Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Anna Hornnes, 1908 and Beyond

Anna Hornnes, ca 1910/1912

After spending a year in Norway visiting her family Anna returns to the United States in 1908. Her story continues in her own words from her life history--

“May 8th, 1908. I had a long and very interesting trip back to America. Met a man on board ship from Chicago, a real Swedish American, and quite well off, but my time for real romance had not come, so I just had a good time with my heart still untouched. I liked a lot of real nice men but not once was I tempted to marriage. I found life so sweet and free, had plenty of money and always a job, so why bind myself at such an early age. Mother was so sure I’d be an old maid, she felt real badly about it. My sisters had all married at 18 to 25, all had big families and I did not want to do likewise. I did not intend to settle down, so to speak. I wanted to roam around and see things first.

“On arrival in New York and the sight of the Statue of Liberty, May 16, 1908, I was delighted and so moved, tears ran like rain down my face. One woman said, “Have you been away from home a long time?” “Yes, a whole year,” I said. I surely felt like I was coming back home. Funny too, with all my folks in Europe. I had one brother in Boston, John, he had a very nice good wife, Lydia, and I stayed with them, board and room for six months after I came back.

“I spent ten days in New York. Went to see where George Washington [lived], our first president’s home. Had a lovely time with dear friends, then to Boston and back to my old job, and it was kind of nice to be busy again after over one year of roaming around in and about Norway’s beauty spots. If any of you have a chance to go to Europe, be sure to visit Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

“1909. June—and it is getting too warm for comfort. I have read a good deal about the West. A World’s Fair [Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition] is in progress out in Seattle, Washington, about as far West as one can go. It would be fun to go out and see the western horizon of this wonderful land. June 15, 1909. Yes it is settled, I have done some of my packing and my niece Sadie wants to go too, she and her sister Anna came over from Norway a year ago and have paid most of their tickets back to me. Poor kids, I wish I could have given them each a free ticket.

“June 23, 1909. My girl friend Alfretta, was married today, had a nice wedding. We leave June 26th for Seattle, Washington. Have all my things all ready.

“We are on the way, train left at 2:30 p.m. Boston, Mass. At the old Terminal Station. Lydia, John’s wife, came to see us off, poor soul, she looks badly, has T.B. of the throat and she knows it is quite dangerous.

“June 30th, 1909. We are on the Westside of Chicago. My what a dreadful smokie city, and bigger than Boston, but Oh, it is hot. Wouldn’t live here for a farm. July 3, 1909. We are in Seattle, and a Miss Elsie Jensen, a missionarie came to meet us at 9 p.m., and we were so glad to get a safe place. I had got her name out of a church paper, so I knew we were all right with her. We got a nice room for two weeks, next day was the 4th of July, and we all went to the World’s Fair, and a grand place it surely is. We made friends soon and went to a nice little church every Sunday. Met some lovely people, young and old, still dear friends now in 1941.

“I will let some months go by. Sadie got a job with a family on Capitol Hill and I didn’t want to start in sewing, so I got a job too. Hadn’t done any housework for years, but it was fun for a while, good pay. But I soon had a job in town, a Miss Morten from the little church asked me to come and work with her, she was forelady in a clothing store on 2nd Avenue. I stayed there for years.

“In December I meet my fate in a long legged dark Dane, called Axel Schroder. Didn’t like him at all to start with. Mrs. Schroder, his mother just over from Denmark, to keep house for her only chick. She came to our little church and later on brought him too. My, such a nice clean group of young folk. To make a long story short, we had gone out together for six months when Axel wrote and asked me to marry him. It took me six months to decide, and we become engaged in 1910 in time for Christmas. I was scared stiff of his mother, and all my friends didn’t make it any better with their advice.

Axel Schroder, ca 1910/1912

“1910. Sadie’s sisters Anna and Marie came out from Boston. I sent them $90.00 and was paid back in $5 to $10.00 at a time. Gunie, a sister’s daughter came from Norway and I got her a fine job out close to Lake Washington. She stayed there six years til she married a nice man, friend of Axel’s. Two years went by and we were getting ready to set up a home for ourselves. So in 1912 April 27th we got married. I quit my job and started to clean house.

Axel Schroder and Anna Hornnes, 1912

“A few real heartaches in that week, my to be able to settle, just the two of us*. In the two years of engagement, I had learned to like, respect and love my long legged man (6 ft 2). We were called Mutt and Jeff.

The house on Yale Avenue as it looks today.

We had bought a place at 2231 Yale North (Howard Avenue was the name for five or six years, changed it to Yale North). Bought it Jun 1911, and it is located near Lake Union, close to the University, a real nice place."

Axel and Anna had two children, William (Bill) and Evelyn (Betty).

Axel, Bill, Anna, and Betty, ca 1918


* Although Anna was not expecting it to be so, Axel's mother, Hansine Schroder, immediately moved in with the newlyweds and lived there with them until 1920 when she passed away. From the oral reports we have it appears that Hansine was a difficult woman and as noted in her own account Anna was scared stiff of her. It could not have been easy for Anna.


On the last page of her diary Grandpa (Axel) has penned the following:

“May 7, 1944 Mom passed away of a heart attack at 10 p.m. today. She was 60 years 5 months old. May she always live in your memory as one of God’s splendid creatures, lovable and true to the last, a mother you can be proud of. This is Dad’s opinion, may she long live in memory. (Dad)”

Axel and Anna, 25th Anniversary, 1937

Axel died 14 March 1951.

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