Person:Julia Lee (2)

Julia Tomena Lee
b.30 Jun 1903
d.25 Oct 2002 Moorhead, MN
m. 23 Jun 1927
Facts and Events
Name[1] Julia Tomena Lee
Gender Female
Birth[2] 30 Jun 1903
Marriage 23 Jun 1927 Mobridge, SDto Jens Lauritz Lovdokken
Death[3] 25 Oct 2002 Moorhead, MN
Other[5] @@N2323@@History
Soc Sec No[4] 501-50-8356


Julia Lee Lovdokken (born June 30, 1903) saw many changes in her early life . At age 3 she recalls the building of the Bethany church and the building of the barn on her home farm. When she was 6 years old in 1909 the Lee family moved from their 2 room sod house to their frame home. Julia completed a two year teaching course at Augustana College in SD and later graduated from Northern State in Aberdeen, SD.. She taught schools in Walworth, Moody and Campbell Counties in SD and in the 1940's an additional year in Richland Co.ND. She was married to Jens L. Lovdokken of Wyndmere, ND in Mobridge, SD in 1927. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their three children and 12 grandchildren. Their children are Hazel Lovdokken Berg ( Mrs. Haldor Berg) Walnut Creek, CA, The Rev. Ogden Lovdokken, Springfield, Oregon and Jean Lovdokken Iverson (Mrs. LeRoy Iverson), Decorah, IA. Julia has 6 great granddaughters. She lives in her home in Wyndmere,ND where she recently celebrated her 95th birthday with family and friends at the Wyndmere Lutheran church. Julia Lee Lovdokken died at the age of 99 on Oct. 25, 2002 at The Moorhead Healthcare Center, Moorhead, MN

Julia was born June 30, 1903 in Walworth Co., SD to Norwegian immigrant parents Ole P. Lee and Gjertrude Halsa Lee . She was the 6th of 7 children. Julia, born in a sod house, had early recollections of the evolving of the family and community life from early pioneer life to the "settling in" into more permanent structures.

She was baptized and confirmed in the Bethany Lutheran Church, Selby,SD. She completed 8 grades in Walworth Co. She attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD and Aberdeen Teachers College in Aberdeen, SD. She taught one-room schools in Walworth , Moody and Campbell Counties in SD. Later, during World War 11, she taught in Wyndmere township in ND..

She married Jens Lovdokken in Mobridge, SD June 23, 1927. They farmed in Garborg township, Wyndmere, ND until the fall of 1943, She was an active member of Viking Lutheran Church and a supportive parent of Garborg 1 where her 3 children attended. In Wyndmere she was a member of Wyndmere Lutheran Church where she taught Sunday School, was a member of the women's organization and enjoyed the fellowship with Lutheran World Relief Quilters. She was a member of Rebecca Lodge and the Wyndmere Civic Club. She enjoyed her home and garden. After hospitalization in 1999 she became a resident of the Moorhead Health Care Center, Moorhead, MN.

Julia is survived by three children, Hazel Berg, Walnut Creek, CA, The Rev. Ogden Lee (Mary Ann) Lovdokken, Springfield, OR, and Jean (LeRoy) Iverson, Decorah, IA. 12 grandchildren, Luther (Renee) Berg, Winnetka, CA, Mark Berg, Austin ,TX, Julie (Dr.Jeff) Olson, Stone Mountain, GA, Daniel Berg, Walnut Creek, CA, Stephen (Elizabeth) Berg, Walnut Creek, CA. Patricia Lovdokken, Springfield, OR, Judith Lovdokken, Boulder, CO, Kristi (John) Larson, Boca Raton, Florida, John Lovdokken, Springfield, OR, Eric Iverson, Eagan,MN, Dr. Paul Iverson, London, England and David Iverson, Waitsfield, VT. and 7 great granddaughters.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Jens, July 31, 1978; three brothers, Peter, George, and Nels Lee, three sisters, Dena, Margaret and Emma Lee and a son-in-law, Haldor Berg. HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS By Julia Lee Lovdokken

My first home was a house fashioned from the prairie sod on a South Dakota homestead, which had been (taken and proved up) according to requirements of the Homestead Act of 1861 by my father, Ole P. Lee.

