Linda's father, Nils Person Nasman, arrived in the U.S. from Sweden on July
8, 1880 at the age of 15 and went to work for an uncle who was supposed to
give him 80 acres of land. That fell through, however, perhaps because the
uncle was not the easiest person to work for. Nils then went to work for a Mr.
Batchellor who taught school. Nils worked for his board and room and got
some schooling, too. Linda's mother Anna Greta Nelsdotter took the name
Nelson when she came to America in 1887. She spent her first year working
for the Andersons, shocking grain, milking cows and churning butter.
A couple of years after Nils and Anna married in 1888, they bought 112 acres
of former railroad land on Wood Lake in Adrian Township, 1.5 miles north and
2.5 miles west of West Sveadahl in Watonwan County. Their home was a
building 16' X 24', of which half was used as a granary. A 16 X 16' room
served as the family's combination living room, bedroom and kitchen.
Southern Minnesota was mainly prairie at that time, so the kids were
responsible for gathering the dried manure chips left by the cattle. They also
burned hay twisted into figure eights, but it burned so fast it one person had to
sit by the stove and continually feed the firebox. The family bought groceries at
the Nelson Store in Sveadahl or neighbors grouped together to drive the 16
miles to St. James.
Linda and her twin Esther were only 1 1/2 years old when Nils' health began to
fail. All the children got whooping cough and Nils was coughing too--so hard
he couldn't hold the twin babies. His coughing was from tuberculosis,
however. When he became very ill, he went to a doctor in Madelia and stayed
in a wood frame hotel, where he had to furnish his own fuel with very little
money. His lung hemorrhaged and he died alone in the hotel in February
1896, only 31 years of age. He is buried in the Riverdale cemetery by the
district #16 school house. When Linda asked her mother in later years what
Nils was like, Anna said, "He was a kind man, both to me and the children."
Anna Greta, desperate to have a home for her six children, married Adam
Oleson, a widower in Riverdale Township in October of 1896. His farm was a
mile south of LaSalle, the site of the earlier capture of the Younger Brothers.
He was a veteran of the Civil War and a Swedish immigrant as well. He was
62, 28 years older than Anna and "was not a kind man," according to Linda.
He wanted to put the Nasman kids out for adoption and kept talking about it.
Anna would reply, "You knew I had these children when you married me and
we are not putting them out for adoption." Adam once engaged a lawyer to get
a divorce, but when he learned he would have to give Anna 1/3 of the farm he
abandoned the idea. Only Adam and his hired man were allowed to have
butter on their bread and sauce for dessert. Adam frequently lost his temper
with the children, so George left home at age 14.
Linda and Esther attended the nearby rural Riverside district #16 school
through the 8th grade. The twins both remembered that their first grade
teacher, Mr. Sigler, had a wooden leg and ruled by fear, cracking a black
snake whip above the heads of his students.
"I remember learning the alphabet from a large chart," Linda said. "You had to
learn the chart before you got a book. At recess in the winter some of the
children went to a pond north of the schoolhouse and skated. Otherwise we
played pump-pump-pullaway, baseball, drop the handkerchief and tag.
Schools usually had a program at Christmas and a social once a year. Here
the young ladies brought lunch in a box which was sold to the men at auction.
The proceeds went to the school and whoever bought the box got to eat with
the young lady. At school's end, we had a picnic and a program. I can still
remember the pickled eggs, baked beans and potato salad. After the
program we could play until the elders said it was time to go home."
Linda and Esther were baptised and confirmed in the East Sveadahl Lutheran
Church. Linda started high school in 1909. Since both Linda and Esther
couldn't go at the same time, Esther chose to wait a year. Anna got up at 5:00
a.m. on Monday morning to take her girls and their food for the week to St.
James, because she wanted her daughters to be educated and independent
like Nils's Aunt Sissa.
Linda graduated from St. James high school in 1913. As each of the Nasman
sisters finished high school, Anna Greta made them promise to teach at least
four years to use their education. Linda took Normal teacher's training at
Windom, Mankato and Winona. She taught in five rural school districts from
1914-1921. Her twin sister Esther also became a school teacher. Linda's
first school, a brand new schoolhouse in district #61 at Comfry in Cottonwood
county, paid her $35 per month, out of which she paid $10 for board. She had
2 girls and 11 boys.
