Starting in 1891, local newspapers begin to provide a surprisingly detailed picture of the activities of the Cormontan family in Franklin, Minnesota, including Theodora. All of the area papers of this period carry a section of local news that provides information on the people in surrounding communities. While Franklin apparently could not support a local paper consistently during the 1890’s, information about Franklin and its residents appears frequently in the Morton Enterprise. This section of the Morton paper is often called the “Franklin Department.”
The local news found in the Morton Enterprise, as well as the Renville Star Farmer and the People’s Watchman (published in Olivia, MN) provides a fairly rich description of what the Cormontan family, especially Theodora and her older brother C.G.V., did professionally and personally. We learn that Theodora played the reed organ in two area churches, conducted numerous vocal ensembles, taught music lessons in several communities, and played the piano in a variety of venues. We learn of her musical involvement in connection with the ministry of Reverend Parelius Rognlie, who served at the Ft. Ridgely and Dale Church where the Cormontan family were members as well as other area churches that belonged to the Norwegian Synod.
(above) A map of Camp Township showing the location of Ft. Ridgely and Dale Church and Camp Church.
Theodora Cormontan played the organ at both of these churches.
We see a close relationship between the Cormontan family in Franklin and their younger sister Marie Cormontan Lyders, as well as with Marie's husband Edward (a pharmacist like C.G.V.) and their children. We learn that Edward and other members of the Lyders family would help C.G.V. run the Franklin Drug Store as needed, and that the families visited each other, celebrated happy events, and mourned the loss of departed loved ones together. The railroad, the scene of Theodora’s debilitating injury in 1887, now serves as the means by which she can travel to neighboring communities to teach piano, voice, and organ, and facilitates family visits and other professional trips.
The following material includes the news items regarding the Cormontan and Lyders families between 1891-1895, as well as some related pictures. Enjoy!
Newspaper articles regarding the Cormontan family in Franklin, MN (1891-1899)
The following material comes from microfilm copies of newspapers located in the Renville County Historical Museum in Morton, Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota. The only extant edition of the Franklin paper dates from 9/19/1891. The earliest edition of the Morton Enterprise from this period is the 4/17/1891 edition. Other newspapers quoted below include the Renville Star Farmer and the People’s Watchman. Editorial comments are bracketed in yellow print.
From the “Franklin News,” 9/19/1891:
[big print] Drug Store [small print] An elegant assortment of Lamps, China Ware, Toliet Articles, Choice Perfume, Toys, Smoker’s Articles and other things too numerous to mention. [big print] A full line of Drugs Books and stationery. Wall Paper from 15 to 60 cents a roll. C. G. V. Cormontan
[From the same edition, under Here and There]: C.G.V. Cormontan has a fine lot of fancy goods and chinaware.
The remaining articles are from the “Morton Enterprise” (a weekly newspaper published in Morton, MN), unless noted otherwise.
4/17/1891: [A similarly worded advertisement to the one above appears. It runs every week until July, 1891.]
(above) A scan from a booklet of Franklin history showing the original Franklin Drug Store (the top right picture) built and operated by C.G.V. Cormontan from the mid 1880's until 1899.
5/22/91: We have a case of erysipeias in town. The patient is at Mr. Cormontan’s under the care of Dr. Stoddard. [This is a rare bacterial infection. It normally affects only the legs or the face.]
9/11/91: [Cormontan ad resumes until October, 1891. This was the last ad I found for the drug store. The ad is similar to the other except for]: Call on me for the best qualities of castor and lard oils.
9/16/91: Mrs. Lyders, from Sacred Heart is staying with Mr. Cormontan for a few days. Her father, Mr. E. Cormontan, has been quite sick, but is improving. [Mrs. Lyders is Marie Cormontan Lyders, Theodora's younger sister. Her husband was Edward O. Lyders, mentioned below].
1/1/92: Mr. Cormontan has a new organ in his store which is to go to the Lutheran church.
(above) This is the organ in the Ft. Ridgely and Dale Church that the Cormontan family helped secure in 1892.
1/15/92 (page 1): [C.G.V. Cormontan is elected as a state text book agent for 1892-1893].
1/29/92 (Town Talk): Mr. Cormontan, the Franklin druggist was doing business in town Tuesday. Mr. Cormontan is said to be one of the best pharmacists in the northwest.
2/19/92: C.G.V. Cormontan went to the Cities on the 16th for business.
