By Alexander Munson

Edited and Reorganized by Kitty Munson Cooper

Birth and Childhood of Henry Lee
His Time at Sea
His Early Years in America
Trips Back to Norway
First Automobile
Country Home in Cragsmoor
House in Hempstead Gardens
Mormor - Maren Wold
Stubby (Dada remarries)
LeeFamily1894smll (25K)
Lee Family in 1894, top: Maren Wold Lee, Henry H Lee, Henry Martin Lee,
Anne Josephine Lee, Maria Magdalena "Helen" Lee,
bottom: Herman Hjalmar Lee, George Lee


Birth and Childhood of Henry Lee

Norwegian Hut by Anna Lee

   The year was 1853 ( KMC: according to his marriage certificate it was May 30,1852). The place was Etne, Norway. The occasion was the birth of the Halvorson’s ninth child, a boy with blue eyes and light – almost white – hair. His voice was loud and demanding and his feet were as busy as the pistons of a locomotive.

   He became an orphan at age 9, and was bound out to a sheep owner who was obligated to reward his labors with the equivalent of $2 and a pair of shoes every year. His older brothers were farmers, carpenters, or joiners, and their cast-off clothing sufficed for the young boy above his shoe tops.

   After a year of tending flocks, he left the sheep and went to live with an older brother who had shown an interest in his life. His brother had a small but prosperous farm up in the hills near Etne. He was given the task of washing dishes, cleaning the house, and caring for the baby. They were kind to him and he was well fed but he was an energetic boy with a yearning for the sea and far off places – especially America. He found the house very confining. He didn’t mind making the lunch, because he loved to eat. One of his duties was to call his brother and sister-in-law in from the field at noon, for lunch.

   He liked swinging the heavy brass bell that announced lunch to the far corners of the farm. He liked it even more when they came in, washed up, and sat down to the thick soup or stew that he had prepared.

   One day about a month after he had arrived at his brother’s farm, the baby began to cry and no matter what he tried to do the baby wouldn’t stop. He changed the baby, burped the child and carried her in his arms. The baby would stop for a few minutes and then continue to cry. He became worried, and in desperation he moved the hands of the kitchen clock ahead a half hour so he could ring the lunch bell.

His Time at Sea

   Shortly after that, he asked his brother to vouch for him in securing a post in the service of one of the many sailing ships at the port of Stavanger. He became a cook on a North Sea fisherman.

   At fourteen he was confirmed and shipped as the member of the crew of a sloop in the Baltic. He qualified as an able seaman by his experience as a cook on the herring boat.

   Then he transferred, still before the mast, to a brig on the Black Sea. Bringing down the colors from aloft in his arms after the halyards had fouled, he tripped high in the shrouds and fell down to the deck.

   Both of his legs were broken badly. He was taken ashore and was put in a hospital at Ebral, Russia. Fortunately his captain spoke and understood a little Russian.

   "The legs must be amputated," the doctors said after a brief examination. The doctors mentioned gangrene poisoning. When the captain told young Hans what the doctors had said, he cried out, "NO. NO. I’ll die first!"

   He was in a strange bed, in an alien port where they spoke a foreign tongue. He was in great pain. He did not know a soul other than his captain who must soon leave and go back to his ship.

   The doctors set his splintered legs as best they could, and ordered that both his legs be placed in ice, to lessen the possibility of gangrene setting in. His legs were in rigid splints and covered with ice. He lay that way for many weeks. His only reading matter was the Bible that the captain had left with him.

   A very kind woman noticed him one day as she left after visiting a friend. She came again the following day and brought him some cookies that she had made. After that she came every day, bringing some fruit or cookies, until her friend left the hospital. They tried to teach each other the language each spoke, and did make some progress.

   Then one great day another brig with another captain but from the same company, picked him up and brought him back to Stavanger. He was not able to work before the mast, but a place was found for him in the company’s storehouse, and he was still paid the full wages of a man, two marks a day, though but a crippled boy. When his legs were fully knit, he shipped before the mast again and crossed the Atlantic many times.

   One time, with a cargo of oil for Rotterdam on the barque John Hays the ship went over on her beam ends, during a storm. There had been too much deckload, and they were top-heavy.

   "Break out the axes," the captain ordered. It was difficult moving about with the deck at such an unusual angle, but they managed to find the axes with which they broke open 500 barrels of oil. That evened up the load and the oil smoothed the rough sea and the bark righted. But it had taken 24 hours, and she was full of water. None aboard was dry for a moment until they reached Rotterdam.

