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Nils (Nels) Herlaugson Oksendahl

The story is told by Nels LeRoy Oksendahl, son of Nils (Nels).
"I will attempt to tell you some of my fathers story about coming to America."
Collected and edited by Hugo Solhaug

In America Nils called himself Nels.
Im my gjestebok you can find a message from the author of this article, LeRoy Oksendahl, which is son of Nils, and from one of LeRoy's sons, Eric.
See olso the page "Oksendahl bruk #2 in America", the Introduction.
Here more about the half brother Torbjørn (Tom), here more about the half brother Andreas (Andrew), here about the half brother Johan Carl, here about the half sister Dordei (Dina), here about the sister Ingebjørg, here about the brother Knut, here about the brother Lars.
The story:
Nels (Nils) Herlaugson Oksendahl born 1886.

When he was sixteen his brothers Tom and Andrew came back to the farm in Norway and took Lars and Knute, Ingiborg and Deana with them back to Rugby North Dakota. They decided against taking my Dad because he was too young.
I think this made him angry, although he never said so. Anyway he got a job herding goats for a crown (27cents) a day. At the end of two years he bought a suit of cloths a shot gun and a ticket to Rugby North Dakota. We still have the shotgun, I gave it to my oldest son to keep.

When he arrived in New York he had to go through Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants came. some of the Oksendahl that came through there had there name changed to Oksendahl because that's the way some clerk thought it should be spelled.

When Dad arrived in Rugby he worked for his brothers for a dollar a day (big wages compared to Norway) he saved enough from this to go to a Lutheran college in Grand Forks North Dakota to study English and study for his citizenship.

When he had learned enough he went to Hettinger South Dakota and worked for a Standard Oil company. His job was driving a wagon with a tank full of Kerosene and selling it from farm to farm to the homesteaders. He found what he thought was an abandon homestead and filed on in it. The owner showed up a few months later and they went to court. Dad lost. he often said that was the luckiest thing that happened because it hasn't rained there since!

He found his way to Sheridan county in extreme Northeastern Montana where there was land open for homesteading. Dad worked for a man named Olaf Berg who had a big ranch and a store in Redstone. The railroad only came as far as Plentywood so Dad's job mostly consisted of hauling freight from Plentywood the twenty miles to Redstone. He did this for over two years saving enough for a grubstake to homestead with. He filled on a homestead in 1911 15 miles south of Redstone. I often wondered how or why he stuck it out.

He said in 1918 and in 1919 he thrashed 196 bushel of wheat each year. He made more money working on a thrash crew than he did farming and he said he made more money playing poker under a bundle wagon than he did both.

The homesteading came to and end about 1923 when the farm population in Montana peaked. Every years since then there are less farmers in Montana.

He had a heart attack in 1951 and I took over the farm. Dad died in 1959

Copyright © kaare@trefall.com 2004-2023 (pgp)
Last updated 17th of April 2023


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