Professional Women of 1909, part 7

This series has covered women who ran boarding houses, worked as hairdressers, artists, principals, dentists, doctors, and lawyers.  Here are the last three women listed in the 1909 business directory for the city of Sioux Falls.  Most research comes from census and city directory information accessed through, but general online research is done too.  Sources are cited in text.

Mrs. Calvert Thompson

Mrs. Calvert Thompson was listed in the 1909 Sioux Falls business directory as a music teacher.  Frances Calvert Thompson was born in about 1875 in New Market, Virginia [Thirteenth U.S. Census, ED #331 (April 21, 1910), 5B; John W. Wayland, Men of Mark and Representative Citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham (Clearfield, 1943[2009]), 349].  She attended Hollins College, and studied music under Emil Liebling at the University Conservatory in Chicago, the Damrosch School in New York, and James Bliss in Minneapolis [Wayland, 348-349 – there’s a photo of her on Google Books].  Frances married William Bernard Thompson in about 1904 [1910 census].  Her husband was also a music teacher [Sioux Falls City Directory (1904), 301, (1911), 323].  Frances and Bernard ran a conservatory at 127 1/2 N. Phillips Ave. and/or in the Temple Court building [Sioux Falls City Directory (1904), 238, (1906), 237, (1911), 322].   After their brief time in Sioux Falls, the Thompsons went on to Minneapolis, Chicago, and settled in Harrisonburg, Virginia [Wayland, 348].  She toured as a concert accompanist, wrote sometimes as a music critic, and also played for radio broadcasting stations [Wayland, 349].

Mrs. Albertina Walstad

Mrs. Walstad was listed in the 1909 business directory as a dressmaker (though her first name was given as Berenda… not sure why).  Albertina (or Alberta) was born in about 1871 in Norway [Thirteenth U.S. Census, ED #331 (April 19, 1910), 3B].  She married Ole Walstad in about 1894; Ole died before 1909 [1910 census; Sioux Falls City Directory (1909), 275].  Albertina lived and worked at 115 1/2 N. Phillips Ave. [Sioux Falls City Directory (1909), 275, (1910), 288].  But that’s it, even running the search nationally for her or her husband, that’s all I can find about her.

Mrs. R.C. Warner

Mrs. Warner was listed in the 1909 business directory as the proprietor of the Jordon Block.  Nan (sometimes Anna) was born in about 1879 in Illinois to Irish immigrant parents and she married Robert Warner in about 1898 [Thirteenth U.S. Census, ED #334 (April 21, 1910), 4A; Fourteenth U.S. Census, ED #180 (January 2, 1920), 1B].  Robert and Nan ran the Jordan House at 225 1/2 N. Main Ave. [Sioux Falls City Directory (1909), 317; (1911), 337, (1913), 364; 1910 census].  Robert C. Warner also worked as a floor finisher and agent for a floor surfacing machine company, and briefly managed a skating rink at 211 1/2 W. 9th St., so I presume Nan ran the day-to-day operations at the rooming house [Sioux Falls City Directory (1922), 319, (1926), 345].  If it’s the right man, he also worked as a dancing teacher from the GAR Block in earlier years [Sioux Falls City Directory (1903), 252, (1904), 250].  Later, they ran a co-ed rooming house at 401 N. Minnesota Ave (6th and Minnesota, the building doesn’t appear to be extant), and Nan continued on after Robert’s death in 1930 [Sioux Falls City Directory (1915), 409, (1947), 409; 1920 census; Fifteenth U.S. Census, ED #50-25 (1930), 12A; “Robert C. Warner,” Find-a-Grave website].  Tenants had a mix of service, sales, or office occupations and were mostly single people in their 20s and 30s.  Nan died in 1950 and was buried at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Sioux Falls [“Nan H. Warner,” Find-a-Grave website].

In every city directory, there were a lot more women working in Sioux Falls than were included on the business directory list online that I was working from.  It makes me curious how they came up with that list, was it by subscription?  Or was the list abbreviated somehow in transcription… In any case, even briefly researching these thirty-three women took up a solid chunk of time–there are so many stories still out there.  It’s important as a historian to remember that although we’re trained to look at trends over time, at generalizations, at theory, that there is nearly an infinite amount of detail and variety that has existed in the past as it does today.  Our work can be incredibly important, but, by practical necessity, it’s limited to the amount of time and resources we have available.


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