Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Grandma Mattson's Early Life

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Dear Clan,
I've spent the last several posts working on the Williamson line so I decided to return to the Mattson side of the family for a few posts.

This is Grandma Violet Mattson when her name was Violet Mae Pierce. Luella thinks Violet is two in this picture. The picture was taken in Rapid City. Violet was born in Torrington Wyo. in 1918. Her brother's name was Walter. He's the little blond boy next to her. He was three years her senior. They were the only children born to Great Grandma Vesta Dennis Pierce and Great Grandpa Walter Pierce.
Violet and Walter always referred to each other as Brother and Sister. They never called each other by their names.

This is a picture of Violet's father, our Great Grandfather Walter Pierce. They separated when Violet was around three years old. Walter disappeared from their lives until Violet was five years old. He came to visit when she had her tonsils removed. After that he out of their lives completely. News of his death arrived in 1956. He was living in Sunnyside Washington when he died.

Violet's mother Vesta, was a single mother with two children in the early 1920's. There were very few opportunities for women at that time. The family moved from Wyoming to Rapid City where Vesta worked as a waitress. Their first home in Rapid City was a chicken coop. Sometimes they wouldn't have any food. Violet and Walter Junior would make gravy with just flour and water. That's all they had to eat. Because of those dire times, Vesta took her two children in tow and moved into several homes where she would become the housekeeper for single male homesteaders in Montana. It wasn't easy but Vesta was able to keep food on the table and a roof over her children's heads.

Violet remembers her childhood wasn't ideal by any stretch of the imagination. Violet was treated well by Vesta's employeers but her brother Walter wasn't. He was another mouth to feed. Vesta may have kept house for up to five different ranchers during this time.

In the mid 1920's Vesta kept house for Henry Deaver at his ranch 2 miles outside of Pinele Montana. They ended up getting married. Violet and Walter attended the one room school house in Pinele. Pinele was about one mile from the Mattson Ranch. Violet Pierce and Walter Mattson met each other while they attended the one room school.

Violet could out run everybody in the school, including the older boys. They made her stop running in the competitions because she could beat everyone. She loved to sing and play the piano.

The Depression hit in the 1930's accompanied by the terrible drought (the dust bowl). Vesta would hang clothes out to dry and return to find them eaten by grasshoppers. The grasshoppers were eating the fence posts they were so hungry.

The Deaver family of Henry, Vesta, Violet and Water moved from Montana to Pamoana California about the time Violet was 16.

In this picture you see Great Grandma Vesta and her two teenage children, Walter and Violet. This picture may have been taken in California.

Luella is talking non stop and I'm running out of time so I'll wrap this post up with more stories to follow at another time.


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