For the Record...

When Mom and Dad got married, Dad had been keeping a daily record book that he had started January 1st, 1935. Mom began helping him write this record. Soon she did all the writing, but they continued to confer on what was written in the book.

The early daily journals were written in the Farm Business Record Books distributed by International Harvester Co. Dad had found these record books when he and Mom attended the Chicago World’s Fair in 1934. When the Farm Business Record Books were no longer available, Mom would simply rule off pages in a spiral bound notebook - one month would be two pages with horizontal lines drawn to divide the paper into 30-31 spaces. The daily entries were brief - what they did that day and perhaps the weather, occasionally some national or local news might be entered. The next couple pages after each month’s journal were used for bookkeeping - recording farm and household expenses and income.

This daily record book has been kept from January 1st, 1935 until the present time as she enjoys life at the Pines Assisted Living facility in Jackson, Minnesota. Many times Mom’s daily record book has provided the answer to someone’s question or settled a family discussion! Thus, For the Record... was chosen as the title of this book.

As many of you know, the Ringkobs were also “picture takers” - snapshots, slides, and movies. Mom’s family photo albums and scrapbooks were a wonderful resource in putting this book together.
In addition, information about our ancestry was gleaned from family history books that Mom wrote in the 1970’s.

The first and last part of this book was written by Marita. She gathered information from the above mentioned sources plus visiting with Mom and asking her questions. The rest of the sections were written by Tom, Kent, and Kathy with the author listed by each section.

We hope you will enjoy reading about our memories of growing up in the Tom Ringkob family.

For the Record... was completed and printed during the summer of 2010.

So what must you first know about these two people - Esther and Tom - that we were blessed to have as parents? They began their married life against the backdrop of the Great Depression, the biggest downturn in history, and with World War II, the Great War, raging overseas. They tragically lost their first child. But they saw quick and important changes - electricity, mechanical farming, and a family of four children by the end of the 40’s.

One can only marvel at Esther and Tom’s unquestionable optimistic view of the future. For all of us, there are some very important lessons to be learned - lessons of courage, tenacity and faith.

We dedicate this book to you, Mom and Dad, with our love and thanks.

Tom, Kent, Kathy and Marita

Her mother, Hannah (Minnie) Elemina Olson

Esther’s mother, Hannah Elemina Olson was born on July 11, 1883, near Rochelle, Illinois in a farm home. Hannah was the oldest child of Andrew and Anna Olson who were married on October 3, 1881 in Rockford, Illinois.

Hannah (Minnie) Olson (1883 - 1965)

Hannah’s father, Andrew Peter Olson (Anders Petter Olafson) was born on August 8, 1848. Anders lived with his parents on a farm near Varberg, Sweden. He was confirmed in Rya, Sweden, on August 23, 1863. His father raised fine horses and Anders helped to herd sheep on the hillsides. He loved music and liked to sing and yodel. One night the horses were stolen, causing hardship for the family. Neighbors and friends urged Anders to work for the government, but he decided to come to America. Friends of the family, Walter Erickson’s parents, loaned Anders money that he later paid back to come to America.

Hannah’s mother, Anna Johanna Carlson was born on May 11, 1855. She also lived with her parents and siblings on a farm near Varberg, Sweden. Anna was confirmed on August 8, 1869 in Weadige, Sweden. The Carlson family was considered fairly “well-to-do”, according to the standards of that time. They had a farm and were responsible for giving food, grain, and seed to the poor. When Anna was eight years old, her father was killed by robbers who mistook him for someone else. Her mother was devastated and had three young children. But she was a resourceful person and used her artistic ability to design needlework, which she sold to help the family income. After Anna’s oldest brother Andrew came to America in 1879, Anna, her mother, and her brother John decided to come to America, too.

Anna, John, and their mother, Johanna Carlson, came to America by boat in the summer of 1880. On this same boat from Sweden was a young man named Anders Olafson. His name was changed to Andrew Peter Olson in America. When they arrived in America, Andrew Olson and the Carlsons came by train to Rochelle, Illinois, where they found employment. Andrew found work as a hired man on a farm. He worked until he had saved enough money to buy some machinery and livestock, so he could rent a farm. At this same time, Anna Carlson was working as a hired girl for a neighbor. She saved her money and earned enough to bring home four wooden caned chairs. She carried them home, one at a time, across the fields.

