Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Ken Christopher born 1916 will be 100 years old this year

Celebrating the life of Kenneth Orvin Christopher:

Kenneth Orvin Christopher was born Sep 7,1916 in Medina, North Dakota.
He was the 7th child born at home to Inga Lydia (Olsen) and Carl Christopher.
Carl wrote for the newspaper (The Medina Citizen) at the time. For the news on
the day Ken was born, Carl wrote : "Another new hunter joins the Christopher Camp."

All the children were born at home with the help of the local mid-wife,
Mrs. Peterson. Glenn Arthur Ken's oldest brother (b.Jan 7, 1904) was

11 at the time;Alfred Clifford, Mar. 24, 1907) was 9; Roy Willard
(b.Aug 10, 1910 )was 6; Ruth Lillian,(b.Aug 10, 1912) was 3; 
Lauren Ivan and Lester Carl, (b. Aug 5, 1914) were 2. Inga (b. June 28, 1882) 
was 34, and Carl was 40. Ken enjoyed the Christopher Camp as he was growing
up with even  more "little hunters" as they came along: Otto Vernon, (b. Dec. 19, 1918);
Robert Norman,(b. March 29, 1921); Doris Esther,(b.  June 10, 1923); 
and Don Edwin, (b.Sept 10, 1925.) 

All the Christopher children attended a one room school house, called the Peterson
School, out in the country about one mile away from their place. In the cold winter Ken
and the other Christopher kids often had to take the horse and sleigh to school. At one
time the Olsens (Inga's family) came to visit and ended up staying on the Christopher
property in a small house about 1/2 mile away.

Ken graduated from eighth grade and worked on the farm and as hired hand for
other ranchers and farmers around the area. There was no way for him to get into
Medina, the only High School in the area. He used to take the freight train from Medina
to Almont, N. D. sans ticket of course. It seems that Lauren, Lester and Kenneth all liked
to hop freights. They would get off just about anywhere to look for jobs of any kind.

One summer when he was in Almont, he worked for Mr. Jonathan
Pederson and became well acquainted with Mr. Pederson, his wife Sophia Amelia
(Surum), and their six children, all girls.

As he got older, he would "drift west" to work summer jobs such as at Oronda,
Washington, where he picked apples and did odd jobs. When he stopped in Arlee
to see his brothers, Lauren and Lester, he decided to stay and work for the local 
ranchers. He met Ruby Margaret Fleming (b.Oct 3, 1922) while he was working 
in Arlee.

When Ken and his friend Billy Westman saw a sign that said, "I Want You!"
and Uncle Sam pointing right at him, he was sure he was needed.  Billy was
too short and couldn't get in, but Ken signed up the very next day. 

Ken joined the Marines Corp in November of 1934 and served as an expert
rifleman, expert pistol, espert bayonet, and a coach. He stayed four years,
spending nearly his entire tour of duty on the USS Arizona. He sailed five
times to the Hawaiian Islands, twice to Midway Island, crossing the equator
three times and voyaging around the horn of South America--all during

Although he left active duty on November 20, 1938, he stayed in the reserves for
four years.While in California, (Richmond,) with his brother Vernon, he was doing odd
jobs from working on a feeryboat to working in the shipyard for an oil company.
He wrote to Ruby's dad to ask for her hand in marriage and when all the
arrangements could be made, Ruby came down to Richmond and they were married
on July 5, 1940.

He was called back into the Marines in the spring of 1941 but was stationed in
La Jolla, California at the time of Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941. Ken was often
quoted as saying he was the luckiest Marine alive because he was not on the
USS Arizona that was attacked four times that day and evetually sank, losing
1,177 of our brave Marines.

Their first child, Gloria Jean, was born Oct. 25, 1942 in Richmond, CA and the family
moved to Missoula where he worked for Zip Auto. Then they decided to settle in
Arlee. He did farm and ranch work of his own and for his in-laws, the Flemings.
For entertainment Kenneth and Ruby belonged to the local Saddle Club and
participated in Omoksees.(square dance) He also liked to ride steers in the rodeo.
Sometime prior to 1944 he owned and operated a small cream station. He bought
the cream from local farmers, tested the butter fat, and sold it through contract to
the big creamery in Missoula.


