The William Angus Family

My father and mother, William Angus and Maud Campbell Angus, lived in Hannaford, Griggs County, North Dakota from 1912 until my father's death in 1950.  They moved with their family to Hannaford from Staples, Minnesota, (Todd County).  the last of a number of Minnesota communities in which my father had served as Superintendent of Schools.  Their family consisted of three children: 

Alice (myself), Dorothy and Robert, whose ages at that time were nine, 6, and 2 years.  In Hannaford, my father was the cashier of the Farmer's State Bank, in which he had bought out the controlling interest from his predecessor.  The bank was closed along with hundreds of others during the 1926 agricultural depression, after which my father supported his family by selling insurance and real estate, preparing income tax returns, drawing up sales agreements and various other kinds of business documents.

William Angus was a first generation American born in 1867 in a log cabin on a farm near Garfield, Douglas County, Minnesota.  His father, Robert Angus, was born in Perth, Scotland and came to New York City in the 1860's with his four brothers.  There they all separated, each going to a different part of the United States.  Robert, my grandfather, went to Minnesota, where he took out a homestead.  He married Elsie Andrus, the daughter of another homesteader who had brought his family from Pennsylvania to Minnesota by horse and wagon.  As a child in Scotland, Robert Angus had received an elementary education in the Three R's by attending classes held in the Presbyterian Church.  After his marriage, he spent much of his time teaching children in a one-room country schoolhouse, leaving most of the farm management and work to his wife and the hired help.  In any case, my father finished country school and since there was no high school then in Garfield, the nearest town, my grandmother took him by horse and wagon to Alexandria, the county seat, making the return trip twice daily, a distance of some 8 miles each way.  After graduating from the Alexandria High School, my father went to Minneapolis, where he enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1889.  He remained there seven years, during which he supported himself entirely by his own efforts, selling newspapers on the streets of Minneapolis, working as night janitor with "sleep-in" privileges, and performing various odd jobs.  Toward the end of this period, he also tutored private classes and taught summer school.  He graduated from the Liberal Arts College with an A. B. degree in 1893 and from the University Law School, with an LlB in 1896, being admitted to practice law that same year.  Instead, he accepted the position of Superintendent of Schools in Warren, Marshall County, Minnesota, where he later met and married my mother.

Maud Campbell Angus, also of Scottish descent, came from a family with a long background in the United States, some members having fought in the Revolution.  Her father, Joseph Campbell, was born in Machiasport, Maine.  went to medical school in Chicago, where he obtained the M. D. degree.  settled in Melrose, Stearn County, Minnesota, where he practiced medicine for more than 50 years.  In Melrose, he married Alice Steward, the daughter of a nearby farmer.  They had eight children, of which my mother was the eldest.  Since Melrose at that time offered only two years of high school, my mother was sent for two years to Hamlin College, St. Paul, where she graduated from high school.  after that she attended St. Cloud Normal School for two years, obtaining a teaching certificate for the elementary grades.  Her first teaching position was in Warren, Minnesota, where she met my father.  They were married in 1902.

One of my early childhood memories concerns our trip from Staples, Minnesota to Hannaford, which we made during the hot summer months.  My father arrived there several weeks in advance, traveling in a boxcar with the family horse, Dexter, and the furniture.  My mother and we three children went by train from Staples to Fargo, where we spent the night, my first overnight stay in a hotel.  We then took the Great Northern local train from Fargo to Hannaford, and moved into a bungalow on the west edge of town, which my father had bought from the previous cashier.

Life in Hannaford in the early days had a number of pioneer aspects.  The house that we moved into had only one bedroom, plus an attic.  A coal-burning stove in the dining room provided the only heat.  But the greatest difference between it and houses we had lived in up to that time was the lack of a bathroom.  Water came from a cistern and it had to be used sparingly at all times.  As children, we took our weekly baths in a washtub in the kitchen, being careful to save the water in summer to put on the plants outdoors.  The toilet was also outdoors.

