In this last installment of the Road Trip, we follow the Rudeens and Hansons on the return trip.
- link to Part 1 in this series
- link to Part 2 in this series
- link to Part 3 in this series
- link to Part 4 in this series
Their first destination after leaving Colorado was Sharon Springs, Kansas. Sharon Springs is practically due east of Colorado Springs, but if they were looking for improved roads, they likely took a route along an arc up to Limon and then southeast again through Kit Carson and Cheyenne Wells. This is pretty desolate country, although the 1920’s were relatively wet years prior to the dust bowl conditions of the 1930’s.
Why Sharon Springs and how would I know that? This actually took me a while to figure out.
The road trip photos were all in a little envelope that Grandma had labeled. But there was one photo – the same small size and unique photo paper – that was in her photo album. It must have been a special photo. It was a group photo that initially had me stumped.
Before I realized that it was part of the honeymoon trip, I was thinking that was Uncle Walt Rudeen in front row and maybe some cousins such as Don, Warren and Delwin Rudeen. But the ages weren’t making sense. Who are the other adults? And what kind of house is that in the background? Doesn’t look like an eastern Nebraska farmhouse, that’s for sure.
After enlarging the photo, I started to recognize some of the faces. The older couple at center right are Gust Bjorklund and his wife Anna. Anna was born Anna Charlotta Petersdotter and she was Lawrence’s aunt – the sister of Gust Rudeen! I blogged about this family clear back in 2014. I was right about it being a bunch of Rudeens, though. Something distinctive about some of the faces…
Here’s their family portrait from back in about 1908:
Here’s my take on the identities of the 1923 photo based on assorted (unverified) family trees on Ancestry:
At left are the Hansons (Edward, Hulda and their son Wallace); then Gus (or Will) Bjorklund (Jr.) with his wife Byrdie and their two daughters Anna and Lula; then Agnes Bjorklund and her husband Ransom Baker. They had four kids, Ernest, Herbert, Ruth and Carl. Ernest Bjorklund is in front, his wife Myrtle is behind Anna and their little son Guy is front and center.
The two oldest Bjorklund boys, Arthur and Gus, were both born in Saunders County. So that means there were three Peterson siblings in Saunders County in the 1880s: Gust Rudeen, his sister Emma Anderson (mother of C.W. Anderson), and another sister Anna Bjorklund. And of course their uncle Carl Rudeen was down the road near Waverly. The Bjorklunds moved to Kansas sometime around 1890, before Lawrence was even born. Amazing to think that he went out of his way in 1923 to meet up with them. This is a remarkable photo and I’m glad to have it!
After visiting the Bjorklund family, the group continued east toward Randolph, Kansas to visit Edward Hanson’s brothers and sisters. Their route was likely present-day I-70 through Hays, Salina and Manhattan. To get home after that, it’s a straight shot north on good ol’ Highway 77.
No pictures were captured of the Randolph portion of the visit. So how do I know it happened? Of course it made the paper upon their return home!
From the Ceresco Courier, August 30, 1923:
Poor Wallace didn’t get a mention!
1,700 miles in a Model T on the Great Plains in August…I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude! Here’s a Google map of their route. Google says it’s 1,372 miles but that wouldn’t include all of the side/day trips. I’m also not 100% sure about the routes available in 1923.
As an epilogue, there were changes in store for the family in the years following the trip. Lawrence and Clarinda became parents two years later. Their first child Don was born in June, 1925. A few months later in November, 1925, Wallace died. I had always heard that it was diabetes but there is mention in an obituary that he had traveled to Arizona seeking a cure. That makes me wonder if it was tuberculosis. Edward and Hulda lived until 1937 and 1940 respectively.
We Rudeens still enjoy our road trips, both real and virtual. Thanks for coming along for the ride on this one!
Bruce Frasier says
Great story and wonderful tenacity in research. Amazing all the photos and notes kept all these years
Corey Brunson says
Your “1923 Road Trip” is fabulous! I didn’t see the earlier posts, so I got to read the whole series in one sitting and, even though I’m not related to this group, found it fascinating. My mother told stories about the road trips she took with her parents in the 1930s and 1940s — you’ve given me much inspiration about how to make sense of the boxes of photos and letters I’ve inherited.
Thank you for sharing your work!