Esther’s grandparents, Andrew Olson and Anna Carlson, were married on October 3, 1881, at Rockford, Illinois. He was 33 years old and she was 26 years old. After their marriage, they lived on a rented farm near Rochelle, Illinois. Their seven children were all born in Illinois. Their oldest, Hannah (Minnie) Wilhelmina, Esther’s mother, was born near Flag Center, Ogle County, Illinois, on July 11, 1883. She was baptized on September 1, 1883, by Rev. G. Peters, pastor of the Swedish Lutheran Church in Rockford, Illinois. When the neighbor’s daughter Minnie died, they missed her so much that they started calling Hannah “Minnie”.

The Olson family prospered in Illinois. The family worked together caring for the livestock and working in the fields. The children all graduated from eighth grade. Minnie was encouraged to become a teacher but she felt she was needed at home to care for her younger siblings and help her father on the farm.

Since her dad loved music, he bought an organ when his children were old enough to take lessons. A music teacher came to their home and gave Minnie around eighty lessons. Minnie then taught her younger sister, Alma. Later Andrew purchased a piano-organ. Minnie and Alma also took lessons in sewing or dressmaking. Later they were able to use this skill to make their own wedding dresses – dresses trimmed with tucks and lace.

Since Andrew and Anna Olson wanted a home and farm of their own, they decided to investigate the option of moving to Minnesota because the price of land in Illinois had risen so much. Anna’s two brothers had purchased Minnesota land and moved in 1899 and 1901. Andrew purchased 320 acres of land near Alpha, Minnesota. He paid $32 per acre and they moved to this farm by train in 1902. Minnie remembers leaving a spinning wheel on the platform at the depot because there was no room in the railroad car. They did take the piano-organ!

The Minnesota farm was good black soil, but there were low wet spots in rainy seasons. Tiling was done later by hired help – men digging the tile ditches by hand and laying the tile. The buildings on the farm were old but adequate until they were able to build new buildings. Many trees were planted to provide shelter and also to provide firewood to heat the house. They raised crops of oats, corn, and hay besides having pasture for the livestock. Horses were used in field work and for transportation – pulling wagon or buggy. -Marita

Emma Olson, Henry & Alma Petersen, Eva Olson,
Alvina & Arthur Petersen, Minnie & Peter Hansen, Emil Olson


The Olson-Carlson family reunions were held in the Jackson area from 1937-1999. During the years when there were a lot of children attending, the reunions were often held in the Minnewaukon area by Spirit Lake, south of Jackson. The get-togethers were usually held in June with a potluck dinner of delicious food followed by an afternoon of visiting, swimming and playing games – always a fun day.

Her father, Peter J. Hansen

Esther’s father, Peter J. Hansen, was born on May 12, 1878 in Steward, near Rochelle, Illinois. He was the first son of his parents, Jacob and Petrina Hansen, who had come from Denmark the previous year. Jacob “worked his way over” on a slow potato boat, across the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Jacob was 21 years old and was accompanied by an uncle, John Larson. They started out in February 1877, and the trip took five weeks before docking in Philadelphia. In May, 1877, Petrina Jorgensen left Denmark with her mother and sister, and came to America.

Jacob Hansen and Petrina Jorgensen had not known each other in Denmark. Jacob was born near Odense on the island of Fyn, Denmark, on December 1, 1855. Petrina was born in Denmark on January 18, 1859. However, after they came to America in 1877, they both settled near Steward, Illinois. They worked as hired help on neighboring farms and thus became acquainted. On November 12, 1877, three couples were married by a preacher from Chicago. One of those couples was Jacob and Petrina Hansen. Jacob and Petrina had nine children all born in Illinois between 1878 and 1895.

