Daniel Erickson

Pioneer Daniel Erickson settled near Cooperstown in 1881.

When Daniel Erickson was thirty years old, he decided to leave Enefors, Hjemtland, Sweden, and emigrate to the United States.

He stopped temporarily at Zumbrota, Minnesota, in the spring of 1880 and worked for the railroad for some time.  In the fall of 1881, he headed for Dakota Territory and found a homestead along the Sheyenne River in Griggs County.  Today, the original homesite is still in the family in Washburn Township, Section 34-146-58.  Like many other homesteaders, Daniel chose the location because the river made it possible to get water easily, and the hills provided protection against the winters.

He returned to Zumbrota and married a Norwegian immigrant girl, Edrika Johnson, April 26, 1882.  The couple traveled back to the homestead along the Sheyenne Valley in a covered wagon with a cow tied behind it.  They could not take many belongings with them on their journey.  When a table was needed at meal times, they used one of the trunks for eating.  When a tool was needed for their work, Daniel made it.

Daniel and Edrika raised a family of seven in a one-room log cabin, which Daniel built from the trees along the river.  The log cabin is still standing in its original spot on the farm, and since then, two houses have been built on the farm, one of which has been moved to Cooperstown.

Daniel had to walk many miles in order to get the supplies needed for the farm and the home.  With no road to follow, he walked to Valley City on one occasion and carried a fifty pound sack of flour on his shoulders all the way home.  Another time be walked to Mayville for supplies; however, this time he bought a wheelbarrow and pushed the supplies home.  In the wintertime, it was a common sight to see the slightly built, long-bearded man at various places in the community wearing his large racoonskin coat that nearly dragged on the ground.

When Daniel and Edrika's first child, Christina, was to be born, Daniel was not at home for he had gone away for a few days to get some supplies needed for the farm.  Edrika had to walk two miles south across the hills to a neighbor's farm to receive help.

In those days friendly Indians often passed through this area, and they would come to the Erickson homestead to sharpen their knives on a grindstone.  On several occasions Edrika would serve them food from their cabin.

Quite frequently, Daniel walked to Cooperstown, which was about five miles from their homestead.  One time he went to town to do some errands and to get Edrika a new pair of shoes.  After he had walked all the way home, he turned around and walked back to town again because he had forgotten to buy the shoes.  Needless to say, his wife was not pleased with him.

As the Erickson family grew and more help was hired, a larger home was also needed.  The large, new four-story house, which was built in 1907, included a walk-in basement, main floor, second floor, and walk-in attic.  Re dining room had to be one of the largest rooms in the house because that was where the family and all of the hired men ate their meals.

Daniel Erickson had a love for high-quality horses, and owned many of them, including a purebred stallion imported from Belgium.  Farmers in a fifteen to twenty mile area used the services of that stallion.

Daniel died May 24, 1930, at the age of 80, and his wife two months earlier, March 15, 1930, at the age of 79.  They were buried at Ness Lutheran Church, which they helped found.  Their seven children, all deceased, were: Christina (Mrs. Olaus Nelson), Emanuel, Emma, (Mrs. John Erickson), Olaus, John D., Hilma (Mrs. Swen Olgaard), and Oscar.  Many of their children have made their homes in the Cooperstown community.

Emanuel, Daniel's oldest son, lived his 88 years on the Erickson farm.  He was known to everyone as "Push," having obtained his nickname from running a pushbinder during the harvest season in the early 1900's.  He served for many years as a director on the Farmers Elevator and Washburn Township Boards.

One thing people remember about him was that he liked to initiate the new hired help, many of them newcomers.  All the neighbors knew when Ericksons had a new hired man because Push would send him on a wild-goose chase around the country looking for a left-handed monkey wrench.  The man would be gone all day finally ending back at the farm telling Push, "There's no such thing as a left-handed monkey wrench!" Push would laugh, enjoying the joke.

The Erickson farm always had hired men around to help with the chores and to take care of the fieldwork.  During the threshing season they hired at least fifteen to twenty men.  Chickens, geese, pigs, sheep, milking Shorthorns, Holsteins, and Hereford cattle were raised on the farm along with about twenty work horses and at least four or five good riding horses.

