Hans and Sina Haugen

FOREWORD: My grandfather and grandmother, Hans and Sina Haugen, came to Cooperstown, Griggs County, in 1882 with his brother, John J. Haugen and wife Kari.  Kari was a sister of Sina Haugen.

In the fall of 1928 or 1929 when we were threshing for Bennie H. Haugen and Grandpa Haugen at their place about twelve miles south of Cooperstown, Grandpa and I were hauling grain from the threshing machine with horses and wagons.  We did all the grain shoveling by hand, and this was during the start of the big depression; no money, and what we had to sell was not worth anything.

I was just a young boy at that time and as we sat and waited for the grain to fill up the wagon, or as we were shoveling the grain into the granary, grandpa told me how they came from Norway to America: As I remember it Grandpa told it this way.

Martin Haugen


Your grandmother and I were newlyweds in Bergen, Norway, and I was wondering how I could make a living for me and my bride.

Someone told me they were hiring men to go to America to work on large farms there.  I went to the employment office to inquire about this.  The man in charge told me there was a man by the name of Dalrymple in America who was hiring men to work in his fields and women to cook for the crew of men, and that he would pay for their ticket from Bergen, Norway to Ada, Minnesota.  This had to be paid back when they started to earn money.  Dalrymple said he wanted Norwegian immigrants as they were strong and good workers.

We got our tickets and after packing our trunks, off we sailed for America and New York after many days crossing the ocean.  We finally landed at Ellis Island, New York Immigration Station where they kept us until they were sure all our passports were in order and that we were in good health.  They finally let us go so we boarded the train and headed west. We got to a town in Goodhue County, Minnesota.  There to meet us were brother John and Karl who had left Norway the year before so we stayed with them a few days.

It was early spring, 18S2, and we were anxious to get to our jobs.  John and Karl decided to go with us so we all went to Ada, Minnesota and out to the Dalrymple Bonanza Farm.  There were bunk shacks for hired men to live and sleep in but we stayed in the large cook shack as our women cooked for the crew of men.  There were long tables set up for the men.

It's hard to imagine all the horses they had, and in use.  I know there were thirteen binders on one field, the foreman riding horseback to see that everything was going okay and one man with a team of horses on a buggy with repairs, twine, water, etc.  A big crew of men followed up the binders, shocking up the grain as it was being cut.  On this one field there were four horses for each binder, one man for each binder, one riding a horse, and a team of horses on the supply buggy.  That made 55 horses on that one field.

In the fall a land agent came there and asked if anyone wanted to buy land.  My brother John and I told him we wanted land but we wanted to homestead.  He told us the only land that was left to homestead was in Griggs County.  We told him we didn't care where it was just so we could get land of our own.  He said he'd help us so we filed on Section 14-144-59, Griggs County.  John took the southwest quarter and I took the southeast quarter.  (Gilbert lives on the original Hans Haugen homestead and Elverne on the John Haugen homestead in 1982).

We had to prove up this land the same year or we would lose it.  This meant we had to go there and build a homestead shack on our land and each shack or sod house had to have a chimney or it would not be accepted.  Lots of men just nailed a stovepipe on top of their shack so they could say they had a chimney.

Brother John and I asked Dalrymple if we could draw our wages we had coming and that we would be back to help take care of the livestock during the winter and if our wives could stay and work by doing the cooking for the crew while we were gone.  This was agreed on.

Between us we agreed to buy one ox and one cow and walk and lead them from Ada, Minnesota to Cooperstown, North Dakota.  One of us bought an ox and the other the cow.  Now we were all ready to take off straight west to Cooperstown.  Our women packed us each a sack of food that we carried on our backs.  Off we started, leading our two animals.  Sometimes we tried to ride them and sometimes we had to push them to make them move.  We didn't have to worry about feed for our cattle as we walked through grass all the time.  At night we slept alongside of them when they lay down for the night.

