Alice Marie Henriette Lassonde – 1891 – 1977; a Genealogy Report

Alice Marie Henriette Lassonde was born on September 13, 1891, in Two Harbors, Minnesota, to Napoleon David Laurent Lassonde and Henriette Julia Gervais. The midwife at her birth was Mrs. Charles Floathe. She was the oldest of 12 children, a year and a half older than my grandfather, Joseph Jules Alexander Lassonde. While Alice’s family originally lived in the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota, on 6th Avenue, her father bought an old logging camp outside of the railroad station of Waldo, Minnesota, before 1902. Alice would have been about 10 years old then.

The family used the logging camp buildings for shelter, workspace and animals. Waldo is about 5 miles from the town of Two Harbors. Alice’s father and later her some of her brothers, worked for the Duluth, Mesabi and Iron Range railroad that carried iron ore from Minnesota’s Iron Range to Two Harbors to be loaded onto oar ships and sent to Cleveland. They walked to work from Waldo, and went to church by horse-drawn wagon.

Alice-undatedBeing the oldest of 12 children and living on a farm, Alice must have shouldered a lot of childcare, housework, and farm responsibilities. There is a newspaper article about how Alice was injured attempting to rescue a sibling from a burning building – one of the lumber camp’s cabins that was being for the family home. Alice believed her toddler brother Philippe was in the burning cabin and was she was burned attempting to rescue him. Fortunately, it turned out that Philippe has wandered off to the barn where his mother was milking the cow, although it must have been horrific for Alice at the time to think her brother was lost in the burning building. Philippe was born in 1907. Alice was probably about 18 at the time of the fire.

In the 1910 Federal Census, Alice is shown as an employee of the railroad, and a block station operator. A block station controls the use of a section of railroad track between one station and the next station. The operator manually operates signals between one block station and the next.

Below is undated photo of Alice with her brother, my grandfather, Joseph Lassonde. The Alice-and-Joephoto was probably taken on the old Lassonde farm in Waldo. (Joe had red hair. Alice’s was brown.)

There is a gap in our records for Alice between 1910, where she’s found in the 1910 Federal Census living in Waldo, MN and 1927, when she’s listed in a city directory living in Portland, Oregon, and is a nurse.



To the left below is a photo of Alice dated March 21,1926, and the inscription says it was taken in Fargo, North Dakota.

Nursing was a growing occupation in the 1920’sAlice-in-FargoND-March-21-1926, with programs of training established at hospitals, and the foundation of nursing schools associated with hospitals. The training programs were not baccalaureate programs, but more like Normal Schools for the training of teachers; they included classroom work and long hours of work in hospitals. There were several hospital-based schools in the Portland area that combined to become the Multnomah County Training Program to train nurses. This may have been where Alice received her nurses training.


AliceMarieHenrietteLassondeAlice’s nurse’s cap looks somewhat like those in photos from the Multnomah County Training Program. The photo of Alice on the right seems to be a nursing school graduation photo.

Alice is listed in the Portland City Directory for 1927, 1929 and 1931, and is in the 1930 Federal Census as a resident of Portland. Her address in 1929 was 715 Johnson; This was a house. In 1930 and 1931, her address was 735 Hoyt Street, which was called a boarding house, and had 33 residents of mixed gender and occupation, plus the landlady.

Alice’s sister Florence also lived in Portland for about 3 years (found in the 1929 and 1931 directories) and perhaps longer, working as a stenographer for Sherman Williams.






To the right is an undated photo of Alice with “one of my patients.”

Alice married Walter George Hostrawser on May 18, 1931, when she was 40 years old. Walter was born in Hanford, Kings County, California, July 17, 1892, and was a warrant officer in the Navy in 1931. After their marriage, the couple moved several times. In 1933, they lived in San Diego, California. In 1937, they lived in San Pedro, California. In 1940, they had moved to Minnesota, and were living in Duluth. Walter had left the Navy by then.


The photo on the left of Alice is dated 11/3/1931. It appears to be taken at the same location as the undated photo of Walter to the right. If the date of November 3rd is correct, Alice may have continued nursing after her marriage. Nurses were often dismissed after marrying, but since there was a shortage of nurses, that was not always the case. Alice, as many nurses at the time were, was a private duty nurse rather than a hospital nurse.

