Odegard –P 96 Sival Friswold
Seval Friswold began with me in Fargo at New Years time in 1884. He had formerly for some time been traveling for A. R. Ekle & Company. He was for a long time my personal assistant, which he would understand and carry on whenever I was on a trip and by degrees as he became more familiar with it he could travel out and later worked in accounting and collecting.
We had also many mortgages which must be collected and sold. He was in this occupation for three years in 1884, 1885 and 1886. In 1887 he made a trip to his home in Norway and brought his aprents and their children with him when he returned to America – and after his return he took up his work with us as before. When the force was later reduced Mr. Friswold went to Sasrgen County and later to Cooperstown in Griggs County.
He was in my employ the last 8 months of 1891 during which time my wife and 3 ½ yer old son and I made a trip to Norway (June to September). Later he was a bookkeeper for John Syverson in Cooperstown. Later he became County Treasurer which he held 2 terms, and later was cashier in 1st National Bank, and this position he held for years and his son is now Assistant Cashier (1925)
Friswold was born in Lom, Gulbrandesdalen. He is especially capable and dependable, economic and far sighted and well qualified for the position he now holds.
Seval Friswold took his mother’s maiden name, she was the daughter of Paul Friswold. The name Friswold has been a great advantage as it is easy to pronounce and sounds well in English, something not always true of Norwegian names. Seval Frisvold’s fater was Ole Olen Garmostraen (Veltraen).
Vaardalen (Spring Valley) Lom, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway, is not a place of much importance; it is however, close to the Jotunfield -- the most wild and highest mountains of Norway. The place was of importance and of much interest to me because I was born there April 22, 1861 and spent most of my life in that valley until I was about 14 years of age. It had no railroad, and not even a good wagon road, before 1862, when the goverment road (Kongsveien) was finally completed through Vaardalen.
The nearest city was Lillehammer, situated at the east end of Gubrandsdalen about 110 miles, by the nearest route, Therefore, all transportatIon to and from this city had to be by horse and wagon. (I state horse, beeause the freighters never used more than one horse to each wagon.) Llike all other valleys, Vaardalen had its river, "Vulu" starting way up in the mountains and fed by melting snow and ice, it was big and boisterous each spring, but quieted down during the summer, and during winters it nearly froze dry. This river was absolutely necessary for all people living in this valley.
It did not only furnish water for the people and the animals, but being hedged in by mountains, that valley was so dry and the rainfall so scant, that water from this river had to be used for irrigation from the time the seed was put in the ground until grain (mostly barley) was ripe and could be harvested.
On account of school facilities, Vaardalen was divided into upper and lower, having one school house at each but served by the same teacher, about t months at the lower school house, where I belonged and another 5 months at the upper school, leaving about 2 months for vacation, which the teacher used to work on his farm near the upper school, The teacher also served as Klokker (song leader) at the "Vaardalen Church; annex to Lom, but as the preacher also had the "Boverdalen" annex to serve, besides the main "Lom’s Church" the services at Vaardalen, were rather few and far between, especially during winter months.
The whole of Vaerdalen comprises about 40 farms of various acreage and improvements, some only a few acres. That would produce feed for say one cow and some goats, others big enough to support one horse, besides cows and goats and the bigger farms that might have several horses, many cows, goats, sheep and hogs. The large farms also had timber tracts and mountain pasture, where nearly all the stock was kept during the summer months, from June to October, if winter did not set in earlier, which it often did, and all the stock had then to be driven home to the valley where hay and feed of various kinds had been provided for the winter.
Conservative spending and close management usually carried the people thru from year to year, but not much advancement; either financially or socially. It had been so firmly established in the minds of most of the inhabitants of Vaardalen that all they could do was to live and from year to year scratch up money enough to meet tax payments, which became quite burdensome, especially after the highway was built. The requirements of the people were very moderate.
Nobody starved or ever suffered for something to eat, but they had to live on simple food and that was probably one reason why "The Vaardol" was, as a rule, of good health and bodily strong. The healthy climate and pure water available, also contributed to the peoples health in no small degree.
One of the Norse poets, among other poems, had this verse:
"Saadank Bestemer, Som Min;
Hvordan er Din?”
That expresses any feeling about my grandmother. Her name was Synne Johnsdatter Frisvold, born on the farm "Fritzvold" A.D. 1809. She could not write or read written letters but when letters were printed and plain, she could read them and after I went away I had to write to her in print. But what she did not know about writing, she more than made up reading and memorizing, what she read, mostly Psalms from "Lanstads Salmebog" and verses from the bible.
And she could sing, especially while sewing or knitting, but as I remember it, there vas always a sad, resigned feeling expressed in the tunes she usually sang. And no wonder as to that, when one thinks of the sorrows and disappointments slotted to nor.
The first I can remember, was a time Grandma was going quite a distance away for a visit, and that I got so tired out walking she had to carry me part of the way. I was probably about 3 or 4 years of age, but I know now, that Grandma carried me many a time before I could remember, because she told me many times later that she had cared for me from the time I was about 2 years of age.
When I got so I could understand, Grandma told me that the farm Fritzvold was at one time only one, but that when her parents died, the farm was divided, between Grandma, her brother Paul and her brother Iver. Paul sold out his part and bought a farm at Toten, near Kjosen, about 200 miles east. Iver and his descendants are still ocoupying their farm originally slotted, and also bought back the part of the farm that Paul had sold to an outsider, when he went away.
Grandma married quite young, a man somewhat older and from a neighboring country, I vannot remember him but Grandmother told me, that for some years all went well with the operation of the farm. She had srvants both insie and outside and was happy.
Buy year by year the farm was more and more neglected, they got much in debt and had to sell out part of the farm to an outsider. That is the reason I remember this big farm with 4 sets of buildings, which all together Looled like a small village. That was not all, but a few years more and the last parcel of the farm that Grandma got for nothing had to be sold at auction, that is forced sale. Grandpa had died, died making it so much harder for Grandma, but through some arrangements, she was given a small income from the last parcel sold and a 3 room cottage built of logs, but quite nicely fixed up to live in, and there is where Grandma and I made our home.
There were no boys of about my age at any of the neighbors. Iver had one son, but he was much older than I and the others had two girls each, very young. Before being allowed to start at school a child had to know the letters and read words. Therefore, Grandma taught me to read qite well before I started to school, but that was rather a detriment, than a help to me, because having only the one teacher, the children were put through a kind of machine process; that is, when starting at supposedly the same stage, we all went through the same lessons in that class; then the next class had their exercises to go through and learn.
The more advanced went on to the next course, but I had to start with the beginners, and as I already knew more than they did in way of reading and that was the main study anyway, I got unconcerned and lazy about lessons and did not care to study like I ought to. But when I got to be about 10 years of age, I had to make up for my laziness, because the wife of the teacher was my aunt, and when he had school in the upper school house near his farm, it was arranged between Grandmother, my aunt and the teacher, that I should also attend the upper school and sstay wity my aunt during that term, and in fact several terms, and I suppose I needed It, having nothing else to do anyway.
Aunt Ronnaug was good to em in many ways; besides food and bed, she had a son full grown, but very sickly, therefore, she also had him to care for. Time went on as it alwaye does and I tried to be of some help, such as carry in wood and go on errands for Auntie, I liked best, when I got back to Grandma and she was glad to have me back. I must have asked her a lot of questions, because she called me "Sporgamal Kaake"; but she would always answer me as best she could. There is no grandmother anywhere, who could answer all questions a boy of my age would ask. I must tell about two remarkable trees belonging to Fritzvold, they were, however quite a ways apart.
One was a very large, tall, exceptionally developed birch tree, that had many other birch trees all around it, but this was taller, wider and had long branches hanging down. It must have been a weeping birch; we all knew it by name of "The queen" (Droningen) and while most all the birch trees around it was robbed of their branches, every few years, this nice tree was never molested by anyone. (The owners of birch trees, tracts of them, would have men cut off most of the branches, and only leave some, so that the tree could breathe and not die from the operation, then the branches with the leaves on was used for feed for goats and also sheep, because of shortage of other feed. Even after the leaves from birch and elder and also poplar had fallen off, men and mostly women would come with rakes and big baskets and sweep up the leaves and carry them into sheds for the winter feed.)
