Monday, February 13, 2017

Lowry Volunteer Fire Department

LFD - slightly before my time

The Lowry Fire Department is an all-volunteer organization. So when the town siren goes off - except at 12 Noon, which is the call to lunch or 10:00 PM, which is the under 16 curfew notice, it means fire. Luckily - as far as I know - no fire call has occurred at exactly noon or 10:00 PM. Originally, the fire equipment consisted solely of an 1889 horse drawn "pumper" pictured above. The later one below is on display in the Pope County Historical Museum in Glenwood, Minnesota.

Editor note: Check out the "F is for Fire Engine" blog posting from the museum that discusses a 1905 "mutual aid" effort by Lowry to the Glenwood Fire Dept. The pumper was loaded on a railroad flatcar and delivered to Lake Minnewaska to pump water to a fire scene on Franklin Ave.

Lowry Pumper

LFD - modern era

When the siren wailed, all the volunteers within hearing range dropped whatever they were doing: that wrench on the oil-pan nut; writing that charge slip at the grocery store; welding that plow share at the blacksmith shop; stringing wire from an electrical pole; delivering milk; taking a deposit at the bank; unloading lumber from a rail car; pumping gas at the Sinclair Station; sitting in the barber chair; or having a cold one at the tavern ... regardless - the siren rules. While most came sprinting from their workplace, others came screaming up to the Town Hall in their pickups, quickly donning their coats and grabbing fire hats and boots. 3 or 4 guys would ride on the back of the fire truck and others would follow in cars. As kids on bikes, chasing the fire truck was great sport. And, at least once a year, usually in the dead of winter, the siren blared in the middle of the night, a jarring experience. Be careful with that wood stove.

This pumper was also the sole piece of fire equipment available when the entire east side of Main Street burned to the ground in 1911. (This is why all the buildings on the east side of Main are brick.) If there was enough hose to reach the fire scene, the pumper remained in the town hall under a funnel venting to a chimney with water fed from the water tank.  This steam powered - later gas powered - engine could pump 1400 gal/min.

The most famous fire in town history was the complete destruction of the Lowry Roller Mill in 1937. This flour milling operation was the most prosperous enterprise in the town, with "Lowry's Best" Flour sold in a multi-state area. Flour dust can be as explosive as gunpowder and it is believed a spark ignited an explosion.

Mill ashes

The mill was not rebuilt.

The scariest fire I ever was involved in fighting was the Svec barn fire. It was in the evening and the barn hayloft was packed full with hay bales. The barn went up like a torch. By the time the fire truck arrived, there was no hope of saving the barn, rather the struggle was to get the animals out - not entirely successful.  But usually, a fire call was for an out of control grass fire. The standard fire fighting equipment for these fires - before Abednego arrived - was a wet gunny sack.

The Chief
When I was a volunteer, my father was the Fire Chief - also a volunteer position. As with anything he took on, he was conscientious and thorough, arranging for numerous training sessions through the State of Minnesota Fire Marshal's office and organizing "practice fires" wherever he could find them.  If someone wanted to get rid of a dilapidated shed or garage, LFD was at your service. Of course, the conditions had to be right, no wind, low humidity, etc etc.  I hate to say this but these were fun, community events, with plenty of spectators. You get your entertainment where you can in a small town.

The biggest training event was the torching of the Molander Apartments. In my youth, this building housed Molander's International Harvester Implement Dealership with apartments on the 2nd level, but in the 70's it had become a hazard.

Molander building control burn
My father had a whimsical sense of humor and a subtle way of imparting knowledge, particularly biblical knowledge. At the time, the department had 3 fire trucks, 2-1940's pumpers and a 4-wheel drive flatbed truck used mainly to fight grass fires. My father named each truck, having a moniker painted on each front fender.  Shadrach, Meschach & Abednego. 

(See photos. Unfortunately, the Lowry Meschach is lost to history, unless someone can come up with a photo.)


For the unwashed, here are the relevant verses from Daniel:

 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.

Except for the biblical passage Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dear Olaf

My theory is that a first born child is an experiment, a practice run if you will. Successors are always improved models-until the fourth, when numbers overwhelm. It seems logical.

Here's a letter from my grandmother to her brother who was still in France awaiting his turn at repatriation to the USA after the end of WWI. I believe this supports my hypothesis.

