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Nerstrand, Minnesota

July 30, 2015
Carl Bonde, Sr. is the boy in the white shirt, standing in front of his childhood home near Nerstrand, Minnesota.

Carl Bonde, Sr. is the boy in the white shirt, standing in front of his childhood home near Nerstrand, Minnesota.

July 30, 2015

Tomorrow I go to Nerstrand, Minnesota, to visit the farm house where my mother’s father was born. At least I think he was born in the house. Nobody ever told me. About 1885, give or take. He had many brothers and sisters, more than 10. Again, I don’t know how many. Another fact worth knowing. Don’t we make fun of redneck families whose family trees look like a broom. Tosten and Ingabor Bonde made their family tree look like that.
The stone house Tosten built has been fixed up, added onto, fortified with an I beam, but is mostly like it was. My 89-year-old cousin Earl Bonde, who died since the last reunion, said he nearly burned the insides of the house when he was a kid. I could tell he still felt shame after so many years, even though things turned out okay. They had candles and lanterns in 1930 and he started a fire. I forget the details, but obviously the house is fine. Sure it is made of stone, but the floors and walls and ceilings were wooden.
My grandfather’s only son, Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr., probably never visited Nerstrand to see the stone house. Other than a few school-sponsored debate trips around Montana, Carl’s travels in the USA were for military service. Alabama, Arkansas, North Dakota, New York. He did visit a relative in New Jersey en route to England during World War II.
World War II was practically over by the time Buddy got sent to England. By then, France, Italy, and Spain had been liberated from the racist Nazis and the remnants of his army seemed about to accept defeat. Probably Carl’s 66th Panther Army Infantry Division was a kind of insurance to make certain that Hitler would lose the war.
I imagine that many of the American GIs looked forward to loving up the British girls and going pub crawling. This was 1944, in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when they arrived at Southampton, headed by train to their quarters near Dorchester in the hinterlands of England.
They had celebrated Thanksgiving on the troopship, George Washington, eating their holiday meal in shifts, standing up. The Division had four regiments with support personnel and foot soldiers. Bud was a soldier, a member of a machine gun section. Bud was an ammo bearer. He was also very bright, had a couple years of college, and among many friends who also had been college students prior to being made infantry soldiers, private soldiers, so-called “grunts.”
Anyhow, as World War II was winding down the Nazis were losing ground and no longer had much of an air force. They still had submarines, U-boats. Damned effective. One of those ended up killing almost 800 soldiers, including my uncle Carl Ralph Bonde, Jr. just as his troopship, the SS Leopoldville, came in sight of the French port of Cherbourg.
Hitler, exactly one week earlier, had launched a massive counter-offensive in Luxembourg. In return, Eisenhower was cashing his insurance policy, his cache of troops that he kept in England just in case. My heroic uncle Buddy Bonde.

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2 Comments
  1. Kathleen Ely permalink

    Will you go to Berne, too? I think took the train to Minnesota to go to the Swissfest there in 2001.

  2. Kari Peterson permalink

    Greetings,
    I’ve been reading your posts! My Grandmother (Nanny), photo wouldn’t attach, follow the link….Her mother was one of the Bonde girls, who married a Mosher. I enjoyed a reunion there once around 10 yrs ago. Unfortunately, her husband, the sweetest swedish Grandpa I had, K. Fosston passed under 60 y/o after a 5 yr bout with a brain tumor. Corinne remarried. It’s fun reading more history, my mom says Nanny talked about her U. Ben.
    http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/azcentral/obituary.aspx?n=corinne-elsinore-samuelson-fosston&pid=2444029

    Corinne Elsinore (Fosston) Samuelson | Visit Guest Book

    Corinne Elsinore (Fosston) Samuelson, 90, passed away on July 16th in
    Scottsdale, Arizona. She was born in Faribault, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and became a registered nurse. She moved to Arizona in 1952. She was a member of Ascension Lutheran Church. Corinne was known as ‘Nanny’ to all of her much loved family. She was preceded in death by husbands Kenneth Fosston and Norman Samuelson. After marrying ‘Sam’ they lived in Toledo, Ohio and wintered in Arizona. Corinne is survived by daughters Pat Weide (Marvin), Scottsdale, Mary Alexson, Newport Beach, California, Kay Bork (Jim), Toledo, Ohio, son Don Samuelson (Carol), Defiance, Ohio; 11 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Monday, July 26th at 11:00 AM at Ascension Lutheran Church, 7100 North Mockingbird Lane, Town of Paradise Valley. The interment will be private. The family suggests tributes to Ascension Lutheran Church or Christian Family Care, 3603 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix, 85013.

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