The other remarkable tree was a great choke cherry tree "Steheggen” it was called, and it was not only the largest of its kind in that neighborhood, but it had very sweet, meaty berries and many a time I was at "storheggem" to get my fill of berries. The only other wild berries growing out in the woods, were tyte-berries and blueberries, yes, and way out in the mountain valleys on some springy meadows or sloughs, some very delicious berries could be found named "molter", even the wild bears, would risk their life, and come down from the woods to feast on molter.
Vaardalen also had its quota of artists and tradesman. There was Rashasmus Ekle, known over all Gudbrandsdalen as the best artistic painter, he had been away and taken lessons at some art school, and could paint portrait of humans as well as of animals. Of course that was crude work but he had a good eye for mixing colors and -what he painted never seemed to wear off, he always mixed his own paint, and to this days there are hundreds of cupboards, desks and china closets, painted by Ekle, in use at Vaardalen and other districts of Gudbrandsdalen. He never did any outside painting of houses or barns.
The other tradesmen of Vaardalen was not known so far off, but it had "Isak Shoemaker", "Johan Shoemaker", O. N. Nyrness, the tailor for men, and I guess there was at least two who sewed dresses for the women folks. Nearly every farmer, having any horses to shoe or plows to fix, had a blacksmithshop and did their own work in that line.
I remember one instance however, when a blacksmith, came in from a long ways off, who was making plows, on which the mouldboard and the lay could be turned, or reversed, so that in the hilly fields, the furrow could be turned down hill going forth and back, instead of the old kind of plows, that could not turn the furrow up hill, the plowman had to drive back empty and not make any furrow, of course, that was the case only where the land was very hilly and hard to plow. It was therefore considered an improvement as more plowing could be done with the new kind of plow during the same length of time. I remember Uncle Jon had a plow of that kind made and that he was bragging about how much plowing he could do with this plow and "Lyngve Svarten", which I mention about later.
The names of Grandmas children, six in number were as follows: Sylfest, the oldest, married a girl that inherited a farm named Laingen, about 4 miles rest from Fritzvold. Jon, the next, married a girl who inherited some money and property, and they bought and settled and lived on a farm named Lyngved, about the same distance away and next neighbor to Aunt Ronnaug and her husband, the school teacher, Ole not married, went to America, where he stayed a number of years, made some money and went back to Vaardalen, where he died many years ago.
Kari, my mother, was the second Kari, because Grandma told me many times about “first Kari”, and every time she mentioned her, the tears would trickle out of eyes. At the time first Kari was a small girl, 5 years of age, the (Budie) schallet girl came home from the (Sater) mountain pasture and being that the little girl liked the Budie so well and wanted so badly to go along to the Sater, Kari was allowed to follow, and it seemed that the very first evening after the Budie got beak to the Sater the herder did not come home with the cattle at the usual time and the Budie was gone for some time to help him.
The young girl, not being able to travel so far, was left behind at the Sater and when the Budie and herder came home, the little girl was not around, but thinking that the child had started little ways off to pick some berries near by and that she would be bsek soon, they went to work and milked the cows and took care at the milk, and then when the little girl had not returned, the Budie got scared and she and the herder went out to hunt and call to the child to answer, but no reply, then of course, the Budie knew she had to get help from home about 3 miles away, and she started and got to the farm after midnight.
Grandmother and all the grown up on the farm started for the Sater, thinking that towards morning and daylight they could find the lost child. But they did not and then a general call was made for men to go and hunt which they did for several days, but, the only trace found was one of the childs shoes which Grandmother kept in a bureau drawer, and although the shoe was nearly new, when starting from home, the heal of this shoe was considerably worn down, so it shows she must have traveled an awful long time before she got so exhausted that she gave up and lay down, where she was found by a herder from another Sater tie next spring, some tine after the snow had gone off.
The second Kari, my mother, married a shoemaker by trade named Ole Tradet, they had no home of their own, but rented rooms on a nearby farm, while he was working at his trade as shoemaker. When I was about 2 year of age, he was taken sick with pneumonia and died, Grandma did not say jlust when, but it must have been soon after father died, that I was left with Grandma and Mother went away to earn a living and likely help some toward my keep. I remember Mother came back but went away again, and that she brought me some playthings, among others a small wooden horse with a small 2-wheeled cart also of wood.
It does no seem I ever had either father or mother, but only Grandmother and Uncle Paal (he spelled his name Paal Frisvold) and I presume I wanted to be the most like him in everything and also in spelling of the name Frisvold, instead of Fritzvold, as the other branch of the family had it, but when I took out my citizen papers in the U. S. the name was spelled Friswold and of course that settled it as far as I was concerned.
When I first remember Uncle Paal (he spelled the name "Paal" not “Paul”) he was clerk in a general store, about 8 miles from our home, about the central part of Lom, later he went to a neighboring county, rented an empty building on a farm "Sperstad" and started a general store of his own. That must have been 1869 or 1870 because, on one of his trips back from Christiania, where he went to buy goods for his store business, he stopped at our place, and on leaving, had told grandmother, that as soon as school was out, I could come to him and stay a while.
Not being married and having no housekeeper, he had bachelors quarters in the same building as the store. Grandma did not tell me about what uncle had said, but she had arranged for new shoes and new clothes for me, to be ready before school was out. I never will forget how glad and expectant I was the morning that I started on my visit to uncle.
Just imagine a boy about 8 years of age, never before outside his home surroundings, on his way to such adventure. New shoes, new suit, 2 clean shirts in one bundle and some food in another, prepared by Grandma. I did not think I needed the food, but Grandma knew a boy of 8 years had to have food, in order to walk the distance to Uncle's store about 18 miles. I not only walked but also ran part of the first few miles, but of course soon got tired and did not even walk fast, but sat down on stones along the road to rest and soon some food tasted very good.
My instruction was to follow the main highway and was told of some objects along the way to go by as a guide, i. e, I would pass Loms main church (hovedkirken) to the right, that was about half way, I was told, then I would come to a cross road, the one to the left to Boverdalen, but it was the one to the right, going to Skjaak, was the one I should follow, then I should follow the main road to where a bridge crossed the Otta river and this bridge I should cross, because Uncle's store was some distance further on the other side of the river.
I must have been tired towards the end of my journey, because I did not arrive at Uncle's before nearly dark, and the first person I saw on that place, was Uncle sitting at a window looking out towards the road, I suppose, he was expecting me, because he had made good food ready, and as soon supper was over, I went to bed and did not wake up until late the next morning. Just imagine the change I experienced. First and foremost to be with uncle Paal. People coming to the store to trade. I soon could go and get the mail, about 2 miles away and go on other errands for uncle. I was also busy at taking boxes apart and straightening out the nails, after a while I could find goods in original packages, on the shelves, such as tobacco, smoking and chewing, of which people used a lot.
In going after the mail, I had to go thru a farm, with buildings on both side of the road, where at the time a contagious decease was raging (black diphteria) of which many persons died, and I was told to put a cloth over my mouth and nose and not stop anywhere near the place. I do not remember how long I stayed with Uncle, but it was likely I had to go baok home for school, when it started. Back to Vaardalen again I must relate some more of my experiences during the following years.
I had seen other people catch fish in the Vulu River and of course wanted to catch fish. Uncle had given me a knife, so I made a rod of a birch limb and Grandma helped me to twist together some thread for a line, but I had no hook; through joint efforts we (Grandma and I) tied the head end of a good sized pin to the end of the line, bent the pin so as to resemble a hook and after digging up and putting in a small pail some angle worms rent off about a mile to the point down the river, where the fish was supposed to be, sure, that I would bring home fish for both of us, but of course did not get any. Some considerable time later on I obtained regular fish hooks, I don't remember from whom, and caught some of the trout, quite plentiful at certain times of the year.
When later on I was able to make myself some flies, imitation of small butterflies and bugs and made myseslf a longer and better rod with more up to date line, I caugnt trout by casting or fly fishing. (We only said fiske med Flue) and that was a lot of fun, as the water was very clear and I could often see the fish as it came shooting up from the deep water and snap at the fly, I got the fish, and if the fish missed the fly, I missed the fish, but it was fun, and many times I brought home plenty for a meal.