2nd Born
"... sleeps most of the time"
"...she's alright so far"
"... worry she would turn out a colic baby like ... "

And, by the way, also brighter ..
1st Born  ".. thought she was a cat"

Full disclosure:  I am first-born.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Brothers Olaf, Dave, Sam & Gust

I remember my great uncle Olaf Nelson as a quiet, contemplative man, suffering from near blindness due to severe diabetes, but doggedly pursuing knowledge. When he visited his brother and sister in Lowry in the 1950's, often I was in charge of loading the Hi-Fi with Society for the Blind records for him - news summaries, magazine & book recordings.

I wish I had known him in his younger years. By all accounts, Olaf was a remarkable man. He lived for most of his life in New London, Minnesota, working as station-master for the Great Northern Railroad. But this is a small part of Olaf's contributions to his community and the nation.

Family lore tell of the family's immigration from Sweden with a rambunctious set of brothers aboard the Cunard Bothnia in 1886, who climbed the rigging despite the calls of the crew to cease and desist. They of course could not understand the english crewmen. The boys heard the calls "bum bowlo" (actually "down below") and would warn each other with "Här kommer den bumbowlo" to avoid being caught in mischief.  [See post Fageras to Brandon 1886]

Olaf in Montana
As a young man, he left his Brandon, Minnesota home and traveled to northern Montana about 1910, where he worked on a crew constructing the infrastructure for Glacier National Park. From this experience he developed a passion for preserving and protecting the environment, becoming one of the founders of the New London chapter of the Izaak Walton League. Through this organization, Olaf was instrumental in the establishment of Sibley State Park on Green Lake near Spicer, MN.

In 1917, at the age of 38, he enlisted in the American Expeditionary Force and served in France. It seems strange to be accepted into the army at such an age, but his experience with the railroad made him a valued telegrapher.

He was a Boy Scout troop leader and in general devoted his life to the service of others. In the mid-50's, Olaf was honored by New London as Citizen of the Year.  Years later, his younger brother Dave received the same honor from the city of Lowry, Minnesota. In his remarks, he noted Olaf's earlier honor with the words ".. but he was a lot smarter than me."

Olaf married in 1929 at the age of 50. His wife Mathilde developed severe rheumatoid arthritis not long after their marriage and Olaf became a dedicated care-giver until her death in 1954.

This letter from Olaf to father Carl speaks to his character. It is one any father would cherish. Carl Nelson died in December of 1938.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mother Daughter


The Nelsons
Along with 5 brothers, my grandmother Esther was the sole Nelson daughter (sister Ida died at age two in 1886 in Minnesota and a brother Nils Gustaf at age 1 in 1885 in Sweden). Esther was dear to her mother Sofia.

Esther and cousin Mabel Carlson abt 1915

The family had immigrated from Sweden in 1886. About 1914, Esther left the Nelson farm in Brandon for Minneapolis. She was 27, seemingly destined for old-maidenhood. In Minneapolis, she boarded at 3045 Harriet Ave where her cousin Martin Carlson, wife Mabel and newborn daughter were also living. I don't know why Esther moved to Minneapolis. 3045 Harriet is 1 block south of Lake Street, an area of Minneapolis at that time largely populated by Swedish immigrants. Perhaps Esther was searching for a nice Swedish boy. Martin & Mabel had their first child early in 1914, perhaps she was helping the family. In any case, she worked as a housekeeper/maid somewhere in the area.

3045 Harriet Ave in 2017

Esther and mother Sofia were inveterate letter writers and it might be that without this letter from Mama, I could be someone else.

Original letter in Swedish (for Annie)

Translated letter - in English for the rest of us

The letter is a weakly disguised appeal to Esther to return to Brandon.  Mama Sofia was none too subtle.