His Early Years in America

   In 1869, when he was seventeen years old, he jumped ship in Chatham, New Brunswick, Canada, and changed his name to Henry H. Lee. He had 75 ? in his pocket. He found employment in a plant where balsam was manufactured, and then in a steamy tanning plant. The balsam was for medicinal purposes, and the tanning of raw hides was for making leather.

   After three years in Canada, he journeyed to New York, at the age of twenty. With his record as a seaman, he had no difficulty getting a job as a member of the crew of a pilot boat. This was before the Pilots Association was organized, when individual pilots raced out to meet incoming vessels at the risk of losing their lives and boats – using tricks of seamanship which the world no longer knows, except in yacht racing. Then he got on the lighthouse tender, Fern. He boarded at a house at Rector and Greenwich Streets. His wages were better than he had ever known, and his lodgings were comfortable.

To this house in the care of the captain of a vessel from Jacksonville, Florida came a lovely Norwegian girl of his own age, Maren Wold. She, like himself, had been in the United States about five years. She had been working in Florida, but had found the climate there too enervating for her Northern blood. She had determined to find employment in New York. When she asked the captain of the ship on which she was a passenger to direct her to respectable lodgings in New York. He put her in the care of his married quartermaster who lived at the Rector and Greenwich street house. There she met Henry Lee, and he met her. It was a whirlwind courtship. He was a strong, attractive young Norwegian man with deep blue eyes and unruly light blond hair who was determined to succeed. He was somewhat short in stature, possible due to his harrowing experience of his broken legs. But the chemistry was very right. Within a short time they were married.

   The young member of the crew of the Fern had developed a big business idea out of the Fern’s official business – the taking of fresh water and other supplies to the off-shore lighthouses and lightships. Henry Lee, having taken himself a wife, bought himself a ramshackle sloop and became a water tender to the ships anchored in the large harbor. He was obliged to take on one Rasmus Helwig, as partner, to raise enough money.

   "The partnership did not last long," he said later, with a twinkle in his blue eyes under his white eyebrows, and joggle to his stocky little frame.

   "It was not possible to make Rasmus understand that a water tender carries water for drinking purposes, and that those who run a water tender should sell no other liquids.

   After that he bought a steam water tender. His deliveries were prompt and his water was good. He had another partner who was also dispenses with.

   "It has always been my conviction that partners should not only share the profits, but share in the work," he would say. "I found that my new partner thought only of sharing the profits," he said. "After that my only partner was my wife."

   Some years later, his wife, Maren persuaded him to start a business ashore where there were fewer hazards. He had had a close call a time or two in bad weather, with his boat.

   He bought a grocery store in downtown Brooklyn and did very well in the Scandinavian neighborhood. He was well liked and made many friends. His daughter Anna was his cashier. She was sharp and accurate, and her good looks brought many male customers.

   Then came a depression. Many of his friends and customers were out of work. He didn’t have the heart to force payment of their grocery accounts.

   "They still have to eat," he said.

   He decided that he would never get rich in the grocery business.

   The Brooklyn Bridge was nearing completion about then. Lee was fascinated by the small rugged barges which had a steam winch for hoisting steel and other essentials up to the roadbed of the bridge. A boom and tackle was rigged on the bridge with steel cables coming down to the hoister barge.

   "What would happen to the steam winch-on-a-barge when the bridge was completed?" he asked himself.

   He kept in close touch with the bridge progress and became acquainted with some of the foremen on the bridge work who helped provide him with inside information. He wanted those hoister barges.

   As quickly as they became surplus, he bought the barges complete with steam engines and large winch drums. He made any needed repairs and painted them a bright red. He was ready for business. He could hoist cargo in and out of the ships at anchor, or from ship to wharf. He visited the offices of shipping companies many of which were near the battery at the foot of Manhattan. He set up an office on the eleventh floor of 44 Whitehall Street, from whose windows he could watch much of the harbor activity.

   It was a new idea. He was a very good salesman.

   He soon had more business than his two hoisters could handle, so he had two more built, and then two more. He soon had a fleet of hoisters. He had had to purchase a tugboat to tow his barges from one location to another. Then he had to buy several barges. These permitted the discharge of cargo from the ship to barge, or from barge to ship. He needed derrick lighters, so he either bought them or had them built. When the tugboats were not busy, he used them to take incoming ships to dock, or to tow them from their dock, through the big harbor, and headed for sea. It usually required two tugs for the initial maneuvering.

   When first married they lived on Conover Street in Brooklyn in rooms that cost them $7 per month. Then they lived at 446 8th Street in Brooklyn.

