Author Archives: Kirk Mies

Syttende Mai Celebration

Vesterheim is hosting a free online Syttende Mai celebration! The event will be live at noon (CT) (May 17th of course) and will feature Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen as she tells her story entitled, “Schoolgirl and My Very First May 17th Parade in 1962.” Many of you may remember Anne Elisebeth previously presented the story of the Slooper’s voyage across the Atlantic. If you missed it, a recording can be found here. I would encourage you to check it out.

But that is not all! In addition to Anne Elisebeth’s story, Vesterheim’s Syttende Mai event will feature musicians Beth and Jon Rotto on the fiddle and guitar. They will be playing Norwegian and Norwegian-American tunes live from Bethany’s Church in Vesterheim’s Heritage Park.

The event is free but registration is required. You can register by clicking this link.

Glad Syttende Mai til deg!

Patricia Hayes

It is with deep sorrow that we report that Patricia Ann Hayes has passed. Pat was a tremendous supporter of the Slooper Society, long-serving President and I would even say that it is thanks in great part to Pat that the Slooper Society has continued to this day… she brought the Slooper Society through some very challenging times. In addition to her support of the Sloopers, Pat was also a tremendous supporter of the Norsk Museum and her local Sons of Norway lodge (Cleng Peerson 525). I will always remember Pat for her tireless dedication. She will be truly missed.

Patricia Ann Hayes
Born: March 20, 1946
Died: March 22, 2021
Patricia Ann Hayes, 75, of Dayton passed away Monday, March 22, 2021 at her home, surrounded by her loving family.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon on Monday, March 29 at St. Columba Church, with Rev. David Kipfer officiating. Visitation will be from 10 am to noon, prior to services, at the church. Due to COVID guidelines, family and friends attending the service will be kindly asked to wear a face covering and maintain social distancing. Pat will be buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Utica. Ottawa Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.
Pat was born March 20, 1946 in Ottawa to Donald and Florence (Harmon) Ainsley. She married William J. Hayes on January 8, 1966 at St. Columba Church. They were married for 50 years before his passing on December 6, 2016. Pat was a lifelong member of St. Columba Church. She was a member of the Sons of Norway, where she volunteered countless hours for dinners and events. She was a long-time president of the Sloopers Society and served on the Board of Directors for the Norsk Museum. She was also a past member of the Dayton Women’s Club.
Pat’s life revolved around her family. She loved caring for her grandchildren and watching them grow up. She enjoyed gardening and was well-known for her grape jelly, which she loved to give away to her family, friends, and neighbors. Pat was a caring and generous woman, spending time volunteering and giving back to her community.

Volunteers Set About to Restore Restauration

As you may already know, the replica ship Restauration was rescued this past October by local businessman Cato Østerhus (you can read more about that here). But the ship needed a lot of work after having remained in a state of disrepair for several years. Today I received word from Norway that a group of volunteers has been organized to begin the process of ensuring Restauration will receive much needed repairs in anticipation of her once again sailing the waters of Rogaland and beyond (who knows, maybe a trip to New York in 2025?).

In his email, volunteer Erling Reilstad reports that Restauration is currently located in Aamoy havn, at Vestre Aamoey (Åmøy) just outside Stavanger. The group of volunteers work several days (mostly evenings) each week, with restrictions number of participants due to the Covid-19. The boatbuilder of Restauration will soon start some work on the hull and deck which require special skills. An organisation (“forening” in Norwegian, which is a kind of association with personal membership) has been official registered in January.

The volunteer group has a FaceBook page featuring updates on Restauration. I encourage you to check it out at https://www.facebook.com/Restauration-113680858681164/. The group has also begun publishing an email newsletter. I encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter at http://eepurl.com/hlHWOz . The newsletter features many great pictures and updates on the progress of the volunteer work. I will post a few pictures below.

The vessel Restaurtion and its rig inside the tent with voluntary work in any weather
Scraping the old anti-fouling paint

Norwegian-American History Course

Sons of Norway District 5 is hosting a 16-week Norwegian-American History course entitled, “Norwegian-American Settlement in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan”. The course will be held weekly on Saturday mornings from 9-10:30am CT or Friday evenings from 6:30-8pm CT (you can join either each week). The course kicked off on January 23rd, but you can still join for the remaining course. Recordings of previous weeks can be accessed at the SON District 5 website.

