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Sebb Jorgenson and
Josefa Reed Jorgenson

Water Works Wonders
A History of the White, Wilson, McMahon,
River Junction School Districts Page 350
by Esther Shields

Mother was born in West Smola, Norway. She immigrated to the United States in 1900 where she married John Reed and lived in Portland, Oregon. There he lost his life in an industrial accident. Mother came to Alberta in 1908, accompanied by three small children. Two of these children died of scarlet fever the first winter she was in Alberta. Henry (Reed) Jorgenson is the only surviving child of that marriage.

Our parents, Sebb Jorgenson and Mrs. Josefa Reed met at Milk River, Alberta. Both mother and father were lured to this new land by the prospect of a secure future. They were married October 21, 1908. They opened the first restaurant in the town of Milk River. They also homesteaded in the Lucky Strike area. After trying to make a living on the homestead, Dad decided to go back railroading. They made two more moves before settling in Maybutt. Mother said that it was the beauty of a few trees that attracted her to the area.

Maybutt was the junction for trains travelling north and south as well as east and west. Settlers were flocking to that area with the prospects of Maybutt becoming a large metropolis. Once again our parents were in the restaurant business by operating a boarding house.

Maybutt was quickly growing into a small town, but in a few years it nearly collapsed. A highway by-passed the town. This necessitated people to move elsewhere to find work.

We didn't have a school house in Maybutt but classes were taught in the United Church, then in an empty warehouse. When the bank was closed we attended school classes in one of the vacant rooms. After the closure, we attended school in Stirling. It was in 1926 that we moved from Maybutt to a farm in the Wilson Siding area, three and a half miles from Stirling. The older members continued their education in Stirling.

The children of this pioneer couple are:

Henry (Reed) Jorgenson - As a young man he had obstacles to overcome, such as a car accident, a stroke and the loss of one eye.

During the second world war, he worked for the U.S. army, building barracks along the Alaska highway. Henry made his home in Edmonton where he was employed as a carpenter. He eventually invested in a second hand store. Henry died in 1988 at the age of 82 years.

Clarence left home at an early age with his possessions. After working as a labourer for a few years, Clarence settled on a farm in the Stroms area. Here he married and raised four children. Clarence died in 1965 at the age of 56 years.

Lawrence after leaving school in Stirling at an early age, he rented land in the Lucky Strike area and raised sheep. He served his country during the second war by working at the Pearce Airport.

After Lawrence was married, they lived on the Jorgenson farm for a few years. Their four children were educated at Stavely. Lawrence worked for several years for Mart McMahon, who owned the Minneapolis Moline Machinery Shop. His last job was as a desk clerk in the Lethbridge Hotel. Lawrence died in 1984. He is survived by his wife, three daughters, and one son.

Thelma after having three sons in the family, a daughter. Thelma was born in 1912. When Thelma was four years old, our family moved to Maybutt. In her memoirs, Thelma reminisces about her childhood. She quotes - "I have wonderful memories of my childhood in a small town. The children were carefree and happy. Playing in groups, afraid of nothing Hiding in the box cars on the tracks when playing 'run sheep, run'. Swimming in the coulee with garter snakes and getting stuck in mud holes. In the winter, we would make fairies in the snow, play fox and geese, and had skates we screwed onto our shoes!"

Thelma started school in Maybutt. In grade five she continued her education in the Stirling School. After completing grade eight, she entered the work force. She was a home maker, a good cook, and an ambitious person.

While working in Barons, Thelma met her future husband. They made their home on a farm in the Barons area. Their family consisted of two daughters. After suffering a lengthy illness, Thelma passed away in 1990 at the age of 78 years.

Esther I was born on August 6, 1914, the year the first world war started. My parents lived in Conrad, Alberta in a section house. These buildings were owned by the Canadian Pacific Railroad for the use of their employees and their families. When the time came for my arrival into the world, Mother was taken to Lethbridge on a hand car. This vehicle was equipped with wheels to ride the rail tracks. It was pumped by two or four men, and contained no enclosure to protect one from the elements.

When I was old enough to attend school, three locations filled that need, Maybutt, Stirling, and then McMahon School. Until that building was available for the students to use, we attended classes in an upstairs room in the Patching home. I was in grade five. This school was not only a place of learning, it also supplied the social needs of the community.

I can't recall all of the families that lived in the community, but the Patching and the McMahon families were an example of being "good neighbours".

The teachers that taught me at McMahon School were Miss James, Miss Rossiter, Miss Roberts, and Miss Glasser. This was their first teaching job after completing Normal School. It must have been most frustrating for a teacher to have eight grades in a one room school.

We were visited occasionally by a Superintendent of schools. I recall one morning that we were told to be on our best behaviour when the inspector was in our midst. It was the teacher that was reprimanded in front of the students. She was told that she didn't have the knowledge or ability for such a responsibility. As I was a timid child, I am sure that I cried for the teacher.

We that have experienced a blizzard on the prairies, can realize how serious the situation can be. While attending McMahon School such an occasion occurred. My brother Clarence arrived in a horse drawn sleigh to take us home. Visibility was practically nil and we failed to hear the sound of the train. Our sleigh had barely crossed the track when the train started moving.

