*Louise Augusta Hirsch Cormontan
Born October 1, 1802 in Christiania, Norway; died March 5, 1865 in Arendal, Norway
Mother of Theodora Cormontan
Louise Augusta Hirsch Cormontan was the daughter of Major Patroclus von Hirsch (1758-1828) and Bolette Kristine Müller (1765-1806). She had one brother, Christian Leuthauser Hirsch (1789-1868). According to Arendals geistlighed: dens genealogi og personalhistorie (Arendal’s clergy: its genealogy and personal history, written by Stian Herlofsen Finne-Grønn in 1897), Louise married clergyman Even Meldal Schelderup Cormontan on March 25, 1825 in South Valle, Norway.
During their forty years of marriage Louise and Even had nine children; five boys and four girls. One son was stillborn, one daughter only lived a year, and a second son died at the age of 23. The other six children who reached adulthood all immigrated to the United States in the 1870’s and 1880’s, and all eventually settled in Minnesota. Three of the sons received university degrees. It would appear that a desire to serve the masses of Norwegian emigrants who would need medical care, as well as a spirit of adventure, called several of Louise’s children to the US (one son was a doctor, one a pharmacist, and a daughter married another pharmacist). Louise Cormontan died in 1865, compelling Theodora to leave her musical studies in Denmark to return home to care for her father.
*Hans Nicolai Patroclus Cormontan
Born March 8, 1826 in Vigmostad, Norway; died April 17, 1913 in St. James, MN
Older brother of Theodora Cormontan
The 1885 Norwegian census confirms Hans' birth in the Vigmostad parsonage. His father Even was a resident chaplain in Undal at the time, in Vest-Agder county in Norway. To quote the Finne-Grønn book (in an electronic and edited translation) "After having gone through Trondheim’s agricultural college, he [Hans] ran the Kjensmo farm in Urskog for many years and for several owners. For a time he worked for the magistrate Fabricius in Nedenaes, and then for August Stang. In 1869 he became sheriff in Froland, and a few years later went to America and worked as a carpenter in Franklin.”
While Hans would eventually end up in Franklin, Minnesota, it appears he left Norway in 1873 and settled in Illinois. 1873 was the same year his older brother C.G.V. traveled with their younger sister Marie to the US, so Hans may have accompanied them. He lived in Illinois in 1880, where the census reports him to be a boarder at the home of Jacob Larson in Big Grove, Kendall County. The census lists his occupation as carpenter, and this appears to be the way he made his living in the US. On October 16, 1882 he lived in Morris, Grundy County, Illinois, and on that day he became a naturalized citizen at the county courthouse.
By 1887 local newspapers place him in Sacred Heart, Minnesota, probably moving there to be near family members. This allowed him to see his father Even and sisters Theodora and Eivinda when they arrived in Sacred Heart in the summer of 1887 from Arendal, Norway to live temporarily with his younger sister Marie and her husband, Edward Lyders. When Even, Eivinda, and Theodora left town in 1888 to live with C.G.V. in Franklin, Minnesota, Hans remained in Sacred Heart. In April of that year he lost his tools in a fire, but he recovered by September to take the contract to repair the Lutheran church in Sacred Heart that had been struck by lightning.
According to the 1895 Minnesota census, Hans appears to have moved to Franklin to live with his family in 1891. In the minutes for Dale Lutheran Church it reports that Hans was unanimously conferred membership in May of 1893. Over the next several years Hans served on various committees of the church, as well as being a godfather in at least one baptism. In 1898 he became one of the founding fathers of the Concordia Lutheran Church in Franklin, including serving as chairman of the planning committee for the church.
In 1899 he joined C.G.V., Theodora, and Eivinda in a move to Madelia, Minnesota, where C.G.V. opened the Madelia Drug Store. Their father Even passed away in 1893. Hans joined the other members of the family when they moved to nearby Hanska a few years later. He is noted as returning to Madelia and enumerated next to his sister Theodora in the 1905 Minnesota census.
