THE NILS BERNER MELIN FAMILY
Berner (father), Richard, Christine (mother),
John, Ann, and Ruth about 1913
Gust Melin and sister Ann about 1921
Richard, Ann, Ruth, John and Gerda about 1916
THE MELINS IN PEEVER
By Ruth Melin Nyquist and Muriel Nyquist Johnson
My father realized he must give up farming and go into some work where he could be off from his feet. He was informed of a small shoe repair shop in a small town in South Dakota where they were in need of a good shoemaker. Mother was left in charge of the farm and my father paid a visit to this little town of Peever,SD. It seemed a good enough risk, so he stayed on until he could get established. With father away, the responsibility of keeping the farm going, the worries were plentiful, but the Lord gave Mother good health and a strong faith and so day by day we carried on. We all helped where ever we could. I know as far as Mother was concerned many tears were shed as she struggled on. We had wonderful neighbors who came and helped with threshing and the fall work.
Then father came back and we had an auction. It was a sad time to see our cattle, horses, dog and all going to someone else, but now at last we could all be together again. Our personal belongings, furniture, etc. was shipped by rail to South Dakota. One of the neighbors took us to North Branch, where we boarded a train for Minneapolis. there we stayed at the West Hotel on Hennepin Avenue. It was a nice hotel and for us children it was a memorable night. The plush covered chairs in the lounge, the long carpeted hall, and the bright lights on Hennepin Avenue and most of all, eating in the hotel. From there we boarded a Soo Line Train which took us to that tiny South Dakota town and our new living quarters.
Father had his shop all in order when we arrived and it was a nice shop with excellent machinery and a good clientele. This was a town adjacent to the Indian Reservation, which accounted for all the Indians we saw on the streets. It was a surprise to us as we had never seen Indians in person before. Once a month, the Indians would gather in the town for a big Pow-Wow and celebration. There was dancing in the street in costume,roasting a beef and all the ceremonies of the tribe. The Indians were good customers of my father's shop. Mother treated them kindly and we benefited by that. Nevertheless, I know the change of environment, people, etc. was not easy for Mother, but as usual she carried on.
We were enrolled in the school as soon as we got settled. We also joined the Lutheran Church in Peever. I made many new friends in school and Church. I joined a little sewing club from church and we met once a week after school in one of the homes. In this church, my older sister Ann and my brother Richard were confirmed and my father was also buried from this church.
My older brother and sister both got jobs to help out with expenses. My Mother also worked out in the summer months and I stayed at home watching over my younger brothers and sister. We had little chores to do at home also. On Saturdays I would go from door to door with a basket of fresh vegetables for which I received a percentage of what money I was paid.
As time went on Father became weaker and not able to work in the shop. It was difficult to get help but we got word of an Indian who knew the trade so he was hired. My Father had to close shop and leave for Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul where after two weeks, he slipped away into Eternity.
I think he knew before he left home that he wouldn't be coming back. He said to each one of us to always mind Mother and be good to her. I will never forget how awful it seemed when they brought him home in a casket. Friends called and sat with us and brought food and sympathy. the funeral was a mysterious thing to me: the sad music, the service, the cemetery and all.
So we were left alone, Mother and the six of us children. This brought a change in our lives again. There was no future for us in this town.
Note by Muriel: Nils Berner died from pernicious anemia. He died in Bethesda Hospital in St. Paul, MN, on January 31, 1921. My Grandmother and her six children left Peever later in 1921 to find a new life in Cook, MN.
The Melin family consisted of:
NILS BERNER.....Father...Born April 17, 1876 in Sweden
CHRISTINA CAROLINE....Mother...Born January 30, 1878...in Sweden
Andrew Richard...Born...1906...in Sweden
Anna Christine....Born 1907...in Sweden
Ruth Elizabeth (Muriel's Mother)...born 1909..in Minnesota
John Arnold...Born...1912...in Minnesota
Gerda Catherine...Born 1914...in Minnesota
Gustaf Reinhold...Born 1916....in Minnesota