The Iver Iversen Ruud account of 1868 Hannah Parr crossing
Translation and notes copyrighted 2000 - Clair O. Haugen. All rights reserved.

The following letter was written to friends and family in Gausdal by Iver Iversen Ruud, who with his wife and large family was a passenger on the Hannah Parr. Ruud was 44. Quoted by Haakon Bø in "Ei folkeflytting før," in Årbok for Gudbrandsdalen (1946). Translation and notes by Clair O. Haugen.

Limerick, Ireland, May 12, 1868

As we have arrived here and have stepped on English soil, I am now sending you some information that you probably will be surprised to receive, as this is not our expected destination; but by reading through these lines, you will clearly see that we are not here for amusement or by our free will, and so I shall begin from Christiania and refer to travel notes [1] up to today.

Easter morning at 7:15 o'clock we raised the anchor and sails [and were] towed by a little steamboat that left us in the evening; all the passengers were in high spirits and hoped for a favorable crossing. The pilot left us at 7 o'clock in the evening; and so we sailed along the coast in sight of land until the third day, when the last town and mountain tops of our beloved fatherland vanished. The second day of sailing we had quite a heavy sea, and most of the passengers were laid low, seasick, but little by little most got better again; of our family everyone has been well except that Ingeborg and Helena [2] felt poorly for fourteen days, but now everyone is hale and hearty.

I would say we had reasonably fair weather until April 28, with some storm and headwind, but even so the sailing was truly good, and [we] had come about half way to Quebec when we were set upon by a hurricane-like storm, which became the cause of our sad fate.

The night of the 28th there blew up out of the west a violent storm that was a headwind against us, and it tore many sails asunder. The wind increased to the point that around 1 o'clock that night the captain found himself forced to turn around. During the next day the storm became stronger and grew hurricane-like; around midday the heavy sea swept our kitchen overboard and took the pilothouse and a deck-house, and all the cargo on the deck was washed overboard; and still the storm grew stronger, so that the ship sailed back at a lightning speed of about 12 or 15 miles [3] a watch (a watch is four hours), although we had only 2 sails up so that the ship would respond to the helm. At 10 o'clock in the evening all sail was blown out, and the foremast of the ship and part of the main mast broke and fell down, and much of the rope work was lost. It was a terrifying moment and a frightening spectacle to view the high mountains of ocean surrounding us, not one that lends itself to be described with a pen. All the passengers were in the cabin below, except a few who helped at the helm because three of the crew's best men had been hurt during the day. The state among the emigrants was better than could be expected, as most of them did not understand the great danger we were in. At midnight the storm died down, and hope arose again; but the ship was damaged so badly that the captain was forced to seek the first available harbor, and the nearest country was Ireland. Next after the Lord's protection, we count ourselves fortunate to have such a good and large ship. That was a storm of heroic proportions, the like of which neither captain nor crew had the stomach to live through, and we had especially good reason to praise and thank the Almighty for the preservation of life and goods.

We then sailed back and came to the coast of Ireland on May 7th [4] and were towed up the river to the city by two steamboats, about 10 miles in all. Both sides of the river are remarkably beautiful, and this city is magnificent; we are not certain how long we will be staying here, but we believe it might amount to 12 days. Dead is one three-year-old child, belonging to Elev Torgersen [5] from Waalen in Gausdal, and one child from Valdres died yesterday--both had been sick when we left home. We are going to spend some money for provisions in this city, as our journey undoubtedly will be long, and we might well run short before we get far into the country.

I do not have anything more of importance to write about. All are now of good cheer, and we are hoping we will have fair weather and good luck crossing the ocean again.

Greet mother many times and everyone at Bratland, together with Christian Solberg and Mathias Kalstad and the rest of our friends. Morten Gaphol asks you to be so good as to greet Nicolay Bøe and the people in Teigum and tell them that everything is well with him and his family, and they are all completely healthy and in good spirits.

Closing with the most loving greetings from me and my family and with love-farewell. Iver I. Ruud


[1] The word in the printed version of Ruud's letter is reisenotisten, literally "the journey-notice"--hard to translate. But if the text has been misprinted, and the Ruud's word is reisenotise, that would be his travel diary. It probably is not the ship's log, which is logg or loggbok.

[2] Ingeborg Simensdatter (42 years old), Ruud's wife; Helena (11), his daughter.

[3] In 1868 one Norwegian nautical mile was 4.49 English. A nautical mile is about 15% longer than a land mile.

[4] The Limerick Chronicle said on May 7 that the ship "put into Scattery roads yesterday." Scattery Island is in the Shannon mouth.

[5] There is no Elev Torgersen in the passenger lists, but there is an Elev Torgersrud from Gausdal. Tradition in that family is that two Torgersrud daughters, Kjerstine (3 years old) and Hanna (6 months old), died during the journey. The records of St. Munchin's indicate three Norwegian children were buried; one is called only "a Norwegian child." Two are named: Andrea Eriksdatter" and "Edward Eriksen." They probably are the two children of Andreas Eriksen (Andrea Andreasdatter and Edvart Andreasen); the parish record keeper may not have understood Norwegian naming conventions. Andreas Eriksen and family were from Søndre Aurdal, Valdres.