Laugen History

Written by Anna Hostvet Larson
Original book was a gift of Harley Larson to the Luther College library in Decorah, Iowa.

Anna Hostvet Larson, age 73 at the time of this writing, was the oldest one living of the Laugen-Hostvet relationship around here [Southeastern Minnesota]. Will begin with Grandfather Laugen who was born in Veggli, Numedal, Norway, November 27, 1833. His dad’s name was Ole Kongsjorden Laugen, and mother’s, Anna Thraaen. There were ten children in that family namely: Gullick, Gunnar, Anna, Kjersti, Halvor, Ole O., Gunhild, Anstine, Torgun, and Ole E. Halvor and Gunhild died in Norway.

Grandfather Ole O. Laugen came to America by way of the St. Lawrence River and Quebec in the year of 1850. Most immigrants came by way of New York. He settled in Rock County near Broadhead, Wisconsin. He must have had several relatives there as there are so many Laugens buried at Luther Valley Church cemetery. (Reference to burials will be made later on.) Kongsjorden name was changed to Laugen in reference to a river in Norway by a similar name.

Grandmother Laugen was born Ambjor Sateren, December 10, 1839, daughter of Even Evenson Sateren and Jorand Sateren. Grandmother had two sisters, namely: Randa and Jorand. Since Ambjor was the oldest, her parents lived with the Laugens till they passed away.

Great Grandfather Even died very suddenly. My father (Anfin Hostvet) picked him up from the floor where he fell off the chair after having had supper. He was carried into the bedroom. They called Jorand Anderson, Adolph Anderson’s mother, that same evening. She got the body ready for burial. I was four years old at the time and remember going upstairs with Mother when she got shirts and underwear out of Great Grandfather’s trunk to dress the body in.

Even had a bedroom downstairs where he spent a lot of time reading religious books. Then he would take a walk up on a little hill by the barn and sit down for awhile and look out over the valley. He did not like organ music, so when Great Grandfather was out, Torgun and Mother would watch their chance to play the organ.

Great Grandmother Sateren died sixteen years before Even, so she lived only four years on the new Laugen homestead. They came with a covered wagon in 1869 from Rock County, Wisconsin. They brought along two cupboards just alike: Onsgards have one and I have on in the basement and use it for storing sauce cans. Mother got the cupboards when she and Dad moved to Oak Ridge in 1882. Even Evenson Sateren also brought along machinery such as plows and cattle. They came by Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. The last night’s stop was at Badger springs.

Grandfather Laugen came from Rock County to Houston in July 1869. New settlers had come in 1866. The southern railroad came as far as Rushford which had been in operation for only three years. Grandfather bought 320 acres from Sigurd Anderson, who was the same age as Laugen. Anderson came to America in 1853. The next year he came with two homestead seekers who bought 160 acres of the Anderson homestead which is now the Lawrence Anderson farm. Grandfather Laugen’s farm is now owned by Mrs. Melvin Wilson.

Three hundred Indians camped near the river and slough. They were not troublesome. I can remember hearing their war whoop dance, hooting and hollering from their camp area to our home up on Oak Ridge. We children were not allowed to go along when Dad and Uncles Oscar and Ed visited the Indians. One day, four of the squaws came to Laugen’s to sell baskets. Grandma Laugen fixed up a plate of cookies to pass around to treat, but the old squaw scooped them all into her basket.
There were several maple trees on the Laugen homestead. I remember going with Mother and Dad down to the bottoms and rowed across some water, and there were water lilies, one of which they picked for me. I must have been five years old.

Back to Grandma Laugen: she came from Norway when she was five years old and settled in the east where she learned to talk English and cook American food. She talked with an Eastern brogue. She could bake just lovely pies and cookies and was noted for her cooking and good housekeeping. Mother said they always rubbed the clothes in two waters and had lovely white clothes. We do not know why they settled in Rock County. It must have been because of the many families from Numedal, Norway.

Ole O. Laugen, age 26, and Ambjor Sateren (Evenson) were married November 9, 1859 at Luther Valley. They farmed there for ten years. Their oldest daughter, Torgun (Urheim) was born October 8, 1860; Isabell (Hostvet) on October 17, 1862; Ole was born April 21 and died April 28, 1864; Anna (Onsgard) was born June 13, 1866; Oscar was born April 18, 1869. Grandmother came with Torgun, Isabell, Anna and Oscar, who was three months old, on the train to Houston. Isabell, my mother, was nearly seven years old. She remembers them moving, but she never got back to the country they left at Luther Valley. She said as they drove along the road they threw their broom to a neighbor that came out to see them off. It would be fun to hunt up the old homestead sometime. I don’t think the land was as fertile there as in Houston County.