He had immigrated from Norway in 1882 and made his home with an older brother, Nels and family at Flandreau SD. The first summer he made himself useful in many ways. One was planting trees on his brother's homestead and later in the summer he practiced tying bundles of long slough grass with grass so that when harvest came he would be able to "hold his own" in tying bundles with straw. This was before the self-tying binder was in use. At harvest time Nels drove the horses pulling the binder. This was indeed different from his former occupation in Norway, where he had been a commercial fisherman.

This was the last life experience my father relived by telling me, as that night he went into a coma and lived only three more days. He was 90 years on March 13, 1947 and died July 1,1947.

Mother, Gertrude Halse Lee, also immigrated to America from Norway; her only relative in America was an unmarried uncle who accompanied her on the voyage across the ocean. Since she had no relatives to go to, she had to find employment at once. This she found at Howard, SD in the home of Yankees. She learned to do cooking and baking in the American way, pie was one of her specialties.

As a young girl in Norway she was not needed at home, and because her parents were poor, she began caring for the cattle for meager wages on a neighboring farm at the age of 12 during the summer months. She also picked nuts and sold so she was self-supporting at an early age. By the time she was 21, she had saved enough money for a steamship ticket to America.

Her father and grandfather made a large chest for her belongings and also a smaller chest, which she carried much as we do suitcases today. They also made a spinning wheel, which she used in her new home to spin the yarn and knit all the stockings and mittens for many many years. (Hazel now has the small trunk, Julie the large trunk and Jean has the spinning wheel). Her maiden name, tho dimmed by time, is visible on each.

Although Ole Lee and Gertrude Halse attended the same church, they had never met in Norway. But when they met in America, they found they had many mutual friends. This friendship ripened and so a year later they were married in DeSmet ,SD. Their best man was a sailor friend of Dad's turned landlubber. Dad left this young bride at his brother Nels' home during the next winter while he worked in the Northern Woods of Minnesota to earn enough for setting up housekeeping and homesteading. He had filed on a homestead in Walworth Co. in the fall of 1865.

Mother always spoke lovingly of her new relatives. Her sister-in-law was born in Wisconsin so had never known what it was to be a newcomer in a strange land, but her heart must have been filled with compassion for this young bride away from all her people. (The year after mother died I was invited to spend Easter vacation at Uncle Nels' and Aunt Alice and I learned to love them too.,)

In the spring of 1886 Ole Lee, with the company of two older half brothers, Hans and Ole, (This Ole had immigrated to America before my father was born, the mother never dreamed that some day they would be living on homesteads side by side in America hence the name Ole is used twice in the same family) left Moody County by oxen and started westward. When they arrived, they found that a schoolhouse had been built since they filed on the homestead and several of their neighbors were from the same community in Norway.

Dad has often mentioned that when supplies were needed Hans and Stor(big) Ole went to Bowdle, a distance of 20 miles, for them and he stayed home to keep the Home Fires burning. This proved to be quite a task as the only fuel available was long slough grass and buffalo chips. It was raining so they were hard to keep burning. He did manage to have coffee cooked when they returned and he had milked the cow. He was the only one of his brothers who knew how to milk as that was considered women's work in Norway. But Dad being the youngest son, and the older ones were in America, his mother must have decided to have him learn to do this chore.

Besides being a fisherman in Norway, Father had learned the trade of a blacksmith. This was to come in handy both for his own use and his neighbors in the pioneer settlement. These three brothers built their houses and stables from the prairie sod and then Uncle Hans and Father sent for their wives to follow. They came by train to the nearest railway station, which was Bowdle, where they were met by their husbands.

Because the sod house didn't last too many years, my parents lived in three different ones before they built the frame house in 1908. The barn was built in 1906. Mother insisted that was to come first as the spring thaws would seep into the stable making it difficult to care for the livestock.

Stor Ole's stable filled with water and he worked to bail it out resulting in his getting rheumatic fever, which caused his untimely death.

