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The Class of 1921

The graduating classes at LHS in 1921 and 2021 at Langdon Area High School have a few things in common. One is that each of these classes has a girl named Grace, and another is that there is a member of the extended Crockett family in both groups. The long ago class had one boy named William, and the current class has one named Will. I checked out the class from a century ago thinking there might be a direct line to one or more of the current graduates, but those were the only connections I could find. However, the 1921 class was an interesting group, and on the 100th anniversary of their graduation, readers may enjoy reading about them. We do know that in 1921 there were also graduating classes at Milton, Osnabrock, Nekoma, and Hannah, but the names of all their graduates do not appear in all the centennial books or alumni stories. Hopefully, you will find some familiar names in the listing which follows.

Several of the 1921 class went by middle names and listed their original names as a capital letter. So, the group began with H. Faye Bentley, who married classmate John Sandberg, and they spent much of their adult life in Williston where John was in the tire business.

Lena Mary Bisenius followed an older sister of two into teaching and married a Brusseau from the Walhalla area – not all of the spouses had first names listed. Mary also dropped her original first name and was generally known as Mary Brusseau. She was still living and contributed to the alumni directory in 1976. Elsie Burnett, married name Epley, went west to California. Clarence Charrier is believed to be an older brother of Louise and Louis Charrier, who were life-long residents of Langdon, and died in 1957.

Lydia Crockett Nelsan, along with other family members, used to return to Langdon for visits, and they are remembered as ladies with very chic and modern hats which they wore to church at Langdon’s Presbyterian services. Lydia passed away in 1967. Naomi Denler Reeher was also a member of that same church while growing up in Langdon. She made her home in Port Charlotte, Florida, where she died in 1990.

Mary Gellner married one of the Stremich brothers, and they made their home in the state of Michigan. Lillian Groff came to Langdon for high school from the Mt. Carmel area. We did not find her married name, but several nieces and nephews claimed her as their aunt.

Emily Groom was the daughter of B. E. Groom and his wife, and at the time she was in high school her father was secretary of the Cavalier County Fair plus a partner in the Cavalier County Republican. When Mr. Groom died, part of his farmland was left to his son and part to his daughter who by that time was Mrs. Frank Benson of Grand Forks. In recent years, Emily’s land was still owned by the Benson family and rented to local farmers.

Charles Hagan was president of the class of 1921 and went on to make his home in Boston. We learned quite a bit about him when his descendants came to Langdon searching for family history.

Emma Hahn was the youngest member of the 1921 class graduating at the age of 15. She was a long-time teacher, Dresden postmaster, historian of all things connected to Dresden, and always a force to be reckoned with. The Museum at Dresden was one of her favorite projects in later years, and sometimes she would dress in long ago fashions for special events. Emma died in 2005 a few months after celebrating her 100th birthday. For several years she was the oldest LHS alumnus still living in Langdon in part because we had very little information on her classmates living far away.

Belva Holmes was an aunt of the Kruk family now in Langdon, and her married name was Mrs. Ray Nagel. W. Edward Johnston, another who went by his middle name, spent much of his adult life in Minneapolis. He was a cousin of Lucy Johnston Sypher whose books about Wales are enjoyed by local readers. Edward grew up on 9th St. in Langdon.

Stanley Karsky was part of a family with Czechoslovakian roots. As a young man he joined the Brothers of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame and was known as Brother Marcian. He died in 1942. Susan Lane married J. E. Prairie, and they made their home in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Florence Livinggood was raised in Hay Township and came to Langdon for high school because she wanted to teach, which she did for several years. She married Elmer Crockett, and they made their home in Langdon where Elmer had a dry cleaning business, and their boys played basketball. I remember Florence as one of my Sunday School teachers. She died in 1946. Harold Mausten may have been in the pool hall business, possibly with his brother, before moving to Michigan where he died in 1974.

There are several ways to spell MacDonald, and some of the families were related, and some were not. Christina MacDonald, said to be from the family east of Langdon, married John Anderson and later made her home in Green Valley, Arizona. I apologize if she was from another family. Lovisa MacDonald was one of several sisters of the late Stewart MacDonald. Visie had worked in cities but retired to the family home just west of the old Masonic Temple in later years. She was the last of the living sisters in her family.

John Milne was the son of a Langdon banker whose lifetime work involved managing stores. His wife was another MacDonald (not sure which family), and they made their home in Tucson, Arizona. Cecelia Nowatzki, married name Edd, was remembered as a teacher in earlier years and also settled in Tucson, Arizona.

Phyllis Opie was the daughter of W. R. Opie who began a photography business in Langdon when she was quite small. Mr. Opie took many pictures of Langdon and Cavalier County residents before his death in 1917 and, along with his son Ross, had one of the first radios in Langdon. Phyllis married a man named Schweiger, and they spent many years in Florida and Massachusetts but are buried at Lebanon Cemetery in Langdon.

Lillian Parker came to Langdon for high school and then met Ernest Peterson, a young farmer near Wales, where they raised three sons (all LHS graduates). Her grandchildren loved spending summers on the farm and when they returned for a funeral not too long ago, brought their sleeping bags so they could camp out in the yard at the farm if necessary. Muriel Radford, with relatives in the Witzel and Hope families, went on to marry Arthur Scribner.

Charles Ramage deserves a paragraph of his own. As the youngest son of J. F. and Ada Ramage, he became one of Langdon’s best-known residents. Charlie collected old things and made all sorts of contraptions including a loop the loop which may have been part of the midway at the fair. He also wrote poetry, had a variety of businesses, and many friends. Charlie died in 1992.

Eugene Row came from the Elkwood area to go to high school and was in business with Stub Walker and others. He moved to Portland, Oregon, in the 1940s. Mable Rowe married Fred Anderson, and they settled in Moorhead, MN. Grace Rye may have been the Rye family member who married “Uncle Bob Mahon” from the 1922 class. Mahon nephews told many entertaining stories about Uncle Bob and his family when they visited Langdon in the 1990s. John Sandburg’s story is given at the beginning of this column as he had married Faye Bentley. We learned about John as he and Charlie Ramage were long-time friends.

Margaret and William Stevenson may have been siblings or cousins as there was more than one Stevenson family in Langdon when they were growing up. Margaret married Frank Baker and settled in Seattle. It seems that descendants of William came to Langdon years ago to trace their family who had lived on 7th Street.

Martha Thon Zamiara spent much of her married life in Chicago and returned to Langdon as a widow living in the house behind St. Alphonsus Church where her sister Mary had lived for many years. Martha died in 1992.

Vera Witzel may have been the first sister in her family to come to LHS. Possibly, she taught for a time before marrying Roy McDowall. Vera lived to be 103 – at that time a record for LHS alumni, but read on. A. Miles Wold was the son of Dr. Wold who combined optometry and his jewelry businesses in Langdon. The first Dr. Wold might also have sold pianos and musical instruments. Dr. Miles Wold followed in his father’s footsteps as an optometrist in Devils Lake until his death in 1959. Marian Wold, the only girl in this Wold family, also graduated in 1921 and then went on to the University. She went west to Olympia, Washington, where she became the Director of Child Welfare until her retirement. A number of years later someone spotted her death notice in a UND newsletter, and we made inquiries. Marian lived to be 104, and her earlier career had been in teaching. She may have reached or tied the oldest living alumnus spot for all LHS graduates to date..

If you count the names in the class of 1921 and later in the current class of 2021, you might find another similarity. They had approximately the same number of classmates.

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