Siver Hage Autobiography

Siver Hage

1840-1923 Short Autobiography 

Transcribed from a handwritten journal by grand daughter’s Gretchen (Hage) Apgar and Jamie Hammond

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Was born at Hage, Lesja, Norway Dec 4th 1840.  My father was teacher and deacon Jórgen S. Hage my mother was Kari T. fód Halstenstande.  They had already 3 girls and were impatient because they had no boy, but when I was born father said I had no business to come now, when I did not come before.  But I remained and grew very fast. Lost my mother when I was 12 years old which was and irreparable loss to me.  Had great love four or farm and when and when 14 years old began to blast and haul away rocks and take interest in farming.  Attended the com. [sic] school till I was 15 ½ years when I was confirmed.  Father wanted to send me to a normal school but I thought I could not stay away from the farm.  But in May 1857 father sold the beloved home.  My grief, my wailing did not help.  We had a small farm ½ mile further north where we moved.

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This was Kolledalen in a poor neighborhood where I could do as I pleased as father was very seldom at home as his school was 20 miles away.  The 1st Christmas we stayed here we were invited to Flitti a large farm 2 miles away where I and 2 sisters went.  Here was a son of my age and 2 daughters Marit 13 years, Oline 11 and a lot of smaller children.  The 2 girls was [sic] very lively and quick and I took notice of them right away.  The oldest one Marit and I became very good friends and the old people Tron and Anne were very attentive and asked me to come again. From this time I was a caller at Flitti and all were pleased to see me.  As father was the owner of over 2000 dollars and a good income most girls in the parish were favorable to me.  In two years Marit and I were betrothed and loved each other as only young people can.  But after some time father got into his head to get married again.  This displeased Marits parents and she was forbidden to have anything more to do with me. 

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But Marit was true to me and we kept up our love in secret as both were young and could wait. As sister Guri now was married, father wanted me to sue for Hage and take it back from the man he sold it to with my allodian right and let sisters have it.  He would give me Kolledalen for my right and and trouble.  I was satisfied with this, but he never got ready to do it.  Meanwhile his family was growing and as that was the only home he had I soon understood father could not part with Kolledalen and I would not part with Hage. Took possession of Hage in the spring of 1861.  I had 850 Spd of my own to apply on the farm borrowed 800 from Hans Sónstebó and 250 from father. Marits parents said I was in too much debt and told her again I would not do.  But we continued to be all for each other.  My school friend H. H. Hatrem who was now married invited Marit and me to his home, where we again declared eternal fidelity.

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Marit told of those meetings that her parents and some of her near relatives to scare her told some awful tales about me. This hurt her, but she would never give me up. True in life and true in death was her motto.  As I believed in her constancy I went on with my farming hoping that she eventually would be my bride. I had already 2 years had rented farms and been very successful.  Also had been buying and selling horses and cattle which brought me some profit.  I had gained 400 Spd besides what I received after mother.  Took possession of Hage in the spring of 1861 at a price of 1850 dollars.  Sister Kari was with me and she had 200 dollars she let me have, as she wanted to help some. Thus I had 1000 dollars to pay on my farm.

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Every year I sold off more than one half of the crops to apply the proceeds on my debts.  In this way the years slipt [sic] along and Marit and I had may happy hours in the old building of Hatrem where nobody could disturb us.  I was early used as an officer of the community.  In January 1867 I and 12 of the settlemens best men was engaged to examine The books of the Savings bank.  The 12 men with me was Ole Domaas, Hans Hinden, Ale Sánstebóc, Ole Rolstad, Martin Hofhang, Old Hórè, Jakob Nestande, Syver Belle, Christen Fordhol, Tron Flitte Sr., Erland Holoeth, Ole Le Stavern.  None of those men could write or understood bookkeeping.  I had to do the work.  When I this ready and a report should be made Ole Domaas said I must also do that.