4/15/92: Mr. Cormontan was called by telegram to Fosston to the sick bed of his brother, Dr. [Magnus] Cormontan of that place. He started Thursday. Dr. Lyders of Sacred Heart was sent for to take charge of the drug store during Mr. Cormontan’s absence. The Dr. says, if any are sick to call on him, he can either kill or cure. If you have any ailments go and see him, he will do you well. Mrs. Lyders also accompanied the doctor for a visit.
4/15: The Franklin choir which has been trained by Miss Cormontan sang at Rev. Rognlies’ church, in Camp last Sunday, and those who heard them pronounce the singing excellent. The lady is certainly an excellent teacher in vocal as well as instrumental music.
4/22/92: O. Quamsoe, Iver Mahlum, Hans Cormontan, J.H. Scott, John Foley and Mr. More were chosen delegates to the convention at Renville next Saturday.
4/22: Mr. Cormontan came home from the west [Fosston] Thursday accompanied by his brother, Dr. Cormontan.
4/29/92: Dr. Cormontan left for his home on the 28th.
4/29: Mrs. Wicken has been on the sick list and is still confined to her bed, but under the care of Dr. Lyders is now improving. The doctor has quite a few calls here.
5/13/92: Prof. Swerdrup of Minneapolis will speak at Hauges church and Rev. Sorenson at Camp next Sunday. Miss Theodora Cormontan will play at the latter. She is engaged to play the organ there for one year, so now she has two churches to play in.
7/22/92, The Thirteen Towns newspaper of Fosston, MN (Local, Semi-Local, and Otherwise): Dr. [Magnus] Carmonton [sic] died at his residence in this place yesterday morning after a long and painful illness.
7/29/92: Mr. Cormontan, the Franklin druggist, was transacting business in our village [Morton] one day last week.
7/29 (Town Talk): Miss Cormontan, the music teacher of Franklin, was in town [Morton] last Friday, giving some of our young ladies lessons. She has taken steps to organize a class here.
8/19/92: Miss Cormontan of Franklin, was in town the latter part of last week giving music lessons. Miss Cormontan now has a class of about fifty pupils and still increasing. She is a very accomplished musician.
10/7/92: The singing association of this place [Franklin], led by Miss Theodora Cormontan, have their regular practice three times a week, and they are now becoming quite good singers.
10/21/92 (Town Talk): Miss Cormontan, of Franklin, was in town the fore part of the week, giving music lessons.
Renville Star Farmer, 2/17/1893: Rev. Cormontan of Franklin died last Monday at the age of 95 years. His daughter, Mrs. Lyders and family started for Franklin Thursday to attend the funeral. We sympathize with the relatives.
(above) The grave of Rev. E.S. Cormontan, located in a place of honor right next to the altar window of Ft. Ridgely and Dale Church.
(above) The original tombstone for Rev. Cormontan. This picture was taken in the back room of the church. It's hard to see in this picture, but at the base of the stone it says "Fred med dit støv," which means "Peace to your dust" or "Peace to your remains."
RSF, 2/24/93: E. O. Lyders and family drove to Franklin Sunday.
2/24/93: Dr. Lyders and family passed through town [Morton] Sunday en route to Franklin to attend Rev. Cormontan’s funeral.
5/19/93: C.G.V. Cormontan and Miss Eivinda took the train for the cities last Monday to make visits and purchases. Dr. Lyders of Sacred Heart, is attending the drug store while Cormontan is absent.
RSF, 6/2/93: Miss Henrietta Lyders [one of Marie's daughters] and Edward Monson will be married at Sacred Heart tomorrow evening.
6/2/93: Several of our citizens have received invitations to the wedding of Dr. Lyders to one of Sacred Heart’s fair daughters, next Saturday. Misses Eivinda and Theodora Cormontan took the train for that place Wednesday. [This article refers to the marriage of Dr. Edward and Marie Lyders' daughter Henrietta to Edward Monson in Sacred Heart on June 3, 1893].
6/2: The Rognlie Camp church [this refers to Rev. Parelius Rognlie, also the pastor of the Fort Ridgely and Dale church and Palmyra church] was dedicated. The choir from Franklin assisted in the singing.
9/1/93: A children’s festival was held in the grove near Rognlie’s parsonage last Sunday. After a basket dinner the time was taken up by Rev. Rognlie, music by Miss Cormontan, and a few songs by the choir. The afternoon was spent very pleasantly.
(above) Ft. Ridgely and Dale Church near Franklin, MN. Photo courtesy of Doug Ohman of Pioneer Photography and used with his permission.
(above) The interior of the Ft. Ridgely and Dale Church.
9/22/93: [Theodora Cormontan and her choir assisted with music and singing at confirmation services at Rev. Rognlie’s church in Palmyra.]