Marjorie Lee was born on May 1, 1946 in the St. Ignatius Hospital.

Margie, Lana Gloria and Goldie Christopher at a play day
Ken made sure that his girls got to spend plenty of time with their many cousins
especially in the summer months when school was out.  

Ken build a two bedroom home on Finley Creek where they lived until about 1952.
Like many others in the area, Ken worked seasonal work for the Sugar Beet
plant in Missoula. They moved to a small 140 acre ranch north of Arlee where
he raised cows, horses, pigs, chickens, dogs, kids and an occasional cat.
At one point in time he milked 12 cows, one of which was named CBS
because she would put her head through the window to listen to the radio.
To supplement the family Ken worked at the Fish Hatchery located on
the Jocko River.

He came down with rheumatic fever around 1957-8. Recovery was slow,
taking about a year to regain his strength; he rode his horse, enjoyed his family
and probably still did more than he was supposed to. After recovery
he tried, but found he was unable to work in the cold, so the ranch was sold
and the family moved to Missoula around 1961and bought the "Sunshine Grocery."

While everyone liked the store business, they missed the country living and
through a series of trades were able to move back to Arlee to the same ranch.
In 1963 they moved into Arlee where they rented a house and owned
"The Fountain" where they made great hamburgers, served endless cups of coffee,
sold bus tickets, candy, and miscellaneous sundries. He even filled the position
of brand inspector for cattle being taken across the county line. He held down a
second job at the White Pine lumber mill where he commuted 26 miles each way
for two years.

Glen, Ruth Lauren, Lester, Ken and Bob

Christopher Brothers:  Lauren Bob, Ken in back  Lester and Glenn in front
Chrsitopher Cousins with their Uncle Ken and Uncle Bob and Aunt Lillian

Ken always encouraged family reunions, he always attended and paid attention to each
one in a special loving way.   He stayed in touch with everyone as best he could.
Once again, Ken built a new home, where they lived during the years Ken worked
as a custodian and bus driver for the Arlee School District. In 1978 at age 62, after
17 years, he took his well-deserved retirement.  Ken and Ruby moved to another
home he had built himself on their property on Flathead Lake at Kings Point. Sadly,
Ruby died May 13, of 1982 due to complications of diabetes.

Sometime after that Ken went back to North Dakota for a visit and found that Mildred
Pederson (b. April 6, 1921), one of Mr. Pederson's daughters, was single again as her
husband had passed away. They began writing to each other for a time. Ken married
Millie on July 11, 1987 and they lived in Polson, Montana for about 18 years.

Much of their retirement life was spent traveling around the United States visiting family and friends in a 5th wheeler or motor home. They enjoy their golden years in good health, enjoying visits from many family and friends.

 Unfortuanately the home on Kings Point was lost to a 4th of July fire that destroyed all they had. The home was quickly rebuilt and they lived there peacefully until 2009.
Juanita, Ken and Milllie

 Ken fell ill and passed away on April 7, 2009 at his daughter Marjorie’s home in Missoula with family members close by.

**personal note***  Goldie and I were fortunate to visit Ken at Margie's house a
few weeks before he died.He was not well enough to sit up or talk much, but when
we thanked him for all the memories of his playing his harmonica, he asked for it and
right then and there he played a little ditty for us....it was a very touching moment.

You may have such a  memory of this very special and loving man or photos you would like to add,  If so, send them to me by email ( lana.rankin@yahoo.com) and I will post it here on an update at a  later date..

Most of this information comes from my interview with Ken for his 90th Birthday. Some information comes from the Polson newspaper, "Valley Journal" Dec 8, 2004 where he was featured on the front page as the "Luckiest Marine Alive."