The Laugen homestead had part of the house as it stands, which was three rooms. So Grandfather built on a kitchen, bedroom, and pantry; also a cemented rain water cistern under the kitchen floor. That was the way people fixed it handy for water at that time, with a pump in the kitchen sink. I remember that the old pump had to be primed all the time. The cistern under the floor made the kitchen cold and amp. A summer kitchen was built with a hallway between the kitchen and the new addition. The hallway served as a wash area. The old part of the house was taken for a parlor and two bedrooms: one a spare and one for Grandfather Evenson.

Grandfather and Grandmother Laugen were blessed with five more children: Edward, born September 18, 1862; Joran, March 19, 1875 and died January 15, 1876. Mother said she was the last one to make Joran smile. She carried her into the parlor and showed her a large picture hanging on the wall; she died at the age of ten months. Johan was born August 6, 1877 and died March 5, 1883 of scarlet fever. His sister Torgun (Urheim) lost her first child, Helen Agnes, from scarlet fever. She was brought to Laugen’s before the burial. Nor knowing how contagious it was, little care was taken in transmitting the sickness. Most of the rest were quite sick with it, including Anna (Onsgard). Mother lived on Oak Ridge [so] Regina and I were spared that sickness. At that time I was five months old and Regina was three and a half years. Clara Regina was born May 5, 1880 and Johan, the tenth and last child, was born June 15, 1883. He was named after his brother who died.

Grandfather Laugen was a very good farmer. He used his head as well as his hands. He had a lot of nice livestock. Butchers from Houston would come out and buy prime beef for slaughter. He also had sheep and would send the wool to the Rushford woolen mills where they ordered stripes and plaids to be made for men’s shirts and ladies’ dresses. Woolen blankets were made of homegrown wool. Theses were hard and rather stiff and sure lasted a long time. Mother got some when she moved to Oak Ridge. She also got beds, cupboards; Dad got sleds, harnesses, and other needs.

Grandfather had a big barn built along the side of the hill so as to be able to drive in with hay loads. There was a bridge from the hill into the barn. The lower level was for horses and cattle. The cattle barn was very dark, being it was built into the side of the hill and had only small windows to the east. One day Clara, John and I were playing upstairs in the barn when I fell through a hay chute and fell into the manger of a black horse. It got so scared he broke loose and ran out the door. Dad came in to see, and there I was crying in the horse manger, scared to death.

The barn was so huge. It had a tool room we loved to go in and look around. Our folks would not let us in, only when some grown-ups were along. Guess we three used to be some rascals to climb. I remember we used to stand in a wagon box and tease the old buck sheep till he got so mad he would bump against the box. Then we would laugh. John was up to tricks anyway. There was a dry run between the house and some of the farm buildings. One day, Dad came from town and I ran to meet him as usual. He gave me a sugar package to carry in. Here came that buck and butts me into that dry run. I busted the package, besides getting another scare.
The fall if 1891, Laugens raised so many pumpkins. There was a huge pile out by the house. It was Edward, Clara, John and my job to cut them up and we had to haul them to the cows. We thought it a lot of fun just to see that big pile of yellow and green pumpkins.

There were no parochial schools, so every forenoon around 9 or 10 o’clock, or when the ladies had the morning work done, it was to call us in for our religious instruction. I remember John got so tired of being called in since he would rather play. Then it was to sit by Mother’s knee and learn our lessons. The Laugens were religious people and were regular church goers and no dancing. I remember Mother telling when she went with Dad there was a dance on Oak Ridge. Mother did not want him to go, but Dad seems was the life of the party back in Norway, according to his sister Aunty Ragnhild. He still liked a good time in America. But that dance turned out to be so rough it cured Dad from dance parties. Dad did not drink, so he liked to keep order, but had to flee from that group. They picked up big sticks of wood to pound each other, they got so drunk and rough.

Grandfather Laugen lived on the Laugen homestead for 18 years. He was only 54 when he died on September 12, 1887. He and some men were breaking colts. A gray horse named Charley raised up as Grandfather held him by the bit. The horse’s knees ruptured his stomach inside. They had a doctor from LaCrosse, but in four days he died. He suffered a lot. If it had been now, he could have gotten help right away.

Then Grandmother Laugen died four months later on January 29, 1888. Seems she had asthma and had been doctoring with a LaCrosse doctor. This must have been on a Sunday as Rev. Jaastad was there for dinner, as he was accustomed to stop at Laugen’s a good deal when he came to hold services in the Stone Church. And Grandmother was to take communion after dinner. She must have lain on the couch. When they came in she had died of a heart attack: Oscar was not yet 19, Ed was 16, Clara was 8, John was about 6 years old. They were too young to run that big farm, so my dad and mother moved down from Oak Ridge in the fall of 1887 and stayed at Laugen’s till the spring of 1892. Mother said they helped the young folk out for four and a half years.

Father was a good manager and a very hard worker. When he left Laugen’s, fences and everything was in tip-top shape. Dad made nice big swinging gates for the driveways. He was very handy both with hammer and saw, also masonry work.

