of the Swan River Valley
100 Years in the
Swan River Valley
1898 - 1998
William and Bertha Byron
William and Bertha were both born in Iceland. William in 1861 -- Bertha in 1875.
They were married in 1986 in Grafton North Dakota in 1896. They had two daughters there. Blanche, born in 1897 and Anna (my mother) in 1898.
They came to Canada in 1899 by railway to Cowan then by wagon and oxen to their homestead 7 miles west of Swan River (ditch road) Big Woody’s district. Byrons first home was a sod roofed shack with a dirt floor.
Hrappsteads were neighbours to the west, and Taylors to the east.
Bertha’s twin brother, Sam Helgason lived in Crestview .Her sister Deisa, married Gunner Paulson, and lived in Big Woody.
There was plenty of hay, bush, moose, elk, deer, and wild fruit, so this helped to sustain them. They had little to work with, and endured many hardships but could always rely on a neighbour for help when needed. Now log houses were built and the family was also increasing (up to 10 children). Grandmother was a fairly good seamstress so that was an aid.
They later built a high two story house on the east side of their property, - I remember when I was small how my brothers and I would run and hide (from our uncles) upstairs in the dark alcoves.
This house burnt in the early 1930’s, and the next two story home was built further west, which is still standing today. So they lived in the granaries for a short time.
William born 1861 died 1950 - married Bertha born 1875 died 1956.
Their children were Blanche born 1897 died 1950 - married Frank Zinger - Swan River (a farmer). They had a family of three Helen, Byron, and Connie.
Anna born 1898 died 1988 - married George Schell - Swan River (a logger). They had a family of eight . Leonard, Gordon, Norma, Roy, Raymond, Geordie, Annabelle and Dale.
Harry born 1900 died 1981 - Swan River (a farmer) married Annie and had a family of three, Jeanette, Sharon and Sandra.
Dan born 1901 died 1994 - Swan River (a farmer) married Ella Taylor.
Ross born 1902 died 1966 - Swan River (a farmer) married Anne - Swan River. They had a Family of seven .Evelyn, Louis, Bruce, Ken, Clara, Donald, Gloria.
Pheobe born 1903 lives in Winnipeg MB, married Harry Standbrook - had a family of two, Grant and Wayne.
Victor born 1907 died 1952 - Swan River (a farmer) married Marion Hughes - had a family of six. Irvan, Eleanor, Lloyd, Lorraine, Verne and Wayne.
Clara born 1908 died 1974 - married Ken McKenzie - Winnipeg, MB - had a family of two. Leilone and Byron.
Bertle born in 1910 died 1988 married Dale Behrmann - Swan River (mechanic) - had a family of three. Clarence, Wilmer, Ardele.
Willie born 1912 - lives in Selkirk, MB. (farmer)
Harry, Dan, Victor, Ross, and Willie farmed in the Valley. Later Willie sold the farm to the Robshaw family and went west to work.
Bertle was a fine mechanic and had a garage on the west side of town, between 2nd and 3rd Ave. south.
Victor, Bertle and Willie were the musicians. Victor on the guitar, Bertle the banjo and Willie on the violin. They played for many dances in the Valley, in halls, schools, homes and farm lofts. One barn was on the Berhmann farm, west of the Byrons. This later became the home of Albert Mills.
In the late 1920’s Pheobe and Clara went to Winnipeg MB. They worked in Eaton and The Bay stores.
Blanche and family moved to Alberni BC, in the early 1940’s.
Those families yet with us today have very fond memories of our grandparents. Over the years many people dropped in at the Byron home and always got a warm welcome and a cup of that good Icelandic coffee.
Submitted by: Norma Eiffert
Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. These family histories were a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication. We offer publication free of charge and also provide the option for making your history book available on CD.