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Reinald K. Jorgensen and
Agathe W. Grubach Jorgensen

Taken from "Heritage of the High Country-
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts
Pages 405-406

Reinald was born in 1883 in Nyborg, Denmark. He grew up there and completed his schooling, after which he spent two years in military training in the Danish Army. In those days all qualifying young men had to spend at least two years in their country's service. After his military training he apprenticed as a molder at an iron foundry where he worked for a few years.

In 1913 he came to North Dakota to work with his brother Peter, at Donnybrook. Later he took out a homestead at Joplin, Montana. He gave up the homestead at Joplin, came to Lethbridge, and filed on a homestead at Hacke, Alberta (now Twin River).

Later he returned to Denmark to visit his mother. While there he met and married Agathe Grubach, who was born in Sindal, Denmark in 1889. When they returned to America they stopped at Minnesota. After working there for a time they crossed into Canada, getting off the train in Lethbridge. They bought supplies and hired a man with a team and wagon to take them out to their new home. Agathe vividly remembers crossing the North Fork of the Milk River which was in flood. She had to ride sitting on a mattress which was on top of the furniture and other supplies. She was desperately afraid she was going to fall off into the river.

They arrived safely at their homestead with their supplies intact, but now they were on foot for some time until they were able to buy horses and wagon. Their new home on the open prairie was very strange to them. They had come from a lovely country of many trees and lovely flowers. At first they had a small one-room house with a tiny lean-to, which was their bedroom built onto it.

Though coal was cheap, they had to economize by burning the "buffalo chips" which were still plentiful. They were also called "cow chips", because they really came from cattle. Mrs. Jergie, as she was known, built a wheel barrow for the purpose of gathering supplies of cow-chips. It was important to keep these dry so that they would burn better. Living conditions were very hard, and money was in short supply. After living in a comfortable and well established community in Denmark, Agathe was ashamed to tell her folks back home of the hardships endured in the pioneering life here. They had a language problem. They could read, write, speak, or understand, but very little English. They had to learn this by the help of friends, one being Mrs. Henry Rasmussen. They also studied English in newspapers.

They moved to Lethbridge in the winter where Reinald worked in the Lethbridge Iron Works in order to get more supplies. He also took work with threshing crews.

The first cow they bought, they paid forty dollars down in the fall. The balance of forty dollars was to be paid in the spring. Instead of accepting their forty dollars in the spring, the man they bought it from took the cow and calf, refusing their payment.

They broke up ten acres of land which they seeded the following spring. The crop came up nicely, got about five inches tall, then because of severe drought it burnt up; a complete failure. The next year they seeded flax which produced a good crop.

In those days, this area marketed their crops in Cut Bank, Montana, which they continued to do for several years until the Canadian and U.S. Customs stopped this practice. Prairie fires were a big worry to the pioneers. Many were seen in the distance. Often they came close, but one that was especially remembered came from the west. It came to their fence, (a few hundred yards from their home) turned off to the north, just in time to save their place and the crop which was being harvested, from burning. "Mrs. Jergie" says her prayers were certainly answered that day.

Though life had many hardships they enjoyed the social life of the community. As it grew, they built a school where they held dances, socials, meetings, and church services.

One day "Jergie" was helping a neighbor. They took horses, skids, chains, etc. to a little old vacant log house which they were going to move. But it wasn't vacant. A family of skunks lived in it. "Jergie" was never able to smell and was not acquainted with these little creatures. To chase them out he took a stick and went in after them. Though they raised their tails and sprayed him he chased them out, much to the surprise and laughter of his neighbor and dismay of his wife when he returned home. After an outside bath and change of clothing he was allowed in for supper.

This was the same little log house where a few years earlier their first child was born with the help of a neighbor, Mrs. Henry Rasmussen. Reinald and Agathe had three sons and one daughter.

Reinald lived on their homestead until he passed away at the age of eighty years. Agathe continued to live there. Though nearly blind, she kept up her home and made meals for Ray who lived with her.

She moved into the Diamond Willow Lodge in Magrath in the latter part of 1979. On April 13, 1980 Agathe passed away in Lethbridge, Alberta, at the age of ninety-one.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup