Thelma Njaa's German Shepherds

Torkel Njaa, pioneer Griggs County farmer, was born in Thime, near Stavanger, Norway, March 17, 1870.  He came to the United States in 1892.  Upon his arrival in Griggs County, he worked for Jorgen Soma in Ball Hill Township.  He bought some land in the southwest quarter of Section 9 in Sverdrup Township; and later on, he purchased more land in Section 16, also in Sverdrup Township, where he lived the rest of his life.

In 1894 he was married to Thea Aarestad.  There were five children born to this union: Clara, Otto, Arthur, David, and Halvor.  His first wife died, and in 1911 he married Minnie Angelshaug.  Two children, Inga (Mrs. Art Simenson), and Esther (Mrs. Irwin Froiland), were born to them.

Torkel Njaa was engaged in farming all his life in the Sheyenne Valley southeast of Cooperstown.  He was well known for his interests and experiments with cereal grains and livestock.  For many years, some of the county's finest horses and cattle were raised there.  In addition to horses and cattle, he took pride in raising fine-quality German Shepherd dogs, which brought him fame throughout the country.  In 1914 he imported a German Shepherd watchdog.  Being very pleased with this animal, he imported more of them.  This resulted in the beginning of an industry that reached its peak in Griggs County in 1924, and gradually it spread as a nation-wide fad.  Mr. Njaa shipped them to all parts of the United States, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

Torkel Njaa died in 1939.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 130

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