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Bob Lind, Published April 20 2013

Grafton woman took ups, downs with a smile

Neighbors has heard stories of many people of northern European descent. But this is the first story it’s learned of someone whose parents came from Luxembourg.

She was Margaret (Krier) Corriveau, who was born in 1891 on a farm in Pulaski Township, in Walsh County, N.D., to a couple who emigrated from that small country.

Margaret died in 1992 at age 101.

Much of her story was reported by Marietta Campbell in the Walsh County Record, Grafton, N.D., in 1988. Marietta’s story and other material was sent to Neighbors by Margaret’s granddaughter, Bonnie Kavanaugh, Fargo.

Margaret attended a rural school, where one of her teachers was Viljhammer Stefanson, who became a well-known Arctic explorer.

When she married Alcidas Corriveau in 1912 at St. John’s Catholic Church, Grafton, she sewed her own white satin wedding dress. The fabric cost $6 and the pattern cost 15 cents.

The newlyweds’ first home was on a farm near Grafton. They moved several times, but remained in that area.

They felt the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Margaret ran the grain binder, shocked bundles and helped wherever else she was needed. She also raised chickens and turkeys to help bring in money. Cream and eggs were bartered in town for sugar, coffee and other staples.

Since her husband was French, she learned how to make such foods as blood sausage and headcheese.

Margaret heated bricks in the oven and wrapped them in blankets to keep their feet warm in the open sleigh during the winter.

Caught in storm

The Corriveaus had two children, Isabel and Norbert, who has died; seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Margaret’s husband retired in 1955 and died in 1958.

Margaret moved into St. Anne’s Guest Home, Grand Forks, in 1976, where she made quilts and afghans.

She liked to travel. But once, while traveling with her family in the Rochester, Minn., area, they got caught in a bad snowstorm and had to spend the night in the home of someone they didn’t know.

Margaret was a record keeper. Her granddaughter has a ledger in which Margaret and her husband listed income (two hogs sold for $39.15 in 1914), purchases (a ham for 35 cents in 1913), and events (“Mr. Bernard has his leg cut off,” March 3, 1946). She also kept many favorite recipes, including one for blood pudding.

And there’s a peek at the life of the woman who went through both good times and bad – but, her granddaughter says – always with a cheerful smile.


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 blind@forumcomm.com