His Life And Times

For those who may be interested in learning more about Clarence's life and the times in which he lived, I am adding substantial content from his autobiography on this and the following subpages.  I will include the simple sketches he made in the autobiography and pictures that I have obtained. This section is a work in progress. His story begins here...in his own words.
Clarence Arnold Hotvedt - An Autobiography
     On April 16, 1900, very near the start of the eventful 20th century the air was rent with the squalls of a new-born babe who was to become the hero of this story; one Clarence Hotvedt. The scene was an old eight-room house on East Grand Avenue in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
     In writing and illustrating this account it is the intent besides just telling of my life to also bring out through my experiences and observations the vast changes that have taken place in the mode of living that have taken place in my lifetime to date from the horse and buggy days to the placing of man on the moon.
     I will tell of many experiences in my life, sad or joyous as the case may be; where I failed and where I succeeded; where I used good judgment and where I used poor judgment. Who knows, maybe you who read this may derive a lesson or two that you just might profit by. 
The Hotvedt Family
     I was born the seventh of ten children. My mother Maren Johanna Wenaas was born in the year 1865 in Ridgway County, Wisconsin, the daughter of Norwegian parents, Laurantz Kjetelson Wenaas (1816-1875) and Ingaburg Hansdotter Haferdalen (1825-1875) both born in Norway. Laurantz was born in Gaarden Wenass, a place high up in the mountains, hence the name Wenass, and came to America in 1861. My father was born in Kongsberg, Norway in 1858 and moved to America in 1875 at the age of seventeen along with the great immigration waves from Europe which occurred in those days. He was the son of Narve Hellickson Stengelsrud (1813-1890) and Eleanora Clausdotter Bjorndalen (1817-1902) so you can see I'm a full blooded "Norske."
     One would wonder "How come your name is not Stengelsrud?" Well, it was customary in Norway to take as a last name the name of the farm or location in which one lived and as a first name the name of the father or some given name. So when dad came to America he registered as Narve (son of Narve) Hotvedt from the area he lived in which in Norwegian means a high field while his brother who came with him (Uncle Chris) took the name of Narveson. Kind of crazy, isn't it?
     So then father's brothers and sisters were named Peder Hotvedt, Anders, Anna, Christian, Helena, Karen and Martha Narveson. By the same token my mother's father from Gaarden Wenaas, near Seljord, Norway, and his brothers and sisters were named Kjetel, Gunhild, Aase, Laura, and Charles and Hans Wenaas.
Mother, sister Gwen, and father - 1908.
My Father Charles Narve Hotvedt
     My father came to Eau Claire from Norway in 1875 at the age of 17. I guess the only job he could get was in a saloon as a bartender and this is the business he was in the balance of his life. He was a real good father, don't remember him ever punishing us, but then I guess we were real good kids. We didn't see much of him for he worked in his saloon every night except Sunday until midnight and he would not get up until just before we left for school. He would take a couple hours off in the afternoon for his puttering around the house and yard. On Sunday mornings he went to the saloon to clean up for the next week so Sunday afternoons and evenings were about the only times we saw much of him.
     He smoked a lot of cigars, too, and just before entering the house he would throw down the butts. His cigar smoking, though, might have hastened his death, for he developed a cancer that started on his tongue where the cigar touched. He must have drunk a lot of beer, too, but I never saw him drunk. In his business it was often customary for a customer to say "Have one on me" and then Pa would have a small glass along with his customer, and then Pa in turn would buy one for him. So he must have drunk an awful lot of beer in his day. A "beer belly" was very common in those days and Pa had one along with the rest of his cronies.
     In those days beer sold for 5 cents a big schooner full, whiskey 50 cents a pint, 15 cents a swig, and every morning he had a nice beef roast sandwich dipped in gravy which was a free lunch for his customers. On Saturday nights he had a big pork roast and believe me those sandwiches were mighty tasty. It was a special treat for us to have one when we "rushed the can" for mother who liked her beer every night, much as we detested carrying the beer can through the streets. We always, of course, went to the back door of the saloon called "the family entrance" - we were not allowed to enter the front door. No woman ever set foot in a saloon in those days except to come to the family entrance and go to a small back room to drink her schooner full or pick up her can of beer.
The Hotvedt bar on Barstow Street in Eau Claire. Clarence's father is the one behind the bar wearing a vest.
Notice "Hotvedt" in the window and on the mirror.
     Pa was not much of a sportsman - did not have time but once a year he and his cronies would go way up the Chippewa and Flanbeau Rivers and float down, fishing on the way. I remember him coming home with a tubful of fish among which were several large muskellunge.
     He was a member of The Knights of Pythias and I recall a picture of him in a group of them with his uniform, plumed hat, and sword by his side. When he died services were held in the house, many were outside who could not get in. We five boys were pallbearers and I remember that when we entered the cemetery both sides of the road were lined with his lodge brothers all in uniform.
Mother Hotvedt
     My mother was a remarkable woman. She was raised on a farm near Eleva, Wis. and it was quite customary for a farm girl to go to the city and get a job as a domestic which is what she did at the age of sixteen. She was married at the age of eighteen in 1883. She bore and raised we ten children all without the benefit of the modern conveniences we now have. None of us were born in a hospital, always at home. She was a good cook but I never knew of her having a recipe book in the house. She was good to we kids. I don't remember her ever spanking us, her favorite method of punishing us was to take us by the ear and marching us off to bed. Usually, however we would return to the head of the stairs where we could not be seen to peek at what was going on below.
     She liked company and she had plenty of it. Every afternoon was coffee time and she always had one or more in for the "kafe tjaering" as it was known in Norwegian. Evenings she had to have her half gallon of beer which she shared with Mrs. Skamser, Mrs. Rooney and others of her friends.
     Mother was an enthusiastic and devoted member of The Degree of Honor Lodge and was at one time State President. She saw to it that we kids all got policies and I'm still keeping mine up.
     My parents did not go to church themselves. Mother was too busy getting us ready for Sunday School and getting the Sunday dinner, while Dad being a saloonkeeper was not welcome but we children sure had to go. We all went to Our Saviors Lutheran Church, old Rev. Rygg was the pastor.
     After father died those were pretty rough days for us and mother's health was not very good either. Mother took in roomers for some income which she continued to do till she died. We four kids were left at home and of course we had to help run the house. World War I was on and a terrible Flu epidemic was scourging the land. So bad was it that they closed the schools for quite a while which at least gave us more time to help Mother but as I remember none of us came down with it.
     I learned how to do some cooking and baking with Mother standing by to give me directions - I know, too, it was oatmeal every breakfast. We had a nice neighbor, Mr. Baum, who was a cook in The Commercial Hotel. On schooldays one of us would go down there at noon with a pail and he would fill it with the soup of the day. That was our main nourishment every noon meal for a long time. Bubs and I, of course, always worked all through High School so we got by.
     Mother finally died at home in 1941 at the age of 76. She had high blood pressure for years and her heart finally gave out. Like at father's, funeral services were held at the house. We were afraid the floor would not take the load so we put some beams underneath for added strength. We five boys again were pallbearers.
The entire family.