RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
from Norway to America in the 1900s
& A Short Bio by Mrs. Walter Koster,
& Genealogical Research and Pictures
Provided by Arne Age Holbek, Kristiansand, Norway
Even today, the redheads are going strong as evidenced at a reunion on Plain View Farm, Bryant, SD!].
[The Holbek line continued, regardless of Anders' death from a disease probably contacted with his compassionate work among the district's sick and poor people. He (or his descendant) was also a kind of "facilitator" or what is called in Norway a "klokker" or "degn," who, though not considered part of the upper class, represented the cleric of the church to the community, and was highly regarded by both classes, lower and upper, in that demanding and responsible role. His descendants also served in that capacity, and the evangelical fervor never died as we can see by the Christian bookstore operated by a Holbek until recently.].
When their faither died these children were ages 10, 8, and 5. Nine years later their mother died. Kathrine went to Mandal to work, Andrew and Bergit remained on the farm the rest of the summer and winter, barely able to secure the bare necessities of life. During this time Rev. Haaland came back from America to visit relatives. He got acquainted with the children and their circumstances. Arrangements were made that Andrew would go back with him to America in the spring. The cows and a few other things were sold to secure the price of the ticket and traveling expenses.
One spring day in 1900 Andrew bid goodbye and left for the other world it seemed. The farm was rented to a neighbor. Bergit, the last one at home, picked up the cat, put it in a basket,closed the door and set off for Suvatne, a place about 28 English miles away (2 Norse miles)[they take giant steps in Norway, not small, dainty English ones!--Ed.] where it had been arranged for her to work.
She worked for various families and had good and bad experiences. Two years later with instructions from Brother Andreas (now Andrew), Katrine & Bergit had the remnants of the dear old home place sold by auction, and with that money secured the tickets for voyage and railroad-fare to Bryant, SD where Andrew was. In the spring of 1903 Kathrine and Bergit boarded a small steamship, Ryvigen, at Mandal en route to Kristiansand.
At Kristiansand they boarded the Hellig Olaf for their trip to America. [This was a large, modern steamship at the time].
The Peter Stadem family then moved to Canton, SD. A while later Kathrine traveled to Canton to visit Marie and secured work there. She later persuaded Bergit to go to Canton.
Bergit had been working for the George Cole (Bryant banker) family and they did not want her to leave. She arried in Canton in the summer of 1905 and worked at different homes. She worked for the Edgar Dean family (Methodists) for two years.
During this time Katrine had married Albinus Lundring. In the fall of 1907, one evening, girlfriend Marie (who formerly chummed with Kathrine until she got married) said to Bergit, "I'm going down to Ma and Pa Stadem tonight, Alfred is coming home."
Bergit went along too. Alfred had been farming and batching up in Clark County for two years. Bergit had seen him a few times before. He was eating supper when Marie and Bergit got to the Stadem home. It became Marie and Bergit's privilege and habit to go to the Stadems on Sunday afternoons, visit, play and sing. They were always welcome. They would have supper, and then go to Luther League. This Alfred and Bergit soon became real good friends and were married on August 8, 1908.--End of the Den Stadem Samtaleran Account, but there is promised more of the story to come.
Is there much difference between Danes and Norwegians? What differences would there be, besides the red hair color that Bergit herself had? The Danish kings ruled Norway for centuries. Copenhagen was probably a more cultivated, cosmopolitan city, being on the European heartland, than Christiania, the smaller and more provincial Norwegian capital of this rather lop-sided Dual Dano-Norwegian Monarchy. But Bergit Holbek cared little or nothing for the city life or its worldly allurements. She dearly loved her humble little home and family in Mandal and her mother dearly, and her Savior, Jesus, most of all. She was very glad to get out of Norway, such as it was at the time. She had one rich aunt there she would never forget, however; a miserly aunt (by marriage,not blood-kin) who schemed to get control of her as an orphan and, fortunately, failed in the attempt to make an unpaid servant and household drudge of her poor, young relation.
Just the same, her aunt being hopefully the exception not the rule, we have a considerable body of Holbek cousinry residing in the same area today, and among them are some vibrant believers in Jesus Christ, evidenced by one who operated a Christian bookstore for years and even requested that we descendents of the Holbeks join him for purposes of prayer!--Ed.]
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