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«HISTORY OF EMIGRATION FROM NORDMØRE - Stangvik and Surnadal parishes»
* For disclaimer, please see end of text.
Even in the very first years, some Nordmøre emigrants traveled farther westward, laying foundations for larger and smaller "pockets" of our folks. Leelanau was the base and starting point for these branches into the land. Some settled in the west, some took a reconnaissance tour and returned to Michigan, something easily understood by a Nordmører who has seen the landscapes where they settled. The Nordmøre-like character of Michigan, with its numerous similarities to home, must have appeared far more attractive than the desolate western wastelands, although settings are also to be found there with rivers, forests, and lakes just as homelike and hospitable as Leelanau.
Photo reference 211/1: Map sketch of Minnesota.
MINNESOTA - JACKSON
"Johan" voyager Lars Sogge
Holand mentions that two members of Isak Sogge's band traveled west from Chicago as hired hands instead of returning to Northport. Today we don't know exactly who these were. What may be said with certainty is that those first known to have continued westward are Lars Soggteigen, who became engaged on the Johan and went to Jackson in southwest Minnesota with his in-laws, and his brother Nils.
However, the group stopped and spent the winter of 1868-69 in Goodhue County in eastern Minnesota, then a frontier base and provisioning point, a starting point for the advance to the west.
Lars and Nils didn't stop there, they went on to Iowa and found work, planning to go on farther west.
Photo reference 212/1: Lars Sogge - Jackson, Minnesota | Belongs to: Tilmore Meium.
Osten Hansen had been out to Jackson in the fall of 1868 and organized a congregation. When he returned to Goodhue County, he said that the people in Jackson were quite pleasant so, early in the spring of 1869, Lars Sogge and two companions set out for Jackson on foot, crossing nearly all of Minnesota, and picked out land for themselves and the others. They stopped in Winnebago on their return, 50 miles from where the land lay, and reported where the land was they had chosen to the land office.
The group set out from Goodhue County the same spring in six prairie wagons pulled by oxen. The people walked behind, driving the cattle ahead of them. During the night they drew the wagons into a circle or square, and some slept within and some beneath the wagons.
They reached Jackson on June 12th and spent the next month in a camp in the Belmont area. The state land office had placed stakes around their claims so they might locate their land, and all helped in plowing up a little land for each other and digging out places to live (dugouts) on sloping land.
The first white men had arrived here in 1856. The violent Sioux uprising occurred in 1862. Eight hundred whites were killed in the Belmont massacre during the week the uprising lasted. Today, one can see in Jackson the cabin of Anders E. Olson Slaabakken, who, though both beaten and stabbed, survived. Thirteen members of his family were killed and the three remaining ones were injured.
Lars and Nils spent their first winter in a dugout together with Claus Sether and his family. Their dugout was 16x16x6 feet deep. Its entrance faced southwest. The roof and gable, which protruded from the hillside, were made of logs, with willow boughs, hay, and sod on top. There was a small window on the side and a larger one on the "front" next to the door. The walls were of sod, but were whitewashed.
Hannah, to whom Lars was engaged, and her sister Helen were not here during the winter. They had stopped in Winnebago, finding work for the winter. In April 1870, they took the stagecoach to Jackson and arrived on foot at their parent's dwelling. One may wonder why they didn't get lost on this flat land. There were no roads, only footpaths.
When Lars had his log cabin finished, he and Hannah were married in the Sether's dugout. Lars' furnishings comprised long benches and three-legged stools.
Hannah died in June 1873. She had born a small son who survived only until September.
In the fall of 1874, Lars married Hannah's sister Karen, who was but 16. They had five children, Halfdan 1875-1949, Ludvig, Hannah 1881-1965, Gena, and Clara.
Photo reference 213/2: Lars Sogge and family in Jackson | Belongs to: Tilmore Meium.
Halfdan took over the farm.
Ludvig became a physician and lived in nearby Windom, where a nursing home was named after him.
Photo reference 213/1: The nursing home in Windom - north of Jackson, Minnesota, named after Dr. Ludvig Sogge, son of Lars and Karen Sogge | Belongs to: Tilmore Meium.
Hannah married Oliver Meium from Selbu who had a neighboring farm.
(The author stayed in Hannah's room during her sojourn in Jackson, where summer breezes played with the white, lace curtains on the blue wall, and the sheep of her son, Tilmore, bleated outside. The large, colorful marriage certificate of Hannah's parents was hanging on the wall.)
Gena and Clara moved away, the former marrying a railroad man and the latter a minister. Clara was 99 years old in 1985, when these notes were taken, and living in California.
Karen's mother died in 1888, age 29, and Lars married Maria Lehren. Their children were Calma and Tillman. Lars had twenty grandchildren.
Lars worked as a farmer. The log cabin he built was made from oak trees he cut down along the river valley. The usual lot size was 160 acres, but Lars had 120. It was all thick, virgin sod, almost impenetrable with a plow. It took two to four oxen to manage to pull a plow through it. The grass stood nearly two meters tall and its root system was absolutely impossible. There were small stones in the soil, but these were no problem compared to the sod. About a meter down it turned to clay and the soil was too wet. Today the entire region is drained, an enormous task. They plowed down six to twelve inches, depending on the depth of the soil which, in itself, was very good. But starting a farm on wet sod demanded a major effort due to these difficulties. The farmers would walk together, plowing a strip for each other every year, two to four acres a year. Ten acres was considered a large field. The cows brought from Goodhue County helped them survive on milk and butter. Wheat was their cash crop in the beginning, but early in the 1870's the grasshoppers arrived several years in a row, leveling everything. It is difficult to see how they put up with it.