The sod house was a two-room affair as I can remember it. The walls were white washed and it had a wooden floor with a trap door leading to a small excavation under it, which was used to store potatoes, etc.. There were no steps down but mother had an old chair standing beneath the trap door, which she used as a landing. From there she would hoist herself to the surface. This first room was used as kitchen and family room and in winter it also served as my brother's bedroom. In the summer time the floors in the granary were swept and scrubbed and their bed was set up in there.

The bedroom contained two beds, mother's large and small chest, a chest of drawers, and a cupboard with shelves with a curtain instead of a door. Here she kept towels and folded everyday clothing besides bedding etc. Above the large chest were hooks to hang the outer garments and the chest held all the finer garments much as a cedar chest does today. There was a door between the two rooms for privacy, with a window to the East.

This home was very primitive according to our living standards today, but it was comfortable, warm in winter and cool in summer, and it was kept neat and there I experienced the love of a close knit family relationship that I was to carry with me through life.

I had three brothers and two sisters and I was the youngest, which I frequently resented. I would wish for a baby sister so that I wouldn't be the baby. I well remember at threshing time I coaxed mother to put the high chair in the blacksmith shop so that the threshers wouldn't see it and think me a baby. This request was willingly granted I now realize, as it took up much needed space for such a large undertaking as serving meals to a threshing crew in such small quarters, but at the time I thought Mother was very obliging. By the time threshing was done, I was happy to have my highchair to sit in at the table again.

In the summer of 1908 I heard my parents and brothers and sisters talking about building a house. I couldn't understand all their conversations as they were over the head of a five-year-old. I did hear them talking about stones from the hills to the East. At once I imagined living on top of those hills, so far away from our farm yard. It was kind of exciting but also sad to leave all my haunts. This misunderstanding was soon cleared up when they began moving the stones on a stone boat and a basement was dug and the stones were fastened together by mortar to make the walls of the basement. Next the rough floor was laid and I was indeed a "sidewalk superintendent" as I didn't have any more pressing business to attend.

My sisters were busy working in the kitchen helping mother prepare meals for the family of eight besides the carpenters. After a while, mother hired a lady to help her. She was a widow and had come from Sweden. So I, for one, had trouble understanding her at times, although the only language I could speak was Norwegian.

As the house was nearing completion and fall was in the air, the carpenters moved from the barn loft to the one bedroom that was plastered and almost completed in the new house. There they set up a stove to take the chill from the air.

One evening after supper, Mrs. Johnson and Dena were going to make the beds in the bedroom while the men were sitting around the table visiting and enjoying the warmth of the kitchen. Margaret and I tagged along and so, while the beds were made, we were fooling around closing doors etc. The lock was in place on the bedroom door but the door knob hadn't been put on, so when we closed the door it latched, but we couldn't turn the latch so we were all trapped in the room until the carpenters should decide to go to bed or we would be missed because the supper dishes were not cleared away.

Dena and Mrs. Johnson, knowing this, were rather amused but Margaret and I felt we were to blame and we were terribly upset. After awhile it was decided that Margaret could climb through the bedroom window and find the doorknob on the other side of the door and open it for us. This she did and when we returned to the Sod house we were questioned why it took us so long.

Not long after this there was only one man who was doing the plastering left of the crew. Mrs. Johnson stayed on helping mother. This rather puzzled me as I had never known mother to hire help in the house except during threshing. Also mother was so busy sewing. I tried to tell her that she was making the dresses too small for me, but she continued making them the same size and putting them away in the small chest that had been used for my things as long as I could remember.

