Leaving Norway and What He Did until he Started Farming

                                 In Section 36, Pickerel Lake Township,

                                   Freeborn County from 1808 to 1873

I left Norway on 1 September 1868 and came to England on 4 September, arrived at Quebec,

Canada on 17 September and at Calmar, Winnesheik (sic) County, Iowa, 24 September. We

arrived at Calmar in the night and found a box car where we slept until morning. In the morning

we heard some rooster crowing and of course we understood. We understood them better than

the English we had heard. When daylight came, my brother Nub, a man from Hitterdal and myself

started to look around the town to see if we could find any Norwegians, and we were lucky as the

first house we came to was Erling Stenseth's. His wife just came out when we arrived. We asked

her if she could tell us where Torsten Rosby lived. "Yes", she said in Norwegian. "He lives in the

house over there" (pointing in the direction.) "You go past the corner of the fence, and go down

the street until you get to his home." When we got there his wife was building a fire in the stove,

and she sent us straight into the bedroom where Torsten was sleeping. It gave us the feeling we

were at last at our destination. But we got another scare when we went to the boxcar to get our

trunks; the car was gone and we thought we had lost everything. At last we found the car at the

east end of the switch.


When we left Quebec, we were herded into some very old coaches that were hooked onto a long

freight train. The tracks were so rough that the coaches shook something terrible, but we

managed to sleep. From Sarnia to Detroit, Michigan, we were loaded into stock cars. From

Detroit to Grand Haven we rode in a real good passenger train. From Grand Haven we had to go

on a small boat in the night over Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On the lake a storm

broke loose and it was all the boat could stand. I went to bed before they pulled out and did not

wake up until in the morning when we were at the dock in Milwaukee. From Milwaukee to Prairie

Du Chein, Wisconsin, we had a very good passenger train to ride in. We crossed over the

Mississippi River on a ferry boat which cost us twenty-five cents each. I had a ticket calling for

Calmar, Iowa, but the conductor took the whole ticket while coming across Wisconsin. Brother

Nub had no more money, so I paid for the ride across the Mississippi River, and also a ticket for

him to Calmar. All I had left of the $6.00 I had for expense money from Norway was a few cents.

When the conductor on the train came to get our tickets, I took out my pocket book and emptied

the few pennies into his hand, and said ticket for Calmar. He looked at the few pennies he held in

his hand, looked at me, smiled, then I laid the pocketbook in his hand too and repeated two times,

ticket to Calmar. He gave me back the pocketbook, took out a piece of paper, put down a few

numbers on it and gave it to me. He laughed a little and went away. I sat and waited, thought he

would come back again and tell me to get off if I did not have the money to pay the balance, but

he did not show up anymore. Before we got to Calmar I thought that they hollered "Calmar," but

I was not sure. When we got to Calmar I asked the first one that went out if this was Calmar, and

he said yes, but I waited and asked the last one out if this was Calmar, and he said yes this is

Calmar. I had to wake up Nub and the man from Hitterdal so we could a get off the train before

they started up again. In the hurry the Hitterdal man forgot his expensive pipe and also a copper

coffee kettle on the train.


Brother Kristian had promised Ole Haugen, who paid out the $75.00 for the ticket over, that I

should work the first year for him for $200.00. I worked for him for nine months, but he was such

a crab that I quit him and asked for a settlement. He told me that I was not worth anything, so he

would not settle anything. I had received $20.00 from him in tobacco and boots, but the last $5.00

I had to pay so it made only $15.00 I had gotten from him. Including the price of the ticket, it

made in all $90.00 for nine months of work. He kept sending me dirty letters every now and then

even after I had moved to Minnesota, calling me a bastard and asking if I was not rich enough

now so as to pay him for the ticket. I wrote him that Vanderbilt, Jay Gould and Rockefeller were

only small fry against me in riches, and that I had bid him once for a settlement, and he refused so

that ended that.


After I left Ole Haugen, I went down to the Decorah Prairie and hired out to an Englishman for

three months for $85.00. In October, I worked on a gravel train and got $2.00 per day, but after a

while they cut the wages down to $1.50 per day and we had to pay $5.00 per week for board.

They also moved farther west so several of us quit. My eyes had gotten so bad that I could hardly

see, but when my eyes got better I worked for a month on the section between Calmar and



After I quit the section I went to Decorah to see a man by the name of O. Gunderson, and took a

job of cutting cord wood of some very large white oaks for $1.00 per cord. Each tree made from

1 to 1.25 cord of wood. Some days I cut 1.25 cord of wood.


That fall, 14 December 1869, Maria Sandager and I were married. We moved to Freeport, Iowa,

and lived in an old log house owned by Mr. K. Elling Isaacson.


When I had finished cutting cord wood for Mr. Gunderson, Christian and I took the job of cutting

cord wood timber on the paper mill farm. We piled the wood into cords wherever the wood was

cut both on the land and on the ice in the river. When we were nearly done with the cutting of the

wood in the first part of March, a flood came down the river. As they had less than half of the

wood hauled off, and what they had not hauled the flood carried away and we had not gotten paid

the full amount for all the cutting we had done, they told us if we could show them where the

cords stood and how much there was in each spot they would pay. We marked out the places and

showed how much wood there was, and after they had measured out everything they payed us in

full at 75 cents per cord. We had to board ourselves.


This Gunderson tried to beat me out of $18.00 for the last cutting I had done for him, but he paid

me after a while. I also cut cord wood at 75 cents per cord and split rails at 75 cents per hundred

for Endre Sandager. Two time while in Iowa I hauled manure and was paid 50 cents a day.


