Ole Polden, a young Norwegian lad, died December 23rd at Luther Hospital of pneumonia, which he contracted while working in the woods. He has been in this country for three or four years. This was a noble lad, one of the few newcomers who knew enough to stay away from the saloons. He was highly regarded by everyone who came in contact with him.

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

 

EAU CLAIRE

Perhaps it seems strange to take up Wisconsin after Minnesota and North Dakota, but the first settlers went directly through Wisconsin to Goodhue County, Minnesota and spread out from there to the places which have been discussed.

Photo reference 284/1: Map of Wisconsin.

It was not until 1880 that one finds colonies of Nordmøre folks in Wisconsin, apart from the coastal region (Sturgeon Bay).

The principal settlements in Wisconsin are linked to the sawmill and lumbering activities near Eau Clare, Cameron, and Stanley. One man stands out as a "bridgehead" and "focal point":

 

Bastian Nilsson Nordvik and Gjertrud née Glærum Søyset
Bastian and Gjertrud were cousins and the owners of Øverlandet in Surnadal after 1871, when they took it over from Gjertrud's grandfather Stabel. In 1880, they sold one of the best farms in the district and emigrated. Bastian is mentioned several times in Ingeborg Øye's diaries (see the chapter on diaries). Ingeborg never mentions Bastian's family, but both his grandson Robert Nelson of Atlanta and HH say that they all departed in 1880. They left by way of Kristiansund, before emigration records were kept there.

Children: Ingeborg, Daniel, Ane, Nils, Lars, and John, who was born in America. They were 11, 9, 7, 4, and 2 years old at the time of emigration, so it's odd that Ingeborg Øye doesn't mention this brood, which must have been a lively addition on board. When one reads Ingeborg's diaries, one has the impression that Bastian's family was already in Wisconsin. Bastian had become an American citizen by 1881, and his son Daniel became a citizen in 1896.

The family lived near Porters Mills near Eau Claire and had a boarding house, a lodging house for those away from home. Robert Nelson has preserved Bastian's account books, which make very informative reading.

From his ledgers, it follows that the workers in the sawmill didn't lead the life of Riley. They pay Bastian with everything from sheepskin blankets to clocks, trousers, and jackets. He takes care of them in several ways and functions as a sort of lifesaving station. This letter from a father in Surnadal tells much about Bastian's importance in this workers' colony and other aspects of their emigration.

Schei February 2, 1882

Mr. Bastian Nelson,
As a result of a letter of O. Svendsen, I received the grievous news that my son Johan is suffering a mental illness and, moreover, that he is in your house, for which we are much in your debt. I would ask you to inform me as to how such matters are handled in America and whether Johan is still in possession of enough money so that he can, first of all, cover his own expenses. And I would also ask if you would investigate the reason for his illness, whether it is overwork or homesickness, or one or another misfortunes, or if you think he has had it a longer time, as he has been in your area almost the entire time since coming to America, and you must not conceal anything in this regard. Perhaps the reason may be that his wife has insisted to him in all her letters that she is coming in the spring and he has always answered that he doesn't see any possibility for that, which he also said in the letter we received Christmas. In response to his last letter, we asked him if he might see bringing his wife and children over in a year's time and then, whether he thought it fit to settle or return to Norway, he could freely do so. I ask you, as a friend, if you will take care of him insofar as it is in your power, in his afflicted condition, either to admit him to a mental asylum or in one or another ways which we must leave to your discretion. When you write, you must tell me whether his condition is violent or calm. I trust you will answer my letter and try to help Johan as much as possible,

Respectfully yours,

Ole Einersen Svean

(More about Johan's wife, Maret Mauset, under Richland County, North Dakota.)

Bastian probably worked at other sawmills before Porters Mills. He was here in the period 1886-99. His grandson says that Porters Mills was shut down in 1891 and, when the sawmill closed, the church and the houses were moved and the schoolhouse torn down. Bastian and his flock went to the town of Eau Claire, the "Sawdust City of Wisconsin". Bastian bought a house in town and leased an additional one on the same street where his lodgers lived. Bastian became a building contractor and, for the most part, the lodgers were his employees. One can no longer blame the sawmills for paying badly, for now Bastian was paying the wages, but he wasn't master over good and bad times.

