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History Book

In the 1930s, a federal program during the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, appointed people to conduct oral history interviews across the country.

In Paynesville, Clarence Chisholm conducted over 100 interviews with local citizens. These selections from those interviews were printed throughout 2000 in The Paynesville Press.

Copies of the interviews were provided by the Paynesville Area Historical Society.


Voices of the Past - Clarence Chisholm

Daniel Chisholm was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, July 14, 1833. He was the son of Alexander and Catherine (Chisholm) Chisholm.

Daniel was 14 years of age when he came to this country with his parents. They landed in New York City, New York, in 1847. From there they moved west and in 1848 they made their home in Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wis. He lived there for 10 years before coming to Paynesville, Stearns County, Minn., in 1858.

Daniel married Marietta Reed on Nov. 25, 1855. Marietta was the daughter of Lyman and Harriette (Brundridge) Reed, and was born in Jefferson County, New York, March 12, 1837.

Lyman Reed, father of Marietta, was born in Vermont in 1809. On Dec. 7, 1834, he married Harriette Brundridge, who was born in New York in 1817. In 1860, two years after their daughter moved to Paynesville, Lyman and Harriette Reed came and settled in Section Seven.

Daniel and Marietta left Beaver Dam, Wis., in 1858, and went by boat to St. Paul, Minn. From there, they left by ox team for Paynesville. They were accompanied on this trip by Edward Boylan and family. When they landed in St. Paul, they were to have been met by James Boylan, who had come to this part of the country the year before. He was to direct the party to Paynesville. For some reason, James Boylan was delayed, but the party started off without him. They traveled as far as Big Lake, Minn., where they unloaded two ox teams and left their goods and women folk in the care of James Hill, who was the watchman employed to watch over merchandise unloaded from boats. The men of the party went back to St. Paul to search for Boylan, but were unsuccessful. Upon their return to Big Lake, they found that the missing person, James Boylan, had somehow found their camp. They then journeyed on towards Paynesville.

An old roof from a shed and some timber served as shelter for the party that first night. Daniel took a claim in Section Eight where they built their home near the Crow River and lived there until the Indians burnt it during the outbreak in 1862. He then left that land to his brother William, and filed on a homestead June 14, 1864, in Paynesville Township, Section 21.

One time, when most of the men were away working, Libby Bennett, one of the new settlers, saw a bear and her cubs near the river. The women were terribly frightened. That evening, upon his return from work, Daniel set out to find the bears. He spotted the two cubs and shot them. He then proceeded to look for the mother. He finally saw her and fired several shots, but she escaped. Daniel ran out of shot for his gun and called to his wife to bring him some more. She was told to follow him, as he was trailing the bear and didn't want to lose track of her. He finally cornered the bear in a large oak tree and killed it.

Daniel and Marietta had nine children: Mary A. died in infancy; William died in 1894; Hattie (Chisholm) Phipps died July 1904; Alexander married Mary Josephine Leer; Elnore died when a young girl; George W. lived in Chicago, Ill.; Archibald D. married Jessie Lawson (He was killed in a railroad accident at Eden Valley on March 29, 1916.); John F. married Christine Christianson; and Edith M. married Arthur Phillips.

Daniel Chisholm enlisted in Com-pany A, First Regiment, Minnesota Infantry on March 2, 1865. He served for four months, until the end of the Civil War. He was discharged from the army at Jeffersonville, Ind., on July 14, 1865.

Daniel was a member of the Eugene W. Wilson Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. He served as vice president of the Old Settlers' Association of Stearns County, and was a very active member. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge Number 71, Paynesville, for more than 40 years.

Daniel and Marietta spent their remaining years living in and near Paynesville. He died at his home in Paynesville on Jan. 8, 1903, following a short illness. He is buried at the Paynesville Cemetery.

Marietta died at the home of her daughter, Edith (Chisholm) Phillips, in St. Cloud August 1922. Funeral services were held at her son's home, John Chisholm, Paynesville. She is buried beside her husband, Daniel, in the Paynesville Cemetery.

Descendants of Daniel and Marietta are:
Alexander and Mary Chisholm's children: Estella who died in 1930, Hattie Kunkel, and Frank;

Archiblad and Jessie Chisholm's children: Cecil W. married Elsie Foreman, Genevieve, Harold married Ruth Harmon, Warren, Daniel K., and Grace;

John and Christine's children: Clarence married Idella Stanger, they had one daughter, Donna Lou; twins, Doris and Anna (Anna married Harry Otterberg), and Allan; and

Edith and Arthur Phillips' child: Myrl.

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