After finishing grades nine, ten, and eleven in the Stirling School, my school days were completed for financial reasons as it was the start of the depression years.

As children growing up during the depression, we were restricted from having material things in life, but a lesson was learned that these are not the most important things in life. We were fortunate to be living on a farm at the time so we had plenty of milk, butter, eggs, grain, meat and vegetables. Home canning made it possible to also have the vegetables and meat during the winter months.

Before I had any thoughts of marriage, a friend and I bad our fortunes told by a touring Gypsy. I was told that marriage was in the near future, and that I would have a home near a large body of water. Apparently the large body of water was Tyrells Lake, situated near New Dayton, Alberta.. It was a dry lake at that time, the bottom of it covered with alkali. When the wind blew it sifted into our home.

It was at a dance in the Stirling Hall that I met Harold Shields. As he was attending school in Logan Utah, we didn't meet again for two years. During that period of time I helped at home and worked for neighbours as household help.

This was good experience to prepare me for the role of a married woman with my own home to care for. Our first home was a deserted school house that was situated in New Dayton. It cost us $100.00 and it served us for three years.

We were married in 1936 and in 1967 we sold the farm and moved to Lethbridge on the advice of Harold's doctor. We have three children. (Esther died in September of 1994.)

Agnes Maisie Jorgenson was bom on June 28, 1916, at Lethbridge. She attended school at McMahon, Maybutt, and Stirling, until she finished grade eleven. After leaving school, she did housework for the neighbours i.e. the Patchings. She was a very restless person, on the go all the time. The out of doors being her best of times.

Her first home was in Foremost, after she had met Hugo Sumi. Once again she lived on a farm, took flying lessons and received her pilot papers. This is the type of life she enjoyed.

After Hugo's death, and after her daughter, had graduated from Grade twelve, they moved to Lethbridge, where her daughter could attend the University. After she graduated from university here, she went on to Queen's University in Ontario.

Agnes loved to travel. She moved to Reno Nevada, eventually marrying Wayne Marker, ,living there for several years, and later toured Europe with him, then moved to Tuskaloosa, Alabama. From there she moved back to Lethbridge with her husband after he had a stroke. At present Agnes is residing in the Garden View Lodge in Lethbridge.

More memories of the Jorgenson Family, by Thelma Jorgenson.

Our father and mother had seven children (including Henry) when living in Maybutt. Clarence - mischievous, ambitious, red hair and a fiery temper. He received more strappings than any of the rest of us. Lawrence - slow, lazy and good natured. Myself, Thelma, the tom- boy and dreamer. Esther the dainty, well mannered doll. Agnes the tiny cute little chatter box. When Dad came home from work in the evenings, Agnes would run to meet him and he would know all that took place during the day. She was a clever, little girl and our pet. When she started to school she was by far the cleverest in her class. In Grade I the teacher wanted to put her in Grade III but she cried and would not leave her class. Kenneth the chubby little baby. I had to help take care of him. He was so fat - he didn't walk until nearly two years old. A very good baby to care for - so good natured, but he was a load for me to carry around.

Agnes was not so easy to watch over while Mother was busy at her daily chores. She was tiny and moved around like a baby fawn. When playing around a building I was never certain which corner I would finally corner her. Whenever some small object would turn up missing we were never sure if Agnes swallowed it. Once when Esther and I were playing with our dolls, she swallowed a small safety pin - luckily it was closed. Mother was frantic until she passed it. Another time Clarence had a dime to buy ten suckers. The dime fell on the ground and we searched for it - suckers were a rare treat. Finally we found it clutched in Agnes's hand - before Clarence had a chance to rescue it, she swallowed it - she wanted to keep the dime.

When Agnes was four years old she had a ruptured appendix and she nearly died. In those days cars were a luxury and so we had to travel the twenty miles between Maybutt and Lethbridge by train. She had her attack in the morning and the passenger train did not come to the Stirling Station until late in the afternoon. As soon as she was in the hospital they had to operate and put a tube in her side. She was in the hospital at least a month and left with a terrible scar. Mother always thought it must have brought on by something she had swallowed. Of course this was never proven.

Mother had to take the train in the morning to visit the hospital and come back home late afternoon. Two passenger trains travelled from Lethbridge to Coutts. In those days it was a treat to go to Lethbridge. When we knew she was planning on going we would be exceptionally good - hoping she would take us with her. Clarence often went when he didn't deserve to go as Mother was frightened to leave him when there wasn't an older person to care for us. If he got angry at any of us - especially Lorry, he would beat him. Lorry was afraid of Clarence. Finally when he was around ten years old he was carrying two pails of water from the town pump - Clarence was bothering him - so Lorry poured the two buckets over him and they had a real fist fight. Half the neighborhood gathered to watch. Lorry won the battle and Clarence respected Lorry after that fight. Clarence was kind hearted and as Mother would say "he had a heart of gold'. He always shared his candy with us and fought our battles.

I stayed in the Maybutt School until I passed into Grade Five, completing Gade VIII at Stirling.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup