Jens C. Thinglestad

Jens C. Thinglestad was born in 1861 near Christiania, Norway.  At the age of three he left Norway for America with his parents and two brothers, Julius and Ole.

En-route to America on the ocean liner a young, well-to-do, childless couple urged the Thinglestads to adopt young Jens so as to give the youngster all he might ever need.  His parents could not part with their child so he was destined to experience the rigors of pioneering in a new land.  The family went to Lanesboro, Fillmore County, Minnesota where the children grew up.

Jens married Lena Krogfoss, daughter of Hiriam Krogfoss, also of Lanesboro.  They had two daughters Laura and Alpha when they decided to move to Pilot Mound Township in Griggs County.  They purchased land there in 1886, five miles north and one mile east of Jessie.  Laura died at the age of seven.  Another daughter, Josephine, was born in 1897.  The Thinglestads also raised Louise McCallson, a niece, who died in 1911.

The Thinglestads were charter members of the West Prairie Lutheran Parish.  Mr. Thinglestad donated land for the erection of a schoolhouse.  This was called the Thinglestad School for many years.  Years later a granddaughter, Bernice Alfson, taught in this school for several terms.  The land and the schoolhouse now belong to Harold Michaelis where the school serves as a granary.

Early days carried many threats to the pioneers.  For instance, at one time Jens and Lena alone fought and stopped a huge prairie fire headed for their home.  Jens hitched horses to the walking plow and plowed deep sod furrows in the hope of making a wide enough breach to stop the fire.  Soon he realized the plowing wasn't going to be wide enough so he told Lena to set a strip of fire in the prairie grass.  This fire quickly burned to the edge of the plowing, making a wide enough strip so the prairie fire was halted.  It finally burned itself out, thus saving their home and livestock and perhaps the homes of many others.

At one time the Indians were on the warpath on The Fort Totten Trail, which passed a few miles south of their home.  They prepared supplies, harnessed a team to a buggy and made ready to flee.  It was an all night wake, but by morning the Indians had gone.

In 1899 Jens Thinglestad became sheriff of Griggs County for one term, and the family moved to Cooperstown.  Leaving Cooperstown in 1902, he bought a home and store in Jessie, North Dakota.  Later he purchased the Alfson Brothers Hardware Store at Binford.  When H. P. Hammer of Cooperstown "bought in" as a partner the store became The Hammer Thinglestad Hardware.  They purchased a home in Binford where they remained the rest of their lives.  They remained active, contributing members until their deaths.  Mrs. Thinglestad died July 1925, and Jens passed away in June 1933.  Both are buried in the West Prairie Cemetery.

Their daughter Alpha married Albert Alfson

they had five children: 

Josephine married Arne Granheim from Lillehammer, Norway.  They had one son, Arnljot.  Josephine passed away in 1964.  Arne lives in Oklahoma City.  Arnljot and his family reside in San Antonio, Texas.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 31

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