By Linda Andersen
Take a quick peak at Trish Short Lewis’ blog St. Vincent Memories and read of former Kittson County resident Ephraim Clow who was well-known in the 19th century walking sport of pedestrianism. Go on to read about Louis Edgar Rogers, a promising young boxer who was born in St. Vincent and who was murdered in Panama at age 32. Then be introduced to Elmer, who once owned a gas station in Humboldt, and his reclusive sister, Mae. You’re just beginning to experience the treasure of stories and old letters which one finds on the blog, begun by Trish in 2005.
Curt Brown, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, penned an article about the blog in 2015 in which he aptly stated, “It’s a delicious compendium of historical stuff that is well worth exploring. Warning: Once you dive in, it might take hours before you’ll surface.”
St. Vincent Memories has won a number of awards, including the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s 2015 Excellence in Local History Award.
Who is Trish Short Lewis, whose blog provides hours of entertainment and which has caught the attention of some prominent people? Contacted by email, the resident of Pennington County was spending extended time with family in Nashville. One of her first statements to the interviewer was, “I am SO proud of being a native of Kittson County.”
What else can one learn of the prolific blogger? First, she has deep family roots in Kittson County: “Several branches of my family came with the waves of immigration to Kittson County from Canada, both PEI and Ontario, around 1880 – Fitzpatrick, Fitzgerald, Clow, Thomson, Balderston, Matthews, Cameron, etc. My mother always used to laughingly say we were related to virtually the entire county. My parents were Gordon and Harriet (Fitzpatrick) Short of St. Vincent, Minn. They met one summer in 1938 when my Dad came to work at his uncle’s restaurant, Short’s Café. I was born in Emerson because in 1959 that was the closest hospital. I grew up in St. Vincent, and attended school in both St. Vincent and Humboldt as part of the consolidated Humboldt –St. Vincent school system. I have two siblings, my sisters Betty Thorsvig (retired) and Sharon Hannaford (an attorney).”
Trish shared a bit about her college and work life: “After high school, I attended college for one year, with intentions to continue, but life sometimes had other ideas. I took a detour with marriage and two children before going back to school several years later, getting a degree in computer programming… I was offered a position with the Fargo Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, working as their Systems Administrator (IT). It was a fascinating and challenging job, involving hardware and software installation, maintenance, user training, and security… I retired from this job in 2010.”
Trish has two children, Eva and Daniel, both of whom live in Nashville, Tenn. Eva, a homemaker and mother of six children is involved in a variety of creative projects, including the writing of a Kurdish cuisine cookbook which will be published in the spring of 2018. Eva’s husband, Meran Abdullah, is a “Kurdish refugee and immigrant whose family survived chemical gassing by Saddam Hussein.”
Daniel works various jobs as he pursues his dream of becoming a professional musician. He plays lead guitar with local bands and writes his own music and lyrics.
Today Trisha and Bill Reynolds run a small farm, Prairie Home Farm, in Pennington County. A bee apiary is a main part of this business. Bill, an Air Force veteran, has started a program, BEES4VETS, to “help heal veterans suffering from PTSD.”
How did Trish get into blogging? “I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and in turn have had a great drive and need to express myself through writing. I sought out classes throughout my education that would help me learn more about the craft of writing – creative writing, journalism – but mainly I’ve learned how to write by simply writing. In my youth, I journalled, created my own newspaper, wrote poetry and short stories. As an adult, I’ve continued journalling, but as the Internet evolved, I discovered blogs. Blogging is an ideal form of writing, very similar to journalling or short stories, since I prefer to write in the short form.”
“I’ve always had a deep regard for history as it concerns my family and my community. I grew up around many elders and as such had a great respect for them. Visiting was a common form of entertainment then, which included regaling one another with stories of remembrance. I learned so much about my family’s and my town’s history just by listening to my mother and grandmother’s stories about them. My school, Humboldt–St. Vincent, participated in the Historical Essay Program in the 1960’s and 1970’s, providing me and other students the opportunity to interview elders about our communities’ histories. These stories were later conserved by Dennis Matthews online, who in turn has entrusted their continued preservation to myself and Kris Baldwin Ohmann.”
What advice does Trish offer to those interested in blogging? “To create a blog, you first need to decide what you want to write about, which in effect can be anything you want. It can be for business or pleasure, for creative outlet or to make money…Once you decide what you want to write about, then you need to choose a platform. Google Blogger is my platform, but there are many others like WordPress, Tumblr, etc.”
Trish intends to keep blogging and has thoughts of writing a book based on her St. Vincent Memories blog. She says her daughter may join her as editor in the project to “help me tame this beast of a challenge.”
For interesting historical reading, go to the St. Vincent Memories blog at http://56755.blogspot.com
Trish also provided links to a number of other websites related to this article:
To read Humboldt – St. Vincent students’ historical essays, go to http://www. rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mnrrvn/Red%20River%20Valley.html
To see and hear her son’s in law, Meran Abdullah’s story, go to https://youtu.be/ stNks_-jtP0?list=PLs4r0o-fAOUhxN96tqnZizOqQ_kfZvKpZ
To see projects in which her daughter Eve has been involved, go to https:// youtu.be/Vvg–9xKgm4
To learn about BEES4VETS, visit https://www.facebook.com/BeesforVets/
For help in starting a blog, visit https://startbloggingonline.com/blog-platform-comparison-chart/