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The Journey from Norway to America in 1867, on the ship Refondo

By Peter O. Stensven - contributed by Ann Dockwell

From Vardal, Norway to Koshkong Prairie, Wisconsin. This account was contributed by Ann Dockwell. Ann Dockwell's grandfather and grandmother came to Quebec on the Refondo. The account was written by one of Ann's relatives who was also on the ship. It is interesting and tells about many people dying on the voyage.

The 6th day of April we left Gjøvik by sleigh over Lake Mjøsa, which was still covered with thick ice, and reached Christiania [Oslo], on April 8th. We were obliged to stay there until the 21st because there was not enough wind for our sailing ships. Then a steamboat was engaged to tow our sailing ships, the "Refondo" and the "Dagmar", to Drøbak. However when we were within a mile of Drøbak we encountered a strong headwind and had to lay by until morning on the 22nd when the steamship again took up in tow past Drøbak. Now a favorable wind enabled us to sail speedily along until we neared Færder, when the wind shifted to a headwind and we were forced to sail back to Vallebo saltverk where we then cast anchor. At seven o'clock on the morning of the 25th, we had a favorable wind and for the next two days made good progress, but the wind increased until it became a gale and we had a very stormy night. The women who planned to do so much work on the trip to America did not come up on deck anymore. On the 28th it became milder and for a time we sailed along under favorable weather conditions. On May 2nd occurred the death of two children belonging to Hans Storsven. On the 4th, a child of a woman from Hamar. On the 6th an old man, 83 years old from Solaar died, on the 7th, a child died. It belonged to a man from Land. The wind had become a frightful storm by now. The galley and ranges all lay up-ended on the morning of the 8th. On the 9th, a child of the same people from Land died. On the 10th, two men, Ole Limoset and Hans Larstuen, died about the same time. By the 12th of May the wind had died down to a dead calm which was to last until the morning of the 14th when we had a favorable wind all day until night when we again went into a dead calm. On the 15th, the third child of the people from Land died. On the 16th, it was quite still but we had enough of a headwind so we had to tack. On the 17th, the child of a school teacher from Toten died and on the 18th there occurred the death of an old woman and two children, one of which belonged to the people from Land--their fourth child. The wind favored us on the 19th and we made good progress, but on the 20th we had a headwind so that we had to tack and we saw land, namely Newfoundland. On the 21st it was the same. On the 22nd, we had a headwind until in the afternoon, when the wind died down to calm. Then the wind changed so that on the morning of the 23rd we had a tail wind and sailed along speedily. Then on the 24th it grew milder and we had a favorable wind. One child died on the 24th. On the 25th, it was very still. On the 26th, we had a little tail wind and on that day a child of the Ole Magnuson family died. On the 27th, we had a head wind and could see inhabited land on one side and a small town on the other side. On the 28th we had a headwind so we had to tack. On that day a child of a family from Østerdal died. A pilot also came aboard. On the 29th we had a headwind but could not tack for want of space. On the 30th we had a tailwind and sailed along for a time, then anchored and a doctor came aboard. On the 31st we sighted Quebec, Canada, and arrived there about noon. On June 4th all our baggage was removed from the ship and loaded onto the train and all the emigrants were packed into cattle cars of which the train was composed. It was a most disagreeable conveyance from Quebec to Sarnia. We left Quebec on the night of June 4th and arrived in Sarnia on the 8th, and were unloaded in the morning and brought to the opposite side, which was the United States. We were to go by steamboat from Sarnia to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but we had to wait. Our baggage was left in Montreal and did not catch up with us until the 9th. Two children died here--one for Ole Kold and one for Ole Haraldson Askimsengen. On June 10th all our baggage was inspected and duty collected. We had to wait here for the steamboat for Milwaukee. When it arrived, all the baggage for about 1000 persons was packed on board and all the emigrants were also packed in like herring in a barrel. We arrived in Milwaukee on the morning of the 14th of June and most of the emigrants disembarked here to complete their journey by trains which were then going in all directions. We entrained in the afternoon and in the morning reached the ferry. We walked a short distance from train to ferry. We crossed the Wisconsin River here in a little boat, but we came safely across. Here we met a Norwegian clerk who directed up the way to my uncle some six English miles distant and we reached his place about three o'clock in the afternoon.
P.O. Stensven
[Peter O. Stensven]

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