"Dearly loved Esther"
" not lift any heavy furniture ...many have ruined their health ..."
"... I shall surely want you to stay as along as you can but I don't know how we can get through threshing without you."
"...Auntie does not want to say whether you should stay or come home to help us ..."
"...we do not want to hire a girl but we'll be fine if we stay healthy."
"... Ole was here on Sunday ..."
"Lovingly , Mama"

And of course, Esther returned to the Brandon farm and in 1916 married Ole Hoplin, my grandfather, and assured my future existence.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Johanna's Journey

My wife's grandmother, Johanna Killingberg, was born in 1882 in Leksvig, Nord-Trondelag, Norway - directly across the Trondheim fjord. Johanna was the 6th of 10 children, although 2 of her older siblings died at an early age. Her older sister, Marie, married in 1897 and in 1904, she and her husband Gabriel emigrated to the USA, specifically to Spring Grove, MN. In 1907, Johanna also emigrated with Gabriel paying for Johanna's passage. Johanna was 25. From the ship's manifest (see below), it is clear that she was traveling with 2 other women (Elise Hanaar(sp?) & Inga Rolle-both from Leksvig and traveling to Spring Grove). Elise & Inga were each traveling with their 2 children and joining their husbands in Spring Grove.

From Hellig-Olav passenger list

In 1909, a third sister, Anne, emigrated, also to Spring Grove.  In 1909 Johanna married Thomas Rosten and in 1919 they moved from Spring Grove to Pope County, Minnesota, where happily I discovered a granddaughter - a number of years later.

Thomas & Johanna - Spring Grove

Immigrants - Killingberg sisters

Spring Grove was the first Minnesota settlement of Norwegian immigrants, with many from the Trondheim area. Norwegian settlement in the area dates from the 1850's, although the first major wave of immigration coincided with the 1862 Land Grant Act, which bestowed 160 acres on settlers who agreed to remain on the land for 5 years. Even now, the area around Spring Grove between the Root River & Iowa River is referred to as "Norwegian Ridge". The 1900-1910 timespan has been tagged as the "3rd wave" of Norwegian immigrants.

"High up on this broad ridge, with a view extending 15 to 20 miles on both sides, lies the village of Spring Grove, perhaps the most thoroughly Norwegian town in the U.S." - Norwegian Ridge website

[Editor note: Here's a plug for the Spring Grove based "Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, a must visit for Norwegian genealogy buffs. "Giants of the Earth Heritage Center is housed in the historic Ballard House at 163 West Main Street. “Giants” was incorporated in 2009 as a non-profit educational institution, dedicated to honoring, preserving, and interpreting the heritage of the immigrants who settled at Spring Grove’s Norwegian Ridge, cited as Minnesota’s first Norwegian immigrant settlement."]

Spring Grove postcard taken from Trinity Church steeple - 1908

I recently discovered a tiny notebook in my wife's Aunt Othelia's effects. (see Othelia's Story posts for a stirring WWII army nurse saga.) The notebook was kept by Johanna during her journey from Leksvig to New York in 1907. It is not, unfortunately, a diary, but it does provide detail on the where and when of her journey.

The translation for p 1-3 is roughly

  • The 30th of April I travelled from Leksvik to Trondheim. [Editor note: 1907 - this would have been by ferry across the fjord]
  • The 1st of May I left Trondheim! Came to Tynset in the evening at 8pm. [Editor note: this would have been by train. Tynset is a stop on the rail line from Trondheim to Oslo]
  • In the morning at 6 AM the 2nd of May we left from Tynset and came to Kristiania(Oslo) in the evening at 7 PM. [Editor note: Norway's capital was named Kristiania  in 1907- renamed Oslo in 1928] 
  • From Kristiania the 3rd of May at 10 PM in the evening, we traveled to Kristiansand the 4th of May in the morning, and left from there in the afternoon. [Editor note: Johanna then traveled directly from Kristiansand to New York aboard the Scandinavian-America liner, Hellig Olav.]

Scandinavian-America Liner Hellig-Olav

Saturday the 5th of May [Editor note: aboard Hellig-Olav]
Monday the 6th
Tuesday the 7th
Wednesday the 8th
Thursday the 9th
Friday the 10th
Saturday the 11th
Sunday the 12th
Monday the 13th
Tuesday the 14th [Editor note: Arrival in NY]
Wednesday the 15th [Editor Note: travel by train to Spring Grove]
Thursday the 16th
Friday the 17th
Saturday the 18th
Sunday the 19th Pentecost

The 14th of May we came to New York in the morning and did not leave from there till the 15th of May at 9 in the evening.

Page 4 of the little diary is a bit mysterious. It is in a different handwriting and appears to be a poem or hymn. Something like:"Oh God, your mercy and Holy Spirit helped us through so we kept up the hope and good spirit."

