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Mom's Story

My mother, Ruth A. Schofield, passed away on May 6, 2015 at the age of 90. She was a powerful influence in my life, and like me, loved to write. Click HERE to read a compilation of some of her writings.

Her biography

Ruth Arentina Johnson was born on July 23, 1924 in Norway, sixth child of the eight children born to Olaf Martin and Abelona Kalve Anderson Johnson. She was christened on September 21, 1924 in Lindaas, Hordaland, Norway, with her grandparents, Johan and Arentina Andersen, and Anders and Marthe Kalve, as witnesses.

Ruth's father, Olaf, who was born into the Norwegian farming and fishing tradition, really wanted to work on the railroad in the United States. In fact, he first traveled there in 1907, landing in Montana. He married Abelona Pederson in 1910, and they had two children, Alfred and Hilda. Olaf was a section foreman for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. Tragically, Abelona died on April 23, 1913 in Butte, Montana.

Olaf left his infant daughter, Hilda, in Montana with friends, and returned to Norway with Alfred. In June, 1914, he married Ruth's mother, Abelona Anderson, who was the first cousin of his first wife. They returned to Montana in September 1914, where they were reunited with Hilda. Because Abelona was homesick for Norway, they returned after their first child, Ruth's oldest brother Anton, was born. There, between 1917 and 1928, the remaining seven (Anders, Martha 'Mart', Edward 'Eddy', Agnes 'Aggie', Ruth, Olaf 'Ole' and Reidar 'Babe') of their children were born.

Anton told his daughter Debbie this account of their life during this time on the farm in Norway: "While the family was living in Norway, Olaf fished sardines and would be gone for a year at a time. He worked an ordinary job on a fishing boat. He did not like to fish and preferred railroad work. During the time he was fishing, Abelona raised all the children, kept their farm going, milked cows (which they kept on the ground floor of their house), raised sheep, processed the wool and knitted socks and sweaters, made clothes, and cooked four meals a day; the last meal being oatmeal (mush) before bedtime. My Dad (Anton) told me that she fed the cows dried fish. (Debbie's note: the cow's milk must have tasted a little fishy). They also raised all their own hay. They had one ornery Norwegian pony to help them. There was a constant battle with the pony to do any work. They cut the hay by hand with a sickle and put the hay into shocks to dry. The cows would be put in the barn(house) at the beginning of winter and would not be let outside until spring. Anton's grandfather made them all wooden shoes. Anton would row a small boat to a nearby island to trade/buy groceries. This was a big job for a little boy."

According to Ruth's sister Martha, "Olaf dreamed of returning to America, and after much coaxing, Abelona agreed to return with him, which was not a very easy decision to make, especially with all the children. She would have to give up her family and friends again."

In September 1928, when Ruth was four, the family left Norway for the United States. They lived first at Martinsdale, Montana. Then Olaf became a section foreman for the Milwaukee Railroad, and the family moved to Cardinal, MT. (note: no trace of this town remains, but there was a town named Crane, which was later renamed Cardinal, in Gallatin County, according to "Montana Place Names"). On January 18, 1930, Olaf was killed in a railroad accident near Three Forks, where he was buried. The Milwaukee Road provided homes for Abelona and the children in Martinsdale and Selkirk. In 1933, they moved to Bozeman so that the children could attend school there. Abelona purchased a home at 415 South Third where she took in roomers and boarders, and where the children grew up. Abelona still lived there in February 1972 when she died. She is buried with her husband Olaf in Three Forks, Montana.

On January 8, 1944, during a leave from his military service, Ruth married Paul Armstead Schofield, who had been one of Abelona's roomers while attending Montana State College. Paul's schooling was put on hold during WWII  while he served in the  U.S. Army in the Pacific.

After the war, Paul finished his schooling in Bozeman, and became an architect, while Ruth became a homemaker.  During this time, Paul and Ruth became the parents of Paul Martin and Kristine Ruth. After moving to Pocatello, ID, Idaho Falls, ID, and Billings, MT for Paul's career, the family returned to Bozeman. In the early 1960's, they began construction on their home, where my father still lives. Here, Paul and Ruth became parents again, when Ruth gave birth to Amy Andrea. Paul and Ruth completed their family when they adopted Kari, who was born in Korea.