The quest for Foresth Clylan Ranum

Freman Ranum[G] met Clara Johnson[G], probably in Strathcona[en.WP] village in Roseau County, Minnesota. I will get to Foresth in a minute.

Freman was born with that name, but most of his life was known as Freeman, except by that census taker in 1900 who spelt it Frimand. He was the youngest son of Sigrid (Siri, Sarah)[G] and Knut (Knute, Knud)[G] Nilsen Ranum (of Ranaim, Nordre Aurdal, Skrutvold og Svennæs, Oppland, Norway), so I suppose the translingual alternate naming was rather natural.

In 1917, at the age of 25, Freman filled out his forms for the USA’s Selective Service. This would later be called World War I, but at the time it was just the draft registration for what was being called the Great War in Europe. He was already living in Deer Township, in Roseau County, in Strathcona where he worked as a butter maker.

This was not a new career for him. In 1910 he was boarding with his older brothers Benhard[G] and Benny[G] in Warren and while neither of them had fixed positions he, ten years their junior, was working at the creamery there as a butter maker. (Benhard may have been working on something else – Julia Opseth[G] was recorded on the same census as a servant in the boarding house, and married Benhard a year later at the Rindahl Church.)

But only 17 months after he registered he married Clara in Pennington County. His father-in-law, Edwin or Edward Johnson[G], lived in Huntly Township at the time, and it seems possible the young couple were living with them. 276 days from the marriage, Freman and Clara’s son Foresth Clylan Ranum[G] was born.

First, allow me a brief digression regarding that name, spelt that way. I can find no reason for this spelling; it is not a Norwegian spelling (in either Bokmål or Nynorsk.) One can possibly accept a phonetic spelling for Foresth – ‘th’ in many languages using a Latin-derived script is a diagraph used to represent the Greek letter Theta (θ), which was an aspirated stop (/tʰ/ in IPA[A]). But so far as I can discover Clylan has no relative justification. It is possible John Johnson (no known relationship), the recorder, was unable to understand Freman, and wrote down some nonsense. Note that Freman is the recorded attending father; Foresth was born at home, and it is perhaps possible that Freman was not altogether comprehensible when he reported 21 days later. Another amateur genealogist has the name as Forest Clayton Ranum, which seems at least as unlikely as Foresth Clylan but looks better to my eyes.

Okay, back to baby at days 276 post-marriage. I mention this because it seems most first children in this generation (and the one previous) of this branch seem to have been miraculous 7 month babies. This one was ever-so-slightly more than full-term, a true honeymoon baby. And therefore perhaps justified that unbelievably spelt name.

Foresth, though, experienced severe catastrophic familial breakdown. He was not quite two months old when his father died; before the first marriage anniversary. I have not been able to discover how Freman Ranum died, though I am searching the local papers. Foresth and his mother appear in his grandfather Johnson’s household five months later in the 1920 US Federal census. In the 1930 census, as Forest C. Ranum, he is still with his grandfather, but his mother is not.

If you followed that link to Clara Ranum’s genealogy entry, you might not have seen anything; as we do not know of her death, the software assumes she is still living and therefore protects her privacy. In 1926 a Clara Ranum married Tom Hughes in St. Louis county. Presumably a different Clara Ranum married William Schoeberl in Mower county in 1928. Either of these might be our widowed Clara, and would at least be a less tragic possibility. But Foresth was without parents by age 10.

And the only other event we have in his life is an entry in the Social Security index of his death – he died in 1996, in Montana.

So there are several mysteries here, little hooks which will not let my attention go. What happened to Clara? there is no death record in Minnesota for her under that name. If she married, who? where? when? any half-sibs for Foresth? And how did his life unfold? Did he marry, have kids? How did he end up in Montana? Did he ever connect with his Ranum relations who also moved to Montana? Where is he buried?

And, just because I am who I am, are there any pictures?