After Emanuel's marriage to Nina Severson of Hunter, North Dakota, June 9, 1920, at Fargo, the couple left on their wedding trip to New England, a small town in the western part of the state.  It took them two days traveling at thirty miles per hour in a Model T car to reach their destination.  The trip included a ferry ride across the Missouri River.  Nina, now a resident in the Griggs County Nursing Home, recalls, "It was just a trail down the prairie that we had to drive on.  11

Emanuel and Nina had two children: Esther Karas, Pembina, North Dakota; and Emanuel Myron, Cooperstown.

In the spring of 1927, another unforgettable incident, which occurred at the Daniel Erickson farm, is the near tragic event that involved Nina when she and Push were expecting their son, Myron.  In her eighth month, Nina Erickson, accompanied by the farm dogs, went to fetch water from the river for the house.  Thinking that the ice was strong enough to hold her weight, she did not realize that the warmth of the spring sun had already broken it up.  As soon as she stepped out on the river, she fell through into the icy water.  Fortunately, she was wearing gloves, and they stuck to the ice, keeping her from drowning.  The barking dogs alerted the hired men who threw a rope out to her, pulled her to safety, and brought her up the hill to the house.  Grandma Erickson, Daniel's wife, gave her warm, dry clothing and a drink of hot brandy.  One month later on May 10, 1927, Myron, a healthy, 10-pound baby, was born at the homestead place.

Community clubs, pie socials, basket socials, dances, and trips to the neighbors' homes to visit and play cards were typical entertainment.  Traveling daily by horse and buggy or by horse and sleigh, Esther and Myron attended the Bridge School, on Highway 200, east of the Sheyenne River Bridge.

The Erickson family also enjoyed the Cooperstown fairs and rodeos; and Myron and his cousin, John Eldred, would beg the rodeo personnel to ride the steers.  After pestering the men too much, they told the boys that they could ride if their fathers would give their permission.  Emanuel and his brother, John D., always liked to see the children having a good time so of course they let the boys ride the rodeo animals.  Nina and the rest of the family can still hear Emanuel and John D. saying, "Aw, let the kids have their fun! "

Emanuel allowed the children to have their time of fun, but he was serious about making them do their work, too.  During harvest time everyone was up at 4 a.m. to clean the steam engine and prepare the equipment for the long day of tedious work.  Reminiscing, Myron says, "I remember cleaning the flues.  We had to stand on a stool so we could reach the engine boiler."

There were memorable times when Push with his Scandinavian accent and excitable, humorous manner, would talk so fast that he would often get words and phrases mixed up.  One time he referred to the "consellated (consolidated) school," and to mention others, there were his "letter west" (leather vest), and his "jello yacket" (yellow jacket).

Emanuel enjoyed his grandchildren, Diane (Mrs. William Weispfenning), Pamela (Mrs. Curtis Sommer), and Carol, children of Myron and Colleen Erickson; and Beth and Steve Karas, children of Esther and James Karas.

The children liked to help with hauling straw bales in the fall of the year.  Diane was told by Grandpa Push to get on the tractor and drive it farther down the field.  At age twelve she had never driven the tractor, but she did as she was told.  The ultimate happened.  She jerked the tractor and all the bales fell off.  All Grandpa Push said was, "You better go home!"

When the only grandson, Steve, became old enough to help on the farm, he spent several summers there.  Of course, Grandpa Push taught Steve the farming procedures from his years of experience.  Steve had just learned to drive a tractor, and he and his grandfather were going over the hills and through the pasture to the field.  As he headed over a hill, he suddenly encountered a closed gate.  Unable to stop the tractor fast enough, they headed straight through it.  This did not suit Grandpa Push very well, and Push, being very vocal at times, yelled, "Gee, Christmas, Man! You drive like a gol darn ninny!"

At the present time, the farm remains in the family with Myron, third generation, and his wife, Colleen, continuing to operate it.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 73

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