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Then Tron Flitte spoke up and said, “we must have grown up person to make out our report and not a green kid.” He thought I was getting to [sic] much honor.  I went outside so the discussion could be more free.  After a while Ole Domaas came to the door and called me back and said, “you have to do it as nobody else is able to, not even Tron Flitte.”  I now had the best opportunity to criticize Flitti for his snobbishness, but would not do it on account of Marit.  About 2 months later I met her and asked leave to go to her father and ask for her hand. She answered rather icily that we had to quit our acquaintance.  If that’s the way you feel I said its no use to talk.  I gave her my hand and said goodby and wished her a very happy life. 

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Although there was other girls more than willing to marry me, girls that would inherit 10 times as much as Merit and one of them at least of better family. I made up my mind to sell my allodial home and leave Lesja.  I was ready to leave Hage the 27th day of May, although it almost broke my heart.  I went to Flitti to say good by as I expected Marit to call me back but not a word not even a sign.  When I had settled up everything. I had left in Hage 600 Spd and had 250 Spd for the voyage to America.  If I had rec’d full value for my farm I would had left 1000 Spd in Hage. The year before I was sometime in the mountains with 2 Englishmen and had also been to a private English school some time to I could speak a little broken English,…

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but in order to learn as much as possible, I spoke with the sailors on the boat we crossed the North Sea.  This came very near ending my trip to America as 2 of the sailors saw their opportunity to push me into their cabin slam the door shut and hold me by the throat, so I could not utter a sound.  My friends Knut O. Hangen, Tron and Ole P. Norderhus who was near by were resolute and quick, tore the door open and pulled me out. The sailors intention was to choke me to death rob me of my money and at night throw me into the sea.  I was not the 1st victim.  They were old in the business.  I did not try to learn any more English from the sailors.  Without any more mishaps we arrived at N.Y. July 2nd 1867.  Had some amusing experience on the boat City of Baltimore.  A German fell in love with a Swedish girl but could not talk with her,…

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as the only language he knew was German.  He spoke to a Swiss who could speak English but not Swedish.  The Swiss knew me and asked me if I would interpret to the girl for them.  I would if the girl had no objection.  So the German spoke to the Swiss, the Swiss spoke to me and I spoke to the Swedish girl.  She was not perplexed.  She said to me, that this German was one of those fellows who flirted with all the girls he could and had a sweetheart in every town.  But the German would not give up. We talked almost a whole day and had lots of fun.  It was fine girl and behaved properly, but did not want to promise anything on such short acquaintance.  She said she was going to Texas, as she had relatives in that state.  Arrived in Chicago on the 7th of July and in Oconto, Wis. On the 10th. I stopped at De Pere, Wis. To advise with a friend.

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John Hofhang who had been in the country 5 years, but could not give me any advice.  When I got to Oconto I began to hunt for work right away and got it.  When I left Lesja I promised myself I would never return less I had as much property as Tron Flitti or more.  I understood I had to go to work at once and stick to it.  I had to earn $10000.00.  I had left about $200.00 of my traveling money besides what I had in Hage.  I was to work for $28.00 a month and keep.  As I had a good man to work for good board and excellent water I decided to stay here but understood it would take many years to earn $10000.00 so I could go back home. When winter came I went into the woods for $30.00 a month and keep.  The company I worked for said I could take a man with me and I should have $60…

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a month for both of us.  A newcomer who could not get work offered to work for me for $10.00 a month and board.  I took him along but had lots of trouble with this man, as he in Norway had taken it easy and loved the glass and women.  He was as fat as a pig and the very smallest object that got in his way would trip him.  In the spring when I should pay him he would not stand by the agreement I had made with him and tried even to murder me.  His name was Ole Guttormsen. When I had been in the woods 1 month a letter came from Marit.  She said that her parents had now yielded to her tears and prayers and would allow her to join me here.  To this I answered that I was not like mitten that could be thrown off one day and taken on the next as her parents thought I was such a poor match…

