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The Gulbran Olsen Berge account from the Hannah Parr crossing in 1868

Notes copyrighted 2000 - Clair O. Haugen. All rights reserved.

This fragment of Gulbran Olsen Berge's diary, in an anonymous translation, is owned by Diane Hanson. Notes by Clair O. Haugen.

Berge, from Gausdal (Gudbrandsdal) and his family were Hannah Parr emigrants. He was 32, married, and traveling alone.

April 12 - At 7 o'clock in the morning we sailed from Christiania (now called Oslo) with a strong wind and a small steamship named Paasken [1] that took us to Drøbak, and the first 24 hours we sailed about 60 miles. A great number of the passengers began to get seasick.

April 13 - The wind went down, and we got to feel a little better, and by night time it became calm, but the ship rocked so most of the people were sick.

April 14 - We got a lot of good wind, and the ship went forward rapidly.

April 15 - We sailed into the wind all day.

April 16 - We had a brisk wind and thick fog.

April 17 - After dinner we again got the wind into which we sailed.

April 18 - We saw the islands of Scotland, and we saw many fishermen, and the captain bought fish from the fishermen. Today we had a good wind, and we left the islands and the North Sea and started sailing on the Atlantic Ocean.

April 19 - We had a brisk wind.

April 20 - The wind went down, but the night of the 21st we felt big waves which were high. The temperature and sea sickness continued.

April 22 - We sailed into the wind.

April 23 - The wind was the same, but we went ahead quite rapidly.

April 24 - We made better time than we had before. The sea sickness got better for some.

April 25 - We had a brisk wind, and this day we saw a ship again, and by its flag we could see that it was English.

April 26 - We ran into a storm, and the ship rocked badly.

April 27 - The storm went down a little, and the breeze was calm, but on the 28th we ran into a bad storm that lasted 2 days, and everyone thought they would die. The storm began the night of the 28th and lasted until 12 o'clock midnight of the 29th. We lost almost everything that was on the deck. The captain's quarters were completely wrecked, and they had to move down into a room on the ship. Now all the cabins that went down into the room were closed, and none could come up but the sailors who could help steer the boat and repair the ship. There were 4 men on each side of the wheel. The kitchen was washed overboard. The sails and riggings were destroyed by the wind. When the storm stopped all the sails had been blown off the ship. The captain would have been blown off the ship if the one who steered the boat [2] had not rescued him. The foremast was blown off, but we made some use of it. The captain said he had never been in such a storm before. He had never heard of another emigrant ship that it had happened to like it did to us. Three people were hurt, and some were so tired because they had not slept for 72 hours. We had already come to the middle of the Atlantic, but we had to go back many miles to Ireland and repair the ship.

April 29 - The weather was pretty good, but the ship rocked so one had to hang on with both hands as it were.

April 30 - We had a strong wind, but in the afternoon it stormed again.

May 1 - We had good weather, and the wind went down.

May 2 - We had rain, but the wind was very calm.

May 3 - We had good weather.

May 4 - The weather was good and we reached some islands on the coast of Ireland.

May 5 - We saw some land, but the wind was against us so we stayed there. Later in the day four men came rowing towards us in a boat. One of them said he would help us get to Limerick which was many miles into Ireland.

May 6 - We had very good weather, but the wind was calm. In the morning five men came in a boat, and one of them said they would take a steamboat and take us in. We saw ten other sailing boats that were lying still like we were. We saw the land and coast of Ireland. There were mountains and prairies. We dropped anchor by a little town named Montani [3], and we stayed here until a steamboat came the next day. The captain went ashore at once, and in the evening he went into Limerick where he was sure he could get another sailboat. This town that I have told you about before, namely Montani, was very beautiful. As soon as we had anchored, some customs officers and others came aboard to look, and others came to see if they could work.

May 7 - We had very nice weather. Many came on board to sell food and other things. They took up the anchor, and since no steamboat had come we continued on our way because we had the tide with us. When we had sailed a short distance a steamboat came, and in a little while another one came on which was the captain. We saw two steamships in the harbor that we reached at 7 o'clock in the evening. In between the rivers it was very pretty. The leaves, potatoes, and corn were as big as they were in mid-summer in Norway. When we came ashore we were met by many people, and they looked at us like we had come from another world. They followed us around so much we could hardly move. At night three or four men had to keep watch on deck, and every day hundreds of people came to look at the ship without sails.

May 9 - We walked about town. We were in the Catholic Church and many other places.

May 10 - They all wished to go on a trip on the railroad for a few miles inland, and this was an enjoyable trip. Some gentlemen treated us to 40 pints of Port wine [4] which was all drunk up, and some felt happy from it.

