Introduction

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This is the beginning of the story of Asbjørn Hallvardsen Raae (Raa, Roe, Rowe) and his descendants. Asbjørn, his wife Ragnhild Andersdtr Raae and their two children, Anders and Anna left Norway in 1852 and came to America and Wisconsin. By 1860, according to the Federal Census, they were living in Portage Co. where Asbjørn and Ragnhild lived the rest of their lives.

Asbjørn's father, Hallvard Olsson Raa, was greatly influenced by Hans Nielsen Hauge, a traveling preacher who disagreed with the Church of Norway and espoused a simpler, pietistic Christianity. Asbjørn apparently followed in his father's footsteps for he too was a lay preacher both in Norway and in Wisconsin. I have included copies of letters written by Asbjørn to his Anders, after Anders had moved to Minnesota (with a rough translation) which vividly illustrate his beliefs.

This booklet deals mostly with the descendants of Anders Roe, but I correspond with a descendant of Anna (Roe) Berry, so perhaps her descendants can be included later. I also correspond with and have met a descendant of Lars Rowe, a brother of Ragnhild and a cousin of Asbjørn, so the circle ever widens.

Please inform me of errors, additions, better translations, etc., so that this can be given to our descendants as correctly as possible.

Verla Williams
4333 Pine Ridge Trail NE
Iowa City, IA 52240

Maps of Norway with Counties and Towns

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Norway map. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Position of Lærdal kommune within the county of Sogn og Fjordane. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.


Rå, Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane. Image courtesy of Google Maps. "A" marks the search result.

Raa Farm 1905

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Raa Farm (1905). Image courtesy of Ingebrigt Rå. Photo by Vincent D. Williams (9 May 1986).

During Vincent Williams' 1986 sabbatical Vince and Verla met her distant cousin Ingebrigt Rå who currently farms on the Rå farm near Lærdal. He had a picture hanging on his wall of the farm in 1905. The above image is Vince's picture of the picture. This same image can be found in the Lærdal Bygdebok II (Espe 1990: 347).

Below is a picture of the farm in 1986.


Rå farm (9 May 1986). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Rå Farm 1975-1986

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vincent and Verla Williams traveled to Norway in 1975 with Verla's sister, Sharon, and her husband, Dalen Asche. They also were there in 1986 during Vince's sabbatical as mentioned above. During both trips they visited Lærdal and the Rå farm.


Sharon Asche by a house at the Rå farm (1975). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Verla Williams in front of a barn at the Rå farm (1975). Image courtesy of Vince Williams.



Verla and Jené Williams, Ingebrigt and Tove Rå in front of their home (9 May 1986). Photograph by Vincent Williams.

Lærdal 1975

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Sharon Asche and Verla Williams, Lærdal (1975). Photograph by Vincent Williams.


Borgund Hotel, Lærdal (1975). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Borgund Stavkirke, Lærdal (1975). Image courtesy of Verla Williams. See also Wikipedia.


Church, Lærdal (1975). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Tønjum Church, rear view. Image courtesy of Verla Williams. The Raae family belonged to this church situated between Lærdal and Borgund.

Borgund Hotel. Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

Saturday, April 23, 2011

This 1914 postcard shows a picture of the Borgund Hotel in Lærdal. Interestingly it is addressed to Gustav Johnson, my paternal grandmother's father.


Postcard. Borgund Hotel, Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway (18 Jun 1914). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Reverse of Postcard addressed to Gustav Johnson. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Pedigree Charts for Anders A. ROE (1844-1913) and Elsa (Fredrickson) ROE (1844-1910)

Friday, April 22, 2011


Pedigree chart for Anders A. ROE (1844-1913). Courtesy of Williams Family Pages.


Pedigree chart for Elsa (Fredrickson) ROE (1844-1910). Courtesy of Williams Family Pages.

Odd Olsen Skadengaard

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We can be reasonably sure of Anders ROE's paternal line going back six generations from the Roe (Raae, Raa, Rå) and Kyrkjebø farm family histories. His earliest ancestor that we have documented was probably named Odd Olsen Skadengaard.

In the Ættebok for Kyrkjebø under Kyrkjebøn 68-1, A. Førsund wrote, "Det fyrste ekteparet på Skadengaard som kyrkjeboka nemner, er Odd og Kirsti." [Translation: "The first couple of Skadengaard church records mention is Odd and Kirsti."] Their children were: Ole (b. 1708), Embrik, (b. 1711), Halvor (b. c. 1714), Margit (b. c. 1717),  and Sigrid (b. c. 1719).