As stated before, the larger farms in the valley owned tracts of pasture lands way out in the mountain valleys, where the range was almost unlimited in extent but where each farm had its “Sater” consisting of a long, wide log house and some out-buildings, especially worth mentioning was the hay barn, where every year, nearly all on the home place came to gather and store the hay for the coming winter, and that Sater hay was very fine and nourishing because what few acres of meadow there were around the buildings which all had to be fenced to keep stock out, was well supplied with fertilizer, every year, as all the manure was hauled out on th meadows from year to year.
The Gudbrandsdals Saters (Challets) have for a long time been the object of hundreds of the tourists from cities in Norway as well as many foreign oountries especially England and Germany and while most of the housing accomodations on the saters were not adequate or satisfactory, for the tourists, many Saterowners put up buildings for the tourist trade, and some families from the cities could stay all summer, especially people with weak, puny ohildren, and it was remarkable, how the pure mountain air, cream, milk and other healthy food would improve the healh of such children, and grown ups also. What was of the greatest interest to us children, was the homecoming of the (BUDIE) challett girl and her company of animals. It was an old custom at lower Vaardalen, at the homecoming frcm the "Sater" for children to gather at the big gate (Storegrind), where the trail from the sater joined the main highway; this gate was closed except when somebody had to get to the main highway from outlying districts.
The school house of lower Vaardelen was only about a half mile from this big gate. When the day finally arrived, (we knew the day beforehand) we children were all excited and I guess unraly, especially when the voice of the budie calling in a singieg voice, (i. e. “come Rosa”) to some of the cows, calves, goats, sheep and the hollering of the drivers, all impatient at not getting home qeick enough, it was an awful racket; end then the teacher would announce recess for one half hour, and all we children would start on a run for the big gate, the bigger boys could usually get there first, but that did not make any difference because the Budie knew the reason for the children's presence (maybe 15 to 20 children would meet up) and while usually one of the bigger boys would open the gate, to let the budie and stook pass thru the rest of the children stationed themselves along the stone fence and each one would get a present, consisting of trinkets, were made by the budie during the summer and would be the likeness of animals, stars or crosses, and being dry and cured, would last for a long time, unless thru some accident a leg or a head would be broken off, so the animal could not remain in the position it was supposed to have.
The budie knew most of the children, who came to the big gate, and if she did not know, she would ask parents name, and give the presents according to her like or dislike of the family. She carried the little images in a basket on her arm and as a rule all thanked her for the present although all were not pleased because some would get nicer end better animals than others. This was found out by comparison on the way book to the school house. The evening of the return from Sater, all she people on the farm celebrated by eating epccially prepared food and drink and a sociable goo feeling pervaded all, because of safe return of Budie and herd from the mountains and likely a good financial return for the summers effort. Anyway, the budie was the honor guest for once.
Near the big gate was a place called “Hestehagen”, where every spring a market was held for sale of horses across the mountains from Herdfjord. At this market, the farmers of Vaardelen would come to buy such horses they needed because it as was very few farmere that tried to raise their own horses at Vaardalen and these Herdfjord horses could be bought cheap. Thes Nordfjord horses were used some for farm work, but mostly by “stations", that had the contract to keep horses for transportation of passengers, mostly tourists on the state highway. The stations were from 12 to 15 miles apart and had to keep a sufficient number of horses on hand to accomodate the travelers. The rigs consisted of one horse, a two wheeled cart (Kariol) and a driver, the drivers were mostly young boys from 12 to 15 years of age that were willing to work for their board and maybe some clothes.
Horses not sold at the Hesthagen market were driven further east to a market called Stave Market, where besides the Nordfjord horses, those horses raised in the Gudbarandsdalen further east, were taken for sale or trade. And buyers came there from far and wide, even from Sweden, because the Gudbrandsdal horses wore known as the best raised in Norway both for size and quality. "Lyngve Svarten" before mentioned and owned by Uncle Jon, was bought at Stave market.
Where this horse originally came from, I never heard, but it was an exceptionally fine horse to look at, color black with white on hind feet and a white spot on its forehead and so big, that a special size harness had to be made for it, but it had been spoiled in its training and would run away if it got a chance, therefore, uncle Jon always handled Svarten. The horse was a true puller and would out pull any horse in the neighborhood, and that meant a lot to Uncle Jon who took pride in his own strength as well as that of the horse he drove; and I, as a boy, thought and believed, there would not be another horse as big and porerful as "Lyngvesvarten".
After a few years in the store business at Sperstad, where Uncle did very well, in fact so well that the farmer from whom he rented quarters wanted to buy out the stock of goods and start in business for himself. Uncle sold out to him and soon after, went to Vaage, a larger and more prosperous county, than either Lom, or Skjaak. At Vaagemo, the most thickly populated part of Vaage, Uncle organized a co-operative store, called "Vaage Handelsforening". Of this enterprise he had full control, bought all goods and hired the help.
The second year, it was decided to also start a bakery, the capital subscribed and furnished by many of the leading farmers of Vage was paid back and the business grew and prospered. During these years I was with Uncle much of the time, as he had quarters to live in on the second story of the store building, and while he took some of his meals at home, he took meals at a family place, where I also went along on Sundays.
It was a good place for a boy of my age to be because Uncle and the owner of the home who was the principal of the Vaage High School always talked and discussed current events of which I understood but little, but still the atmosophere and the association with such men made me more anxious to also learn. I did not realize it then, but can easily see it now, that uncle had my future in mind and always did what he thought best for me. What little help I could do at the store or outside did not amount to anything, but the chance I had to associate with people, even then, has since been a great help to me.
I did not understand it at that time or even later, while with Uncle Paal, the great intellect and unusual executive ability he possessed. It seemed, that anything he started had to succeed. Wnether he had planned and studied it out beforehand or that his executive ability, carried it thru I don't know, but he always made good. After some years, as manager of the co-operative enterprise, he resigned. One of the clerks, who had been with him for some time took over the management of the store.
Uncle then went back to Lom where he bought a farm Kjestad, got married and moved with his wife and some servants (2 girls and 1 man). This farm was not in good condition and Uncle started at fixing up buildings, clear stone off the land. It is a big farm whioh had several “Husmen", -- that means, occupied lands belonging to the farm and was obliged to do work on the main farm, when required, at a nominal compensation. Several of these husmen besides a foreman carried on this work on the fields, besides carpenters, who worked at the buildings. I also stayed with Uncle on this farm, but did not do any work, but only studied "The Amtschool" an institution supported by the government, just started at Forsberg, about 6 miles west from Uncle's farm, and as Uncle arranged to get me the required books (there was no tuition) and other necessities, I was admitted to this school and attended for about nine months.
It was quite far to walk during the winter, expecially tough after a heavy snowfall, but i was strong, and the walk did not bother me; and then at Forsberg a general store owned by the husband of a sister to Uncle Paul’s wife, and when the road, were very bad this family invited me in to stay over, and it happened I stopped there many days at a time. These people had no children, and were very good to me. Andvord was their name and both he and Mrs. did much for me, besides giving me food and lodging (I slept with the store clerk) Mrs. Andverd gave me socks and shirts and I was always welcome.
Having no children and Mrs. Andverd being well educated and a constant reader of the newest literature, especially Ibsens, ood Bjornsons, who at that time wore the most promlnent and most read novelists of Norway. During evening and until late, quite often, when she had obtained a new interesting book, Mrs. Andvord called us, the clerk, the cook and me into the sitting room and read aloud for us. She was a good reader are It seemed to be a pleasure to her, and it certainly was interesting to me. Then at some passage in the story, she was reading, she would stop and make some explanations as to what she thought was meant by the author and that certainly was required of some of Ibsens writings which to this day is not fully underatood, and some of his critics claim that he, himself, did not know for certain what he wished to convey in some of his writings.
The latest Ibsen publication then out was “Samfundet’s Stetter" Pilars of Society, and that book certainly creatod a lot of discussion, in fact it creoted so muoh animosity and hard feelings towards Isben, that he left Norway disgusted; and from that time took his residence in Switzerland and later in Italy, where he kept on producing. It showed, however, he could not forget, or help thinking of Norwa. In his poem “Brandt Skibe", one passage reads: “Med snelandets Hytter fra Solstrandens Krat; rider en flytter Hvereneste Nat” But as people of Norway and also people of ether countries caught up more with Ibsens, advanced views of humanity’s problems, his works got to be better understood and appreciated. Still, the recognition came too late.