I commenced school the last year at Laugen’s, but can’t remember the teacher’s name, something like McLeod. Clara and John went, also. Clara was like a sister to me. She died in 1903 at the age of 23 from tuberculosis. Passed away at the homestead in Grandfather Even’s room.

So many Valley farmers bought extra land on the Ridge. Grandfather Laugen bought of Johan Braaten Christoferson a hundred acres on November 26, 1879. Also bought 33 acres from Sigurd Anderson where the water spring is. When Dad and Mother were married on March 8, 1882, Grandfather Laugen gave them the Oak Ridge farm. Seems they valued it to $1,000.00 as that is what he gave Torgun in money when she was married to Dr. Urheim around 1880. Then Dad bought the west 40 acres from Halgrim & Rovrud. Halgrim was grandparent to Truls Trulson. So Dad’s farm consisted of 173 acres.

Our oldest sister Regina was born November 27, 1882. When she was nearly three and a half years, Dad gave her two pennies. As he was going to town, she asked him to buy her candy for the pennies. Dad said, “I will buy your candy, just keep the pennies.” She was sitting on the bed and Mother was sweeping the floor. All of a sudden she commenced to choke. Here she had swallowed a penny. In six week time she died. Her left side had lost all feeling and had turned yellow. Dr. Johnson from Houston thought the penny had lodged somewhere and poisoned her whole system. I was 8 months old. Mother often talked of Regina and wished she had lived. Did not have a picture of her.

At that time the house had only one large room and a summer kitchen where the stairway went up. I can well remember the room. Dad bought a table from Braaten. Grandfather Laugen built the granary on the Oak Ridge farm. A log house from the Valley farm, which stood near the Lewis Laugen farm, was moved up to the Ridge farm. Men rolled down the logs of the log house and hauled them up and rolled them up. This part was still the kitchen for the length of the life of the house. When we moved back on Oak Ridge in March 1892, Dad had the west part built onto the kitchen. Sortungstad was the carpenter; Thronson, Enil’s dad, did the painting. Dad and Mother bought new furniture for the front room.

I was the oldest [remaining], born September 29, 1885, in the kitchen of our one-room house, except for one room upstairs. Emma was born at Laugen’s on December 26, 1888, after Dad and Mother had moved back there in the fall of 1887. It happened so that Dr. Onsgard came to see Anna Laugen, Mother’s sister, at Christmas time. He used to tease Emma saying he was the first one to see her. I think the Onsgards got married that next spring. Olga was born May 27, 1892, in what we called the “old room,” the room above the one room. We were so disappointed that Jane was not a boy. Anton arrived after having five girls.

We were such a happy family, but then tragedy struck in 1900. Dad planned to build a new barn. This day he hauled in straw in the forenoon and got warm. After dinner he commenced hauling home rock from the quarry over on the bluff for the new barn. I went to Onsgards that day to stay a few days as it was during the holidays. Early on the first of January, Oscar Loken came for Dr. Onsgard saying my dad was so sick. It sure gave me a shock. I went home with Doctor. He pronounced Dad’s ailment as pneumonia and it was the third time had it. He died January 9, 1900 after having been sick for nine days. He kept on improving every day so we had good hopes for him. But the morning of the ninth day his fever started to come up, [he] became unconscious in the afternoon, and died at nine o’clock that night. We called our neighbor Hans Loken and also Doctor and his driver came at supper time. Doctor thought so much of Dad and said that it was harder to see him go than to lose his own dad.

It was such a blow to Mother as she was not strong and depended so much on Dad. I am sure Mother had gallstones as well as a kidney stone. Then on May 30, 1900, she too died. We all had mumps, including Mother. That poisoned her so she got bumen in her kidneys. A seven month old baby boy was born to her the 29th of May at nine o’clock in the morning. Mother died the 30th at nine o’clock. Everything by nine. She said all that happens at nine o’clock is by God’s will. Baby lived four hours and was baptized Anfin. He was buried in the same coffin with Mother. Such a sad funeral. Emma and I were dressed in all black. Olga and Jane in all white. Clara walked with Anton who was two and a half years old.

Ole Erickson, Obert’s dad, worked for us that summer and we had several hired girls. Aunt Clara stayed a while and taught me some about making meals. I was fourteen and a half; Emma was eleven; Olga was eight; Jane was five; and Anton was two and a half. When I was sixteen, I had full charge of housework, help outdoors, milked cows, husked corn. But I was blessed with good health. Emma started teaching school when she was seventeen years old.

Grandfather’s brother, Anstine Laugen of Rushford, was married twice. His first wife died and left a little girl named Tolla. His second wife was Valbor Berland, Mrs. Ed Laugen’s aunt. They had ten children. Uncle Anstine was a soldier in the war of 1862. is regiment was ordered to walk 100 miles to view the remains of President Abe Lincoln. His brother Little Ole Laugen, Una Anderson’s father, was also a soldier in the Civil War. He had been married three times before he was thirty years old. His first wife was Grandmother Laugen’s sister. He went to Norway for his third wife. Ten children were born to them. Ole lived in Rushford and was a wagon maker by trade.