May 11 - The men started to work on the ship in earnest, but it didn't go very fast. When we were in Limerick we had a very good time. The people did all they could to make it pleasant for us. There were many preachers there one could talk Norwegian. We ate and drank tea and had good time. They preached both in Norwegian and English. Two hundred of us went to the theater, and even though none of us understood what they said, we enjoyed it. The work on the ship went slow, and instead of thinking we would be there fourteen days or three weeks, we were laid up there about six weeks. We sailed from Limerick the 9th of June, and although we were not ready we had to leave because the tide would go out so no ship could come in or go out for 10 days. We transferred to a steamship four miles out of town where we cast anchor to get ourselves entirely ready, and we thought we would be there only a few days. While we were anchored there, most of the passengers had to send word back to Limerick for food because we left in such a hurry we didn't get time to buy all we needed.

June 18 - We were finally ready to sail, and we had good wind, but the captain was in Limerick so we could not leave until he came back. He came in the evening, and when they were going to pull up the anchor and raise the sails the foremast broke in two places. [5] They had to lower the anchor again, and the men started to work on a new mast right away. They worked very hard all night, and at 5 o'clock in the morning it was done.

June 19 - At 8 o'clock in the morning we started sailing with a good strong wind.

June 20 - We had a good wind, and the ship went forward quickly, and many began to get seasick. In the afternoon the wind was still so strong that it was a storm.

June 21 - It was almost a calm.

June 22 - The wind was strong but blew against us. The sickness was better, and there were only a few sick now.

June 23 - In the afternoon we got a good wind, and we went forward quite rapidly. This day we saw many sailing ships.

June 24 - In the morning it was almost calm, but in the afternoon we got a good wind but against us, and it was hard to move forward.

June 25 - In the morning it was calm, but in the evening there was a good wind. Today a small boat signaled that they wanted to talk to us, and they came so close that they and the captain talked to each other. They wanted to know what latitude and longitude they were in because they were lost. This ship was from Preusen and had come from Mexico and was going to Liverpool, England.

June 26 - We had pretty good wind but quite a bit of fog.

June 27 - We had a good wind, but it was against us so we had to go a ways off course.

June 28 - We had a good wind so we sailed good. In the evening the wind got stronger.

June 29 - There was a storm, and we went forward quickly, and the storm lasted until 6 o'clock in the evening when it subsided, and we got a nice breeze. Today a little girl from Valdres died. She had been sick since we left Limerick. This day we sailed 57 miles.

June 30 - It was nice weather in the morning. There was a north wind, and we sailed southwest. Today we saw a steamboat and a sailboat. A little child died that belonged to a woman from Christiania. At 4 o'clock funeral services were held for the child that died the day before.

July 1 - We sailed against the wind and saw a sailboat that must have come from America. Nice weather but no wind in the afternoon. Funeral services were held for the child that died yesterday.

July 2 - Today very still. We were sailing very easily.

July 3 - Today we are sailing against a strong wind about 9 1/2 miles an hour. In the evening almost no wind. We saw 5 sailboats.

July 4 - The same we were as yesterday.

July 5 - A strong headwind. Today we have seen six sailboats and a steamboat. Today we had church services which we have had every Sunday.

July 6 - Very strong wind. Very heavy fog and very cold.

July 7 - Today it is 9 degrees warm. So cold that one could use coats. Today we had good wind, and we saw 5 icebergs, and 3 passed quite close us about 2 of them were far away. These were very large and resembled church steeples. Nice weather.

July 8 - In the morning much foggy weather. Unsteady wind. Nine degrees is the temperature. Saw 2 icebergs.

July 9 - Today quite heavy fog. Today we are finally convinced that we are on the Banks because they have sounded and found it 70 fathoms deep. We are now on the Newfoundland Banks. They sounded again in the evening the water was 40 fathoms deep.

July 10 - In the morning foggy weather but good wind.

July 11 - Today good wind. We are sailing fast at 70 miles. Fourteen or sixteen sailing boats or fishing boats in sight. At 6 o'clock we are sailing 10 miles fast. The nicest breeze we have had since we left Limerick.

July 12 - Today is Sunday. The same wind as yesterday- 10 miles fast. Today we have seen a great number of fishing boats. Today church services [The remaining part of the diary has been lost.]


[1] Possibly an error in translating the sentence because Påsken means Easter, and Easter was the day of sailing.

[2] If the word being translated here is styrmand, it would be more accurate to say "mate."

[3]? There are islands in the mouth of the Shannon estuary called Magharee.

[4] Possibly a translation error. The brewing of porter (beer) was a major industry in nineteenth century Limerick; it would have been served in pint measures. The Rentz letter, above, refers to another event involving porter.

[5] Compare with the Rentz account.

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