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for her she better forget.  As she was too good in Lesja she must also be too good in America.  But the old man her father evidently had changed his opinion about me since I met him at the bank meeting in 1867.  He had been to my friend H. H. Hatrem and told him that Lesja had lost one of her best boys in Siver Hage.  In 1870 he sent me the picture of Marit and himself and his wife.  There was not a year that passed up to 1874, less they sent me some reminder that they were sorry.  Revenge is sweet but too expensive.  In this case it ruined many lives forever and Marit went into an early grave, after having been married twice.  I worked for the same man in Oconto the next summer also and had 5 men under me.  Rec’d 53 dollars a month and keep.  The next winter again to the…

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woods, but did not have along Ole Guttormsen.  I sent home for John Christofersen and had him along.  He did not try to kill me.  When I and John came out in the spring there was 2 Sweeds who had been in Oconto a year and kept own house.  They invited all the Norweagens to a grand party including me and John.  When John said he would go to the party, I told him to give his money to me as I was not going.  He had $200 which he gave me.  They had a grand time and everybody except the Sweeds got dead drunk.  When they sobered up their pockets were empty.  Then they looked for their landlords.  They could not be found.  They had left Oconto not to return and so had the boys money.  John Christofersen was the only one that did not lose anything and he…

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he was terribly happy. That spring I had saved up so I had $1000.00 and with the $600.00 I had left in Lesja I was worth $1600.00 and could easy bought back my home, but I wanted more.  So I went to Chicago to find Ole Paulsen a friend from Lesja who was a very clever trader. We agreed to begin peddling. I had to furnish all the capital as he had nothing. The business was good but found my partner could not stay away from the glass and women.  I had to get rid of him.  With this purpose we went to Mkts of Lake Crystal where the Faarud Bros. lived about 5 miles from the latter town.  They were good friends of both of us from the old country and in use to trade.  I sold to them but in this way I got most of my money tied up…

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here on long time.  I bought land at Lake Hauska 327 acres situated on a peninsula so the lake protected my farm except to the south.  I called this place “Framnos” after Frithy of the Frónknes farm in Sogn.   The day I first saw this place was a fine clear day in September.  The lake was covered with wild duck and other birds and the water was full of many kinds of fish.  I can never forget the sight. I was happy and let my happiness some out in song, “Hvor saare lidet vil der til for lykkelig at være et muntert sind en piges smil en ven som gjør dig ære.
En hytte som dig skjule kan sundt brød og kildens klare vand,saa megen visdom at du vil og bruger denne lære.” 80 acres of this land was a homestead on which 35 acres was broke I bought from…

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Siver Sorumgard for $200.00 the improvement was worth the $175.00 or $200.00 as I next year could expect to raise 1000 bushells wheat.   I started at once to work on the land and expected father to come over in the spring and take this claim on homestead.  About 1¼ miles S.E. on section 2 Riverdale lives a dane Lars Johanson who was too malicious and envious to let other people gain anything and he knew and understood Siver Sorumgard had lost all his right to this land he had sold me.  So Lars Johanson got a dane tailor from Mkts to come up and contest this claim.  I knew I could not hold the land any longer on the papers Sorumgard had as he had sold me something he did not have.  I had to go to U.S.L.O. at St. Peter and fight the danes and beat them which I did.  In December 1869 Thor Hatrem came here to see me and Sórumgard.