After walking what seemed like many days, one evening, we came up over a hill.  We could see a shack about a mile away and there was smoke coming out of the chimney so we tried to hurry our animals to get there before dark.  When we got to this small house, I rapped at the door.  The man inside said something to me so I asked him, "er due Norsk?" He said, "Ja, Ja, Kom in."  When he opened the door he had an ax on his shoulder and said he was afraid it was Indians.  He handed me the ax and told us to drive a couple stakes of wood in the ground, tie up our livestock and stay with him that night.  I think he was just as glad to see us as we were to see him.  He was Steen Nelson who now has a large farm about six miles east of Cooperstown.  The next morning we started out for Cooperstown.  Nelson followed us to the Sheyenne River to show us where we could cross the river without any trouble.  It was evening when we got to Cooperstown.  We looked around, found a small livery barn, tied up our livestock, and bedded down along our cattle and slept that night.

The next morning we were kind of seared.  We didn't know what we were supposed to do.  We met a man and asked him to help us.  He showed us the courthouse, which was just a small building.  He told us we had to go there for information.

We showed someone the papers we had.  They told us we had to go about twelve miles straight south.  There we would find our land.  Brother John and I talked about starting south but how did we know when we came to the right 160 acres of land.  As we were on our way back to the livery barn to look about our cattle, and what do you suppose, we met a man we knew from Norway; Einar Stromme, who was driving a team of horses, hitched to a wagon.  We showed him our papers, and told him it was at least twelve miles south.  He said, "I think I know where this is.  It's not so far from my place.  Tie your cattle behind my wagon.  I'll take you to your place."  We started south on a small prairie road.  Stromme had homesteaded his place two years before so he had a team of horses, a walking plow, wagon and couple cows.  As we got closer to our land, we went past another homestead shack that belonged to Knute Stromme.  They too had been here for two years.

When we got to where Einar said I think this is your land, we found the surveyor's stakes so we knew we were on the right place.  I walked up the hill where my house now stands and said here is where I'm going to build my house.  Down below the hill there was a slough full of water and grass all around.  The ducks were singing and rabbits running all around so I said to John, "We have nothing to worry about.  Look at all the meat we have."  And I said, "What in the world am I going to do with all this land, 160 acres.”  I was so happy I sat down and cried.

Einar Stromme helped us a lot.  We borrowed a short handled shovel, walking plow and a horse from him.  We used one ox and a horse, hitched them up to the walking plow to plow up some good sod to build our house.  First we dug out in the hillside for our houses.  Then we plowed a furrow of sod, measured the sod by the length of our shovel, cut it that length, and started to build our house.  One strip of sod we laid lengthwise and the other crosswise so the walls were three feet thick.  For the roof we borrowed Einar Stromme's team and wagon, went east to the river, cut poles, laid them on the roof and covered the roof with sod.  The grass would grow on the roof and made it good and tight.  This house was warm in winter and cool in summer.

(I asked my grandfather how much money he had in his pocket when he came here.  His answer was, "I had one five dollar bill.")

We had our sod houses built so now it was time to go back to Dalrymple Farm and see how our wives were getting along.  Einar Stromme took care of our cattle so we walked back to Dalrymple Farm.  We worked that winter and purchased a team of oxen and wagon.  We came back in the spring to put our crop in.  We plowed and put in about five acres each the first year.

We also took turns working on the railroad being built from Sanborn to Cooperstown.  John would work one week then I the next so one of us could be home with the families.  We would walk to work.  I also helped build the courthouse in Cooperstown.  I'd walk to Cooperstown, carry bricks all day, and then walk home at night.  It was hard work but it seemed we didn't mind, as we were young and happy in our new land.

I built all these buildings, bought more land, have had three different threshing rigs.  My first steam engine had to be pulled into the field with horses.  We also used horses to pull the separator around the field.  There was no feeder on the machine.  We had to push the bundles in by hand and cut and pull all the twine.  There was no blower for the straw either, but it did have a conveyor that brought the straw out of the machine.  Then we had to use forks and pitch the straw away.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 77

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