My Rocking Chair’s Dark Past.

A Letter written by Melvin Kjos that tells the story of a family where my rocking chair came from. I also have a saw from this place. I am related to the Hought and Guttormson family’s. I am just taking part of the letter, but I find this letter so fascinating because it goes into some of the writing that I have from my Grandma (Nora in this story).

Thank you, very much for the nice birthday card and greeting. I thought that I would write a little bit, excuse the stationary. It has been a long winter, starting in the last part of October 1996, Dec and Jan. were quite cold, although not as cold as it usually can get here. But February was a nice month, and March has been really nice so far except for 4 or 5 days of perhaps 15 below zero. I was sick with the flu in October, but I am O.K. now except for arthritis in nearly all my joints. But that is getting better as the warmer weather sets in. I of course cannot walk without a cane.

Yes these older people are passing away quite often mow. You mentioned Mrs. Hought passed away at nearly 110 years of age. Yes I knew them real well, I remember a rider coming to our place to get soda, for her heart wanted to stop. Her husband and her attended an oyster supper in the Grove Coulee school house, which we attended too, and we had already gone home and were ready to go to bed when this rider came riding like the wind to get that soda to relieve the gas pain she had. Mrs. Hought was not expected to live through her twenties because of her weak heart, and of course I knew Nora too. And of course I remember that terrible murder and I have read that book and because I was much older than Nora, I was approximately ten years lod when that murder took place just two miles from our place at Content, so I may remember things that Nora could not possibly have.

Now the Hought family were good friends of ours, as were the Guttormson family, we visited a lot together with them

But being my father and brother, Adolph were some of the first one’s to arrive at the murder scene, because the two boys Walter and Parnell ran away while the killing was going on, and ran down to the Stewart place, where Gudrun worked some eight years later, and they reported the murder. We had telephone on the wire fences so they phoned Andrew Westman, who came to our place and told us that Jim Hovey had killed most of his family.

Right here I must go back a few weeks earlier, Mrs. Hovey had walked down to the Content post office to get the mail and my father had drove down there in our model T Ford. He gave her a ride home and asked how her husband Jim was getting along, thinking he was still in the insane asylum where he had been earlier. She said that he was getting along good but she felt sorry for him and took him home. My father said you took him home? Mrs. Hovey that is the biggest mistake you ever made! Well, that was just a few weeks before the tragedy occurred. Oh she said, he is so weak that I can easily handle him. But he was French Canadian part Indian. She did not realize he could sneak upon her while she was sleeping and “scalp her,” which he did, and she got up and fought him and he beat her to death across the picket fence. Then he killed a cute little girl just a little younger than me, her name was Mulreen, a beautiful little girl, a classmate along with Walter the oldest boy and Parnell the youngest boy all attending the Grove Coulee school.

Then a little five-year-old girl named Phyllis which I did not really know. But she was lying on a pillow and he beat her terribly bad and evidentially thought he had her killed, but because of the cushioning of that pillow she came too. She couldn’t walk, but because a Mr. Johnson who was the editor of the Newspaper, “The Enterprise” who got her a good doctor and she could walk again. I have heard that she got married. Then of course he killed a little two-year-old, I am not sure whether that was a boy or girl. The two boy’s stayed at our place for a week or two after the murder and I think they laded somewhere in Canada. Of course they would have been in the right age to have been in World War two. I do not know what became of them. Mrs. Hovey was a real nice woman. I heard that she was possibly a Christian, hopefully I wish it was true.

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