Tolla Laugen married Halvor Nelson. They had two children, Ella and Alfred. He is in Washington, D.C. with the Army service.

Anstine Laugen of Rushford had three Ingas: one died of diphtheria; one was scalded by hot water that was to be used for calf feed; the third Inga was Mrs. Swenson in Rushford.

Anstine Laugen of Emmons, Minnesota came to America alone when he was sixteen. His dad died suddenly either of a stroke or a heart attack. The Kongsjorden homestead is by the Laugen River on a little hill. Great Grandfather had gone to the river for water. They found him dead at the edge of the water. His wife left for American with Little Ole. She got cholera on the boat and lived only a week after coming to America in 1854. They came to Rock Prairie, Wisconsin.

Then Gullick Laugen, Little Ole’s brother in Rushford, raised him. Vavar Kjersti Anderson, Grandfather’s sister, came to America with three daughters, leaving her husband in Norway. Her children were Trine (Mrs. Skaar); Margit (Mrs. Hendrickson); and Olava (Mrs. Syvert Severson). Olava, her husband, and baby all died in the same year of tuberculosis. Kjersti owns her own home next to Melvin Laumbs in Rushford. She weaves rugs for a living.

Ole G. Laugen, who is Gullick’s son, was born in LaCrosse. He died October 26, 1878.He married Kari Helbransdatter who was born March 1852 in Numedal, Norway. Children born are Gustave O. in 1872; Marie Randine on January 24, 1874; Elbertina on August 14, 1876; and Ole Kristian in March 1879.
Halvor Kongsjorden’s children were Anstine, married to Anna Opsahl; and Engebret who remained single. Gunnulf and Sigrid were both married.
Kjersti Lofthus had two sons, Herbran and Halvor.

Our Dad, Anfin Hostvet, was born in Nore, Numedal on February 3, 1855 and came to America at twenty years of age. He came withhis Aunt, Mrs. Tosten Olson, who was Mrs. Ellen Almquist’s mother. He worked for Laugen when Mother was a young girl. They used to make fun of that newcomer: he was so fat and rosy cheeked. But by and by, she fell in love with him. Custon in Norway was for the better class of people not to marry a hired hand of one of a poorer class. Dad’s parents were poor. They worked for a big farmer. They had a couple of cows and a plot of land to raise their garden crops. So Dad felt he must not fall in love with his landlord’s daughter. But in America it was different. Grandfather and Grandmother Laugen liked Dad as he was a very good worker and a kind hearted man. I thought a world of Dad, so too bad he could not have lived with us longer.

In the winter Dad went to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to work in the Pine Woods. He built a road in the woods for hauling logs. He got sweaty and caught a hard cold, which turned into pneumonia. He lay deathly sick in a shack that was open so that snow would blow in through the cracks. This was the second time he had had pneumonia; the first time was when he was little in Norway.

Dad’s parents were Johan Hostvet and Ragnhild. Grandma Hostvet had some teeth pulled after which an infection set in, causing her death. Grandfather Hostvet married again to his oldest daughter’s mother-in-law. She made life unpleasant for him. He died of pneumonia. He was the complaining kind, but Grandma looked at the brighter side of life. She was a good singer. Young folks used to gather there to hear her sing.

She had a brother Jermon who was a fortune teller and handy at fixing clocks. Jermon died in California, a bachelor. He was thought to have been wealthy, but we did not see any of his money. Torkel settled near Hawley, Iowa [should be Minnesota]. Aunty Ragnhild visited them in 1897. They lived in a small log house not far from Uncle Halvor. One brother was Anfin Anfinson who owned a lot of land on this side of the Stone Church, now the farm of W. Roy Anderson. It was his daughter who was Mrs. Gunder Skree. She was Father’s first cousin and a very lovely person. She was Anton Skree’s mother. A sister, Mrs. Tosten Margrit Olson, Ellen Almquists’s mother and her husband came from Norway as newlyweds. They went to Anfin Anfinson. Don’t know if Grandma had any more brothers or sisters.

My dad had two brothers: Halvor and Torkel. Three sisters were Ragnhild who lived in Broadhead, Wisconsin; and Berget who married E. Engebretson. She skated across the fjord one winter afternoon for groceries. She went too far out of her way on her trip home and skated into an airhole. Groceries were scattered on the ice. She left seven children. Dad thought that was so very sad to hear. His third sister was Guri who just disappeared. She went out with a boy of wealthy people which was against Norway’s rules for the rich to marry the poor.

Uncle Halvor married a widow with five children and he had three children. Helmer died when he was fifteen years old in 1907. Hjalmer died of a heart attack around twenty years ago (1938) and left a wife and two children. Alfred lives in Minneapolis; he is a bridge foreman.