In 1891, they moved seven miles to another farm they rented near Rochelle, Illinois. They had a large house and the farm consisted of 420 acres, which was farmed by using horses to pull machinery – sometimes owning 20 horses at a time. In 1893, Jacob and Petrina went to the World’s Fair in Chicago, taking the baby along but leaving the other seven children with Grandma Jorgensen. The story is that Charlie got tired of braiding Hannah’s long hair, so he took a scissors and cut off the long braids! Grandma Jorgensen (Petrina’s mother) lived with the Hansen family until her death in May 1898.

Peter J. Hansen (1878 - 1967)

Esther’s father, Peter J. Hansen, was a good “horse man”, being conscientious in caring for the horses. Pete received his formal education in Illinois and was considered a good student. At the church they attended, Pete met a young Swedish girl, Hannah (Minnie) Olson, and he took care of her horse when she arrived at church. However, the Olson family left Illinois in 1902 and moved to land they had purchased near Alpha, Minnesota. Pete said good-bye to Minnie and they promised to exchange letters.
Jacob & Petrina Hansen and their nine children (1902)

The Hansens left Illinois in 1905 and moved to Iowa. Before moving, they had a sale to reduce their inventory but they still shipped three carloads of stuff by train to Havelock, Iowa. Keep in mind, that by now they had two steam engines, two corn shellers, two threshing machines, and one saw mill plus their large family.

The land they purchased in Iowa near Havelock was very wet but was level black soil that produced good crops when tiled. However, the damp climate in Iowa was hard on Petrina and she died in 1907 from asthma at the age of 48. Lawrence, the youngest child, was 12 years old at the time of her death and Pete, the oldest of the nine children, was 29 years old. Guess who came to the funeral? Hannah (Minnie) Olson, Pete’s friend from Illinois. As you recall, the Olson family had moved to Minnesota in 1902. Minnie happened to be visiting a friend, Bertha Maltzahn in Havelock. The Maltzahn family was going to the funeral and Minnie went along. Thankfully, Pete and Minnie’s friendship was renewed. Although over 50 miles separated Minnie who lived near Alpha, Minnesota, and Pete who lived near Havelock, Iowa, their relationship must have thrived. Pete and Minnie were married on December 29, 1909, at the bride’s parent’s home – seven years after they parted in Illinois when Minnie’s family moved to Minnesota.

The Hansen Family Renions were held in a park in the Emmetsburg, Iowa, area from 1926-1989 on a Sunday in July. Peter J. Hansen really enjoyed going to the reunions to see his brothers and sisters and their families – lots of good visiting and catching up on family news.

Pete & Minnie begin their married life together

After Peter J. and Hannah E. (Minnie) Hansen were married, the couple farmed in Iowa three years with Pete’s brother, Henry, and his wife, Goldie, on land rented from their father, Jacob Hansen. Their first child, Esther Pearl, was born on January 7, 1912, in a country farmhouse about five miles northwest of Havelock. The weather was severely cold at the time of her birth, 30 degrees below zero, and the doctor coming out by horse and cutter froze his hands and feet! Aunt Goldie enjoyed helping Minnie take care of the new baby. Aunt Hannah (Pete’s sister) was happy because Esther happened to be born on her birthday. When Esther was a little over two months of age, her parents took her to her Olson grandparent’s home, south of Alpha, Minnesota, to be baptized on March 21, 1912, by Rev. JH Ford from the Dunnell Swedish Lutheran Church. Her sponsors were her grandparents, Andrew and Anna Olson, and her aunt and uncle, Alma and Henry Petersen.

Esther Pearl Hansen - 6 mo. old (1912)

