Resident of Bristol Area

Is Honored on Anniversary

1935 Article in Reporter and Farmer




       Mrs. Kari Grove, pioneer resident of .the Bristol vicinity, was honored recently when the Bethesda Lu­theran congregation of Bristol ar­ranged a celebration at the church to commemorate the 50th anniver­sary of her arrival in that vicinity. Friends from the Bergen Church congregation joined with the Bristol church for the occasion and a happy. afternoon was enjoyed.


An appropriate program was ren­dered, consisting of devotions led by Rev. M. J. Nilsen; anniversary speech by Rev. A. E. Distad, guest speaker; music number by ladies quartette; duet by Mrs. C. Gust Johnson and Mrs. Lars Larson; reading, “A Parable to Mother” by Mrs. E. A. Esche; reading of appro­priate poems by Mrs. Lars Sand­vik and Mrs. Lars Larson; a his­tory of the past 50 years prepared and read by Mrs. R. Egge, daugh­ter of the honoree.


After the program, a delicious lunch was served to all in the church parlors by the Bethesda La­dies Aid. Rev. Nilsen, acting as toastmaster, called on several spea­kers who related interesting inci­dents in the pioneer life of Mrs. Grove and extended congratulations and good wishes. Lars Larson pre­sented Mrs. Grove with a purse of silver as a guest from the guests. The response was given by Mrs. Grove who thanked all for what they had done for her and after adding a gift of money to the purse of silver, she requested that it be sent to missions as a thank offer­ing to God for His mercy and gui­dance through the many years.


The history as written by Mrs. Egge, is an interesting chapter of pioneer life and is reprinted in part being typical of the experiences early settlers of Day County follows:


Mrs. Grove with Mr. Grove and daughter Inga left Wells, Minn., on Monday, April 20th, 1885. They loaded their earthly belongings into their immigrant car, which in­cluded 2 old horses, 4 cows, 3 hogs a few chickens and some household goods and machinery and their faithful dog, Frank.


    Tuesday, April 21st, they arrived in St. Paul after having to take a backward and roundabout way in getting on to the road leading to Da­kota. In St. Paul they were side tracked and detained for several hours. They finally made connec­tions with the main train and got started again, Mr. Grove in the im­migrant car, and Mrs. Grove and Inga riding in the caboose next to the car.


     When they arrived at Milbank, the caboose was detached and the family was forced to ride in the car with the livestock and ma­chinery. This did not leave very much room for anyone and when they arrived in Bristol, they found much to their disappointment that one of their hogs had suffocated.


     Wednesday morning, April 22nd, they arrived at Bristol the town of their destination. They arrived ear­ly in the morning just as the people the small village were awaking. They looked in both directions from the train and tried to decide if this is the place in which they had to stop for there were only a few shacks and it did not look as though it were any town at all.


     They went, to the Brokaw Hotel, the largest building in the village which was only a small structure at that time and found Mr. Bro­kaw the proprietor who helped them unload. Mr. Brokaw having a team of ponies and wagon, kindly con­sented to haul a load for them. Iver Skaare also came to Bristol to meet them. Mr. Grove, Mr. Bro­kaw and Iver Skaare loaded their wagons and started for the Iver Skaare home. The Skaare home was the place where nearly all the first immigrants of that vicinity headed and stayed until they were located. Iver Skaare was the good hearted man who went to meet all these people and hauled their be­longings to his home with his sturdy yoke of oxen.


   The Grove’s arrived at the Skaare home that same evening and were happy again to be in a place where it was warm and where they could rest.  


    After resting a few days they went to Watertown to file on a homestead at the Main Land Of­fice.  This was another weary trip as it was made with a team of horses and a wagon taking two days down and two days back. The 1and claimed at the head Land Office at Watertown was that, which is known as the Old Grove farm.


     Their first undertaking on this new land was to dig a well, then they dug a cave for a dwelling. This cave or house was finished with rough lumber inside, and banked with sod to the roof on the outside. When the roof was com­pleted they moved into their new home.  They built a similar sod building that was used for a stable. Potatoes were planted where this sod was taken away. The potatoes were their first crop planted; they grew nicely and looked as though it meant real food for next winter, but much to their disappointment they were all destroyed by a hail storm later.


Later on this same spring more settlers came including the Sig­destads, Ole Bakken, Ole Simonson and many others. These peo­ple all formed one community. One day after the Grove’s found them­selves fairly well settled they had a visitor, a man by the name of Shultz. Shultz arrived with his 4 horses and a breaking plow and starting breaking on the Grove land. They tried to tell him the land was theirs, but it was of no use as he claimed the same.


So Shultz kept on breaking the land. Mrs. Grove tried to find out who this man was and where he lived. She could not speak the American language very well and neither could Shultz, so they had a hard time getting acquainted, and about all Mrs. Grove found out was that he lived “about 3 miles (be­hind) town”, but he did not say which town it was. Mrs. Grove to this day doesn’t know which town he meant. After a number of arguments this man Shultz was convinced through comparing papers with Mr. Grove that this was not his land, so he went on after plowing five acres. The Groves never heard him again. Mrs. Grove’s chil­dren and grandchildren will always remember the remarks and stories that she had to tell about the hu­morous arguments (and misunder­standings) that she and her hus­band had with Mr. Shuitz.


