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.]

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