Sunday, April 5, 2009

Norlands in America - Ole and Sophie

Olof (Olofsson) Norland and Sophie (Anderson) were my great grandparents and some of the very early (white) settlers in Kittson County in Northwest Minnesota. Here are a few pictures of them and a brief narrative of their emigration and lives in America.

Olof Olofsson was born on February 6, 1849 in Sveg, Harjedalen, Sweden. The first born child of Olof Olofsson and Kerstin Olofsdotter. His other siblings were Henrick (Henry) Olofsson and Anna Olofsdotter. He also had half brothers and sisters as a result of a previous marriage of Kerstin Olofsdotter to Erik Eriksson. Erik died at the relatively young age of 33 in December of 1846. Children of that marriage were; Margaretta Ersdotter, Kerstin Olofssons, Erick Eriksson & Gunilla Eriksson. Subsequent to Erick’s death Olof’s parents were married on March 25, 1848 in Sveg, Harjedalen, Sweden.

In February 1868 when he was 19 years old, Olof Olofsson and his brother Henrick emigrated to the United States. Shortly thereafter in June of 1869, their half brother Erik Eriksson followed them. For reasons unknown, upon arrival all three of the brothers adopted the last name Norland.

Although the path they took and where they settled at this time is yet to be determined, we do know they were in the vicinity of the Iowa - Wisconsin border area by 1873. In this year it is believed that Olof married Sophie Anderson in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. However, other towns which have been mentioned in that area where they may have lived, worked or were married include MacGregor, Marquette and Cresco Iowa. No official record of the marriage has been found. Sophie was born in February 6, 1859 in Ratvika, Dalarne, Sweden.

While Olof and Sophie lived in this area, they had two girls. Their first child was named Lillie Christine Norland. She was born March 23, 1876 in Marquette, Clayton County, Iowa. A second daughter Annie Norland was also born here on August 1, 1877.

While still living in Hallock Township, Olof and Sophie had two more children, Eva Margaret and Oscar Norland. Eva, born on March 26, 1880, is widely believed to be the first white child born in Kittson County. Oscar was born on May 4,1882.

Shortly after their child Oscar was born, Olof and Sophie Norland relocated to a homestead in Hazelton Township bordering the Middle Branch of the Two Rivers. Ownership of this farmstead eventually passed to their oldest daughter and her family and today is still maintained by Marten and Lilly (Norland) Sjostrand’s descendants.

It was in Hazelton Township where their last five children, all boys were born. In order of birth they were; Axel Theodore born September 7, 1884, Arthur born March 13, 1887, Harry born November 10, 1897, Otto Ferdinand born August 18, 1891, and Alex born November 10, 1897.

Somewhere around the time of the last child’s birth, the family moved to the village of Lancaster, about 10 miles to the North. The house where they resided is still in use today and is located just to the South of the school’s recently constructed new auditorium.

At this time, Olof was known to have taken to heavy drinking and would frequently come home in an agitated state. On many occasions, Sophie would leave the house with her children and hide in the adjoining barn or in a haystack to avoid abuse. At some point Sophie tired of the situation and asked Olof to leave.

Olof consented and ended up living with his daughter Eva and her family. This was at a farm located at the North edge of Lancaster in Granville Township. In 2009 this farm was owned by Faye Lyberg and is located just across highway 59 from the Lancaster Riverside Golf Course.

Olof died in Lancaster, Minnesota on December 23, 1913 as a result of drowning in a shallow pool of water while intoxicated. Perhaps not the most glorious end to the life of an early pioneer.

Sophie, who was often referred to as “little grandma” given her diminutive stature, continued to live in Lancaster in the small house across from the school. She survived by renting out a room in the house to students and others, and of course assistance from her children. She died on February 24, 1936 at her oldest daughter’s (Lillie Sjostrand) home, her previous residence in Hazelton Township.

Sophie (Anderson) Norland’s obituary follows:

At the home of her daughter Mrs. Martin Sjostrand one of the old
time pioneers passed into the eternal rest on Monday, Feb. 24.

Mrs. Sophie Norland was born in Ratvika, Dalarne. She came to this country in the latter part of the seventies and was married to Ola Norland at Prairie Du Chien Wis. In 1879 the couple came to Kittson County, floating down the Red River from Fishers Landing with some household goods and enough lumber to build a shack. Their first stop was at the old Ambrose Jerome place at the mouth of the Two Rivers. Like all the pioneer people they met with hospitality and they remained there for some time until they could get established on the homesteads. The two brothers Ola and Erick each took up homesteads, the latter near Hallock and the former in the town of Thompson. Mrs. Norland like many other pioneer woman suffered a lot of hardships. She worked hard, raised a family of sturdy children and helped make a home for herself and her loved ones.

Her declining days has been spent in Lancaster surrounded by her children
and grandchildren a fitting end to a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice. Mrs.
Norland was at the time of death 77 years and 18 days of age. She is survived by six sons: Oscar, Axel, Harry, Arthur, Otto and Alex. Also three daughters Eva, (Mrs. J. Langford) Lily (Mrs. Martin Sjostrand) and Annie (Mrs. George Hansen) of Thief River Falls. Funeral was held last Thursday, interment being made in Union Liberty Cemetery in the town of Thompson. Peace be to the memory of a good wife and mother a pioneer.

May our Heavenly Father greet you
On that glorious distant shore
True some day we'll all be with you
Have patience Dear and weep no more
End of sorrow will come in Heaven
Rest in the palace, your Lord hath given

1 comment:

Kent Norland said...

Noticed you didn't have Ole and Sophie's marriage record. Here's the information from it.

Marriage Record From Wisconsin Dept of Health, Vital Records, Marriages, Record 09863 registered May 27, 1875.

1. Date of registration: May 27/1875
2. The color: White
3. Full name of husband: Ole Norland
4. Full name of wife previous to marriage: Sofhia Johnson
5. Occupation of husband: Laborer
6. Residence of said husband: McGregor, Iowa
7. Birthplace of said husband: Sweden
8. The place, town or township, and county where the marriage was contracted: Prairie du Chien.
9. Time when the marriage was contracted: May 25/75
10. By what ceremony contracted: Secular
11. Name of person pronouncing marriage: L.F.S. Viele
12. Residence of person last named: Prairie du Chien
13. Name of subscribing witnesses: Emma Norland, L.O. King
14. Date of certificate of marriage: May 25/75
15. Name of father of said husband: Ole Norland
16. Name of mother of said husband: Christina Norland
17. Name of father of said wife: John Anderson
18. Name of mother of said wife: Carrie Johnson