Category Archives: General

A Treasure Rediscovered

Restauration med res

This past Fall I was sorting through some old documents from the Slooper Society and found a wonderful letter addressed to Lou Wise (then Secretary of the Slooper Society) from a John Peterson Lund of Winston-Salem, NC. dated September 25th, 1996. In his letter to Lou Wise, John explained that his father, Dr. Herbert Zacharias Lund Jr. had passed away the previous February. John went on to explain how meaningful Herbert’s Norwegian ancestry had been to his father. Herbert had visited Norway in 1967 and was also present for the Sesquicentennial celebrations and Royal visit in 1975 which he attended with his brothers.

But what really caught my attention was John’s mention that his father had commissioned an oil painting of the Restauration. In his letter to Lou he explained the painting depicted the Restauration as it approached the famous cask off the coast of Madeira. I had no previous knowledge of the existence of this painting and my curiosity was peaked. A quick Google search revealed that a John Lund still resided in Winston Salem and so I jotted off a quick letter to John explaining how I had found his letter to Lou written 23 years ago and that I was very interested to learn more of his father’s oil painting depicting the Restauration.

Imagine my excitement when several weeks later I received a reply from John dated November 4, 2019. In his letter, John explained that he had inherited the painting after his father’s passing and that it now proudly hangs in his own home. John included a snapshot of the painting. Although the quality of the snapshot was poor, I could immediately tell that this was indeed a hidden treasure. I asked John if he would consider having the painting professionally digitized so that it could be preserved and shared. John readily agreed and with the help of a local Winston-Salem photographer, Shaun Stockton of Shaun Stockton Photography, I am happy to report that a very high-quality digital copy of the painting has been obtained.

Upon first viewing the high-resolution image, I found the painting to be quite dynamic and the colors vibrant but I will let John’s own words tell the story as he described the painting to me in his letter… “The crude wooden boat is coming toward you swiftly in full sail. The cask is bobbing in the foreground. The sun is setting at the left and the waves and heavy clouds in the background suggest an advancing storm.”-John P. Lund

If you are unfamiliar with the inspiration behind the scene depicted in the painting, having departed Norway on July 4th, 1825, the Sloopers had anchored in a harbor near Lizard Head in Cornwall in order to fully provision for their remaining voyage to America. Several of the more enterprising Sloopers (who shall remain nameless) began bartering with the locals… some of the brandy which was carried aboard the sloop in exchange for provisions of food and water. Unfortunately for our enterprising Sloopers, this was in violation of the English liquor laws. As the local authorities prepared to arrest the Captain and crew, the Restauration hurriedly slipped out of the harbor and set sail for America. They had escaped immediate danger of arrest in Cornwall, they were however unable to have fully provisioned during their brief stay and were unprepared for the long voyage to America.

1,280 miles later the Restauration was 300 miles off the coast of Africa with her occupants having exhausted their supplies of food and water when an object was spotted floating in the sea. Lars Larson was lowered in the ship’s tender to retrieve what turned out to be a cask. Lars nearly lost his hand to a shark but eventually managed to secure a rope to the cask which was eagerly brought aboard. The cask was reportedly covered in barnacles and had obviously been at sea even longer than the Sloopers themselves.

The cask was quickly opened and found to contain Madeira wine. I realize it may seem rather incongruous that this ship of mostly Quakers would do so, but apparently at least the senior members of the crew became enough under the influence that the ship drifted aimlessly into the harbor of Funchal, apparently without command and without a flag to indicate her origin. Therefore it was assumed the ship was a plague ship and her crew and passengers dead or dying. With the cannons of the harbor fortress preparing to blow the Restauration and her 52 occupants out of the water, a German ship from Bremen anchored nearby attempted to alert anyone aboard Restauration of their impending demise, shouting, “Raise your colors!”.

While the Sloopers unsuccessfully attempted to locate their Norwegian flag, Bertha Nelson ran to the prow of Restauration and, “disregarding the immodest display of her legs, waved her bright calico skirt to prevent the cannon from being fired.” Thus the Sloopers arrived in Funchal on August 1st, 1825.

What a wonderful and storied history we share as descendants of those brave Sloopers! I would like to thank Shaun Stockton of Shaun Stockton Photography for her efforts to create a high-quality digital image of this precious painting. And I would especially like to thank Mr. John P. Lund (descendant of Cornelius Nilsen Hersdal and Kari Pedersdatter Hesthammer who sailed aboard Restaurationen) for his generosity in sharing this wonderful painting. It is truly a treasure that will help to perpetuate the history of those brave Norwegian immigrants who sailed upon Restaurationen.

John Lund Low res
John P. Lund proudly displays his father’s oil painting of Restaurationen at his home in Winston-Salem, NC.

94th Annual Meeting Report (2019)

Solje

The 94th annual meeting of the Norwegian Slooper Society of America was held in Norway, Illinois on October 6th, 2019. 80 people were in attendance for the event.

