Henning and Hattie (Flann) Bomsta
by LaVonne Bomsta Hookom

posted here December 20 2016

revised January 16 2017

Henning was born November 12, 1886 to Esa and Adela (Fredrickson) Bomsta in Lake Elizabeth Township.

Henning as a young child with his mother Adele,

aunt Mary and brother Merlin

He attended elementary school at District #43 and Willmar Seminary (similar to a High School).

He wasn't treated very well by his stepfather and finally decided to leave home when he was 13 years old. He and his brother Merlin walked to their Aunt Christine Bomsta Gunner’s farm. She took the boys into her home until they were old enough to go out and work on their own as farm hands.

Henning 1900

Henning and August Carlson farmed together before Henning was able to buy land in Lake Elizabeth Township. One of the farms where Henning and his close friend, August Carlson, worked was at John and Anna Flann’s farm. Henning started to court John’s daughter, Hattie. Hattie was born January 31, 1889 in Lake Lillian Township.


(From the Atwater Republican Press   July 15, 1910 issue)

A very pretty home wedding was solemnized at the spacious farm home of John G. Flann, when the youngest daughter, Miss Hattie Lillian, was joined in wedlock to Henning E. Bomsta on Sunday afternoon at 5 o'clock, Rev. J.O. Hoyum officiating. They were attended by August Carlson as groomsman and Miss Emily Flann, a sister of the bride, as bridesmaid. The bride was attired in cream-colored silk, and carried bride's roses. The bridesmaid wore blue silk. Mrs. Edward Flann played the wedding march. The parlor was very attractively decorated, the color effect being carried out in pink, blue and white. Only immediate relatives were present. A very dainty wedding supper was served after the ceremony.

Both are well known and respected young people of this community, where they have grown to maturity. They will be at home to their many friends at the groom's farm in Lake Elizabeth. We extend heartiest congratulations.



Henning moved a little house onto the property, 3 miles north of Lake Lillian at 14560 County Road 4 SE. (The original house had burned in a fire killing the owner's baby.) This is now the kitchen and is over 100 years old. He added on another room downstairs which the dining room is now with a steep stairway to a bedroom upstairs in 1909. In this small house Henning and Hattie lived with their five children; Emery, Deloris, Harlan, Wilton, and Orville. The house was heated with a wood stove. When the grain had been harvested they re-filled their mattresses with fresh straw. In 1926 Hattie inherited money after her father’s death. They used this money to add on the living room, three bedrooms and the sun porch.

Henning built a small barn and granary. He was one of the first farmers to put up a Hanson Silo in 1917. Hanson Silo Company was started in 1916. They offered a good deal to five area farmers to buy a silo and it could be used to show other farmers how nice it was. Sand was taken from Lake Lillian Lake to make the cement for the staves. This silo blew down in a storm and another one was built in its place in 1934.

Before Hattie became ill, she was an active member of the Tromsø Lutheran Free Church. Hattie’s niece, Myrtle Nordin was a missionary for the Latin American Missions so the family always contributed to mission programs. Henning was baptized and confirmed as an adult. He and Wilton were confirmed together. They worshipped as a family for Sunday School and church services. Wilton remembers one New Year’s Eve when the road was blocked from a snow storm. They walked the ditch and across fields to get to church. Hattie liked to be on time, Lena Johnson told that she was never late even though she had a large family to get ready for church. Hattie was a good cook and always made special Sunday dinners. Harlan remembers a dessert she often made, called Floating Island Pudding. The children always wore hats. She planted an apple orchard on the north side of the woods and black walnut trees on the east side of the yard. The walnut trees still stand on Wilton and Eleanor's yard, in 2010.

When they were toddlers Wilton and Gertrude Bomstad (Wittman) were found in the chicken coop, sitting on eggs, trying to hatch them. They were NOT successful

When Harlan and Wilton were pre-school age, they were tempted by water puddles, as all little boys are. One day they found a puddle that could have gotten them into enough trouble under normal circumstances. On this particular day, however they both were wearing brand new overalls. They had a great time playing with sticks in the water and managed to turn the water puddle into a mud puddle. They hit the puddle with the sticks, splashing mud all over themselves. By the time their mother discovered this, they were covered with mud and she was very upset. She punished them by shutting them in the earth cellar beneath the house for a while. Harlan was scared and began to cry. Wilton was younger than Harlan and didn't understand what Harlan was crying about. He just sat down, unconcerned and didn't seem to mind it at all.

