Friday, March 13, 2009

From Ringsaker to Ringsaker

Odd Busmundrud gives 56572 a lot of ink on the Norwegian Dyade Blog last month. He found 56572 well worth the visit:

"Dagbladet.no has today (21 February) a lookup on what you can do in the USA and practical tips. Previously, I have here on Dyadebloggen written about what you can do in Yellowstone, and when I read the newspaper Dagbladet article did I want to tell about another part of the United States, which is linked to American history and the emigration.

Summer of 2005, I realized an old dream. Return to my old stomping grounds in the USA. In 1971-72 I lived one year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but had not been back there since, even though I had been elsewhere in the United States in connection with the job.

Together with a friend, I flew to Chicago with SAS in late May, picked up a rental car there, and in the way to Milwaukee, 2-3 hours away. Thanks to private contacts, we had received a favorable rental car, a Subaru Outback, for three weeks for under $800 with all insurance and free mileage.

After three days in Milwaukee, where everything seems to be at the old there, we went west to visit relatives on my mother's side in Fargo-Moorhead area in North Dakota/Minnesota.

Immigrant Life at turn of the century
By a random internet search of pure curiosity on my last name (which is quite rare), I found that the name Busmundrud occurred in the archive to the Otter Tail County Historical Society in Fergus Falls in Minnesota. And after an e-mail to this history I received stated that there was an obituary of a Jens Busmundrud. For me this was a mystery, but I finally found out that he was a brother of my Great Grandad.

Since Fergus Falls is located on the road between Milwaukee and Fargo, it was natural to stop there and explore history, which had an extensive archive, and for a fee of the staggering sum of five dollars gave us all possible help. In the archive there existed not only Jens Busmundrud's obituary in the local newspaper, but also a copy of his application for citizenship and other documents. And this gave some thoughts on how his life might have been, and how life might have been for other immigrants.

He was born in 1845, and came to the USA either in 1884 (according to his application for citizenship) or 1886 (according to a registration form from 1918 in the First World War) He was well grown when he came. He was not married. On the registration form from 1918, he reported that he was not talking or writing English, and that his property consisted of a plot of 1 acre and a bond worth $50. It turned out that he also had a married sister who lived in Pelican Rapids near Fergus Falls, and he had lived long with her until she died, then lived with her daughter. He died in 1924. An obituary in the Pelican Rapids Press described him as "A very fine old man in every respect."

But we also discovered that in Pelican Rapids, there was a Ringsaker Church, now called "Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church" but the inscriptions "Soli Deo Gloria" over the entrance, and a Ringsaker cemetery. It was obvious that everyone who had come here had come from my home ground. The cemetery is still in use and has only the names from my hometown on the stones.

Integration of immigrants
This was a rather sobering, also in view of the current Norwegian immigrant debate and demands for integration. It was obvious that the immigrants to the United States could do without learning the language, as long as they remained among the countrymen and stuck together. On an estate map of Pelican Rapids there is only one English name, and one (possibly) Swedish. The rest are Norwegian."

Odd seeks local help with his family pursuit. Can you help? Read the comment below.

1 comment:

Odd Busmundrud said...

Thank you for the excellent translation of my blog. I was rather surprised to find that there seemed to be a lot of interest in it, so long after it was written. But now I understand why.

When I was visiting the Otter Tail County Historical Society, I tried to trace the descendants of my relatives, but the traces seemed to disappear. However, this gives me the opportunity to try and find out some more.

Jens Busmundrud obviously did not leave anyone behind. However, his sister (who would then be the sister of my great grandfather) did. Her name was Marie Ophus, and she was married to Andries Ophus. She died on Dec. 24, 1920. She was the mother of Siver and Ben Ophus, Mrs. C. Hagen, Mrs. Gilbert Mesna and Mrs. Severin Thompson of Alberta, Canada.

Mrs. Gilbert Mesna (Karen Mesna), who was the niece of Jens Busmundrud, died in 1938. However, Gilbert Mesna died in 1961, and was survived by three daughters (who obviously also are the daughters of Karen Mesna). Their names are given as:
Mrs. Ernest (Myrtle) Johnson of Moorhead, Mrs. Emil (Dora) Drayton of Lida and Mrs. James (Glenda)Hanson. In addition, he had a son and a daughter who passed away before him. Also, Mrs. J. Hanson died in 1963.

If anyone who reads this should happen to have any information, please write me at: busmundrud@gmail.com.

Incidentally, there is a small error in the translation of my blog. Our rental car cost 4000 Norwegian kroner for three weeks, not $4000, which would have been quite expensive.