Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Don Edwin Christopher was born September. 10, 1925, as the eleventh child born
 to Inga(Olsen) and Carl Christopher in Medina, North Dakota.

Don had eight brothers and two sisters. He spent his younger years until he 

was about eight years old just north of Medina, on the “Christopher Camp.”

Then in 1933 the family moved to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota.  At an early 
age he learned to play guitar.  With his sister Doris, he would sing and 
play on street corners for nickels. He adored Doris; they were very close.
When he was about eleven the family moved to Arlee, Montana. He attended
local schools there. He was a member of Arlee Alliance Church. He 
enjoyed boxing with his brothers an became an as he grew, he became 
an avid horseman and rodeo enthusiast.

Don served in the Army during World War II  serving in the 
Pacific from  December 1943-March 1946. He was a combat infantryman driver and a rifle expert,  He was awarded the
Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal and 
the Victory Medal. 
Don's nephew, Jim Skofstad, commented on the photo below:

"The badge Don is wearing is the Expert Marksman badge- the highest
qualification. It would have been earned in Basic Training.
I imagine all the Christopher boys were very good marksmen."

in Hawaii

Cecelia Marie (PeeWee) and Don

After serving in the Army, Don came home to settle down in the Arlee
area.  He met Cecilia (PeeWee) Vanderburg possibly at a rodeo as she was a
 jockey at the time, and they were married in 1947.  Linda, Diana and Sandra 
came along in the next few years.

Diana,  Roberta, Randy and Linda

Don was employed by the Burlington Norther Railroad, as a welder and he also used this skill as a hobby to make many decorations, railings, and more. He also worked at a lumber mill and at times as a truck driver.Don was known everywhere as the life of the party. He was outgoing, friendly, fun and always smiling. 

Daughter Linda’a reflection:
“On this Father’s Day weekend, here is our Daddy: WW II veteran, adventurer, horse trader, part-time outlaw, great carpenter, guitar playing singer, comedian, bronc rider, bull rider, steer wrestler, gambler, railroad worker, green chain puller, dare devil, baker of cakes, part time mechanic and a one of a kind Dad. I miss that effervescent twinkle in his eyes and his ability to be a friend to millionaires and ordinary folk alike. Oh no, he wasn't perfect but his tenacity to spring back from hard luck instilled in me, a love for all the crazy, razzle dazzle, and tender moments of life. So hey Dad, I miss your smile, your patriotism on every 4th of July, your crazy rendition of "I fought the law and the law won", your rat hunting rifle, your push button convertible, your home made horse trailer, and the love you bestowed on your diverse group of children. You showed us how to be hard workers and how to survive in a world that knows no pity. Yep, sometimes life is hard, you said...and it was difficult for us all when your luck took a dive. Thanks for visiting in my dreams and telling me not to worry, that you are doing just fine.”

Daughter Diana’s reflections of her Dad
I remember those days growing up  on Mullan Road in Missoula where we lived for a while on a one acre ranch...we had a duck named "Lucy", chickens, pigs, goats cows on different occasions and horses . My" Daddy" as I called him, Donald E. Christopher was a "horse trader". He instilled in me a love for horses as we would go on the rodeo circuit quite a bit...He was the greatest father a person could ever expect to have. From looking at the information about my Grandpa Carl and Grandma Inga I can see where he got his pleasant personality. He could win anyone over with his good gift of gab and a nice singing voice. We would sing to one another and we even performed a comic routine at the talent show in Arlee. Sometimes we would just get together and sing and play the guitar and just make up all kinds of jokes...He was the greatest in my eyes and heart.” 


Diana (WeeZee)
When Don's boys, Vernon, Randy and Guy came
along, Linda, Diana, and Sandra were growing up.  
When Don married Pearl Dursma, two more girls, 
Dawn and ReSena expanded Don's family.

Randy Dawn and Pearl

Don with Dawn


Daughter Dawn shared her memories:

“He once welded and fabricated a metal chariot that he and my
sister, RaSena, rode in for the 4th of July parade. We were dressed
up as clowns and our horse Spot was pulling the chariot. He
loved entering into the 4th of July parade....

One year he made covered wagon, with real wagon wheels that our
horses pulled. That same wagon was purchased by the Sheep Ranch
Inn in Arlee and was used as their store sign. A different year he
built a stagecoach, all out of wood, and our horses were once
again called upon to do the pulling. He had some of his grandkids
as passengers.

I remember something else he built but it wasn't for the parade. 
This was for us. He built a horse drawn sleigh and in December he
would hook the horses up to the sleigh and everyone would get in all
snuggled up under the blankets, coats, hats and of course
the huge scarves that wrapped around you so much that the only
thing showing were your eyes, and go pick out a Christmas tree.
It was a great family time and I truly love that memory.
He loved working with his hands.”