At this time or rather about a year previous, the new minister to Lom arrived, a man passed middleage, and although educated in Norway, had gone to United States of America, where, for many years he had served Norwegian congregations in Iowa and Wisconsin. Uncle Paal, always having my future in mind, knew there was no future for me in our part of Norway as compared with what opportunity I might have in the United States. He talked the matter over with the Rev. Brodahl and he was to stay with my uncle at Kjestad, but walked the 6 miles to where Rev. Bredahl lived also at Forsberg, and as when I attended the artschool, off and on stopped with Ardvords and studied my lessons then I had only about 8 rods to the residence of Rev. Brodahl to recite and get new lessons.
I got along fairly well, but in the early part of 1878, I quit Lom because Uncle then sold out the farm Kjestad, and moved to Vaage again, where he bought a farm at auction foreclosue sale and moved there with his family consisting of a wife, a young son, and two girls, that Mrs. F. wished tohave with her. The name of the new farm was Sunde, at the end of the long bridge across Etta River, where also I went a short time afterwards and helped what I could with the work. This farm was also much neglected by the former owner, as might be surmised, when the farm was sold under foreclosure. Uncle hired, a foreman, who had previously worked on this farm and with the 2 husmen, which this farm had pitched in at improving the land. The buildings were in good condition on this farm. I remember he hired a man called, SterkeJakop, strong Jacob to dig a deep ditch across a meadow, that was too wet for reising even hay.
After the ditch was dug, a great amount of stone was hauled into this ditch and covered up, and even the next year, a lot of hay was obtained from that meadow. Which shows, that Uncle always planned and that his plans, when carried out, brought results. During late fall of 1878, the cashier of “Vaage Sparebank” died and a new cashier had to be elected. There were many candidates besides Uncle that applied, but having proved his ability as an executive, when managing the Vaage Handelsforening, Uncle was elected cashier of the bank. The bank had its own quarters at Vaagemo, but the institution not being a commercial bank, where banking had to be carried on every day at its office, Uncle remained with his family on his farm, and only on Saturdays attended to business for the bank at the bank’s office. On Saturday mornings the banks books, that had to be used during the day was packed into 2 big satchels, Uncle carrying oue and I the other.
I shauld judge it was about 1 ½ miles between the farm and the bank building, but we had to cross that long bridge "Sunbreen”, across the Otta river, and I never forgot the penetrating cold that swept down from north over the Otta Vandet, which was part of the river but more like a lake, as it was about 10 miles long and many places 2 miles wide. During the winter of 1878 and all of the year 1879 I assisted Uncle with what help I could render at his office, we always carried the books back home again, so people who had any urgent business to transact with the bank could come to the farm and get it started to. I did not understand it then, but foundout, 8 years later, why uncle had to do so much driving, as he would be gone sometimes a couple of days. The bank being a savings institution only, paid interest at a certain rate to the depositors, and of course, had to find investment for these funds at a bigger rate, in order to pay expenses and dividends.
The bank’s fund were therefore loaned out to farmers in Vaage and adjoining annexes Hedalen and Seil, and as the loans were not always paid, or even renewed on time, uncle had to go out to get matters fixed up. I could now explain a lot more about the banking methods used in Vaage at that time, but as it did not occur to me, I leave that out.
Having more time that I could make use of, I guess, Uncle thought best to give me some more to do, and he arranged (after we had talked it over) that I should take lessons in German from a young minister, that had just been ordained ia.ranal, from a young minister that had ju t been ordained and came to Vaage as Capelan assistant to the old Rev. Selmer, who coud not serve the congregations at Hedalen and Sell, particularly in the winter time, and I think that besides, wishing to assist me, Uncle Paal also considered the financial situation of the young minister, whose name was Synnes and who had made the bargain with Uncle as to fees, and what that was I never knew, but I obtained some instruction books far beginners and started to study German. This did not seem as difficult as I had feared, because I knew Norwegian grammar fairly well and although the German language is not much like the Norwegian, to begin with, as the student travels along in his studies he finds much resemblance between the two.
In fact, many words of the same meaning are pronounced the same. I got along fine, and at the time I left Vaage, I could read simple German stories and understand most of it spoken but I guess my pronunciation of German was farm from perfect. The trouble was that I was so taken up with German, I neglected to keep up my English as I should have, but taking it all in all, the study of both these languages was of immense assistance to me later on in life and of course English first. It was then decided that I should sart for the United States as son as the steamers, plying on Mjoesn, werer making regular trips.
At Sunde there was two 2 story dwellings and plenty of room, so Uncle had taken one upstairs room for a workshop where he had some carpenter tools and the last two weeks or more, I was at the shop making myself a suitable trunk for my trip to America. There was no ready-made trunks sold in Vaage at that time, if a trunk was wanted, it had to be made, either by the party needing it, or hired made by a carpenter. When my trunk was ready and all else was ready, I made a trip to Vaardalen and Forsberg, to say "good by" to my relatives and friends, I started from Uncle's farm April 24, 1880.
A man who earned his and his horse's keep by trucking between Vaage and Lillehammer loaded my trunk on his wagon and it was a sad parting between uncle and me. It was impossible for me to keep the tears back, and it was the same with him, also Anne, his good wife. They then had two boys, Erland and Rolf. Nothing of importance happened on the way to Lillehammer, and the ice onMjosen had nearly gone out, so I arrived at Christiania Aril 28, and as it took me some time to obtain my transport, Uncle had furnished me the money for the ticket, but as the amount was limited, I had to find the cheapest transport line and that was the Hamburg American Line. Boarding the Norwegian steamer "Kong Sigurd" May 1st, which stopped only at Christiansand, the most southern city of Norway.
It then struck across Skagerak and arrived at Hamburg, Germany May 3rd. There was quite a number of emigrants from Sweden and Finland and on May 4th, we were taken by train to Bremen. We stayed at Bremen at an emigrant hotel until May 9th, when we again were transferred by railroad to Bremenhafen. While at Bremen during those few days, my scant knowledge of German came in handy, because I was the only one of the emigrants that could understand and make myself understood by the Germans. There was drinking of beer and whisky also, and dance every night, and some fools of the emigrants got drunk and acted smart, therefore it was all the hotel owner and I as interpreter could do to keep those noisy ones out of jail.
The Germans did not seem to get drunk no natter how much they drank, but that was not the case with some of the Finlanders. The time went very fast at Bremen, those that had money and wanted to spend it, had a jolly good time. May 9th, 1880 we boarded the ocean steamer "Rhein" with Captain Bruns. It had some stormy weather and I was sick most of the trip. I was glad when on May 21st it was announced that land was sighted and we arrived at Baltimore, Maryland on May 22nd. There I saw the first Negro. About half a dozen were shoveling coal from a barge onto a steamer in the harbor.
It was awful hot and those powerful big bodies were shiny with sweat and coal dust. The train from Baltimore to Chicago on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad went faster than anything I had rldden on in my life and I fairly held my breath as the telephone poles seemed to rush by. We arrived in Chicago May 24th in the morning and there were many of the emigrants who took various routes to their different destinations. I went on to St. Paul, and Minneapolis and further on to Mankato, then finally Blue Earth City, my destination, where I arrived May 25, 1880.
My reason for buying a ticket to Blue Earth City, was that besides the Hammer family who had established a home there, Hammer had steady work as foreman of a gang of railroad workers. Another man from Vaardalen, Olaf Erlandson, a single man also from Vaardalen, had been in America some years and he had promised to help me along, but he was also working as a common laborer on the railroad then being built from Lake Crystal, Minnesota, to Algona, Iowa. The gang Erlandson and Hammer worked with would not take in more men, but another surface gang of Irish men, Irish foreman and Irish timekeeper, because the foreman was a good lineman, but could not write or keep the accounts.