Linda said, "The first school I taught in had nice single seats. When I started
school at the age of 6 we had double seats and a big stove in the center of the
room with the stove pipe running next to the ceiling. We burned coal and two
children carried drinking water each day from a nearby farm home. We had a
dipper and all drank from the same one. We were a fairly healthy bunch, only
giving in to pox, mumps, measles, etc. The later schools had a stove with a
jacket and air was piped in next to the stove so we got fresh air to breathe. Of
course, in a rural school you were teacher, disciplinarian, instructor and
janitor. Sometimes you boarded as far away as two miles. One school
burned wood and I came to school to find it 20 degrees below zero in the
school room as the wood did not hold fire overnight."
In her last year of teaching, 1921, Linda was paid $125 with only $20 going for
board. Linda was an independent woman who bought her own 1919 Model T
Ford cloth top touring car for $450 from her half-brother Jack.
Linda met Lester Colebank at his sister's birthday party when she was 17.
She later wrote to him when he was serving in the Army during WWI, and
when he came back he started to call on her. Daughter June remembers her
dad as a normally pleasant person who liked to joke and who was always very
neat. "My mother always thought he was the handsomest man she ever
knew." Lester in turn considered Linda to be very smart because she was a
schoolteacher. June remembers that he would bring Linda bouquets of
wildflowers that he found out in the field or woods wherever he was working.
Lester and Linda were married March 19, 1921 in St. James at the home of
Mrs. Sharp, who was Linda's mother's friend. Lester was 27 and Linda was
26. They lived in Madelia where Lester worked at the Cement and Tile
Factory. Warren was born December 30, 1921 at their home on New Ulm
street in Madelia. He was named after the president at that time, Warren G.
In 1924 they moved to Woodside Township, Polk County in Northern
Minnesota where they rented Jack Oleson's farm (Linda's half brother). June
was born on January 29, 1926 in that house. In 1928 they moved to their own
farm in Woodside Township 7 miles south of Mentor near Maple Lake. They
lived there 18 years, the first four in a log house. "We were very happy there,"
Linda said, "Even through the depression years." They grew wheat, barley,
oats, flax, fodder corn, alfalfa, wild hay and a large garden. They kept horses
for farm work, milk cows, laying hens and pigs from which they sold cream,
eggs and pork. Lester built his own barn in 1929, chicken house in 1930 and
house in 1940 with lumber he logged himself. Lester also grubbed out ten
acres of wooded land with a pick and axe. Victoria was born in the lean-to
bedroom of the old log house in 1931. The depression years were hard
years for Linda and Lester. They sold a grown cow for $4, hens for 25 cents
each, a 250-pound hog for $5.00 and eggs for 6 or 7 cents per dozen. Both he
and Linda served on the district #156 school board.. They attended the
Community Church in Mentor.
In the summer of 1946, both June and Warren had moved away to Madelia, so
Lester and Linda bought a farm 5 miles west of Madelia in section #24 of
Riverdale Township. They farmed there for 17 more years. Lester retired in
1963 and he and Linda sold the farm and moved into the house Lester had
bought from his parent's estate at 227 Adams Avenue in Madelia (the house
where Barbara lives now, which has been in the family since the turn of the
Lester died on August 9th, 1973 from a ruptured aortic aneurysm in his
abdomen which hemorrhaged when he was in the grocery store in Madelia.
He is buried in the Riverdale Cemetery in Madelia.
Linda broke her femur at age 95 and moved in with daughter June in 1996,
She entered Luther memorial Nursing Home in Madelia at age 98, where she
celebrated her 100th birthday on June 28, 1994. She was a very hardy, healthy
woman who ate her oatmeal and her garden produce and kept her mind
sharp with crosswords and scrabble games. I (granddaughter Rebecca)
remember that she always made "lunch" for Lester around 3 or 4 every day,
serving scrumptious things like raspberries or strawberries and cream. She
also made delicious penuche and divinity, which we got to eat on the
Christmas Eves we spent at her home. I loved to play paper dolls and she
would always save me her Sears and Montgomery Wards catalogs to cut up.
She had a very dry wit and although she wasn't a real outgoing or physically
demonstrative person, she was a good grandma. She died on August 13,
1994 and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Madelia, Minnesota.
(Some of the information for this article came from "The Nasman Cousins" ,
copyright 1993 by family historian Warren Colebank)
|The Nils and Anna Nasman family in 1895
Front: Esther on lap, Victor, Mary, Linda on
lap. Back: Anna, George, Clara, Nils
|Lester and Linda's wedding day, March
19, 1921, St. James, Minnesota
|Click on the photo below to enter Linda
Nasman Colebank's photo album
|Click on the photo below to enter Linda
Nasman Colebank's schoolteacher days
|Linda's father's parents, Kjerstie and
Per Nasman from Lovestad, Sweden