Harlan remembers Wilton enjoyed making pretend roads and barns in the woods, as a small boy. Harlan loved to tease him by kicking down his work and messing up his roads. One time Wilton lost his temper and threw a toy tractor at Harlan, hitting him in the head. The boys all had to help with the chores. Wilton accidentally hit Orville in the leg with a pitchfork while pitching hay. Another time the tine of the fork went through the calf of Orville's leg. Luckily, it healed without any problem.

Harlan and Deloris were a "tricky" pair, also. They found a scissors and gave their mother's beautiful fern a good trim. They had to sit on a chair for a long time as their punishment.

When Wilton was young they would see Gypsy wagons going by on the road loaded with chickens and a cow walking behind. One day when the family was going away they saw a bum sitting by the road. Hattie was afraid that while they were gone he would go up to the house and steal things. Another time a tramp came to the house and he refused to leave after Henning fed him so Henning had to mount his horse and chase him off the place.

Deloris remembers when Emery was first allowed to drive the car. Hattie was in the front seat beside him and the rest of the children were in the back seat. Emery was driving on the wrong side of the road when they met and were stopped by Andy Bomsta. They were afraid of his temper but he was real nice, showed Emery where he should be driving and they soon continued on their way.

Hattie would have Wilton drive a horse drawn sleigh to church for Ladies Aid. Wilton remembers going with his mother to a farm south of Highway #7 for a church woman’s meeting. Prayer meetings and Bible Studies were held in church member’s homes. He remembers that she liked to have him by her side when they were outside as well as indoors.

During construction on the addition to their house some more building materials were needed. Wilton, age 9 was sent to town with a list of lumber and supplies. There was construction on the road which meant Wilton had to drive the horse and buggy around to the other side of the lake. John Leeberg was very upset to think this young boy had to come to town by himself. Wilton remembers the scolding from John and how upset he was with Henning to let this young boy come to town by himself. Wilton knew how to drive the horses and wasn’t very concerned.

The addition had just completed when Hattie became very ill with tuberculosis. Hattie had been very sick with the Spanish influenza that went through the country during World War 1 and she remained weak and had a chronic cough, which eventually developed into tuberculosis. She had been fighting this disease at home because she would not leave her family and go for treatment at Walker, Minnesota. Little information was known for treatment of TB at this time. A tent-like room was built for her to sleep in because it was believed that cold fresh air would cure her. She sat in the sun porch hoping the sun would make her feel better. The house was barely finished before Hattie’s health took a turn for the worse. She struggled to paper the walls and was soon confined to her bed. Her health continued to decline and she died at the young age of 38 on New Year’s Day of 1927. (Wilton can't understand why she was too stubborn to leave her children for treatment, when she eventually leaves them to go to the cemetery. He also remembers going out to the barn that day with his cousin, Chester Nordin. Chester admired their horses.)

Wilton was nine years old when his mother died. Mary Nordin (Hattie’s sister) came upstairs to tell the children the sad news. He can remember Ben Holm coming out from Atwater to prepare her body for burial. They could smell the embalming fluids throughout the house. Her body lay in front of the dining room window until the funeral at Tromsø Lutheran Church. Wilton remembers how pretty she looked after her body had been fixed up. Ben Holm arranged the flowers around her picture and a photograph was taken. Her funeral was on January 5. It was a warm day and the road to the church was muddy. The road was much closer to the lake than it is now. In the fall of 2000, Wilton could still remember many details of his mother's funeral. He told us that the pallbearers were: Ellsworth Flann, Richard Johnson, Harry Nordin, Chester Nordin, Vernon Flann and Carroll Bengtson. There were several flower girls. Rev. Arntzen and Rev. Anderson conducted Hattie's funeral.

When Wilton was in the hospital for many weeks after his stomach cancer surgery in 1990, he had some critical days and nights. LaVonne was spending the night with him at the hospital. He woke up and looked at the clock. The time was shortly after 3 am. He told me this was the time his mother died and that he would see her soon. He recovered and had more years with us. July, 2005 – LaVonne is spending the afternoon with Wilton because he is not feeling good and fearful of being home alone. He tells about the day his mother died. Her older sister came to apologize and ask for forgiveness for something she had done to Hattie. They were both crying. They knew time was running out for Hattie. The five children gathered around her bed in the sun porch. She spoke to each of them and instructed them to be well behaved children, honest, kind to other people, always go to church and school. After they all said “Goodbye” to their mother the children went upstairs to bed. After her death, the bed, bed linens and all of her clothes had to be burned. Hattie was buried in her wedding dress.)