I'd like to think it was a blessing and prayer from her mother.

Johanna 1956 
Johanna's parting gift to Sister Ingeborg - "to remembrance"

Johanna never returned to Norway.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Thursday, January 5, 2017


I grew up before the days of "organized" sports. No Little League, no Pop Warner football, no Pee Wee hockey programs. Just us. And I truly believe I am the better off because of it. Self sufficiency, inter-personal and organizational skills - self taught.

Back in 1957 Lowry, when that 10 year old yearned to play baseball, he had to:
1) Find at least 4 other like-minded 9-13 year olds in a town of 300 souls. (Later - how you play a baseball game with 5 people)
2) Come up with the equipment. 1 ball , 1 bat. Most kids had their baseball glove on the handlebars of their bike.
3) Decide on the location. Either the ice rink with the stone chimney of the warming house for a backstop. Or the school field with the hazardous Highway 114 parallel to right field.  Not hazardous in terms of physical danger, but hazardous in that if a ball were hit onto the highway, it could conceivable roll south all the way down Hedlin's hill and travel fully a mile from home plate. Not even the Babe could hit like that.
4) Divide into teams, although that required 8 people which was hard to come up with.

Lowry School - east side
Otherwise - workup. Workup rules for a 5
person baseball game on the school yard:

1) There are 2 people "at bat". The person not batting serves as the catcher. A runner on base must score on the 2nd batter's hit or he's out. Force out at home. (For some reason, the fielding ability of the catcher was dramatically worse than when he was in the field)
2) There is a pitcher, a shortstop and an outfielder in the field.
3) There is no first baseman, rather a "cross out" rule applies. On a ground ball, if the ball is thrown on the home plate side of first base and between the approaching runner, the runner is out. (This of course puts the ball onto Highway 114, so the thrown-out runner is also responsible for cutting off the ball before it gets a head-of-steam toward Hedlin's Hill. It also keeps the runner alert. No helmets. If you hit the ball onto the highway, you're out - and you get to retrieve it.)
4) In some cases, we agreed that catching a fly ball on the first hop makes an out.  Being a baseball purist, I always fought that rule.
5) No walks.
6) When a hitter made an out, he moved to the outfield, the shortstop to pitcher and the pitcher to hitter. i.e. Workup - work your way to the right to hit. (If a dominating hitter, e.g. a 13 year old playing with 9 year olds, a 3 run limit was put on each hitter.)

A variation of this took place on the skating ring. This could be done with as few as 3 kids. The stone chimney served as backstop. First base was directly behind the pitcher and also served as 3rd base, just as home plate also served as 2nd base. In this configuration, there was no cross-out as the pitcher could become the first baseman by running back 20 feet or so. It was also best if a rubber ball was used, preferably one that had the simulated seams that mimicked a real baseball, so better to break off that Warren Spahn curve ball. When we resorted to the 29¢ baseball from Hoplin & Nelson, it soon became a coverless string-mush from hitting that WPA stone backstop. Then I had to pilfer my father's black friction tape and wrap the ball to extend its life. This was great sport with a single downside. Directly across the alley from the rink stood Henry Brandt's massive garden. Hank was very protective of his garden and if a ball was fouled off and ended up amongst the pumpkins, there was hell to pay for the kid trying to retrieve it. I think Hank had quite a baseball collection. We sometimes waited until dark to try to retrieve the lost.

And the same organizational skills were required for a football game, a hockey game, basketball game.  Soccer, tennis golf - way outside our experience.

Copyright © 2017 Dave Hoplin

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My People - The Journey

I enjoy genealogy research with endless twists and surprise discoveries. Stay tuned for a future "black sheep" post. This post is a summary of some research I've done on the ocean crossings of my Scandinavian immigrant ancestors.

The path of a Norwegian emigrant usually started with a journey to the port of Bergen, Kristiansund or Christiana to board a packet ship to Hull, England. In Sweden, the port of departure was usually Gøteborg. From Hull, a train journey across England to Liverpool to board a Cunard or White Star Liner to New York or Boston, or in some cases Quebec. 