Ragnhild married a painter, Andrew Anderson, who had been at Drammen, Norway, to learn painting. But his weakness was drinking, which made his family life miserable. Aunty had to wash clothes for a living nearly all her married life. But she lived to the ripe old age of 91 years. She was the oldest in the family. She was such a lovely person. People said she was a ray of sunshine. She had five children. Came from Norway with three. One the oldest had read the Bible through at twelve years old. He died at the age of sixteen years. Gina died after effects of rheumatic fever at the age of twelve. John went west and was never heard from again. Andrew and Carrie still live in Illinois.

When Dad was eight years old, he had to leave home and be on his own. In the summer he went with the Saterjenten girl that took the cattle up on the mountains for all summer. There she milked and made butter, primost, and cheese. It was Dad’s job to follow the cattle out in the pasture. There were no fences, so they had to be watched or they would stray too far from their corral. Sometimes it would storm or rain, so his clothing was wet for days. Also was in ____ of wild beasts. His food was mush: morning, noon, and night. The girl would hand him a bowl and he would milk a goat for milk for his porridge. He said it got so tiresome to eat the same food day in and day out. Aunty Ragnhild had the same work. She, too, was on her own when eight years old. Their parents were so poor they could not clothe and feed them any longer then necessary.

Grandma Hostvet followed Ragnhild on the road to the place where she was to work. She had a whip in her hand and said, “Now, don’t you dare to come home again.” Ragnhild said it was a good thing because she was so homesick and lonesome at first, but did not dare to go home. Ragnhild was not well much of the time from when she was fourteen and a half years. They thought it was because she froze so much. She was such a good worker; she worked for two people. One came to visit us on Oak Ridge after our parents died. One time before that, Dad sent her money so she and Carrie and Andrew came to Laugen’s for a visit. She said my mother there had a big family to feed. Torgun and two children were there visiting. There were Oscar, Ed, Clara, John, myself, Emma, Mother, Dad, and Hineman. I remember how John and Andrew would wreck our playhouse we had in a field by the corn crib. We sure had a lot of fun at Laugen’s.

On Mother and Dad’s wedding day, they walked to the ____ey Creek Station about a mile from the Lewis Laugen farm. People used to walk up the track and catch a train as there were several trains a day at the time. Most likely when they got to Rushford, they had to walk to the Lutheran parsonage where Rev. Jaasted married them. They had their picture taken by Grossfield. Mother wore a pretty blue wool cashmere dress trimmed with blue silk. They came back on the 3:30 passenger train. We used to call it the coffee train as it was afternoon lunch time.

In the evening, Mother went to put her chore dress on in preparation for milking the cows. But her mother said, “No, Isabell, tonight you are to stay in and someone else do the milking.” So she felt like she celebrated. The wedding was on March 8, 1882. Guess she was a very happy bride; she was only nineteen and a half years old. Said later that was too young; should have stayed home longer and helped Mother. Guess that was to be a lesson for us, but Mother did not live to see us get married.
Soap making was part of the household routine. All winter the ashes from the cook stove were saved in a box. Then in the spring, soft water was poured over the ashes till a slow lye dripping came from the ashes. This took many days before a large forty-gallon iron kettle was filled. The kettle was hung on an iron rod over a fire and boiled for a few days. Tallow was put in so when it was the consistency of honey, it was cooled and stored in wooden barrels, generally set back of the cellar door. It was such a strong soap that it had to be used on white clothes only; it would take the coloring out of the dark clothes.

Butchering on the farm back in 1897 and later, generally consisted of a large critter and a hog. The hog casings were cleaned, first by stepping on them in the snow till much of the brown intestine coating came off. Then they were washed. Lots of sausage meat was ground up. Some was stuffed into the clean casings and tied into rings and boiled and hung in a cool place to dry. It was very good and tasty. We also made liver bologna. The blood was saved and made into cakes or put into muslin bags and boiled. When cold, it was cut into slices and fried. The choice beef was put into salt brine for six weeks, then hung up either in the attic or shanty where it took several weeks to dry and made into dried beef. And was it every good. Then the bones were used for vegetable soup, generally cooked in a big iron kettle. We always made dumplings of either eggs or potatoes. The side pork was put in salt brine and eaten in the spring. But during the hot summer, we had to buy the meat.

Laugen History

From the Luther Valley Centennial: 1839-1939

Halvor K. Laugen was born December 5, 1814 in Numedal, Norway. He came to America on May 9, 1843. He was 29 years old. Sixteen weeks were spent on the ocean. He died January 10, 1899.

His wife, Guri Pleton Laugen, was born March 3, 1833, in Eggedas Sogn in Norway. She came to America in 1852. They lived a mile east of the Luther Valley Church in a stone house, which was torn down in about 1903.