We let his ledger tell of those who lived at Bastian's, etc.:

1881:
Sivert Nordvig
Feb., ticket to O. Glarum: $42.55
Jon Angvik - board, paid up in cash
Martin Angvik - board, cash - partly paid by John A.
Lars Øye - board + loan + washing, paid in cash
Nils Grøseth - board, cash
A. Wiklun - board, potatoes, bricks, paid in work and cash
Oct., Johan Schei - board and washing
Sivert Søyseth - board for 10 and 1/3 days, etc., 4.45
Worked on Nels Grøseth's house: A. Wiklun, T. Bæverfjord, Ole Wiklund, Sivert Søyseth, B. Nelson, Ole Holten, B. (R.?) Telstad, Ole Bergem, Johannes Honstad (Horstad?)
Nov 23. Credit for Board:  Hans Schei 1.00, Erik Schei 5.47, Ole Kvendbø 1.00, Lars Bjørnsen 10.14, Lars Øye 5.47, Ole Bergum 1.86, Sivert Soyset 3.56, Lars Øye 5.86, Martin Angvik 10.47, J. Myhyr 3.00, Halvor Harstad (?) 2.25, Sivert Soyseth 1.00
Purchased furniture 115.17

1882:
Sivert Søyset - paid Nov. with sheepskin, $5.00
Johan Schei - medicine, cash by S. Breme 30.00 by Hans Schei 6.00
sold clothing 16.10
one jacket 2.50
April, for Erik Schei 9.43
Rolf Telstad (wages/debit?) cash, Hans Schei 5.86, Adolf Harberg 8.07, Lars Bjørnsen 5.14, Lars Moen 5.29, Samuel Angvik 1.72
Samuel Angvik - board, H. Stangvik, Lars E. Johnsen, N. Roset (Røset?), John Bjornstad: One set clothing + board + tobacco, paid with 47 days work at $1.25
Hans Schei, by Johan Schei 6.00 to Edmund Lars Moen – board, Ole Iversen - board, washing, tools, cash by Sivert Søyset

1882-83-84: It appears that Bastian is busy building a house for himself and his family in Eau Claire.

1883:
Sivert Nordvik: medicine, etc. 6.30
Fred Brandt 8.66, L. Glerum 33.14, A. Sveen 6.00, H&T Stangvik 9.50, Fred Kvande 0.90, Erik Schei 1.70, Hans Schei 2.60, Lars Bævre 3.25, Lars Moen 17.25
Lars Moen 17.25
Lars S. Glerum - board 11 days 33.14, one pair boots 3.00, all cash.  Board March-August 19.00
April/May: Fred Brandt
Ole Glerum: Nov-Dec-Jan '84 - board 38.69, cash + sawing wood 3.25, Sivert Glerum, debit: transportation $14.50, one glass eyewash 0.50, cognac 3.50, tobacco 1.20, 6 pair stockings 1.00, leather 1.00, clothing 6.50, shipping 0.60 = 28.80
Edvart Petterson, Andreas Wiklem, Ole Bergum, Tore Stangvik, Ole Rommonstad - 4.00 paid + clothing 8.50
Boarding - S. Nordvik, L. Mogstad, Johan Olson - medicine, clothing, medicine (x5), oranges, to Fred Brandt - medicine (x9),
total 51.20

Wages: 406.80, Boarding gross: 434.90
Debt on Lot: 250.00
To Sivert Nordvik: 68.84
To Sivert Soyseth: 10.73
Gustav Holmen: 18.00
Various: 329.72
Balance: 254.85
Total 932.24

Tools: 31.85

1884:
Lars Bævre - board 15.00, washing 0.40
Andrew Aune - Board 22 days 10.21
Fred Kvande - 6 1/3 days 3.15
Andrew Hansson - board 6 1/3 days 3.15, washing 0.70
Lars Mogstad, H. Romfo, Sivert Nordvik - board
Lars Hansson - board
Tom Stangvik - board 6 1/3 days 3.15, washing, cash by Erik Schei

Boarding income: 598.53
Wages: 147.67 A. Wiklun, S. Moe, E. Myhre, Hanson, Brandstad, E. Myhre, Larson, Fred Olson, Christ Sogge, 1883: Sæther

1885:
Sivert Nordvig - doctor 1.50, medicine 1.00, 3 bottles pop 0.15, misc. 0.25, doctor 1.00, medicine 1.35 = 5.15
New list with doctor's expenses, medicine in Feb.: 3.85

Goods Brought from Norway:
1 mirror 5.00
10 silver tablespoons 25.00
20 silver teaspoons 15.00
1 cake dish 3.00
1 teapot 2.50
1 cream pitcher 1.00
1 sugar bowl 2.00
1 sugar bowl 1.00
1 sugar shears 1.25
1 coffee mill 2.00
1 brass mortar 2.00
4 pair coffee cups 3.00
1 spinning wheel 1.25
3 pair kitchen vessels 0.75
4 loom reeds 3.25
4 feather quilts 40.00
8 bed pillows 16.00
2 sheepskin blankets 10.00
2 cotton bedspreads 5.00
2 with down-filling 8.00
1 down coverlet 10.00
1 cake dish, plated 1.50
1 rifle 10.00
1 pocket watch 10.00
Total 179.00