The trees Lars had planted around his house were lost in a prairie fire, save for a single one. They plowed round the buildings and were ready for the fires, but the flames leaped across the plowed area. Generally they managed to handle them when they did. In the winters there must have been quite a lot of snow for, at Lars' in-laws, they had to dig themselves out through a dugout window to reach the cattle. Their fuel consisted of bundles of grass twisted together and dried cow manure.
Indians were still in the region and frequently traveled along the river, but they weren't living in the area and there were no confrontations with them.
When Lars and his group arrived, Jackson County and the next county were still uninhabited, only a single person lived in Jackson and he was from Selbu. Today, the original prairie turf is only to be found in the churchyard, near the slopes where they first dug in upon their arrival.
It took nearly a generation to make a farm fully operational. They increased their herds until they had 16-18 cows, selling cream to the creamery in nearby Bergen. They kept chickens, bartered eggs for groceries, and slaughtered hogs for market. When the turf plowing was completed, the oxen were traded for horses. Horses could not have managed the turf, but oxen stuck to it, hanging in the harness determinedly until the turf yielded.
Following the wheat period, they grew flax for market, and later corn, both for sale and fodder. Today soybeans and corn are grown on a large scale for raising hogs. Only Tilmore Meium is original enough to breed sheep on the portion of his farm he hasn't leased to large-scale producers.
Tilmore's grandfather, Thomas from Selbu, arrived at Jackson with his prairie wagon in 1870, lost his wife, his parents, and three children in the first four or five years here, and had previously lost his oldest son in Minneapolis. Only Oliver, Tilmore's father, survived from his grandfather's first family. His father had no children by his next marriage.
Lars Sogge was the first director of "Hauge’s Congregation", elected at the organizational meeting in 1877. He also tended to the Sunday school and other congregational activities.
Later they had two small churches and in 1924 the churches combined had 24 confirmation candidates. Tilmore was confirmed in Norwegian and spoke only Norwegian until starting school. He was confirmed in the Hauge Synod.
A large portion of this settlement was from Selbu and Verdalen. The "Selbu Association" was centered in Windom.
Nils' story coincides with his brother's. Relatives in Jackson don't know Nils' wife's name, but say she was Norwegian. They had twelve children: Oscar 1873-88, John 1874-74, John 1876-1962, Olaf 1878-1965, Gea 1880-1959, Louis 1882-1967, James 1884-1964 (unmarried), Ida 1886-1964, Tillie 1888-, Oscar 1890-90, Clara 1892-95, and Eddy (Ed) 1894-. There were 24 grandchildren from this band. None live in the region anymore, all having moved to Arizona.
More on Nils Larsson Sogge by Donald J. Sogge
Ole Sogge from Teigavollen
Ole signed his citizenship papers in June 1876 as Ole G. Sogge, while the recorder listed him as Ole Goodmanson, arriving in the USA June 21, 1869. Records show his departure from Trondheim on May 13, along with three others. Ole gave his destination as Grand Haven. He paid 41 rix-dollars plus 102 shillings for his ticket. Today, according to the family, this equals $18.58.
Photo reference 214/1: Ole G. Sogge (Teigavollen) and Guri born Trøan | Belongs to: Ole J. Sogge | Copy: Petrick Studio.
Ole was married in 1873 in Jackson County to Guri Andersdatter Trøan, Julia in the USA. Guri is Gure on her tombstone and Julia Anderson on her wedding certificate. Guri was then 20 years old. Witness at the wedding was Lars Larsen Sogge. A deed to Ole was issued in 1882 and the land atlas shows Ole owned 80 acres in 1896.
Guri was a midwife and delivered all the children of Lars Sogge, amongst others. She smoked a pipe, even in bed, but forbade her grandchildren even whistling in the house!
The family says they never spoke of Norway, nor did the children understand the language. One often comes across this in many places.
Children of Ole and Guri: Gilbert '74, Peter '75, Bereth '77, Mali '79, Albert '81, Odin '82, Odin '83, John '87, Anne '89, and Benhard '92.
Guri is said to have been born at "Hattedalen", which must be Haltdalen. Ole died in 1927, Guri in 1923.
Today the black earth has washed away in Jackson, and the land requires considerable fertilizer. In places the clay is shining through. All the Sogge farms, the school, and the church lay together around their first sod hut. Today, Ole Sogge's farm is a cornfield and no trace of the house or anything else remains. Nils' farm is now out of the family and is leased to a large-scale producer. Lars' family still has his farm, but uses it only as a vacation spot. Hannah's son owns it and rents out the land.
The Hauge Church has disappeared. Amidst the large, flat, corn and soybean fields, which stretch in all directions as far as the eye can see, stand the old tombstones of the Hauge churchyard in what is again the prairie.
Sources: Frances and Tilmore Meium, Ole and Petra Sogge, LaVonne Dale Minion.
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* Copyright Dordi Glærum Skuggevik 1986 - ISBN 02-991394-0-6. Please note: The original text and photo captions in Norwegian – and any digitisation and translation thereof - contain information from public, private and personal sources and may contain unintended errors, inaccuracies or omissions. The author - and as applicable: the digitiser and translator - accepts no liability for any such errors, inaccuracies or omissions. To continue, the reader must accept all limitations of liability and the text ‘as is’ - or should refrain from further reading.
The above content is from the book "Utvandringshistorie fra Nordmøre - Stangvik og Surnadal Prestegjeld" (History of emigration from Nordmøre – Stangvik and Surnadal Parish (Norway)) - published in 1986 by Dordi Glærum Skuggevik - and is used by the author's kind permission. All photos are used by the owners' kind permission.
The English text - except for part VII and photo captions - is a private translation from Norwegian by Sjur Sivertson, used with his kind permission (copyright Sjur Sivertson).