Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who Was Miss Ida Vedquam?

Who was Ida Vedquam?
That's what I asked myself, back in March, when I brought home three Needlecraft Magazines from the flea market, each with an address label with the name Miss Ida Vedquam.  The label on both the 1926 copy and the 1940 copy read Miss Ida Vedquam.  During the 14 year time period between the two magazines, the Miss hadn't changed to Mrs.  For some reason, that tugged at my heart a little bit and I wondered who she was, and whether or not she ever married.

No, apparently she did not.

Now, for those who don't know me very well, I love digging into local history (museums, cemeteries, county history books...I love them all), and local history has become somewhat of a hobby.  So, it was no surprise to my family when I hopped onto the internet, looked up the Vedquam family, and started searching for anything I could find about the Vedquam family. 
I came across the Vedquam's 1920 census entry from Bottineau County. 
According to the census, Ida's father's name was Eilert Vedquam, and her mother's name was Julia.  In 1920, Ida was 19 years old.  She had a 15 year old brother named Edwin, and an 8 year old brother named Julius.  Eilert owned land towards the bottom of Eidsvold Township, about 9 miles south of Landa ND. There was a school built just to the Northeast of their home (I think). 
Ida's relatives also took part in the construction of a Lutheran church near the area where the Vedquams lived.  This prairie church, Mouse River Lutheran Church, is still standing.  I think a road trip might be in order this summer *wink*. 
I also discovered that Ida was born in North Dakota in 1900.  In 1940 she would have been 40 years old.  She died in 1990, and is buried in the Mouse River Lutheran Church cemetery.
Photo of Mouse River Lutheran Church found on Rural Churches Database website.
I found a digital copy of the township map online and found the Vedquam's small slice of North Dakota heaven.  And using Google Earth, found that the land is actually right off of a highway.  Unfortunately, the house is no longer standing, but that got me to thinking....what if there is a picture of the house somewhere!?  What if there is a picture of Ida somewhere!?

At this point, my daughter warned me that I was crossing the line from curious to "creepy", but I didn't listen.  I went to the library to find information about the Vedquam family.

In our library, there is a room (Oooo, that would be a GREAT start to a children's book wouldn't it!!?  That's right up there with "Under the stairs, there was a door.") anyway, the room is called the Great Plains Room, and it contains shelves and shelves of local history books, county atlases, centennial books, etc.  It is one of my favorite places in our town.  One is NOT allowed to check-out books from the Great Plains Room as they are too valuable to our community and could be lost, or worse yet, dropped in a mud puddle.  Just to think of such a fate for a book gives me the shivers.
In this room I found a book about the people of Bottineau County.  The book did not contain a photo of Ida, her family, or homestead, but there was a small write-up about her.

Apparently, she had three brothers.  I find it interesting that she sang and played the organ, she must have been quite musical.  And knowing she received Needlecraft magazines, I figure she may have been very good at handiwork and crafting.  Other than these things, I really don't know much more about her. 

With a sigh of relief from my daughter, we left the library and headed home.  Ha!  Just wait until she hears that I plan to visit the Mouse River Church this summer to see if I can find more information about the Vedquam family and many others who pioneered in the area, during the early 1900s.  There will be some eye-rolling on that trip, but I think deep down she enjoys learning about local history and she realizes that searching for local history isn't always "creepy" it's fun and educational.  Understanding who the pioneers of our state were is something I feel is important.  Having a sense of where we come from, and how we have changed as a society is important.  It gives me pride to think of how hard our ancestors (and other people's ancestors) worked to make this state their home.

Knowing more about the way people lived in the past also helps give me perspective.  When I think my life is tough because I have to stand out in the cold, at the gas station, to fill my car's tank full of gas, I try to remember that at least I HAVE a car to drive, not a cold, horse-drawn sleigh of long ago.  Or when I think my life is tough when I have to stand in line at the supermarket, I think about the books I have read where food was scarce.  Some folks back in the good old days were tickled just to have an Orange in their stocking at Christmas time.  Now, we have supermarkets just a few miles or blocks away from our homes, that have rows and rows of fresh vegetables and fruits waiting to be bought.  We have fruit juice blends and pomegranate juice in fancy plastic bottles that we just toss in the garbage (seems wrong). 
Woman in garden by Peter Stackpole for LIFE magazine 1944.
Take a moment and compare standing in line at the store to having to plant, tend, harvest and can a large garden.  I think we've got it pretty easy.  And don't even get me started on having to butcher our own chickens and milk our own cows!  I'll take 10 minutes in line any day over killing a chicken.  Although, a sleigh ride would be fun to try, so would milking a cow and growing a garden. 

Yes, learning about the difficulties of the folks before us, does help me to keep things in perspective.  And sometimes, it makes me think that we are somewhat spoiled.
So, I WILL keep studying local history, I WILL ask strangers questions about people I don't know, and I WILL probably find my daughter hiding behind a cemetery tombstone pretending she doesn't know me, but I WILL do it because I like it and I think it's important.  And if I were Ida, I think I would like it very much to know that someone wanted to learn more of my story...more than just my name and address on a faded old label found on a musty old magazine.

Until another time, have a happy vintage day. 


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