Ida Johnson was born in Drogsta Sodermanland Sweden to Jonas Eric and Clara Karoline (Carlson) Anderson on March 1, 1864. She had two brothers and three sisters who have lived in Mandan. Ida, together with her sister Ericka, came to America in 1884 and arrived at Mandan Dakota Territory.
An Uncle Axel Lunn had filed on a homestead about two years earlier and the girls spent their first two weeks in Dakota at his homestead near Mandan. Mr. Lunn, a bachelor, had only a small homesteader's shack and the girls did not like it on the homestead so after two weeks they went to Mandan where they secured work as housemaids.
Ida found a job in the home of a Mrs. Noonan who lived on Fifth Ave NW. It was hard for her at first as she could not understand English which was the language of her employer. She worked for Mrs. Noonan about two months and after that worked at the Central House, a boarding house on Collins Ave. While working there she met her future husband Andrew who was among the residents there.
In the fall of 1885 Ida secured a position as second girl at the home of Colonel Thompson, an officer at Fort Abraham Lincoln. They also employed a cook. Ida's duties were to clean house and wait on tables, and her pay was fifteen dollars a month. The Thompsons had two daughters who lived with them at the fort. Both were musicians, did painting and fine needlework and in this way they spent their time. They never did any work around the house. Mrs. Thompson was a very particular housekeeper and Ida learned a great deal about American customs and also how to speak and understand English quite well. She was employed at Ft. Lincoln about a year.
Mr. Thorberg who was employed as a clerk in a Mandan store often came out to see her walking the distance when there was no other way available. One November 13, 1886 Ida Johnson and Andrew Thorberg were married at the home of Mr. and Mrs Pete Johnson in Mandan where Mr. Thorberg had been a boarder for some time. Reverend L. E. Danks of the Presbyterian church officated and the Johnsons were the only witnesses.
The first home of the Thorbergs' after their marriage was a small two room prairie house which they rented in the northern section of town now known as "Happy Hallow." However at that time it was called "Swede Hallow" because of the large number of Scandianavian families who lived there. They subsequently lived in a number of other rented homes until about 1910 when they built a home at 401 1st Ave NW. They lived until the time of Mr. Thorberg's death in 1921. Afterward, Ida Thorberg sold the home and lived with her daughters Mr. John Kleinschmitt and Mrs. H. L. Diebert, both of whom lived in Mandan.
Remembering experiences of the early days Mrs. Thorberg recalled the Indian scare of 1890. Kept rather close at home with three small children, the youngest George only two weeks old, she knew nothing of the excitment until the farmers started flocking into town. Mr. Thorberg, not wishing to frighten her, had told her nothing about it. The people of Mandan gave the people of the homesteads shelter in their homes. Twenty people stayed at the Thorberg home for about a week, making themselves as comfortable as they could on the floor.
The Thorbergs were charter members of the Scandinavian Lutheran Church but later withdrew from that church and joined the Baptist organization.
Andrew and Ida Thorberg were the parents of eight children: Eric A. born in Mandan in 1887: Clara Higgins, born in Mandan in 1889; George E. born in Mandan in 1890; Harry S. born in Mandan in 1892; Lilly Kleinschmitt born in Mandan in 1894; Ida Diebert born in Mandan in 1897; Clifford born in Mandan 1899; Robert V. born in Mandan in 1905.
Ida Johnson Thorberg died on September 9, 1949. She is buried beside her husband, who died on 2 February 1929, in Mandan's Union Cemetery.
This biography is based entirely on the entry for Mrs. Thorberg in the Morton County Roots published in 1976 by the Morton County Historical Society. Our thanks to Bob Barr for sharing the portrait of Mrs. Thorberg from his collection.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3102 37th St; PO Box 98; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at email@example.com or leave message at (701) 663-5200