View 446 8th Street, Brooklyn, NY in a larger map

Henry Lee and Maren Wold had seven children four of whom grew to adulthood, married and had children.

   ( MMP: In 1914 ) Henry Lee built a large home in Hempstead Gardens, Long Island. He was a gentlemen farmer, with a flock of chickens, cows, horses, hogs, and pigeons.

   His first grand child was Alexander, who renamed him DADDA, and his wife MORMOR. That was me. I loved them both very very much. His two sons, and my uncles, Henry M. Lee and Herman Lee eventually bought out Dadda and became Lee & Simmons and Lee Transit Co., respectively. Great people all of them.

   His older daughter, Anna (my mother) married Lawrence J. Munson. They had five children: Alexander, Marian, Henry, Louise, and Lawrence Shipley.

   Alexander married Bertha Louise Geer. They had six children: Alexander Lee, Claire Louise, Andrea Lee, Jeannie Anne, Lawrence Henry, Karen Geer.

Trips Back to Norway

   In 1910 Dadda made a trip back to Norway. { KMC: A record of this can now be found online at the Ellis Island database ] He brought his wife, Mormor, his daughter Anna (my mother) and her two children, Alexander and Marian, and Aunt Helen, mother’s sister. I was all of 3 years old, so don’t remember too much about that trip, except that I remember playing with a snake, and making a boat from an orange crate – which sank immediately and my new boots got full of water. We climbed a steep hill and when we arrived on top holding Dadda’s hand, I am reported as saying "It’s kinda hard but we have to do it."

   But Dadda must have had a wonderful time, as a rich American returning to his homeland. He saw his brothers and other kin and thoroughly enjoyed himself.

   Dadda made another trip back to Norway, with two friends – successful business men all. I'm sure he had a marvelous time. On his return, he was interviewed by reporters from Nordiske Tideden and the Evening World. Dadda is reported to have bragged a little about his success in this country.

   The newspaper stores appeared a few days later. The World even had a picture of Dadda surrounded by his sheep. ( MMP: April 10, 1925)(SPD: She had a copy of the article framed and hung.)(KMC: it will be posted on this web site soon)

   A tax man visited Dadda shortly after that, wanting to know more about Dadda's wealth. That was in April 1910 (MMP:?)

   My oldest son, "Lee" has made several trips back to Norway, during business trips to Europe. He has spent a great deal of time and energy tracing some of our ancestry. He has established that Dadda was descended from one of the several Kings of Norway that reigned in the 800's A.D. He was always a king to me. ( KMC: he and thus we, are descended from all the early Kings of Norway and thus much of Europe's royalty, this includes Charlemagne. His ancestors are purported to include Queen Boedicia and members of Ceasar's family. A genealogy article I read estimated that two thirds of the current population of France and about half of that of Germany are descended from Charlemagne who had 22 children .)

   Dadda made more trips to Norway. The last time he went, he brought back some blankets that he had had made from wool from his own sheep in Hempstead Gardens. He kept a few sheep across the road from his house. We children sometimes rode on the back of the big, sturdy ram. Sometimes, when we played over there, he would suddenly bump us from behind. Dadda had collected the wool from the shearing of the sheep. When he had enough, he sent it to Norway to be made into blankets.

   When he brought the finished blankets back with him, a Customs official insisted that he pay duty on them. Dadda threw a Norwegian fit, and said, "They were made from my own sheep. I sent the wool to Norway to be made into blankets."

   "Well, there's a new story, but you will still have to pay duty," the Customs official said kindly.

   "My picture was taken with my sheep, and was in the paper about a month ago. I refuse to pay duty on my own wool."

   Another Customs officer heard the discussion, and looked at Dadda, grinning. "Hey Carl, I remember reading that story in the 'World.' He must be Henry Lee. He owns a lot of barges and tugboats." So he did not have to pay duty.

First Automobile

   Back in Brooklyn again, he bought a Hudson touring car. I suppose they taught him how to drive it, but the first time he went out in it, Uncle Herman drove. Marian and I were proud passengers. We went to the L.I. Railroad station at Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street – the heart of downtown Brooklyn.

   Uncle Herman got off to take the subway to the Battery – at the southern tip of Manhattan, where the Lee offices were on the eleventh floor of 44 Whitehall Street.

   Dadda proudly took over the driver's seat. As we drove along Fulton Street, he was greeted several times by men we passed. "Hi Lee." Dadda waved back happily. I don’t know if that distracted him or not, but a huge trolley car suddenly got in our way. It had a large steel-netted cow-catcher the front edge of which was inches above the cobble stone pavement. Dadda managed to run the Hudson right up on the cow-catcher where he and the motorman stared hostility at each other.

