People of Lake County
Source: The Minneapolis Tribune, December 1958. Transcribed by the Alberti's.
Lake Superior- Greatest of Them All- Couldn't Break Fisherman, 62
Special to the Minneapolis Tribune
TWO HARBORS, Minn.
--On Thanksgiving day Grandpa Aakvik returned to show that the greatest of the Great Lakes could not break him.
Helmer Aakvik felt no great pride.
"It is an awful thing for a young man to die and an older man like me to live.
"For an older man like me it doesn't make any difference," said Aakvik from a hospital bed here Thursday.
Aakvik, 62, and a grandfather of four, has fished Lake Superior since 1927. Usually he works alone, in his 20-year-old skiff.
Wednesday morning, Aakvik started the outboard motor on his 16-foot boat and moved out of the bay at Hovland, Minn. He was going to rescue a 25-year-old neighbor adrift in a gale. Carl Hammer had been missing since he set out to tend his herring nets about 7:30 a.m.
Wednesday. When he failed to return Aakvik set out.
"I had to do something to help that young man," he said.
A fierce wind, the remnant of a severe snowstorm, was whipping the lake. Aakvik pointed the nose of his skiff toward the area some five miles offshore where Hammer had his nets.
"I was getting there," he said. "I was almost there when my motor gave out. Ice clogged the fuel line," he said.
"I tried to blow the ice out of the line," Aakvik continued, "but now the water started to pour into the boat and I had to start to bail.
"I was born in Norway. I sailed coastwise three years in the old country and then on a windjammer. I fished in Alaska and I fished in the Pacific on a sailing schooner.
"Of them all, Lake Superior is the worst in a storm." Aakvik bailed and knocked the rapidly forming ice from his boat. He had a second motor in the bottom of the skiff but there was no time to attach it.
"I needed a sea anchor to get the nose of the skiff in the air and to keep it running before the wind.
"I broke a hole in the bottom of a herring box and tied a rope around it and let it out.
"I was bailing. I had to remain on my knees because the sea was so rough it would have thrown me out of the boat.
"The waves were 20 to 23 feet high. I would say they were the highest waves of any I have ever seen on the lake," he said. By this time a search by coast guard vessels and air force planes had begun for the two fishermen.
About midafternoon he saw a plane circling in the sky some distance from him.
"I thought they had found him (Hammer). I never bothered to wave. My boat is green and they never would have seen it from up there," the ruddy-faced fisherman said. He continued to chip at the ice and to use his scooplike bailer. At times there was more than a foot of water in the bottom the skiff.
Night and a "smoke fog" were beginning to fall, he said. He was twice blown near the shore.
"I could have put on my other motor. But I would have been smashed in the surf breaking on those rocks."
The bailing continued. The water poured into the boat. Aakvik was forced to jettison one of his out-board motors for fear of capsizing. The temperature was near zero.
"The wind blew like a demon. Ice chunks formed all over the boat and I had to keep chopping with my ax. I got sleepy after a while.
"It was a great temptation to go to sleep. Just one little nap, I kept telling myself.
"I kept myself from freezing by bailing and knocking at the ice. I was able to keep fairly warm by bailing.
"I couldn't row. The sea was so rough it would lift the oars right out of their locks.
"I got very thirsty about midnight and took a drink of water from my bailer.
"I got so hungry I could have eaten raw herring if I'd had a little salt. At about midnight he also felt his first real crisis. He was wearing heavy clothing, oilskins and a sheepskin-lined cap.
"I was bending over bailing and I tore my rubber boot open on a chunk of ice.
"I could feel the water come trickling in. That scared me as much as anything.
"A man freezes some member of his body and he loses his courage."
By morning he figured he had been blown "about 18 or 20 miles" out into the middle of the lake.
As the wind abated, he started his second motor and pointed toward shore. He was about five miles from shore when he ran out of gas.
Three minutes later a coast guard cruiser from Grand Marais, Minn., came upon him.
"I offered to go back with the cruiser to help in the search because thought I knew that area better," the craggy-faced fisherman said.
"Young Hammer is gone. He must have frozen to death, by this time.
"When they picked me up I had to sit down in the engine room to let my cap thaw out. It had four inches of ice on it."
The coast guard took him to Hovland. Among those there to greet him was Mrs. Hammer, who kissed him and wept.
An ambulance rushed him to the hospital in Two Harbors. His doctor reported he was in good condition.
A couple, old friends, told him as he lay in his bed that they had prayed for him. He quietly thanked them for their prayers and added:
"I don't think I needed the prayers. It's up to the persons themselves. A man has to depend on his own courage and stamina."
Source: The Minneapolis Tribune, December 1958. Transcribed by the Alberti's.
Fisherman, 62, Gets Set to Battle Lake Again
He Cheated Superior in 26-Hour Ordeal
By ED MAGNUSON
TWO HARBORS, Minn.