1889 - 1927

Mrs. Hattie Lillian Bomsta died at her home in Lake Elizabeth Township about 3 o’clock in the morning of January 1st, 1927.

She was born in Lake Lillian Township, on January 31, 1889 of the parents, John G. and Anna Flann. She was baptized in the Tromsø Norwegian Lutheran Church, June 2nd of the same year. She grew up and attended the public school in her home district until she had passed the grades. She also attended Parochial School until Rev. Chr. Moen of said church confirmed her on the 25th of October 1903. She remained at home with her parents in the following years and became an active member of the Young People’s Society of Lake Lillian, and had many important positions that she filled with a quiet grace and efficiency.

On the 10th day of July 1910, she was married to Henning Eliseus Bomsta, and moved to their farm in Lake Elizabeth Township where they built a home for themselves. During the residence there of 16 years and 6 months she has been a strong church member and a faithful worker in the Ladies Aid as well and in the Young People Society. Her children, as they grew up diligently attended Sunday School and were seldom absent.

She was a hard worker, and never spared herself. But she overtaxed her strength, and of late years contracted the dread disease, consumption, that sapped her vitality and weakened her system. Two weeks before Christmas, she was not able to leave her bed, and on New Year’s morning she passed away to eternal rest.

She leaves her mourning husband, Henning and five children; Emery, Deloris, Harlan, Wilton and Orville. Also surviving are her aged mother, two brothers and four sisters.

The funeral took place on Wednesday, January 5th and her many friends brought flowers and a host of others paid their last respects to a beloved sister. She was laid to rest in the Tromso Cemetery, Rev. A.M. Arntzen officiating. Peace to the remains and blest be her memory.

After their mother died, Deloris was in charge of cooking the meals. Harlan and Wilton got into trouble with her one time, when at mealtime they didn't want to eat anything. She found out that they had been out in the orchard having their fill of apples (green?) and were too full to eat dinner.

Emery drove to Thorpe, about 2 miles east of Lake Lillian, in a Model T Ford to get groceries. Lake Lillian didn't have a grocery store then. When he returned home, a big treat for everyone would be getting half of an orange to eat.

Emery started working for farmers as a teenager. He left a 1924 Model T touring car at the farm. Harlan and Wilton painted it red and yellow with a brush. It didn't have a current license, so they pounded out the 0 in 1930 and tried to make it into 1931. They hung their handiwork on the back of the car, confident that the cop in Lake Lillian wouldn't notice them.

Henning continued farming and struggled along trying to raise his family alone. He didn’t believe in farming on Sunday. He told Wilton about his neighbors who would work on Sunday and they didn’t have any better luck in getting everything done than he did by using Sunday as a day of rest. He had a sad and mournful way of whistling from time to time. In 1927 he worked on a crew to set poles for the power line along Highway #7, leaving home early in the morning and returning home after dark. He served on the Lake Elizabeth Township Board for 36 years and was active in the DFL Party. He served on the District # 43 school board and the Grace Lutheran Church Board. During World War II he worked at the Lake Lillian Hemp Plant as a fireman followed by a job where he rode the train to Rosemount, Minnesota, to work in an ammunition factory. He worked in Willmar at the A.S.C.S. office (Agricultural Stabilization & Conservation Service). This office was later called the Farm Service Agency.

In the 1920’s Henning played a small tuba in the Tromsø Lutheran Free Church Band with Rev. Arntzen as the director. Rev. Arntzen was well educated and very musical. Later, a music teacher from Willmar came out to Lake Lillian to direct the band. In 1933 & 1934, Henning's son, Harlan, played saxophone and clarinet in the band. He mail ordered music and taught himself how to play by practicing in the woods. Concerts were given in the Lake Lillian town park and at churches in the area.

Wilton tells about his dad going to town to buy a Fordson tractor from his nephew, Dick Johnson. Henning couldn’t get it started so he left it behind. Later he bought a 1020 McCormick Deering International tractor in 1926.

