Kremlin Homesteader James Holsapple, 1912

This history of Kremlin Homesteader James Holsapple was written by his grand-daughter, Judi Holsapple Gomke.

Kremlin Homesteader James Holsapple was among the earliest arriving
Kremlin area homesteaders in 1912.

James Franklin Holsapple was born November 14, 1880, in Minnesota to James W. Holsapple and Flora Minerva Croslund. He married on June 22, 1899, in Little Falls, Minnesota, Lenora (Nora) Jeanette Mansfield born July 13,1878, in Minnesota to Franklin E. Mansfield and Mary Jane McDonald.

In 1912, James and his oldest son, Roland F. came to Montana in a boxcar with all their possessions and animals to homestead south of Fresno. It was a free trip from James J. Hill to get people to farm in the west, thus utilizing his railroad.

Nora and the three daughters, Marcia Irene Jeanette, Viola Lucille, and Mildred Lorraine; and son Maurice Edwin (Hap) followed on the passenger train to Kremlin.

Teddy Oltesvig picked them up from the train and drove Nora and the children to the Holsapple homestead near Fresno.

By then Nora's parents, Franklin and Mary Jane Mansfield, were on the adjoining homestead. Irene years later talked about seeing the red and white checkered curtains blowing out of the Mansfield's homestead window as she arrived.

Life on the homestead

The Holsapples had five more children while they lived at Fresno. They were Margret Oline and Ada Marie (twins), Grace Millicent, Ira Lawrence (Bud), and Clifton Eugene. Grace died on the homestead, choking on fresh peas in the garden at two years of age.

James was the Sunday School Superintendent at the Presbyterian Church in Fresno (a building used by various denominations). His children told about him braiding the manes and tails of the team on Saturday so the horses looked good on Sunday morning.

The older girls hated the brown stockings they had to wear to school so they sometimes hid them along the road on the way as they walked to the schoolhouse. Irene and Lucille went to Kremlin High School but since it was a two year school they had to finish in Havre.

School Days

Hap went to Fresno High School until his Senior year in 1924, and went to Havre High to graduate.

His classmates at Fresno High were Morris Berg, Frank Schend, Florence Brokelsby, Hazel Thomas, Frances Thomas, Evelyn Thomas, Chuck Bulman, Tom Bulman and Annie Sohm.

He wrote about he and his Fresno classmates riding on the train to watch the blowing up of Black Butte near Havre for the new highway and then the 17-mile walk home.

Beyond Farming

Jim Holsapple held several positions over time in addition to being a homesteader and farmer. He is listed in the 1910 Census in Minnesota before coming to Montana as a teamster in a paper mill.

During his time in the Kremlin/Fresno area, he managed a large road-building crew which helped upgrade U.S. Highway No. 2, (then known as the Theodore Roosevelt Highway) the first improved road in the Havre area, under a Hill County project. In 1924 James accepted the position of manager of the H. Earl Clack farm southwest of Havre.

James died at 46 years of age in 1925. His sudden death left Nora to raise their children, working at many things to keep her family together. She rented rooms to college student because there were no dorms at the close-by Northern Montana College. She sold homemade bread, and cooked, did laundry and mending at the Kennedy Deaconess Hospital.

When Nora was in danger of losing her family home in Highland Park (Havre) she wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for help and she got it. Her oldest son, Roland, was a great help to his mother getting the other siblings raised. Nora died in 1955.

Jim Holsapple and road crew 1921

Jim Holsapple and his roadbuilding crew at Pacific Junction west of Havre in 1921.
Photo reprinted by permission and courtesy of Havre Public Library
from Grit Guts and Gusto, A History of Hill County. Click photo to enlarge.

Havre Daily News Promoter
January 21, 1925

Funeral services for the late James Holsapple, who died last Monday morning at the Sacred Heart hospital will be held at 2:30 this afternoon from the Presbyterian church and interment will be in Highland cemetery.

The deceased was 46 years of age and was born in Morrison county Minnesota. He settled on a homestead near Fresno in 1912 where he lived with his family until March 1924 when he accepted the position of manager of the H. Earl Clack farm southwest of the city.

The late Mr. Holsapple was an elder in the Presbyterian church here and had been very active in church affairs. He was a leader of the church community life of Fresno. The surviving members of the family besides the widow, Mrs. James Holsapple, are daughters Mrs. James Gibson, Lucille, Mildred, Ada, and Margaret; and sons Ira, Roland, Morris, and Clifton.

The funeral will be in charge of Rev. W. M. Failey, Rev. Robt. W. Newman of Helena, and the Rev. Conrad Wellen, pastor of the church.

Mr. Holsapple, who has long been a resident of Hill County, has been engaged in farming at Fresno and has been director of road construction on the highway.

He was apparently in good health and it was not until early November that it was learned he was suffering from anaemia. Upon his visit to the Deaconess hospital at Great Falls the doctors pronounced it a pernicious form. In the following weeks he underwent four transfusions of blood which proved to be only of temporary benefit. He has been confined to his bed the past two weeks, and after a few days of rapid change, the end came quickly Monday morning at 9 o'clock.

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