There was one Swede in this gang and with these I got a job as water carrier, which consisted of obtaining the drinking water for the men from farms along the railroad. I usually had to carry two pails at a time in order to keep supplying during the hot days and having a considerable distance to the farms, I was kept on the go from norning till quitting time, but I will say, the foreman was considerate and kind to me. I was to have the same pay as the men, $1.25 per day. But in those days newcomers were not treated as humans but rather as slaves. Board costs $3.00 per week. We had out breakfast and supper in the boarding house, and had lunches with us for noon meal as we had many miles to go forth and back.
We slept in tents, and that was nearly unbearable, because of the heat and mosquitoes and often I felt more tired when I arose in the morning than when I went to the bunk at night. I thought that part of Minnesota was not fit for white men to live in because the country south from Blue Earth City where this reailroad went thru is vey low and swampy and I was used to mountain country and mountain air. First part of August our gang was sent to Garden City, some miles further north, to find some uncompleted section of the road. I worked there till the middle of September, when I took sick with fever (typhoid) and had to go back to the family from Vaardalen and whith whom I boarded at Blue Earth City (the Hammer family). Although sick, Mrs. Hammer took me in and cared for me as she could.
She told me afterwards that for many days I was unconscious and she expected for certain that I would die, but although, after some time, I was able to stand up, it took a long time before I was able to walk. Another change also came, as when I got so I could wash myself and comb my hair, it came out, so I looked tough and unkempt. Only those who have had the actual experience can realize the unbearable, hopeless feeling of a young emigrant, like myself, at that time. No relatives or friends to go to for assistance or advice, therefore, so many break under the strain, get into bad company and perish. Somebody who wrote the following short verse must have felt as I did:
“Naa og franman uti very stend,
Heimleus, frendelaus og lite kjend.
Of li kar paa leiken ilie”.
It was always foremost in my mind that first of all I must go to school and try to learn to read and write the English language. Having been with the Irish all summer, I could talk broken English quite good and understand ordinary, everyday talk. My intention was to get to a bigger city where I might get a chance to work for my board and go to school and was advised that I should try Mankato, about 100 miles away. I therefore left Blue Earth City for Mankato October 23, 1880. I tried to keep in touch with Uncle Paal and as anyone can guess I had written him many letters through the summer. He always answered and tried to cheer me up to be fore helpful, but at that time all my hopes were gone and I guess that the letter I wrote him when I left for Mankato was not very much expressive of any hope for my future.
After considerable tramping around the city of Mankato I obtained a place to work for my board and go to school from John Quan, and old Irishman, owner of Washington House, where he took boarders by the day, week or month, conducted a saloon, same as most hotels at that time, and also a feed barn where farmers coming to town could stable their horses. There was nothing said about the kind of work I should do, but it turned out that anybody and everybody around that place could boss me.
Mornings, I helped in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, carried water from a well into the laundry and kitchen, and carried in wood, and about every other day cleaned out the barn. The bartender, also Irish was a mean cuss, he went by the name of "Broken Nose John", and I suppose he got his nose broken in some fight because he was of a quarrelsome disposition. At the Mankato high school I started in what was then called the grammar room, the principal’s name was Prof. Gorey and I had only the one teacher whose name was Miss Beerbauer, and she assited me more than I had expected. I found that my time was so taken up with work that I had no time for study, and after a while I made arrangement with Mr. Quan for a small room and light (kerosene lamp) and three meals a day I should pay $2.50 per week. I kept attending school until what money I had earned on the railroad was spent when of course I had to quit school and again look for employment.
About the middle of February 1881 I started in at Barber Thomas to learn the barber trade. He offered me board, washing and 50 cents per week during my apprentice time, supposedly 2 years. What I mostly did was to keep the shop clean and I did practice on them, some haircutting and shaving on such as was willing to let me. There was only two barber chairs in the shop. I had to buy my own razor, comb and scissors. That place was an excellent place to learn English, as Mr. Thomas was a well educated man and like most barbers, talked all the time. Althourh Mr. Thomas had done very well financially, he was then a man of about 60 years of age, but he owned his shop, a brick dwelling, and had money out on interest. He said he never had charged more than 25 cents for a haircut and 10 cents a shave. I felt that 2 years was more than I could spend at that trade and on August 25th, 1881 I quit and took the train for St. Paul, Minnesota. Minneapolis was not considered any kind of a town worth attention at that time while St. Paul was the capital and a good sized city.
Pretending to be a barber I went to work at a shop out on 7th street, but as there were 4 chairs in the shop, and I the last one from the entrance, it was no use for me to remain there as I could not even have made my board. I therefore had to look for something else and on September 13th hired out to Hezekia Hall, proprieter of a furniture establishment, employing cabinet maker and upholsterer, besides salesmen, and my work should consist of driving the delivery wagon which was not only delivering goods sold in the city, but also to unload cars of furniture, frames, of sofas, chairs and tables from the railroad cars and haul same to the store, were the finishing by the workmen was done, take care of the team, at only $30 per mouth. St. Paul High School was only about 5 blocks away from my boarding house, and I went to evening school from 7 to 9 P.M.
I only had instruction in a few studies, mostly trying to learn spelling, writing and arithmetic. Mr. Hall was not liberal with his help, not even just, anyway, not with me. During the summer, President Garfield was shot and on the date of his funeral the business places at St. Paul were closed, the furniture establishment of Mr. Hall included. The others went wherever they wished to go, but he told me to hitch up to his buggy and take his small girl, Mrs. and another lady for a ride around the city so they could take in what was going on. That arrangement also gave me a chance to look around.
Garfield lived some time after being shot. I cannot remember the date of the funeral and that does not matter, but what mattered to me was that when I was paid for that month's work, Mr. Hall docked me $1.00 on account of the day I did not work, but drove his folks around for plealure.
During the winter, while at work for Mr. Aall, I had kept up correspondence with my friend from Blue Earth City, Mr. Olaf Earlandson, who had stuck to railroading, but he had heard so much favorable talk about people having gone to North Dakota, getting government land as Homestead and establishing homes.
At that time it was the (Souris) Mouse River Country that drew the settlers to that part of North Dakota. Mr. Erlandson, about 10 years my senior and better posted on ways of this country, I decided to go along to North Dakota. We left St. Paul for Fargo Marcy 25, 1882, but only stopped in Fargo over night and went on to Portland on Goose Rver, to which town the railroad had been built, with intention to go on to Larimore, but Portland was as far as passengers could go by train, so we stopped there.
I repeast stopped, because on account of the heavy snowfall, first part of April, any travel was impossible, all the ravines and sloughs were full of water. I had but very little money and tried to get jobs day by day at Portland. I unloaded lumber for a new elevator that was being built. A few days I worked for Anderson who was building a restaurant and a few days for Miller, a painter who was painting a new saloon on the inside. About one week I drove team for Mr. Hickley, who was operating a dray line. I also worked as second man for Robinson at his elevator, or rather a flathouse where he took in grain until his new elevator was ready to handle grain. John F. Johnson, who had filed on a claim east of Cooperstown, was at Portland one day and asked if I would help him herd some two carloads of cattle that a party from Wilmar, Minnesota had shipped to Portland for sale.
I was to have $1.25 per day, but it turned out that I had to do the herding as Johnson had steady business at the saloon, lately started, but I went to the owner of the cattle and got my pay. The job only lasted 3 days. Erlandson and four others bound for the Mouse River country had made an agreement with a party at Portland who had a team and wagon to drive and carry what provision we had bought, consisting mostly of a whole barrel of crackers, considerable pork (salted) and some canned goods. On account of water everywhere, we did not start until May 26th from Portland. Martin Nelson (driver) Hogen Olson, Andrew Gilbertson, Gustav “Smed” all from Wolcott and Erlandson and I, all bent on getting a homestead claim on Mouse River.
The going was slow, no road, except a trail here and there along the route that we could follow for a time, when getting further west, we struck the government train leading to Fort Totten which was the place we were told to strike for. We got along slowly, as several times we had to take off som of our clothes and help the team across some country full of water. At Fort Totten, we met 6 men with team, wagon and provision. They were all from near Grafton, North Dakota and also bound for the Mouse River country to obtain land. They all had rifles and considerable provision which they were liberal in dividing with us from time to time and we formed an imposing bunch as each man carried his rifle. Two from our crowd and six from Grafton. I had only an old shot gun that I purchased at Portland for $3.00. We all felt more secure in going on further as it was reported before we left Portland that two white men had been killed by Indians near Turtle Mountains which was in the direction we were going. There were many hundred Indians on the Fort Totten Reservation and about 150 soldiers stationed there in case of any trouble.