For more information and to register for the course please compete the enrollment form.

Recordings of the D5 Norwegian-American settlement history course will be posted on the Sons of Norway District 5 website, and available to ANYONE who is interested. Below please find a brief description and a link to the recording of week 1. Of course the Sloopers are central to the story of Norwegian-American history and are highlighted in week 1. I encourage you to check it out.

Week 1 – 01/23/2021 –
In week 1, you will learn about the scope of the D5 Norwegian-American settlement history course. 
Although there is no required reading for this course, the books and DVD are introduced this week.  Dave and Ruth Amundson explain conditions in Norway during the 1800s (push factors) and what made American so attractive to emigrate to (pull factors).  Bill Injerd talks about “The Sloopers”
who created the first Norwegian-American colony in America in 1825.  He discusses their first colony in Kendall Township, Orleans County, New York
and their move for better farmland to the “Fox River Settlement” in La Salle County, Illinois. (46:44)  
https://www.screencast.com/t/wQNz1RMYRp

With Restauration Through Hell Gate to the Promised Land

Join us on Sunday, November 8th at 1pm CST on a voyage, “With Restauration Through Hell Gate to the Promised Land”.

The Slooper Society of America have partnered with Vesterheim, the National Norwegian-American Museum and Heritage Center to offer this free 75-minute live presentation on November 8th at 1pm (CST)!

Norwegian storyteller Anne Elisebeth Skogen will join the webinar live from Ryfylkemuseet in Sand, Norway, to tell the story, With Restauration Through Hell Gate to The Promised Land.

There will be a host-led talkback following the performance. Guests will also hear from Slooper Society Vice President Kirk Mies, as well as Vesterheim President/CEO Chris Johnson about new and exciting updates taking place at Vesterheim.


Register Here

Registration at the above link is required!
After registering, you will receive a seperate confirmation email containing information on how to join the live webinar on November 8th.

About the Guest Speaker:

Anne Elisebeth Skogen grew up in the little town of Egersund, Norway, south of Stavanger. For the last 37 years, she has lived in Sand, in the fjords northeast of Stavanger. She is a teacher with additional education in drama and storytelling, and has spent the last 20 years teaching drama and theatre at a culture school for youth. Now retired, Anne Elisebeth runs her own storytelling business, telling stories for schools, organizations, festivals, and companies. She practices her stories in her “outdoor office”– while hiking in the mountains and in the woods! She has visited the United States with a tour in 2012, and performances in 2010, 2011, and 2018, and participated twice in the Moth Story Slam in New York. She is married to a historian, and they share an interest in Norwegian emigration. They have four children and two grandchildren.

The Restauration Has Been Rescued!

I don’t have all of the details yet but after several years of uncertainty during which time the Restauration replica ship was for sale, it has been purchased and will once again sail the waters near Rogaland.

Local businessman, Cato Østerhus recently purchased Restauration. It is my understanding that the ship will be based on the island of Klosterøy in Stavanger municipality, Rogaland county. Østerhus owns the Utstein Kloster hotel and Restauration will call this her new home where she will be available to the public. More information about the history of the hotel can be found here. The hotel appears to be perfectly located… 25 minutes to Stavanger, and only 1 hour to Pulpit Rock. And the island of Klosterøy appears beautiful as well. It looks fantastic and it is evident that Cato has big plans for the hotel. It is easy to see that Restauration will be a perfect addition. I can’t wait to visit!

But first Restauration must be repaired after being left in a state of disrepair and uncertainty these past few years. Jørn Flesjå, who owns and operates Ryfylke wooden boat building on Finnøy and who originally built “Restauration” in 2010 will oversee these repairs.

I do apologize for my lack of details. I will continue to monitor the situation and hope to have more updates soon. But as my friend Vidar Aarhus said so well, “The most important thing is that the ship remains in Rogaland and will be available in 2025!” Hurrah! Thank you to Cato Østerhus! We look forward to the time when we can once again visit.

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/