Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Carnival of Genealogy's100th: There's One In Every Family

Every one should have an Aunt Aggie.  She wasn't really my aunt, but rather my great-aunt.  The only name I ever heard her called was Aunt Aggie.  I met her once, in the summer of 1946,  when she came out to Oregon from Minnesota.  I was eleven years old and she was 64 years old.  I was enthrall with her -- she was so full of life and laughter.  I knew why every one always talked with wonderment about Aunt Aggie.

My Uncle Ralph often talked about his Aunt Aggie;  Here is an except from one of his letters in which he told his younger sister about their aunt:

Dad wanted to come back to Minn & Mother was willing so Dad & I took the train from Madison to Monticello & walked the 4 mi to Aunt Aggies [Fiske]. Dad left me there & went on up to Little Falls. I stayed with them for two or three weeks, meanwhile Dad went to work for the Pine Tree Lbr Co hauling wood around town. After he got a pay day he sent for Mother & the rest of the family to come to Aunt Aggies & then he would come down after us (60 mi).While there everyone went to town except Ralph Fiske, Olive [Fiske] & I. Ralph was a couple of years older than I & Olive was a year younger. It was raining that day, Clive Fiske had about 30 hogs & the hog waller was only ½ block from the house. The 3 of us got to throwing corn cogs at each other & pretty soon we were in the dirty old hog waller & of course it was mud slime & what have you & we were covered from Head to food. We all 3 got what we had coming. Aunt Aggie just whaled the tar out of Ralph & Olive & got mad at Mother because she didn’t whale me as hard as the other two got it.

Olive was only 17 when she died & it was in her last year of high school & was boarding with a family in town while going to school. Her appendix broke one day & she didn’t know what to do so caught a ride out home & her folks wasn’t home so she just stayed there till they come home. As soon as they got home he rode horseback the 4 mi into Monticello for the doctor. (No telephone) The Doctor operated on her right on the kitchen table but they were too late, gangrene had already set in. They found out Ralph Fiske had a bad heart while he was in his early 20s. He loved to chase around & dance all nite but for awhile he took it easy. Meanwhile [their sister]Myrtle had got married & lived in town & one Sun morning after being out all night Ralph showed up for breakfast. They were eating & Ralph was talking about Olive when he just slumped over the table & was gone. I think nearly all of the sickness was on the Fisk side of that family. He died of cancer. He was a good farmer & a fair sledge hammer mechanic. He was about one of the 1st to own a car he bought a 1914 studebaker. When they would take a trip to visit his folks in Iowa or up to Little Falls they spent about 3 weeks getting ready for that 60 & 80 mi trip. On the other hand Aunt Aggie was the last of Dads sisters & brothers to pass away & I think she was 96 then. They were also the 1st farmers to have a modern bathroom out in the country, as he build a high water tank so he could gravity the water into the house. They had to wait awhile to put coils in the stove for hot water as those old ranges had a water reservoire built on the back that held about 5 gal, in addition to that for baths & washing also had to heat a couple boilers of water, on the stove or outside.

Of all Dad’s sisters and Brothers I believe Aunt Aggie was the bombastic one of the family. She loved to be on the go all the time. When I was small I was afraid of her as she could be a task master if she wished but for her to take all the hard knocks & live to be 96 she was the stuff our pioneers were made of.

My Aunt Olive, to whom the above  letter was written, said that she only knew Aunt Aggie as an old woman --- 64 years old.  So she was quite surprised when I showed her my favorite picture of Aunt Aggie.  The year was 1918 and thirty-year old Aggie was playing barefoot in Crow Wing Lake.  I dinna know her then, but I wished that I had.


  1. What a descriptive letter written by your Uncle Ralph! The men in my family don't write letters at all... Great post, I really enjoyed it!

  2. Aunt Aggie, the bombastic one, who lived to be 96! Love it! Nice post!

  3. In a word this is "priceless". Thanks for sharing your blog and this letter.

  4. Lisa, Cheryl and Lindalee,
    Thanks so much for reading and I am so glad you liked hearing about wonderful Aunt Aggie -- and she was quite a beauty too.

  5. Enjoyed sharing my AM coffee with Aggie. Thanks

  6. It's wonderful that she was still full of life when you met her. The early tragedies could have easily soured her.

  7. Carol and Apple,
    Thanks for reading and commenting on this lively great aunt of mine.

  8. Joan, Uncle Ralph sure was a writer, and I enjoyed this post. However, how sad about Olive's death, so needless, all I can think about was her pain. Regarding Aunt Aggie, I want her genes! Thanks.

  9. I love that photo, Joan. Aunt Addie sounds like one-of-a-kind. I found out recently that my great grandmother was the only one of her 11 siblings to live past 25. Most of her siblings died within a few weeks of each other. We sure do come from tough stock.

    I hope you're doing well!

    - Abby

  10. This is such a great post! Wonderful to have the letter and picture and wonderful the way you put it all together. I'm suddenly an Aggie fan.

  11. Just getting round to visiting. Love this post. She is my kind of lady.
    Thanks and Merry Christmas!