Inger Marie Christiansen Hollister
John Joseph Hollister
Inger M. Hollister (as she signed herself) was born April 18, 1891, in Tyler, Minnesota, one of the twelve children of Christ and Hansine Christiansen.
She grew up cooking and baking and was known all her life for her culinary talents. Though she only went through eight grades of school, she loved to read, as did her whole family, and was well educated. She was kind hearted and couldn't bear to see either man or beast hungry or cold.
She waited until she was nearly 26 to marry. Though she was popular at the barn dances, she kept her heart her own until she met John Joseph Hollister, a man who came to the kitchen door asking for work on the farm.
John Joseph Hollister was born March 16, 1885, in St. James, Minnesota, the son of Eva (Huntoon) & Leslie Hollister.
Joe Hollister was a man of many parts. Over six feet tall, he was known for his gentle nature and good humor. Besides farm work, he was also a teamster and worked for a time for Ringling Bros. Circus, and later as a railroad fireman. He was about thirty when he met Inger and fell in love with a girl with a spot of soot on her cheek.
Among Inger's mementos was a fragment of a letter her Joe wrote to her before their marriage:
She[His future sister-in-law?] was going to tell me something so very nice from you. And after I begged for half an hour she said "Inger says don't come in Sat. night," very cheering message, wasn't it. I started to write to you at Tyler Thursday evening but I didn't send it. I couldn't see how you were going to get it if you were coming back Monday. I most wish I had though I thought you were a long way away and I wrote a very sentimental sort of letter. I had two letters in one day and felt very foolish for an old bachelor. You will get two at once too and will be supposed to feel the same. Mrs. Thorvald made fun of me until I told her I was only going to read the last one. She didn't believe it some way. I didn't believe it either. I am having an awful time trying to write tonight. First I write and then smoke and then I swear but I can't write like I would like to anyway. I am thinking enough about you but my thoughts are all pictures and no words with them. The best one of all is my girl with the old blue apron. I donít believe you think it much of a compliment some how but I never can help liking you best that way. Maybe because you had one on when I first saw you. And a black spot on your cheek. I can remember it so well. You must have a picture taken that way for me before I go home you promised me one you know but you have never given it to me.
Inger & Joe were married March 31, 1917. Their first child, a girl with severe birth defects, died soon after birth. Their daughter Ann was born June 15, 1919, at Inger's sister Elna's home in Martinsville, Indiana. The young family lived in Cleveland and Joe worked as a fireman on the railroad.
Joe Hollister was killed in a train wreck on January 16, 1921. Inger never remarried though she had her share of suitors. She lived with her widowed mother and, at other times, her brother Hermie. After her widowís settlement from the railroad vanished in the crash of 1929, she worked cleaning people's houses. She remained close to her husband's family, especially his brother Gabe who was one of Ann's two favorite uncles -- the other one was Inger's brother Hermie.
For a while Inger was able to live comfortably on her widowís settlement from the railroad, even buying a car and taking Ann to Texas for the winter in hopes of preventing the pneumonia that plagued the little girl every winter. Their money, thought safe in the Larimore bank, vanished in the crash of 1929. After that, Inger worked as a housekeeper to keep herself and her daughter fed and clothed.
Through the years, Inger frequently visited her brothers and sisters, especially Maren and Elna, both of whom lived near each other in Indiana. They created quilts the old fashioned way, with every stitch put in by hand.
After her granddaughter Gabrielle was born, Inger moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, Ann & Dick David. She kept house, cooked and baked, and helped raise her grandchildren, moving with the family from Minnesota to Missouri, then to Iowa, and finally to Arizona.
One of Gabrielle's warmest memories of her childhood was coming home from school in the rain, soaked to the skin, and having her grandmother send her in to soak in a hot bath. When she got out, Inger would wrap her in an old robe that had been warmed in the oven, and settle her on the davenport with a bowl of freshly made chocolate pudding and a good book, sometimes sitting down to enjoy the book with her. Even after Gabrielle could read just fine for herself, she loved to have Inger read to her ó Black Beauty was their favorite, both breaking into sniffles at the sad parts.
Inger did a lot of sewing as the family grew and she, Ann, and Gabrielle wore more homemade dresses than they did store-bought, something Gabrielle didn't learn to appreciate until she was in her teens. Then Gabrielle joined the sewing circle with Ann doing the laying out and cutting, Inger the machine work, and Gabrielle the handwork. (The first sewing machine was a treadle Singer machine Inger's father had bought for her when she was a teenager. It was sold at auction when the family left Iowa for Arizona, and replaced by a modern electric machine.) Later Inger and Ann sewed clothes for Gabrielle's children, Paula and Gery.
When Gabrielle was grown and had a craving for good homemade bread, she called Inger and asked for directions. Inger paused for while and said, "Well, you take the old brown bowl and fill it up to the funny crack with warm water . . ." Better bread was never baked than what Inger took out of the oven, even if she couldn't write down an exact recipe.
Inger was still living with Ann & Dick when she died, at the age of 91, on March 20, 1983. Ann & Dick took her ashes to the Bethel Cemetery in Larimore where they were buried in Joeís grave, not far from her mother and father and some of her sisters and brothers.
Gabrielle David is the granddaughter of Inger & Joe Hollister
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