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A story about the crossing on the Victoria from Drammen to Quebec in 1861

Guri - Karen Jeglum Kennedy

This articles was submitted by Karen Jeglum Kennedy. It is a wonderful story about the crossing on the Victoria from Drammen to Quebec in 1861. The story was told by Guri Thorsdatter Trĝo Jeglum, wife of Kittel Jeglum, who lived in the town of Perry, Dane County, Wisconsin. Much of the interview was done by her niece, Gena Thompson.

"The morning we left Trĝo, we saw only Asle Nygard and an old woman, who came to take care of his cows, besides Ole Trĝo, Father's brother. But many dear ones had come before to say goodbye. There was sorrow in leaving. It may have been hard for Mother to leave many nice things behind, although she did bring some along. She brought a large and a small copper kettle, and a big copper coffee pot. A huge box of food and various supplies plus a big chest of clothes came along. The spinning wheel was taken apart and placed at the bottom of the chest. Father hired two men each with a horse and wagon to bring us and our belongings all the way to Drammen, which took many days. It was eighteen Norwegian miles, (Seven American miles to every Norwegian mile). When we finally got there, we rented a room where we baked more flatbread, and went out to buy rice, peas and milk. We had to bring enough food for the whole summer in case we were becalmed for some time. But at last, we were ready.

When we were on board, I saw there were beds all along the wall and one above the other for the passengers, down below deck. The crew slept up on the deck. There were three openings through which we could get up on deck, with ladders. Our space was near the middle opening (hatch) which was supposed to be the best place. There were several hundred people and each morning the men went down in the hold for our food and water. Passenger families did their own cooking in a shabby cooking house, but the crew had a fine galley and a man to do the cooking.

There was a full crew besides a carpenter, who built coffins for the many children who died, including the little daughter of Uncle Paul. It was sad to see the little coffin out on the seas as we sailed away. But another girl was born at sea and given the name 'Anna Victoria'.

We did not encounter any real storms, but a hard wind almost laid the ship on its side. Much of the time, we stood still as head winds were so strong, or we went zig zag or backwards. Then there was a frightful and dreadful ordering by the helmsmen and all the others up on deck. A sail was torn to pieces. Other times it was windstill so we made no headway.

Captain Aamen Nygaard was a kind man, and he read scripture and prayed every Sunday. He gave beautiful messages at the funerals he conducted. At night he went to every bed with his lantern, asking or checking to see how the passengers were. He knew how important it was to get exercise so he wanted us to dance. He especially liked the Hallingdance, so we did a lot of dancing.

There was a thick fog when we sailed among the icebergs. Once we almost hit a British ship. Then people brought out various musical instruments and lurs to make as much noise as possible. Then there was the father of Pastor Sletten who made a great alphorn,--that we could hear you can be sure. One morning when it had cleared up a bit, they had seen twenty six large and small icebergs. Some of the crew knew the great danger we were in and we saw them with tears in their eyes from time to time. but the Almighty held His Hand over us.

Mother was so sick, she did not eat for three weeks. The Captain brought tea for her every morning. On the 15th of June, my 15th birthday, the weather changed. The sun shone and the wind was at our back. Then we traveled fast and caught up with the "Helvetia" that had started a week ahead of us. We knew many of those on that boat so we waved to them and it was a wonderful feeling to have such good sailing. We reached Quebec three days ahead of "Helvetia" and our Captain was happy. We were sorry to leave the crew and Captain. Everyone cried."

She goes on to tell of traveling by canal boat down the St. Lawrence river to Detroit, then to Chicago, finally ending up in Madison, Wisconsin, where she tried to sleep draped over her trunk.

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