We had no trouble with the Indians, but met many of them among others, our attention was focused on the old chief "Ironheart", one of the leaders in the New Ulm massacres in 1862. He was now very old without teeth and shaking in his sadle. Ono of the men gave him some tobacco and he appeared pleased at that. The men and especially the squaws were awful persistent beggars. We camped near the fort (an old fashioned enclosure made of logs set on end and the lower end dug into the ground), where soldiers and also white people could take refuge in case of an Indian uprising which was apt to occur any time. However in 1882 most of the Indians were kept and guarded on the various reservations, the most danger was thet a small band might sneak away, off the reservation for hunting and if a white man or even a few, if less in number, might be attacked and robbed, if not killed by such roving Indians.
We traveled in a north westerly direction, intending to get to the big bend of the Mouse River. We did not see any white men or Indians either after we left Fort Totten but lots of wild animals, mostly antelopes. Hearing the rattling of the wagons, whole droves of -these nice little animals would appear on some hill a short distance away but at one glance of the outfit would skip away in the opposite direction. But in two instances of this kind one of the Grafton men shot an antelope, one going and one coming back, and it came in very handy to get some fresh meat.
We got into some very wet swampy country. I should Judge but abut where the Sheyenne River gets its start. I suppose on account of plenty drinking water this place abounded in wild game, among others also skunks. I was usually the first one stirring around in the morning and as I had no blanket, but just a rain coat over me, I got chilly. We all had to sleep on the bare ground under the wagons, but some of the men had a blanket with them. Because I also had a gun, I thought this was a good chance and a good place to shoot some animal or vird, and I had not traveled far that morning before I saw a black and white animal not far off. It saw me but did not run fast so I got closer before firing at it with my shot gun. It was a musket loader and had only one charge. Never having seen or even heard abut the skunk and how it protects itself, I got close enough to hit at it with my old gun, but I got a dose from the animals gind part that nearly knocked me over and the skunk got away. The raincoat I had on protected some of my clothes but on the whole trip I was remindd about my experience with the skunk. I did not get hurt, so I laughed with the rest of them.
Our arrival at the big bend (the river runs south east from Canada, makes a long turn into the United States, then runs north into Canada again) and it was at the southernmost point of the river we camped over Sunday, when after holding a pow wow we all decided to return to whee white people lived. There was no settlers west of Devils Lake. Only one of the party, Gustav, Smed, filed on a claim in the Sheyenne hills between the Goose River and Sheyenne, but he got hold of a sandy poor tract of land andleft it after a couple of years. One of our original bunch, Hagen Olson, got so scared of the Indians at Fort Totten on our way out that he took the stage for home. At that time there was a stage route operated twice a week between Jamestown and Fort Totten. Only Olaf and I started out again after the return to Portland, but first I went to Grand Forks by way of Hillsboro to get some plats of some surveyed land between the Goose River and the Sheyenne River.
I got plats of 3 townships, but by that time the prairie was literally dotted with claim shanties, sodhouses anti covered wagons. All the land seekers that had gone further west found the soil mostly sandy and poor for grain raising and therefore had turned back and was holding land under the squatter's right. Which was like this: Anybody finding a desirable tract of land, not already occupied, and who had provision and a family that he could leave on the land, could stake out or plow around the tract that he claimed and would thereby have the first right to file on this land as soon as it was surveyed and the division lines known. It happened that the survey made by the government surveyors would deprive the settler of part of the land he had claimed but in most instances he would get the land he wanted.
Olaf and I did not give up but kept on going west and north afoot until we came north of Devils Lake again. There we found some desirable prairie land but many people had already settled or marked out their claim, and we were informed that this and that claim was taken but that the owner had gone back further east for work and the fact was as we later learned that these claims were mostly held for relatives or friends that were to come out so as to have homes near by. We were foolish anyway because we had no friends to hold claims for us and we did not have the means to settlo down and start farming. We suffered on this trip both from hunger and exposure. I was back to Portland again July 5th and had sent what little money I had. We both went to Casselton where we intended to get work on one of the bonanza farms then being opordted by the Dalrymples, but there was so many men in Casselton looking for work that Olaf decided to get a job on the railroad again but I had decided that I did not want any more railroading.
While Olaf went away with a surface crew to go further west I remained at Casselton hoping something in the way of work would turn up, and after a few days I did not have a nickle to even buy crackers for and I had to sell my watoh for $3. I asked every farmer that came to town for work and on July 11th one John Ceder-gren, living 4 miles north of Casselton took me out t try. If I -was satisfactory I was to get $1 per day and board. I was set to do backsetting as it was called, turn over again half rotted sod that had been broken as raw Prairie earlier in the season. I drove a pair of big fast horses for a walking plow. It was awful hard work that I was not used to and a little later the haying season started and I worked at that together with a Swede that worked the farm all the year round and he was a good man to work with.
The Ceder-grens were fine people, had good board and nice houses. The harvest was very late that year, or I would have tried to keep at farmwork, but at the finishing of haying, Mr. Cedergreen again drove to town with me, went to the bank and drew the money and paid me what I had earned, something over $20. He paid me with a $20 gold piece, the first I ever saw or owned. I had thought a great deal of what I should try next and while at Mankato, I got acquainted Tate A. R. Ekle, owner of a marble shop, and who told me he had a partner in Fargo by name of Odegard. I therefore made up my mind to try Mr. Odegard for a job. I found him an awful busy man. He was the manager of Fuller and Johnson handling all Walter A. Woods machinery in North Dakota and Minnesota. At that tine Woods nechinery was the leading line, no mention was heard of either Deering or McCormick binders. Therefore Mr. Odegard had many men under him both at the office, the warehouses and on the road as experts for setting up and fixing binders.
After having tried to talk to Mr. Odegard during business hours I gave that up, but went to his office early one morning when after some waiting he took time to listen to my request for work. He was used to hiring help and questioned me a great deal about what education I had in Norway and what I had been doing since coming to the United States. He then told me to come to his office again the next morning and I went quite early but he was already there, reading the morning paper. He said he had thought about me and in as much as Ekle & Co. needed a man on the road to take out the monuments shipped to various stations, set same up on the graves in various cemeteries and obtain settlement from the purchasers and if I proved satisfactory they would pay me $300 for a year besides my expenses which was understood to be as low as pessible.
I knew this was a difficult job for me to undertake, but made up my mind that this was my chance, and I would work early and late to make good. In a few days when Mr. Odegard had arranged for a team and a spring wagon and eee ar. Odegard hae arranged for a tea and a spring wagon and he also gave me some expense money, I started out on my first trip to Ada, Minnesota, Just imagine the change for me. A trusted position, expense money advanced and if found satisfactory work for a whole year at good wages. That was the first time I felt happy since coming to America, but I still had some misgivings as to my ability to make good. This first trip took only a few days and when reporting and turning in the settlements I had made, it was all satisfactory. As before stated, Ekle & Co. had their shops at Mankato, Minnesota where all the jobs were finished and shipped to various railroad stations in Minnesota and North Dakota. The salesmen, who were working on commission when obtaining an order for a monument, sent it in to the office in Mankato.
When the stones were ready, it was usually sandstone for base and marble for the monument, which might be one piece or several pieces. The order was sent either to me direct or to Mr. Odegard who again either mailed it to me or held it until I came in to Fargo again if the job went in the other direction from whre I had been last and a great many jobs were shipped to Fargo in carload lots, so as to save freight charges. Most of the monuments I handled that fall was tributary to Fargo, and having the contract signed by the purchaser to go by, I did not have much trouble in making settlements. Some were all cash, others part cash and part on time, the time payment was settled by note, payable as per the contract.
