Bokholt, Edna
Collection of Incoming Correspondence to Edna Bokholt, of Millboro, South Dakota, from various male suitors, friends, and family, including letters of “Earl,” who writes while attending C.M.T.C. (Citizens Military Training Camp) at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, 1936-1940

28 letters, 89 pp., (19 retained mailing envelopes), the bulk of letters are handwritten, a couple are typed, dated 16 December 1936 to 23 December 1940; all of the letters were written to Edna Bokholt; there are letters from friends and family (7), from male suitors: Darl Beier of Grand Island, Nebraska (5 letters); Earl while attending C.M.T.C. at Fort Snelling, Minnesota (7 letters); and Irvin Redlinger of Millboro, South Dakota (9 letters); the collection also includes 29 photographs, 16 are in a small album, and also an 87 manuscript pp autograph/verse book dated 1933, plus 40 pieces of paper ephemera, both printed and manuscript, including postcards, calling cards, greeting cards, invitations, newspapers clippings, telegram, brochures, programs, pages of verse, commencement cards, etc.

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      Edna Bokholt (1918-1997)


            Edna Bokholt was born 2 April 1918 in Winner, South Dakota, the daughter of August N. Bokholt (1872-1944) and his wife Velma Altheda Woodruff. Edna was enumerated living in Huggins Township, Tripp County, South Dakota, when the 1920, 1930, and 1940 Census’ were taken. The 28 letters in this collection are all addressed to Edna in Millboro, South Dakota, which is an unincorporated town adjacent to Huggins Township, also in Tripp County. It appears that the post office was located in Millboro, but Edna lived in Huggins.

            Edna’s parents were both born in Iowa and moved to South Dakota where they were married in 1912. Edna’s father, August, was the son of Wilhelm and Margaret Bokholt and was born on a farm near Keystone, Iowa, August 25, 1872. At the age of 20, he moved to a farm near Pipestone, Minnesota, along with his family and half-brother, where he helped establish a home during the drought and depression years of the early 1890’s. Bokholt then went to Hamlin County, South Dakota, where he worked as a farm laborer. In 1906 he went to Meadville, Nebraska where he lived with a Mr. and Mrs. Frank Williams and family for several years, while working in that vicinity and near Springview. He helped erect the cement store building at Meadville in 1910. At that place he met Miss Velma Woodruff, and on March 18, 1912 they were married in Winner, South Dakota. For the next 32 years they lived on their homestead near Millboro, South Dakota. Together Edna’s parents had three children: Lyle, Josephine, and Edna.


      When the 1940 Census was taken, Edna was still living at home with her parents and was teaching school. She was 21 years old. She was between 17 and 21 when these letters were written. The autograph book indicates that she was finishing up grade school and entering high school in 1933.


       Edna was married 11 August 1950 in Arlington, Virginia, at the age of 31, to Levering Kern Jones. Jones was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1922. Both Edna and Levering were working as clerks at the time of their marriage. Edna died in Arlington, Virginia on 21 August 1997.



       Some of Edna’s Correspondents and Sample Quotes from their Letters:


A man by the name of “Earl” (no last name given) wrote to Edna while he was away attending Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. CMTC provided military training for one month each summer during the 1930s at various camps around the country for young men, aged seventeen to twenty-one. Military training was held in the mornings, which consisted of practically everything that basic trainees received in the army. The afternoons were devoted to sports and athletics, with retreat parades a couple of afternoons a week. Citizens of Minneapolis and St. Paul would come out to watch the colorful spectacles. The total program consisted of four months training called the Basic Red, White, and Blue course, over four summers, after which it was possible to get a commission as a second lieutenant in the army reserve by taking a few correspondence courses, passing a final examination, and appearing before a board. There were very few officers in World War II, however, who obtained their commissions via the CMTC. Most men seemed to attend only one or two summers or, if they finished the four summer camps, never tried for a commission. The program went out of existence with the advent of World War II. Examples from Earl’s letters follow:


“Fort Snelling, Minn., C.M.T.C., Btry. A


Dear Edna,


     Sorry that I did not write sooner but have been so busy all day and tired at night. Just went to bed like a good boy.