Nine children were born to them. They were Anne, Emily (Mrs. Old Knudson), Caroline, Gullick, Knut, Henry, Olaf, Jacob and Knute. Olaf married Anne Olmstead. They had no children. He lived in Beloit at the time of his death. He was janitor at Our Saviours Lutheran Church for several years.

Knut married Helen Leaverson on April 16, 1890 and lived on a farm in Newark, also on a farm near Oxdfordville. They had four children.

Hannah married John Olmstead and they had one child, Chauncey Richard. He married Pauline Boughton of Broadhead and they had one child, Sandra Deana Hazel who was born in 1896 and married Palmer Gunderson. They had two children, Donald Richard and Helen Lujean. Charles Richard Logan was married to Florence Marie Loss. They had a child who died in infancy. Marie Logan lived but two years.

Gullick Knutson Laugen Springen was one of four brothers and was born in Numedal, Norway on January 16, 1818. He was twenty-one years old when he left his home there in the company of Ansten Natesta and ninety-one others from Numedal. He left for America in the summer of 1839 on the ship Emelia. It took them seventeen weeks from Drammen in Norway until they got to Chicago.

Several of the party stopped in Chicago while others went to a Norwegian settlement near Fox River. The rest went with Ansten Natesta to Jefferson Prairie near Clinton. The following winter Gullick Knutson Laugen Springen was married to Margit Olesdatter Braaten who was also from Numedal and came over on the same boat. They lived in Chicago until the spring of 1841 when they came to Luther Valley where they purchased land from the government. Part was in Norwalk and part in Plymouth townships. A spring was located on this land and Gullick Knutson Laugen was called Gullick-By-The-Spring. To make this name lawful, he walked to the courthouse in Janesville and had it changed from Laugen to Springen. He was the fifth settler in this immediate area. White settlers to the west were twenty-two miles away, while those to the east were closer.

The first month Gullick and Marget Springen and Guineil and Margit Stordock lived in a hut made from leave sand branches and covered with hay. The cover from one of the large chests brought from Norway served them as a table. All the cooking was done on the ground. Towards Christmas time of the same year, 1841, they had built a simple log hut.

After the first snowfall, Gullick Springen and Hellick Gleim walked on snowshoes to Beloit to buy flour. Some Yankees saw their tracks and thought it must be the track of some awful animals living in the woods towards the west. It caused quite a bit of excitement before the mystery was solved. The following spring, 1842, Gullick Springen, with some help, plowed some ground and planted some potatoes. During the summer, by doing day work, he saved enough money to buy a team of oxen. As the summer passed, there came many more friends and relatives from Norway. By the third year, many were added to the colony. By the fourth fall, there were some things to buy, but the nearest market was Milwaukee. This trip took several days. They received fifty cents for their wheat, but they couldn’t load their kuberrulen (used for a wagon in those days and drawn by oxen); [it] was very heavy as there were no roads most of the way.

Gullick Springen, in about 1850, built a substantial stone house which still stands and is being used as a home. Anstine Springen bought the old home in 1882 and owned it till his death in 1925.

The cholera epidemic of 1854 closed the eyes of many a pioneer.

Gullick Springen was one of the four who sent a call to Norway for a pastor in February 1844. Rev. Clausen accepted the call. When he came to Luther Valley he got some land near where the church now stands and built the house which is still standing. Here they had services for some time since there were no churches as yet. Gullick Springen died October 27, 1869 and Margit Springen died January 17, 1890. The following children were born to them: Knut, Ole, Gunnar, Anstine, Annie, Jacob, Jens, Levi, and Gullick, Jr. Ole served in the Civil War in Sutlers 22nd Regiment of Wisconsin.

The living descendents of Knut are George Springen of South Dakota; Mrs. Harold Granum and daughter of Minnesota. The descendents of Gunnar Springen are the Misses Bella and Margit Springen of California. Of Anstine Springen are Luella Gesley and children, Carolyn, Ruth, Grace and Saber Gesley of Beloit Township; and Mrs. Alice Jenson and her daughter Mrs. James Erdine Delcher of Jacksonville, Florida; and Mrs. Keith Evelyn Snyder of Sayville, New York. Of Mrs. Anna Springen Johnson the living descendents are John Johnson and daughter Marjorie Albert Johnson and daughter Mrs. Arthur Harvey and sons Kenneth, Howard, and Richard all of Chicago. The descendents of Jacob Springen are Gullick H. Springen and sons Robert and Clarence of Beloit.

Jens Laugen was born in Numedal, Norway on December 8, 1825. He migrated to this country in the early 1840s with his three brothers and settled on a farm in Newark Township. In the year 1844 he was married to Sigrid Vehus. Born to them were four children: Knut, Peter, Leva, and Chrstine. In 1854 during the epidemic of cholera, one of the sons contracted the deadly disease while helping care for his father and died a few hours after his father’s death. There was no time to buy coffins and a couple of boxes were nailed together. They were buried in the same grave without funeral services in the Luther Valley cemetery. A few years later his wife, Sigrid, married Nels Olson. Two children were born to them: Glen, deceased; and Jens who still resides on the old homestead.

