91 years in Jackson County
By Renae B. Vander Schaaf
Date Modified: 07/10/2012 3:38 PM
HERON LAKE, Minn. — The Egge farm's story began in 1866 when Tollef J. Egge was born in Jackson County's Christiania Township. Like many others in his generation, Egge purchased a farm in 1911. A little more than a decade later, his daughter, Ella, and her husband, Ernest Brodin moved to the farm with their infant daughter Ardith.
Ardith never really left — except for one year out of her 91 years — in her lifetime, which spans nine decades.
"I remember my grandfather Tollef as a very kind person," said Ardith Frederickson. "He was tall, well built with a mustache. As little girl, I sat on his lap."
Although retired and living in Windom, Tollef Egge came often to the farm to help. He had his favorite team of work horses.
"They were black," said Frederickson. "Their names were Nick and Lady."
Tollef Egge died of a heart attack when she was six years old. Tollef left the farm to his daughter Ella and her husband. The two other Egge children in the family also received land in the same section or nearby.
The Brodin family grew small grains, oats, barley, flax and corn. A portion of the land was prairie grass hay. The crops produced fed their eight horses, 15 cows and pigs.
"This farm has always had pigs," said Frederickson. "We helped our parents milk cows by hand. The cream from the milk was taken to a creamery in Wilder. The skim milk was fed to the pigs. We often had hired men living with us — usually one but during the busy seasons we had two."
She helped her mother cook. The Brodin's belonged to a threshing ring that consisted of 10 to 12 neighboring farmers. Later, her father and uncles continued to thresh together.
"We would bring them a morning coffee, doughnuts — homemade, of course," recalled Frederickson. "For dinner, we would set up a bench on the north side of the house. There was a basin and water for the men to wash."
Their dining room table only seated nine men, so they ate in shifts. Often dinner was beef roast with mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables from the huge farm garden, bread and fresh pie or cake.
"The coffee was made with an egg," said Frederickson. "We would bring the water to a boil, add the coffee grounds that had been mixed with an egg and water to make a paste. Then the coffee pot would sit on the back of the cook stove, ready for any one who wanted a cup throughout the day."
Sandwiches were served for lunch. The Brodins would grind the meat and add salad dressing, salt, sugar, prepared mustard and a sweet pickle.
Ardith attended the District 30 School in Weimer Township. From there she went to high school in Windom, which was about 10 miles away. She stayed in town Sunday through Friday.
"The first year, a friend and I roomed together in a house," she said. "The next year a friend and I stayed at a different house where we did our own cooking. The last two years, I lived with my grandmother."
After World War II , a man who had served in the Navy started visiting the Brodins. Herbert Frederickson was no stranger to Ardith or her parents. He was a neighbor farm boy. Herbert and Ardith started Sunday School together, were confirmed together and both graduated from Windom High School. They married on Thanksgiving Day 1947.
"We moved a little house to the farm," said Ardith. "My dad had a heart attack in January 1948 and was advised by his doctor to give up farming. He had asked Herbert if he would consider moving to the farm. My dad only lived two and half years longer."
Ernest Brodin had been replacing horse power with a Farmall. Herbert improved the dairy herd with Holsteins and the farm raised chickens.
"We always did a lot of canning from a big garden," said Ardith. "In 1950 we purchased an International Harvester freezer. At that time I started freezing more of the vegetables, rather than canning them. By the way, we still use the freezer, and it still works."
Music has also been a part of their lives. Ardith was asked to fill in as organist for the Delafield Lutheran Church and she continued to play for 46 years until the church was closed. Karl sings in a barbershop chorus and quartet.