We can guess that Odd's father's name was probably Ole since that was what he named his oldest son. In his article describing Norwegian naming practices, author John Føllesdal wrote:

. . . the oldest son was named after his paternal grandfather, and the second son after his maternal grandfather. Likewise, the oldest daughter was named after her paternal grandmother, and the second daughter after her maternal grandmother. When the names of the paternal and maternal grandparents had been used up, the great grandparents names were used, but in no particular order.
Until I find time for more translation, we're left with the mystery of the actual connection between Skadengaard and Kyrkjebø or why and when Odd and his family moved to the latter farm. But we do know that his oldest son, Ole, received the Kyrkjebø farm (Førsund, 237), and that according to both of the Rå farm histories, (Laberg 1938) and (Espe 1990), around 1744-45, Odd and Kirsti's son, Halvor Oddsen Kyrkjebø, came to Lærdal and married the widow of the owner of the Rå farm, Ingeborg Larsdtr.


Odd Olsen Skadengaard Descendants Chart. Image courtesy of Mark D. Williams.

Halvor Oddsen Kyrkjebø (c. 1718-1778)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

From the Lærdal og Borgund, Bydg og Aetter (Laberg 1938: 292):

I 1744 kjem det ein heilt framand mann på bruket. Det er Hallvard Oddson Kyrkjebø. Både fars- og gardsnamnet er greidt nok so me må tru at han er kome utanfrå. Farsnamnet Odd er og framandt i Lærdal. Hallvard vart i 1744 attgift med enkja etter Ola Nilsson Rå.

Hallvard og Ingeborg fekk 3 born: Ola som fekk garden, Marita vart ugift, og Kirsti vart gift med Anders Olson, husmann under Rikheim.


TRANSLATION: In 1744 a completely foreign husband comes to the farm. He is Hallvard Oddson Kyrkjebø. Both the father's and the farm name are strange enough we must believe that he came from outside. The father's name of Odd is foreign to Lærdal. Hallvard was married to the widow of Ola Nilsson Rå in 1744.


Hallvard and Ingeborg had three children: Ole, who got the farm; Marita, was unmarried; and Kirsti was married to Anders Olson, a cotter under Rikheim.
The Lærdal parish records provide the death dates for both Halvor and Ingeborg:


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 2 (1752-1782), Death and burial records 1778, page 256. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

Though difficult to make out, we can see that Halvor Aadsen Raae of Tynjum died 11 Mar 1778, was buried the 18th, age 60 years, which would make his birth date c. 1718. His wife, Ingeborg Larsdtr of Thynjums, Sogn, died 15 Mar 1784 and was buried the 20th, age 76 years. This would make her birth date c. 1708.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 3 (1783-1804), Death and burial records 1784, page 133. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

During their 1986 visit to Norway, Verla and Vince Williams met the current owner of the Rå farm, Ingebrigt Rå, who is Verla's 4th cousin. Some time after that he sent Verla a chart he had created showing their descent from Halvor Oddson (Raae) Kirkjabo in addition to Helene (Rowe) Furst's descent through Anders Oleson Raae's son, Lars. This chart is reproduced below.


Halvor Oddson (RAAE) Kirkjabo Descendants Chart (c. 1986). Courtesy of Ingebrigt Rå.

Ole Halvorsen RAAE (1749-1812)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In the section of his book about the history of the Rå farm, Laberg (1938: 293) wrote that:

Ola Hallvardson var fødd 1749 og vart i 1770 g. m. Jesa Olsdtr. Ho var f. 1745 og dotter til ein Ola Andersson under Rå. Det må ha vore ikkje so lite framtak hjå han Ola. Som før sagt, var det kyrkja på Tonjum og Hauge som åtte ein god part av bruket hans. For å verta sjølveigar av dette, kjøpte han kyrkjene og dermed og jordi dei åtte. Kann hende dette vart is so mykje å stå i for han Ola, for i 1805 selde han halvparten av dei to kyrkjene til Jens Æri, og fekk då mest det same for denne parten som det han hadde gjeve for det heile.

Ola og kona hadde 7 born. Av desse vart 6 vaksne: Hallvard og Anders vart på farsgarden, Ola som kom til Ljøsne, Lars døydde ung, Ingeborg g. m. Knut Kvigne, og Brita gift til N. Voll.