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I was then in Mankats on my way to Oconto Wis.  He wanted me to go back to Hansker and show him some land.  He was just over from Norway.  His family was left in Black Earth Wis.. I went up to Lake Hanska with him and showed him some fine land which he bought.  It was now near Xmas and he invited me to spend the holy days with him and family.  When we came to Black Earth I was introduced to his wife Marie, his 2 daughters Ragnild and Anna 14 and 12 years and his son Hans 8 years, Mis Karen Mun the Von Mo 19 years, her uncle Jórgen Von Mo wife and 3 children.  Mis Mo was by T. Hatrem reported to be an extraordinary fine girl and owned in her own name over 2000 dollars.  She stayed with Hatrems as company for Mrs. Hatrem and daughters.  After 3 weeks visit with these people…

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I went back to Minn. and built my temple with the understanding that Hatrem and family should come and live there, T. Hatrem and family Karn Mun the Von Mo, her uncle Jorgere Von Mo and family in all eleven persons.  My den was only 16ft square in form of a dugout with a garret for sleeping room for the whole crowd. Preachers, my ladies, noblemen and noble ladies had to sleep on the floor.  To gain access to this there was steps nailed on the cellar wall and it was great fun to see all those people of high rank chamber up the perpendicular wall to get to their beds.  On the earth floor in the den was my bed of straw with a sack of hay for pillow and a blanket over me.  But I was a lord compared with the high rank people in the garret for “Framnos” was in real existence of which I was the owner, while the others hope was only image which in a moment could be swept away. 

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Lady Karn Von Mo who was cook for the whole company came down early every morning and made coffee and she was sure to serve me first.  Thus it happened that I every morning had excellent coffee before I got up, coffee that was improved a hundred fold by Karns friendly eyes and soft white hands.  To say I was happy does not express it.  I thought I had gained the 3rd heaven.  When Mr. Hatrem understood the situation, he did not like it at all, for he had promised her in matrimony to a young minister from Iowa.  He commanded Mis Mo to go to Lake Crystal and get work.  This was in the spring of 1870. Mr. Hatrem and family was going to move to Omsrud about 1 ½ miles from my temple.  Jórgen Von Mo had rented “Framnos” and I myself was going out to break and cultivate new land.  But first of all I was going to see My Lady and found she could…

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still make excellent coffee and give the heavenly smile which had made her famous in two continents.  It gave me tranquility of mind and self-confidence and I went to my work out on the prairie with the conviction that Mis Karn Mo would return to my “den” with her dimples to make perfect coffee.  Al Framnos was von Mo and Lady running things to my satisfaction and I visited with them every Sunday.  What a surprise and pleasure it was to me one Sunday to see Mis Karn Mo drive up to my cabin and greet me in her pleasant way and said she could not find a more beautiful place than Framnos and could not forget the blooming meadows with its walks it whispering winds or its owner.  I thank her for her attention and said this was one of my happiest moments and hoped she would let…

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my happiness last to the end of time.  Framnos with its flowers was a fine place but the finest rose was lacking My Lady Karn Mum the Mo.  She answered there would be no better pleasure for her than to be allowed to call this idyllic place her home. We were very happy in each other and spent our time by sailing, fishing and other outdoor sports.  But Mr. Hatrem and wife for whom I had done so much was bound to stir up trouble, because he wanted me to marry a young girl of the neighborhood to whom he was related.  Also as before said he had promised her to a young minister to whom he had recommended her very highly.  To me he said she was very lewd and not fit to be my wife.  About me he said to Mis Mo that I was a poor stick in every way and had nothing to support…

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a wife with.  I was not rich but I had 3 times as much as Mr. Hatrem and Mis Mo together.  Of late I and Mis Mo had lived in Markets with Mr and Mrs. Trodahl.  One day I was downtown I met Mr. Hatrem.  He asked me where Mis Mo was.  I said I did not know.  As soon as I got rid of Hatrem I went and told Mis Mo.  She got very excited and said she would not see Hatrem again and proposed that we go to her folks in Black Earth Wis. where this man Hatrem could not disturb us.  As I had my money tied up at Lake Hanska I could not then go along to Wis.  We decided that I should go back to Lake Hauska and dispose of my property and then join her at Black Earth.  As she had no money I had to loan her $50.00.  I took both her and her trunk to the R.R. Station, where she started crying and said I must not fail to come to her as soon as possible.  But it was no easy matter to sell my property now. 