There were of course many regulars in attendance this year, but we were very thankful for quite a few newcomers as well. Robert Fruland (descendant of Ove Rossadal) joined us from Hendersonville, NV. And Sue Taylor-Moore joined us from Bedford, VA. Sue is a, “Super Slooper” with descendants from Rossadal, Madland and Haukaas. Both Robert and Sue traveled to Norway during the past year and visited their respective family’s farms. It was so much fun to hear the stories of their visits and their passion for their heritage was contagious. There were many other new visitors this year and I apologize for not being able to list everyone… but we are so glad you joined us!

Vesterheim Gold-Medalist knife maker Perry Straw joined us again this year. Perry had a wonderful display of his beautiful creations. Perry also represented the Friends of the Viking Ship and he took great pride in explaining this historically important ship.

Vesterheim President/CEO Chris Johnson joined us from beautiful Decorah, IA. Chris presented us with an update on recent events at Vesterheim and their preparations for the 2025 celebrations. Of course we know the Sloopers are the central figures in this celebration and it was exciting to hear what is already being planned. Additionally, Vesterheim has been working with the world-famous design firm, Snøhetta to develop a long-term master plan for the museum. The first phase of this master plan will be the renovation of Vesterheim’s Outdoor Division which incorporates existing historic structures to transform the landscape into one that enhances and expands the narrative of the early settlement experience. 

Our feature presentation was presented by Laurann Gilbertson. Laurann is the Chief Curator at Vesterheim and her presentation was entitled, “The Power of Silver: Traditional Norwegian Jewelry”. For centuries, Norwegians have treasured the beauty of silver. Laurann explained how silver showed the prosperity of a family, and, according to folk belief, could protect against underworld creatures and other malevolent forces. It was very interesting to learn more about the rich variety and styles of silver jewelry, and to explore the beliefs surrounding this, “powerful” metal.

I would like to especially thank Chris Johnson and Laurann Gilbertson for making the journey from Decorah to present to the Sloopers. Vesterheim is the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center, with over 33,000 artifacts, 12 historic buildings, a Folk Art School, and a library and archives. This treasure showcases the most extensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world. Vesterheim’s exhibitions explore the diversity of American immigration through the lens of the Norwegian-American experience and highlight the best in historic and contemporary Norwegian folk and fine arts. Please check out Vesterheim’s website for more information and I hope you will consider a membership to this very important museum that works so hard to celebrate and preserve the memories and traditions of our Norwegian ancestors.

Speaking of great museums, I would strongly encourage you to visit our very own Norsk Museum in Norway, IL. No other museum contains so many Slooper artifacts. As Sloopers, we should all consider the Norsk museum to be, “our” museum and I 1e2ba64027752a7dcb71cf7aa7036510encourage your support. The Norsk Museum will host a smorgasbord on Saturday, November 16th. Please check out their website for more information.

 

 

 

Let’s Have Breakfast In Norway!

The Norsk Museum will be hosting their 5th annual, “Breakfast in Norway” on June 1st, 2019. This annual event marks the seasonal opening of the Norsk Museum. Located in Norway, Illinois, the Norsk Museum is a real treasure and contains many Slooper artifacts… it is truly the museum of the Sloopers and I would encourage everyone to support the Norsk Museum by attending this event. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance at a discount. To reserve your tickets today please call 815-343-5070.

The Restauration is at Risk!

Today I received some potentially sad news from Norway… The replica of the Restauration is for sale.

Often referred to as the, “Norwegian Mayflower” of course this is a very important ship… not only to those of us who descend from the original, “Sloopers” who sailed from Stavanger to New York in 1825 but to all who descend from the 800,000 Norwegians who followed in the “Sloopers” wake and to all who have an interest in the great Norwegian-American immigration story.

A film documenting the story of Cleng Peerson is being planned in anticipation of the bicentennial celebration of the Sloopers landing in America and the ship was to play a key role in the film.

The listing, along with pictures and a description of the ship can be found at https://www.finn.no/boat/forsale/ad.html?finnkode=133598533

It really would be a tremendous loss if the Restauration were to be sold. Since her completion in 2010, the replica has been a tangible symbol of the great Norwegian emigration. Through a partnership with Ryfylke Livsgnist, the ship has been employed as a tool to teach both young and old about the 1825 Voyage of the Restauration, the story of the great Norwegian emigration to America, and the strong connections between Norway and America that were the result.

My family had the opportunity to sail on the ship in 2017. As a descendant of those who sailed aboard the original Restauration, this was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. Words cannot describe the range of emotions as story-teller, Tolli Frestad described the stories of our ancestors voyage across the Atlantic. NRK did a short video of my family’s experience (see video below).