Evidence indicates that Hans was the first of the family to relocate to St. James, Minnesota. He became a member of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in that town in 1908, a year before the rest of the family joined the church. It is possible that Hans helped C.G.V. find a pharmacist position in St. James. Hans is noted in the church minutes as a Sexton in 1910. The same church book writes that Hans died on April 17, 1913 (there is no record of his death at the county courthouse). At this time the family was so poor that the county buried Hans in an unmarked grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery in St. James.
*Kirsten Bolette Nicoline Magna Cormontan (older sister), born 1827; died 1828
*Stillborn brother, 1829
*Magnus August Franke Cormontan
Born July 6, 1831 in Standen, Norway; died July 21, 1892 in Fosston, MN
Older brother of Theodora Cormontan
*Evan Hans Cormontan
Born February 19, 1881 in Pelican Rapids, MN; died January 25, 1970 in Fosston, MN
Nephew of Theodora Cormontan; son of Magnus Cormontan
Finne-Grønn reports that Magnus was born on July 6, 1831 in Standen. He goes on to write that Magnus "went to college to become a pharmacist in 1850. He was a pharmacist in Skiens and later, in 1865, in Trondheim. He subsequently immigrated to the United States."
By 1878 Magnus was serving as a physician in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, according to the Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Montana Gazetteer and Business Directory of that year. His wife Karen Hansen Svenskerud (1857-1933) was born in Ringsaker, Norway, and they married on February 17, 1880 in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. They had one son, Even (he went by Evan as an adult) who was born on February 19, 1881 in Pelican Rapids.
The Centennial Book for Fosston, MN (1883-1983), compiled by LaVerne Jesness and Josephine Mark, contains the following anecdote regarding an early settler named Augusta Lundhagen: "A story is told, that she was not allowed to wear her shoes out in the barn, so she was barefoot one cold day, when a man put his hand on her shoulder and asked her where her shoes were. After she told him she could not wear them, he said 'young lady, you are to go back in the house and I never want to catch you without your shoes again.' It turned out that that man was Dr. Cormontan, who later was a doctor in Fosston."
Later in the Centennial Book, several paragraphs are devoted to Evan Cormontan, the son of Magnus. In this section it notes "As a young boy, Mr. [Evan] Cormontan recalled accompanying his father when he traveled by horse and buggy to treat patients. He remembered that many times these patients would be unable to pay as times were very hard and his father would accept farm produce instead. However, one time a patient didn't even have that to offer. He had noticed that Dr. Cormontan's son, Evan, had admired a figurine toothpick holder, so he offered that in payment. It must have been a satisfactory exchange because today Even's daughter, Florence, still has the holder that has been kept through all these years." Cormontan's practice varied from prescribing pills and medicine to complicated surgery.
In 1892 Magnus became seriously ill. The Morton, MN newspaper noted that his younger brother C.G.V., then a pharmacist in Franklin, MN, was summoned by telegram to travel north to Fosston in April of that year to the sick bed of his older brother. A week later C.G.V. returned to Franklin with Magnus, perhaps to seek additional medical assistance, more likely to say goodbye to his loved ones. After about a week Magnus returned to Fosston where he died on July 21, 1892.
By 1897, when he was 16 years old, Evan Cormontan lived in Franklin with Theodora and the rest of the Cormontan family and served as an apprentice pharmacist to C.G.V. Cormontan. Evan continued in this capacity when the family moved to Madelia in 1899. After the Madelia Drug Store proved unprofitable and closed in 1900 Evan worked for a time at the Madelia Messenger newspaper before moving to Two Harbors, MN to work at their newspaper. He returned to Fosston and was working at the P.M. Mark Drug Store by May, 1902. The Gully, MN Sunbeam reported in its March 4, 1904 edition that Evan was in town representing P.M. Mark as a traveling salesman. The 1906 Northfield Western Druggist noted that he had left P. M. Mark, done some "relief work" at the Reise store in McIntosh, and would move to Minneapolis in the fall.