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Sold the 80 acres on which my den was built and where I had so many happy days and so many excellent coffees together with My Lady von Mo.  I had tons of letters from her and sent her lots more.  Her letters was very warm and sincere.  She sent me all her accounts with Mr. Hatrem and wanted me to tell her if he had used her honestly.  She had a note against Hatrem for $250.00 written in Norwegian she was anxious to know if it was legal.  She also sent me the accounts with sheriff Falok in Norway who had taken care of her collections there.  In the great fire in Chicago n 1871 she lost all her things and the note against Mr. Hatrem which she claims never was paid.  In 1872 she went back to Norway.  She knew I had 600 Spd dollars in Subrandsiden and proposed to trade with me in her accounts here. Her accounts here was in bad shape and she would lose most of it if she did not get somebody to look after them as Hatrem now was sick with thyphus.  We traded at last and I assigned to her some 800 Spd as interest and exchange brought my…

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accounting to this amount I guaranteed this amount to her provided she done everything by law to collect it.  She received about 400 Spd and as she could not get anymore without lawsuit, she asked me to pay the balance.  I told her I would pay her the balance as soon as she could show that if was uncollectable. She would not go to this trouble but insisted I should pay it as promised.  I told her I had worked like a Trojan to get her accounts here and if it had not been for me, she would last most of it.  I also told her it was one of the conditions of my guarantee that she must do everything possible by law to collect my money in Norway as I had done here to get hers.  She was now married to a Mr. Hillestad who was a bartender and as he proved a poor stick, she came back to this country but kept on accusing me of defrauding her.  I told her I could come to Chicago and meet…

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her or she could come up here to Madelia for if you can prove I have cheated her if would be very easy for her to collect.  She now had one child a girl and all together his bond was a good tinner, she had to do washing to keep the wolf from their door.  She was a good worker and succeeded in supporting her daughter and give her a good education.  Her daughter is now married to Dr. Hagen at Butterfield and the parents stays with the doctor.  She lost $80.00 to $100.00 on her uncle Peder and about 150 to 175.00 on her uncle Jorgen.  According to the bill Lenonaud Falok had sent her she had less than $1000.00 taken over here through Mr. Hatrem.  I have paid her or accounted for about $1400.00 of course I charged her commission and also for work I done for her as I did not think I could work for her for nothing after she deserted me.  Counting all the expenses I have over paid her $140.00 Every informed person can see how much truth there is in her claim.   Beside she refuse

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To meet me and have matters explained but she refuse to meet me.  We have both had a hard lot and Thor Hatrem and wife are to blame for all this.  But Karn Mo cannot under any circumstances be excused for her trickery as her uncle Jorgen Mo so aptly expressed when she left Minnesota: “No punishment is too severe for such infidelity and if she does not receive her punishment for such a crime, there cannot be a just God.”

In the fall of 1873 I was married to Mis Ingri S. Seremgard the youngest daughter of Mr. Syver and Anne Surumgard by Rev L. E. Green Lutheran minister in Madelia Minn.  Mis Ingri Serumgard was 23 years a gifted, intelligent young girl who made a good, devoted wife for me and a good mother for our children.  Her mother was a sister to Endre O. Hage, Jakole S. Holset…

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Syver S. Holset and a sister to Mrs Oline Ekrun, Mrs. Marit S. Norderhus and Mrs Sigri Tordhol.  Her Grandmother was Ingri Holset after whom she ws named and where she was brought up. 

We have had 5 children Anna Marie, George Simon, Karn Pauline, Emil Gunerius and Sigurd.  In 1915 Karn died. All the rest are living and married and bringing up families.  In 1883 our County Treasurer M.E. Dunn ran away and took the county’s money along.  As I was on his bond it looked serious for me but happened to sell my farm that year and people began to say I would not pay anything.