Could You Survive An Untamed Land?
|Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, modified on PicMonkey|
You will pick up the sadness of Gustaf as he thinks of his family separated by an ocean. Yet Gustaf and Bridget knew their younger sons had no real way to work on their own land if they stayed at home.
Why Did the Brothers Want to Emigrate?
The brother were part of a large family in Norway. It was traditional for the eldest son to inherit his father's lands. The other brothers would have to work the land belonging to others. A Norwegian journalist, Paul Hansen, who had immigrated to the Red River district of North Dakota and Minnesota, wrote glowing descriptions of free flat land for those willing to homestead it. Carl and Roald Bjorklund, sons of Gustaf and Bridget Bjorklund, wanted to go and build their future on their own land in the Dakota country.
Once the family had given their reluctant blessing, everyone worked to raise money for the sea voyage to America. Roald and Carl took jobs on a fishing boat. Roald's wife Anna moved in with the Bjorklund family to help Bridget and save money on rent. When they moved out, they sold everything from the house they would not need in America. Roald and Carl's sister Augusta then got a job outside the home to help raise money.
It was with great reluctance their parents let them go. Roald had married Ingeborg after his first wife, Anna, had died in childbirth. Thoriff is their first son, now five. Although Roald and Ingeborg respected each other, Roald was still grieving over Anna, and Ingeborg liked, but did not yet love Roald. Carl was in love with Kaaren Hejelmson, and married her before they left.
So why did these young couples emigrate? Why did they leave all they had known to face hardship and danger settling in a foreign land where they didn’t even know the language? Because they wanted a better life for their children where they could have their own land and live free.
As they prepared to leave the ship, Roald told Ingeborg to wait below to avoid the crowds, even though she was dying to see the ship land. Below it was so crowded with belongings one could barely move. There was no fresh air and it stank, for many had been seasick.
Once off the ship the families were amazed to see the tall buildings and the busy, crowded dock. The families' first stop was to be Castle Garden, where they were to go through immigration. Kaaren was afraid she'd be turned away because of her illness.
|Castle Garden, By Unattributed [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Roald started walking with a load of luggage, asking Ingeborg to follow with Thoriff. Roald was walking so fast, without looking back, that she lost him. She also lost Thoriff in a crowd and not knowing English made it hard to get help. Finally someone who understood Norwegian came to her aid, and they found Thoriff, but he was already in trouble. Ingeborg meets a new friend -- a wealthy man who becomes important in the rest of the book.
The Journey West
Survival on the Land
Later they replaced sod homes with wood homes with real floors, like this pioneer house, built 1873 in Cass County, North Dakota for Johannes Hellestvedt from Hardanger, Norway. It is a log cabin.
Was Coming to America Worth the Cost?
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