Big old barn in Clay County holds generations of family memories

In today's "Neighbors" column, Bob Lind hears from a reader about the structure that was built in the 1880s and still stands today in a different spot.

Betty Patterson, of Fargo, sent in this photo and information about this old barn in the area. Special to The Forum

This column once carried a story about an old barn in the area.

That led Betty Patterson, Fargo, to write.

“My great-grandfather, Narve Roen, emigrated from Norway as a young child in 1846, fought in the Civil War and finally claimed a homestead in Clay County, Minn., in 1871,” she writes.

“He built a barn in the early 1880s which still stands. However, it was built in a different spot from its current location.

“At some time, probably in the early 1900s, the barn was moved. It was put on skids and hauled to the new location by horses. It must have been quite a sight.


“Today it is straight west of Comstock, Minn., south of the bridge which goes over the Red River. It overlooks the Red, but originally was some distance from the river and on the other side of the original log house.

“My mother, the oldest of seven children and granddaughter of Narve, grew up on the farm and told many stories of the children playing in the hayloft, raising baby chickens and swinging on the ropes.

“The barn and homestead land are still in the family.” Betty says.

Hired men

This column also often includes stories about hired men on area farms.

Well, here’s a note from Lawrence “Larry” Aasen, Westport, Conn., who writes, “My grandfather, Ole Aasen, a farmer in the Perley, Minn., area, promoted ‘free silver.’

“At harvest time, he hired many men, and paid them in silver dollars.”

On a sadder note, Larry adds that his father, a farmer near Gardner, N.D. was very active in the Nonpartisan League and got picked to run for state representative. “Two weeks before the election,” Larry writes, “a drunk hit his car and my dad died. He had parked on the side of the road and was checking his voters’ list.”

Larry also sends along a Republican voters’ guide for the primary election in June 1928.


Among the candidates the guide mentioned were Lynn Frazier for U.S. senator, William Langer for attorney general, Julia Elliott for 1st District representative, T.H. Thoresen for governor and Larry’s dad, Theodore Aasen, for U.S. representative.

Larry had that guide from ‘28 because, he says, “The Aasens save everything — except money!”

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email

Bob Lind
Bob Lind, Neighbors columnist. The Forum

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