Purchased furnishings 115.17
Tools 28.40
Total $322.57

1 sewing machine 45.00
6 chairs 3.00
1 bedstead 3.00
1 babychair 1.00
1 fire stove 4.35

1884:
1 washing machine 7.50
2 bedsteads 5.00
1 mattress 4.00
6 chairs 3.00
Total $401.87

Contribution for Edman. Undated collection list, where the donations vary from 0.50 to 3.00. Bastian starts off by giving $3.00; Bastian Nilsen, Erik H. Schei, Martin Wiklun, Johan O. Schei, Hans H. Schei, Einer Røv, Lars I. Røv, Martin Hannem, Johan P. Sjøasetter, Lars H. Ellevseth, Lars B. Skjormo (Skjærmo?), Lars Moen, Adolf Wiklun, Gustav Holmen, Lars Olsen Øye, Hofstad, A. Wiklun, Martin Mateson, Ole H. Røv, John Mateson, Severt Nordvig, Salamon Olsen, Hans Gagnat, R. Gagnat, Erik O. Tingvold, Knut O. Tingvold, Ole O. Grytbak, Ole Johnsen Grytbak, Lars L. Forseth, Fredrik Tørseth, Ole Honstad, Ole L. Holten, John Bjørnstad, Rolf Melling, and Erik Melling.

There isn't any information as to what happened to Edman, but we do learn who was living and working at this time in Porters Mills and Eau Claire.

Accounts for Lars Syvertson Glærum

1885
June 13 Remainder of board Debit 3.25
Cash Debit 9.00
Nov. 1 Board, 2 weeks at 3.00 Debit 6.00
Total Debit 18.25

Delivered as security
1 watch with chain (sold) Credit 5.00
1 box Credit 0.25
1 gold ring Credit 1.50
1 trunk containing clothing Credit 0.50

1886
1 overcoat (sold) Credit 5.00
Mar. 28 cash Credit 5.00
by John Angvik Credit 1.00
Total Credit 18.25

From this balance sheet, one sees that Bastian didn't let kinship interfere with business. Or perhaps he didn't have reason to. Who Lars Syvertson Glærum is, isn't clear. The gold ring indicates a married man, and probably this is Lars from Avoca in southwestern Minnesota, who has come to supplement his subsistence in Avoca. If so, one can see his luck took a turn for the worse after seeking work, and instead he has to part with both his clothing and wedding ring! Was he, perhaps, sick and his nervous troubles started here? In any event, it is an excerpt of a balance sheet to reflect upon. Probably Lars shared the fate of Johan Oppigard Skei at Bastian's.

This Lars could hardly have been the son of Sivert Glærum from Søyset. Sivert would have been 36 years old and couldn't have had the son exposed to this. (Lars Sivertsen Søiseth went to Wisconsin in 1882, his age certified as 20 years by Bastian Søyset. Could this be he?)

Mentioned in the cashbook for 1885:
John Brøske, Ole Qvendboe, A. Holten, Lars Glærum, Rolf Melling, Ingeborg Bergum, Bridt Søyseth, P. Bævre, A. Wiklun, Ole Glarum, Lars Øye, Lars Sveen, H. Stangvik, Hans Schei, L. Bævre, Lars Røv, Fred Brandt, J. Melby, O. Holten, Erik Schei, Nils F. Kvande, Andreas Aune, Peder J. Bævre, Andrew Hanson, Ole N. Kvendbøe, Syvert Glarum, Lars F. Kvandy, Samuel A. Angvik, and Syvert Møst.

1886: Sivert Grimsmo, Andrew Anderson, Hans and Erik Schei, Lars O. Øye, P. Bævre.
1888: Tollæf O. Haugen.
1889: S. Grimsmo.
1896: Inga Glarum - account for photography, stockings, shoes, hat.
1891: Expenses for Koen: pasture $2, hay 6.50.
1890/91: He starts a boarding house on Menomonie Street.
1895: Buys house for $600, must take out loan.
1897: Ole J. Hondstad.
1904: Loan on house paid.

The notebook ends with a prayer possibly written by Bastian himself. He has also written a reflection on the prevention of alcoholism. He doesn't believe in rules and prohibitions, but in education in the home, school, and church.

