The Goff family from Iowa arrived in northern Minnesota in a blizzard the spring of 1903. When the mother, grandmother, and children got to Grand Forks, North Dakota on the train, they all had caught colds and were met by Grandpap Goff to take them by bobsled and bundled up with quilts the last thirteen miles. There was no school in winter, since the weather was too unpredictable and dangerous.
“One Christmas while in Minnesota,” Leora Goff Wilson wrote in her memoirs, “we were invited to Bertie Burris’. They had been to our place for weekends a few times. It was a nice clear morning and we [Sherd, Laura, and nine children] all got into the bobsled with plenty of straw and comforters. Merl brought his sled (Christmas present for all) and tied it on behind and rode on it some ’til we noticed his nose was frozen white.
“We were over halfway to Burris’, 5 miles (Burns’ lived about 7 miles from us) when one of those sudden blizzards began. We finally got to Burris’ and the youngest of their two girls, Helen, about 2 years old, was sick with pneumonia. The hired man, who was Artie Walters from Iowa, had ridden a horse several miles to get a doctor to come out.
“We couldn’t turn back and go home in the storm – no phones to let us know. The turkey was in the oven roasting and, with what we brought with us, and all put together, we had a delicious Christmas dinner. As many of us as there were, including little ones, all were pretty quiet.
“The storm blew over by 3 or 4 p.m. and we left for home. The hired man was up all night, so he was asleep all day. We were a thankful family to get back home safely and Helen Burris was getting better fast.”
How amazing Leora remembered the details of this Christmas decades later. She was in her early teens when they lived in northern Minnesota. I’m thankful for all the memories she recorded.
Story from Leora’s Early Years: Guthrie County Roots