Friday, March 25, 2016


 Thanks to our cousin Paul Christopher who provided the picture of the Christopher family
 on their`place in North Dakota, just north of Medina about 1916.  
 Thanks to cousin Dennis Skofstad  who restored it.  Here is an email comment 
 from cousin Janet Well sharing what she and  her husband Bill know about this photo:

"Bill and I looked a little more carefully at the photo and think the house faced south. Bill is a history buff and he says the homestead houses always faced south to be out of the north wind. Barns faced south too for the same reasons. There was a lean to on the north side that was there outdoor freezer. The north winds and snow kept it cold. When the weather warmed up the food supply was covered with straw for insulation. Two things we noticed on the picture-not much of a door,certainly no storm door that every home in ND has now. Also two of the windows are single pane with no storm windows. It must have been hard to heat the house. Also the chimney is on the far side of the house not in the middle which was common. Was that the original part of the homestead with the 2story part built on later? If only someone of the original family was still here to answer all our questions!     Afterthought the south side of the buildings got the warmth of the sun which always shines on the south side here in the tundra!
Interesting thought- I have seen this picture all my life and never took note of all the details. The picture was probably taken by a photo studio that was located on the north end of Main Street. Staleys was the name. Dads books of medina pictures show it."     Janet
...and more from Janet:
   "I keep looking at that picture thinking it will give up some more info! Notice the wire fence at the bottom left of pic? Bill says that is sheep fence. Was it used to keep sheep out or keep kids safe? Always wondered what that gate was used for in the back of the car. The washing machine poses many questions. Imagine doing the laundry for that size of family! Wash tubs would be used in the house for baths. And butchering. Water would have to be hauled in, heated in boilers on cook stove and hauled out again. We think cold water washing is of our era but I'll bet they did a lot of that then too"

Here is another house that is similar,  but not sure if this is Carl's first house 
or Gus Olsen's house as they both lived near Medina at the same time. 

Bessie (Christopher) Olsen holding Thelma, Inga Lydia pregnant with Glen, Carl Christopher with rake (?)
Alvin Olsen and dogs in front about the fall of 1903..who is taking the picture??Gus???

And what about this house below:  Is it inside Carl Christopher's house, Gus Olsen's house or
 Amund and Ingeborg Christopher's ? 

Alvin Olsen with grandparents.

I love looking into this home and wish we could read the calendar on the wall
and also wish we could peek into their trunk for treasures from their lives long ago! 

The houses are no longer standing and the Franklin car was traded away 
(see newspaper clipping below written by Carl Christopher)  but our
 questions linger and our families will continue to honor their memory. 


Thanks to our cousin Jim Skofstad for finding this "On Line" book and to cousin Dennis Skofstad for sending
the link to me so I could send it on to the entire Christopher Camp.  See e-mail entry below: 

"My brother Jim  does all the genealogical research in my family.  Accordingly he sent me a reference to http://digitalhorizonsonline.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ndsl-books/id/11003/rec/25 which is the Medina, ND Diamond Jubilee book.  It’s a marvelous piece of work, dedicated to uncle Glenn Christopher, with sections on the history of Medina by Glenn (pg6/PDF pg8), Carl Christopher family (pg 116/PDF pg 142), Bill and Janet Christopher Well (pg108/126), Glenn Christopher family )pg 136/162), the committees on which Glenn and Janet served (pg 219/273), a picture of the Feton Lumber company fire (pg 230/284) where Glen worked for years and more.  The recounting of winters, threshing, and daily life are marvelous.  The pictures are great.  You may not have Glenn’s bio of himself.  I think you’ll like it.
Dennis Skofstad"

****Just click on website and enjoy reading pages mentioned in email entry above.  Thanks to cousin
 Janet Well, I have a copy of this book, but until now, there was no way to share it with everyone.  Enjoy.*****

Cousin Jim has also shared with us websites on Voss, Norway...our Christopher Origins..see his email is below:

 "I thought I found a great web site on Voss, but most of the links don't work or take longer than I am willing to wait.  It is:  http://www.vosselag.org/vossgenres.html  One link that has a lot of the same info is:  http://www.vossnow.net/  It works better and has lots of pictures from the area.  Enter Graue in the search box for some good pictures of the area."  Jim

Other news of interest: 

Barb (Paul) and Carl Erlandson's son, Adam, was married Oct 10, 20 14 in beautiful Hawaii..on the Island of Kaui to Louisa Lu.  They had a baby girl, McKenzie Lu Erlandson, on March 14, 2016. Pictures will be coming on the Facebook page..Christopher Cousins-ND Roots

