Beckman's roots run deep in Oliver County
By Annette Tait
Martin and Eva (Stanley) Cahoon first set foot in Oliver County 100 years ago, traveling from Minnesota to make a new life in North Dakota.
“My dad’s brothers were here, and mother’s brothers had homesteaded here,” said Loretta (Cahoon) Beckman, the fourth of Martin and Eva’s five children, noting that family was likely the reason her parents relocated. Her uncles, Walter Cahoon, Levi Stanley, Clinton Stanley, and Theodore “Ted” Stanley were already in North Dakota when her parents arrived and started a farm about seven miles north of Hannover.
With 100 years of family history in the county, Loretta is certainly deserving of being chosen as an honoree for the 2015 Old Settlers Days celebration. Appropriately, this year’s theme is “Our Roots Run Deep.”
Beckman remembers growing up in the Pleasant Valley area, and going to school with 2014 Old Settlers Days honoree Delores Berger.
“We were playmates in the third and fourth grade,” Loretta recalled, “until the Bergers moved away.”
Her childhood pastimes included sledding and horseback riding. At school, she and her classmates played fox and goose in the winter, and baseball in the summer.
“We didn’t have a baseball,” Loretta said, “just a rubber ball and a board we used for a bat.”
For most of her schooling, Loretta and her siblings, Ethel (Benjamin), Melvin, Darhl, and Kelvin, attended a country school about a quarter mile away from their home.
“There were four schools in the Pleasant Valley District,” Loretta recalled. “We all went there until the school closed, when I was to be in the eighth grade.”
After that, she and Kelvin had to ride three miles to a different school, where she graduated eighth grade. After that, as many girls did in those days, she stayed home and mostly helped her mother, but also did some of the other chores on the farm.
“I think the boys did the outside work, and the girls did the inside,” Loretta said. “I helped with milking and harvesting when things were busy.”
Ethel was married when Loretta was 13 years old, so she was the only girl left at home. The family had cows and did grain farming, and also raised pigs, chickens, and turkeys.
“We did a lot of gardening and canning,” Loretta said, smiling. “I’ll keep gardening as long as I’m able to.”
Love wasn’t always in the air for Loretta and her late husband, Wilbert. Being a part of the same community, they had known each other for some time before they started courting.