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Interview with Elisabeth Hammargren Donnovin

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Title:
Interview with Elisabeth Hammargren Donnovin
Creator:
Cofrin, Mary Ann ( Interviewer )
Smith, Charles E. II ( Transcriber )
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publisher:
Matheson Historical Museum
Publication Date:
Language:
English

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Source Institution:
Matheson History Museum
Holding Location:
Matheson History Museum
Rights Management:
Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

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MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER

ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM






INTERVIEWEE: Elisabeth H. Donnovin

INTERVIEWER: Mary Ann Cofrin

TRANSCRIBER: Charles E. Smith II


March 25, 1994













C: My name is Mary Ann Cofrin, and I am conducting this interview for the Matheson
Historical Center. Would you please give your name for the tape.

D: Elisabeth H. Donnovin.

C: Where were you born, and on what date?

D: In Gainesville on February 17, 1902.

C: And your parents' name?

D: My mother was Sarah Smith Hammargren and my father was Leonard Ernest
Hammargren.

C: Where did they come from? They were not native to Gainesville, were they?

D: They were from Sweden. Or at least my father was. My mother was a native of
Maryland.

C: How did they meet and end up in Gainesville?

D: Well, my father was sent here. He was with the government with the Land Office.

C: What year was that?

D: I'm not sure of that (prior to 1899).

C: But they came to Gainesville separately?

D: They met here.

C: What year were they married? Do you know that?

D: Probably 1900 or 1901.

C: Were their parents from this country, or your mother's anyway?

D: My mother was from Maryland.

C: And her parents?

D: From Maryland, also.













C: Your father was from Sweden, and I guess his parents were from Sweden as well?
D: Yes.

C: Did you know any of your grandparents?

D: Yes, I knew my mother's people. After we moved to Washington, I saw a great deal of
them.
C: Did you go to school here in Gainesville?

D: I went to school here in Gainesville, and graduated from high school here.

C: So you graduated from Gainesville High School (GHS)?

D: Yes, that's right.

C: Where was GHS located at that time?

D: I should know the name of the building, but I can't remember the name of it.

C: Was it the old Kirby Smith building? Or was it out on University Avenue where
Buchholz used to be?

D: One of the buildings was on Buchholz property and some on Kirby Smith.

C: What are your earliest recollections of your childhood?

D: Well, my mother and I returned to Gainesville when I was nine. She had become a
widow.

C: So you were born in Gainesville, then moved away and then came back. You had been
away six or seven years maybe?

D: That's right.

C: And you lived in Washington?

D: Yes, my father was with the government there.

C: And your mother, did she have some particular reason for coming back to Gainesville?

D: Yes. She felt like she had to work, and she knew people here. And it was a better place
to live.












C: Were you an only child?
D: I was an only child.

C: What are your other early memories of the town at that time?

D: The trees and the shade.

C: Who were your friends and playmates?

D: Joanna Morris, Josephine Brooks, and Ada Hiers.

C: Do you remember what it looked like around the square downtown?

D: Certainly. By that time, the courthouse was there. And as I said before, trees.
Incidentally, there were trees all the way down University Avenue, all the way to the
University of Florida campus. There was quite a stir when they took them down.

C: Do you have a picture of your high school class?

D: Yes.

C: It looks like a picture of a girls' basketball team. GHS 1920?

D: That's correct.

C: Is that the year you graduated?

D: I think so.

C: That's a wonderful picture. It looks like a wonderful picture of the courthouse with the
girls on it. It looks like a float of some sort. Tell me about it.

D: It was a Red Cross Society Circus. They had a parade. They put all of us on the truck
to be in the parade.

C: That's wonderful. You've all got flowers around your hair and pretty dresses on. Did
they have many dances in those days?

D: I'm sure they did. They had dances until I went to college.

C: Where did you go to college?












D: I went to boarding school in Virginia for a year and then I went to FSCW and graduated
from there.

C: Did you return to Gainesville?

D: Yes, my home was here.

C: Tell me about how you met Carl Donnovin.

D: I met him at a dance, I expect.

C: Where was he living at the time?

D: In Gainesville. He was sent here on ROTC duty with the University.

C: Where did he go to school?

D: He was from Ohio.

C: What was your memory of Gainesville when you were here as a young bride? Had
Gainesville changed a lot?

D: Oh definitely. It had changed a great deal.

C: Where did you live in Gainesville as a young bride?

D: A little house on Franklin Street.

C: Were your children born in Gainesville?

D: Sally was born here.

C: And what about Joe? When did you come back to Gainesville to stay?

D: I don't remember the date, but Sally was grown and in college.

C: Was Colonel Donnovin transferred back here?

D: No, he had retired at that time.

C: What were your memories of Gainesville at that time?

D: Oh, it had changed so much. So very much. And even now it is still changing.














C: You're happy to be in Gainesville though?

D: Oh, I love Gainesville. I wouldn't have gone anywhere else when he retired, I don't
think.

C: Can you think of anything else you can tell me? Do you remember when the dial
telephones came to town?

D: No, they were here when I came back.

C: When you came back, I see. Do you remember the big fire? Were you living in
Gainesville in 1938?

D: I remember a fire downtown.

C: Were you a member of the Women's Club when you came back? Were you active in
any of those things?

D: Yes, I belonged to it briefly.

C: The population of Gainesville when you were little was quite small?

D: Gainesville was like a little postage stamp. A colorful one, though.

C: In 1900 the population was 3,633, and in 1920 it had doubled. Then in 1940 it had
doubled again. So you saw a lot of changes, didn't you?

D: I certainly have. It's different every time you go outside.