In May of 1906 the Minnesota State Board of Pharmacy registered Evan as a pharmacist. With his partner George Hanson, he acquired the Owl Drug Store in Bemidji, Minnesota from F.A. Mayo in 1909. Cormontan had been employed by Mayo for several months before the partners leased the store. In January of 1910 the partnership was dissolved and Evan moved back to Fosston. Fosston's Ruud Drug Store closed in 1911, and Evan opened the Cormontan Drug Store that same year.
The Centennial Book notes on page 70 "When Mr. Cormontan began his drug store all cosmetics and salves were prepared in the store by formula, measured and weighted by grams. The salves and ointments were prepared on sheets of paper from special paper tablets. [His daughter] Florence remembers being allowed to help mix these salves with different spatulas while her father would get the next ingredients that were to go in. Powered medicines were done by measures and folded into paper squares for each daily dosage and these would go into a cardboard box. Then, using a little typewriter which he operated with two fingers, Mr. Cormontan would type out the directions on the label."
"Mr. Cormontan was married to Alma Froland in 1912 and they had one daughter, Florence (Mrs. Dave Lohn of Fosston). Alma Froland had finished high school in Fosston in the Class of 1905 and was a teacher before her marriage. During their marriage both Mr. and Mrs. Cormontan were very active in church and civic affairs. Mrs. Cormontan passed away in 1957. Mr. Cormontan retired in 1946 after serving the public for 35 years under the motto 'Good Drugs Since 1911.' He sold the store to Harris Sessions. It always pleased Evan to know that four of his helpers, or 'boys' as he called them, went on to become druggists." On page 121 of the Cenntenial Book E. H. Cormonton [sic] is listed as one of the men who served a four-year term as mayor of Fosston before 1940.
"After enjoying several years of retirement during which Mr. Cormontan did some traveling, including a trip to Norway, Evan passed away in 1970 at the age of 89 years. (Editors note: Many in the Fosston area will remember how Mr. Cormontan unfailingly touched the brim of his hat whenever he greeted a lady on the street)."
Alma Cormontan (1886-1957) merited additional references in the Centennial Book. It noted that, as a member of the Athenian Club, she served on a four member committee that started the Fosston Library in 1938. The book also stated that she won a Beautification Contest conducted by the Athenian Club in which all the streets in town were renamed to facilitate home mail delivery. The avenues in town were renamed for pioneers of the Fosston community, including the "C" avenue being named after the town's first doctor, (Magnus) Cormontan.
Evan and Alma's daughter, Florence Catherine Cormontan Lohn was born on June 30, 1917 in Bemidji, Minnesota. She married David Lohn in 1937 and the couple had two daughters, Margo and Susan. Florence died at the age of 91 on November 10, 2008 in San Jose, California.
*Einar Fridthjof Cormontan
Born September 27, 1833 in Stranden, Norway; died November 23, 1856 in Arendal, Norway
Older brother of Theodora Cormontan
Einar appears to have enjoyed a brief career as a ship’s mate before contracting tuberculosis in 1853. He died when he was 23 and Theodora was 16.
*Gottfred Christian Vogelsang (C.G.V.) Cormontan
Born February 1, 1836 in Beitstad, Norway; died June 13, 1917 in St. James, MN
Older brother of Theodora Cormontan
While in various publications he is called Gottfred, Gottfried, Christian, and C.V., he is most consistently referred to as C.G.V. Cormontan (it is unknown why he didn't go by "G.C.V."). C.G.V.’s biography is essentially covered in the section on Theodora Cormontan, so only a thumbnail sketch is included here.