One evening after the dishes were washed and they were waiting for the men to finish milking so the separator and pails could be washed, we all sat around the kitchen visiting, but we were short one chair. So Mrs. Johnson laid a board across the slop bucket to sit on. Mother told me to let Mrs. Johnson have my chair, which I did, and I sat on the board. Mrs. Johnson was telling a funny incident and by this time I had learned to understand her quite well. I laughed with the others, I also rocked a bit and next thing I knew the board had slipped into the pail full of dish water and so had I. They all laughed more than ever and no one seemed to be concerned about helping me find dry clothes. I went to the bedroom and opened this small chest and put on a dress even tho it was too small for me."now", I thought "mother can see for herself that she has been making the dresses too small." I came out to the kitchen wearing this new dress, Bill, the plasterer, snorted and dived out the door. Mrs. Johnson, mother and Dena laughed more than ever. Margaret was eight years old so she wasn't in on the joke as much but anyway by now they did help me find something that fit me and I wasn't to know what had been so funny until a couple months later.

The house was finally completed and my brothers slept in their a bedroom in the new frame house but Mother didn't seem to be in any hurry to move into this nice house that was standing waiting for us, and she still had Mrs. Johnson helping her. It was December, and with the exception of my oldest brother and I, the children were all in school, so I had a lot of time on my hands to think and wonder about the why and wherefore of things.

It was in the middle of the night I was awakened by what sounded like a cat meowing and I found myself sleeping with my sisters in the kitchen instead of the bedroom where I had always slept. I got real excited because Mother never allowed cats in the house and I told my sisters what I had heard. Soon my Aunt Lena came from the bedroom with a tiny bundle in her arms to show us. This was my baby sister, Emma. Oh, how happy I was. All the next day they couldn't keep me from the bedroom. Hadn't I always wished for a baby sister so I wouldn't be the baby? Little by little I came to understand the happening that had puzzled me so much all summer and fall. No longer did the time hang heavy on my hands tho the others were in school. Emma was only a few weeks old when I got to hold her if I would be ever so careful. They needn't have cautioned me because she was the most precious thing in the world for me and I felt it was my personal responsibility to see that nothing happened to her. This was the next summer, after we had moved into our new home, which we did in March. Even the day we moved Emma was carried first to the new home and I went along to be with her in the room that had a bed and stove already in it. They closed the door so we shouldn't get chilled while they moved the kitchen stove and the other furniture into the rest of the house. When Emma began to cry I went to call mother; but I had opened the closet door instead of the door to the kitchen. For a second I was almost lost in this room with two doors instead of one which I was accustomed to.

Margaret and George were in school on moving day and when they came home they went to the sod house by force of habit only to find it vacant. Living in the new house was quite different. We had six bedrooms, kitchen, pantry and living room besides many closets and a stairway leading to the upstairs. This indeed was a novelty and I never tired climbing them.

About a month after moving, mother entertained Ladies Aid. The minister and women who had the farthest to walk came in the forenoon and so had dinner at noon besides a full meal in the afternoon when the guests were served family style at the table. One of the women had taken her daughter, my age, along to play with me. She wanted to see the upstairs and I led the way. It was rainy and the soil was sticky so of course we had tracked mud everywhere we had gone.

Before the guest left, mother took them on a tour to see her new home, so you can guess her disappointment to find mud tracks instead of clean shiny floors.

I realize that the new home and the new baby must have meant additional work for both mother and Dena. I was almost six years old so I too was old enough to have responsibilities which consisted of entertaining the baby. She could sit on a blanket on the floor or grass and would try creeping so I couldn't leave her very long except when she was asleep.

Margaret was old enough to herd cattle, which up until this time had been George's work. Now he could help with the farm work. At noon one day during haying, Margaret got to ride home with the men as she had been herding nearby and the cattle had gotten thirsty and gone home early. That's the time I thought it would be much more fun to herd cattle than babysit and I said as much. Margaret on the other hand thought my work was much easier. So to humor us, my folks decided that we could exchange jobs for the afternoon. Everything went fine until it was time to drive cattle home. They were reluctant to leave their grazing and I had trouble driving them. So George came to me and we got them home, but I had walked all the way instead of riding as I had hoped to do, so I was not only tired but disappointed and was more than happy to return to my babysitting and Margaret too was satisfied to herd instead of baby sit. Thus the folks taught us a valuable lesson at an early age.

With September came a new experience. I was to start school. Dena had been busy sewing school clothes for me and I looked forward to my first day at school.