Don with ReSena

Don md (9-27-47) Cecile Marie Vandenburg: 3 children:
 1) Linda Coleen Lydia (4-29-49) md Dallas Howard: 3 children
           Nelson Matthew Howard (9-4-69--5-16-11) 
           Lisa Louise Howard (6-30-72)
           Tatonkaska Howard (6-5-74)

    Linda md Keith Weasel Head   2 Children:
            Amber Diana Weasel Head  (2-16-82)
            Christopher Charles Weasel Head (6-21-84)    
     Also niece Darcie Weasel Head joined the family     

                 2) Diana Louise Christopher (6- 26-51) md Roy E. Pete: 5 Children:
                            Tachini Tia Pete  (10-3-71)
                            Natani Tahi Pete  (8-22-72)
            Shandin Hashkeh Pete (3-15-74)
                            Shonto Kii Pete ( 7-3-79)
                     Diana md James Craft: 2 children:
                                             Crystal Dawn Cecelia Craft (11-3-86)
                                             Tasheena Christina Tish Craft (1-31-89- 5-29-07)
                                      Diana md Michael Joseph Cote (- 1994): 1 Child
                                  Shayla Solana Kuliu Cote (11-10-91)
              3)  Sandra Yvonne  Chistopher (10-20-53)

Don md Angela Marie Fyant: 2 children:
 4) Randall Lee Christopher (6-14-58--6-19-1999) md Debra Bird, 1 child:
             James Derek Wood
 5) Vernon Louis Christopher ( 8-24-60 )1 child:
              Travis Christopher (1991)
   Also Marie's daughter Roberta joined the family

Don and Tilly Morrison: 1 child:
  6) Guy Morrison (9-62)

Don md Pearl Marie Dursma: 2 children:
 7) Dawn Edwina Christopher (11-15-67)  md Travis Wahl  3 children:
            Rylie Michaela Wahl (2-4-98)
            Michael Christopher  Wahl (8-30-02)
            Autumn Elizabeth Wahl (8-26- 2007)
 8) RaSena Ann Christopher (2-8-73) 2 children:
            Samara Rose Rice  (8-22-94)
            Marri RaDawn Christopher  (2-25-99)

Beverly Christopher's quote:
Gene Christopher idolized Don. We went to see him often, even to Evero to watch 
him sing. They fought forest fires together when they were younger. Salute to the Hero!
I have a picture of him playing Santa at our house and Dawn is also in the picture. 
Terry whispered in my ear "Santa looks like Uncle Don." It was a fun night.”

Nephew Jimmy Christopher tells us about the time Don asked him to come and be the babysitter for his little kids at a rodeo he was in.  It was for two days, so they all slept overnight in Don's truck and had  wonderful time.  Don was very good to Jimmy's family when their dad, Clifford, died and they had no transportation.  Don often took them shopping or wherever they needed to go and helped them in so many ways as he was known to do by so many people who knew him.  Don was very close to that family when the kids were little and filled in for his brother with extra love and attention.

Don with nieces Barbara and Sharon Paul


ReSena   Guy   Dawn

Some of Don's Descendants at 4th of July Parade in Arlee

Anyone wanting to add photos/ memories about Don on this page, just email me at lana,rankin@yahoo.com and I can add them on the next updated post. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016



Glenn was born Jan 7, 1904 on a small farm 9 1/2 miles north of  Medina, North Dakota. He was the first of eleven children born to 
      Carl and Inga (Olsen)Christopher. 

Later the family moved to their home in Peterson Township, often called the "Christopher Camp." He attended early education in the rual school in Peterson Township and later in Medina.  

Winters in North Dakota were brutal as this story from brother Ken explains:

"The one room school house was about 1 mile from the Christopher place. The kids walked 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 it colder than that."

Chrsitopher Camp Peterson Township 1916 Glenn on the front fender with the family dog

Carl often wrote about Glenn in the Peterson Township section of the
 Medina Citizen Newspaper:

When Carl took Inga to Rochester Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic for treatment for her in the fall of 1917, Glenn was left in charge of their place for weeks.  He was only 13 at the time.  
Glenn and Roy

 Glenn was a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard,
Company H, 164th Infantry Regiment from June 13, 1925 to June 12, 1928. Some of that time was served at Camp Grafton, 1927.

Add caption

He worked on the farm until 1931 when he carried mail for the Star Route. He put heated bricks in the mail wagon in the winter to keep warm. Sometimes he stayed overnight with someone at the end of his route because it was too cold to come back home at night. He held that position through the 30's which is the main reason he made it through the depression years when many farmers and townspeople didn't make it.

He moved into Medina in 1932 and on August 18, 1935 he married Edna Gieseke, (born 8/5/1904-Fairfield, Minnesota) at the English Lutheran Church of Medina. They lived in a small 2 room house which Glenn added on to as the family grew.