Ola Hallvardson var den siste som hadde bruket åleine. I 1807 let han garden frå seg til dei to eldste sønene sine, Hallvard og Anders. Soleis vert det her etter å tala om bruk 1 og 1 a.


TRANSLATION: Ola Hallvardson was born in 1749 and in 1770 married Jesa Olsdtr. She was born in 1745 and was the daughter of one Ola Andersson under Rå. It must have been not so little [framtak] Ola. Like I said, it was the churches at Tønjum and Hauge as eight had use of a good part of his farm. To [ ] himself of this, he bought the churches and thus the earth and the eight. [ ] this was possible is so much to stand in for Ola, for in 1805 he sold half of the two churches to Jens Ærie, and then got mostly the same for that part which he had given of it all.

Ola and his wife had seven children. Of these 6 reached adulthood: Hallvard and Anders were on the family farm, Ola went to Ljøsne, Lars died young, Ingeborg married Knut Kvigne, and Brita married to N. Voll.

Ola Hallvardson was the last to have sole use. In 1807 he passed down the farm to his two eldest sons, Hallvard and Anders. [ ] it here after to talk about using 1 and 1a.
The Lærdal parish records corroborate the marriage date of Ole and Jesa (Giæse) showing that they were married on 29 Oct 1770.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 2 (1752-1782), Marriage records 1768-1772, page 220. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet. A search for Ole Halvorsen Raae returns this digital record.

Ole Halvorsen Raae, his wife Jesa (Giese), and their family also appear in the Folketelling 1801 for 1422P Lærdal Prestegjeld, (the 1801 Census for Lærdal parish).


Detail of Folketelling 1801 for 1422P Lærdal prestegjeld. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

The Lærdal parish records also record the deaths and burials of Ole and Jesa.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 4 (1805-1821), Death and burial records 1812, page 204-205. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

One can barely make out the second entry from the bottom, but it is indeed for Ole Halvorsen Raae and it indicates that Ole died on 27 May 1812 at the age of 63 and was buried on 4 Jun 1812. Jesa (Giæsa) died on 5 Apr 1818 at the age of 75 and was buried on the 10th of the same month.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 4 (1805-1821), Death and burial records 1818, page 218-219. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

Halvor Olsen RAAE (1771-1843)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ole Halvorsen Raae and his wife Jesa followed Norwegian tradition and named their oldest son, Halvor, after his paternal grandfather. Halvor's birth and baptism were recorded in the Lærdal parish records on 15 Jul and 10 Aug 1771 respectively.

 
Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Lærdal, Ministerialbok nr. A 2 (1752-1782), Fødte og døpte 1771, side 179. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

The Minister's book for Hafslo parish contains the marriage record for Halvor Olsen Raae and Anna Asbiørnsdtr Opheimshaug. In the column under Copúlation, the third entry for Halvor and Anna is for the "same day" as the entry above which is dated 29 Apr 1810.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Hafslo, Ministerialbok nr. A 3 (1807-1821), Kronologisk liste 1810, side 9. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet. A search for Halvor Olsen Raae also returns this digital record.

Espe (1990: 362) lists Halvor and Anna's four children as follows: (1) Ole (1811-1887), who took over the farm and married Elsa Nilsdtr Bø; (2) Asbjørn (1813-1890), who married his first cousin Ragnilde Andersdtr Raae; (3) Anders (1816- ), who married Metta Finnsdtr Rikheim; and (4) Halvor (1821- ), who married Ingrid Baardsdtr M. Ljøsno. Laberg (1938: 293) adds a sister, Jesa, but provides little else about her.

I found it strange that the Lærdal parish register recorded the deaths of both Halvor and Anna on the same day, 3 Nov 1843, with burials on the 9th.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 9 (1835-1857), Death and burial records 1843, page 30. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

This would seem to suggest some sort of accident. However, both Laberg and Espe state that Anna died in 1848. And the Lærdal parish records do show another Anna Asbjørnsdtr Raae's death on 26 Oct 1848 at 73 years of age with burial on 2 Nov.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Lærdal, Ministerialbok nr. A 9 (1835-1857), Døde og begravede 1848, side 53. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

So this leaves us with the question of who was the Anna that died the same day as Halvor? Time will tell if we can solve this mystery.