Albert & I went to a show Sunday night also one last night. We have a show right here in camp every night, so don’t have to go up town, have not been up there so far and don’t think I will until camp is out.


Albert and I are in the same Btry. Joe is in Company A, & Harold in Co. A of the infantry, so we don’t’ get to see them very often. They go south from the fort and we go west from camp. They have rifles while we have 45 colts & machine guns and have horses & mules to ride & pull our guns for us. We have wooden barracks they are just narrow buildings and long there are 40 men to a building. There are only 1400 men up here this year and am sure that I would of never of come if I had known they were going to cut us down on our pay. I got cut down $8 on my pay so that is that.


We left home Wed. morning at 6 and arrived in St. Paul at three in the afternoon. We made about 60 all the way up here. Then we fooled around in the twin cities until evening then came out here and stayed all night. Russ Tschettes stayed the next day and night until he was sure that Joe was going to get to stay. Russ sure did hate to go back, said he was going to sign up and come up there.


Our eats sure are the bunk this year, the boys sure are kicking. Hope you had a good time the fourth? I sure did? Worked all day up here and so did Albert. Then Mon was a holiday and thought would get off and go to town, but got up in the morning and found that I was on K.P. so had to work both days, not so good?


There are boys up here from all over the U.S. Some good ones and some not so good. Lights are ready to go out so must sign off for this time. Will write again in a few days. Answer soon, Lots of Love, Earl”



“July 9, - 37, Fort Snelling, Btry. A


Dear Edna,

Well told you I would try and write twice a week, but have not done such a good job of it up to date, but will try and do better in the future.


It sure is hot up here there has not been a cloud in the sky since I arrived and the coolest its been 106 in the shade, so you see it has not been so much fun…


Yesterday we had our first parade of the month and it was very good. In about half an hour we go on another one and do I hate that, but I haven’t it so bad for I get to ride a horse while Harold is in the infantry and has to walk and that is not fun when it is 106 or 108 in the shade and the parade ground is in kind of a hollow with trees on all sides so you see there is no breeze of any kind. There are about 20 or 30 faint every day from the heat.

Every 10 days we change officers and get new ones and I sure hate that for you just get to know one and get to like him then they leave.


Every week they have a dance here in camp for the boys, and invite girls from St. Paul & Min. down but you can’t have any fun for they are all tag dances and you just get a girl and someone tags you so I don’t even try to dance any more, just sit there and watch them, then every Tuesday & Thursday they have fights that last a couple of hours.


Just came in from the parade & had supper so feel a little better for we do not have another one until Monday, so can rest in peace until then…


They have an airport right here by camp and there are more planes in the air all the time than there are cars in Tripp County. Sure, wish you were up here and we would take a good ride. Believe it or not.

I got a pretty pillow case for you and don’t know if I dare send it to you or not, so think I shall keep it until I get home and then see what you say about it.


Albert Horing is in the same Btry that I am so get to see him quite often but have only seen Harold twice and Joe once. They are way down in the infantry and that is too far for me to walk…


Hoping to see you in the future, lots of love, Earl.”



July 16, -37, C.M.T.C., Fort Snelling, Minn., Btry A


Dear Edna,


     Sure have been disappointed in you for have sat here day after day and not a sign of a letter from you. If you can’t write please send a postcard…


Well Monday we got payed, but have not been able to got to town as yet for Wed. was on K.P. so Harold & Albert went up and had a pretty good time, so think I will go up tomorrow.


We only work in the morn and have to go out for some kind of sport in the afternoon. I am taking up baseball, Joe boxing, Albert baseball, & don’t think Harold is taking up any kind of sport.


On Tuesday & Thursday evenings they have boxing here in camp and people from the cities can come out & watch them. They start at 6:30 & last until about 9. They are 13 3-minute rounds. Was down and seconded for Joe last night. He done pretty good. He fights again Thurs. night.


