Autobiography of Rasmus Sigdestad
††††††† This autobiography of Rasmus Sigdestad was submitted by Curt
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Early Days of Rasmus Sigdestad (written by him in 1955)
††††††† I was born in Opstryn, Nordfjord, Norway on February 8, 1868, and came
to the United States in July of 1881, settling at Montevideo, Minnesota. My
father and mother, and two sisters and two brothers came to Montevideo. Another
sister went to Wells, Minnesota. Yellow Medicine County, where we settled, was
quite new. The homes were one-room log houses, or sod houses dug into a side
hill. My parents moved into a sod house a few weeks before the harvest of 1881.
††††††† In the winters I helped farmers do their chores for my board and room.
If there was some spare time I went to school. I had less than six months
schooling in this country. My parents wanted all of us to have Christian
training, and in 1882 I was confirmed in Bergen Church in Yellow Medicine
††††††† One of my sisters married Iver Skaare. They decided to go west and look
for a free homestead. Another family by the name of Erik Winson decided to go
too. They each had a team of oxen and a few cows. I went along, chasing the cows
behind the covered wagons. We left in May of 1884 with Webster, Dakota
Territory, as our destination.
††††††† It took us a week to go from Montevideo to Webster. I remember we came
to Webster toward evening. We drove to a place which is now called the
Bierschbach corner and camped there overnight. After we had our supper, Erik
Winson and I walked uptown. There were a hundred or more Negro soldiers in town.
There was a saloon and I guess they had been in there, for most of them were
very drunk. The next morning all the soldiers marched to Fort Sisseton.
††††††† We drove out to Lynn Lake. Erik Winson had a brother who had proven up a
quarter of land. The brother had built a small house but had gone back to
Minnesota. He told Erik that they could stay in the house as long as they
wished. The two families stayed there while Iver and Erik went looking for land
around Lynn Lake. It was pretty well claimed by others so they hired John Tofley
to help locate land. The Tofleys had been here two or three years and were
acquainted. After some searching they found several sections in the southwest
corner of Lynn Township. Skaare and Winson each picked out a quarter which they
planned to file for homestead, but when they came to the land office they were
told that the land Winson had chosen was already claimed or proved up. Winson
then went north and found land four miles farther north and filed for a quarter
††††††† My father, Sakris, came here the fall of 1884 and filed on a quarter
next to my brother-in-law Iver Skaare. The spring of 1885 my parents moved to
this quarter of land. I was too young to file on any land, so I went back to
Minnesota and worked for my brother-in-law, Magnus Olson, for $110 a year. With
the $110 I bought two three-year-old steers and one cow. I drove them to Dakota.
I sold them steers to my father who broke them and used them as oxen for many
years, and I sold the cow to a neighbor. Farm work was hard to get so I went to
Andover, where the railroad was being built from Andover to North Dakota. It was
spring and we had a lot of rain and cold weather. Workers had to sleep in tents.
In early summer my brother John, two other boys, and myself went west of Groton
to work for two big farmers who were brothers. They were wheat farmers. They
used four binders with two men shocking behind each binder. We got $1.25 a day
working from about seven a.m. to sundown. We thought we made good money.
††††††† After harvest I went back to Minnesota. The spring of 1888 I worked for
a farmer. For eight months work I was paid $140. With this money I bought two
three-year-old mare colts which I drove to Lynn Township, and sold to my brother
John. He filed on 80 acres that bordered my father's land.
††††††† In 1889 I came of age and that fall I bought a relinquishment to a tree
claim from Rasmus Larson. About 15 acres were broken and I seeded my first crop
the spring of 1890. I had a team of horses and I broke up as much for field as I
could. This was the first land I owned. As time went on I bought more land.
††††††† On July 1, 1899 I married Anna Marie Gudahl of Faribault County,
Minnesota. We bought an unfinished house and moved it to the present farm stead.
The summer of 1900 we built an addition to the house and later built the farm
††††††† Our marriage was blest with six children; three boys, Steward, Clarence,
and Rueben; and three girls, Selma, Esther, and Agnes. One boy Rueben died in
††††††† I am the only one left of my family. My brothers John and Sakris, and
three sisters; Kristina, Mrs. Magnus Olson; Kari, Mrs. John Grove; and Ingebor,
Mrs. Iver Skaare, are deceased and buried in Bergen Cemetery in Lynn Township.
††††††† My wife Anna passed away December 21, 1954. We had 55 years together.
Along with the hardships we had many happy times. God has been very good to us.
Editorís Note: †Rasmus died in 1958 in Day County, South Dakota and is buried in Bergen Lutheran Cemetery, Lynn Township.