 

Gremlin in the Hay

Bastian was a pillar of society and established in all respects before departing for America, but one might say that Norway moved with him.

Dorthe-Ane Øverland names Bastian as a witness in a lawsuit.

The attorney, Th. Fasting of Kristiansund, handles legal correspondence with Bastian across the ocean.

Bastian's brother-in-law, teacher Rogstad at Nordvikstranda, once carries on with Bastian a social and cultural debate about Norway in long letters. Theology is scrutinized.

"Old Øye" also writes to Bastian.

"Old Grimsmo" (I. A.) wants Bastian to sketch a contemporary sawmill for him and buy a circular saw to send for the sawmill he is planning. There is much ado with Grimsmo. He writes urgent letters in May, July, and October of 1887, enclosing dollars for postage and greetings from his wife and eleven children. Grimsmo is after the technical expertise Bastian now combines with his Norwegian and American experiences. "Yes, good friend, this is a major assignment, but if you can help me here, I shall be greatly indebted to you."

Grimsmo's time frame for construction in August is exceeded, but it appears that Bastian and he are corresponding about a new "Holta-saw" at Follerø. "I am so glad that you are going to help me make this as up-to-date as you possibly can, for I believe the sawmill industry is as developed at Eau Claire as any place in the world." "Dear kind, old friend, let me entrust to you the construction of this sawmill from start to finish. You know the conditions and the forests here and, accordingly, if you would design the mill as you would do it for yourself, I am convinced it will be the best."

Information indicates that Bastian built a bridge over the Surna at Øra before he departed. He, no doubt, also built the first barn bridge (ground to hayloft door), according to what HH says. Or was it the first at Øverlandet?

At one time, Bastian was involved in joint ownership of a ship and he had brought back from Spain the mirror he took to America. The boat, which was mortgaged, was lost with its cargo. Bastian's partner is supposed to have deceived him, and that is the reason for the lack of funds that drove Bastian to America, or so it appears. In addition, he had invested in a farmhouse at Øverlandet and built the first brick barn on the tract there.

Bastian's account books show that he didn't need to leave stricken by bankruptcy and stripped of his possessions, but that he had no capital with which to build a house.

***

He and Gjertrud had an entire wall of books in Eau Claire, which they loaned out, "Nelson's Library". In 1895, Bastian bought an organ for his home.

Photo reference 288/1: Bastian Nelson Nordvik. | Photo: R.G. Shaker, Eau Claire. | Belongs to: Robert Nelson.

Photo reference 288/2: Gjertrud Nelson Nordvik. | Photo: R.G. Shaker, Eau Claire. | Belongs to: Robert Nelson.

His daughter Ingeborg (Emma) married W. K. Nelson who ran a store in Weston, Michigan.

His son Daniel became a carpenter in Eau Claire. He was working 10-hour days in the roofing shingle factory at the age of fourteen. He married Agnes E. Higbee (of English-Irish extraction) and is the only one with descendants.

Children: George Bastian, Robert Leonard, Dorothy Gertrude, and John Donald.

Daniel's son Robert has been the source for this chapter, and he has preserved Bastian's correspondence and account books. He must have inherited Bastian's technical insights, for he is a retired airplane instructor for Lockheed and has also been a consultant following his retirement.

Ane was a teacher in Porters Mills and principal of the elementary school in Eau Claire. She never married. She lived upstairs with her parents in Eau Claire, and Daniel and his family lived on the first floor.

Nils used the name Nelson B. Nelson and became a well-known and leading journalist, editor, a member and head of a long list of press organizations, one of the founders of the Rotary Club in Eau Claire, and president of the same. He was graduated from the University of Wisconsin.

Nils was in the Spanish-American War, at Chattanooga, Tennessee and in Puerto Rico. He later resumed his studies. He owned the Eau Claire Press Company together with M. B. Atkinson. He was also head of the newspapers "The Eau Claire Leader" and "The Daily Telegram".

He married Jane Mahany, a teacher from Wisconsin, and they had one child, Bruce. Nils died in 1941. His son followed in his father's career and was a captain in Europe during W.W.II.

Lars, Louis in the USA, studied agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and settled in Montana on a large fruit farm in the Batterroot Valley. He married Alice Christenson of Eau Claire. No children.

John died in France in 1918 as a soldier in W.W.I. At the Fort Sheridan training camp in Illinois near Chicago, Nelson Street is named after him, First Lieutenant John Nelson Nordvik.

He died in the first few days of the battle of the Argonne and was buried at the front, but has since been brought home to Eau Claire.

