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NORWEGIANS IN TRAILL COUNTY

Translated From Martin Ulvestand's Book, 'Nordmændene i Amerika', 1907
by Olaf Kringhaug, 2004

Traill County


† = Deceased In 1907
The first Norwegians in Traill County were Ole Thompson, Torger Thompson†, Halvor Bentrud and Ole Rust, all from Hallingdal, as well as Christian† and Carl† Larsen from Solør. They came from Mitchell County, Iowa and settled in the area of Caledonia, by the Red River in 1871. Next after them came H. Klep† from Sætersdalen, K. Rust and A. Arnesen from Hallingdal, K. Vinge†, P. Smith and H. Hovland from Stavanger, Jens Mikkelsen† with O. and E. Floberg from Østedalen, the brothers Rognlie from Trondhjem, Engebret Larsen from Hadeland, P. Herbrandsen, Knut Rauk†, J. Ingvaldsen and S. K. Knutsen, all from Hallingdal, John Ødegaard, Christian Ødegaard, Ole Bredesen, Arne P. Haugen and Hans Pedersen, all from Solør, G. B. Jacobsen and Jacob Fevold from Stavanger, Thor Hovet, Knut Hovet, Ole Rønnestad† and Ole Jari (likely Jahr) from Sætersdalen, John Lerum, Erik Thon, Martin Johnson and Andrew Johnson from Valders and many more who spread out over a large area. *
They began growing wheat and barley. In the beginning they had to take their harvest to Alexandria, Minn., almost 200 miles! - with oxen! But it was not long before they did not have to drive further than to Fargo, 70-80 miles. And now in later times, they can deliver their produce at the barn door, so to say.
The Honorable T. H. Thompson of Belmont, writes, "Let me tell a little about Knut Olsen Rauk, one of the old settlers here, who is now dead. He was one of the first emigrants from Hallingdal. He left Kristiania on a sailship that first went to Havre, France, where it lay for 6 weeks and where they consumed almost their travel food. And since they did not have enough to buy food for, they set off to sea with the little that remained. However, the ship went off course and after struggling around the ocean for 8 weeks and they came back to Havre. Now the authorities looked after the starving emigrants and then the course was taken to America again. The journey took 9 - nine - months. They were more like skeletons than humans. The trip continued up the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. This also took a long time, the boats in those days were no express liners, and it cannot be said that the emigrants had a pleasant time aboard. But they finally got to Milwaukee, and from there the trip continued with oxen and 'kubberulle' to Koshkonong, where Rauk found countrymen, and where he settled for a time.There was also soon an end to this glory. A new group of emigrants came and with them came cholera. A Halling boy came to Rauk's house and died there. Rauk, who was away working, had to come home to get the boy buried, which was no easy matter since all were afraid of contagion. Yes, they were so afraid, they did not dare give Rauk work. This made it very hard for him and his family. In time he did get employment in a plough factory (he was a actually a smith in Norway), but the pay was only $7 a month, which was not enough for a family to live on. So he began to make ploughs privately. Unfamiliar with American patent laws, however, he made his ploughs like those the factory sold. But this he should not have done. He had hardly delivered the first dozen of his manufacture before a neighbor, who felt sorry for him, hinted that he could be arrested. This was in the evening. Knud and his friendly neighbors were not without a solution. All the ploughs he had sold were gathered up in the course of the night, a little change made to them, and then sent back to the buyers. Now nothing could be done to him, since his and the patented ploughs were not very similar. Later he moved to St. Ansgar, Mitchell Co., Iowa and from there to Belmont, N.D. This family was known for its stature. The sons measured more than 6 1/2 feet each and weighed between 270 and 300 pounds. And the daughters were not much smaller."
Traill County is also known for having N. Dakota's oldest (at least the oldest Norwegian) woman in its borders. Sidsel Johannesen Kaldor of Hillsboro was born the 14th May 1812.
According to the collection 'Norge i Amerika' there were in 1900, 24 Norwegian congregations and 21 churches in this county, 9 belonging to The Norwegian Synod, 4 to The United Church, 4 to Hauge's Synod, 3 to The Lutheran Free Church, 2 to the Baptist Church and 2 to the Methodists.
Peter Engebretsen†, who was elected County Treasurer in 1874, was the first Norwegian county official here.
Knute Nomland was Traill County's first legislator, when he was the Representative in the Dakota Territory Legislature (in Yankton) in 1881. Later (in 1893) he was elected State Treasurer.
John Flittie, whose home was in Mayville, Traill County at the time but who died in Williston, N. D., held a seat in the Dakota Territory Senate in 1884. In other words, he was North Dakota's first Norwegian-born Senator. He was also the first Norwegian to hold a State official position, when he was elected State Secretary in 1889.
For information on Traill County newspapers, 'Dakota-Bladet', 'Folkets Røst', 'Afholds-Basunen', 'Banneret', 'Landmanden', 'Folkets Avis', 'Statstidende' and 'Fremtiden', see the section, 'Norwegian-American Newspapers and Periodicals.'
Bruflat Academy, a Norwegian school in Mayville, was started in 1889 For information about the Norwegian Hospital in Hillsboro and the Bruflat Academy in Portland, see the section, 'Charitable Institutions' and 'Teaching Institutions'.
Townships with Norwegian names in Traill County: Norman and Norway. One could have expected more Norwegian place names in a county so rich in Norwegians.
* A number of the old settlers from the area of Hatton held their first reunion in 1903. Present were Ole Benson, Tosten Tufte, Abraham Nilsen, Østen Pladsen, Lewis Thompson, Tosten Klaboe, O. G. Hanson (Northwood), Iver Thompson, M. F. Hegge, Helge Nelson, Nic. Berg, Knut Larson, P. Sponheim, Knut Monson, Thor Stenmo, Guldbrand Melby, Helge Dolve, Ole Fosse, Anders Ness, Thor Koldingness, Sam Thompson, Bendik Benson, Ed Peterson, Knut Halvorson, Arnt Hansen, T. R. Tobiason, Ereik and John Erstad, Nils and Grim Grimson, Arne Maaren, Christ Ness, Christ Lyste, Anton Berg, Ole Orland, J. J. Hogen, Halvor Aasen, And. Offerdal as well as Alb. Coto and Postmaster A. S. Ellingsen from Northwood and others.

Translated by Olaf Kringhaug. Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. All the Nordmændene i Amerika material on this page was translated by Olaf Kringhaug from Norwegian . All Rights Reserved. Republication or redistribution of content or any derivative work for "private use only" is permitted, as long as users acknowledge and attribute any use of material found on this page regarding Nordmændene i Amerika to Olaf Kringhaug. All rights reserved. No part of the Nordmændene i Amerika may be reproduced or reused for commercial use without written consent from from: Olaf Kringhaug and Margit (Nysetvold) Bakke


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