Camp is half over today sure wish that it was the last day.


Before we get out the 1st of August but think they are going to let us out the 30 so will try and be home by the 31 that is Sat. and believe me there had better be a dance somewhere in the state.

They had one here Thursday night for our Btry. Albert and I went down for a while but I did not dance. Albert danced twice. There were about 25 girls and about 200 of us boys so you see how much fun you can have. The first part of the dance is your own, then the encore of every dance is a tag dance and they all rush on the floor and you don’t’ even get your arm around a girl until someone will tag you.

Think I will go to town tomorrow & buy myself a motorcycle to come home on so then can run around the country cheap this fall, so if you want go to a dance with me you will have to ride on the buddy seat (Ha Ha) feature that!

There are about 200 boys in each company & Btry and they run Batry A. B. then company from A to F so you see how we line up and do the companies hate each other they fight day & night like cats & dogs. Every day they inspection & the best one gets the best area banner and do we fight for that. Suppose you are getting tired of listening to this some old line, but nothing to write about up here for do nothing but go to a show every night.


Hoping you are still single when I get home – HA – Write soon, Earl”


C.M.T.C. July 29,- 37


Dear Eddie:


Well you will have to excuse me this time for not writing any sooner, but have been so busy that time just flies by and never thought any more about it until received your letter today.


There is only two more days of camp left & then will be a free man again. Don’t know where you got the impression that we live in tents, but we don’t for we have nice buildings, but think we will have to live in tents next year, sure hope we don’t.


Sorry about the pillow case I got for you for someone stole it from me & can’t get another one for some time & can’t wait up here that long. Harold & I bought an old car to come home in, but don’t know for sure if we will come home, or not, if we do we will leave up here about Mon. morn then got to Springfield and then on home.


I have a good notion to join the regular army for 3 years. Sure hate to come home, for know will catch h-ll for have not sent a cent home and have not bought any clothes & still don’t have a cent.


You can tell you mother she don’t’ have to worry for have not had one beer since I left. Was only in one beer joint and that was to get something to eat in St. Paul. That is getting good for me. Believe it or not. Don’t suppose you will, better off if you don’t Ha! Ha!


I am on K.P. today, but we did a good job and get off for a few hours this afternoon, but getting close to supper time so will have to go back to work.


Tomorrow is visitation day and any one can come and visit camp & eat and don’t think there won’t be plenty of them here.


If you answer this letter write it home and let me know what you want to do or go, or maybe you don’t want me come down when I get home?

We don’t’ have any more work to do after today, unless we have special duty. Hope there is a letter waiting for me when I get home. Hoping to see you soon, love Earl”


        Darl Beir


The collection also includes five letters written by Darl Beier. He wrote to Edna from Grand Island, Nebraska, and one letter from Salt Lake City. He appears to be working for “U.P.” (United Pacific) in a “steel gang,” and later finds work with the “Diamond Eng. Co.” working 11-hour shifts, and still later hauling gravel on 12-hour shifts:


“Grand Island, May 21, 1940


Dear Edna,


Just rec’d your letter this evening and was really glad to hear from you…I went to work for the Diamond Eng. Co. and boy do we put in the hours, about 12 every day, but then they pay by the hour so that isn’t bad.

Yesterday a boy friend of mine from Los Angeles was here in town, so I laid off & showed him the fair city of G.I. We had quite a time but then you know how dead it is here on a Monday. But he’s coming back through a week from Sat., so then I’ll have to take him to the Glovera.


Gene Pieper played there last Sat. He wasn’t so bad. I had quite a bit of fun, but I think they had better dance last Tues. night. That was the “Back to the Rails” celebration. They did have a large crowd here considering the weather. It was rainy and windy all day, but everybody got to see Gracie. She is surely nice, an even better looking than her pictures. Everybody was so busy looking for her I don’t think they even noticed George Burns was along.

Well Edna, I can’t think of anything more to write this time, so I’ll close hoping you’ll answer real soon.

