Gilderhus by Mrs. Styrk Reque


– from a newspaper article


Gilderhus Family Has First Reunion

Mrs. Styrk Reque Tells History of Early Pioneers of Gilderhus Clan

Nils Gilderhus Was First to Buy Eastern Dane County Land


DEERFIELD — Interesting history, written by Mrs Styrk Reque, Madison, featured the Gilderhus family reunion held, near the Liberty Prairie church last Sunday in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the first purchase of land by white men in Koshkonong, the pioneer Nils Sjurson Gilderhus, who bought what Is now known as the Torger Thompson farm in Deerfield township, just over the line from Christiana.

Although Nils was not the oldest of the six children of Sjur Gilderhus, he was the first to emigrate from Norway, and because of being first to buy land in Koshkonong became the outstanding figure, of the pioneer Gilderhus brothers and sisters in this country.

Nils was born on the farm now called Giljarhus in Dyrvedalen, Voss, Norway in 1809. The name of the farm in those days had the Danish spelling, Gildrehus, which has been retained by members of the family in this country.

Came Here In 1839

In the spring of 1839, at the age of 30,  Nils, in company with the Lars Davidson Rekve, emigrated, their ship sailing directly from Norway to New York. Here they went by flatboat up the Hudson river to Albany and on canal boat to Buffalo.

A sail ship on the Great Lakes took them to Chicago.

The trip from Bergen, Norway, to Chicago took 14 weeks.

That same summer, Nils Gilderhus went to the Fox River settlement and in the fall, with Nils Bolstad and Magne Bystolen, hired Odd Himle as interpreter and came to Koshkonong to look for land. Passing up the beautiful open country of Albion and Christiana, Nils picked 80 acres across the line in Deerfield because It was heavily wooded. Entry was made in Milwaukee on the way back to Chicago. The date of entry is uncertain but it was recorded in the land office at Washington on March 1840, a few months earlier than the entry of Bjorn Anderson, father of Prof. Rasmus B. Anderson, the first in Albion township.

Magne Bystolen and Nils Bolstad bought land later the same summer, adjoining Nils Gilderhus, but in Christiana township. They built a pioneer dugout and Nils lived with them. The three men owned two yoke of oxen, a plow, and a wagon jointly.

A large log house was built on Nils Gilderhus’ land in the summer of 1841, but as they did not get it “clinked” between the logs before cold weather set in, they continued to live in the dugout that winter. Here, Andres Lee and his wife, Gunvor, a sister of Nils, came from Norway late in 1841 and lived with all the rest in the dugout, as did a man named Andres Fenne. Later in the winter, Tore Kaase was also welcomed to live in the same dugout, there being no other shelter, which made a family of six men, one woman, and two children, all in the same small dugout.

Was First Blacksmith

Nils brought his blacksmith tools from Norway and was the first blacksmith in Dane county.

In 1843, Nils married Ragnhild Torstenson Ogdal, who had recently arrived from Telemarken, Norway and the following year, he sold his farm to Gulik Saue, father of Torger G. Thompson, and bought the land [on] which the reunion was held and [on] which stands the Liberty Prairie church for which he donated most of the stone and did much of the work in 1856 in [building it].

In 1856, he sold his farm to his brother-in-law, Andres Lee, and moved to Dodge county, Minnesota, where he again became the first blacksmith for miles around as well as pioneer farmer, as he bought 280 acres of land.

In 1881, he sold his farm to his oldest son, Lauritz, the president-elect of the Gilderhus family organization, and moved to Nelson county, Dakota where he became a pioneer for the third time, six miles southwest of the present town of Anetta. Here he proved up a homestead of 160 acres and again set up a blacksmith shop.

They had 70 miles to the nearest flour mill, which was also in the nearest town.

On the unbroken prairies of North Dakota, his children and grandchildren picked dry buffalo bones for which they received $7 a ton, after hauling to the nearest market.