It must have been frightening for a young immigrant venturing forth across the Atlantic, not to mention the North Sea - likely never before having been more than 30 miles from home and realizing that they would probably never see their families again. Of my own immigrant ancestors, only my maternal-grandfather Emil ever made a visit back to the homeland. But after that first brave soul made the journey, it became easier for other family members to follow.  


The following account comes from Norway-Heritage site and is a typical story for a young Norwegian immigrant. It provides personal insights into the wrenching departure and initial leg of the journey across the North Sea to England. The timeframe corresponds almost exactly with my Norwegian great-grandfather Nil's journey and I can imagine my great-grandmother traveling alone 2 years later with 2 children to join her husband in America. Another relative, Ellen Halbostad, traveled to Hull aboard the self-same S/S Tasso. Between 1880 to 1920, nearly 2 million Swedes & Norwegians emigrated to the US and Canada.

Tasso Ports of Call
1880   Trondheim-Christiansand-Aalesund-Hull
 1881   Trondheim-Christiansand-Bergen-Hull    

S/S Tasso, Wilson Line

This is the account of Ingeborg Olsdatter Øye's journey on the S/S Tasso in 1880. (Parts of Ingeborg Olsdatter Øye's diary has been printed in Dordi Glærum Skuggervik's book: "Utvandringshistorie fra Nordmøre" - ISBN 02-991394-0-6)

April 19th, 1880.
This will be the last time I write in my little diary here at my home. Tomorrow 8 days, I will go to Kristiansund. Thursday 29th S/ S Tasso will arrive from Trondheim. I am walking as in a dream now, I have taken farewell on many places to person after person for the last time......

Kristiansund 28th April.

The steamship Tasso will after what the agent says arrive at 1 o'clock tonight. We have to be ready for the arrival. It is impossible to get any sleep now in these waiting hours. I will try to use the time while I wait to write in my diary. The weather out at sea is not good. The "Pacific" which departed this morning, had to turn and come back to Kristiansund this evening. It will be a hard journey before reaching England. But the dear hope.....holds my courage up. So let it in Gods name go! ........

On Board the Tasso April 30, dinner time.

Now we have had a taste of what it is like to be out on the sea; and the ugly sickness has hosted most of the emigrants aboard. We departed Kristiansund at 5 o'clock this morning. The weather was already stormy when we left Kristiansund, and it has not become any better since. There is about 400 emigrants aboard the ship. It is a terrible mess since most of them are sick. I was a little sick crossing the "Hustadviken", but now I am quite well. I was happy to meet another emigrant that could speak the English language, we started to talk and that kept my courage up while I was feeling very sick. I think the ship now will call at Aalesund. It is so much strange here on the ship. If I can keep from being sick the rest of the time, I think the journey will go fine. The worst is the bad sleeping accommodations we have, so full and crowded as it is too. But thank God I have courage, as I am traveling to meet "my" Peder.

On board the "Tasso" in the morning of May 1st

We are now out on the North Sea, so we can not see land in any direction. The ship crew says that we will have good weather, but despite of that the ship is rolling about on the waves of the North Sea. Since dinnertime yesterday I have been free from sea sickness, and yesterday I had a "grown" supper. My sleeping accommodations were good, as there were 5 of us who slept on the deck with some blankets over us, as the bedrooms were overcrowded. It was quite fun, and though I did not sleep tight, it was a good night's sleep. Yesterday evening at 9 we left the Norwegian coast. Today it is quite busy up on deck, some are washing them selves, others are writing, in other words they are doing all kinds of different things.

May 2nd. Sunday onboard the Tasso
Last night I had a fairly good sleeping place, as good as one can expect on journeys like this, and which you can expect in a room overcrowded by women, men and children. I got up in the morning to get a little something to eat, namely a slice of bread and some biscuits which we receive in the morning with a cup of bad black coffee, but this made me ill, I tried to sit down in the room in front, but I had to go up on deck to be sick. I stayed up on deck after this. Here aft on the deck it is best to sit. Many of the passengers are not leaving their beds now. A Sunday morning like this they have never experienced before many says. It is not very pleasant today either. The wind is blowing cold and strong and the seas washes over the deck at times. This is the third day on board since we left Kristiansund. It was said earlier that we would reach England today; but due to the strong head wind it will probably not be before tonight or tomorrow that we will arrive to Hull. I have had fun for a while now; I have been sitting down discussing different issues with a young boy. Almost everyone aboard are very clever, so good company is not hard to find. Yesterday we had a long meeting up on deck and then a long discussion about love. It has been quite amusing at times. - If only I knew that my parents were not suffering. I know they will be thinking about me now. "Tasso" is not as bad as I once thought, and if it had not been so crowded it wouldn't have been bad. The food is also better than what I had expected, yes it is irreproachable. For breakfast we get black coffee which is very bad, a biscuit with butter and a slice of bread. For dinner we get a dish of meat, which is very good. For supper we get a biscuit and a cup of tea, which is good, without cream.

