After both of my parents, Ray and Iva Peterson, died in the early 1990’s, I found amongst their photos a Christmas card that Violet and Tudy Blomgren had sent them. The card was a picture of the Blomgren family home that dated back to the early 1900’s when Buxton, Iowa was being developed as a coal mining camp by the Consolidation Coal Company along the county line road between Monroe and Mahaska counties in Iowa. Buxton proper was located on the south side of the county line road in Monroe County (Albia), whereas the Blomgren 40 acre farm was north of the county line road in Mahaska County (Oskaloosa).
My family (Peterson/Nylander) and the Blomgren family were related. It seems to me that most of the Swedes that settled in Buxton’s East Swede Town were relatives by marriage. My grandmother, Emma (Nylander) Peterson’s sister Tekla (Nylander) Olson’s daughter Edna married Carl Blomgren Sr., one of the four Blomgren brothers of Carl, Art, Manny and Tudy. The Blomgren families were well respected and known during the coal mining heyday in Buxton and the area surrounding Buxton.
The Blomgrens were true blue blooded coal miners. All four brothers worked in the mines of the Consolidation Coal Company that was owned by the Chicago North Western Railroad. The coal was used almost exclusively for firing the steam engines used on the CNW trains during the end of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. After the Consolidation Coal Company ceased operating coal mines in Monroe County, the Blomgren family brothers dug a slope coal mine on their 40 acre farm. The daily production rate of the Blomgren “Four Star” mine was around 100 tons per day. By comparison, the Consolidation Coal Company produced between 3,000 and 4,000 tons of coal per day. The Iowa coal had a high BTU rating, but was expensive to mine because of the impurities in the coal that had to be screened out of the coal.
The Blomgren family was a very enterprising family. Art seemed to be the most enterprising with many business interests including a glass bottle company called the B and G bottling company. Carl moved his family to the Rex 5 mine that was near Lovilia until 1935 when the tracks were removed. Carl and Edna then moved their family including Robby, Carl Virgil (Click to read the "Coal Miners Son" story and watch the video.), Carol and Betty to Albia. Manny and his wife Matilda (Larson) moved their family to the Mine 18 camp. Manny was the Pit Boss at Mine 18 when it was the largest producing coal mine in the state of Iowa. Manny, after Matilda died, spent his later years living in the Bloom house in East Swede Town with his son Loren and daughter Mabel. Whenever my Dad and I would visit Manny at the Bloom house, he would give us each a Hershey chocolate bar. Manny’s son John farmed near Lovilia with his wife Mary (Stewart). John was a good source of information regarding regarding Buxton and of when ”Coal was King”. John and Mary are now deceased, you can read Johns Obituary by clicking here.
Tudy and Violet moved to Haydock, which included moving my great grandparent’s home in Buxton’s East Swede Town to the far west end of Haydock next to the JE Larson farm. The boys’ sister Rose Blomgren in her later years moved into what was known as the Doctor’s house located in the southeast corner of the Blomgren 40 acres farm. I remember Rose from when I would stay with my grandparents during the summer. My grandparents, Dave and Emma Peterson, lived a short distance south from Rose on the K road in the Bloom House that now is owned by Lisa and Mark Keeton. The Doctor’s house was at the “T” of the Monroe/Mahaska county line road and the K road. The house was in Mahaska County. Of all the Swedish families living in Buxton’s East Swede Town, the Blomgrens seemed to be the most well known.
Back to the Christmas card. Violet and Tudy Blomgren sent out a Christmas card in 1981 that had a picture of the Blomgren family members standing in front of the farm home in 1909. The home sat on the 40 acre farm next to the county line road facing south. The home had been built in 1906 after their first home had burned down earlier that year. The Doctor’s house for Doctors Traitser and Mader sat to the east of the farm house at the “T” intersection. I don’t recall the farm house still existing when I visited my grandparents at the Bloom house during the 1950’s. I suspect the house was destroyed or moved to another location around the area as where many of the Buxton homes once the mines were closed. Many members of the Blomgren family are buried just two miles on 340th Street to the east of Buxton and East Swede Town in the Bethel Cemetery.
Violet’s note that accompanied the Christmas card told the history of the family and the farm house. Reading the information on Violet and Tudy’s Christmas Card helped me relate back to what was the same time in my family’s history in Buxton’s East Swede Town. Coal Mining families were very industrious as Violet’s Christmas Card illustrates. The families did what was necessary to survive during the hard times of the “Coal Dust” era.
Johannes and Inga Blomgren Homestead
by Violet Blomgren
Johannes Blomgren, with the help of one other carpenter, built this two story house on his forty acre farm located in Buxton, Iowa. Five large rooms, a pantry and a bath on first floor; four large rooms and two closets upstairs. The house was white with green trim. The east kitchen door opened onto an open porch that led to a summer kitchen. A large family and a farm home, people usually entered through the kitchen.
In March or April of 1906 the family home burned. Tudy, the little boy on the end, was six weeks old. Inga the mother took Mary the oldest daughter and Tudy (Alf) the baby to Pomeroy, Iowa to visit her sister. After three weeks she returned. The old house had been pulled back, the frame of the new house was up.
Betty, 13 years old, managed the home during the mother’s absence. Carl says he has his Dad slept in the barn while the home was being built. The family were settled in the new house before winter. I can just feel the joy of that Christmas. A big family, new house and new furniture. Note: Betty married Albert Hagglund.
Two girls were born in the new house. Hilda lived only three months and Rose the little girl next to her father. The other three boys are from left to right, Emanuel, Art and Carl. The two older girls are Esther and Anna. Note: Anna married Elmer Larson, Mary Ester married Vic Anderson, Rose married Clarence Noe from Ottumwa.
I became a part of this family when I married Tudy, the little boy on the end. He was very fond of the Blomgren Homestead and the family who grew up in it.
This house knew laughter and tears. It sheltered tired people; happy people who loved and labored. They believe in God and were all members of the Ebenezer Lutheran Church. They also believe in themselves. Such people built America!
I can see it now, the white house, the orchard, the row of grapes, the picket fence, the hay going into the barn, the aroma of fried chicken and fresh bread.
“Tudy was a good man and a good husband because he grew up in the home.” Merry Christmas to all the descendants of Johannes and Inga Blomgren.
Violet and Tudy Blomgren
Christmas 1981 Card