- - - Gray-haired, square-bodied Halmer (typo) Aakvik, who cheated stormy Lake Superior in a death battle, Saturday said he'll set out again Monday to net a living in his lonely skiff.
"I figure that lake may be out to get me," said the 62-year-old herring fisherman. "Maybe some day she will get me. But she'll have a pretty hard go to do it."
He raised his angular face a bit off his hospital pillow and said: "I've never been afraid of her and if you use all your ambition and courage and tricks you usually win."
Hospital officials said Aakvik will be discharged Monday morning.
"I've got to get right out to my nets," he said. "Herring spoils in the nets after about three days."
Old timers along the Shore say there just aren't many men like Aakvik anymore- men who at 62 can:
Find themselves kneeling in five inches of icy water in a 16-foot skiff being kicked about by 23-foot waves, 20 miles out in Lake Superior.
Find themselves at that time looking up and marveling at the beauty of the moon and its halo and the clouds around it.
Listen to 50-mile-an-hour winds howl in six-above weather across the prow of his craft, nearly vertical as waves upended it, and liken the noise to "something like music- almost enjoyable."
But Norwegian-born Aakvik, tough as his nature and his life on water have made him, sobbed yesterday for the first time since childhood.
"I can't help it," he said, as he sat in his bed at Memorial hospital here.
"Here I sit in this warm room and that nice young man lies out there in ice. He could just as well be here and I out there."
Aakvik referred to Carl Hammer, 25, a Hovland, Minn., neighbor who went out to tend herring nets in a lake storm Wednesday and hasn't been seen since. Aakvik had set out to find him - and spent a frigid 261/2 hours battling the foamy lake for his own life.
The coast guard and air force called off the search for Hammer yesterday.
The lake veteran admitted, as his swollen hands fumbled with a pile of letters expressing admiration or his ability to survive, that licking the lake gave him a "little thrill." Aakvik has picked up a lot of "tricks" since he went to sea as cabin boy to the skipper of a windjammer ("the kind of sailing ship you only see on calendars now") at the age of 14.
Born on the island of Donna off Norway's central coast, he had often sought deep-swimming red snappers with his father. They used a 40-foot boat and lines 600 feet long.
"You'd wait until you had two or three on a line and then pull them in. They weighed 5 or 10 pounds."
An older brother, Andreas, had sailed off to Australia, then wrote back to tell his brother it was a poor life and never to go to sea. Andreas sailed 15 years, caught tuberculosis and died at about 35.
But Aakvik said the sea seemed a "big adventure" to him, so he ignored his brother's letter and joined the windjammer hauling salt and lumber along Norway's coast. He got $8 a month.
"It was a dog's life as cabin boy. They all hounded me. I had to climb the highest mast to take down a sail. It was real crude."
He said when the vessel was becalmed the skipper often sent the men out in lifeboats to pull the ship by rowing, "not because it did any good but because he was mean."
After three years of' this tramp shipping, Aakvik met a wealthy southern Minnesota farmer who had revisited Norway and "he talked me into the bright future that was in the United States."
The farmer gave Aakvik a ship ticket in 1914 to bring him to the farm near Clarkfield, Minn., where he worked as hired hand for $25 a month, less payments on the ticket.
"It was bad on ship, but this was worse. You got up before 5 a.m. There were 18 horses to clean, curry and feed and 12 cows to milk.
"At dinner you had to swallow the last food while you ran out the door to get back to work."
So Aakvik turned to housepainting for three years. He worked a 10-hour day and got 50 cents an hour. "That was good then," he said.
But the sea still called and he rode a halibut schooner out of Estoria, Ore., which fished far out in the Pacific. There were storms there, too. "Sometimes we had to tie ourselves in the bunk."
Then Aakvik got in touch with an old Norwegian friend, Nils Wick, who was fishing herring and trout in Lake Superior from Cascade, Minn. Aakvik joined him in 1924.
And, except for a season of "real living" as a salmon fisherman off Alaska ("there were gas stoves, cooking facilities and machinery to haul in the nets"), he's been here ever since. For a time, he explained, trout fishing was profitable.
"A neighbor, Paul Jacobson, and I made $1,000 in a month and a half one spring on trout. But that's a long time ago."
Now, he said, there's only the herring left, and the market is poor.
"You're doing good to make $2,000 a year now on herring. The price varies with the season, but mink farmers are the main market and they pay only about four cents a pound." For this Aakvik goes out all winter long ("whenever the ice breaks up enough") to pick the herring out of the 240-foot-long nets he sets in the water.
He varies the setting of the weighted 14-feet-deep nets by adjusting bottles which serve as floats.