Quite late that fall, when the work I had to do around Fargo was finished, I was ordered to my team and wagon to drive to Mankato and work in the shop during the winter. I took care of the team and boarded with Mr. Ekle. My work at the shop consisted mostly of rubbing down big pieces of marble, first with sand and later on by use of a pumice stone. Then the more expert workmen took over the jobs and finished. Mr. Ekle usually did all the lettering and fancy work. He had 8 men working in the shop that winter. Next spring I drove back to Fargo, with the rig I took down to Mankato all that summer I worked for Ekle & Co. through Minnesota and North Dakota. The longest continuous drive I made was by starting from Fargo and going along the Northern Pacific railroad having some jobs to set up at nearly evey station to St. Cloud, I remember working many days around Brainard. From St. Cloud I drove on north to Pine City and when through with my work at tha place I got orders to go to Minneapolis and set up a monument at Lyman Cemetery.
Turning towards Fargo again, I had work to go along the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad, now the Great Northern Railroad, and came back by way of Breckenridge to Fargo. The later part of the summer most of my work was in North Dakota, Grandin, Hillsboro and Mayville. November 16, 1883, a new deal was made between me and Mr. Odegard whereby I quit working for Ekle and Co. and started in with Fuller & Johnson as collector during the summer months and at the office during the winter. At this work I continued till November 30, 1886. During those three seasons I was away from Fargo from June to about Christmas or rather until the roads got too bad for travel. I established kind of headquarters where people could come in for settlement at Valley City, Lisbon and Milnor and also at LaMoure and Jamestown.
Decembe 4, 1886 I left Fargo on my trip back to Vaardalen or rather to Uncle Paal at Vaagemo. At Chicago I stopped a few days to call on some people from Vaardalen who had established their homes and had interest in some business or worked for somebody else. All these people did their utmost to make my visit with them pleasant and interesting. They all had relatives at Vaardalen and wished me to brigh greetings. From Chicago and on to Christiania I did not stop any more than the required time to catch trains or boats, but did not get to Christiania before January 3, 1887. Having some relatives at Christiania to visit, and also wishing to take in the sights of the capital city of Norway, I arrived at Uncle Paal’s home January 10, 1887.
The following is taken from a memorandum book I carried and was dotted down from day to day as I traveled. This is of no special interest to others, only it shows the time required for a trip then (1886) as compared with the present time.
6th – stopped at Minneapolis, Minnesota, 140.000 inhabitants.
7th – Arrived at Chicago, Illinois – 700,000 inhabitants where I stayed with T. Brimi at 351 Indiana Street until…
13th – When I started east via the Grand Trunk Railroad at 3:20 PM
14th – Dinner at Toronto, Canada, 125,000 inhabitants. Supper at Montreal – 200,000 inhabitants – Lots of snow and cold weather
15th – Arrived at Portlend, Maine where I stopped at Eagle Hotel.
16th Went on board Allen Line Steamer Polynesian, but too stormy. to sail, later low tide. 10° below zero, awful cold.
17th at 1:50 P.M. started. John Ritchie Captain with 57 passangers only John Trovatten Gunder Host and I Norwegians, 6 Swedes, 1 Hollander, and the rest English, Scotch and Irish.
18th - At Halifax, Nova Scotia at 4 P.M. when 12 passenger and 300 tons of coal was taken on.
19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd - cold north wind and stormy
23rd - bad storm, nobody but the crew on deck
24th - a dreary Christmas Eve, I was sick
25th - Christmas dinner served by cabin crew, the only good meal we had on the trip
26th – weather moderated and fair. At 11 A.M. catholic services.
27th - At 7 A.M. stopped at London Derry Ireland to deliver mail and let off passengers. A small steamer met us. Arrived at Liverpool, England, but did not let us off until…
28th – when we were escorted to Allen line emigrant House No. 1, Kent Square, where we remained till Thursday morning.
31st - I used the daytime to walk around the city and down to the docks, where ships of all kinds from all over the world could be seen. I could not help but take time to stop and examine the inscriptions on some of the biggest statues. One in front of the Board of Trade building about 25 feet high and very massive. figures on top with anchors, cannons guns and flags, a man's size bronze statue at each corner about 6 feet above the base, chained down like slaves. Inscription on one side ef this statue read:
“England wants evey man to do his duty”. Wellington’s Statue abou 125 feet, engraved showing various positions at battle of Waterloo, horses, soldiers and cannons. Statue of Wellington on top said to be east of cannons captured from the French in Battle of Waterloo. Statue of Queen Victoria on horseback, “erected by the corporaton of Liverpool the 34th year of her reigh”. Statue of Benjamin Disraeli “Earl of Beakonsfield K.G. B. Dec. 31, 1805 died August 19, 1881. “Walkers Artillery” presented to city of Liverpool by that rich brewer Walker Building all of cut stone. At the entrance I read Michael Angelo Born 1474 Died 1563. Raphael Born 1483 Died 1520. Both statues a natural mans size. Inside the building I saw busts and whole size statues of the leading men of England, past and present.
31st - At 11 A. M. left Liverpool for Hull via Lancashire & Yorkshire and
arrived at Hull 3:40 P.M. and went on board steamer "Rollo" at 9 P.M. (Hull is a dirty city)
2nd – Arrived at Christian Sand, where mail and passengers were let off for Bergen, Haugesund and Molde.
3rd = arrived at Christiania.
Stopped, a few days at the capital of Norway, visited with Jon. P. Fritzvold, rho had a nice home and viers his father, Paul Fritzvold, (brother of Grandmother) and his daughter Marie kept house, as Jon. P. was a widower. Paul Fritzvold, who at one time worked as clerk in Jacksons Store at Hannaford, was also at home, with his father, and I had a very enjoyable visit with the Fritzvolds at Christiania. I left January 6th by train to Hamar, but as Mjosen was frozen up, I had to hire livery all the way, and did not get to uncle Paal before late at night January 10th, 1887. He, his wife and 4 children (Erland, Rolf, Sigvald and Ronnoug) were all well. January 13th, Uncle, Erland and I went to VaardIalen to call on our relatives. Grandmother, still alive but very feeble, and was being cared for by Aunt Ronnaug, who was then alone. Both her husband (my old teacher) and their son had passed away.
Mother, her husband and their daughters Sina and Gina lived on a small farm, they had lately bought. We only stayed over one night and went back to Uncle Paal’s home the 14th. I did not notice much of any change and no improvements visible either at Vaardalen or Lom. During the winter I made several trips for visit to Vaardalen andj also to Andvords at Forsberg, but stayed most of the wime with Uncle whe was as good to me as before and I used my time to help him some with the office work and made one trip as his epresentative for the bank to Kruke Hedanen on collections. Uncle and I were invited t osome of his friends where I was asked to tell about affairs and conditions in that part of the Unites States where I had been.
Uncle Paal still had a work shop although he had sold the farm Sunde and now lived at the bank’s building in Vaagemo, and I made a sleigh for Erland and a corrugated washboard for the women to use in rubbing clothes at washing (the first rubbing washboard seen in that part of the country). It was found to do better and faster work than the method formerly used. At the time of leaving Fargo, I did not know if I would decide to remain in Norway or come back, but it did not take long to decide after I got home and was counting the days when the ice should break up so the steamer on Njesen would go to Eidsvold.
Although I did all I could to hinder Mother and her family from coming along to the United States, they would not listen, but arrangements to sell their household goods at auction at which I had to assist, and also the small farm I tried to sell and even went to neighboring counties to hunt for abuyer, but could not find anybody with the cash that they absolutely had to have to get away. I finally found a party from Skjaak who would buy it but would not have the money before in July, therefore, as was always the case, they had to havr assistance from Uncle Paal who advanced most of the purchase price, anyway enough for transportation and a little more. We heard later that some time after moving on to the farm the man died and that the widow could not pay for it. Uncle had the title so he likely sold it to somebody else later on.
Everything having been made ready for the family’s departure, including a relative from Vaage, who was bound for Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, we started May 20th, 1887 by horse and wagon the 110 miles to Lillehammer, and from thereon by steamer over Mjosen to Eidsvold they again by train to Christiania whee we stopped for a few days to visit with the Fritzvolds and other acquaintances and also to arrange for our transportation. May 27, 1887 we went aboard steamer “Rollo” bound for Hull, England. Then wenton by London & N.W. Railroad to Liverpool. June 2nd we boarded Allen Line Steamer “Parisian” with about 800 passengers aboard of mixed nationalities. It took nearly 10 days to get to Quebec and on June 12th we went on the Grand Trunk Railroad to Chicago.