C: Can you think of anything else you can tell us about the people in Gainesville or your
earliest recollections? Your first day in school perhaps?

D: I don't remember that clearly.

C: Well, thank you for this information. It will be an addition to the Matheson Historical
Center's oral histories.




Full Text

PAGE 1

MATHESON HISTORICAL CENTER ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM INTERVIEWEE: Elisabeth H. Donnovin INTERVIEWER: Mary Ann Cofrin TRANSCRIBER: Charles E. Smith II March 25, 1994

PAGE 2

1 C: My name is Mary Ann Cofrin, and I am conducting this interview for the Matheson Historical Center. Would you please give your name for the tape. D: Elisabeth H. Donnovin. C: Where were you born, and on what date? D: In Gainesville on February 17, 1902. C: And your parents’ name? D: My mother was Sarah Smith Hammargren and my father was Leonard Ernest Hammargren. C: Where did they come from? They were not native to Gainesville, were they? D: They were from Sweden. Or at least my father was. My mother was a native of Maryland. C: How did they meet and end up in Gainesville? D: Well, my father was sent here. He was with the government with the Land Office. C: What year was that? D: I’m not sure of that (prior to 1899). C: But they came to Gainesville separately? D: They met here. C: What year were they married? Do you know that? D: Probably 1900 or 1901. C: Were their parents from this country, or your mother’s anyway? D: My mother was from Maryland. C: And her parents? D: From Maryland, also.

PAGE 3

2 C: Your father was from Sweden, and I gue ss his parents were from Sweden as well? D: Yes. C: Did you know any of your grandparents? D: Yes, I knew my mother’s people. After we moved to Washington, I saw a great deal of them. C: Did you go to school here in Gainesville? D: I went to school here in Gainesville, and graduated from high school here. C: So you graduated from Gainesville High School (GHS)? D: Yes, that’s right. C: Where was GHS located at that time? D: I should know the name of the building, but I can’t remember the name of it. C: Was it the old Kirby Smith building? Or was it out on University Avenue where Buchholz used to be? D: One of the buildings was on Buchholz property and some on Kirby Smith. C: What are your earliest recollections of your childhood? D: Well, my mother and I returned to Gainesville when I was nine. She had become a widow. C: So you were born in Gainesville, then move d away and then came back. You had been away six or seven years maybe? D: That’s right. C: And you lived in Washington? D: Yes, my father was with the government there. C: And your mother, did she have some particular reason for coming back to Gainesville? D: Yes. She felt like she had to work, and she knew people here. And it was a better place to live.

PAGE 4

3 C: Were you an only child? D: I was an only child. C: What are your other early memories of the town at that time? D: The trees and the shade. C: Who were your friends and playmates? D: Joanna Morris, Josephine Brooks, and Ada Hiers. C: Do you remember what it looked like around the square downtown? D: Certainly. By that time, the courthouse was there. And as I said before, trees. Incidentally, there were trees all the way down University Avenue, all the way to the University of Florida campus. There was quite a stir when they took them down. C: Do you have a picture of your high school class? D: Yes. C: It looks like a picture of a girls’ basketball team. GHS 1920? D: That’s correct. C: Is that the year you graduated? D: I think so. C: That’s a wonderful picture. It looks like a wonderful picture of the courthouse with the girls on it. It looks like a float of some sort. Tell me about it. D: It was a Red Cross Society Circus. They ha d a parade. They put all of us on the truck to be in the parade. C: That’s wonderful. You’ve all got flower s around your hair and pretty dresses on. Did they have many dances in those days? D: I’m sure they did. They had dances until I went to college. C: Where did you go to college?

PAGE 5

4 D: I went to boarding school in Virginia for a year and then I went to FSCW and graduated from there. C: Did you return to Gainesville? D: Yes, my home was here. C: Tell me about how you met Carl Donnovin. D: I met him at a dance, I expect. C: Where was he living at the time? D: In Gainesville. He was sent here on ROTC duty with the University. C: Where did he go to school? D: He was from Ohio. C: What was your memory of Gainesville when you were here as a young bride? Had Gainesville changed a lot? D: Oh definitely. It had changed a great deal. C: Where did you live in Gainesville as a young bride? D: A little house on Franklin Street. C: Were your children born in Gainesville? D: Sally was born here. C: And what about Joe? When did you come back to Gainesville to stay? D: I don’t remember the date, but Sally was grown and in college. C: Was Colonel Donnovin transferred back here? D: No, he had retired at that time. C: What were your memories of Gainesville at that time? D: Oh, it had changed so much. So very much. And even now it is still changing.

PAGE 6

5 C: You’re happy to be in Gainesville though? D: Oh, I love Gainesville. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else when he retired, I don’t think. C: Can you think of anything else you can te ll me? Do you remember when the dial telephones came to town? D: No, they were here when I came back. C: When you came back, I see. Do you reme mber the big fire? Were you living in Gainesville in 1938? D: I remember a fire downtown. C: Were you a member of the Women’s Cl ub when you came back? Were you active in any of those things? D: Yes, I belonged to it briefly. C: The population of Gainesville when you were little was quite small? D: Gainesville was like a little postage stamp. A colorful one, though. C: In 1900 the population was 3,633, and in 1920 it had doubled. Then in 1940 it had doubled again. So you saw a lot of changes, didn’t you? D: I certainly have. It’s different every time you go outside. C: Can you think of anything else you can tell us about the people in Gainesville or your earliest recollections? Your first day in school perhaps? D: I don’t remember that clearly. C: Well, thank you for this information. It w ill be an addition to the Matheson Historical Center’s oral histories.


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