Sincerely, Darl


P.S. What are you trying to do make me jealous? You better tell that ex-boyfriend to stay away or I will be…”


       Irvin Redlinger


Redlinger wrote 9 letters to Edna. He appears to have previously attended high school with her before dropping out. He regrets dropping out of high school, as he had a lot of fun, but did not care to take exams. He now works at odd jobs, as a car mechanic, dishwasher, etc., and wrote to Edna wishing to go back to school and hoping that she’ll stay in school and go to college:


“Millboro, S. Dak, Dec 16, 1936


Dearest Edna:

I received your letter & thought it was very nice of you to answer right away. I appreciated it very much.


How is school by now? Hope fine. I wished I could be coming down there one of these days probably be drifting in there as soon as I can. Been working pretty hard this week, kinda thought I was a mechanic & been overhauling Chas [Letches’] car…


I sure hate I quite high school. Can’t have the fun I did then. I had a lot of fun at the party.  But I wished I’d stayed with you instead of every girl that was down there almost.


Does Albert Hawey still go with Verl or don’t you know or care anything about it. I don’t care that’s a cinch. Well as its getting late must close with love, Irvin Redlinger.”


    There are also 7 letters in the collection written by friends and family members, including her mother Mrs. A. N. Bokholt, of Millboro, South Dakota (3); a friend, Mrs. Kathryn Grayton Kurzenherger, of Norfolk, Nebraska (1); a friend Leo Coughlin, of Pisgah, Iowa (1); Lawrence of Keyapaha, South Dakota (2):

“Monday June 5, 1939


Dear Edna,


Your letter arrived Sat. Am still living. Will ans. your letter and comment as I go along. So, Gertrude thinks she will finish that’s fine and it wouldn’t pay her people to make a flying trip at the expense. ‘Son’ it seems, appears periodically. Sat nite. What does he do? What shall I do? You say that’s for you to say of course you are the one that lives with him. You are very wise in waiting to, at least prepare yourself for a position.


I hardly see how you can marry on air, although many do, then wonder why they did it. How come you just discovered him this spring did they just move there? I feel that Papa knows ‘Son’ better than you do, so study them both. Their home life every day that’s the one you live with not the Sunday life. Tues. morn while waiting for the water to heat for the Sept will say a few words. Drove into town late yesterday P.M. Mrs. F. said Vi got a pkg. from you so I suppose you might hear from her. I am also washing a little. Has been so windy the past 2 days and another one from the south. May bring us a rain, which we could use nicely. Joe’s shoulder still hurts, but he works, has started over his corn a 2nd time. I have 73 chicks now, one died yesterday morn don’t know whether a bird picked it or not.

Getting back to Son. He is very young in this day & age for a family.  Has he ever been away from home? I think you know your mind but I doubt if he does and I would give him plenty of rope for the next yr there if he still thinks the same plenty of time to think of marriage. Especially if he shows good intention of saving for a home.


For Heaven’s Sake keep your head no man is worth going Ga Ga over. At least I’ve never seen one that even had a bud for wings. There are so many things to consider. And we are expecting the $110.00 at 5% returned. We really need it. I think that is no more than fair. What we have sent your otherwise we’ll forget about…


In reading over your letters find that you have been escorted home at least 3 times. Talk about haste. If your Pa had mentioned marriage the third time out I think I would have ditched him and driven the team home by myself. Nuff said.


Talking of grandchildren Yes, I will be very much pleased (in due time0 to greet a little one. I suppose I am in order to be great great aunt by Dolores’ marriage. Tho’t to get a letter from Josephine today. She said they went to see the gifts but never said if they were married.


As for the Catholic part. You know they are not called Christians however we know there are good Christians in the church. As for attendance at services, that is quite a habit with some people especially Catholics. Show is quite a thing with them. But many do not realize it as such. You will find if you follow the teachings of Christ that he made himself very inconspicuous doing things in a simply way and simple things in a natural way called miracles. I couldn’t follow the Catholic rules of the church…


Here is the dearest of love to you, your parents Dad & Mother”