Leva, Jens’ daughter, was born on August 4, 1851 in the town of Norwalk where she resided all her life on part of the homestead. She was baptized and confirmed in the old Stone Church that was built in 1847. She was a charter member of the first Luther Valley choir and was an active member during her entire life. In 1872, she was united in marriage to Nels Haugen Hogen.

Nels Hogen was born in Numedal, Norway, on March 9, 1837 and migrated to this country in 1857. In a few months later, he answered the call for his new country and enlisted as a volunteer in the Civil War with Company C, 55th Illinois. His brother Ole also enlisted at the same time. He fought in many of the larger battles under General Grant and General Sherman. He was severely wounded in action in the Battle of Shiloh on April 7, 1862. His brother Ole was killed in action in the same battle. Ole was buried in the same grave with six others on the battlefield. His name can be found engraved on a marble monument on the Shiloh battlefield. Nels was given an honorable discharge after three years of service on October 30, 1864, at Chattanooga, Tennessee by reason of expiration of service.

Nels Hogan was the last Civil War veteran of Luther Valley church. Now the only visible reminder of those days is the old large flag which was raised at every service during the War. After our entrance into the World War it was again brought forth and hung in graceful folds before the audience. Nels Hogan died April 9, 1918 at the age of 81. Leva Laugen Hogan died December 1, 1935 at the age of 84. The couple spent their entire married life on the homestead that they established in 1872 in the township of Newark. Of this union there were born nine children. One girl died in infancy and Henry died at the age of there years on August 15, 1913. Those surviving were Jens, Sara, Luella and Nellie still on ths homestead; Mrs. Bella Kratzenstein of Beloit; and Mrs. Hannah Horgenson of Beloiw; and Mrs. Clara Rasman of Los Angeles. Three grandchildren are Laura Jergenson, Wielind Victor Jorgenson, and Leva Louise Rassman.

Ole Lofthus was born in Nore Parish, Numedal, Norway in 1809 and died March 15, 1879. His wife Helga Ronnen Lofthus was born in Rollag Parish, Numedal, Norway on September 29, 1811 and died August 31, 1899 in Broadhead at the home of her grandson Knut Lofthus, Jr. To this union four children were born: three sons and one daughter – Knut, Nels, Ole and Annie. The latter two died in their childhood.

After many years of hard labor, Mr. and Mrs. Lofthus divided their farm between their two sons, Nels and Knut. One year later, Knut bought his brother’s share of ?? acres for $1,400.00. He married Torgun Ronnegen, daughter of Ole Ronnengen, one of the very early settlers of Jefferson Prairie. To this union, three children were born of which two died in infancy. Mr. Lofthus was taken at the early age of 29 years, leaving his widow and youngest son, Knut Jr., now living in Beloit. Nel Lofthus was married to Anna Severson in 1877. To this union six children were born: Albert, Otis, Oscar, Perry, Mrs. Hilda Eggen, and Mrs. Nettie Renley, presently all living at Oxfordville, except Oscar whose home is in Beloit.

Milwaukee was their nearest market. In the beginning, oxen were used to pull the kuberulle in place of a wagon. Milwaukee, one hundred miles away, was the nearest trading post where they could sell their wheat at fifty cents per bushel in trade or twenty-five cents in cash. It used to take them at least ten days to make the trip.
Indians were often seen with their tents pitched along the Sugar River. But as the log huts of the white man became more numerous, the red hunter moved westward. In 1849 an American named Carpenter bought 3,000 acres of land on which he built a trading post. And later had a canal dug and a dam built at a big expense to get water from the Sugar River. He then built a flour mill and later a saw mill. As time went on, several houses came up and the little town was named Avon.

In 1859,Ole Lofthus built a three room log house with a small upstairs. He cut and hewed the logs out of his own timber. Mrs. Lofthus helped to roll up the logs and plaster the house. Later in the fall it was ready to move into from the cellar in which they had lived for the first two years.
In 1850, Ole Stordock bought the right of Lars H. Skaaren in 120 acres for $45.00. Mr. Stordock lived on this land until 1895 when he moved to Beloit. Also in 1850 came Henrick Aslebraaten, Oesten Johnson, and Halvor Stordock and settled on the other side of Sugar River towards the famous Rock Run Settlement which for many years was served by Luther Valley pastors.
In 1851, Ole Dustrude came and bought eighty acres of government land. The early settlers were burdened much by wolves that killed their sheep. Rattlesnakes were also numerous. Ole Stordock lost his oldest boy from being bitten by one that he stepped on.

