The reach of history

Kathleen J. McCully,
Executive Director

Isanti Co. Historical Society

A phone call last week made me realize that history connects us in a variety of ways. Certainly it bridges generations over time, but it also connects us in the present day even though we may not even live near one another. I see this on Facebook, when Past Board President Roger Anderson posts older family photos of his siblings and other relatives. They make me smile, because I have similar photos from the same time frame. I see it when photos are posted of new babies, just starting their journey in life, yet already making history, and I see it when Past Board President Tesha Christensen posts updated photos of herself and daughter Josie as they explore their new neighborhood by bike.

Robert’s Range Riders, Green Lake area, Isanti County, Minnesota c. 1940-50s. Robert Jensen, Sr. on bass, Robert “Bobby” Jensen, Jr., est. age 8, Richard “Ricky” Jensen, est., age 3. The other fellows are still “mystery men” and probably in their late 60s to early 70s. Anyone know them?

I have always said that “history is created every day, by everyday people, doing everyday things.” Last December I ran a photo from the Carlson negatives of a band decked out in really classy western outfits. A call was received from Janet Swedeen Sundvall on Dec. 21 who said, “I used to play with that band when I was 16. The name of the band was Jensen’s Country Band, but I don’t remember the name of the band members other than Robert, Ricky, and Robert Jr.” I tucked away the note, until Dec. 28 when I received a call from Howard Erickson from Florida. He said “I received an issue in the mail of your article and the photo, and three in the photo are Bob, Ricky, and Bobby Jensen from the Green Lake area.” I added his note to Janet’s.

Then, a month or so later I received a call from the older boy in the photo, Robert “Bobby” Jensen, Jr. He is now retired and living in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. We had a long chat and he said that the name was Robert’s Range Riders. It was a part-time band, and over the years many local musicians played with the band, and that he too, did not remember the names of the others in the photo. The call I received April 2 was from Joyce Jensen, the 86-year old matriarch of the family from Hamilton, Montana. Joyce was so excited to have been sent a copy of my article (by her sister in Arizona) and this photo. She feels that Bobby was about 8-years-old and Ricky about 3. She said the bass player was her husband, Robert who passed away in 2000. I told her about all of the people who had called, including her son Bobby, Janet and Howard from Florida. “Oh, Howard is my cousin. So that’s where he ended up.”

From Minnesota, this one photo has brought back memories and history to Springvale Township, Florida, Grand Rapids, Arizona, and Hamilton, Montana. What was a part-time venture, to make and share music, to spend time with family and friends, also created a snapshot in time and history that today brings together family and friends again from the four corners of our nation. Go figure!

Friday marks Week 41 since the fire. We are still salvaging freeze-dried documents and compiling replacement lists for the worst of the burned items. I have had positive results and replacement donations for a number of the items that have previously been published and plan to provide an updated list in my next update. In the meantime, if you would like to volunteer to assist us in trimming or scanning, please let me know. Here are other ways to support ICHS during our marathon journey in recovery and rebuilding.


• By US Mail to 1700 E. Rum River Drive S., Suite K, Cambridge, MN 55008

• At

• At Cambridge State Bank.

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