Rena Lerfald was born 25 September 1890 in Minnesota, the youngest surviving child of Peder Johnsen Lerfald and Regina Lerfald. Her parents, Norwegian immigrants, were first cousins to each other. It is not known for sure where exactly in Minnesota Rena was born; it is believed to be in or around Zumbrota, Goodhue County, since early photographs of her were taken in Zumbrota studios. Rena's older siblings were: Sofia "Sophy" Lerfald (Mrs. Line) (1882 - 1959); John Lerfald (1884 - 1966); Anna Lerfald (Mrs. Nelson) (1886 - 1960); and Ole Lerfald (1888 - 1956). An infant, Nannie Lerfald, was born after Rena, but died young.
Not much is known about Rena's early life. Perhaps she moved to Wisconsin with her parents, who were living in Eau Galle Township, St. Croix County in 1920. We do know that somehow she ended up living in Glendive, Dawson County, Montana, where she married George Rice Westaby, III on 4 July 1915. There is a story that she worked as a maid for a wealthy family; perhaps she moved out West with them. At any rate, she and George became parents of their only child, Helen Mary Westaby, on 28 October 1915 in Glendive.
In 1920, the Westaby family moved to the Yakima Valley in Yakima County, Washington, where they lived in a small community called Sawyer. In 1930, they were living in the community of Parker, in a rented house along the Inland Empire Highway, just down the road from their future son-in-law, John Franklin Midkiff, Jr., and his family. In 1943, George and Rena bought a house in Sawyer, in which they lived out the rest of their days. Family records also show that at sometime during her life, Rena lived in Forsyth, Rosebud County, Montana (probably before 1920) as well as Yakima and Glede, both in Yakima County, Washington (most likely after 1920).
Rena was a skilled needlewoman, crocheting intricate doilies and antimacassars, and elaborate dining-room-sized tablecloths. She also embroidered and quilted. My husband remembers his great-grandmother being a wonderful cook.
Rena passed away in Central Memorial Hospital in Toppenish, Yakima County, on 12 July 1966. She was buried three days later in Lower Valley Memorial Gardens, Sunnyside, Yakima County. Although she was a faithful Lutheran, the officiant at her funeral was a Church of Christ minister - perhaps from her husband's church.
Helen Mary Westaby - my husband's paternal grandmother
More about my husband's great-grandmother, Rena Lerfald, can be found in the upcoming AnceStories of her parents, Peder Johnsen Lerfald and Regina Lerfald, and in the AnceStories of her husband George Rice Westaby, III, and their daughter Helen Mary Westaby.
Information sources: Loretta Larson, Helen Tucker, Carol McMaster, Troy Midkiff, Norm Midkiff, 1920 and 1930 Federal Censuses, Property Deeds, Washington State Death Index for 1965 - 1969, and the Memorial Book of Rena Lerfald Westaby. Photo of Rena Lerfald, taken Zumbrota, Minnesota, c. 1900 - 1902, courtesy of Troy and Mike Midkiff.
page created: 23 Mar 2004
updated: 27 Dec 2004
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