   Dadda and Mormor were deeply religious people. Dadda persuaded 27 th Street Church to move to a new building (to be built) at 4 th Avenue and 46 th Street. He handed them a sizable contribution to persuade them. After they had moved into the house he had built in Hempstead Gardens, L.I., they continued to go to the 46 th Street Norwegian Lutheran Church, even though it meant a 20 mile trip each way.

   The next car he bought was a Hudson Sedan, which tended to be a little top-heavy – but was much warmer for cold weather driving.

Country Home in Cragsmoor

FiveOaks.jpg     A few years earlier ( MMP: 1911 ) , my folks [ L.J.Munson and Anna Lee Munson ] found a lovely vacation retreat at Cragsmoor, Ulster County, N.Y. It was high up in the Shawngonk ( MMP: Shuangunk ) mountains, a foothill of the Catskills. Several of their friends went there every summer. The first time they stayed at Broadhead Grove in a rented cottage.

   The cottage wasn't much, but Cragsmoor was beautiful. The family went there every summer for over sixty years. My son A. Lee Munson still owns some hundred acres on highway 52.

   In the early days it was an all day trip. Subway to ferry to Weehawken or Hoboken, then a long ride on the Ontario & Western (we called it the Old Woman) to Spring Glen (or Ellenville) where the always faithful Miss Georgie Wright met us with Nigger (her horse) and her carriage. I remember crawling under the back seat and sleeping all the way up the mountain to Cragsmoor.

   During our first summer up there, Dadda made the long trip to visit and to see the place about which we all raved excitedly.

   He must have been very impressed. On his return trip to New York, he became acquainted with a man who said that he had a choice piece of property in Cragsmoor. Dadda became all ears.

   "How much property do you have?" he asked.

   "Over a hundred acres just below Bear Hill," he replied, going on to extol the beauty of the place.

   We had taken Dadda up to Bear Hill during his brief visit. So he remembered the magnificent view of both the Ellenville and the Walker Valley view from the top of Bear Hill. The trail to the top was steep and narrow. It led through the Lemon Squeezer and a corner of Devil’s Kitchen. Pulpet Rock thrust up just west of Bear Hill. In places huge rock slabs hung precariously over the trail.

   "The property includes the face and front of Bear Hill." The man went on . "There is a 3 story resort hotel and two lovely cottages 3 or 400 yards away from the hotel."

   Then he explained that he was liquidating an estate.

   "We have a caretaker – a young Polish fellow – living in the hotel"

   By the time the train reached Weehauken, Dadda had made a deal to buy the full hundred odd acres – subject to a survey.

   Dadda gave the upper cottage to his daughter Helen (Aunt Helen), and the lower house to his daughter Anna (my mother).

[ MMP: slight correction: 1911 rented a cottage in Broadhead’s Grove. 1912 rented "Five Oaks." 1913 Dada bought Five Oaks and Upper Cottage. Later bought Savoy House and changed the name to Lee Vold Lodge )

   Aunt Helen and Uncle Oscar preferred going to the seashore for their vacations, so after one summer, Mormor (Dadda’s wife and my grandmother) took over the upper cottage. Her kitchen always smelled like a delightful bakery. She baked bread, pies, cakes, and special potato pancakes that she cooked on top of the coal burning cast iron stove.

   Dadda would drive up in his big Hudson every week-end. He gave the 3 story hotel with its surrounding acres ( MMP: 15 ) to Anna Larsen and her sister Miss Lee, the daughters of the brother who helped him get his first berth on a sailing vessel.

   They promptly named the place "The Lee-Vold Lodge" and did a thriving summer resort business for many years, catering to a Scandinavian clientele. They were hard workers, and good cooks. They were also good hosts, promoting picnics and games and musical evenings, etc.

   After the Lee-Vold was open for business, Dadda would have a carful of people every time he drove up to Cragsmoor.

   One Saturday morning Dadda had a carful of husky men. He passed my Dad (in his ’17 Ford Model ‘T’) who had two women (Lutheran Sisters) as his passengers. Dadda and his passengers waved somewhat derisive greetings, and sped on toward Cragsmoor Dadda had the new Hudson Sedan.

   Coming around a sharp curve, Dad saw a crowd of men around Dadda’s Hudson which lay on its side on the right hand side of the road. In those days most roads were black macadam with a high crown in the center for good drainage. Dadda had been speeding along to pass a car, which caused him to be driving on the left side as he attempted to pass the other car.. There was seldom much traffic on this road. Dadda had driven it dozens of times. But this time a car suddenly approached him on the other side. So to avoid a collision, Dadda jammed on his breaks and swung over behind the car he was attempted to pass. During this maneuver, his top-heavy car heeled over on its side. And there they were.