Some five years later when Hannaford, in the wheat-growing country, was prospering from the war in Europe, my family built a new house on an adjoining lot.  The new house had a bathroom, but the water still came from a cistern and there was seldom enough of it.  We carried water upstairs by the pail-ful for our baths and we installed a sanitary toilet indoors, in the basement.  My father and our near neighbor, Mr. Richardson, hired a well-digging rig and spent considerable money trying to get a well into operation between their two properties, but they were unsuccessful.  The cistern water was not safe for drinking, so my father during all of his years in Hannaford carried all of our drinking water home by the pail-ful from the town pump located near the end of main street.

Our horse, Dexter, that we had brought with us from Minnesota, died during our second or third summer in Hannaford.  He had been put to pasture east of Bald Hill Creek, jumped the fence, and (we were told) died from eating too much un-ripened grain.  I used to ride him bareback to visit my best friends, Dorothy and Phyllis Schmidt, who lived at the other end of town.  My sister also rode Dexter to visit Myrtle Westley, who lived near the Schmidt family and whose father worked in the bank.  After the horse died, my family acquired its first automobile, a two-seated Ford, open to the wind and sun, but with detachable "isin-glass" windows that could be fastened on when it rained.  Getting the car was the start of our annual pilgrimages to Minnesota, which usually occupied about a month of our summer vacation.  We would start out early one morning and spend all day driving over unpaved, dirt roads to Fargo where we spent the night with my mother's sister.  On the second day we would manage to get to Garfield.

Not surprisingly in view of his background and origins, the field of education continued to be one of my father's major, continuing interests.  In Hannaford, he served on the School Board more or less permanently, and most of the time as its President.  He spent much thought and effort trying to get well-qualified teachers, supported school projects, and worked to improve standards.  He arranged for a traveling library from the State Library at Bismarck, which sent periodic shipments in large quantities, housed at the bank, so that both adults and children could take them out on loan without charge.  My father himself was a "born teacher".  he not only had a great fund of knowledge, but also great patience and skill in imparting it to young people.  While I was attending Hannaford High School, he held early morning classes in 3rd and 4th year Latin (not taught in the H. S. but necessary to enter college), giving instruction in Virgil and Cicero to Bertha Wilson, the Presbyterian minister's daughter and to me.  These classes enabled me to complete High School in three years, pass the State Board examinations, and enter college at an earlier age.  My brother Robert benefited greatly from my father's instruction at home, achieving a high degree of proficiency in mathematics and completing high school at age 14.

During summer vacation, we went swimming nearly every day in Bald Hill Creek, where boys and girls ad separate swimming-holes.  At that time they were really "holes," as the cows also used them, and we had to spend time after each swim pulling off the leeches.  We used to take long walks exploring the big rocks on the hills east of the creek, and in the late fall we had weiner roasts with bonfires in the corn fields after harvest was finished.  Probably our most important daily event during the summer months was to go to the Great Northern Railway depot about 9 PM to meet the cross-country train, the Orient Express, which traveled to the west coast via Hannaford and Minot, over the Surrey Cut-off.  The train itself, which at that time stopped in Hannaford for water and occasional passengers, excited us with its brightly- lighted parlor cars, busy mail cars, and long Pullmans, a glimpse of another world.  But for us children, the biggest attraction was the dining-car (sometimes there were two), in which the waiter had by that hour practically finished serving dinner and would come to the open doors to talk to us, more often than not giving us hand-outs of pie and other goodies.

Life in those days also had its sober side, centered around the Presbyterian Church.  My father, a strict Presbyterian, attended church twice on Sunday as well as the weekly prayer meetings.  my mother taught Sunday School, which we attended.  The rest of the day we usually had to remain in the house and couldn't go out to play.

After my father's death in 1950, my mother moved to Minneapolis, then to Virginia, where she died in 1961.  My brother died in 1965.  My sister has lived in Oregon with her husband since the 1930s.  they have 4 children and 10 grandchildren.  The major part of my adult life has been spent in Washington, working for the Federal Government, from which I am now retired.  My husband, Stuart Morrison, died in 1973.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 124

 
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