Anders Olsen RAAE (1780-1843)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

According to the Lærdal Bygdebok II (Espe 1990: 352), Ole Halvorsen Raae and his wife Jesa had two sons named Anders. The Lærdal parish register (nr. A 2, 1779: 265) records the birth of the first son on 12 Jan 1779 and his baptism on the 17th of the same month. He died after 8 days on the 20 Jan 1779 and was buried on the 23rd (nr. A 2, 1779: 257).

It was common in Norway, however, to name a baby boy after a deceased older brother. Anders Olsen Raae (II) was born 3 Feb 1780 and was baptized on the 7th.

 
Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 2 (1752-1782), Birth and baptism records 1780, page 270. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet. 

Note that Anders' father, Ole Halvorsen Raae, is also listed as a witness for the baptism of Ole Thomasen in the entry above that of Anders.

Anders was betrothed to Ragnilde Knudsdtr Moe on 1 Mar 1808 and they were married on 19 Mar 1808. Interestingly the entry directly below Anders and Ragnilde is that of Anders' younger sister, Ingeborg Olsdtr Raae. She was betrothed on the same date (1 Mar 1808) to Knud Andersen Quigne and married on 25 Mar 1808.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 4 (1805-1821), Marriage records 1807-1808, page 150-151. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet. A search for Anders Olsen Raae returns this digital record.

According to Espe (1990: 367), Anders and Ragnilde had five children: (1) Knut (1805-1850), who married Brita Knutsdtr Tønjum; (2) Jesa (1810-Bef 1860), who married third cousin Ole Fredriksen Rikheim; (3) Ole (1812-1896), who married Kirsti Johannesdtr N. Bjørko; (4) Lars (1814- ), who married Kari Olsdtr Raae; and (5) Ragnilde (1817-1877), who married her first cousin, Asbjørn Halvorsen Raae. Jesa, Lars, Ragnilde and their families all emigrated to the United States in the 1850s and settled in Wisconsin.

The Lærdal parish records contain the death dates for both Anders and his wife, Ragnilde. She died on 4 Feb 1841 and was buried on the 11th.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 9 (1835-1857), Death and burial records 1841, page 20. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

Anders Olsen Raae died on 31 Mar 1843 and was buried on 6 Apr. Note that line 35 shows that a Kari Nielsdtr Raae died on 24 Mar and was buried on the 28th. It is unknown at this time if she is related to Anders.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane county, Lærdal, Parish register (official) nr. A 9 (1835-1857), Death and burial records 1843, page 28. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

Lars and Kari RAAE


Kari Olsdtr (Groethe) and Lars Andersen RAAE. Image courtesy of Courtney ROWE (Facebook 2 Sep 2017).

According to Espe (1990: 367), Lars Andersen RAAE (b. 1814) was the fourth child of Anders Olsen RAAE and Ragnilde Knudsdtr Moe, and he married a Kari Olsdtr RAAE. From some of the records we already have we can discover a little more.

From the Parish Emigration records, we learn that Lars was born on 4 Sep 1814, and that Kari was born on 30 Oct 1813. Finally from the Passenger list of the Bjørgvin we see that in 1852 they migrated to America with four children: Synneve, David, Christi, and Anders.

Courtney ROWE, a 3x great granddaughter of Lars and Kari, posted the above picture on 2 Sep 2017 labeled as Lars and Kari (Groethe) Raa. Also Courtney's Ancestry.com family tree shows that Kari had a previous husband named David Nilsson (1808-1843) and that Synneve and Christi were their daughters. Only David and Anders were sons of Kari and Lars.

Family Group Sheet for Asbjørn Halvorsen RAAE (1813-1890)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Husband: Asbjørn HALVORSEN Raae

Born: 4 Aug 1813
Place: Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Married: 18 May 1843
Place: Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Died: 8 Jul 1890
Place: Amherst, Portage, Wisconsin
Husband's Father: Halvor OLSEN Raae
Husband's Mother: Anna ASBJØRNSDTR Opheimshaug
Wife: Ragnhild ANDERSDTR Raae
Born: 20 Apr 1817
Place: Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Died: 20 Dec 1877
Place: Amherst Twp, Portage, Wisconsin
Wife's Father: Anders OLSEN Raae
Wife’s Mother: Ragnhild KNUTSDTR Mo