Years ago, there wasn't the welfare system that we know today. Everyone helped to care for their neighbor if they were in need. Henning would share food with a neighbor who was widowed with many children even when he didn't have much for his own family. People shared meat when they butchered and produce from the garden as well as eggs and milk. Henning and August Carlson often cared for a neighbor named "Hunter." He was sick with pneumonia. Henning and August nursed him back to health. This man was very dirty. Henning told about scraping the dirt off of his feet with a knife. Hunter also received some poor hay for his animals. Henning apologized for the poor quality. Hunter said, "Well, it beats snowballs." Another story that has been told is that Hunter noticed a bed frame being used for a gate to keep animals in. He asked if he could have the bed frame, even though it was it bad condition because sleeping on it would beat sleeping standing up!

The family often visited at Grandpa John and Grandma Anna Flann’s home or one of the neighbors on Sunday afternoons. The children would play in the barn. A good lunch was always served. Henning continued to visit friends, neighbors and relatives regularly the rest of his life.

Henning lived on the farm with Wilton's family for 35 years. He was a very slow driver, but never the less a busy chauffeur taking kids to school, church activities, 4-H meetings, to the roller skating rink and ball games. He was always coming home with candy bars. He loved to play checkers and Chinese checkers and he was very good at math. He had a hearty laugh and would slap his knee when something was really funny. He enjoyed baseball games, County Fairs, and harness racing. In July 1973, he died from complications due to many years of asthma. Henning and Hattie are both buried at the Tromso Memorial Cemetery north of Lake Lillian, Minnesota.

1886 - 1973

Funeral services for Henning E. Bomsta, 86, of Lake Lillian were held on Thursday afternoon, July 26, 1973 at the Grace Lutheran Church in Lake Lillian with Rev. Gary Danielson officiating.

Organist was Mrs. Lorraine Flann and Betty Flann, Dorothy Boll and Lois Yarmen provided vocal music.

Pallbearers were grandsons of the deceased: Dale Nelson, Wayne Nelson, Stanley Bomsta, Ronald Bomsta, Lynn Schmiedeker and Robert Hookom. Honorary pallbearers were Lester Swenson, Orville Carlson, Russell Hanson, Clarence Lund, Newell Carlson and John Larson.

Interment was at the Tromso Memorial Cemetery and K-M Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.

Henning E. Bomsta was born in Lake Elizabeth Township on November 12, 1886. His parents were Esa E. and Adele Bomsta. He was married to Hattie L. Flann on July 10, 1910 and to this union was born five children: Emery Bomsta of St. Paul, Mrs. Maurice Nelson (Deloris) of Willmar, Harlan Bomsta of Minneapolis, Wilton Bomsta of Lake Lillian and Orville Bomsta of Willmar.

Henning E. Bomsta graduated from the Willmar Seminary. He was employed at the Agricultural Stabilization & Conservation Service Office in Willmar for several years. He was also chairman of the A.S.C.S. Program in Lake Elizabeth Township for many years. He was a member of the Lake Elizabeth Town Board for 36 years. He was on the School Board of District #43 and also on the Church Board of Grace Lutheran Church for several years.

He died on July 23, 1973 at the Meeker County Memorial Hospital in Litchfield, Minnesota.

He is survived by his five children, one half-brother, Wellis Bomsta of Minneapolis and a half-sister, Mrs. Harvey (Verna) Schelin of Willmar. Many grandchildren and great grandchildren also survive him. His wife, who died on January 1, 1927, preceded him in death.

Phyllis remembered:

LaVonne was visiting with Phyllis Carlson Madsen in June 1993. Phyllis remembers Henning walking over to their place real often to visit. August and Henning each sat in a rocking chair in the kitchen. They talked for hours in Norwegian. Many nights they told scary stories to the Carlson children, and they would be too scared to go to bed. Hannah would be upset, but they continued anyway. One night Alton Carlson came home about 2 AM to find them both asleep in their rocking chairs. He woke them up and they decided to have coffee!! Then they started the conversation where they left off and he could hear them talking yet at 4 AM. She remembers the day of Henning’s funeral. She brought her mother, Hannah, to the church early to get a seat in the front in order for her mother to hear the funeral service. At Grace Church the body was in the front of the church during the visitation. As she sat there looking at Henning's body, she had a happy thought, thinking about her dad and Henning sitting in their rocking chairs, talking Norwegian in Heaven.

Family photos

Henning 1970


Emery and Deloris Bomsta

Emery Bomsta

Deloris Bomsta - married Maurice Nelson. They lived north of Lake Lillian on Ct. Rd. 8
until they moved into Willmar in the late 50s



Harlan 1935


Orville 1938

Bomsta boys - 1937 Wilton, Orville, Harlan

Deloris Nelson 90th birthday and Wilton Bomsta