Also  some relatives have asked for this: 

Millie (Pederson) Christopher, wife of Ken Christopher : Obituary notes are found on  "Find a Grave.Com" :
Birth: Apr. 21, 1921
Death: Apr. 12, 2014
Maricopa County
Arizona, USA

Our dear mother, Mildred "Millie" Olson/Christopher, 93, passed away peacefully on April 12, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. A celebration of Millie's life for family and friends is scheduled in Phoenix, AZ on May 3, 2014, from 12:30 -3:30 pm where she lived at Mountain Park Senior Living Community Center, 4475 East Knox Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85044. She will be missed. A graveside service is set for 3:30 pm June 7, 2014 at the Almont Cemetery, Almont, North Dakota. Millie was born in 1921, at home on Bluff Dale Ranch, near Almont, N.D., to Jonathan and Emilie Sorum Pederson. Mildred was one of 6 girls growing up on the farm and going to school in Almont. She graduated from college at Dickinson State in 1942 and received her Master's degree from Western Oregon University in 1982. She pursued a career in teaching all grades including special education in North Dakota, Washington, and Oregon before retiring in 1985. Mildred married Everett Olson in 1940. They spent several years in the military before returning to Almont. They raised four boys Stuart, Charles, Dale and Wade on the farm in Almont. Everett had many occupations including construction, trucking, and bus routes as well as running the Farmers Supply store in Almont. Mildred taught school in the country school houses containing all grades while in Almont. In 1966, the family moved to Seattle Washington and then to Albany Oregon where Millie taught school in Harrisburg Oregon teaching special education as a result of getting her Masters in Education. In 1985 Millie married Kenneth "Ken" Christopher, who had known her from high school in Almont. They moved to his home on Flathead Lake in Polson MT. They both enjoyed summers in MT and then visiting family and friends and sites of interest all across America in their various 5th wheels and Motor homes during the 20+ years they were together. Ken passed away in 2009 and Millie moved to Phoenix to be closer to family. Survivors include two children, Stuart (Candy) Olson Phoenix AZ; Wade (Robin) Olson Laguna Hills CA.; a sister June Hove Shelton WA.; 10 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and 1 great- great grandchild. She is preceded in death by two husbands, Everett Olson and Ken Christopher; her parents Jonathan & Emelie Pederson, 2 children, Charles & Dale; 4 sisters, Eleanor Hillemann, Dagmar Stoeckel, Lillian Peterson and Ruth Britton; and 1 great grandchild, Liam Murray.

Almont Cemetery
Morton County
North Dakota, USA

Wednesday, December 23, 2015



Last Christmas was my last post on this Christopher Camp Blog.  Go to "older posts"
to view Vintage Christmas cards from the past. .  Please share this post  with
anyone who has interest asI may not  have everyone's email address.

North Dakota winters in the 20's were very cold. Here's some stories from 
Uncle Ken and Uncle Bob you might enjoy:

"In the winter, sometimes we'd take the sled maybe a mile or two down the road to the
school house. We'd take hay in the bottom of the sled box and a blanket over the top 
and a lantern under the blanket to keep warm. Dad had a big robe and he had a coat made
out of it. He used to tell us that he had taken the hide off of old Madge (their horse that 
had died) to make the coatWe didn't know how true it was but that's what he used to
say. Anyway, he would stand up in that cold weather with this coat on, and drive the 
team over to the dance. We'd pick up neighbors, the Giesike's and so on. Except for
the Christensen's, they weren't speaking to us at the time. We went by their place, 
I don't think they had any dancers anyway. Chris, I don't think he danced. So anyway
we went on our way and got to the corner by Jablonski's and Orsten's and spend the
night dancing. They always had a place to put the horses. Either that or we'd blanket 
them good. Then when we came out after the dance the horses would be just white
with frost. Oh, it was good for us kids, we could get under the blanket if we got cold
or else, run behind. That was quite an evening in those days.