Children

1. Anders A. ROE
Born: 13 Sep 1844
Place: Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Spouse: Elsa FREDRICKSON
Married: 27 Nov 1866
Died: 8 May 1913
2. Anna ROE
Born: 24 Jan 1851
Place: Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway
Spouse: Eugene BERRY
Married: 31 Jul 1883
Died: 23 Apr 1939
3. Ole A. ROE
Born: Mar 1854
Place: Spring Prairie, Walworth, Wisconsin
Spouse: Bertha Christine MJOLDO
Married: 1883
Died: 15 Oct 1927
4. Knudt A. ROE
Born: Feb 1857
Place: Portage, Wisconsin
Spouse: Hattie Isabella
Married: Unknown
Died: 8 Feb 1923
5. Andrina ROE
Born: Jul 1859
Place: Wisconsin
Spouse: Frank Warren HOGAN
Married: 1894
Died: 17 Feb 1930

Birth Record: Asbjørn Halvorsen RAAE

Friday, April 15, 2011


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Lærdal, Ministerialbok nr. A 4 (1805-1821), Fødte og døpte 1813, side 104-105. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

Birth Record: Ragnilde Andersdtr RAAE

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Lærdal, Ministerialbok nr. A 4 (1805-1821), Fødte og døpte 1817, side 172-173. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

Military Discharge: Asbjørn Halvorsen RAAE (1 Jan 1841)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Military Discharge Certificate. Asbjørn Halvorsen Raae (1 Jan 1841). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Let it be known that Asbjørn Halvorsen Raae, born in Leirdal's Parish
on 29 August 1813, has served as a Musketeer with the Leirdal Company
of the Parish Musketeers from the first of January 1836 until 31st
December 1840, for 5 years, and has now fulfilled his service with
the Line Troops.

The Draft Board for the Parish Musketeer Corps on 1 January 1841.

Signed by:

District Governor     Corps Director     County Commissioner

Translation: Solveig Quinney, Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naeseth Library.

Wedding Record: Asbjørn and Ragnhilda (RAAE) RAAE (18 May 1843)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Lærdal, Ministerialbok nr. A 8 (1834-1853), Ekteviede 1843, side 23. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

The Minister's book for Lærdal records the wedding of Asbjørn Halvorsen RAAE, 30, and Ragnhilda Andersdtr RAAE, 27, on 18 May 1843. Their fathers' names are given respectively as Halvor Olsen RAAE and Anders Olsen RAAE. Since Halvor and Anders are brothers that would make Asbjørn and Ragnhilda first cousins.

Emigration Record: Asbjørn Halvorsen RAAE family (16 Apr 1852)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Minister's book from the Lærdal parish has a record of the Asbjørn Halvorsen and Lars Andersen Raae families leaving the church 16 Apr 1852 to emigrate to America.


Detail of Sogn og Fjordane fylke, Lærdal, Ministerialbok nr. A 17 (1851-1877), Innflyttede 1852, Utflyttede 1851-1852, side 6. Image courtesy of Digitalarkivet.

16 / 16 April / Asbjørn Halvorsen Raae born 4 August 1813 / 38 years / to America
17 / 16 April / wife Ragnilda Andersdtr Raae born 20 April 1817 / 35 years / to ditto
18 / 16 April / son Anders Asbjørnsen born 13 September 1844 / 7 years / to ditto
19 / 16 April / daughter Anna Asbjørnsdtr Raae born 24 January 1851 / 1 year

Passenger list: Bjørgvin (1852)

Sunday, April 10, 2011


The United States brig, Niagara. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, a brig is a "sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts." The brig, Bjørgvin, would have looked similar to the photo above of the brig, Niagara.


Passenger list
. Bjørgvin (26 May-16 Jul 1852).
Image courtesy of Norway Heritage: Hands Across the Sea.

Above is a scan from the passenger list for the brig, Bjørgvin, which departed from Bergen, 26 May 1852 and arrived in New York, 16 Jul 1852. The captain was Gunder P. Olsen. The list shows passengers Asbjørn Raa and family as well as his cousin, Lars (Ragnild's brother).

22 / Asbjørn Raa / 38 / m / Houses on deck
23 / Ragnild Andersdatter Raa* / 34 / f / Houses on deck
24 / Anders Asbjørnsen* Raa* / 7 / m / Houses on deck
25 / Anne Asbjørnsdatter* Raa* / 6 mo / f / Houses on deck
26 / Lars Raa* / 37 / m / Houses on deck




SOURCE: NARA Roll # 116, arr. no. 961 - Transcribed by Børge Solem - 2000. Norway Heritage: Hands Across the Sea.