Lars , Gilderhus, the oldest brother of Nils, was born in 1804. He was married in Norway and lived on the Gilderhus farm. It seems he was last to emigrate, coming to Koshkonong in 1850. After seven years, he moved to Dodge county, Minnesota, where he lived on a 160-acre farm until his death.

Anna Gilderhus came to America in 1839, the same year as her brother, Nils. She was married in Chicago to Knute Brekke. They came to Koshkonong in 1843, but her husband died that same year. He was the first white man buried in Koshkonong.

Mrs. Brekke later married Ole Magneson Satre, whose first, wife had died at Muskego. Mrs. Anna Satre was the person buried in the Lake Ripley cemetery, established by Scotch people, and her grave was always referred to as “the Norwegian woman’s grave.”

Ole Gilderhus, born June 10, 1814, came to America in 1840, the year after his brother, Nils, and sister, Anna, and bought land in Koshkonong the same year, now owned by Lewis Dahle. He went to Chicago two years before he came back to live on his land.

Wet Baptism

Andres Gilderhus came to America in 1840 and bought 100 acres in Deerfield township, part of which is now owned by his grandson, Nels G. Nelson. Andres was married in Norway. Two daughters were born in Norway and a third daughter was born on the way from Chicago to Koshkonong. This little girl was one of two babies, the first to be baptized in Koshkonong, by the pioneer pastor, the Rev. Clausen, at the log cabin of H. Holtan, southwest of Utica.

Holtan’s house had a straw roof, and all day rain trickled through the roof, wetting not only the two babies but the pastor, sponsors, and all others present.

The above picture [to be added] of the Gilderhus family reunion shows some of the descendants of the four Gilderhus brothers and two sisters, all the sons and daughters of Sjur Gilderhus, Voss, Norway, who came to America between the years 1839, and 1850. Reading from left to right, beginning with the man in the white shirt near the left of the front row, they are: Nels G. Nelson, Deerfield, grandson of Andres Gilderhus; Olin Gunderson, Cottage Grove, grandson of Ole Gilderhus; Mrs. Styrk Reque, 2327 Washington ave., Madison, and Peter A. G. Lee, Deerfield — grandchildren of Gunvor Gilderhus; Odolph Gilderhus, Deerfield, grandson of Ole; Olaf Johnson Chicago, grandson of Anna;, and Styrk Reque, Madison.

Second row, beginning directly back of Nels G. Nelson, are: Andres Gilderhus, Deerfield, son of Ole; Mrs. Lauritz Gilderhus, Hayfield, Minn.; Lauritz Gilderhus, Gilderhus, president-elect of the Gilderhus family organization and a son of Nils Gilderhus, who was the first white man to purchase land in Koshkonong; Mrs. A. P. Johnson, Kenilworth, Ill., daughter, of Anna; Prof. Rasmus B. Anderson, Madison, whose sister married into the Gilderhus family; Severt Gilderhus, Kasson, Minn., seven consecutive terms sheriff of his county, a son of Lars; Severt Lee, Deerfield, grandson of Gunvor.

At the extreme upper left of the picture is Irwin Christianson, owner of the farm on which the reunion was held, the second farm owned by the pioneer Nils Gilderhus. Next is Sam Peterson, Deerfield, and in front of him is Thomas Gilderhus, Hayfield, Minn., a son of the president, with Mrs. Sam Peterson, a granddaughter of Ole Gilderhus, next.

Back of Mrs. A. P. Johnson are Miss Mabel Larson, Cooperstown, N. Dak., great-granddaughter of Nils Gilderhus, and Mrs. Robert Fischer, Kenilworth, Ill., daughter of Mrs. Johnson and granddaughter of Anna Gilderhus.

The child in her mother’s arms back of Prof. R. B. Anderson is Betty Gjermo, a great-great-granddaughter of the pioneer Ole Gilderhus, bringing in the fifth generation in this country, of which there were also many other representatives present.

The big card, held by Mrs. Styrk Reque has a drawing of the Gilderhus family tree.