Silas W. Black Family

Silas William Black was born in Illinois in 1868 and lived in Minneapolis before coming to Cooperstown in 1885 with his wife, Martha, their baby son, and Mrs. Black's mother.  For 30 years he owned and operated a barbershop on the south side of Main Street.  Then in 1909 when the Canadian government offered land to anyone who wished to start farming, he went there and filed on a claim.  His family joined him when a house was ready, and he farmed the land with his sons for many years.  When he became blind his sons took over the farm and he went to live with his daughter, Ella and her husband on their farm near Bengough, Saskatchewan.  He died in 1942, at 89 years of age.  Mrs. Black died during the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1919 at 51 years.

Nora Black, eldest of this large family, became dental assistant to Dr. Fred Rose, who had his office in the old State Bank Building.  Later she was apprenticed to two young Norwegian women who were dressmakers.  When she had learned the skills she set up her own establishment in two upper rooms at home.  She married P. C. Paulson in 1913.  Their son, Orion was born 1915.  A second son born in 1923, died in infancy.  Nora died in 1937 at 51 years.  P. C. Paulson died in 1934.

Iola was co-manager of the household, played the bass viol in the family musical group, and married Adin Johnson in 1914.  They operated a hotel in Jessie with his mother.  Later they moved to Minneapolis where he died, at 24, leaving her with two small children.  Iola then moved to Canada to join her parents.  after some years she was married to Jack Peters, a farmer.  After his death the family moved to Calgary, Alberta, where youngest son, Henry is at present supervisor of music.  Iola died in January 1971, at 84.

Anna became a schoolteacher.  Her first term was in a school ten miles from Cooperstown in Steele County.  Anna came home on weekends occasionally and would bring home a fifty-dollar gold piece as her wages for the month.  It was my proud privilege to take that gold piece to the bank for deposit in her account.  Anna married Iver Alfstad in 1912.  They farmed near Mose, and later tried restaurant business in Binford and McHenry.  In 1921 they moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, where they farmed.  Their several children live in and near Regina except for a son in British Columbia.  Anna died in April 1974, at 84.  Her husband is still hale and hearty at 91.

Ella, the fourth daughter, was also a schoolteacher.  She taught in Griggs, Foster and Steele counties.  One summer she went for a visit with her family in Saskatchewan, Canada and was asked to substitute for a teacher who became ill.  She remained to teach for many years in that province, both before and after her marriage in 1920 to Audrey Kimmerly, a World War I veteran.  They farmed near Bengough until his death in 1963.  Their son-in-law and daughter now are on the farm.  Ella now lives in the town of Bengough.

Ella likes to tell of her visit with friends on a farm near Wimbledon, North Dakota.  She arrived just as "Norwegian School" was about to begin.  Norwegian School was a two-week session of Bible study and Catechism, conducted in the Norse Language.  Children of Lutheran parents were obliged to attend, so Ella with her friends trudged the mile to attend Norwegian school. 

There were about twenty children ranging in age from six to fourteen.  The teacher was a young seminarian who was well liked by the children and parents.  At lunchtime, the teacher walked the half mile to his boarding place and was gone about three fourths of an hour.  Then the children gobbled their lunches and dashed outside for their fun.  One boy brought forth his mouth organ and couples formed for square dancing.  All farm children knew how to dance in those days.  A sentry was posted on the barn roof to warn of the teacher's return.  The sentry was a small boy who didn't like dancing.  He was plied with cake, cookies and candy as long as he was on duty.  When the teacher finally arrived the mouth organ was back in its hiding place and everyone was playing tag or hide-and-go-seek including the sentry.  Dancing was frowned upon by Lutherans in those days and perhaps still is.

Emma also became a teacher and taught 23 years in Griggs and Foster counties before and after marriage to Louis J. Pella, June 14, 1921.  They farmed near Revere, Jessie and Aneta and had five sons and one daughter.  All five sons served as Marines in World War II and Korea.  All of the family is now living in the state of Washington, except for one who lives in Ohio.  Emma lives in Seattle.

Frances taught in Griggs County schools for two years, when she was obliged to quit for health reasons.  She worked in a post office and various department stores in Canada, and lived in Bengough until her death in 1961.  She never married.

Myrtle also taught for several years in Griggs and Nelson counties before she, also, took up residence in Canada.  After a few years she returned to North Dakota and taught a term.  She was married, in 1927, to Carl Martinson and they farmed near McVille until World War II.  He became a security guard for the 1500 Japanese and German detainees in a compound just outside Bismarck, until the end of the war.  After that he was transferred to California and then to Seattle as an immigration officer.  Myrtle died at Yakima in 1971.  Carl is still living there.

Oscar was the first son born to Silas and Martha after seven girls.  You can imagine the fuss made over him by parents and sisters as well.  He was a beautiful little boy but looked more like a girl with shoulder length golden curls until he was six years old.  Oscar became a barber in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he still lives though retired these many years.  He married Emma Runspiel and they had three sons and two daughters.

Harold Black took over the management of the farm.  He was also a carpenter and interior decorator when the farm work was done.  For many years he was head carpenter for the Pool Elevator Company in Saskatchewan.  Harold, Adolph and Edna formed a small orchestra when they were very young.  Harold married Thelma McCarriger and had four children:

one of whom died in infancy.  Two daughters live near Edmonton, Alberta and one daughter lives in Denver, Colorado.

Adolph also was a carpenter and interior decorator.  He married Evelyn Burns and they have two sons, one a professor of math in Toronto University, the other a professor of science in Montreal University.  Adolph has long since retired and lives in Murillo, Ontario.

Edna was about ten years old when the family moved to Canada, and received most of her education there.  She kept house for her father and brothers until her marriage to Joe Sweeney in 1924.  They farmed near Horizon, Saskatchewan, until 1965.  they now live in Bengough.  Their seven children live in and near Estevan.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 60

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