John was trained in journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and married Ella Trondale - no children.

Anna was graduated from the Stevens Point Teacher's College in Wisconsin. She and Daniel helped Nils, Lars, and John (Jack) with their educational expenses.

Their mother Gjertrud died in 1906, Bastian in 1923.

Photo reference 289/1: «I.J.D. Schei» (Johan Oppigaard Skei?). | Photo: Olaf Olsen, Trondhjem. | Belongs to: Robert Nelson.

Photo reference 289/2: Anna Nelson in a Shakespeare play at college. Stevens Point. | Belongs to: Robert Nelson.

Sources: Robert Nelson and Bastian's letters and ledgers.

 

Gjertrud's brother and sisters
We have heard about her sister Anne Katherine who married Lars Aune in Ironton.

Her brother Sivert stayed in the Eau Claire area, but there is no additional information.

Her sister Brit was an unmarried businesswoman in Chicago. She first managed a tailoring business and, after that, a tearoom on North Wipple Street. She also signs her private letters with the audacious signature, B. Glarum. (On her life insurance policy, Ane Nelson gives her mother's name as Gertrude Glarum, but her father's as Bastian Nelson.)

Maret married Hans Olsen and lived in Scanlon, near Duluth, and is mentioned under Anne Katherine.

Source:   Kathryn Maiolini.

Photo reference 290/1: Sivert Glarum (Søiseth). | Photo: Burns, Eau Claire - Wisconsin. | Belongs to: Kathryn Maiolini.

Photo reference 290/2: Mary Glarum Olson (Søiseth). | Photo: burns, Eau Claire - Wisconsin. | Belongs to: Kathryn Maiolini.

 

The Polden family from Nerhopteigen
We find three brothers from Nerhopteigen in the Eau Claire area, Lars, Ola, and Jon. Ola didn't last long here, sharing such a fate with many others.

"Ole Polden, a young Norwegian lad, died December 23rd at Luther Hospital of pneumonia, which he contracted while working in the woods. He has been in this country for three or four years. He was a member of the "Varden" (Watch) Temperance Association for a year and has since joined the I.O.G.T. Viking Lodge. This was a noble lad, one of the few newcomers who knew enough to stay away from saloons. He was unassuming and modest and, in addition, dependable and serious. He was highly regarded by everyone who came in contact with him. It seems so inexplicable that such a strong and noble lad should be snatched away in this manner. There is genuine sorrow among his friends. He leaves behind two brothers here in town."

This is taken from the newspaper "Reform" of Eau Claire, a paper dedicated to abstinence, the temperance movement, and regular news, 6600 issues printed weekly. The obituary is dated December 27, 1910. Ole was born in 1880.

Ole's death on Christmas Eve and funeral are also covered in the "Daily Telegram" of Eau Claire, with his burial December 27 from the home of his brother Lars on Vine Street (Lewis in the newspaper).

Children of Lars (Lewis/Louis): Gena Wilson, Olai Polden, and Hannah Cripe.

John married Emma Espeseth in Eau Claire in 1911.

Children: Olai, Cora, George, John, Josie, Kenneth, and Jean.

After a time in the woods near Eau Claire, John went round the Midwest working on the railroad. He later had his own cement firm. He died in Eau Claire in 1974.

Photo reference 290/3: Jon Olsen Polden - Nerthopteigen. | Copy: Keneth Polden. | Belongs to: Shirley Puhl.

Source:   Shirley Puhl.

 

The Melhus family in Wisconsin
We see from the wedding picture of Anders of Øvre Melhus that he was married in Eau Claire. A letter dated 1913 from his nephew Peter L. Melhouse in Superior shows that his uncle Anders continued living in Eau Claire. Peder writes that his cousin Peder J. died of scarlet fever near Superior and that they burned his clothes but can't get permission to take the deceased to Eau Claire because the disease is so contagious. The hymn, "Her møtes alle veie, på gravens bratte rand" (Here All Paths Meet, by the Grave's Steep Edge), was sung at Peder J.'s funeral, so the Norwegian settlement at Superior must have been large enough to support a Norwegian-speaking congregation.

Photo reference 291/1: Anders Melhus and Petra b. Mo fra Helgeland. | Photo: Burns, Eau Claire. | Belongs to: Petra Melhus

Peder mentions others from Nordmøre in his letters, Randi Olsen Holden and Johan Nilson, who married Guri Grytskog. The Nils he refers to may be Nils Tellesbø. Nils Moe is also mentioned.

Source:   Petra Melhus.

 

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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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