Anamoose Historian- Helen Nolden

Ted Peiler, mayor of Anamoose, appointed Helen Nolden as historian of Anamoose in 1975, after he had seen some of her writings. Ted gave Helen the old city ledgers from the city board meetings. These minutes were very detailed, such as “we had 2 minutes of silence for Mr. Manz who lost his wife”. Helen remembered how in the early years the present Steve Heim home was written about in the minutes. “Marshall Fred Roll had to go to the Olson house to settle disputes of the girls in the house of ill repute.”

Helen Nolden was born in 1924 in the section house that is the oldest building in Anamoose. This is the present Bill Vetsch home. She attended grade school and high school in Anamoose. “I had two chances to go to college, but did not take them”.

In 1938, at the age of 14, Helen Nolden was assigned to write a history of Anamoose by her English teacher, Miss Gilmore. The first person she went to with her list of questions was Fred Albrecht, who owned the Albrecht grocery store. He handed the list of questions back to her and said, “That’s not the way to get an interview”. He had her ask him the questions and he wrote out about 5 pages of history. She next went to Martin Hueblou, and Frank Glotsbach. She got the history of the school from Carrie Schilling. These were the settlers of Anamoose so she was able to get an accurate, complete history.

Fred Albrecht reminisced that there was no place to live so he lived upstairs above the store. The first Lutheran Church held church services in his store, bringing in boards and nail kegs for the people to sit on.

Helen left Anamoose for many years, but returned in the late 60’s. From 1975-1981 Helen was the editor of a state wide newspaper called “Seniors United Reporter”. Through this job she met John Glenn, astronaut; and many governors, senators and representatives. “I had lunch with Senator Moss from Utah discussing electricity”. After Seniors United was discontinued, Helen returned to Anamoose.

Back in Anamoose she wrote a letter on the Statue of Liberty. She wrote what her parents had told her it meant to them when them came to the United States and saw it for the first time. She sent her letter plus a donation into the Statue of Liberty fund. She was notified that her letter was going to be in the museum at the base of the Statue of Liberty, and was invited to come to New York. Helen didn’t have any money for the trip, but when her nephew’s boss in Whittier, CA heard this he purchased tickets for Helen and her nephew to go to New York for 5 days. “My letter was on a pedestal for all visitors to see”. Many people asked for her autograph.

Helen wrote the history of Anamoose for the 50 th Jubilee. At that time she interviewed Wayne Thomssen’s grandmother, Mrs. Wm MacNamara. She told of the hardships of the early years when she lived in the first section house in Anamoose. At night Mr. MacNamara’s railroad crew would sleep on straw in the section house, and also have breakfast there in the morning.

Anamoose held a 70 th anniversary because Wally and Eric Albrecht were leaving and didn’t think they would be around for the 75 th.

In 1994 Helen wrote a book, Helen’s Love: Family about her family. A copy of her book is at each of the ND colleges. Wayne Sandstead, former Lt. Governor, and a friend of Helen’s, donated his copy to the Heritage Center. Helen received a phone call from UND at Grand Forks asking if she had an extra copy of her book. When Helen questioned why he wanted it, he replied that Helen gave a very good history of the 20s, 30s, and part of the 40s that young people could learn from.

At 82 Helen still continues to “write stories that I remember from the past about Anamoose, about my kids”. She is also frequently called on to tell the history of different families and events.

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