   But Dadda was never at a loss. He had the men climb out, and he did too.

   "You four husky men get along the outside and lift the car back up while I drive slowly back onto the road. You let go as soon as the car is standing up on the road. Peterson, you take charge out here while I get into the drivers seat.

   They lifted the car alright, but as soon as they felt it moving ahead, they all let go, except Peterson, who had the full weight on his shoulder for the final few minutes before the Hudson was fully upright. He had a very sore shoulder for days. Dad had gone ahead as soon as he saw that they had things under control. Before he left he waved at the group around the Hudson, perhaps with a suppressed chuckle. The Model T purred on its way.

   But the Hudson arrived in Cragsmoor before the Ford. The men on his fleet began calling him "Shifty," when the word got around. One side of the Hudson was scratched up a mite and the right mudguards were flattened out some but the car ran well and nobody was hurt – unless it was Peterson’s shoulder.

   We kids took to meeting Dadda on the road. They were dirt roads then. Sometimes we would hike 3 or 4 miles down into the Walker Valley until he drove in sight. He would stop, greet us with a big smile, and we would jump on the running boards for a thrill ride the rest of the way up the mountain. He always had several bags of fruit and several passengers.

   One time Uncle Herman was with us. He was always fun to be with.

   "Hurry up and get behind a tree," he shouted, grinning, "Here comes Dadda."

   One Saturday morning while Aunt Helen was at the upper cottage, Dadda drove Uncle Oscar up to Cragsmoor. The Hudson had a stick shift that worked in an open "H" on the floor to guide the shift lever into the correct position. About halfway up while Dadda was feeling in his pockets to find out what change he had, a dime fell into the opening for the shift lever, at the floor. Dadda looked down and felt around for the coin, while Uncle Oscar yelled to him that the coin had gone down through the slot and was far behind them on the road surface.

   When Dadda looked up again, the car was headed into a field where a troop of cavalry was maneuvering. The troopers parted to allow Dadda’s Hudson to go through. Dadda calmly turned the car back to the macadam roadbed with bounces and squeaks.

   Uncle Oscar insisted on taking the train back to New York. He never did ride with Dadda again.

   Another time he drove up one Fall with Mother, Mormor, and "Wiggles" (Gertrude Louise) my youngest sister (she must have been about 4 years old). They took along a lunch, which included a thermos of coffee and a bottle of milk. There was almost no other traffic on the road. It was near Suffern, N.Y. Dadda was taking the inside on a curve to take advantage of the way the road was banked, when there was suddenly a car coming at him. He swerved to the right side of the road. But there the bank was against him. The car turned over three times as it tumbled down the steep hill to the right of the roadway. It fell and slid against a large tree, which halted its progress.

   Miraculously nobody was hurt, except that Dadda twisted his foot somehow. Little Wiggles’ head was wedged between a car wheel and a huge rock.

   "Did Dadda want to die me?" she asked when things quieted down.

   Neither the thermos nor the milk bottle were broken so they climbed up the brush-choked hill and had their picnic right alongside of the road, while Dadda hailed down one of the few passing automobiles. He found a new broom that they had taken with them and made a makeshift crutch from it. He hitched a ride into the next town where he arranged for a taxicab. Then he had the cab drive him to the nearest garage where he explained the accident and arranged for them to pull the car back on the road, haul it to their shop, and fix whatever had to be fixed.

   The cab took them all the rest of the way to Cragsmoor. They went back to New York Monday morning by train. Miss Wright with Nigger and the carriage took them to Ellenville to meet the train south.

   It was a big event when the Norwegian Male Chorus came up. There were about thirty men. Mother made the arrangements for them to stay, some here, some there. All the rooms in every boarding house or summer resort was taken – all the transportation to and from was handled by Dad and myself, except for those with their own cars. Dad had a Studebaker and I had inherited the Model "T." Having just gotten my driver's license, I was most happy to drive them around. Mormor, cousin Betsy and Mother cooked and baked bread and pies for days before they arrived.


   There is an "L" shaped porch around each cottage. Somehow we arranged tables and benches around the two sides of the porch at the upper cottage – enough to seat Dadda and all the other men of the chorus. They were hearty eaters, which the fresh mountain aid did nothing to diminish. The women were very busy. The many loaves of homemade bread, and the many pies began to disappear.