New Ulm, MN Review, 11/8/93: Tomorrow evening, November 9th, there will be a rare musical recital at Turner Hall in which Miss Grace Watson, a soprano of reputation, will be the leading figure, assisted by Miss Theodore [sic] Cormontan as accompanist. Miss Watson is a graduate of the musical conservatory of Northfield and also of Boston and is spoken of by the papers as a singer of rare power. She will be ably assisted by local talent in recitation and songs, and altogether the program is apt to be such as our people would like. Seats are now being offered for sale at Alwin's Drug Store. [It is uncertain if Cormontan actually performed on this concert. A review of the performance in the 11/15 edition of the New Ulm paper did not mention her by name, and it reported "She [Watson] was assisted by Miss Belle Chollar in piano accompaniments and recitations."]
The Cormontan family appears to be financially stable in this period, with their faith and their denomination a central part of their lives. The "Evangelisk luthersk kirketidende," in volume 20 on page 318, reports that they contributed $5.00 to support the Norwegian Synod.
3/9/94: Mr. Carl Christianson, the clerk at Cormontan's drug store, took a trip home to Palmyra last Saturday and will return in a few days.
3/9: Miss Lyders of Sacred Heart is the guest of the Cormontan family.
4/6/94: The Temperance Lecture by Rev. C.O. Rosing last Sunday was very interesting and was listened to by a large audience. The Franklin church choir rendered a couple of very pretty songs.
5/4/94: Miss Louisa Lyders returned to Sacred Heart Saturday after spending a month with the Cormontan family.
10/17/94: Mrs. Lyders from Sacred Heart has been visiting with Cormontans the last week and Dr. Lyders came on a visit on the 10th and left with his wife for Sacred Heart on the 11th.
12/26/94, St. Paul Daily Globe, page 1: (headline) Wedding of an Editor. (beneath the headline) Andrew Bromstad and Miss Louise Lyders were quietly married at the home of the bride's parents Saturday evening. Mr. Bromstad is editor and proprietor of the Sacred Heart Bladet [a Norwegian language newspaper]. Miss Lyders is a daughter of Dr. E.O. Lyders, and is one of the most popular young ladies of this city.
1/18/1895 (Sacred Heart): Miss Evinda Lyders returned to her work in Franklin, Thursday, after a visit with parents at this place.
RSF, 1/18/95: Miss Evinda Lyders returned to Franklin Wednesday.
RSF, 2/22/95: Miss Effie Lyders left here [Sacred Heart] Tuesday for Franklin, where she intends to stay for some time.
3/1/95 (Franklin Department): Miss Effie Lyders of Sacred Heart is visiting her sister, Miss Evinda, and also the Cormontan family.
4/26/95 (Franklin Department): The choir from Palmyra spent Sunday at Franklin and sang with the Franklin choir at the town hall.
4/26/95 (Franklin Department): Miss Theodora Cormontan will give a concert at the Townhall, May 4th, at 7:30 p.m., and will be assisted by the boy violinist, Master Albert Rudd, of Minneapolis. He is only 12 years old and is a wonder and well worth the admission alone. The Franklin choir will give several vocal selections. Miss Cormontan is too well known to need our recommendation. Secure your tickets early as the hall will be crowded, it will be a rare treat which seldom comes our way. Tickets for sale at the Drug Store.
[Albert Rudd went on to play in the first concert of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in November of 1903. After several years he left to conduct the Orpheum Theatre Orchestra. He returned to play violin in the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra in the 1930's-1940's after what John K. Sherman described (in "Music and Maestros: The Story of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra") as "a career of many years as the city's best known theater orchestra leader and violinist."].
5/10/95 (Franklin Department): The concert seems to have satisfied the audience that was there, and they are all speaking well of Master Rudd, the little violinist. There would have been room for more in the hall but some preferred to listen from outside.
5/17/95 (Franklin Department): Miss Cormontan with the assistance of the Franklin and Palmyra choirs will hold a concert at Palmyra on the 17th of May.
5/17/95 (Franklin Department): Miss Lyders and Mrs. Monson of Sacred Heart, have been visiting with the Cormontans this week.
RSF, 5/24/95: The Misses Evinda and Effie Lyders came home from Franklin Thursday of last week.
7/26/95 (Franklin): Druggist Cormontan has been ill this week.
8/9/95 (Franklin): Miss Theodora Cormontan is back from New Ulm.
RSF, 11/1/95: Mr. Cormontan of Franklin visited with Dr. Lyders’ folks Tuesday.
RSF, 12/13/95: Miss Cormontan of Franklin is a guest at the Lyders mansion.