In sub-zero weather he huddles in the skiff, picking off the small fish. Then he has to unload the boat at shore and stand for hours lover a table to snap the innards out of each one and slit its back open for sale to a Duluth broker.
"Sometimes I bring in 1,600 pounds of fish in a day. They run about three fish to a pound. It's a lot of work for small pay."
The herring disappear between March and October ("nobody knows where they go").
Then Aakvik may guide for an occasional amateur fisherman or do some housepainting to keep himself and his wife in food.
"We have a small four-room house by the lake. It's all ours. You can't call it a real comfortable life, but it's all right.
"I don't have a son, but if I did I wouldn't tell him to be a fisherman. There's no future in it."
But Aakvik may soon be engulfed by things he cannot fight.
Some fishing experts along the North Shore say it will be a matter of economics that will beat the fisherman. Large-scale imports of processed herring already have slashed the market for lake herring.
And it may be a matter of lake biology- the lamprey has ruined the lake trout supply. But Aakvik doesn't concern himself with such things.
"For me, though, the kind of guy I am, there's a lot of freedom out there on the lake. You don't punch a time clock and you aren't tied down.
"I'h (typo) not a religious man, but when you look at some of those sunsets and sunrises out of the lake and you're alone in the skiff to enjoy it, it almost convinces you a God must have made all that beauty."
Source: The Minneapolis Tribune, specific date not known, year is 1958. Transcribed by the Alberti's.
Cited for bravery
TRIED LAKE RESCUE
- - - - -
Hero Medal Goes to State Fishermen
Special to the Minneapolis Tribune
PITTSBURGH, Pa.-- The Carnegie Hero Fund commission Friday cited for gravery(typo) Helmer M. Aakvik, Hovland, Minn., who spent 26 hours on storm-tossed Lake Superior in as attempt to save another fisherman.
Aakvik is one of 35 persons who will receive bronze medals for outstanding efforts to save the lives of others.
The 62-year-old, Norwegian-born fisherman set out Nov. 26, 1958, to rescue Carl Hammer, 25, Hovland, who failed to return after attempting to tend his herring nets in a severe Lake Superior storm.
Aakvik was carried some 20 miles out into the lake in his unsuccessful effort to find Hammer. The wind reached 50 miles an hour and the waves frequently were 25 feet high. Aakvik was in a 20-year-old, 16-foot skiff. He bailed and struggled for more than 26 hours before he was picked up by a coast guard boat.
He suffered only frostbite.
Source: The Gogebic Advocate (Ironwood, MI) June 18, 1892; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
Clarence Jones, a former Ironwood tonsorial artist, is in business for himself at Two Harbors, Minn.
Gus A. Schultz
Source: Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, ND) Tuesday, September 6, 1892; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
The president has appointed as postmasters, Gus A. Schultz at Two Harbors, Minn., and Mrs. Nettie J. Van Inwegen at Ortonville, Minn.
Source: Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, SD) Friday, June 30, 1893; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
ARE DRIVING HER MAD.
Two Harbors, Minn., June 30.-Julia Sutherland, the girl whom Father J. E. Connolly is accused of assaulting, attempted suicide by drowning. She was caught as she was about to plunge into the river. She refused to say why she wanted to commit suicide, remarking only, "They are driving me mad."
Source: The Bismarck Tribune (ND) June 30, 1893; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
TWO HARBORS, Minn., June 29 - Julia Sutherland, the girl whom Father James E. Connelly is accused of assaulting, attempted suicide by drowning at midnight. She was caught as she was about to plunge into the river.
John S. Wolf, Jr.
Source: The Saint Paul Globe (MN) March 10, 1884; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
Dr. Wm. Sheppard, Ottawa, Ill., has sold to John S. Wolf, Jr. Two Harbors, Minn., the gray colt Victor Sprague, foaled 1881, by Geo. Sprague, 2:21, dam Sylvia, by Swigert. Victor Sprague is very vast for his handling, and promises to be one of those to represent Geo. Sprague in the "30 list. Price $800
Source: Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL) Sunday, August 12, 1888; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman
HAD A BUG IN HIS EAR.
A Beetle Drives a Railroad man to Deafness and Out of Office.
RACINE, Wis., Aug. 11.-Special Telegram.-Several weeks ago George White and family came to this city from Two Harbors Minn. He had just been forced to give up his position of Superintendent of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad because of a singular affliction, which baffled the skill of the doctors of his former home. Waking from sleep one morning about three years ago, he experienced an excruciating pain in the right ear. After the pain passed away it left him deaf in the right ear. The deafness gradually extended to the left ear, until he became almost totally deaf, and was forced to give up his position. He came to Racine for a change of climate, and yesterday he went to Milwaukee to consult an ear specialist, who, after examination, took an instrument and drew out a black beetle that measured a fourth of an inch across. Mr. White's hearing was instantly restored, and a happier man is not to be found in this city.
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