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- By Mina Selvig Johnson / Bill Selvig

The voyage turned out to be a long one and no doubt land looked very good to the weary passengers when the shores of their new country came to view. The ship was blown off its course in a most violent storm and was nine weeks and five days crossing the Atlantic. That it arrived at all was due to the hand of a watchful Providence, of whose goodness and care they were ever mindful, for at one time they narrowly missed hitting an iceberg. Disease and death rode with them too, for a woman came aboard in England with her little boy who was the innocent carrier of measles, that like a prairie fire ran its course among the children. Baby Harold was eight months old and was very ill. Fortunately, the ship's Captain had formerly been skipper of one of Father's boats and kindly gave up part of his quarters to the family for their added comfort, but now Father gave up his bed so the baby would have more room. Carrie, who often couldn't sleep for the pain of her hip, sat up with Mother sometimes, watching the small, fevered face, as loved ones always have watched over their own. By this time there was a shortage of water - the ration was one wineglass per passenger a day. Mother and Father and my oldest brother had given theirs up so the baby could have enough. The food supply was getting lower. Then a night came when the baby seemed better and slept. Mother and Carrie got a good rest, too, and it was a relief to feel that the worst was over and all would be well. The next morning, however, the boy died.

"Oh, Far" my Mother grieved. "We haven't so much as a flower for him." Brokenly, tenderly Father sought to soothe her. Then he remembered, "Did you not take along your wedding wreath, Kjære More?".

So the captain was consulted and permission was given to locate the trunk with the precious remnants of their wedding day - and baby Harold, in his improvised casket of the boatswain's making, was gently delivered to the foaming waves near the cliffs of Newfoundland, with a garland of imitation orange blossoms and lily of the valley its only embellishment. "I had not time to grieve too much", my mother used to say in telling of this years after. "I had too many other living children to think about."

At long last the ship was safe in the harbor of Quebec and our little party disembarked to face the terrifying experience of a new language, new faces and a mysterious new way of life, their own complete ignorance of which they were hardly aware themselves.

Their immediate destination was Grove City, Minnesota. What degree of sophistication could be achieved traveling with seven children, I can't imagine. Ole and Mary (Karen Marie) at seventeen and fifteen must have been quite the young man and young lady and perhaps kept their excitement under control. Ranghild at twelve must have been completely awed, and Christian, seven, Carrie, six, and Dina, four, probably were enchanted with the adventure. To Mother and Father I imagine Uncle Carl's log cabin was a most welcome sight. Here was journey's end-at least temporarily--and sweet, sweet rest!

Mary met "fate" meanwhile in the form of a family of fellow travelers on the train. They were a German family, who's home was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mary was the jolly, good-natured sort of person to appeal to a jolly, good-natured German couple with two children. Mary's own German was as perfect as was her Norwegian and her French--all of which had been included in Frøken Hasing's idea of education. Frøken Hasing had been a very competent governess. Accepted as a necessary evil by the girls of Selvig and roundly disliked by the boys, who had their own male tutors. When Mary displayed these linguistic talents, Mamma Schultz looked at Papa Schultz (this was not their name) with a look that said, "This is our girl"--and Mary was offered her first position--as governess to the Schultz children. If the prospect of such responsibility weighed on Mary's mind, I doubt if it changed her light hearted, bubbling personality, for Mary loved life and laughter and seemed to feel that nothing was worth the robbery of these. Ole, too, had used his education to advantage. In the family's more opulent days it had been Ole's good fortune to study at Oxford, and his command of English had made him much in demand aboard ship as an interpreter on the way to this country. So it was that these two "oldster" very soon left the family nest--Mary to her position in Milwaukee and Ole to seek work in Minneapolis and to locate with the Haugen bank there. Their going helped somewhat to lessen the problems of large family living in small family quarters.

Back in Norway the magic words on 'most every lip and yearning heart' had been "land in America--free for the taking". Uncle Carl and Johan had followed the call, and Carl had written, "This is a place of many lakes and woods. It reminds me a little of Norway, but is flat and fine farming land." Like the rest of Minnesota, Meeker Country had drawn few Norwegians but numerous Swedes. They are fine neighbors, and this was good farming country, and Carl and Johan were satisfied with the wisdom of their choice, John had learned the retail business in Norway was establishing himself as a merchant in nearby Grove City. Carl was farming.

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A selection of articles dedicated to help you in your genealogy search for your Norwegian ancestors. Transcripts and pictures of historic documents in connection with the ships and emigration. Also including articles about Pioneers & Norwegian Settlements Around the World
Articles about selected ships ships and special events in their history. Descriptions of some of the great maritime disasters involving emigrant ships, like the wrecking of the steamer Atlantic of the White Star Line, sinking of the ocean liner Empress of Ireland and the Thingvalla line steamer Norge disaster. Check this section if you have an interest in shipwrecks.
This section contains articles describing the transatlantic voyage, the condition of the steerage accommodations and the experience of an ocean travel on an emigrant ship. You will find in-depth studies concerning the emigration process, statistics and facts, and information about the immigration processing centers line Castle Garden and Ellis Island.
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