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.
Being 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 photo 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’s, 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.
Alice’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.
The 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.
To 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.)
The 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.
On 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.