In 1858 C.G.V was one of the founding members of the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Association, as reported by the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Journal (NFT) on the 150th anniversary of the Association. He graduated from Christiania University in 1868 as a Pharmacist. On August 4, 1873 he sailed to the United States on the S/S Harald Haarfagre with his younger sister Marie and her two small children. He became a naturalized citizen on June 8, 1880 in Elkader, Clayton County, Iowa. The 1880 census placed him in Wagner of the same county, where he boarded in the home of Ole Peterson. His occupation was listed as school teacher, although he probably also worked as a pharmacist. The next year he relocated to Sacred Heart, Renville County, Minnesota, where the 1885 Minnesota census enumerated him in the home of his sister Marie and her husband, Edward Lyders. He moved to Franklin in Renville County in 1885 and became co-owner of the Franklin Drug Store with Edward, who was also a pharmacist. C.G.V. was elected to the first city council of Franklin in 1888, and was also on the council in 1897-1898. He served for many years as the treasurer for the Dale Lutheran Church east of Franklin in Camp Township, and in 1898 was one of the founding fathers of Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church in Franklin.
C.G.V. and the rest of the Cormontan family moved to Madelia, Watonwan County, Minnesota in 1899 where he owned the Madelia Drug Store. The business did not succeed, and by 1901 he worked for Woods Drug Store in Hanska, Brown County, Minnesota. He moved again in 1904 to operate a drug store in Kennedy, Kittson County, Minnesota, and returned to Madelia a few years later. In late 1906 or 1907 he took a pharmacist position at Levens Drug Store in nearby St. James, Minnesota. He died in 1917 and was buried by the county in an unmarked grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery in St. James.
*Eivinda Louise Cormontan
Born April 26, 1838 in Beitstad, Norway; died November 8, 1924 in Decorah, Iowa
Older sister of Theodora Cormontan
Less information survives regarding Eivinda than any other sibling of Theodora’s who came to the United States. In Norway and in the US she always lived at home and never married. Presumably, she kept the house running while others in the family worked outside the home. There is no newspaper report of her performing in concerts as there is for Theodora and her other sister, Marie. The Morton newspaper noted that Eivinda sometimes traveled with C.G.V. to Minneapolis on business or with Theodora to visit Sacred Heart. The paper reported one five-week trip she took by herself to Sacred Heart and Appleton, Wisconsin that it described as “recreative.” The Fort Ridgely and Dale Ministerial Book lists her as a godparent to at least three baptized childern, including Gotthard Waldemar Xavier, born on May 12, 1889 to Pastor Xavier and his wife Amanda. The 1905 Minnesota census lists her occupation as “housekeeper” and has her living separately from Hans and Theodora, but this was only temporary. Typically, she stayed with the rest of the family and they all joined the same Norwegian Lutheran church in whatever town they lived.
Theodora and Eivinda seem linked at most stages of their lives. For over 15 years they were the two sisters who remained with their father in Norway after their mother died and the other siblings immigrated to the United States. There is a painting in their hometown of Arendal that depicts the two daughters in their permanent places in the church choir where their father was the parish priest. When Theodora sued the railroad company at her civil trial in 1889 in St. Paul, Eivinda was called to the stand for an entire day of testimony, the only person other than Theodora who was questioned at that length during the trial.
With their two brothers deceased, Eivinda and Theodora traveled together in 1917 to the "Aase Haugen Sunset Home for Old People" near Decorah, Iowa. As Theodora required a wheel chair, it is likely that Eivinda was there to help. The two sisters are buried side by side at the Aase Haugen Cemetery, located in a pasture near the Home and bordered by Norwegian pines.
*Josephine Marie Cormontan
Born July 19, 1844 in Beitstad, Norway; died March 30, 1930 in Minneapolis, MN
Younger sister of Theodora Cormontan
(with gratitude to Nancy Clasen for providing information on her great-grandmother Maria)
Both Marie and her husband Edward Orla Lyders were 26 years old when they married on June 3, 1870. Edvard was born on August 22, 1844 in Roskilde, Denmark, and had taken a position as a pharmacist in Arendal, Norway by 1865. Edward immigrated to the US in 1872, probably going ahead of the rest of the family because Marie was pregnant with their second child.
In 1873 Marie departed from Bergen, Norway on the S/S Harald Haarfagre with her two-year-old daughter Louise and a one-month-old infant boy who would die before his first birthday. C.G.V. traveled with them. The family settled in Chicago for a few years before moving to Elgin, Iowa by 1876. In 1878 they relocated to St. Olaf, Iowa before coming to Sacred Heart, Minnesota in the spring of 1880, where Edward opened a drug store and became the first doctor of the village.