Hawstrawser-house-California-April-1933The photo on the right is dated April 1, 1933, and is Alice and Walt’s house. In 1933, the couple lived in San Diego, California.




Alice-and-Walt-December-22-1934To the left is a photo of Alice and Walt, taken December 22, 1934. They may have moved to San Pedro by then or may still have been in San Diego.

After Walt retired from the Navy on April 13, 1938, he was enlisted in the Naval reserves. Alice and Walt moved to Duluth around 1940, and afterwards were visitors to the farm residence of Joe and Emily Lassonde in Waldo. My mother, Dorothy, who was living in Duluth at the YWCA, frequently look the streetcar to their house for to visit and for dinner on the weekends. (It was a 15-cent streetcar ride, Mom recalls.)

Alice-and-Walt-Easter-April-22-1946The photo above was taken April 22, 1946, apparently at Joe Lassonde’s farm.

For some years, Walter and Alice lived in a house in Duluth on Wadena St (in Woodland) and lived on Walt’s pension.  They sold the house in Duluth and moved up to the old (Napoleon) Lassonde farm, where there was no running water or indoor plumbing (but there was electricity.) Florence and Rose Lassonde owned the farm after their mother Julia died.

Alice-and-Walt-Lassonde-farm-undatedOn the right is an undated Winter photo of Alice and Walt at the Joseph Lassonde farm. (The electric light pole on the driveway is visible in the background.)

Walter died November 28, 1955, and was buried in Two Harbors, Minnesota at Lakeview Cemetery. He was buried in the Church, because Alice baptized him when he died. Alice was a pious, although not self-righteous, woman, so it is interesting that she married an unchurched man, and that he remained so. Since she didn’t drive, he’d drive her to church and wait for her outside.

Alice moved downtown to the apartment on 1st Avenue some time after Walt’s death. It was a tiny place. My grandfather was very concerned about Alice’s welfare, and told my mother she didn’t have anything to live on. The Navy gave her a pension of $25 a month. He worried that she didn’t have enough to eat. My grandfather and grandmother visited her very often, perhaps weekly. My mother took us to visit Alice every couple of months. Alice was very interested in all her nieces and nephews, and enrolled me in the youth brigade of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, which involved a magazine and some devotions I was supposed to do.

Alice died February 1, 1977 at the age of 85, and is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery in Two Harbors, Minnesota.

The Newest One

It is baby time in our family, by which I mean there are a bunch of them. Please meet the newest member to join our family. Welcome to Sophia Ann, born today at 12:55PM. Sophia, from Greek, means Wisdom, and Ann, from Hebrew, means Grace, Favor. She is already adored by hundreds of family and friends, and joins a cohort consisting of cousins Sammy (almost 2) and Andrea (5 months) and big brother Luke, 2 years and 10 days her senior. Sophia, we are excited to see you grow up and become the person you will be.

Sophia Ann



What is she doing in Colorado??

I have only been in Colorado 24 hours, so there’s not that much to report. It is unseasonably warm here for September: only a few trees here in Lakewood are starting to turn color: Mom’s cacti are blooming again.

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This morning we visited my sister who is recovering from back surgery, and brother-in-law who was babysitter-in-chief of granddaughter, Andi (or Andrea, your choice.) Andi has gorgeous huge hazel eyes and an adorable smile, and at 5 months of age is learning quickly how to use her gifts. And, while getting the hang of that, she’s just starting to sit up and working on crawling. She’s adorable. She’s adored. She also has a death-grip when she gets ahold of a hank of your hair.



This afternoon I had a much-needed and much-anticipated appointment with my very favorite hairdresser, Kim, of Costcutter’s. Kim is the Best!

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Tomorrow, Mom and I will do some shopping, cooking, mending, and maybe some photo scanning. If the day does not get too hot too soon, we will do some weeding, to get a couple flower beds ready for the winter.

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Mom’s birthday is on September 21st. She will be 94 years young, and has plenty of wisdom to share.


