Arnold and Ruby Meyhoff's families firmly rooted in Oliver County
By Annette Tait
Arnold and Ruby Meyhoff share a history of being born and raised –for the most part -- in Oliver County. Ruby’s grandfather, Gilbert Bagley, was not yet 10 years old when he arrived in Oliver County with his parents, Ole and Mary Bagley. At the age of 21, he took a homestead in Pleasant Valley School District, later adding to his land and building a log home. Gilbert married a school teacher, Amelia Miklebost, and they began their family. As too often happened in the early days of the Dakotas, only five of the couple’s 11 children lived to adulthood: Gertrude, Gilbert Jr., Percy, Merle, and Grace.
Percy would grow up to take over the family farm north of Center. He married Bertha Linn, and the couple had two children: Ruby and Luella. She remembers well the day her mother’s brother, Samuel Jr., left for the war.
“He was one of the first two to be lost in the war,” Ruby said. The American Legion Post 90 in Center bears his name, Miller-Linn, for the first two Oliver County soldiers killed in the war.
Ruby also recalls growing up on the farm, riding saddle horses and helping to gather cattle.
“That’s how I learned to drive,” she said. “I had to drive five or six miles every day to a pasture where our cows were for the summer.”
Ruby and her mother, sister, an aunt, and a cousin “who was almost like a little brother” would work together to water the cattle.
“We would pump water, two on the pump handle, until the cows had had their fill and the tank was full,” she said. “When we got home, we got on the horses to gather cattle. We used to have water fights when it was hot, so we could cool off.”
Ruby went to a country school on what is now ND 48.
“It closed not long after I graduated the eighth grade,” Ruby said. “Arnold’s sister taught there, and that’s how we met. He came along with his sister and went to school there, but that was before he moved.”
Arnold’s family was also among the early settlers of Oliver County. His grandfather came to America from Germany, traveling with his two brothers and eventually settling in Oliver County where Arnold’s father, Henry Frederich Meyhoff, was born in 1890, about five miles south of Hannover.
Henry grew up to marry Annie Helbig, whose parents had also come from Germany but settled near Judson.
“I’m not sure how my parents met,” Arnold said. “My dad was a blacksmith and played the violin at dances, so they may have met that way.”
Henry and Annie had a farm in Oliver County in the same area as Henry’s parents, where they began their own family: Elsie, Edward, and Arnold.