In 1913 when Esther was 14 months old, Pete and Minnie took four horses and a lumber wagon and drove as far as Graettinger, Iowa, the first night. The next day they drove to a farm they rented near Alpha, Minnesota. The 160 acre farm in Petersburg Township was rented from Gus Anderson, a photographer in Jackson.
At the age of three years, Esther was very ill with scarlet fever. She was quarantined with her mother in a bedroom for 4-6 weeks. During that time her mother did some beautiful hardanger embroidery to pass the time while Esther slept. Aunt Emma (Pete’s sister) came to help keep house – cooking and washing clothes.
Esther remembers her Dad bringing in the mail including a newspaper telling that the United States had entered the First World War on April 6, 1917.
On July 31, 1917, her brother, Arthur Lawrence, was born. Esther was especially happy as she told her aunt, Elizabeth Hansen, “We have a new baby and a new Buick! Why don’t you get a new baby and a new Buick?” Her parent’s first car was a 1917 – 4 cylinder Buick. Her Dad did all the driving since Minnie never learned to drive. She tried it one time and never again!
Esther started school at Petersburg Consolidated School at the age of 5 ½ years in September 1917. She didn’t know anyone at school and was quite bashful. She had good teachers at Petersburg and they let her visit with them during recess until she got acquainted with the other children. There was a spiral fire escape on the side of the school but Esther was too scared to go down it. She rode to school on a school bus pulled by horses. She was in an accident once when the bus skidded around a corner and tipped over. Several children were cut by glass but Esther was not hurt.

Esther and Arthur Hansen (1918)

Esther with her brothers, Arthur & Gordon (1921)

They lived on the Petersburg Township farm seven years and added two boys to the family. Gordon Arnold was born July 14, 1920, close to their mother’s birthday, July 11. Minnie was 37, Pete was 42, Esther was 8, and Art was almost 3 when Gordon arrived. They had saved enough money to buy a 160 acre farm two miles west of Alpha and lived there from 1920-1934. They experienced many hardships there – floods, loss of crops and livestock, depression years, and they lost the farm. Esther remembers some years when the weather was dry and their well would go dry. Her Dad would have to haul water by a team of horses and wagon from the neighbor’s well. The water was dipped by pail from his water tank to Pete’s tank on the wagon. It was very hard work – no hoses or motors to help. Pete was feeding cattle so they needed lots of water. Esther never wastes water – perhaps because water conservation was taught to her at a young age!
This farm was located next to the road that would become Highway 16. However, when they moved to the farm it was just a plain dirt road. Later the road was graded up and graveled. Then in 1931, it was paved. A big road grading outfit camped in a pasture west of their big grove with many horses.
Esther remembers once when her parents were gone to Oklahoma, she fixed supper for her younger brothers, Art and Gordon. A storm came up and they went to their storm cellar. When the storm passed and they returned to eat their supper, they found the food covered with dirt. So they threw the food away and fixed supper again!
Her parents worked very hard on this farm – farming with horses, milking several cows, and raising hogs and chickens. Esther especially remembers bringing the cows home from the pasture with the assistance of their old dog, “Shep”. She also remembers setting the hens, hatching the chicks, and feeding the chicks and hens in individual coops in the grove.
In 1925, Esther graduated from the 8th grade at District 19 country school. After leaving the Petersburg school in March 1920, she attended school in Alpha school for a year or so and then transferred to District 19 school. In Alpha, her parents would have to pay $5 a month as they did not live in the Alpha district. She remembers getting rides to school (2 ½ miles) in her Dad’s buggy, the neighbors fancy enclosed buggy, wagons, cars, and bobsleds. Usually they would take her in the morning and she would have to walk home in the evening unless the weather was very bad. After her brother, Arthur, started school in 1923, they exchanged rides with the neighbors.

Her family started attending Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Jackson in the 1920’s. Esther was confirmed on October 17, 1926 by Rev. SC Eastvold.
In 1934, her parents moved to another farm they bought north of Jackson until they retired in 1946, moving to a house in Jackson. -Marita

High school & teacher training (1925 - 1930)

After graduating from 8th grade in the spring of 1925, Esther had been begging her parents for the chance to attend high school. Fortunately she met Fern Ohlson. Fern’s parents had bought a house on the east side of Jackson near depot hill. Fern was going to high school and wanted some one to stay with her. Her parents were not moving to Jackson until later that fall after they had the harvest completed on their farm.
So Esther and Fern started their freshman year of high school cooking their own meals, walking to school, and keeping their room tidy. This was Esther’s first experience with sharing a bedroom. She was only 13 years old and found the high school subjects difficult at first. Her 8th grade preparation for high school was not as strong as some of the other students. However, she soon caught up and became a good student.
As a sophomore in 1926-1927, Esther stayed with an elderly Norwegian couple, the Kvandes, near the high school. She shared a room with Agnes Anderson and paid the Kvandes for room and board.
Jackson High School (1925-1929)