At Toronto I went to a bakery to get some food for us but the train did not stop as long as I was informed and I got left (to the conster-ation of my charge). The next train came thru about 3 hours later and I caught up with the emigrant train at Port Huron where examination for duty was made. June 15th 1887 we arrived in Fargo, North Dakota where we hired sorre rooms for housekeeping. June 22nd I again started to work for Mr. Odegard (Johnson & Fuller Co.) sometimes in the office but mostly on the road. I quit December 31st and did not engage in any steady work for a time, but in February 1888 I went to Milnor, Sargent County, where a deal was lade between me and Mr. J. E. Bishop, attorney at law, for a partnership in the business, collections and law. I was to pay $250. I paid $50 cash cash and the balance shouId be taken out of the business as it was earned.
I also made a deal for a 160 acres homestead claim from the father of Mr. Bishop. The land was about 3 miles from Milnor and had a small house and a small barn on it. (Southwest quarter of 16-141-54). I then went to Fargo to help my folks to come out to this land (Mother, her husbane and Gina). Sina had hired out as a domestic to a party at Buxton, North Dakota, settling on the farm April 1, 1888.
Having nothing to start with I had to buy everything. We started with oxen 2 pair, required for breaking new land, plows, wagon and and all other requircd farm machinery. It took all the capital I had as I also had to buy all the food for the whole family besides what little we got from 3 cows that 1 bought. The land was stony and hard to break and having to look after business for the partnership, I could not be on the farm a great deal and worse of all the drought set in so that while we got a little crop in 188, it was still less in 1889 and in 1990 we did not get the seed back. On December 1790 my people left the farm and went to Fargo again. I had kept in touch with my friend Olaf Erlandson who had stuck to railroading and told him my condition. He cane to the farm late in the winter and we agreed on wages so he decided to stay with me.
April 1891 Bishop and I dissolved our oartnership. He had 160 acres adjoining my land and in the settlement I got that land, a horse and buggy. That was all I got for 3 years work. There was a lot of legal matters pending the fees in which I should have one half but I never got anything. Then about half through with spring work 1891, Mr. Odegard came out from Minneapolis and wanted me to go to Cooperstown to work at collections for Thompson & Odegard who had bean in the Mhehinery are also banking business at Cooperstown and had a great deal outstanding. He offered me $50 per month and expenses paid for 8 months and having hod no crop for 3 years, I was glad of the opportunity. And Olaf agreed to carry on as best he could. I came to Cooporstorn April 22nd 1891 and worked around the office for a few days but on Monday, April 27th I was taken sick with (La Grippe) later called flu and it took about two weeks before I was able to be out and do tho work I should . I continued for Odegard & Thompson as per agreement to the end of December and arrived home again January 2nd, 1892.
During January, 1892, Olaf and I hauled out the grain raised during 1891. That was the only crop I raised during the 6 years I tried to farm worth mentioning. My memorandum book which I have filled up 12 of the past 50 years showed that I sold 1200 bushels of wheat and 500 bushels of flax and having to haul all this with oxet and load on cars from a "Flathouse" (no elevator) it was hard work. I remember that one day after new fallen snow, I got so snow blind that if it had rot been for the oxen going home without being guided by me, I never would have gotten home. I shipped that crop to Van Dusan Harrington Co., Minneapolis, till in the grain business and received $0.62 per bushel for wheat and $0.73 per bushel for flax. That brought me money enough to square up my debts and I promised myself never to get into debt again and I have kept that promise.
When the crop was seeded in 1892 we went to work to tear down the buildings I had on my homestead and with a lot of new material addid I put up a dwelling, barn and grainery on the adjoining land on which I obtained pre-emption entry. I only bought the relinquishment from the first settler and there was only one small shac on this land.
September 22nd 1892 I hired out to the Bank of Forman to December 31st at $75 per month but should furnish my own board and rig. I therefore drove home most of the time after closing of the bank where the horse and buggy I got from Mr. Bisho came in handy. During 1893 until September 1894, I spent my time on the farm completing all the buildings, plastering the house and cistern, painting the house and outbuildings and Olaf did most of the outside work. Fist part of Septembe 1894 I received a lette from John Syverson at Cooperstown offering me a job to work at collections for 3 months at $100 per month and expenses paid.
That was too good to pass up, so I left things in charge of Olaf and arrived at Cooperstown September 12th. I worked at collections for John Syverson as per agreement and went home January 2nd, 1895. It was understood between me and Mr. Syverson that if I could rent out my land I was to come back to work for Syverson as bookkeeper at $50 per month and expenses paid. There was but little crop to market, but I spent a lot of time trying to get a renter to take over the farm stock and machinery as it turned out I did not get but very little out of the chattels and as I had to pay the taxes on the land out of my earnings at Cooperstown for 3 years I got disgusted and having an offer of $3,000 for the whole property, I sold out everything in 1898. Miss Christine Ravndal and I agreed to go into partnership and fight life’s battles together, we got married by Rev. Silnes March 17th 1897 and started housekeeping in the “Adam’s” House on mainstreet, lately vacated by T.J. Odegard, Sr. who had moved to the home of his son-in-law, John Syverson.
We continued to rent the house until August 1898 when our own new built house on Block 81, Cooperstown was ready to move into. My wages at Syverson was made $75. After we started our own housekeeping and continued to January 2nd, 1897 when we entered on my duty as Treasurer of Griggs County. Having been elected for a second term I continued as County Treasurer until January 1899, but assisted incoming treasurer P. J. Stone at office work until March when I hired out to the First National Bank of Cooperstown to attend jto farm loans and insurance.
January 11th 1900 I was elected cashier and continued as such till January 1st 1929 when I retired, broken down in health and spirit caused by too much work inside and worry.
At the time of leaving the bank January 1929, I felt that,
No more can I be a “rover”,
My working days will soon be over.
My hair turned white from worry and care.
I wish to sit and read in my old armchair.
As I should try to regain at least some of my health, Mother and I decided to go to Minneapolis for the rest of the winter where we rented some living rooms at 1465 West 33rd Street. Evey week day I went to the office of Dr. Wood Hennepin at Lake to receive electric treatment for my congested liver and prostrate gland. The treatment id me a lot of good and perhaps the quiet life and less worry also assisted in making me feel better. Carroll and family lived in Minneapolis and Ingolf was teaching at Eden Prairie about 15 miles out. We therefore enjoyed each others company quiute often. Swanhild was then married and lived at Bottineau, North Dakota where her husband Mr. Grinnell was teaching at the State Forestry School.
During the summer of 1929 I was on tho farm part of the time and did what work I could find in way of fencing, besides some attention to our homeyard. Mother and I had many times talked about taking a trip to the Pacific Coast and decided to go to San Diego, California for the winter. We stalrted from Cooperstown October 30th 1929, met our folks at Minneapolis where we stayed ove night so that Carroll could arrange for our transportation. We went by way of Kansas City, but took a side trip to Denver, Colorado to visit with George C. Barnard and family. On this trip I carried a small memorandum book where I dotted down some of our experiences on the trip and while staying at San Diego.
While at San Diego we lived at Kirkland Apartment, 5th and Juniper where we stayed till March 7th 1930 when we went north to Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Tacoma and Seattle. From Seattle we took the Northern Pacific Railroad and did not sto off any place before we reached Valle City were we stayed overnight and reached home March 22nd, 1930. The stay in California where I could be outdoors all winter strengthened me considerably so I could do considerable work on the farm and in our yard during 1930 and 31. It is now January 1932 and at the request of our daughter Swanhild Grinnell, now at Palo Alto, California, have made the foregoing short memorandum of some, in fact, most of my ramblings during my nearly 71 years of life. This is dedicated to our children, who may like to read something of what one emigrant from Norway had to go through in this United States of America.
"Providence” has favored me and I am thankful. First of all for my wife, my true help-mate during the past 35 years, for a good home, which we have, and last but not least for our 3 children for whom Mother has done so much in bringing up to become respectable citizens of this "Best County in the world."
Cooperstown, North Dakota
(a working man)