Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 21, 2005

Christena Rozenberg: corn cobs were used as fuel

By Tom Young

Before Albert Einsten came up with the theory of relativity, and before the first fighter airplane was made, Christena Rozenberg was born Aug. 27, 1914 in a farm house in Maple Lake Township.

She was one of seven children – a twin – born to Henry and Jennie Dykhuizen.

She had four older brothers Simon, Albert, Henry, and Garret. She had one older sister Johanna, and her twin sister, Henrietta.

Simon and Albert were both born in Holland. Her parents came over from Holland in the fall of 1907.

When Christena was too young to go to school, she helped her mother with the housework and did a lot of playing outside and swimming.

At 7 years old she started school, walking to the schoolhouse everyday with her sisters. When they got home from school, they would go in the house and change their clothes.

She and her sister would then go outside and gather eggs and feed the chickens.

They had to go into the hog lot and feed the pigs, gathering the dried corn cobs from the day before to use as fuel during the winter months.

She then had to milk the cows and clean the cattle barns. In her spare time she played cards, went fishing, and played ball. She also went ice skating, sledding, and baked cookies, cakes, and pies. Her brothers went hunting all the time. They always came home with jackrabbits and pheasants.

She can remember helping clean them and cook them.

“There were so many more wild animals in that time,” she commented.

Rozenberg went to school until she was 13 years old, during which she graduated from the 8th grade. This was the only schooling she would have in her life.

Her father said that she and her twin sister must stay home and work on the farm.

The principal from the high school came out to their farm and said that the girls should be in school. Henry (her father) would not give the girls up, saying they must stay home and work on the farm.

My great grandma met her husband, Albert, at a house party. They attended quite a few house parties. She also used to see him at church gatherings.

Her family was very involved in the church. She got married to him in Sept. 9, 1936.

At the time, she was 22 years old. Her father said she was too young to get married and that she and her sister should stay on the farm and work, but neither of the girls listened to him and they both got married.

It was a double wedding with her and her twin sister. Her sister’s husband’s name was Reynold. They both got married in the reformed church by Silver Creek.

After the wedding, the four of them moved to a small town near Duluth. All four of them got a job on a Brown Swiss cattle farm.

They all lived in the same house during this time.

In March of 1937 they returned home from visiting relatives by Maple Lake to find that their house had caught fire. They had to move into the upstairs of the owner’s house.

They worked for several more months and discovered that Henrietta was pregnant.

The owner of the farm would not let Henrietta work any more. They had to move back to Maple Lake.

Christena moved in with Albert’s parents and Henrietta moved in with Reynold’s parents.

Henrietta had six children.

Christena’s only daughter, Carolyn, was born April 21, 1938.

About three years later, Albert died from spinal meningitis.

At first, the doctor thought it was just a bad cold.

Albert had a high temperature and spent five days in bed before the doctor came back and diagnosed him with the disease.

After Albert died, they kept the body in the house for two days, which was usual at that time. Then they had the prayer services in the house.

The funeral was on the next day at the local church.

After Albert died, his brother Henry took care of Christena and Carolyn, working the farm with them. Carolyn went to school in Annandale.

Carolyn was very involved in school, and played the clarinet in the band.

During this time they ran a 120-acre farm, which was a very large farm for the area.

Henry did most of the work, but he had help from the neighbors during the busy times of the year.

Christena took care of all the housework and fed the animals. She had a very large garden and yard. She was extremely involved in the church.

Carolyn got married April 8, 1960 and moved into Howard Lake with her husband James Wackler.

A large wind storm destroyed most of the buildings on the farm June 30, 1967.

It took down the barn and silo.

I have heard my great grandma talk about these stories many times. This event made the front page of the Maple Lake Messenger, and grandma has kept the paper since that day.

While working on the farm Henry had a stroke and the left side of his body became partly paralyzed. He could not work on the farm anymore so he wanted to move into town to live by Carolyn and Jim Wackler.

They sold the farm to their neighbor and moved to Howard Lake April 26, 1976.

Henry said the reason he wanted to move into town was because he wanted to be closer to Carolyn – he would not admit that he was to sick or unable to do the farm work anymore.

Henry’s strokes began to get worse and he died at home Oct. 23, 1978.

When the doctor came to the house he said he was experiencing the strokes because he had cancer on the side of his face.

After Henry died, great grandma spent most of her time going to all of the sporting events that her grandchildren were involved in. All four of her grandchildren went to college and played sports and great grandma attended most of their games. She rode with her daughter between St. Cloud, Mankato, and Winona.

“We hardly ever missed a game, even due to weather,” she said. Every summer she would take trips with Carolyn and the family to Black Water Lake and fish for two weeks. She would also spend some of her time during the summer going out to her home area and fish on those lakes.

Christena also had a huge garden and lawn at her home in Howard Lake, and she always kept very good care of these things.

During the winter months, she would spend most of her time baking and cooking. She baked more than 2,000 cookies over the holiday season and handed them out to families and friends by the bucket loads.

Nowadays, great grandma enjoys watching the great grandchildren grow up. She enjoys hearing their stories.

Recently, she had to downsize the garden and yard and not bake as many cookies anymore.

She still watches all the games, but now from the comfort of her chair at home with the local public access channel, where she also enjoys the church services.

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