During her junior year in 1927-1928, she stayed with the Nels Nelsons in a house on the south end of Main Street in Jackson. Aslaug Ronhovde and Esther shared a room. They cooked their own meals. Aslaug’s brother, Peder, Arthur Johnson, and Jeffrey Flatgaard also stayed there. Aslaug and Esther ate with the boys but did not socialize much with them. (Aslaug and Jeffrey later married, 1939)
As a senior in 1928-1929, Esther, Aslaug, and the boys had rooms at the home of Mrs. Olena Eide during the school week and did their own cooking. They went to their parents’ homes for the weekends, weather permitting. Esther remembers her mother sewing all of her dresses through high school. Esther and Aslaug both enjoyed music. Aslaug was taking piano lessons from Mrs. Grottum. Aslaug would play the piano and they would both sing selections from the Etude in the evenings. Both Aslaug and Esther were in the high school chorus – they had a very good choir director and enjoyed being in the operettas. Esther sang the second soprano part. Math and science were Esther’s favorite subjects. She also took Latin I & II, chemistry, and 4 years of math. At the end of their senior year, they took state senior exams. Esther’s parents let her drive the family car (1917 Buick) to town on the days of the exam.

Esther Hansen High School Graduation (1929)

Because math was one of her favorite subjects, Esther would have liked to attend business school in Sioux Falls. However, to save money and be closer to home, Esther decided to attend teacher training or “Normal” school in Jackson. She shared a bedroom with Olga Nielssen at the Skarda home near the high school. They made their own meals and went home on weekends.
Esther started “Normal” school in September 1929. The teacher training classes were held in the southwest corner of the upper floor of the high school. There were 15 students and Miss Ford was the teacher. They received training for teaching all subjects kindergarten through eighth grade. Esther remembers teaching a group of “top-notch” kindergarten students at Normal school. She also went across the street to grade school and observed teachers at different grade levels. After observing the class, she was able to teach a lesson to the students. In the spring of 1930, Esther practice taught for 2 weeks in a country school – District 1, where Irene Garber was the teacher. Irene was an excellent teacher and became a good friend. Irene recommended Esther for the teaching job at District 93. Because of the Depression, several teachers did not get teaching jobs. Esther was grateful that Irene helped her get her first job. -Marita

Esther’s teaching contract (1930)
Esther taught:

District 93 – Enterprise Township, Jackson County, Minnesota
1930-31 – 8 months @ $80 per month
1931-32 – 9 months @ $85 per month
1932-33 – 9 months @ $75 per month

District 1 – Wisconsin Township, Jackson County, Minnesota
1933-34 – 9 months @ $60 per month
1934-35 – 9 months @ $65 per month

Esther Hansen driving 1917 Buick to teach in a rural country school (1930-1935)

Meeting Tom

Esther began teaching in September 1930 at District 93 School, a country school with students in grades 1-8 in one room. She lived with her parents and brothers and drove their car to school. First she drove their 1917 Buick and later a 1932 Chevrolet that she helped them purchase.

During Esther’s first year of teaching, it was a tradition at country schools to put on a Christmas program on a December evening. It was always an exciting time for the students as they prepared the plays, songs, and readings they would perform. The school would be full of people from the neighborhood to enjoy the holiday program. Miss Hansen, the teacher, wore a store purchased dress! Her mother had always sewn all her dresses. After the program, a woman Esther did not know approached her. She said, “Miss Hansen, I want you to meet my son, Tom Rinkob.” (name later changed to Ringkob)
In January 1931, Tom stopped by the school late one afternoon and asked to borrow the book, “Tom Sawyer”. When he returned it, later in January, he asked Esther if she would like to go to the movie “Tom Sawyer” in Jackson. She accepted and that was their first date. Esther remembers being impressed with Tom – he was intelligent, he liked to read and discuss things.

