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Bonsness homestead stands more than a century | News, Sports, Jobs

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Bonsness mine and farm homestead present day, stands strong with original structures more than a century old.

COLUMBUS — Many original homesteads exist still today. The remnants and history of time gone by is in many ways all that is left in gaining a sense of the past. This past becomes more tangible and delightful to hash over and revisit with the generations that are left remembering to tell the stories of the beginnings of homesteading in North Dakota.

The Bonsness family legacy is remembered with LeRoy Bonsness starting Bonsness farm and coal mine around 1916. It grew to quite an operation and an interesting life, said Sharon Lautenschlager, youngest daughter to LeRoy and Anna Bonsness.

LeRoy married Anna Frye in 1925, and before 1951 the Bonsness house had seen growth to not only their home, with the addition of a large living room, dining room, entry room and bedroom but also their family of 10 children.

Children in order from oldest to youngest are Virgina (Butch) Anderson, Byron (Joan) Bonsness, O’Neil (Jeanette) Bonsness, Mona (Dean) Kvernum, Karmen (Dean) Kihle, Jerry (Roberta) Bonsness, Delwin (Lilian) Bonsness, Sharon (Roger) Lautenschlager, Larry Bonsness and Douglas Bonsness.

Lautenschlager said she looks back through the years with the lenses of her mother, Anna Bonsness, who came from a very large family and as a young woman had gained valuable experience working in a hotel, which is where she learned what to do and not to do as homemaker. Her mother was well prepared for the busy and often hectic life of a farming and mining family of 12. Additionally, Lautenschlager said there were three hired hands, Ted, Walt and Ole, who were also a part of family.

Anna and LeRoy Bonsness are shown at the more than 200-year-old table.

Lautenschlager said the Bonsness mines story has been published in the Burke County and White Earth Valley Historical Society 1971-72 book and quite specifically named a 200-year-old table brought from Norway, folded up with other household items packed inside, that still remains in the Bonsness homestead today.

“I wish I had money in place of all the food that was served on that table,” Lautenschlager said, noting that her mother prepared and cooked for everyone at all times of the day and was a “gourmet cook before that was even the name for it.” Trucks would be backed up for coal in lines and it was always a busy place besides cooking for the threshers, Lautenschlager added.

All the brothers worked at the mine at one time or another and it was a very good life.

She remembers Christmas fondly through the years, when everyone gathered at the Bonsness farm on Christmas day, and the layout of the house was the open circle, so the kids ran and ran. “I would give anything for some pictures of all 24 trees in the yard decorated with stars on top, like they used to be,” she said.

LeRoy worked up into his 70s, and the mine shut down in 1972, due to a changing economy and government regulations. Lautenschlager said the kitchen and that table were still the main gathering place and Anna Bonsness was top notch at all of her homemaking skills.

Submitted Photo
This Bonsness family photo was taken for Anna and LeRoy Bonsness’s 40th wedding anniversary. Back row, left to right: Jerry Bonsness, Douglas Bonsness, Mona Kvernum, O’Neal Bonsness, Byron Bonsness, Delwin Bonsness, Sharon Lautenschlager and Larry Bonsness. Front row, left to right: Virginia Anderson, LeRoy and Anna Bonsness, and Karmen Kihle.

She can remember the floors in the dining room being as clean as a mirror, and an incident of a friend’s visit with a puppy. Lautenschlager said her mother was so angered by the audacity of the friend that actually cleaned up her dog but not her mother’s beautiful floors.

Lautenschlager said she gives a lot of credit to her mother, Anna. “She never backed down and worked harder than the men did,” she said.

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            Bonsness mine and farm homestead present day, stands strong with original structures more than a century old. 
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            Anna and LeRoy Bonsness are shown at the more than 200-year-old table. 
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This Bonsness family photo was taken for Anna and LeRoy Bonsness’s 40th wedding anniversary. Back row, left to right: Jerry Bonsness, Douglas Bonsness, Mona Kvernum, O’Neal Bonsness, Byron Bonsness, Delwin Bonsness, Sharon Lautenschlager and Larry Bonsness. Front row, left to right: Virginia Anderson, LeRoy and Anna Bonsness, and Karmen Kihle.

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2022-11-19 00:47:24

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