Gieseke and Christopher families were neighbors and enjoyed many social activities in the area.  The Peterson Township neighbors often
got together on Sunday afternoons for pot luck dinners followed by card games through the evening.

Daughter Janet remembers: 

"Glenn and Edna knew each other well from school events such as dances.   Glenn was dependable, serious, quiet and shy.  So shy that when the engagment ring they had ordered arrive, he simply left it 
in the Gieseke mailbox during his regular mail route. Edna attended a seamstress school in Jamestown and used her skills throughout her life taking in sewing for the townspeople.  She and Glenn worked together on a drapery business.  She would make the drapes and Glenn would hang them.  Glenn was quite the perfectionist so their reputation grew and practially everyone in town got their drapes from them. Together they made it through the difficult time of the 30's."

Glenn was quite the mechanic even building his own car and he could do just about anything in woodworking.  He added cupboards here and there in their house as Edna needed them.  He build on a bedroom and bathroom to their home.  Glenn was employed at Reule Implement Company for a while and later became a manager of the Feton Lumber Company for 35 years. He was active in community affairs and served on the Medina School Board, the Medina Fire Department and was a member of the Medina Lions Club.  He also served on the church board of the English Lutheran Church. 

Glenn raised his family in Medina.  He loved Medina history and was a principle member of the Medina Historical Committee.  He preserved the weekly issues of the local newspaper, the Medina Citizen, which was published from 1905 through 1920 and again from 1929-1934. The 75th anniversary of Medina was celebrated in the town in June of 1974. Using the Medina Citizen newspaper articles that were saved by Glenn, plus photos and biographies that were contributed by the community a memorial book was published. Inside the book, Glenn wrote the "History of Medina," and helped put together many of the articles and photographs featured.

The following dedication was written inside the front cover of the memorial publication, Diamond Jubilee:

"Deeply grateful to GLENN CHRISTOPHER, we dedicate to him this book.  It was his foresight to save and preserve the early history of Medina so that we can again, relive the experiences of our pioneers and preserve their hardships, joys and accomplishments."  

website where this publication can be found: http://digitalhorizonsonline.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/ndsl-books/id/11003/rec/25

Glenns parents moved to Pequot Lakes, Minnesota in December of 
1933 and the children were left to manage the farm. Glenn had
the mail route so he stayed in Medina and continued to work. 
Glenn's brothers moved to Arlee, Montana around 1934-5.  Three brothers died in the 40's: Vernon, Clifford, and Roy. Lester moved
to Missoula, then Anaconda, Montana.  Bob moved to Missoula, 
then back to Arlee, Lauren raised his family in Arlee. Ken raised 
his family in Arlee, then moved to Polson. Don raised his family in Missoula and Arlee. Their sister, Ruth married A.G Skofstad of 
Medina and raised her family in Polson Montana.  Sister Doris 
married A. Paul of Arlee and raised her family there. 

Glenn Lauren Lester Ken Bob and Don in 1949

Glenn  Lauren  Lester  Ken  Bob  Don

Glenn and Edna had three children: Janet, Mark, and Paul.

Glenn, Edna, Mark, Janet and Paul

Glenn and Edna moved to a second house in Medina raised their family there and when their children grew up they stayed within the state. Glenn taught his sons and grandsons woodworking and mechanical skills.   
Glenn with grandson Peter
Glenn eith Karna and Eric
with Eric Sarah Wes and Rus

 May 31, 1984, Glenn passed away in Medina, North Dakota. Edna passed away Nov. 10, 2001. 
Glenn and Edna

Mark  Janet  Paul

Their three children's families:

1)Janet Ruth 8-25-37, md  7-20-59  William Well : 4 children:

Janet and Bill in front
Russell, Sarah, Martin and Wesley in back

Wesley Harold 9-16-60, md. 6-8-85 Patricia Olson,
      Alexander Ryan, 9-14-90
      Anna Kathryn, 9-3-93

Martin Christopher 3-31-62, md. 10-29-85 Lisa Curtis;
      Allison Jane 6-10-90
      Catherine Anne 10-13-94

Russell Clifton 12-21-65 md.8-20-88 Michelle Klose
     Christopher William 6-l3-94
     Morgan Michele 4-3-99

Sarah Ruth 3-3-71 md. 5-24-93 Marti Sunderlin,
     Maxwell William 7-16-00
     Isabelle Ruth 10-23-03

   2) Mark Glenn 1-15-42, md 8-17-63 Sharon Schmidt 2 children:

Sharon and Mark


Karna Glynn 8-26-68 
     Ellie Crosby 7-17- 94
     Taylor Crosby 1-13-98

Eric 3-9-71 md 10-15-2005 to Jeanne Zimniewicz 

Eric and Jeanne

3) Paul Gary 3- 4-45 md 8-20-66 Susan Heiberg, 3 children
        md Jane Elaine Carlson 3-5-2005

