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Wahoo Newspaper Historical Articles

The Anderson Family of Mead Boasted of Seventeen Children

By Mrs. A. V. Lund, Mead, Nebr.

Grandfather John F. Anderson, one of a family of nine children came to Illinois from Sweden in 1869. His brother August, who had come here earlier and who was a Civil War veteran no doubt encouraged him to file for an 80 acre homestead right next to him. This he did.

His wife and four children came to Council Bluffs in 1870 and grandfather met her there. She had lost her trunk by a trickster in Chicago. He brought the family out to the homestead where a sod house was provided; one of those that were partial1y under ground and had sort of a thatched roof over it and was none too waterproof. How glad and thankful they were to come to a place they could call their own.

The first two years grandmother and the children planted corn by taking a stick (even they were scarce) and making bales and planting the corn. Grandfather was employed at Ashland and Louisville on the railroad and at the stone quarry. Then they had 10 acres plowed under at $3 an acre.

At first grandmother walked 1 or 2 miles to a stream to wash her clothes. This was not new to her as that was custom in the old country. She once remarked how glad she was when she got a wash board. She told of finding a large bull snake coiled under the bed.  They lived there seven years when they built a frame house where the Arnold Langemeier home is now located.

Necessity was mother of many inventions as they got along with the most meager equipment. Heard them mention when they needed a vegetable grater they simply took a tin can and pounded nail holes into the tin. Later on grandfather bought 80 acres more for $500 and paid $30.90 interest.

They had a large family (perhaps the largest) for they had 17 children and never had a doctor. Among them was one set of twins. Only 10 grew up. They loved them all. It is told when one of the older girls worked in Omaha and heard a baby was born she immediately bought a gift and walked out to their home to see and welcome it.

With all due respect to grandfather he didn't believe in education, so the children only got to go to school when there was no work to do. They had to work when very young. His philosophy was "Teach them to work" and that they did.  They took active part in helping to establish the Alma Lutheran Church at Mead. They had a strong faith in God.

Guests were always welcome in their home. Many and many a newcomer from Sweden made their headquarters there. Poor as they were, dear grandmother was such a good cook. They said and I know she could put up a good meal out of practically nothing and never used a recipe.

I think they were happier, more thankful and appreciative and more peaceful and content than the world is today. Grandfather died at age of 87 and grandmother was 75. Mrs. Anna Swanson, 82, of Ceresco is a daughter of John Anderson.