The following essay was written by Karleen Joy Karlsson Halaschak, daughter of Bernice Nelson Karlsson:
Bernice Caroline Nelson Karlsson and her brother, Donald Byron Nelson, resided in Lowell, IN, from 1928 until their deaths. Bernice -- date of birth: Sept 18, 1909; date of death: Sept 18, 1998. Donald -- date of birth: Dec 30, 1912; date of death: Feb 23, 1976.
Bernice Caroline Nelson arrived from Franklin, IN, where she and her brother, Donald Byron Nelson, had resided at the Indiana Masonic Home since the death of their natural father, Carl Oscar Nelson (date of birth: Dec 28, 1882; date of death: Nov 5, 1921). Their father was a 32nd Degree Mason, and at his death his surviving children were entitled to benefits that provided housing and an education. Their mother, Florence Isabelle McCune, signed the necessary papers to send her oldest daughter and only son to be cared for and schooled at the home on May 22, 1922. The youngest daughter, Ruth Marie Nelson (date of birth: Feb 20, 1920), an infant, remained with her mother because the Indiana Masonic Home did not have quarters or staff to care for infants.
On July 1, 1928, Bernice arrived in Lowell, IN, to take up residence with Carl E. Mahler and his wife, Charlotte E. (Hajic) Mahler, who lived at the intersection of Rt #2 and what was called Joe Martin Rd. In 1929 her brother Donald arrived to live with them and work for Carl Mahler's house moving business. They shared the Mahlers' loving and caring way of life for the next 23 years until the death of Charlotte in 1951.
Bernice was content to assist Charlotte (also called Lottie) with the many household chores, and there were many because the Mahlers also took in boarders that needed breakfast, lunches and clean clothes. The borders were the men who made up the road construction crews who were grading, paving and finishing the old Harding Highway into what is now State Highway Rt. #2.
In addition to moving houses, Carl also moved farm buildings, raised up entire barns to replace crumbling foundations, and built bridges and installed piers in Cedar Lake. His wife was also his secretary, timekeeper and accountant. True partners in life.
Bernice also worked as a relief and night switchboard operator for the Indiana Bell Telephone Company which had their office in downtown Lowell. She began July 13th, 1928, under the guidence of Ada Deathe, who along with her twin sister, Ida, were supervisors for the Lowell telephone office. The other girls who worked as telephone operators were: Mable Hayden, Lucille Rudolph, Tish Clark, Madge Rolston, Delpha Bruce, Dorothy Peterson, Thresa Kuger, Caroline Burns, Mayme Dier, and Evelyn Rudolph. Bernice continued to work for Indiana Bell until 1940.
On May 9th, 1938, Bernice married Fritjof Ferdinand Karlsson (date of birth: April 3rd, 1907; date of death: Nov. 4th, 1974), who was born in Jakobsberg, Sweden. From this union there were three children: Karleen Joy Karlsson Halaschak (date of birth: Sept. 25, 1939), Karl Joseph Karlsson (date of birth: Nov. 22, 1940), and Craig Daniel Karlsson (date of birth: Sept. 27, 1948).
Bernice was active in Cub Scouts (Pack 234, Den #3), the Boy Scouts, a Brownie troop, and the American Legion Aux. for Post 101, as well as being a 50-year member of the Lowell Methodist Church and a charter member of the Lowell Senior Citizens Club, serving as Sec./Treas. and past President. Bernice was also a retired board member of the South County Community Services and a Toys-for-Tots volunteer. She lived a full life.
The years she spent with the Mahlers' extended family was always a reason to smile and share memories of the warmth of FAMILY and the pride of a town that always spelled H-O-M-E.
Donald Byron Nelson learned how to lift beams and level barns as he worked for Carl Mahler in his house moving business. Don's building training came in handy as a member of the Army's Corps of Engineers in Patton's Third Army during WWII. He was a member of the American Legion Post 101 and volunteered during the Lowell Labor Day events for many years.
His outgoing ways and sense of humor gained him the name "Unk De Bunk" -- he could always find a way to make you laugh or come to your aid when you needed a friend. Donald was married to Dorothy Carter Roy Nelson. Although he never had children of his own, he shared in the joy of Dorothy's children and grandchildren. His life with Dorothy and her family was a continuation of the value of Family that he had shared so many years before at the Mahler house.
I have shared these thoughts and memories because, as the daughter of Bernice Caroline Nelson Karlsson and the niece of Donald Byron Nelson, I felt it fitting to acknowledge my family's history. Carl and Charlotte Hajic Mahler were the only grandparents my brothers and I ever knew, and we were blessed to have been chosen to be a part of their lives all in the little farm town called LOWELL, INDIANA.
The following September 22, 1998, Lowell Tribune article was found on page 15, column 4:
Return to Lowell Biographies.