"The one room school house was about 1 mile from the Christopher place. 
The kids walk to school most days. In the winter it was so cold and snowy
sometimes they had to hold their arms in between the barred wires so they 
wouldn't get lost. North Dakota winters were so cold that when the kids walked
to school, the oldest one would walk backwards and watch all the noses of the 
little kids. As soon as he saw something turning white he would grab some
snow and put on it as protection from frost bite. It was always pretty chilly
in the winter. It was -30 or -40 sometimes but the wind always made i
colder than that."

"Christmas time was always big time for us.  It didn't seem to make any difference how hard up the folks were, we'd always managed to get an orange or an apple in our sock and one toy and a few nuts. That was a big Christmas for us.  That was pretty much the same every year."


Grandfather Carl Christopher had only one sister, Brieta (Bessie) . She married Inga Olsen (Carl's wife) brother Gus Olsen.  That is why all of us Christopher's and Olsens are double cousins.  The story of Bessie and Gus Olsen appeared in the Medina N.D. Diamond Jubilee Publication in 1974.

Thanks to our cousin Jim Skofstad for finding this "ON LIne" book and to cousin Dennis Skofstad for sending the link to me so I could send it on to the entire Christopher Camp.  See e-mail entry below: 

"My brother Jim  does all the genealogical research in my family.  Accordingly he sent me a reference to http://digitalhorizonsonline.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ndsl-books/id/11003/rec/25 which is the Medina, ND Diamond Jubilee book.  It’s a marvelous piece of work, dedicated to uncle Glenn Christopher, with sections on the history of Medina by Glenn (pg6/PDF pg8), Carl Christopher family (pg 116/PDF pg 142), Bill and Janet Christopher Well (pg108/126), Glenn Christopher family )pg 136/162), the committees on which Glenn and Janet served (pg 219/273), a picture of the Feton Lumber company fire (pg 230/284) where Glen worked for years and more.  The recounting of winters, threshing, and daily life are marvelous.  The pictures are great.  You may not have Glenn’s bio of himself.  I think you’ll like it.
Dennis Skofstad"

Along with some pictures I have, Here is their story from the book:

Gustav C. Olsen, his wife Bessie, and their two children, Alvin and Thelma, came to Medina about 1903. Mr. Olsen filed on a homestead a few miles north of town. In addition to improving his property, putting in some crops and raising some stock, he conducted a real estate business in town. An old photo shows his office on the west side of Main Street with a sign over the door: "G. C. Olsen, Land Office."

Bessie, Alvin Thelma and Gus

With some surveying experience and a familiarity with land subdivision, he was instrumental in locating many early settlers on their properties. He later formed a partnership with a Mr. Batz, establishing themselves in a small building on the northwest corner of Main and Water streets where the store now stands.

Alvin and Thelma started to school in 1906 in a little one room structure north of Medina. The teacher was Mrs. Margaret Gleason. The building was used for many years after moved to other sites and back again. It no longer exists.

In 1907 Mr. Olsen moved his family into town. They lived in a two story building which still stands. It was on the west side near the creamery and across the street from the Preszler home. By now the family had increased in size. Raymond was born in 1904 and Elmer in 1906.Alvin and Thelma attended a school located where the present water tower now stands. It was a two story building with a large belfry.
Gus, Thelma and Elmer

In August 1908, Raymond suffered a ruptured appendix and died in the hospital in Jamestown. He is buried in the Christopher plot in the Medina Cemetery.By now Mr. Olsen had discontinued the real estate business and gone into the general store business under the firm name of "Remboldt and Olsen."

A sister, Mary, had joined the household and worked as a clerk in the store. Also another sister, Minnie, joined the family. She attended high school in Jamestown and college in Valley City.

Mary became the wife of Frank McCready, railroad station master. Minnie married Ray Gleason.
One of Mr. Olsen's interests was playing cornet in the town band. He pursuaded his son, Alvin, to take up the snare drum. He also organized and played cornet in a small dance orchestra with Pearl Olson, piano; Jack Stewart, violin; Alvin, drums. At times others played with the group - as: E. F. Langer, cello; Ray Gleason, trombone; Frank Carey, violin; Ross Jennings, clarinet.

