Jorgensen Music


Madelia II: 1905-1908

By 1904 C.G.V. Cormontan works as a pharmacist in Kennedy in far northern Minnesota.  Before the end of the year, the other three family members move back to Madelia.  In the 1905 Minnesota census it appears that Theodora and Hans are in one location while Eivinda is in another; probably only temporarily.  There is evidence that they returned to the West Lutheran Church to worship. 


West Lutheran Church (above): the outside of the church, how the sactuary looked while the Cormontan family attended, and their Pastor Lars E. Green.



(above) The West Lutheran Church choir from 1900.  Theodora conducted this choir in 1899 and perhaps at other times as well.


Once again Theodora would be compelled to use newspaper advertising to alert potential students of her new location:

Madelia Times-Messenger 10/28/1904, in the Local News section: Theodora Cormontan, pupil of Europe's greatest musicians, gives instruction on Piano, Organ and Vocal.  Instrumental music is taught by the newest and best of methods.  Vocal Culture, Mathilda Castorne Marchesi's singing method.  At Madelia Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  New scholars call on Mrs. M. Dossett or Mrs. J. Nielson.


The ad ran through the rest of the year.  In 12/2/1904 it appeared with a new last sentence: New scholars can call on me at my home, the L. A. Dodge residence.  This ad continued through at least 9/8/05.  L. A. Dodge was Amos Linzee Dodge, son of George W. Dodge, a prominent livestock dealer in Madelia. 



As information in the newspapers on Theodora grows more scarce, it sometimes helps us to connect with her circumstances by noting some peripheral information we discover that still assists us in understanding her life and her times.  For example, at the Watonwan County Museum in Madelia we found a notebook used for piano lessons.  This notebook belonged to Mabel Dodge, daughter of George W. and sister of L.A. Dodge.  The Madelia Times newspaper noted that Miss Dodge was the class president of a group of seven who graduated from high school in 1900.  The May 16, 1902 edition of the Madelia Messenger reports that she was graduating from Mankato MN Normal and would be teaching in Pipestone, MN in the fall.  The 1905 census reported that she was in her mid-twenties and living with her parents.  She taught second grade in the Madelia school system from 1905-1907, making $45.00 a month the first year and $47.50 the second.


The music book looks like it was used in the 1890's: for example, on one page it appears to quote (fairly inaccurately) a line from Ethelbert Nevin's "The Rosary," composed in 1898.  It is possible that Mabel took some piano lessons from Theodora in the first decade of the 1900's; it is almost certain they knew each other, since Theodora taught the school song to Mabel's high school graduating class in addition to living in the home of Mabel's brother.


Theodora continued to compose and perform.  While she certainly played more than the newspapers noted, she received two mentions during this second stay in Madelia:

Madelia TM 10/3/1905, Local News: The song service of the Presbyterian church last Sunday morning given by the choir assisted by Miss Theodora Cormontan proved to be a musical treat such as is seldom heard in Madelia.


Madelia TM 6/1/06, front page: [An article announces that Theodora Cormontan will play Schubert's Serenade at the 18th annual commencement exercises for the Madelia High School on Monday, 6/4/1906 at 8:30 pm.  Ten students graduated].


As luck would have it, we found a photograph of the Madelia High School graduating class of 1906 at the Watonwan County Museum:


(Back row): Dora Thompson, Millie Leonard, Minne Rasmussen, Henry Olson, Stella Drake, Millie Fristad; (Front row): Harry Keech, Grace Noonan, Emma Knudson, Luzern Eager.


Contemporary Madelia newspapers reported that two of the graduates, Stella Drake and Emma Knudson, frequently played piano solos and collaborated on duets during the first decade of the 20th century.  For example, they played a duet at the 1910 Madelia High School Alumni Banquet.  It is quite possible that Theodora was invited to perform at the commencement because she gave piano lessons to Emma, Stella, and perhaps other members of the Class of 1906.


Meanwhile, C.G.V. received two 1906 mentions in the Kennedy, MN Star newspaper.  The first noted that, though separated from his family, he still had some friends who cared for him.  The gift they gave may indicate concern about his financial situation as he grew older in the days before Social Security.


2/2/1906, Locals section, p 5: A number of Mr. Cormington's [sic] friends quietly gathered and going over to the drug store surprised the old gentleman and when the din had subsided, turned over to him a purse containing $10.00 in cash.  The occasion was the celebration of Mr. Cormingtons seventieth birthday.


The second item may reflect a continued restless spirit, or continuing financial worries:


5/4/06, Locals, p 5: Mr. C.H. Cormonton [sic] has severed his connections with the drug store here and has been offered a position in Halstad [MN] which he accepted and for which he departed from here Wednesday.  Mr. Cormonton has been in Kennedy over two years and we regret to see him leave, but wish him abundant success in his new position. 

The Halsted position apparently did not last long.  By December, 1906, the Northwestern Druggist would report the following: 

A. G. Cormanton [sic], of Madelia, is assiting in Chas. Leven's store in St. James.  

The local paper would note this at a later date:


St. James Journal Gazette 11/8/1907 Overflow Local section:  C.G.V. Cormontan, formerly in the drug business at Madelia and Hanska, is assisting in Chas. Levens drug store.  Mr. Cormontan is a registered pharmacist.

C. G. V. also did some druggist work in nearby Hanska:

New Ulm Review 8/14/1907, under Notes from Hanska:  Mr. and Mrs. Ringnell have gone to North Branch for a month.  Mr. Cormonton [sic] of Madelia and Everett Chambard are running the drug store in his absence.

The Cormontan family would reside in St. James by early 1908.







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