   After their mid-day dinner, they stood together on the upper road (from the cottage to the Lee Vold) and sang song after song. They sounded great near the top of the mountain, as Godfried Neilson led them and directed them. Even the locusts and kadydids were quiet..

   A little later that afternoon I was introduced to baseball Norwegian style. Instead of touching a base to get a man out you had to actually hit the runner with the ball – similar to a tennis ball. It was great fun. The air was full of excited yells. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

   The high point of the week-end, to me, was the next morning. As the official guide for the Lee Vold, I led the men up through the Lemon Squeezer and Devil’s Kitchen, to the top of the cliff face of Bear Hill. The cliff rose a hundred feet straight up.

   They grouped together about ten feet back from the cliff’s edge. The view from this point was breath-taking. Both valleys lay below them. On the Ellenville side a steam train – a long freight – could be seen wending its way around the base of the mountains. A puff of white steam shot up from the struggling engine. Minutes later the sound of the train whistle could be heard.

   They sang several Norwegian folk songs. "Nor Fjordina Blau" was my favorite. The strong male voices thundered out in beautiful harmony across the mountainside. We could see the family and the Lee Vold people lining the road below, to see and hear. Dadda was in front center of the group, his voice blending with the others. Many of them must have been thinking of Norway, with its many steep hills and cliffs, and of years gone by. It was an event that I’ll not soon forget. Dadda’s eyes were wet, I noticed.

   After the singing, I guided them to the ice caves on Sam’s Point, a few miles back along the mountain top. There was always ice here, even in mid-August.

   Almost every week-end (unless it rained or a picnic was planned) there would be some very competitive games of croquet. Dadda and I would team up, and Dad and Captain Larsen (Anna Larsen who ran the Lee Vold was his wife) would team up. Sometimes the lights from parked automobiles had to be used to finish up a tightly contested game.

   A long string often had to be used to assure the accuracy of ball placement after it had rolled out-of-bounds. The rule we used was that every out of bounds ball had to be brought in toward the center wicket and then placed one mallet head in from the marked edge of the playing field.

   Somehow, I mostly played very well with Dadda as my partner. He would ask me to make almost impossible shots, like hitting a ball at one end of the court, from the opposite end. Dadda would stand behind the ball in line with my ball. Whether he had a magnetic attraction for the ball or not, I would very often hit the designated ball, and then I had two shots to use for mischief or for advancing our team through another wicket or two. We kept the court surface hard and smooth. It was a shale surface and the shale had broken down into very small pieces from much usage. In our highly contested games, it was important to remember who was dead on whom. You got two shots if you hit another ball – but none if you were dead on that ball. You were dead on a ball if you had already hit it before going through another wicket. We had some wild games. We all enjoyed them. (We even had some spectators sometimes from the Lee Vold.) And if you were unfortunate enough to become dead on everybody you were in sad shape because the opposing team would go out of their way to keep you from making another wicket, which would put you alive again. There was a great deal of strategy involved in these games. Excitement often ran high. It was great fun.

House in Hempstead Gardens

HempsteadGardens.jpg Dadda had a croquet court made at his sumptuous new home in Hempstead Gardens, Long Island. He had the house built. I saw it once or twice while it was being built. It seemed to be in a grove of trees, just back from the road.

   I spent many a pleasant day there during the following years. One time I’ll never forget, was riding my new Bike from Bay Ridge Brooklyn, to Hempstead gardens. Believe me I was tired. I even hiked it once for a Boy Scout Merit Badge for a 20 mile hike. I won the bike at a Church raffle, run by Aunt Helen. It was the only thing I ever won. ( MMP: It was the Norwegian Hospital Bazaar. Aunt Helen only donated the bike .)

   Burton Youngman tells an amusing story about Aunt Helen (his mother – and a dear person full of pep) in Hempstead Gardens.

   "My mother inherited Dadda’s worst traits (in driving). On a Christmas Day when all of us were at Hempstead Gardens, there was a new Model "T" Ford (later mine) in the driveway. My mother had never driven anything larger than a bicycle, but she had to give it a whirl. Mr. Lundeby cranked it for her and away she went. She drove all the way to Hempstead.

   "In Hempstead, there stood a policeman with his sign turned to STOP. She breezed right past him. ‘I don’t know how to stop,’ she exclaimed as she passed the nonplussed guardian.

   "Around the block she went and passed the officer again, this time with a pleasant smile. And around again, hoping the Ford would stop of its own accord. Then back to Hempstead Gardens and up the driveway. Everyone was waiting, lining the sides of the driveway. On she drove into the garage and smack against the wall with a tremendous BANG. The end of the garage went unrepaired for years, as a sort of reminder of that Christmas Day."