Liverpool May 4th 1880, at the dinner table

Yesterday morning at 3 o'clock we approached Hull. In the evening, Sunday the 2nd we already started to get the sight of the lighthouse. It was a splendid sight, when we came up on deck in the morning, and could see Hull for our eyes. The town is a great sight, but not very beautiful after my opinion. The huge stone buildings are blackened by the smoke and dust from coal which is in the air. But huge and beautiful were all the ships we could see in the harbor.


Hull - immigrant waiting station

At Hull, a train trip across England to Liverpool awaited, there to board a Cunard or White Line steamship for the USA or Canada.

My People - The Crossing 

In the 1860's, the days of sailing ships, an Atlantic crossing took over a month. By1880, with the introduction of steamships, an Atlantic crossing from Liverpool to New York was down to 8-10 days. By 1905, this had been further reduced to 5-6 days, with shipping lines vying for the "record" time.

Emil Pearson
My grandfather Emil, was born in 1889 in Hällestad, Ostergotlands, Sweden or more correctly on a small farm near Rösjö, just south of Hällestad. He emigrated with his wife, Hilma Elizabeth, and two daughters, Anna & Alice, in1914, traveling to Goteborg, then to Hull, England and on to Liverpool, boarding White Star Line's RMS Baltic for New York, and finally a journey by train to Des Moines, IA. The family of 4 stayed with brother Gustaf for a time. Gustaf's wife had died in childbirth earlier in the year. My aunt Alice reminisced that Gustaf got more than he bargained for with a pair of girls, age 5 & 3.

RMS Baltic

Launched in 1904, for a short time the Baltic was the world's largest steamship. "On 14 April 1912, Baltic sent an ice warning message to the RMS Titanic: 'Greek steamer Athenia reports passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice today in latitude 41° 51' N, longitude 49° 52' W. Wish you and Titanic all success. Commander.'"
On 17 February 1933, she was sailed to Japan where she was scrapped

Carl Nyren
According to family records, Emil's brother Carl emigrated in 1905 from Hällestad to Iowa, but I as yet have not found any matching passenger records in the passenger list databases. His name change from Persson to Nyren complicates things.

Ture Persson
Emil's brother Ture wrote an autobiography. (see several posts Ture's Story).  The following is an excerpt dealing with his emigration in 1907 from Hällestad ..

In Ture's words:
In 1905 came a man named Nordin home to Sweden, he was born in this area. When he went back, my brother Carl followed him and a year later Gustav went. On the 27th of October 1907, it was my turn to go. I will remember it was a Sunday morning. It was hard for me to say goodbye to my parents and relatives. We could not know whether we would ever see each other again. Father got the horses and took me to Hällestad station. It was to take your little bag, step on a train to Palsboda, there you changed trains to Göteborg. I was a little nervous to go on one had as I had never been away from home. I had to stay a couple days and there I celebrated my 20th birthday. Fare for the whole trip cost me 300 kroner and one had to have $1500 to land in America. {Editor note: I don't believe this is true}  I became acquainted with a few Northlanders young people. They were going to the large forests in the Northwester states to get work. Among them was a good and pretty girl, we had companionship to Chicago. We rode over North Sea in a old poor boat called Rollo, it took us 2 days, weather was very good. We landed in a place called Grimsby. We took the train to Liverpool, England there stayed overnight. Next day we went on board in Guardlinjens boat Luisitania, a new large and fine boat. It went fast and only took 4 days over the Atlantic. On trip we saw doctors and got vaccinations for small pox. Never got sea sick. Lusitania sank in battle in WWI. I think it was the reason American came into the war.