In the spring of 1869 Christian and myself, Paul, bought tickets and sent for our father Erik

Nubsen and mother, Guri, brothers Berndt and Johannas. The last two went for half fare. In all the

three tickets cost us $192.00. When they came we bought an old house and a cow for them. I

helped father cut hay for the cow using a scythe.


 In the fall of 1871, I bought two two-year old steers from Ole Flaskerud for $65.00. In the

spring I made a yoke and broke them in. In the spring of 1872, we moved to Minnesota. Father,

Mother, Bernt, Johannes and Inger came with us. The house they had lived in had to be torn

down and moved to Calmar. There it was rebuilt and sold.


We left Calmar. We had two cows, two two-year old heifers, two yearling heifers, four calves,

and one pair of oxen. We left on 24 hay 1872, in the morning and came to Elev Flaskerud's home

on 31 May in the evening. It took us eight days to travel from Calmar, Iowa to Twin Lakes,



There had been lots of rain that spring. There had been dry weather a few days before we left so

the first two days of going was good, but after that the going got bad. We were stuck in the mud

several times each day. Sometimes we had some one with horses to pull us out of the mud. One

farmer charged us 75 cents to hook unto our wagon and pull us for about four rods. Another

party that pulled us out asked Maria to plant corn for him while he harnessed the horses and

pulled us out. At another time a party was breaking new land with oxen, and as it was dinner time

they unhooked their oven from the plow and hooked the chain into our load and pulled us for

about a mile. The oldest man of the two took Anders and carried him which was a relief for

mother. They did not charge us anything. At several places we had to cut brush and cover the bad

places first before we could cross over it. I had $18.00 in my pocket and we had to handle it

carefully because that was all I had. When we came to Flaskerud's our trip was over, but of

course we had to stay with them a while until we got something to live in on the land I had



I went to Albert Lea, and bought $13.00 worth of lumber and built a palace measuring 12 by 12

by 6 ft high. The lumber was green so after it dried out we could stick our fingers between the

boards. Talk: about mosquitoes coming in to make a call on us. I had to mix mud and cover the

openings. When it rained we used milk pans, bread pans and small table cloths where it poured

too much.


On 10 September 1872, Andreas died in the afternoon. On the same day I asked Herman Thorsen

to take us to Albert Lea to get some cloth so Maria could make something to lay him into and a

few boards to make a coffin. I got some man to make it. Andreas was born 1 April 1871, and

lived 1 year, 5 months and 10 days. On the morning after Andreas died, 11 September 1872,

Edward was born just as the sun appeared in the East. Maria had to sit in bed to make clothes for

Andreas and get him ready for the funeral which I don't remember if it was on the 12th or 14th of



It was getting cold and our stove stood outside as I did not have pipes enough and of course with

winter coming something had to be done. First I thought of digging a cellar and putting our palace

over it. Then I thought of Herman Thorsen; he had their old log house as they had built another

house out of lumber. I went over to him. "Yes, you can have the house for $20.00." He also gave

me four oak logs to put under it as the first logs all around were rotten. I got the house and got

the logs rolled up again. I bought some lime from a party near Tin Lakes; so I got the house

plastered inside and out. The boards for both floor and ceiling were rough sawn and not matched.


There was a large cellar dug on the south side of where the barn now stands and there is where I

fixed up a room for our cattle.


In the fall of 1872, I let Elling Isaacson use our oxen as he was doing breaking so he broke up 5

acres for the use of the oxen, and another 5 acres. I paid him $5.00 an acre. So the first year I had

10 acres in field to be seeded into grain in the spring of 1873.


Late that fall A. K. and Even Overland and I took a job of cutting cord wood for a Thompson on

the farm that John Holcher now owns. On 6 January, it was a very mild day and we cut 1.75 cord

each, Andrew and I as Even was not along. We started for home around 4 o'clock in the

afternoon, and when we got where Nora Hagen's house is now we parted. But before we parted I

said to Andrew if the weather is this nice tomorrow we better get started a little earlier so that we

can cut about 1.5 cords apiece. "Yes", said Andrew, but he happened to look down toward the

lake (Upper Twin Lakes), "the way it looks I don't think we will cut any wood tomorrow." "No",

I said, "we both better hurry for home as fast as we can." Which we did. A blizzard was rushing

down upon us. We ran as fast as we could and it was all I could do to find the house as I could

only see a few feet ahead of me. The next day you could hardly see your hand when you held it



Paul and Maria farmed in the Twin Lakes area all their lives except for the years from 1901 to

1903 when they moved the family to McIntosh, MN and lived on the farm their son Hans

eventually took over. In 1917 Paul and Maria moved to Snohomish, Washington and lived there

until 1920, returning to Twin Lakes. In 1927 Paul and Maria retired to Albert Lea.


One of the interesting facets of Paul was his love for Norway. Apparently Paul never successfully

left Norway for he made seven trips back staying about 3 months each time. This past summer

(1987) while in Sokna, I was told a story by the village spellman (fiddler) about Paul. Apparently

on one of his trips back to Sokna, Paul made a gift of 5000 kroner ($735 today, perhaps the

equivalent of $10,000 at the turn of the century} to the school district to buy skis for poor

children and that this money was to be used in perpetuity. Arne Lerfaldet said he remembered

this being done in his school days. As far as known, the money is still active in the school system.



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