Ivan & Sarah Christianson

Ivan Delwin Christianson was the third generation in his family to be railroaders, which included his grandfather, father, and himself. His father, Bill Christianson, was the Great Northern depot agent for forty-five years, while his mother, Minnie Christianson, was a Great Northern cashier and clerk for thirty-five years. Ivan learned to operate a telegraph when he was eight.

Ivan was the only son born to Mr. and Mrs. William "Bill" Christianson. He was born in Granville on July 26, 1905, and baptised in the Hope Congregational Church in 1906 by the Reverend J.F. Lansborough.

Ivan's paternal grandparents were Christ and Dora Henning Christianson, who were born in Christiania, Norway and Mackelburg, Germany, respectively. His maternal grandparents were Aaron and Christina Carlson Anderson, who were both Swedish.

Ivan attended grade school and high school in Granville, graduating from Granville High School with the Class of 1924. He was an expert typist.

Throughout his childhood and teenage years, he helped his father on the farm, raising poultry and livestock, and delivering milk.

Ivan Christianson began his railroading career carrying mail in 1921, while he was still a high school student. His job required him to get up at 5:00 o'clock in the morning to get the mail pouch from the depot and attach it to a hook on a pole, from which it was picked off as the train went by without stopping. For this, he was paid $10 a month.

In 1924, he began work as a trick telegrapher, working from midnight to 8:00 o'clock in the morning. The depot was busy in those days, with three telegraph  operators, an agent, cashier, and warehouseman.

In 1928, while Ivan continued to hold his regular telegraph position at the depot, he went into partnership with Vernon Gillespie in an coffee shop, a small sandwich place in the old shoemaker's building, which was later destroyed by fire. After a few months, he bought Vernon out, but then had to sell the business after other restaurant owners complained to the railroad that Ivan was taking their business. He sold the coffee shop to Brady Thomas.

He was transferred to Fargo in 1930, where he was later appointed assistant agent. He was assigned the job of representing the Great Northern Railway at the West Fargo Stockyards, which had just opened.

Prior to his appointment as assistant agent, Ivan Christianson briefly worked at several other stations, including Granville, Coulee, Church's Ferry, Leeds, Souris, York, Fargo, Hillsboro, Tolna, Tokio, Towner, Argusville, Petersburg, Sherwood, Bottineau, Grand Forks, Glasston, Gardner, Edmore and Bantry, in North Dakota, as well as Perley, Evansville, Sauk Center and Thief River Falls, in South Dakota, and Minto, Maniboba, Canada.

Ivan Christianson married Sarah Love Ehart on Sunday, September 15, 1935, at the home of her mother, Mrs. Nellie S. Ehart, with the Reverend Jordahl performing the ceremony.

They lived in Fargo from 1935 to 1948, when Ivan bid on the position of station agent-telegrapher in Granville, where they lived for a few months before Ivan took a six-months leave of absence from the Great Northern.

The Christiansons, with their two daughters, moved to Spokane, Washington, where he worked as traffic manager at the Union Stockyards. After six months, they returned to Granville, where he worked as depot agent until his retirement in 1972. Their second son, Bruce, was born in Minot.

Ivan had always been active in school, church, community and fraternal affairs. He was clerk of the Granville School Board for sixteen years, and board president. He also served as president, secretary and director of the Community Club, and was chairman of the Community Betterment program when Granville received honorable mention in a state-wide contest. He was a volunteer fireman, and a member and trustee of the Hope Congregational Church. In 1956, he was Worshipful Master of Ashlar Lodge No. 69 of the A.F. & A.M., and Grand Historian for the North Dakota Masonic Grand Lodge. He was a member of several Masonic organizations, including the Keystone Chapter No. 5, Fargo Council No. 1, Auvergne Commandery No. 2, Kem Temple of the Shrine, Minot Shrine Club, Masonic Veterans Association, and a Life member of the Order of the DeMolay. He was also a member of the American Association of Retired Persons, North Dakota Farm Bureau, Burlington Northern Veterans Association, and the Granville Chapter No. 47, Order of the Eastern Star.

As was his father, Ivan Christianson was a Cooperative Weather Observer, completing thirteen years in that position.

Sarah Love Ehart Christianson was born on her father's homestead near Goldstone, Montana in 1913. Her parents were Edwin Newton and Nellie Severtson Ehart. Her parents moved her and her brother, Clifton, back to Granville, North Dakota when she was three months old. The family lived on a farm eight miles from town until 1916, when they moved to town.

Sarah's paternal grandparents were Thomas Newton and Sarah Love King Ehart, while her maternal grandparents were Swan and Anne Bakke Severtson.

Sarah was baptised in the Lutheran Church, but attended the Congregational Church and Sunday School until a Lutheran Church was organized in Granville. She was confirmed in an adult class in 1932 by the Reverend O.A. Jordahl.

She attended grade school and high school in Granville, graduating from Granville High School as salutatorian in 1931. While in school, she was active in school activities, including musical groups, band, sports, and theater.

She attended Minot State Teachers College, completing the standard two-year course, receiving a Second Grade Professional Certificate with a major in Physical Education. She also attended summer school sessions. In college, she belonged to Delta Epsilon Phi Sorority, the Glee Club, Campus Players, and Mecca for Pep.

Immediately after her marriage to Ivan in 1935, they lived in Fargo, North Dakota until 1948, where Ivan worked as assistant agent for the Great Northern Railway. She was a substitute teacher in the Fargo schools, sang in the Fargo-Moorhead Womens Chorus, was a Campfire Girls leader, and was a Red Cross nurse's aid during World War II. She was chairman of the Fargo Child Study Club of America Association of University Women, and active in Eastern Star and Rainbow Girls organizations. She and her husband were members of the First Methodist Church, where their daughters, Joan and Mary, were baptised.

Ivan and Sarah Christianson moved to Granville for six months in 1948, where Ivan worked as Great Northern depot agent. Ivan took a leave of absence, and the family moved to Spokane, Washington for six months, where their son, Bill, was born. Returning to Granville in the fall of 1949, they lived on Buffalo Creek Ranch, a short distance from the depot. A second son, Bruce, was born in 1950.

Their children attended the Granville schools, and Sarah took an active role in school activities, such as the PTO, Music Mothers, and Granville High School Alumni Association. She taught fourth grade for four years, was a member of the Community Club and a past president of the Blanche M. Nelson Study Club.

Mrs. Christianson was also a piano teacher, giving private lessons for twenty-five years, retiring in 1975.

As a member of the Hope Congregational Church, Sarah was a deaconess, Sunday School teacher, and church organist.

She was initiated into Granville Chapter No. 47, Order of the Eastern Star in 1934, and affiliated with Mecca Chapter No. 5, O.E.S. Fargo. She and her husband were associate matron and patron when they moved from Fargo. She was Mother Advisor of the Fargo Rainbow Girls Assembly in 1945, and general chairman of their State Assembly the following year. She was awarded the Rainbow Grand Cross of Color in 1946.

In 1951, she and Ivan were Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron of the Granville Chapter No. 47, Order of the Eastern Star. She has held appointive and elected offices in North Dakota Eastern Star Grand Chapter, and was Worthy Grand Matron, the organization's highest office, in 1964-65. Her Star-Love Fellowship was held in Minot in June of 1965.

She founded a visitation program, the Pathfinders Club, and she constituted Sakakawea Chapter No. 128, O.E.S. New Town N.D. in 1964, becoming a charter member, holding a dual membership with the Granville Chapter.

Ivan and Sarah Love had five children, although their first daughter, Dian, died a few hours after being born in 1937.

© 2012-2013 NODAK.info