About 1910 Mr. Olsen sold out the store business and joined Wm. F. Stege as Credit Manager in a new bank in Medina. Employed also at the time were Adam Preszler and Chub Opp. The Olsen family moved from the west side to the Dr . Todd house on east Water Street. The house is still there on a corner north of a church. Two more children were born. Harold in 1909 and Olive
in 1912.  

In 1913 Mr. Olsen moved his family to Carrington, where he operated a garage business. In the fall of 1914, he moved his family back to Medina again to a home about a block north of the Todd house and east across the street. Here Esther was born.

With all this, Mr. Olsen found time to campaign as a Republican candidate for Representative to the State Legislature. His bid for the office was not successful, but he gained a wide acquaintanship which may have resulted in obtaining for Alvin a job in the office of Secretary of State in Bismarck.

In June 1916, Alvin moved to this job after completing three years of high school, the last two being in a new brick building built near where the present school stands.

In 1917 Mr. Olsen moved his family to Havre, Montana where he was employed as Credit Manager in the Havre National Bank. Alvin joined the family there shortly after. Alice was born in Havre in July 1917. Norma was born there in July of 1920.

In the years after that, the family moved many times, mostly in Oregon. The last move was to Oakland, California where Mr. Olsen owned and operated a "school store" . catering to the wants of school children nearby until his health faded. Gustav Karl Olsen died in Oakland of cancer on August 9, 1931.

Nothing much is said here about his wife Bessie, but it is understandable that with such a large family she had, plenty to keep her busy. A devoted wife and mother, Bessie Louisa Christopher Olsen died in Oakland on July 3 I, 1958 at the age of 80 years.


Sunday, December 21, 2014


 I HAVE SHARED A FEW CHRISTMAS CARDS FROM YEARS PAST THAT HAD BEEN SAVED BY INGA CHRISTOPHER.  (If you missed those, go to "older posts" on this page and look for Dec 2011)  THERE WAS A LOT OF INTEREST IN THESE TREASURES. SHARING THESE WITH ALL OF YOU MAKES CHRISTMAS EVEN MORE SPECIAL TO ME.  SO HERE ARE A FEW MORE...I am including the written side also so you can see the handwriting of our family members from years ago.  .
from John Davis Charleson's family (Carl Christopher's half brother)about 1920 

From Inga's father Christ Olson 1911 Pequot MN

from Oscar Christopher 1917 (Carl's youngest brother) to their mother Kjestina)

from Clara Olsen (Inga's sister) 1927

from Mary (Inga's sister in Edmonton, Canada) 1928


Saturday, August 16, 2014

100 year celebration/reunion-Frenchtown Pond-Montana

To honor my father's memory, Lester - born 100 years ago, my daughter Sara, her three children and I visited his grave in Anaconda, Montana.
Hannah and Eden Bingham

Sara, Hannah, Eden Bingham
On Sunday, August 10, 2014, We also celebrated with a family reunion in Frenchtown at the Pond with about 37 people. Many liked the area and want to have another reunion there next year. Some are interested in attending the larger Olsen Family Reunion in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota next year.  They hold it on the 2nd Saturday each August and this year they had 147 attending as pictured below. 
Olsen Reunion 2014- Pequot Lakes Minn.
George Barb, Faye Goldie, Lana Roger, Donna, Roy
Some attending the Christopher Reunion were brave enough to dress up in Viking costumes to honor our Norwegian ancestry.  Many were interested in the Christopher Family History binder and the Olsen Family History binder containing information and pictures of family members. 
Roger, Faye, George, Roy
 Good food, swimming, visiting was enjoyed by all attending.  Do you know how to make Norwegian cupcakes????
Troy Bingham
Dawn, Riley, and Michael Wahl

Goldie, Barb & Carl Erlandson
Wyatt and Kelsey Indreland with Eden Bingham

Rory, Abby, Goldie Indreland

and Cathy (Olsen) from Spokane came the farthest....She also made it to the California Olsen Reunion in June this year.
Cathy Nefzger

Some of us were tired after the long day.
Eden Bingham