Tuesday, November 25, 2014

We Give Thanks to Our Forefathers (and Mothers)

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2014, we give thanks to those who came before us, pioneered and led our families to this fruitful and abundant land. They crossed fitful oceans and sailed into the great unknown, relentlessly pushing ahead ahead on a tide of hope and optimism and little else.

We thank our maternal grandparents, Elsa Rydin and John Stuberg, who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Sweden.. They made their their way to and through Ellis island, from thence traveling on to and settling in Chicago, where Elsa was a domestic and John was a master brick mason who was drafted into the US army as a resident alien during World War I.. 

We thank our paternal grandfather, Isaac J. Foster, who left his youth behind in eastern Canada to take up the life of a pioneer settler in the Dakota territory. He was farmer, rancher, insurance and real estate man, auctioneer and lawman. We thank grandfather Isaac's parents, Margaret Sanderson, a Scottish immigrant, and William K. Foster, a farmer and logger, who emigrated from Ireland in the company of his siblings and widowed mother to escape the potato famine and start new lives in the New World. 

Great grandfather and great grandmother Armstrong
are buried in Nashville. Minnesota
We thank our paternal grandmother, Laura Elizabeth Armstrong and her parents (my great grandparents), John Adams Armstrong and Laura Valeres Hollembeck Armstrong, whose in-country family roots go back to before the American revolution. The Armstrongs picked up stakes again and again, moving west and settling eventually in Bathgate, Dakota territory to make a better life. 

Today we offer special thanks to relations who were architects and builders of our prosperous country, R. D. Hoskins and Florence Mabel Armstrong Hoskins of Bismarck, North Dakota. 

Thanksgiving was always a day of gratitude and particular remembrance for R. D. and Florence because they were married in Bathgate, Dakota Territory, 130 years ago on Thanksgiving day, 1884. R. D.'s friends at the Pembina Pioneer Express made note of the event. 

Pembina Pioneer Express, December 5, 1884
Thursday of last week was a day of special thanksgiving for Bro. Hoskins of the Bathgate Sentinel. On that day he received the blessing of an helpmeet, in the person of Miss Florence Armstrong, daughter of J. A. Armstrong, postmaster of Bathgate. We tender our congratulations to the happy couple and hope for that day they will have reason to be thankful all their lives.  
Florence Armstrong was sister to my grandmother Laura Elizabeth Armstrong. 

An awesome helpmate my great aunt Florence truly became. R. D. had an extraordinary life. Among other vocations, Bro. Hoskins was publisher of multiple newspapers, a practicing lawyer, a merchant and the first (1889), and for 27 years thereafter, clerk of the North Dakota supreme court. 

On her own accord, Florence Hoskins became grand matron of the North Dakota state chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and served as president of the state chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Locally she headed too many committees and charitable drives to mention.

Not satisfied with subsisting on government emoluments, R. D. opened Capital Book Store in Bismarck in 1898, which over the years branched out into photo finishing, records and record players, radio sales and service, and cut flower sales. The store became Hoskins around the time that the business built its own greenhouses and eventually, when R. D.'s son-in-law took over, became known as Hoskins-Meyer, the premier florist in Bismarck for more than century. When you mention Etta Meyer (daughter of R. D. and Florence) to gray hairs in Bismarck today, they know Etta Meyer.

R. D.'s and Florence's offspring ratcheted the family business up a notch and morphed the business line into KFYR radio in 1928, which became the region's premier 5,000 watt, clear channel radio station, known as the "Voice of the Northern Plains." The children and grandchildren's generations founded KFYR Television in 1953, the first TV station in Bismarck, and grew the enterprise into a regional network that covered most of the western half of the state.
The Armstrong clan gathered and celebrated my great grandfather John Adams Armstrong's and great grandmother Laura Valeres Hollembeck Armstrong's  50th wedding anniversary in 1901. 

Bismarck Tribune, July 1, 1901

On the occasion the nine siblings gathered with mom and dad for a group photo.

Laura Elizabeth Armstong Foster is back center. Lyndon King Armstrong's head shot is spliced in to her left. Great grandfather John Adams Armstrong and great grandmother Laura Valeres Hollembeck Armstong are front left and front middle. By virtue of this blog post I hope to hear from other relatives of the identity of the rest.  

We will be writing at length about Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Hoskins in the months to come.

But today we gather together and give thanks to all those who came before us and have willed us the blessings, the freedoms and the abundance we enjoy today.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Amen.

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