Citizenship Application: Asbjørn H. ROE (30 Mar 1855)

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Copy of Affidavit for Citizenship Application. (Madison, WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court, 30 Mar 1855). Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Malcolm Rosholt, From the Indian Land

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quoted from Malcolm Rosholt, From the Indian Land: First-hand Account of Central Wisconsin's Pioneer Life (Krause, 1985), pp. 113-114:

. . . Among the friends of Hauge (referring to the Hauge synod) there were several lay preachers who visited the Indian Land, As a rule they had their meetings at the homes of their brethren and were seldom seen at worship services in church unless they had a child to be baptized or some young folks to be confirmed as they had no pastor of their own in the early period. The most noted Hauge people here were the Danielson sons, Hans, Nils, Cristofer, and Christian of the town of St. Lawrence in Elm Valley. They were from Oslo or thereabouts.

There was also Ola Blegen from Faaberg in Gudbrandsdalen, and Ola Lods (Ola-the-pilot), and Eivind Johanson from near Stavanger. He was always called ‘Eivind-on-the-Hill.’ Then there was Lars Raa or Roa, and his cousin Asbjorn Raa. They were from Laerdal. And Gundmund Martinson and Gudmund’s Marte from Stavanger. Jens Nilson, Anders Trother - also called Anders, the blacksmith -, Haakon Johnson and Ola Fredrikson, all from Laerdal, Tollef More and others. Several of these would make talks and offer prayers at meetings. Gundmund’s Marte could also speak and there were some who thought she was a ‘great preacher.’

Ola Blegan acknowledged that he had been a big sinner in his youth and that he had even tried to ‘make his own money‘ (counterfeit). When Ola was converted to God, he became a different man. He was the only one of the Hauge people on the Indian Land to attend services, (i.e. the Norwegian Synod Church which the Haugeans eschewed). In Rev. Mikkelsen’s time he was often seen in Scandinavia. Endowed with an amazing memory, he could repeat a sermon given by Mikkelsen from beginning to the end. Later, Ola would give the same sermon at the Hauge meetings, and after this sermon became a bit threadworn, he came to church for a new one. An acquaintance once said, ‘Ola Blegan was a good and helpful man but he was not afraid to mix in a lie now and then.’ But this was unjust. He merely exaggerated a little, especially when he got excited.

Asbjorn Raa was without a doubt the most intelligent of all Hauge's friends on the Indian Land. He was a well-read man and a good speaker as well as a man who tried earnestly to live what he preached. He acknowledged that he often felt drawn toward worldly things and was plagued now and then by great doubts. These doubts once got such power over him for ‘three days he did not believe in God or the other fellow’ (the devil). ‘When this temptation was over I realized that I had been led into utter foolishness,’ he said. He started as a lay preacher in Norway and the Hauge friends often gathered in his home. Some of them said that the audience ate him out of house and home, but he made out all right and could see nothing wrong with it, although he admitted that it was a little ‘hard on the butter.’
From The Indian Land deals with the Norwegian settlements of Waupaca and Portage Counties. The name is derived from a book written in Norwegian called Fra Indianernes Lande by Thor Helgeson. The translation of that book plus a second one by Helgeson under the same title is the basis of Rosholt's book. Although this book deals primarily with Waupaca County, it does have three chapters on the townships of New Hope and Amherst in Portage County, and many of the families moved from one county to the next. [Source: Stevens Point Area Genealogy Society.]

1860 US Federal Census: Asbjørn ROWE Family

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Detail of 1860 US Federal Census. Asbjørn ROWE family. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Detail of 1860 US Federal Census. Asbjørn ROWE family. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Asbirn [Asbjørn] H. Rowe / 46 / M / Farmer / 400 /200 / Norway
Ragnil [Ragnhild] Rowe / 40 / F /Norway
Andrew Rowe / 16 / M / Farmer / Norway
Ann Rowe / 9 / F / Norway
Ole Rowe / 6 / M / Wisconsin
Knudt Rowe / 3 / M / Wisconsin
Andrina Rowe / 1 / F / Wisconsin




Source Citation: Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Portage, Wisconsin; Roll: M653_1426; Pages: 206-207; Images: 210-211; Family History Library Film: 805426.

Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: 1860 U.S. census, population schedule. NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.

ROE Farm: Portage County, Wisconsin

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Roe Lane and County T intersection. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Asbjørn ROE farm, Portage County, WI. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Asbjørn ROE farmhouse. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.