With the decision to sell the Restauration come many questions about the fate of this important piece of Norwegian-American history. It would truly be tragic if the ship were to leave Norway. Yet I t remains my hope that this crisis may be turned into an opportunity for people to recognize this important symbol of shared Norwegian-American history and that through this crisis the Restauration will be saved from an ignominious fate.

I know many of you have also had the opportunity to visit the Restauration in Stavanger. Please leave a reply to this post as we would love to hear about your experience and what this ship means to you and any ideas on how she might be saved for generations to come.

Med trist hilsen,

Kirk Mies (Rossadal)

Here is a link to an article on the sale of the Restauration that appeared in the November 14th issues of the Tysvær Bygdeblad:

https://tysver-bygdeblad.no/2018/11/14/restaurasjon-lagt-ut-for-salg/

93rd Annual Meeting Report (2018)

The 93rd annual meeting of the Norwegian Slooper Society of America was held in Norway, Illinois on October 7th, 2018. 154 people attended including the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers.

The current board and guests honored the previous board members for their 25 years of service to the Slooper Society. Pat Hayes, Wes Hougsted, and Lou Wise were each presented with a certificate acknowledging and thanking them for their many years of service.

Vesterheim Gold-Medalist knife maker Perry Straw had a wonderful display of his beautiful creations. Additionally, Perry also represented the Friends of the Viking Ship and he took great pride in explaining this historically important ship.

Dale Goodman briefly spoke on the significance of the Sloopers, the foundation of the Norwegian Slooper Society of America in 1925, and the upcoming bicentennial celebration of the Slooper’s arrival in America in 2025.

The Stoughton Norwegian Dancers stole the show with their entertaining and engaging presentation of  traditional Scandinavian folk dance and authentic Norwegian bunads. The group of Stoughton High School School Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors put on quite the show and even managed to teach the Sloopers some new dance moves.

The main program this year featured Bill Injerd, the “unofficial” historian of the Slooper Society.  Bill presented an engaging audio-visual presentation on, “Norwegian-Americans and World War One” in celebration of the end of that war 100 years ago on November 11, 1918. Thank you to Bill for his hard work and dedication to preserving the rich heritage that binds us together… the Norwegian-American experience.

We enjoyed the company of some special guests. Børge Wermundsen and his companion Inger Johanne Flaata joined us from Oslo. The couple are on a 4-week tour of the midwest in a rented motorhome. In addition to beautiful Norway, Il they have already visited Decorah, IA and plan stops in Sioux City, Pierre, Bismarck, Minot, Fillmore, Grand Forks, and Minneapolis. God tur Børge and Inga!

The annual election of Board Members was held. In addition to preserving the current Board consisting of Steve Southcombe (President), Kirk Mies (Vice President), and Renée Mies (Secretary), we are excited that three new additions were made to the Board. Erin Kauffman joins as the newly appointed Treasurer and Jan Rosdail-Aegerter and Dale Goodman were appointed as Board Trustees. Thank you for your willingness to serve!

History Alive Project

David and Ruth Amundson at the History Alive Project house at 218 N Main St, Westby, WI

This past April during our visit to Livsreise Renée and I had the pleasure of meeting David and Ruth Amundson of the History Alive Project. Through their project, David and Ruth work with both the local community and schools of Westby, WI to, “…create out of the box projects to discover and maintain the Westby area’s history for community members of all ages”. They even teach the students about the Sloopers, Cleng Peerson, and the importance of this first organized immigration to America. The Amundson’s project sounded fascinating and this couple’s passion for their project is truly captivating and so Renée and I put a visit to Westby on our to-do list for this summer.

Through the years David and Ruth have acquired many interesting artifacts and pictures in an attempt to demonstrate and preserve the fascinating history of Westby and it’s residents. Eventually this collection outgrew their home and so the Amundson’s purchased a beautiful and historic home located on 218 North Main Street in Westby in order to house their collection and serve as the headquarters for the History Alive Project.

Renée and I presented David and Ruth with a copy of, “The Uprooting” by Vigleik Rosseland. We thought The Uprooting story would match well with History Alive Project’s mission. If you have time, we would encourage you to visit the History Alive Project, beautiful Westby and the Amundsons.

For more information and to view some great examples of the pictures the Amundson’s have collected visit History Alive Project website and the History Alive Project Facebook page.

The Sloopers Collector’s Edition book is here!

The new The Sloopers: Their Ancestry and Posterity Collector’s Edition of the J. Hart Rosdail classic book was presented at the 89th Annual Sloopers Society meeting on Sunday, October 5, 2014, in Norway, Illinois.  Many of the low-numbered books were sold that day.

Also present were many from the Sons of Norway lodges Cleng Peerson #5-525 (Norway, IL) and Polar Star #5-472 (Aurora, IL).  Welcome!

SlooperMtg2014_ 1SlooperMtg2014_3

The beautiful hardbound book is available for purchase online from the Slooper Society on this website by going to “The Sloopers” Book page.  Price is $78 plus shipping & handling.