Adam Paul 7-31-71,
    Jaden Paul 2-10-02
    Ashton Matthew 6-18-03
    Nolan Joseph 3-17-08

Matthew Glenn 6-26-73

    Peter Joseph 3-20-77, md 5-31-2008 Jill Anderson
     Lily Grace 2/12/10
     Tyler 2/-2-13

Nolan  ,Ashton Adam and Jaden

Matt with friend Holly

Peter  Jill  Lily and Tyler


Sarah Karna Wes
Adam Pete Eric  Middle row
Marty Russ Matt back row

Son Mark's reflections of his Dad: 

“Dad provided the total Christopher family with a valuable record of our family during the days of our life in Medina. All the brothers and sisters of the Christopher family were born in Medina and after some very tough times the family moved on and only mom and dad chose to spend their entire lives in the place of their birth. Dad decided to dedicate a huge amount of time collecting everything he could find and protecting the information which has resulted in him becoming recognized as the historian of Medina. We are all thankful for his efforts.

We often wondered why it took so long for mom and dad to decide to get married since they were neighbors from their childhood days. We are really glad they did finally decide to marry and raise their family in Medina. Since we kids were all born after dad was thirty years old, our knowledge of his first 30 years are from records and shared stories from all his brothers and sisters.
Dad was born in 1904 and spent his first 30 years trying to be a farmer but hard times forced this decision to change. For a few years he was a rural mail carrier and then worked nearly 13 years as a mechanic for an implement dealer and then accumulated extensive knowledge in mechanics and woodworking which he passed on to Paul and I.

Dad managed a lumberyard for another 24 years. So dad was a very quite man. He was often known for what he did not say rather than what he did say. He was however a wonderful teacher and he taught us as he allowed us to work with him in almost everything he did. I have thousands of memories of Dad as we worked together. It was fun and I looked forward to tagging along with him in almost everything he did, So as I thought I was learning work skills when in fact I was learning life skills. I am forever thankful for this.

Dad made things he and his family needed. Since money was always tight in our family we often made things we needed. Mom was a seamstress, dad had outstanding skills mechanically and wonderful woodworking and carpenter skills. So he built a car, he made my bicycle, he made a motor scooter, we made several boats, he made our furniture, rebuilt several houses, and of course had a huge garden, making use of those farming skills.

I was a challenge for our parents as I did not follow the rules well. My sister and brother were significantly less challenging I am sure. It is interesting that Dad never once used traditional disciplining techniques on me but he influenced me by the example he set on a daily basis. Interesting parenting approach.

Dad was a sharing contributor to his church, his community, the school and of course always open to helping his neighbors. 

Music was a key part of our family. Before TV we supplied our evening entertainment by making family music. I heard Dad played in some local bands but he never let us know much about it. His fiddle was always close and mom provide some piano input. All us kids were encouraged to be in the band, the church choir and take advantage of every music opportunity that may come along.

This was one great man. Father, teacher and wonderful example for all of us. We miss him.”


Son Paul's reflections of his Dad:

"My time of memory was all when dad was in the lumber yard and we lived in the house that he was constantly fixing and improving.  He was a respected man in the community because of his assistance when people had a need, his skill in the lumber business and carpentry, his involvement in church, and his self- appointed role as community historian.

Dad taught me a great many things about keeping my bike in good shape, about home repair and about working with customers.  As I grew older he often got odd jobs around town for Mark and me to do.  Some of these were beyond my ability but he provided the support needed.  One early job was to help an old man build on to his house.  I didn't have building skills at that time but recalled him telling me what to do first and then each evening getting my report and telling me what to do the next day.

I respect his involvement in our church.  We never missed a Sunday but he also was a volunteer custodian and we often helped with keeping the building clean.  He never talked about his personal faith but found his service in support.

Without ever saying so I always felt that dads teaching method was to show us once how to do something and then assuming we could handle it in the future.  Without realizing it when young, it was very affirming and also taught us to think for ourselves and figure things out.

My most significant reflection of dad was that he was a gentle man.  He was gently in his support and discipline of growing kids.  Mom was firm and if she ever said, "Ask your dad" when we want to use the car or something, we knew we had a yes from him before even asking.  His gentleness was far more significant than just in family discipline.  As I grew to be a man and found myself working with many men and women in my occupation, I grew to profoundly respect him for his gentle nature and to realize that gentleness was often a gift that many men did not possess or were afraid to explore given the society expectations and the idea that men should be anything but gentle.  lf I were to put one sentence on his tombstone it would be: "He was a gentle man.""


Anyone wanting to add addition memories/stories about Glenn, send them to me at lana.rankin@yahoo.com and I will add them in the next updated blog post.