but she didn’t stay on very long--yup, right into the manure pile!
Doris was the baby and needless to say she sometimes took advantage of it! Doris was a wonderful cook too. I don’t know if she taught Roy Moe how to cook or if he taught her. He was a very good cook too. When Doris passed away his cooking talent helped him survive.
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As for me, I took up art classes at New England high school and really like it. My mother wanted to send me on for more schooling on it but when I was in high school it was during the “Dirty Thirties” and times were tough and money scarce. I’m sure you all have heard of those years
After I graduated from high school a Mr. Stegner, a sheep rancher, from Amidon, N.D. called at the house to see if he could hire me. He had two daughters going to Dickinson College, two very young grade school kids, a son about 15-16 years old and a sheep herder his son’s age. Those two used to pull many pranks on me! I had complete care of the house, kids and meals. His wife was bedridden.
Eventually, I got the best of those two young men. The son Charles and the sheep herder always got dressed up on Saturday nites and went up town, “girling”. The last prank they pulled on me was taking my “undies” out of my drawer in my room and laying them between the sheets of the sheep-herders bed! I retrieved them and never mentioned it to anyone. I washed clothes for the family on Thursdays so I took all their shorts from both of them, washed, starched and ironed them. While they were eating supper on Sat. nite, I stood them up on the floor in their rooms. Charles went complaining to his mama. She asked to see me. After the explanation of why I did that, she just asked to see Charles again. He came out with a long, red face, not saying a word!
Della worked for Dr. Perkins and his wife in Dickinson before I did--but when she got married they hired me. The first thing I did was break a saucer to their real expensive set of dishes, cleaning up after one of their big dinner parties. Della said, “don’t worry--we’ll not tell them and order one”--she had the address because she had broken one too!
After I got married and moved to Bismarck, I used to sit in the car and wait for Al to finish his round of golf for years. I used to bowl, but I gave that up and took up golf myself. I loved it from the start. I’m no pro but I have accomplished a few feats myself. I have four “holes in one” credited to my name. In my earlier years I was runner up at Minot’s N.D. State Golf Championship Tournament. I’ve been Bismarck Riverwood’s golf champion several years and was inducted into the N.D. women’s “Hall of Fame” at Fargo, N.D. by Georgia Tainter Goff--who was our N.D. State golf champion for many years.
In some of my very old letters I noticed my grandmother, Nannie Nelson Sloan and aunt Myrtle Worsech spelled Denis’ name DENUS (a “us” like our fathers name ended) its possible, I guess.
We knew a family in Bismarck who had an elderly lady staying at their house who had been an employee for their folks. She was called “Daly” and was scandinavian. I’ve often wondered since, if that was the way Della’s name should have been spelled? I always remember her name spelled “Daily” and maybe it really was “Daly”? She changed her name when she became a teacher. The Johnsons to the west of us were a good sized family too. I wonder how many remember that our sister Della was courted by Melvin Johnson for a short while--but it cooled and ended when Della went to teach.
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I remember our brothers never got out of the house (especially Denis) without taking his two younger sisters along when they went to (Fred note--name of town looks like Desart) for dancing! We couldn’t go unless they would take us!
Denis and I never had any children but we certainly had many nieces and nephews to cherish, love every one! Have to admit they were and are some of the most talented nieces and nephews--never afraid to tackle anything, that includes the great nephews and nieces too.
Dora Sorenson Huncovsky, age 86
Reporting--As I remember and knew it.
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1-7-1859 Rasmus Sorenson
12-3-1931 Our Redeemer Lutheran Cemetary
New England, ND
9-25-1883 Selma Nelson Sorenson
11-24-1963 Our Redeemer Lutheran Cemetary
New England, ND
6-13-1901 Denis Sorenson
11-20-1978 Our Redeemer Lutheran Cemetary
New England, ND
10-2-1909 Devene Sorenson
12-9-1960 Our Redeemer Lutheran Cemetary
New England, ND
10-15-1905 Delver Sorenson
3-9-1959 St. Mary’s Cemetery
New England, ND
5-20-1903 Dena Sorenson Kunze
6-14-1948 Memorial Cemetary
10-29-1907 Della Sorenson Kanan
9-14-1973 Memorial Park Cemetery
Sioux City, IA
10-14-1911 Denit Sorenson
3-25-1993 Pine Laawn Memorial Park
Rapid City, SD
6-3-1916 Doris Sorenson Moe
5-17-1986 Willamette National Cemetery
12-31-1913 Dora Sorenson Huncovsky
Ages and Causes of Deaths
Dena--age 45 (cancer) June 14, 1948
Delver--age 54 (heart) Mar. 9, 1959
Devene--age 51 (heart) Dec. 9, 1960
Della--age 66 (cancer) Sept. 14, 1973
Denis--age 77 (cancer) Nov. 20, 1978
Doris--age 70 (heart) May 19, 1986
Denit--age 82 (cancer) Mar. 25, 1993
Rasmus Sorenson Skaarup
Selma Victoria Nelson Sorenson
Denis Warnel Sorenson
Dena Sebella Sorenson Kunze
Delver Lolland Sorenson
Della Alvina Sorenson Kanan
Devene Robert Sorenson
Denit Rolland Sorenson
Dora Alilian Sorenson Huncovsky
Doris Bernice Sorenson Diehl, Schultz, Moe
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