Monthly Archives: January 2013
Torstein continued to see his family grow, and as he outlived much of his family he began to spread his beliefs on the radio. When his daughters Ida and Thea were married, and as their children grew up into adults, he was always there with a strong voice and a warm heart. He returned a few times to his “Motherland” keeping a connection to his roots. In the early twentieth century, about 100 years ago he returned with traditional beaded and embroidered “Voss Bunad” dresses for Ida and Thea. (As one of Thea’s granddaughters, I inherited this vintage treasure.)
My mother has described to me about this man, my great-grandfather, who lived to see his first great grandchildren, yet passed on within a couple years of my birth. He eventually moved into Fergus Falls with his daughter Ida and her husband.
Thea taught in a one room schoolhouse prior to her marriage to the son of a neighboring homesteader, Joseph Marcus Kolle. She raised three sons, and was widowed when I was two. She had a talent for intricate crocheting and embroidery. Ida always had an assortment of Norwegian treats on her table. After my Grandma Thea passed away, my Great-Aunt Ida moved out to Washington State to join her older sister, Christine, Torstein’s “adopted” stepdaughter, for their final years.
I hope to someday visit Torstein’s original homeland and the Kaardal farm in the upper Flam Valley, bringing this story to a full circle over a century before it began.
Torstein and Martha found land south of Fergus Falls, Ottertail County, in Grant County. It was called Stoney-brook Township. They eventually built a farmhouse on this land, with his earnings from years in working for his uncle’s farm.
Nearby, they joined their homesteading neighbors in founding the “Rock Prairie Lutheran Church,” which has been rebuilt, yet, the congregation remains loyal, to this day.
Adolph, Ida and Thea were born on this farm. The nearest towns were Wendall and Elbow Lake. Torstein was instrumental in promoting the “wiring up” of telegraph and telephone lines into Wendall, linking communication to communities both near and far.
To fulfill his promise to his mother, this proud, Nordic man sent for any remaining siblings in his family from “the Old Country,” helping with their steerage and in their needs as they joined him and his family in the “New World.”
He also grew to love the breed of Percheron stallions horses. He was described as a man of royalty, as he proudly rode around the community.
Joined by his wife and two young children, Torstein descended down the mountainside on the well-worn curved walking paths. They layered their clothes and pulled their steamer trunk on a cart which they left in Flam. They boarded a vessel which maneuvered along the fjord towards it’s outlet to the sea. Next, the small family joined other emigrants on the crowded steerage deck of an ocean liner. The ship crossed the Northern Atlantic Ocean landing in Quebec. From there, the family most likely ventured through the St. Lawrence waterway through the Great Lakes, arriving in Chicago, Illinois traveling cross-land to Goodhue County, Minnesota. For many new Norwegian immigrants to Minnesota this was a first place of settling prior to moving westward. This is where Torstein experienced great loss. His wife and one child passed away. In those days, there were none of the medications, antibiotics or immunizations as we have today. Pneumonia, influenza, diphtheria and other diseases were deadly. From Goodhue County, Torstein sought out his uncle in Ottertail County. He worked on his uncle’s farm for several years, during which his remaining son passed away. Eventually, during that time he met and married a widow, Martha. She and her children formed a new beginning with Torstein.
Torstein’s father had passed away leaving him the “man of the household” at a young age. His mother’s brother had settled in a hilly, lake-filled region near a small town, Fergus Falls. The land was rich for dairy cattle and the lakes were plentiful with fish. Many Norwegians from the Flam Valley had started to migrate to Minnesota, the “Land of Sky-blue Waters.” The winters were challenging, but the seasonal changes brought bountiful harvests and gorgeous Autumn leaves.
As the days of Torstein’s mother’s life neared their end, she encouraged Torstein to bring his new family to the New World. She prayed also that her other children would be guided towards the vastness of that new land, following in their eldest brother’s footsteps. Torstein promised her that he would look after his siblings and also help to bring them to there, as he was able, with the help of God.
Thus, began his journey from his “Motherland.”