Later in the 1850’s, Evend Sattre, Ole Lien, and Knut Mylie moved into the settlement and all built log huts on the land they had acquired. A short time later came Knut Resteegan with his wife and seven sons. They settled half a mile north of Avon Village. Knut Resteegan died and the widow Margit and some of the boys lived on the place until the 1870s.

Ingebret Resleegan went to the Civil War, was taken sick and died. Thor and Knut went to Douglas County, Minnesota and settled there. Ole and Claus went and settled in the northern part of Iowa. Gunder who had bought the farm from his parents lived there until he moved to Beloit in 1922. The land in Sand Prairie is very level and in the early days the cattle could be seen grazing many miles away. The soil is of a sandy loam, free from stones. Fish and wild game were plentiful. With the beautiful forests along the streams, the early settlers thrived and prospered.

Sand Prairie region west of Beloit was occupied in 1847. Sand Prairie settlement was and still is part of the Rock Prairie settlement because the Norse that lived there belonged to the same congregation. In 1847 came Carl Koll, Helleck Lande, Mekkel Gulbrandson, and Lars Skaaren to set up their pioneer huts still when the land far around was mostly a wilderness. In 1848 Ole Lofthus came with his wife and two sons and bought the land from Helleck Lande who moved west. This was the Lofthus homestead for half a century.

The story of Gullick Olson Gravdal is the story of the beginning of Luther Valley. It was here in the fall of 1839 that this man, a member of the Emelia party from Numedal, Norway, built the first house in the settlement. History has accorded him this place in the annals of the community. When Anton Natesta returned to Norway in 1838 after having begun the Jefferson Prairie Settlement in Wisconsin, he spent the following winter telling his friends of the wonderful prospects for new farm homes he and his brother Ole had located in Wisconsin. The Norwegian peasants were all interested in what he had to say. Some traveled as many as 140 miles to interview him. By the spring of 1839, there were 100 persons in Numedal ready to return with Natesta to the United States. Each was to pay $33.50 for his passage and furnish his own keeps, which was carried on ship in bags and huge wooden chests bound in iron and ornately decorated with colored designs.

Included in this group were Mr. and Mrs. Gullick Gravdal and two sons, Ole and Tolle, ten and six years old. The party sailed from Drammen in April 1839. It was a long tiresome journey of nine weeks on the water. Sometimes the ship was becalmed, not moving for hoursls .Then again contrary winds would force the vessel to retrace its chartered course. It seemed to the passengers that the journey would never end. Finally landing in New York, the group went up the Hudson River and by way of the Erie Canal to Buffalo and through the Great Lakes to Chicago. From there they traveled by ox team to Jefferson Prairie.

H. L. Skalem’s account in a history of the Scandinavians in Rock County published as a part of William Fiske Brown’s Rock County History reads as follows:
D. B. Egery’s place in the town of Turtle, four miles west of the Natesta Cabin on the trail to Beloit, became Norwegian headquarters. All knew Mr. Egery. His many acts of kindness and material aid in those early days were never forgotten by the early pioneers. Very soon after their arrival at the Prairie, parties of two or three would fill their knapsacks with provisions and strike out in various directions to spy out the land. Among the first to go out was Gullick Olson Gravdal and Gisle Sebjornson Hallan. After making arrangements for these people they started out west for Beloit. At Beloit they crossed the river partly by felled trees extending into the river from both sides. From there they followed a well worn Indian trail to the northwest and when night came they camped under a large oak tree about seven miles northwest of Beloit. The large oak under which they slept the first night served as a tent until it became so cold they had to build a brush hut which they covered with long grass. This made a good sleeping room until the big house was up and the shakes on the roof. By the middle of November the first house in the town of Newark was finished and Gravdal and Hallan moved in with their families. Game was plentiful like deer. Early in the spring of 1840 Stordock erected the second house in Newark.

The first services conducted by an ordained minister was by Rev. C. L. Clausen on February 8, 1844. He named the place Luther Valley. Jefferson Prairie has the distinction of being the first congregation among the Norwegians in America. The first pastor’s wife to die and be buried on the East Church cemetery was Mrs. C. L. Clauson. A nice monument is there for her. The first church was built in 1847. The first church bell was gotten in 1857.

At the conference in Luther Valley in 1861 the Norwegian Synod decided to establish its own college and called Professor F. A. Schmidt. This was the beginning of Luther College. Since 1862, after having held on winter’s session of college in a parsonage north of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Luther College was located at Decorah, Iowa.

The 50th anniversary celebration of Luther Valley church was held October 11, 1896 and the 75th on September 23-25, 1921. Rev. C . L. Clausen served from 1844 to 1851. Pastor Dietrechson was pastor from 1851 to 1859. Rev. Magelson was at Luther Valley church from 1858 to 1869. Most likely it was Rev. Magelson that baptized the five Laugen children namely, Torgun, Ingeborn, Anna, Olaf, and Oscar. Olaf lived a short while and is buried at Luther Valley cemetery.