   Mr. Lundeby (my Uncle Arnt) ran the gentleman’s farm and worked around the place, keeping it ship-shape. He had started with Dadda on one of the hoisters, but disliked it so much that Dadda brought him to Hempstead Gardens to run the farm and take care of things. He used to tell me that Dadda hardly ever went for a trip in one of his Hudsons that he didn’t come back minus a bumper, mirror, or mud guard ( MMP: Uncle Arnt was married to Mormor’s sister, Bertha ).

   The only time I remember being a bit apprehensive riding with Dadda, was on a trip up to Cragsmoor. We got off the ferry and started up the steep Fort Lee hill. Dadda started off in high gear. When it came time to shift down to second gear Dadda had a little trouble.. The gears kept grinding refusing him entry to second. Soon the car stopped and began rolling backwards. There were cars coming up the hill behind us. Dadda jammed on his brakes and finally managed to shift – into low this time. Once he got into low, he stepped on the accelerator, released the brakes, and we started up the hill again, with a jerk. Those Hudsons were hard to shift down, it took double clutching and timing.

   Dadda was born in 1853 and died in 1931 at Hempstead Gardens.

Mormor - Maren Wold

   Mormor was born in 1852 at Drammen, Norway. She died in 1924 at Hempstead Gardens. She had a full, happy life.

   We haven’t much information on Mormor’s early days, or how she got to America. We knew her as a strong, soft, and loyal woman who loved her family, her garden, and her church.

   There were three beautiful sisters Maren Wold, Sophie, and Bertha. They became Maren Wold Lee, Sophie Wold Larsen, and Bertha Wold Lundeby. They all came to America and lived in the New York area.

   They spent their summers at Ronnehode, where as children they learned something about the forests and fjords of Norway.

   I remember Mormor best for the many Christmasses we as a family spent with her at Hempstead Gardens. My family (on the Lee side) and my uncles and aunt and their families always went:

   "Over the river and through the woods to Gandma’s house."

Lee Reunion
Christmas 1920?
Top row l - r: Aunt Helen (Lee) Youngman, 1st Cousin Alexander Munson, Uncle Lawrence Munson, Uncle Herman Lee, Father Harry Lee, Mother Pansy (Smith) Lee, and Uncle Oscar Youngman
Middle row l - r: Cousin Marion Munson Pasquet, Cousin Henry Munson
Front row l - r: Cousin Burton Youngman, Grandmother Maren Lee (seated) with my mother in her lap, Cousin Louise Munson, Grandfather Henry Lee with my Aunty Betty Lee in her lap along with Cousin Virginia Lee, Aunt Anne Lee Munson with possibly Cousin Lawrence in her lap, and Aunt Theo Lee on the far right.
Thanks to John Lee Quinn for identifying everyone (via his mother's writing on the back)

   Those Christmas dinners were memorable with lot’s of turkey and special stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, with a large variety of vegetables – then desserts. Always mince, and pumpkin pies, and some special cakes.

There was such warmth and love in that group. It was a joy to be there.

   I do remember one time when Mormor came up to Cragsmoor one summer, without letting us know that she was coming. She got off the train at Spring Glen, the station before Ellenville. She planned to walk up from there. There are several switchbacks in the road – Horseshoe and Hairpin turns. There were shortcuts that cut across the middle of each. But thinking she was on a short-cut, she followed a berry-pickers path up the mountain. It was quite dark by the time she reached the top, torn and exhausted. Undaunted, she started walking along the first road she came upon.

   She stopped at the first cottage she came to and asked directions to the Lee or the Munson place.

   Seeing how scratched and weary she was they harnessed their horse to a rig, and drove her to the other side of the mountain which was our part of Cragsmoor. She explained to them how she had gotten lost, and expressed her gratitude, for the ride. She was made of rugged individualism. That mountain laurel is rough to walk through, especially up a steep mountain side.

   She was very religious. I remember one time that I was visiting in Hempstead gardens for a long week-end. I kept a dozen or so homing pigeons in the top of the chicken house. That week-end I built larger and better facilities for them, so they had a little more room. I worked hard to finish before leaving on Sunday, but got up early Sunday morning to finish. Mormor came out to get some eggs for breakfast.

picture of Mormor

   "No good will come of working on Sunday," she told me.

   "But I have to finish before we drive in to church. I won’t be back for 3 weeks," I said. "I just have one more board to put on the side."

