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Column: Kids worked hard and month by month, they had notable times

Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared Aug. 5, 2006.

WORTHINGTON — Two Buchan brothers, Ed and Will, came to the all-new Worthington townsite in a covered wagon in 1872. Their father staked a homestead near the new town’s edge.

A recent column introduced Ed Buchan’s diary. It is a remarkable story of Worthington’s earliest years. Ed was the older brother — a 12-year-old when he arrived on this scene, a 19-year-old when he began the diary which Russ and Jan Rickers preserved. The Buchan boys lived in an era when parents valued teenagers for their contributions to their families and for the work they did for their families.

Ed Buchan, teenager, helped with plowing, of course. He helped with planting crops, with discing, with harvests. He mowed weeds, cut hay, helped with repair of machinery, dug potatoes, shocked oats.

But — oh …

“May 31, I did a large washing…” The mother might have been ill. Laundry was among Ed’s regular chores. “May 27: I stayed in the house all day and made an overshirt for myself … May 29, I made an overshirt for Will, and he broke prairie…”

“June 5, I helped papering the front room … Feb. 22, I scrubbed the floor … Dec. 14, I worked around the house, washing, patching Will’s old overcoat, making mittens. … Jan. 2, I worked in the house and made me a pair of mittens … Oct. 23, baked bread …”

“Sept. 24, I painted the running gear of the buggy red … Sept. 25, I painted the buggy … Sept. 26, I painted the running gear of the buggy third coat and raked … Oct. 1, I finished striping the buggy and painted some fancy work on the dashboard and the back end …

“June 10, We all worked at turning the house, the north side to the west … June 11, We raised the house and kitchen up 2 feet and dug more cellar …” Ed fashioned door frames and screen doors. “Oct. 1, I dug a cistern …”

“Nov. 4, I plastered the walls of the dining room … Nov. 5, I lathed the bedroom overhead in the A.M. … Nov. 6, I plastered the bedroom clothes press and the stairway … Nov. 7, “I plastered the pantry in the A.M. …”

The Buchans were not often idle. When Worthington’s lumberyard got carloads of lumber, Ed and Will unloaded lumber for pay. When the machinery shop received a load of machinery — threshing machines — Ed and Will and the father unloaded machinery. In the winters, Ed and Will went to the lake to help with the ice harvests.

You think they had no fun? Not so. They loved going to singing school. They joined in the teen activities.

Well — Worthington’s teens rented a railroad car ($50) and went to Luverne for a picnic on the banks of the Rock River. They hitched their teams to buggies and went to the Graham Lakes for a picnic. The kids went to a circus in June.

They came together often to play croquet. There was a croquet court at the Worthington Hotel. They seemed to like playing, “Authors.” They did that at such times as, “Dec. 10, morning I went and helped Allen Cheney make a freezer of ice cream,” and, “Aug. 16, I raked and bunched hay and went and made ice cream for the prairie chicken social at Dr. Craft’s … Nov. 24, I got a load of corn and made some molasses candy…”

“Sept. 2, I started for the state fair at 12 last night…”

In free time, Ed Buchan made a stab at writing songs — hymns. Mostly, he painted pictures, made and framed chalk drawings. It was a time before photography and Worthington became aware Ed Buchan had artistic talent. The townspeople went to Ed to have their portraits made. He seemed to be kept busy doing portraits, and sometimes re-doing portraits. He was not always satisfied with his effort.

In 1879, Ed Buchan set out to introduce Worthington to what was modern. He went to St. Paul, took a room, and enrolled at a photography school. The next year, 1880, he opened a photographic studio on Third Avenue, opposite the courthouse.

For the next 54 years — 1880 to 1934 — Ed Buchan made portraits of Worthington townspeople.

When there were church services, he was there.

Everyone knew Ed Buchan.

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