Sunday Walk in the Park – Lake Elkton

Is September the new August? With temperatures in the 90’s and humidity in the 70’s, it is a fair question.  At least that is the reading for today, Tuesday, and today is much like yesterday and yesterday was twinsies with Sunday.  Am I mis-remembering, or, back in the day, after Labor Day, was there not a distinct seasonal click on the dial, and you knew we were heading to Autumn. But here it is, September 4, there’s barely a patch of leaves turning, and it feels mostly like the miserable middle of August. And some rain would be nice.

Sunday, I visited Celia and Mike, and Celia and I walked around Lake Elkhorn. It was sunny, hot, humid and a good walk. The paths around the lake are paved, the bikers are very polite (“on your left” and “thanks”) and there are benches and shelters and public parks and a playground. And no mosquitos!


Here is a view from the public deck near the playground. We are not certain, but think those little grassy islands are supposed to float, which is kind of adorable. I used the opportunity to fiddle with a camera I had not been using.


Here we are, Celia and Carmen, just a bit damp toward the end of our hike. Celia is a musician and teacher, semi-retired, and I feel so lucky and blessed to call her my friend. She is always calm, sensible, reliable, and very brave and creative. One of my fond memories of Celia is, on a visit to the Folk Life Festival on the national Mall, Celia getting me up on stage to dance a Berber dance with some Arab dudes. If the opportunity is there, I think of Celia as always ready to seize it.


Corner office for rent

This corner office has a great view of the front parking lot and stoplight and lots of built in shelving. It is a one of a kind property with uniquely oblique walls on the north side and half a pillar in the northeast wall, but with creative furniture placement can have overall good flow. Lots of sunlight in the morning. Located at a crucial intersection between RA and RW, but with quiet neighbors. No mold or leaks, although one window pane traps dampness when it rains. Not just one but two AC units. Previous occupant wishes you well.


So. Stick a fork in me for I am done. Tomorrow is the first day of my retirement, and it will be grand. For the past few days, while writing a manual and editing a file for data delivery, I have cleared out my office. I didn’t want my last day at this place to be panicked with packing and frustration.

Over the past weeks I recycled pounds of paper. On that paper was a lot that I had created, designed, originated, and written over the past 39 years, most of it obsolete now, replaced by  technical changes and by youngsters who have to learn by doing, just as I had to, decades ago. That paper represented experience, and it is a curious feeling to throw away experience. But it is only in the physical sense that it was I who threw it away. (Post-publication editorial/explainer: the socioeconomic model of doing business now is to shed experience in favor of cheap labor.) I lived in that particular office 5 days a week for more than 15 years, and worked for that organization for 39 years. I know, it will be interesting not going back there next Tuesday morning. But I know it won’t be painful.

This morning, a gladiolus bloomed, late but appreciated. Since the neighborhood deer have not discovered and eaten it yet, I snapped a photo. And then because I was there, I captured the marigolds again – what a wonderful flower that is — and the astilbe that decided to bloom a second time, and the pot of impatiens my sister planted for me when I was recovering from knee replacements. So. We’ll see what can happen to a garden when the gardener can give it the attention it needs.




Oh, THAT transition…

I have kicked this can down the road long enough. My last day at Westat is August 31. I am cleaning out my office and tying up loose ends. My office is full of the accumulations of a dozen years. There is a file to finish editing and an manual to finish writing. There are goodbyes to be said. It has been a good ride, most of the time. I will miss the people.


Knowledge workers are paid to use their brains for someone else. After 39 years, I won’t have to use my brain for the Company every day. I am looking forward to using my brain for what I choose from now on.

And my time… my time will be mine, too. For one thing, I will be able to give the gardens some needed attention.

After several months recovering from knee surgery and from the wound on the back of my knee, acquired at the rehab hospital, the gardens are looking pretty shabby. My sister and my friends helped plant herbs and flowers in pots, and in the front yard, I found marigolds to put in the bed along the driveway. Why is it that marigolds don’t really come into their own until late August? These plants were pampered all summer and finally are filling out with blooms. Saturday I weeded their bed and mulched them to help their color pop out. In addition, the irises were cut back and a major patch of weeds was removed and the spot covered with newspaper, landscape fabric, and mulch. What a difference a little time and attention can make to a landscape.