   When I returned 3 weeks later, the pigeons were gone. I was heartbroken. And I have often wondered whether or not she let them loose, as a lesson to me not to work on Sunday. She wouldn’t even tolerate whistling on Sunday. She and Dadda had ‘devotions’ every morning, after Dadda had his very soft boiled eggs and oatmeal and coffee. I remember how Mormor would pour some of the very hot coffee into her saucer, blow on the coffee to cool it, then pop a sugar lump into her mouth and sip the still hot coffee.

   Once on April Fool's day, I played a mean trick. I put salt into the sugar bowl. Dadda complained to Mormor that she had too much salt in the oatmeal, and he added the white crystals from the sugar bowl to his coffee several times before giving up in disgust and going off to catch the morning train for New York.

   Another time I got the end of my finger caught somehow while working on the Model "T." The nail on my middle finger hung by a thread. The pain was severe. I ran to Mormor in the Kitchen. There was some breakfast oatmeal left, and she quickly made a warm poultice and wrapped it with bandages. It apparently was an old Norwegian recipe for crushed fingers. Anyway it worked, and it eased the pain considerably.

   She loved gardening. I often saw her on her knees in her various gardens, weeding, or putting in bulbs, or picking flowers for a bouquet.

Stubby (Dada remarries)

   After Mormor passed on, Dadda looked for a housekeeper. He finally engaged a Mrs. Stubberud – we called her ‘Stubby.’ [KMC note: She was actually Mormor's niece, the daughter of her sister Olava and a widow, Stubberud was the name of her farm. ]

   Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were not the same, but the family still gathered to be with Dadda. She would serve meatballs with jello desserts. It was never the same. She was a strong Norwegian woman, who did a good job of cleaning and straightening up.

[ed. note - most of the following is probably incorrect and surely colored by family resentment. According to relatives in Norway she did not return to them a wealthy woman. I will try to get a copy of the will.

   She had been there about a year when she began telling Dadda that the neighbors were talking, since she was an unmarried woman living with a widower, in the same house.

   She kept at him until to have some peace, he married her.

   She must have felt that she had it made, after that. But she was never very popular, although we were all very polite to her.

   Dadda had been lending money to many people wanting a home for themselves. He took second mortgages with a good interest rate. He felt that he was helping people while at the same time making a good investment. But after the 1929-30 great depression the second mortgages soon became worthless. But he was still well-off. He passed on in 1931.

   Stubby was with us when the lawyers read his will. She had been left $75,000, and immediately remarked, "Is that all I get?" The family was shocked. It turned out that there was very little else, except some properties, and the second mortgages.

   Stubby went back to Norway, a wealthy woman, shortly after that.

The following is a rebuttal of the above description of Anna Stubberud sent by her great-nephew. Also note that Anna, the mother of H H Lee and her daughter Olava are listed as living at the farm Stubberud with Anna in 1901:

"Stubby" was my father's aunt. My father was christened Henry to honour Mr.H.Lee. I am well past 80 and I grew up with Aunt Anna living on the upper floor of my parents' little country house. She rented two tiny rooms. No bathroom. She lived there for many years. The last years of her life she lived in Mjoendalen, a small town west of Drammen. Also in Mjoendalen she rented two tiny rooms. I knew Aunt Anna until she passed away. She was dear to us.

With $75,000 Aunt Anna would have been a very very wealthy woman in Norway. I do question this information. I knew her from when she returned from N.Y. until she died and I never noticed any sign of wealth. On the contrary, once a month she would pick up her little pension and she would survive on that little money. Never bought new clothes, never traveled.

Mr.H. Lee met Aunt Anna during one of his several visits to Norway. I do not know if she was married then. I do know her husband passed away and having no children she became the sole heir of a nice farm. My father told me that H.Lee worked very hard trying to convince Aunt Anna that she should come to N.Y.

She must have sold the farm before leaving for N.Y., so she did not come empty-handed to the Lee family. I am sure Mr. Lee invested the money wisely. Coming back to Norway she had no farm, and to my knowledge, no money.

I remember Aunt Anna as a very religious woman. She was softspoken. She never uttered one critical word about any one of the Lee family, or any one else for that matter. She never said so, but I am pretty sure her years in N.Y. were unhappy ones.

When Anna died, she left little behind. Her wedding ring, a tiny wristwatch (not working) in white gold. No money. Not enough to have her buried. Her little belongings were sold at an auction to to pay for her burial . She left me her Bible.

Please understand that some of my "information" is second hand, mostly from my father. I was not born or I was very young when parts of this drama unfolded.

- Kjell Stubberud, Dec 2011


( italic notations by MMP are from Marion Munson Pasquet, and by KMC are from Kitty Munson Cooper     )

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Copyright © 2001 Kitty Cooper