Search Surnames

Milford Township and Proud of It

Story Co. Home Page
Page 230 of 354
The Peder Durby Family

This c. 1916 photo was taken before the birth of the last two Durby children. This is eleven of fourteen youngsters.

Back: Archie 1904-1969 (Evelyn Wike), Enock 1908-1969 Mountain Sheep Herder (Single), Peder 1853, Maren 1877 holding Joe 1916-1961 (Single), Stella 1901-1975 (Harvey Nassen), Lydia 1899(James Sansgaard), and Emma 1894-1944 (Albert Olson).

Front: Palmer 1896-1973 (Nettie Rognehaug), Bernice 1913 (Martin Caltvedt), Ruth 1911 (Victor Duea), Laurence 1910 (Menora Johnson), and Myrtle 1906 (died at 17 in 1923 after graduating from Roland).

Not pictured: Palma 1917 (John Beaty), Ben 1921-1994 (Lois Sved Stone), and Leslie, who died 6 Feb 1898 shortly after birth-- Peder and Maren's third child.

Peder Dyrness 1853-1935 and Maren (Bjornevik/Borwick) 1877-1967 Durby family of Section 10 Milford Twp. (Adapted from the Borwick Durby Family History by Jeanette Sansgard Larson):

Peder Durby, (1853-1935) born in Norway, married at age forty, was the father of 14 children, one of whom was Milford Twp's well known Ben Durby. The Peder Durbys lived on the north side of Sec 10 on a farm (W1/2 of the NE quarter) that had been bought by Peder Durby in 1875 for $13 an acre. Peder had a brother, Oliver, and Oliver and Peder bought adjoining farms with Oliver owning the East 1/2 of the NE quarter of Sec 10. (The Rinehart home of the fifties) Also, Peder and Oliver married sisters, Maren and Bertha Bjornevik of Norway. Norwegian was language used at home in Milford Twp. The family, like many of that time, did not work on Sunday.

Before the gathering of one roomed schools in section 15, the children walked the half mile west to the Blackberry School (#2) and in the summertime they walked the mile and a half east to School Number( #1) for Norwegian parochial school which lasted all day for six weeks. Apparently there was no well at this school for drinking water and the youngsters took turns going to a neighbor to get water. There was great celebration when a well was dug on this school ground. (Section 10 was also the home during part of this time to another of Milford's large families, the Eli Jacobson family who lived three quarters of a mile south across the fields. Page 223. )

One of the Peder Durby children, Myrtle, who had just completed the seventh grade at the time of 1918 flu epidemic, was severely stricken and was left with a weakened heart. She finished the eighth grade in 1919 at Milford Number 2 and then she moved in with relatives in Roland and completed her high school requirements but was unable to attend graduation exercises with her class as she was very ill with rheumatic fever. Her class brought her diploma to her home. On 31 August 1923 her weakened heart could carry on no longer and she died at the age of 17.

Ben Durby, born in 1921, was the youngest of the fourteen children in the family of Peder and Maren Durby. He graduated from Milford Twp High School in 1939, the year of Milford's first yearbook. At one time in the twenties a horse drawn bus stopped and picked up five of the Durby children for the trip to the new consolidated school a half mile to the west and two miles south.

From the pen of Jeanette Larson: "Ben and a fellow student had a little spat at Milford School and they were ordered by their teacher to report to the Superintendent's office. He gave them three choices: a whipping, be expelled, or set back a grade. They chose to be set back a grade. Ben was afraid to return to school and face the music so he faked illness and stayed home two weeks. His mother finally took him to the doctor where he was given a clean bill of health. When he returned to school the next day he learned that his accused partner had returned to school and was set back a grade for only one day." No word if Ben had to drop back a grade for a day.

Ben didn't rush into marriage but waited until he was 46 years of age. One day he was alone in the "cruel world" and the next he was a married man with five youngsters. He farmed, operated a gas station at the Boondocks, and was employed at the National Animal Disease Center in Milford Twp. Ben was Secretary or Superintendent of the Bergen Lutheran Sunday School for 42 years, and accomplished 26 year of perfect attendance. But perhaps the thing for which Ben was best known, both far and wide, was his unpaid job as time keeper for the Roland (then in 1969 when Roland combined with Story City) and the Roland-Story basketball events. He worked in this capacity for 51 years, starting in 1943. Ben died in November of 1994.

Dixon Harper'40 reported Ben'39 served as a vary reluctant point guard until he once threw the ball and scored from the center line. After that he was never reluctant to score again.

For more on the life of the Durby family, Jeanette Sansgaard Larson of rural Story City has published a very fine family history available at the Story City Library.

Page 230 of 354

© 2012 Mark Christian
[Search Surnames] [Introduction] [Story Co. Home Page ] [Milford Twp Book Index]