From Søren Andersen Tandberg
Olmsted Co., Minnesota
10 March 1858
To my brother-in-law Søren Nilsen Tandberg, Modum, Buskerud
Olmsted County the 10th of March 1858
S: T: Respects to my worthy dear brother Søren Nilsen Tandberg
Now I will take my pen up to write some words with regards to my trip here to America. Because I have not had any special reason to write, and to spare me from writing, I must ask you with all the friendliest to greet all of our relatives and acquaintances at Semmastrande as well as our dear father Nils Hansen, that I know will hear of the letter to you, and Ole Diserud and his wife and Børen and then my daughter Beathe Karine and her grandparents and their son-in-law with his wife Søren Sullan and his family. Tørger Tingelstad with his family and then all in Tingelstad and Tandberg’s property and then all acquaintances that will hear of this letter. Now we will take them all at last and wish them all a new year. It has come to me briefly that we can not be farther apart than we now are. It often seems strange when we sit and talk together with my family that we, in such a short time, could have come so far from our relatives and acquaintances into such a faraway land and at the same time have become acquainted here and have accomplished much work. But we thank our Most High God that we are all in good health and feel comfortable and have a living, but I say often when I talk with my family that when I have been here 10 years and we are still alive and God astonishes us with health, then we will come back to Norway to visit you. But, of course, this is uncertain, so I have something to say which should surely comfort us all more. I think that I will not see you again here in the world unless some of you come here. But I wish from my heart to you in Norway and us here, that we would live, so that after death, we can meet in the everlasting dwelling and there see each other and shine as the sun by the Lord’s throne.
Now, first, I will give you a description of my trip. On May 15 we sailed from Drammen and came to Svelvik the 17th and the 18th we were at Ferder. The 20th we got to see Lindesnes. The 23rd we sailed quickly, the 24th the same and then we saw Scotland at 9:00 and by 12:00 we had sailed by England’s lighthouse and out into the Atlantic Ocean. The 25, 26, 27 and 28 we had a good wind. The 29th a little stronger wind, the 30th the same. The 31st we lay quite still. The 1st of June we had a little wind. The 2, 3, and 4 we sailed rapidly. The 5th we had to lay by, the 6th likewise. The 7th we bound the sail and had a storm. The 8th we had a little storm. The 11th we tacked, the 12th likewise. The 13th we had a good wind. The 14 and 15 we tacked. The 19th we lay still for we had no wind. The 20th we got a good wind, the 21, likewise and then we were on the ocean at the American border. The 22nd we had a little wind. The 23rd we had a good wind. The 24th we tacked. The 25 and 26 we had a good wind. The 27th we went on land which is 5 Norwegian miles from Quebec (also by the quarantine station) and here we had to wash ourselves and we had to be examined by a doctor but we all went back on board the ship and Sunday the 28th of June we came to Quebec, and Tuesday afternoon the 2nd of July we went on a train car and traveled through many towns and came to Chicago the 6th. And the 8th in the morning we were at the Mississippi River and went on board a steamboat and the 9th in the morning we came to a town called Weinone (Winona, Winona Co., Minnesota) that is about 6 Norwegian miles from the place where I live and at this point we took horses, 10 of us, and came here to where I live, Saturday afternoon the 11th of July.
And then we met a Norwegian man that was from Sigdal that asked us home with him. We must thank God for this trip that got us here; we are especially fortunate, for that matter, that we didn’t see any danger on the way and concerning our health, none of us were seasick once. But when we came to the shores of America on the ocean, my daughter Anne Kistine became sick on June 6th and she died on the 17th. What sickness she had I cannot tell for certain. Our coxswain was the doctor on board but he said that he was not wise about what sickness she had, but he thought it was typhoid and he tried many kinds of medicines. It didn’t help for we had to leave her in the ocean down by the American coast. A box was made on the ship and the Captain gave the burial service and had a ceremony, like in this country, but this was a difficult separation for us. Except for that, the whole trip was just a delightful journey for all of us.
Now I will tell you how I have managed since I came here. We were with the aforementioned man from Sigdal that is now my neighbor and we were there for many days so that I could look around at the quality of the land, and, of course, here there wasn’t any convenient land that I wanted to acquire for the government’s price, so I bought land from an American widow that she had set up with a log cabin and plowed about 22 ½ Norwegian acres and one part timberland. For this land I paid 700 dollars. This land is square and consists of about 720 Norwegian acres of soil and this is in a square without hills, woods, rocks or stones. It lies high with a little slope to two small swamps and looks like a meadow in Norway. I have also plowed 22 ½ Norwegian acres since I bought the land. I plowed it with 5 pair of oxen and for them I gave 20 dollars because I now have 45 acres to plant in the spring that I will sow with wheat and corn; also I will have some plowed in spring for corn. The land here is such that it cannot be used for any other grain seed than wheat and corn.
Now I will tell you that for the whole winter I have hauled on my wagon 12 foot lengths of timber from a jointly-owned woods that lies in the area. I have hauled 1 ½ loads in the daytime. The woods has been so rough that we have hauled it out with the sledge. I think by spring I will get 30 acres fenced in, or in Norwegian, 135 acres [maal]. I will have this to occupy my time. For the hayfields and pastures are not fenced in here, for we have pasture that the livestock is on the whole summer, and I can have pasture for 20 or 30 head of animals altogether. I have sold 3 C (300) pounds of butter since I got the livestock. For this I have gotten altogether 8 ½ dollars. For we find ourselves giving thanks to God, of course, for the contentment. We have had a longing to have our family near us, although here there are nice folk in our neighborhood, so we don’t have much to complain about. I worry about all the poor people in Norway. Here there are no poor or beggars.
Now I will tell you about day work here. Here it is 1 dollar and lodging for a simple job in the summer and 1 ¼ with one’s own lodging. For bricklayers and carpenters 2 and 3 dollars and lodging. For a servant girl that has not learned the language 1 ½ dollars for the week and when they have learned the language 3 and 4 dollars for the week and yet you do nothing else than inside housework, men folk must care for the animals. But here there is not much caring for the animals like it is in Norway. Here they let them out every day to roam and leave them until early evening, and food is before them, water also. They stand in the straw stack and eat the whole day as much as they want and when we want cows to milk a lot then we give them rutabagas and a kind of vegetable that is called pumpkin. This vegetable is so big that one has difficulty lifting it with one hand and it is planted in among the corn and the wheat and seems to take over the field.
Now I will tell you about the price of livestock and horses. A cow costs from 30 to 45 dollars, a heifer that is bred 25 dollars, a calf from 8 to 10 dollars. Here one seldom uses one horse to drive, here they use a team or in Norwegian “Bæite” and for a pair of horses the price is from 3 to 400 dollars but then they are sold with equipment. For a suckling foal that is nice it is 50 dollars. A sheep is 5 dollars for when one has been here so long that he has much to sell of all these things then he becomes rich because here is raised everything that will live. (The closing with various signatures.)
A letter published in Fra Amerika til Norge 2: Norske utvandrerbrev 1858-1868 edited by Orm Øverland and Steinar Kjærjheim. Oslo: Sorum, 1992.
English translation by Julie Dragvold copyright 2008