The 1885 Minnesota census notes C.G.V. temporarily living with the Lyders family. He would shortly be moving to Franklin to open his own drug store. By 1887 Theodora came to live with the family for several months along with her 89-year-old father Even and her sister Eivinda while C.G.V. prepared their permanent home in Franklin. The Sacred Heart residence was a full one, housing not only the three new guests and Marie and Edward, but also their six children.
The families in Sacred Heart and Franklin interacted frequently during the 1890’s. In 1893, for example, Franklin family visited Sacred Heart to see one of the Lyders daughters get married and members of the Lyders family came to Franklin for the funeral of Even Cormontan. Another Lyders daughter was a particularly frequent visitor to Franklin, and eventually married a young man from that town.
Edward died on May 15, 1898. Marie would outlive him by more than thirty years. For a few years she would continue to live in Sacred Heart as the widowed head of the household whose occupation was listed in the 1900 census as Boardinghouse Keeper. In 1902 she moved to Minneapolis to live with her daughter Josephine (nicknamed “Effie”), a dressmaker, and Marie’s son Edward Jr., a pharmacist like his father and uncle. She continued to live with Effie and Edward Jr. at the time of the 1920 census, and died in Minneapolis on March 30, 1930 at the age of 85.
The following are excerpts from the obituary of Marie Cormontan Lyders that appeared in the Sacred Hearts News on April 3, 1930:
"Funeral services were held in Sacred Heart Wednesday afternoon for Mrs. Marie Lyders, an old pioneer resident of the village, who died Sunday at her home in Minneapolis. Funeral services were held at Our Saviors Church, Rev. Nils Giere officiating. Burial was made at Sacred Heart by the side of her husband, E. O. Lyders, who died in 1898.
Mrs. Lyders was one of the sturdy pioneer women who exerted great influence for good as the wife of the first druggist and practicing doctor in the community. Many of the older residents recall acts of kindness and mercy performed by Mrs. Lyders in the early days of hardship as she went about assisting Doctor Lyders."
Following some biographical information already noted above, the article continued: "She made her home for a time with a son but at the time of her death was making her home with a daughter, Miss Effie Lyders. Several years ago she suffered a stroke of paralysis but was in fairly good health until a year ago when she became unable to walk. She became ill about three weeks ago and died on Sunday at the age of 85.
Mrs. Lyders had a wonderful disposition and remained cheerful thru [sic] her last illness. It has been said of her that she was never known to complain during her life. Death came while she slept and she left her family with a smile. Her last visit to Sacred Heart two years ago is recalled by many of her friends."
The item noted that four of her six children (listed below) were present at the funeral, with Evinda and Carl (living in Alaska and Washington respectively) not in attendance. It said she lost two children in infancy (only one is reported by Nancy Clasen) and that at the time of her death she had 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. An article in the April 10 edition of the same paper noted that her nephew, Evan Cormontan, also attended the funeral.
The children of Marie and Edward Lyders:
Louise Augusta Lyders Bromstad
Born June 21, 1871 in Arendal, Norway; died February 13, 1966 in Chippewa, MN
Male child, name unknown, born in 1873 and died before his first birthday.
Josephine Marie “Effie” Lyders
Born July 16, 1874 in Chicago, IL; died February 6, 1956 in Minneapolis, MN
Henrietta Ernestine Lyders Monson
Born May 7, 1876 in Oelwine or Elgin, Iowa; died May 18, 1965 in Minneapolis, MN
Evinda Lyders Tweet
Born May 16, 1879 in Elgin, Iowa; died May 1, 1972 in Teller, Alaska
Edward Orla Lyders (Jr.)
Born September 18, 1881 in Sacred Heart, MN; died January, 1967 in Minneapolis, MN
Carl Schelderup Lyders
Born May 13, 1884 in Sacred Heart, MN; died in 1956 in Tacoma, Washington