The evening before, my Aunt Lena had brought me a jar of rhubarb jelly to use on my sandwiches. To this day I am fond of rhubarb jam or jelly but I've never tasted anything quite as good as I seem to remember her jelly tasted.

Monday morning I started off to school alone as Margaret had to stay home and herd cattle while the weather was nice and George, Nels and Dena also were needed at home. There were five beginners, 4 girls and 1 boy, and I was the only one who didn't speak the English language. Our first assignment was to write cat on the blackboard. It was all so new to me, trying to understand the teacher's instructions to say nothing of trying to follow them. After what seemed a long time, we were to take our seat and were soon dismissed for recess before the rest of the school. On the playground none of us knew how to get started playing and I'm sure I don't know just how it all came about but the boy bit my finger so it drew blood. Next thing I knew the teacher took us both indoors and we had to remain in our seats. I was more humiliated than hurt I'm sure but when it was time to go home at the close of the day it felt good to return to familiar surroundings. I recall very little of what happened other days but I do remember dawdling on my mile and a half walk home each day, living in a world of fantasy because adjusting school did not come easy.

That year winter came early and the fall work on the farm was finished. My brothers and sisters were released so they could begin their school year. Mother decided that I should stay home and babysit, and this I was happy to do. That indeed was fun instead of conforming to rules and regulations at school.

The year passed swiftly and it was again time for me to go to school, only now I was alone in lst grade as the others my age had been in school all year and were now 2nd graders. For some reason I learned to like school. My new teacher was pretty and she seemed to understand my problems. I guess she was just easy going because I do remember she had trouble keeping some of the older boys in line.

When the cold weather set in I was thrilled to have my brothers and sisters in school to share my lunch pail and walk to and from school with me.

Time passed rapidly and it was soon time to practice for our Christmas program. I was with a group singing "Jolly Old Saint Nick" with all the actions, which to me was the big deal. We were going to have a real Christmas tree with presents for each and all the parents were coming. Because Emma was only two years old Mother was hesitant about promising me that she would come, but it was finally decided that Dad was going to babysit and Mother and my older brother and sisters and I set off in a bob-sleigh. My what an exciting evening it was to me. When the presents were distributed I found among mine a miniature wicker set of doll furniture. I was so happy I could hardly wait to show them to my little sister, Emma.

All Christmas vacation was such a happy time. Christmas Eve after supper and dishes were washed, mother would sing carols and Dad would read the Christmas Story from St. Luke. No one was prepared for what was to affect us all. New Years Day mother was ill. At first she tried to minimize her illness but after a few days it was clear that this was serious. By now there was a blizzard and in spite of that the doctor wanted her brought to a small hospital. But the neighbor women came and consulted with Dad and they convinced him that she would have much better care in her own home and they would take turns coming in to care for her. So, at last, two doctors came and we children were to remain in the bedroom off the kitchen, which was used much as a family room during daytime. After what seemed like a long time, we were allowed in the kitchen and the upstairs but we must be ever so quiet because Mother was very ill. (I later learned the kitchen table had been used when the doctors performed surgery on her). By now mother was put to bed in the spare bedroom off the living room or sitting room as it was referred to at the time. Many days passed before either Emma or I could see her. Emma was too small to turn the door knob but she would rattle it and say "Mamma-dittygomma" (sitting room) and I was old enough to know that I must obey even tho I wanted to see her so badly.

During this time women came and went, each trying to help with some neighborly act. Dad, of course, had to shoulder the main responsibility, but it was shared by my brothers who were old enough to do most of the chores and my sister Dena was capable and a willing helper with the household chores. This meant the end of her school days for the year as mother had to remain in bed until spring.

As if this wasn't enough, Emma came down with pneumonia. The doctor came everyday to see mother so he also supervised her care. I remember my teacher coming to visit and she brought Emma a beautiful doll with real hair and kid skin body that could say "mamma". The teacher was a very good seamstress so had made a beautiful wardrobe for the doll.

