Grace Alice Longson Fonds. — 1919 – 1945. — 2.2 cm of textual records.
Grace Alice Longson was born Grace Longbon in Ohio, USA. She married Baptist minister Rev. John Longson in the 1890s and they eventually moved to Nightingale near Strathmore, Alberta. Shortly after the move, Mr. Longson died, leaving Grace with seven children. She had heard of the opportunities in the Peace country and visited the area in the summer of 1916, riding horseback through the district with Marion Martin (nee Mc Naught) until she found what she wanted. She filed on the NW quarter of Section 23, Township 70, Range 11, West of the 6th Meridian in October, 1916.
Grace moved to the homestead in 1917 with children Lester, Roy, Burgess, Dorothy and Weston. Wilfred and Cecil stayed to look after the Nightingale farm until 1918 when they came north with 17 cattle, 14 horses, and equipment. The boys filed on the following homesteads: Earl Lester Longson on the NW 17-70-11-W6, 1917, Elmworth; Cecil L. Longson on the NW 32-71-10-W6,1919, Beaverlodge; Wilfred A. Longson on the NE 3-70-11-W6, Elmworth,1919; and Roy C. Longson on the NE2-70-11-W6, 1923, Elmworth. Burgess and Dorothy, who were still of school age, boarded with Fred Dixons and Art Tyrrells in order to attend Appleton School. Their home was the “church house”, 4 miles south of Beaverlodge at the present Mc Naught homestead. In January, 1925, Grace took Dorothy and Weston to Ohio where they stayed for the children’s schooling until 1927.
Wilfred married Mary McLean in Nightingale and they lived on the homestead for several years but eventually returned to Nightingale and raised a family of eight children. Lester married Pearl Cleland and moved to the old Gunnar Helberg place, SW 2-71-40-W6. They raised two sons, Dalton and Melvin who still farm in the area. Cecil homesteaded 4 miles west of Beaverlodge but gave it up and moved to California where he became a Civil Engineer. During WWII, he served with the US forces on the Alaska Highway project. Roy farmed in the Hinton Trail area, and he and Jean raised six children. Burgess farmed near Elmworth and was a trapper, guide and forest warden. After serving in WWII, he moved to Jasper and then Kelowna with his three children. Dorothy, the only girl, married Albert Karr and after farming for a short time in the Hinton Trail area, moved to New Westminster. They raised four children. The youngest son, Weston, moved to California in the early 1930s where he married and had two children.
Grace sold her farm to Scotty Ray in 1937. The family had a house built for her at at Lester’s place at Two Rivers and she alternated living with family and at her own home until her death in 1942 in Grande Prairie. She is buried in Strathmore.
The records were preserved by grandson Dalton Longson and donated to the South Peace Regional Archives by Dalton in 2011.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of two diaries, one from 1919-1928 and one from 1936-1937; a letter from Burgess Longson while he was serving in WWII in Germany; 2 telegrams; and a program from an event at Eaton School, likely in Ohio in 1927 where she took the younger children for their schooling. The diaries decribe the weather, trips made for mail, goods, visits, meetings and daily work of keeping children warm, fed, clean and healthy. Wilfred and Lester are reported to be doing most of the outside work including looking after the animals. Summers were busy with field work, gardens, picking berries, cutting and hauling wood for firewood , hauling water and milking cows.