Grandpa Noah Willett (1885-1968) married Grandma Celestia Amaryllis (Lettie) Shore (1884-1963) on January 31, 1906 in St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Montevideo, Minnesota. Lettie's father was William Shore who, according to the 1880 and 1900 censuses, was born in England of English parents in May, 1841. He immigrated in 1869 at the age 28 and took up farming in Chippewa County (Montevideo area), Minnesota. The 1880 census lists his spouse as Emma (1854), who was apparently born in New York because the 1900 census lists Lettie's mother as being born there. The 1900 census does not list a wife for the family, so something apparently happened to Emma prior to 1900 and probably after 1891, the birthdate of William's youngest child.The 1880 and 1900 census list children: Mary (1876), Charles (1879), Olive (1881), Walter (1882), Lesley (1882), Letty (1884), John (1891).

Lettie was previously married to Mr. Louis Eliason, with whom she had a son Howard (5 Oct. 1903). Noah and Lettie had 4 sons, Robert (1 May, 1907), Warren (24 April, 1913), Corliss (17 Sept., 1919) and Cleon (22 Feb., 1925). The 5 boys were all raised together and treated equally. Lettie died on May 12, 1963 and Noah on March 19, 1968.


Photo about 1943
Noah and Lettie lived in Montevideo until 1912, when they moved to western, ND and homesteaded in Gilstrap Township, Adams County, about 8 miles northeast of Haynes, ND. I remember Lettie as big, dominant and talkative; Noah as little, quiet and always playing cards at Pat's Place, a farmer's bar in Lemmon. I remember often sneaking into Pat's Place and sitting on a chair behind Grampa to watch the game, which was usually 6-card rummy played for 50 cents or a dollar. Of course, I was not old enough to legally be in the place but I was big for my age, and people generally didn't pay much attention to kids in those days. It was Saturdays that we usually went to town and Gramma Lettie would sit in a car parked in front of Pat's Place and watch the people walking by or going into the bar; sometimes until midnight. She loved to talk and anybody who stopped to talk to her found it was much harder escaping than entering. I don't remember Lettie or any woman ever going into Pat's Place, which was strictly a men's sanctuary. If a wife wanted her husband for something, it was always a male kid that went in to tell him that an important person wanted him outside.

The other thing that I remember well is big Christmas dinners at Noah and Lettie's with all their children and their families who lived in the area coming. A similar event occurred on Christmas eve at the Christman's, which was the German tradition. Somewhere inbetween we, the Warren Willett family, opened our gifts.

Noah sold the farm in 1948 and bought a big rambling old house (for those days) in North Lemmon with a few acres attached and quite a bit of empty space aound it. The railroad track, which divided North Lemmon from Lemmon, ran about a hundred yards from the house and there was nothing inbetween. The railroad track was the state line between North and South Dakota, so North Lemmon was actually in North Dakota, although the primary town population (Lemmon and Pat's Place) was in South Dakota. The proverbial "wrong side of the tracks", for what that amounts to in such a small town, was, of course, the north side.

In 1948 Noah opened a restaurent (cafe) in downtown Lemmon which he operated for about 10 years. Son Cleon, who was a cook in the navy during WWII, joined the restaurent operation and continued to run it after Noah completely retired to playing cards. Because I was good at arithmetic, I occassionally filled in as cashier. I also ate many delicious rib steaks there without ever seeing a bill. Cleon, who had his mother's gabbing gene, knew a lot of people from many places. He hired a Chinese friend as cook, and, wow, could he cook! He always made me a special meal when I ate at the restaurant. Food never came any better than that! This was mostly during my high school days. Uncle Cleon, who was generous to a fault, often let me drive an old jalopy of his, and I remember many fun nights in it with high school buddies, and "parking" in the Bartholomew drive way with my high school sweetheart, Marie, during my Sophmore and Junior years. From what I observed from the Willett side of the family, generosity is a genetic characteristic. Luckily for me it was neutralized by my frugal Christman German genes.

Uncle Cleon & Friends

Home 1940's

Cleon only Willett from Mary to serve in armed forces.