Octagonal barn, ROE farm. Image courtesy of Verla Williams.

Verla Williams sent this letter along explaining the above pictures:

. . . your dad and I went up to that area of Portage County, WI to look around. Going by the plat map, which marks the A. H. Roe acreage, we saw the road sign Roe Lane. And then following the road we came upon this old house and old barn. We wondered if they indeed were the original Roe buildings.

Sometime later, in one of the Christmas cards I got from a Helene Furst, who is descended from Lars Roe (they took the spelling of Rowe) and who I met once in Decorah at a Nordic Fest, mentioned something about the round barn on the Roe land in WI. . . .

. . . This is what she penned at the bottom -- "Haven't done very much family history this yr. but have made contact with some more of my mother's family. Also a Rowe relative sent me a newspaper article about Asbjorn Roe's octagonal barn in Amherst. Have you seen those news stories?"

. . . P. S. On the plat map in the Roe book -- the 1876 Amherst township, Portage County, look in section 9 -- you will see A. H. Roe on a couple of 40 acres, maybe, and the little ) of a road. That is the one we think we were on.
I would say you found it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Portage County’s only octagon barn has uncertain history

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


The town of Amherst octagon barn in 1965, when it still stood relatively straight. (Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Floistad Sather)

By WENDELL NELSON
Special to The Gazette


Portage County has had many rectangular barns and a few round barns, but only one – as far as I know – octagon barn. It used to stand in the town of Amherst, but fell down about 15 years ago.

Back in 1976, while I was looking for interesting old farmhouses, I happened upon this barn, and photographed it. Now that the building has collapsed, the only records of its original appearance are photos, personal memories, and – now – this written history.


(First in a series)

It had at least two pairs of large doors, which took up most of two of its eight sides, and a number of small doors and windows.

According to Carl and Lou Ann Floistad Sather, the current owners of the farm (she has lived there all of her life), one pair of big doors opened onto a grass ramp that led to the main floor of the barn, which was the haymow; below that, the cows were kept and milked. (The Sathers said they sold the cows in 1990; in other words, the barn was still standing then.)

It also sported a cupola with eight shutters or ventilators. And it had a steel roof, which was probably not original, but replaced an earlier cedar-shake or shingle roof. (Despite the fact that the barn has fallen, the metal roof looks shiny and rust-free; the Sathers said they regularly repainted the roof.)

So far, no photos of the barn in its prime – freshly painted, at least – have surfaced. But a photo from about 1965 shows the building still standing relatively straight, albeit weathered gray, as is the small milk house that stood in front of it. (The Sathers said that they never remember the barn being painted, but the milk house now has a bright coat of white paint.)

A photo from February 1969 shows the barn leaning, but also shows a silo to its northwest. That silo was made of staves – vertical wooden boards – but gradually was blown apart and knocked over by the winds, according to the Sathers.



The octagon barn in February of 1969, showing it beginning to lean. Note also the stave silo to the left side of the barn. (Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Floistad Sather)

When I took my photos, seven years later, the barn was more rundown and darker gray. It leaned more, its doors were slightly askew, and a few siding boards had fallen off the walls.

Successive photos show the barn leaning more and more. One, from the mid-1980s, shows five-or six-foot-wide lower-wall sections splayed out more than they were in my 1976 picture.

Finally, a photo from the early 1990s shows the barn decidedly slanting to the northwest, and it probably fell over in the next year or two. (Carl Sather said that in about 1935, one sagging wall was jacked up and stabilized with cement.)

Now the barn lies on the ground, with the walls mostly concealed under the roof, which projects here and there in sharp angles.

When the barn was built is a mystery. Lou Ann Sather said a date-stone – or inscription in the foundation mortar – gave 1889 or 1898 as the construction year. She wasn’t sure which – nor even if those were the only choices.

The foundation is buried under the barn wreckage, and the stones have been whitewashed over so many times, she said, that the date is illegible – ironically, when the wooden walls, more vulnerable to time and weather, were not painted for many years.

If the barn was built that late – even in 1889 – Ole Roe would have been the first owner, not his father, Asbjorn, who probably homesteaded that farm, as we shall see. In 1889, Asbjorn was 75 or 76 years old, and apparently lived in the village of Amherst with another son, Knudt.

We can, however, estimate the age of the farmhouse from its exterior and interior architecture. According to Carl Sather, the house was built in stages, because the first owners didn’t have much money. (That was true of many frontier American houses.)