We got to go inland on a little island outside New York which was called Kastelgarden. There we were divided into groups. To get a package of food we went through duty and after on train to other places. I went to Chicago. It took over 2 days. There I changed trains to Des Moines, the capital of Iowa. There I got off the train showed an address I had for brother Carl to the police, who took me to a Swede who had a carriage and he took me to my brother’s shop and I was through with my trip. All had gone well. Everyone had been friendly and helpful to me, so it had been in all of my long life. A little depends on if a man tries to do his best for that’s what man can do. I was well accepted in my brother’s home, he had married in the fall of that year with a girl he knew back home. They had a good living. Carl worked as a watchman at Drake University. My brother, Gustav, came and visited me. He worked for a farmer for board. I followed him home and wanted to begin work. I got a job on a farm where they were picking corn.

{Caveat: I have not been able to find Ture Persson from Hallestad in the passenger databases, however I know he made the crossing. He was drafted, served in WWI and in 1920 "reverse emigrated" to Sweden.}

RMS Lusitania

Of course, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat in 1915, turning the tide of opinion toward the entry of the USA into WWI.

Gust Pearson
Emil's brother Gust emigrated from 
Hällestad in 1907 aboard the Cunard Liner RMS Carmania, Liverpool to New York and on to central Iowa.

The RMS Carmania was launched in 1905, served as an armed merchant ship in WWI and was scrapped in England in 1932.

Augusta Maria Persson
Emil's sister Augusta emigrated from Hällestad in 1909. She traveled from Goteborg to England aboard the Wilson Line Ariosto and on to America aboard the White Line SS Oceanic. Maria worked as a housekeeper in Des Moines, IA for a number of years, before reverse emigrating to Sweden with her brother Ture after WWI in 1920.

Ariosto Passenger List

Wilson Line Ariosto

SS Oceanic Passenger List

In WWI, the Oceanic was equipped with 4.7" guns and put into naval service as an armed merchant ship. In 1914, due to a navigation error she was run onto the "Shaalds of Foulda" near the Shetland Islands and wrecked.  Courts martial followed.

Nils Hoplin
My great-grandfather on my paternal grandfather's side, Nils Hoplin was born in Levanger, Nord-Trondelag, Norway in 1848. He was a tenant farmer near Åsen, Norway when he left his wife Hanna, children Peter & Nikolina behind, emigrating from Norway to Minnesota about 1879.  Hanna and the children followed in 1881. Still digging for ship information. (see my "My People" post for the story of Nil's arrival Minnesota.

Carl Nelson
My great-grandfather on my paternal grandmother's side, Carl Nelson, was born in Grums, Sweden in 1847. In 1886, the family - wife Sofia, sons, John, Gust, Samuel, Olaf and young daughter Ida was living in Frykerud, Sweden. (Note - Ida died that winter in December of 1886 in Minnesota.) After several appeals from Elizabeth Aas, sister of Carl's wife Sofia, they departed Liverpool on June 29, 1886 on the Cunard Liner Bothnia to Boston, and then by train to Alexandria, MN arriving July 12, 1886.  (see my Fageras to Brandon post for the story of the Nelson's immigration journey.)

RMS Bothnia

The Bothnia made her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York in 1874 and in 1885 was transferred to the Liverpool-Boston service. The Bothnia's last passenger voyage was in 1896 and she was sold and scrapped at Marseilles in 1899.

Johanna Killingberg Rosten
My wife's grandmother, Johanna Killingberg, was born in Leksvik, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway in 1882. She emigrated in May of 1907, traveleing to Kristiania (Oslo). Then a direct passage to New York aboard Scandinavian-America Liner Helig Olav and by train to Spring Grove, Minnesota. Two other women from Leksvig, each with children, also were aboard heading for Spring Grove to join their husbands. Johanna's passage was paid by Gabriel Solie, her brother-in-law who had immigrated with his wife - Johanna's sister Marie - sometime before 1904.

Helig Olav

Jacob Rosten
My wife's great-grandfather, Jacob Rosten, was born in Grong, Overhalla, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway in 1842. He emigrated in 1866, traveling from Bergen to Quebec, Canada on the bark Norden.  [note: a "bark" is a 3 masted sailing ship.] The crossing took over a month (May 5 - June 7).  He then made his way to Winneshek, IA.  Happily for me, in 1904, he moved with his family to Pope County, MN.

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