Thomas Rinkob (later changed to Ringkob)

In spite of the depression, they had many happy and good times. On their weekly dates, they would visit friends, attend a movie, go roller skating, or swimming. They also enjoyed attending meetings of a Literary Society that met once a month. They usually met in homes of members – other young people that enjoyed programs, debates, banquets, entertainment, lunches, and picnics.
Tom was farming the home farm plus some rented land together with his brother Freel. Early in 1931, banks were closing and people withdrew money from their accounts. Farm income was cut because of low prices. Also 1931-1934 were hot and dry years and crop yields were poor. It was a tough time to be farming – but dating the local teacher put a spring in Tom’s step.
In the spring of 1931 after teaching one year, Esther bought a piano and took eight lessons from Mrs. Grottum in the summer of 1931 – something she had always wanted to do!
In the summers of 1931-1934, Esther and 4 other girls spent a week at a Spirit Lake cottage – a fun time for the single working girls. Beach pajamas were the style!
However, times were tough in the United States. New President Franklin D. Roosevelt closed all banks in March 1933 until the banks could be checked. Farmers were told to hang on to their animals and crops until they could get better prices. After another hot and dry year that resulted in poor crops, Esther’s parents lost their farm. It was nice to be dating Tom and have someone to talk to and be reassured that there were better times ahead! -Marita

Making plans to be married

1934 was an unforgettable year for Esther. In February, she was very sick with flu (yellow jaundice) and missed a month of teaching. Her friend and mentor, Irene Garber, taught for her. In March, she helped her parents move to their new farm in Belmont township, north of Jackson. She finished her fourth year of teaching and the temperatures reached 106 degrees in Minnesota on May 31, 1934. The summer that followed was a record breaking hot summer.

1934 also contained a couple of trips for Esther. In July, she and three of her girlfriends went on a week’s trip to the Black Hills. Esther drove her parent’s 1932 Chevrolet and they stayed in tourist cabins and cooked their own meals. In August, she went to Chicago and the World’s Fair. Tom took his mother and Auntie Bea Salisbury. He asked Esther to drive Bea’s new car to Chicago as Bea was on her way to Pennsylvania and unsure of driving in Chicago. Esther had actually been to Chicago the summer before and spent over three weeks with friends and had been to the World’s Fair then. That time she traveled to Chicago by train with her aunt and uncle, Alma and Henry Petersen.

Esther started her fifth year teaching in the fall of 1934. She continued living with her parents and driving to school – she took her brother Arthur to high school in town before going to her school to teach. But the exciting news that fall was that Tom bought a 160 acre farm in Enterprise township and they could make plans for marriage!

Tom farmed the home place with Freel until March of 1935. During the winter, he attended farm sales and bought some machinery and tools. He also worked on the house on his new farm – put a clothes closet in the bedroom upstairs, got a soft coal heater from his brother George for the dining room, bought a cook stove, and his mother and Auntie Eliza put up some curtains. Tom and the hired help hauled hay and grain and livestock to his new farm in mid-March. On March 31, 1935, Esther had dinner with Tom and his mother in the house at the new farm – their future home! In April, Tom and the hired men planted 1000 Colorado blue spruce trees and 600 Chinese elms – any Minnesota farmstead needs a good grove. He also planted barley, oats, and flax in some of his new fields and seeded grass in the new lawn.

Esther finished her last year of teaching the end of May and her brother, Arthur, graduated from Jackson High School. Tom was busy planting corn and soybeans with a team of horses (Fred and Barney) and then cultivating the crops three times to keep the weeds down.

In June, Esther took one last trip with girlfriends to the Wisconsin Dells and Red Wing, Minnesota, area. Tom kept busy on the new farm – grading up the lane to the road in preparation for putting gravel on it in the fall. He also shipped some cattle and hogs to Chicago and put up hay.

In July the barley and oats were shocked. On a hot Saturday evening, July 27th, Esther and Tom went to Fairmont and picked out a diamond engagement ring!

August arrived and it was time to thresh the oats. Tom’s brother Freel was married to Neva on August 14th. Tom was the best man.

September, Esther was busy getting ready for the wedding and Tom kept busy on the farm. Tom’s mother was very sick (nervous breakdown) the end of September and was in bed at George and Ella’s home. They felt bad that she was not going to be able to attend their wedding in a few days. -Marita
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