The Roe/Peterson/Floistad house in the Town of Amherst, viewed from the southwest corner. (Wendell Nelson photo)

The back – east – part, a one-story gabled wing now, was built first, if we judge from the its window- and door-moldings (casings). Some are mere 1-inch x 4-inches plain (unmilled) boards – very simple and utilitarian.

Others are wider, decoratively and longitudinally milled boards typical of Greek Revival houses, most of which – in central Wisconsin – were built from the 1850s to the early 1870s.

Further evidence dating the house to those years, is one of the kitchen doors: it has vertical panels, a porcelain knob and a lock assembly attached to the inside exterior of the door, rather than mortised inside it, as most later locks are. A similar door leads north off of the living room; it has four vertical panels but a mortised lock.

The front part of the house, or main upright, is more or less a cube, but a very plain, unornamented cube. Outside, the tops of the second-story windows are only about 18 inches from the eaves of the house, suggesting that the upstairs had rather low ceilings, but also that the first owners, again, did not have money to waste on high ceilings.

Further evidence of scarce money is the flooring in both the kitchen and living room: six-inch boards, probably pine (not small strips of oak or other hardwood), and painted (not stained and varnished). Those in the center of the living room are now (in 2010) covered with old linoleum, which is in turn covered by a rug.

Moreover, the Sathers said, even the front cube was built in two stages. It started as a one-story house, and later the second story was added.

The woodwork in the living room is later – from the 1880s or possibly early ’90s – than that in the kitchen. It features decoratively milled boards, but they are narrower than those of the more ornate kitchen window.

Moreover, each corner has a rosette, a little square of wood, with an ornate pattern carved in it. And the lower walls have baseboards and plinth blocks (pedestals). This is added evidence that the front cube was built later – added onto the original or at least earlier east part.

Further, a door on the south outside wall of the house has two Roman (round-headed) windows, which would likely date from the 1870s or early ‘80s, and the front door has a segmental-arched (slightly round-headed) window, from the Italianate period of (in Central Wisconsin) of 1870-1885. (These dates might be a little later here, because this is a farmhouse; architectural styles debuted on the East Coast and came West with settlement. They first tended to appear in big cities, later in towns, and finally on farms.) But that same front door also has a white porcelain knob, which would, again, date it earlier rather than later – 1860s or ‘70s.

Outside, a veranda adorns the south third of the front (west) wall, and the west half of the south wall, of the house. It has turned posts and spindles, which means it was probably constructed in the 1880s or early ‘90s. (The veranda looks largely intact, so it has survived probably over 100 years fairly well.)

Likewise, a rather large, three-sided bay – probably also a later addition – adds a touch of class to the south wall of the house, beyond the east end of the veranda. But its walls are of wainscoting (bedboard), lumber that was often used – besides for covering the lower portions of interior walls – for porch ceilings. In other words, the bay may be a fancy addition for this house, but it was made of rather cheap materials – perhaps left over from some other building project.

Finally, the age of the house may have little to do with the age of the barn. When most farmers homesteaded land, the first building they built was a house – some sort of shelter for their families. Then they built outbuildings, as money allowed. But there are stories of farmers building granaries and barns first, and of their families living in those future outbuildings until crops could be put in and harvested – and until cows and other livestock could be purchased and their products sold – to bring in money. And sometimes the family shared those buildings with the animals. Only later could those families have the luxury of a house that they alone occupied.

In other words, just because we can more or less date this house, doesn’t necessarily mean we can very accurately date the barn. First, the two buildings may have been built in the same year, or they may have been built years apart. Second, we don’t know for sure that this was the first barn on the property; maybe there was an earlier one that became too small, or that burned. Then the house is square, but the barn is octagonal; do those disparate geometric shapes give us any clues as to when each was built?

The constructions of both the house and barn may be mentioned in the old newspapers, especially the gossipy columns from outlying areas of the county. Correspondents — often farmer’s wives — sent in news of births, deaths, weddings, trips to Stevens Point and Waupaca city, barn-raisings, house fires, disease outbreaks, and other occurrences. In this case, the Town of Amherst columnist may have reported on these buildings going up, especially the barn, because it had an unusual shape. But so far, those reports have not surfaced, and searching for them, issue-by-issue, in the old newspapers, would take many hours.


SOURCE: Wendell Nelson, "Portage County’s only octagon barn has uncertain history," Portage County Gazette (12 Mar 2010), 14, 18.


 
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