Carl Tingquist

Ethnic group: 

Carl Tingquist (1887-1990), immigrated from Sweden aboard the HMS Caronia in early 1905 as Carl Gustafson. He changed hs name to Tingquist, since so many incoming Swedes were already “sons” or “sens” and heard many “Quists” so took his home town in Sweden (Tyngsrud) and added a “quist” to it – Tingquist.

Tingquist came to St Paul and hired on at the new State Capitol building as a cement worker. He moved to Halstead, MN to do farm work, then on to Superior to work the ore docks.  Carl returned to St Paul in 1907 and worked for Standard Stone.  Next, he traveled to Valley City, ND and then to a U.S. government project on the Lower Yellowstone River.

Carl saved $800 and returned to Sweden in the fall of 1908, returning spring 1909 with his younger brother Eric.  They lived on Sturgis Street.

Carl took the train to Montana, hearing of jobs being a lumberjack.  He got off the train, walked 45 miles to the camp, but it was too cold for the machinery to operate, so he walked back to the big city.  He saw a shooting and the shooter stole a horse to get away.  The accused was tried and hung for stealing the horse.

Carl met Anna Gustafson (1890-1982) and the two were married in 1912 as Carl and Anna Tingquist.  In 1913, they moved to a farm near Becker, MN. Carl farmed the land into his 90s. 

The Tingquists had many Swedish friends who worked for James J Hill as housekeepers and staff if JJ’s home. When JJ Hill would go on a trip, taking JJ’s family, the servants would invite Swedish friends to come visit for a while.  So Carl stayed in the Hill house long ago.

Carl's brother Frank Tingquist (grand father of Craig Tator) arrived 1912 and followed Carl, till Frank was hired by St Paul Union Depot, and worked there 1920-1953.  He retired and moved to another farm near Carl in Becker.

Legend had it that Charles Lindbergh would visit and stay with the Tingquist’s on Charles trips through the area.  ("No real proof, but old Swedes did not lie," wrote Craig Tator.) 

The couple had two children.  Son Stanley worked for Westinghouse out east, and worked during WWII on a new material, titanium.  He has 10 US Patents on jet turbine blades.  He was told to write nothing down about his work, to commit it to memory.  Their daughter Rozella Gunderson was National Teacher of the Year, many years ago.  She was also a WCCO “good neighbor of the year” in 1970.

Carl was big in the DFL in the Becker area, and he and Annay received an invitation to JKFs inauguration, but did but not attend.  A tornado in1967 almost took the entire farm, just left the house standing barely damaged, the rest of the farm gone.

When the Archdiocese of St Paul returned the James J Hill home to the Minnesota Historical Society, some heard that the servants used to invite Swedish friends in to the house, when the Hill family traveled.   Somebody heard that an ”old guy” in Becker was one of "them invited swedes."  A few phone calls, and Carl was invited to the Hill home for his memory of the way the home was in those days.  Carl forgot nothing.  That is when he mentioned he work on the new Capitol Building in 1905. 

Staff heard that a living worker on the Capitol was in town, and Governor Rudy Perpich declared a certain day in 1978 “Carl Tingquist Day” in Minnesota.  Carl’s daughter Rozella said of the photo – “Look who is doing the talking, and who is doing the listening”  Carl was telling Rudy what he thought about the way the State was being run.

At Carl’s 100th birthday,  his 80 year old son leaned across the table and said “Dad, would you like another cup of coffee?”  Quite a sight to see an 80 year old talking to his dad.

Craig recalls, "He still spoke with that Swedish accent.  I cut a load of firewood from his farm.  He said “Dats quite a yag of wood you got dere.”  Yag meant jag, a pile.  When the Russian space station fell to the ground, parts fell across the Sherburne county area.  NASA folk checked out Carl’s farm.  Carl said “Dees guys from NASA came out wit dere geeger counter looking for space yunk!”  Geiger counter, junk."

"It was great to visit my great uncle and his wife.  Coffee break at 10:00 AM every day.  Swedish egg coffee and fresh home made donuts, and the kids sat at the table, drank our Swedish coffee, and we would giggle at his Swedish accent stories.  Then he would go back to work the farm.

At 103, Carl walked out to the mailbox, slipped and fell and the cold weather got him. Carl and his wife Anna are buried in the Snake River Cemetery in Becker, Sherburne County, MN.

This information was provided by Carl's great-nephew, Craig Tator