On one of her trips, she dug up a small sapling tree and wrapped it around her waist beneath her clothes to smuggle the tree into the USA. She planted it on their gravesite in order to have a part of her home with her in the New World.

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«HISTORY OF EMIGRATION FROM NORDMØRE - Stangvik and Surnadal parishes»
* For disclaimer, please see end of text.



Johan Halle, Gunda née Nes, and Margaret Nes
In Rice Lake, we met the only present-day emigrants in Wisconsin, from the period between the World Wars. Johan Halle is living in an apartment in downtown Rice Lake, with his wife, Gunda née Nes. Gunda's sister, Margaret, has her apartment within walking distance.

Photo reference 306/1: Johan Halle, Gunda Halle (on the right) and Gunda's sister Margaret Naess. Rice Lake 1985.

Johan was born at Halle-Bakken in Todalen but, after the age of nine, grew up in Motrøa. He came to Rice Lake in 1921, where he worked for Peder Vick (Hønsvik, Halsa).

Johan traveled with Ola Lien and Nils Gjerstad. They took the train to Oslo and the Stavangerfjord to New York. Johan didn't find his trunks quickly enough at Ellis Island, and had to stay on the boat one night longer than the others. Johan was carrying some of Ola's tobacco. Good tobacco was hard to come by. Johan saw the other two on the ferry, which was full, but has never seen them since. Ola Lien went to Milwaukee, but Johan doesn't know what became of Nils Gjerstad.

Peder Vick lived five miles east of Rice Lake and, for four years, Johan worked there during the summers, from April 1st to the end of the potato season in October. During the winters, he was a saw-boss in the woods.

After this, he started in as a builder. He has built nearly all the barns in the area, a portion of the houses in town, and the church in Radisson. He had two or three workers in his crew.

In 1954, he moved to Rockford, Illinois, because of his asthma, to work at a nut-and-bolt factory. When he retired in 1965, he settled back in Rice Lake. He has twice built homes after retiring!

Johan has been a lay preacher and has led devotions at homes for the aged and at nursing homes. He has been active in the Gideons, a Christian business organization that gives away Bibles. He has been home to Norway three times since 1965 and spoken at the meetinghouse at Kvanne. Johan's sister-in-law, Margaret, served us a perfect Christmas dinner, and Johan's prayer of grace made a strong impression. We lost a good minister there!

He married Gunda Olsdatter Nes in 1932. Children: Johanna Lillian, Olin Lawrence, and Eleanor Marie. They have six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Johan was home in 1925, thinking of starting a chicken farm, but gave up the idea.


Ole P. Nes
Johan's father-in-law was the son of Mali from Øverlandet, Nes in Ålvundfjord and Peder Pålson Aasen. He spelled his name Naess in the USA.

Ole came to Duluth at the turn of the century and married Lina Aarsund from Straumsnes. They settled on an 80-acre farm in Rice Lake, where they engaged in general farming with 12 to 14 cows. They sold butter and cream but, after a while, the milk went to a cheese factory. Half their farmland consisted of either woods, stone, pasture, or river.

Ole died in 1944 and Lina the preceding year.

The family believes Ole's nephew, Peter Louis, died of pneumonia in Michigan in 1926, and none of the family would come to America after this.

His daughters Gunda and Margaret bake Norwegian cookies. They say that herring for the special dish, herring balls, is difficult to obtain. They have kept to lutefisk on Christmas Eve, and previously used to bake lefse (Norwegian crepes). Gunda's mother cooked rømmgraut (cream-porridge), but now it's difficult getting hold of the heavy cream. The author must concede that Margaret's dinner exceeded expectations for both the rømmgraut and lutefisk!

Photo reference 306/2: Ole P. Naess from Ørsvika, Neslandet and Linda Aarsund from Straumsnes. | Belongs to: Petra Melhus.

Photo reference 307/1: After the tornado, Ole P. Naess' barn.


Ola Halle
Johan's brother Ola came after Johan did. He worked at a sawmill in Vancouver and had thoughts of settling in Rice Lake. He died during a swimming outing in 1924. He and a Swede were swimming after work. The Swede swam after Ola, who had just gone under, probably due to cramps. He had been a strong fellow. He used to swim across Søya fully dressed when rafting logs with his father, who was the raft boss.


Gjertrud Larsdatter Mo
Gjertrud married the Peder Vick for whom Johan Halle worked. They had two small daughters at the time Gjertrud died. Peder returned home and got families at Halsa and Mo to take the children.

Peder remarried. She was from Halsa and died in childbirth with Peder's third child.

Peder married for the third time. This wife was an Olsen from Rice Lake. They had five children.

Astrid and Dordi, from his first marriage, came to stay with their father when they grew up. (Dordi = Dorothy in the USA.)

Sources: Nils Magnar Torvik, Johan and Gunda Halle, Margaret Naess, and Ildri Kvande.


With a tree round her waist

Ole Sæther - Kringla
Ole was born in 1844 and departed for Chicago in 1872 on the Tasso. His great-granddaughter tells how Ole's wife, Marie Jensen from Jessum (Jessheim) in Ullensaker, repeatedly visited her family in Norway after Ole died. He had been a furniture maker in Chicago and had done well. They owned a goodly piece of Chicago.

On one of her trips, she dug up a small sapling tree and wrapped it around her waist beneath her clothes to smuggle the tree into the USA. She planted it on their gravesite in order to have a part of her home with her in the New World. The tree remained until 1983, when it was cut down to make room for Ole's grandson, Martin Edward Saether, born 1909, died 1983. The tree stood in the Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago.

It was Martin E.'s daughter who wrote this in a letter to the author. Ole married in 1876 and died in 1918.

Ole's children: Anna '78, John '82, Martin A. '84, and Edward '91.

Ole had only one grandchild, and Sonja Hayes is his only great-grandchild.

Source: Sonja Jean Hayes.


Epilogue - Wisconsin

The Wisconsin emigrants appear in many respects to have led a more normal life than those who started out on the barren prairies farther west. In any case, they could live in wooden houses and had firewood and water. Although life was terribly hard for the lumbering and sawmill crews, distances to the railroads and towns were much shorter and the established, civilized world was much closer than for those residing under much more extreme living conditions farther to the west. The distance to their families in the old country was not nearly so formidable, and the landscape and vegetation were more familiar and similar to what they were accustomed to. In reality, it is puzzling that the very first ones went so far west in one step, skipping over Wisconsin. There are reasons, but we shan't involve ourselves with them here.

People from Stangvik, Surnadal, Rindal, Tingvoll, and otherwise Nordmøre, concentrated in the northwestern corner of Wisconsin. Bastian Nelson Nordvik and Lars I. Røv or Roe, are two of the power centers who surfaced in this work. Not only were they active and so situated in the area that they came into contact with the majority, also attracting young folks from home, but they have both seeded the community with descendants in very central positions, especially in the press world between Eau Claire and Minneapolis. This is the reason that children are discussed more thoroughly here than elsewhere in the book. The Roe descendants, linked to the St. Olaf area in Northfield, are buried between the two best known of the St. Olaf group, musician Melius Christiansen and Ole E. Rølvaag, author of, among other works, "Giants in the Earth", in Norwegian: "Ide dage" (In the Days) and "Riket grundlægges" (The Kingdom is Established), books which the reader should hasten to read, if not having already done so.


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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).

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