George, Margaret, and I returned to school and life settled back to normal as much as it was possible under the circumstances. Evenings, which had always been so pleasant, were a bit harried. Margaret and I were to do the dishes as Dena had so many other things to take care of. And besides, she was tired after a long day's work caring for both mother and a two-year-old sister who needed special attention after her illness. Dad supervised and helped both indoors and with the chores. He no longer read aloud from the Norwegian newspaper as mother used to listen while she was busy knitting stockings and mittens. This I missed more than I then realized as it had been the pattern of our winter evenings as long as I could remember.

Slowly, surely mother's health was returning and when I came home from school I was allowed to sit by her bed telling her of the day's happenings. She would show me how much she had been able to knit that day and tell me she had been able to sit in a chair for a short time, which became longer periods as the days passed. Finally, the time came when she could join us at the table for meals. During this period, I learned what it meant to have a united family all working to help each other.

Life again was going smoothly for us all with Mother the head of the household, except for Emma. She had come to depend on Dena for everything and she couldn't remember other days. If Dena was gone when it was her bedtime she would cry, "Dena, Dena". It took quite awhile before Mother could win her rightful place in her heart.

When I was nine years old, I was given the responsibility of herding the cattle a half day and Margaret was released for full time job. So now she helped in the house half a day and herded the other half. She loved to read, so when it was her turn to herd she catch up on her reading that she didn't have time for when she doing household tasks. Often this reading consisted of studying her lessons for her Confirmation Instructions. This had been a procedure practiced by each of the children as they reached the age of instruction and responsibility of herding. In other words they "killed two birds with the same stone."

This year the church hired a young woman of 19 years of age to teach vacation Bible School for a month. All the children of the congregation came to the same schoolhouse. Though we knew each other from meeting at church and family visiting, many of us had never attended the same public school so this was quite a lark. Miss Inga Larsen was attending Canton Academy at Canton, SD during the school year in preparation to teach in our public schools, and as this was a Lutheran School, she was qualified to instruct us in religion during vacation and thus earning money for furthering her education.

She stayed a week in each home where she received board and room free of charge and was paid a small sum of money for her work.

My home was located equal distance of a mile and half by way of the section lines or road, and considerably less by the way the crow flies, between two schools in the townships. So we had our preference which to attend. But for public school we usually attended the one north of us, although few of those children were Norwegian nor did they attend our church. The Bible School was to be held in the schoolhouse to the south in order to accommodate as many children in the congregation as possible. She was an able and inspiring teacher and I'm sure we all were the richer for having her as a teacher.

She was my ideal for the time. This was the era of high button shoes, the dressy shoes were tan. Though I never was the proud owner of tan shoes, as mine had be a practical black, I still could pretend I was Miss Larsen.

When I was herding cattle, I had lots of time to daydream and think about the fun I had had in school, and ponder about some of the lessons learned, such as the miracles that Jesus performed. Of course I believed them, but not having any similar experiences to connect known to the unknown, they weren't a real part of me.

Their meaning became real much sooner than one would expect for a nine year old and in such a way that it left a lasting impression on my whole life. I never told a soul about my experience until I told it to my own children, hoping it would be of value to them in their life's journey.

It was Sunday morning, I was sitting in church with Mother and my sister on the left side of the church while Dad and my brothers were seated on the right side, as was customary. Well, as I was sitting half listening and half dreaming to the sermon, something caught my attention and I was wide awake for didn't I hear the pastor say that with God nothing was impossible if we had faith and asked it in Jesus Name our prayers would be answered. If they were for our own good he would grant us our wish, but on the other hand if we ask for something God knows isn't good for us he will say "no". You can about imagine what thoughts went through my mind, at first I believed but the more I thought about it the less sure I was that this could be possible. I didn't seem to be in any real need for the time so I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

One morning I was driving the cattle out to graze. It was foggy but the air felt cool so I didn't bother to carry water with me as I usually did on hot days. Once the cattle were grazing they couldn't be left or they would surely stray into a nearby cornfield. I knew from experience what damage they could do to the corn in a short time. And, besides, you'd never have time to pretend and daydream if they once got the taste of the corn. They would always

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