The first religious service attend­ed by the Grove’s in Dakota Terri­tory was the one at her parent’s home, Sakarias Sigdestad. That new crude home had a shingled roof but no windows or doors in as yet. This was on a Sunday, about the middle of June of the same spring. The service was conducted by a young student, whose summer work was to gather the new set­tlers together for worship. They had no more services until the next fall when Rev. Storley of Milbank came and held a meeting, with Holy Communion and Baptism at the Nels Williamson home. It was on this occasion that Selma Grove, now Mrs. Rasmus Egge was bap­tized. She was the first Grove child born in South Dakota.


Fall was soon upon them and the Grove’s found that the supply of flour they brought along from Min­nesota was nearly gone. The near­est flour mill was the one at Aber­deen and this meant that someone would have to make a trip there. John Grove and Iver Skaare made this trip with a team of horses and a yoke of oxen and wagons, each taking a load of wheat and trading it for flour. They also traded a 50 lb. tub of butter made by Mrs. Grove for the very much needed food and clothing, receiving 16 cents a pound for the butter. That first big purchase brought much joy to the family.


      It took them two days and two nights to make this trip, leaving Mrs. Grove and the two small chil­dren at home alone. With the re­turn of this trip the Grove’s had a fairly good supply of food and clothing for the winter. They also had an abundant supply of long slough hay that was twisted and us­ed for fuel as well as being fed to the livestock.


The early years of  Mrs. Grove’s life in South Dakota was one of  many hardships, trials and tribula­tions.  She experienced the incident of the blizzard of Jan. 12, 1888, which is well known to all the old settlers. The Grove’s were for­tunate enough to be at home when the storm struck as suddenly as a bolt of lightning. Mr. Grove had just left for the poultry dug-out to feed the chickens and could never have made his way back to the house without the loud calling of Mrs. Grove. She wrapped a com­forter around her and followed the house wall not daring to release her hand from the wall, the storm was so dark and blinding. They tried later in the day to get to the stable to care for their stock, but it proved hopeless. Mrs. Grove held on to one end of a long twine and stood by the corner of the house. Mr. Grove unwound the line as he went along in search for the stable. When he reached the end of the line there was no stable in sight, so he made his way back to the house by winding the twine. It was in this storm that a Mr. Smutt liv­ing 2 miles west of Grove’s at­tempted to go to the stable and got lost in the storm. His body was found later about three quarters of a mile from the house on the farm where Rasmus Egge now lives. He ad made the attempt despite the cautioning of his wife.


Here is a humorous incident. Ear­ly one morning Mrs. Grove was startled when she saw two men come running up to their place. Mr. Grove was out in the barn doing the chores. They were Joe Sigdestad and Per Grodis; following them equally fast came Iver Skaare and Cornelius Verlo. They breathless­ly asked what the matter was. Mr. and Mrs. Grove equally startled an­swered all was well. Then it dawn­ed upon Joe Sigdestad that it was April fool’s day. Young Kolbin Mork, about 13 years old then, now living in Pierpont had aroused the neighborhood with a sudden announcement that they must all rush over to Grove’s to help lift up an old horse that had fal1en down.


    Prairie fires were frequent scares.  We shall tell about one fire in particular where it looked, for awhile, as if their home would be destroyed.  All the children were ordered to stand by the well and if there was no other escape, thy were all to be let down into the well.  This well was not very deep and had about two feet of water in it. But the home was saved also this time by the grace of God and their suc­cess in getting a furrow plowed around the buildings and back firing.


The settlers of that new com­munity were spiritually interested from the very beginning. They had brought a priceless heritage with them from Norway. The Bible, Forkiaring or Explanation and hymn book was made a part of their daily life. The Iver Skaare’s and others had talked of organizing a congregation even before the Grove family came. The interest and need increased with children grow­ing up in every home. Services in their sod houses were heartily wel­comed when ever a traveling minis­ter passed through. A pastor by the name of Kjelaas helped organize the Bergen congregation and also the Ladies Aid. The various homes and a school house served as the meet­ing place for both organizations for many years or until they managed to erect the first church. The wo­men gladly signed up as members of the new Ladies Aid.


From time to time the women volunteered to sell certain amounts of eggs and butter and. donate the. money so that work material could be bought for the Aid. They as­sembled in the forenoons, had din­ner together and did a great deal of garment cutting in the after­noons. Before leaving for home they had lunch. The ready useful garments were brought to the next meeting and a sale was held each Fall.


The first aid meeting was held in a sod house, then the home of Jacob Mork. Mrs. Eric Winson served as leader for the Aid. After the first Aid sale they found it ne­cessary to provide for more officers to avoid confusion and mistakes. It was during the discussion of the advisability of this that Mrs. Grove was chosen lender of the Aid.   It was not an envied position and she too would like to have declined it but it fell to her lot to direct the work of the Aid for the next six years in succession.


Even in these pioneers times the children were not neglected with reference to their religious instruction. The early settlers provided for at least one month or six week of parochial school, and were only glad to take their turn in housing and boarding the teacher. Several of the first teachers were Jens Reinertson, Inga Reinertson and Rev. Homeland.


Mr. and Mrs. Grove were blessed with nine children: Inga, Selma, Lena, Clara and Selmer. Three children died in infancy and a little girl Clara at 6 years old. The yeas passed rapidly and the happy family resided on the Grove farm till 1915 when she moved to Bristol. The family tie was broken 4 years previous to this, July 12, 1911 when Mr. Grove passed away due to the injuries of an accident caused when driving a load of lumber through the barn door.