Synneve R. (Hjelle) Sigdestad

1831- 1919

Synneve R. Hjelle was born to Rasmus and Kristi Hjelle in Opstryn, Nordfjord, Norway on  25 March, 1831. She was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Faith.


At the age of 22, she married Sakarias Johnson Valdsnes, and after- their marriage they moved to a Farm called Sigdestad where they resided until the Spring of 1881. (It was customary to take the name of' the farm upon which one lived; therefore their name changed to Sigdestad).


They emigrated to the United States, arriving in Montevideo, Minnesota July, 1881 and residing there until the Spring of 1884 when the eastern section of Dakota Territory was opened to homesteaders. They filed a claim in Lynn Township, Day County, about seven miles north of Bristol, South Dakota.


Their children were all born in Norway, namely three daughters: Kari, Ingeborg, and Kristianna; and three Sons: John, Rasmus, and Sakris. One other son died in infancy. Their daughter, Kristaanna, left Norway a year before her family in the year 1880.


When they learned of Dakota Territory issuing land grants to homesteaders, they were eager to Journey on. So, in covered wagon, a team of oxen, and with what possessions they had, they arrived an Lynn Twp. and were among the very early settlers. The only mention of other settlers at the time were the Winson and Tofley families.


Pioneer life was rugged. Their shacks were sod huts, and small, and prairie fires were general and destructive. But with determination and willingness to labor on, they progressed with unbelievable results, which I attribute to the "Viking Spirit".


The settlers moved in fast and the sod proved rich and produced abundant crops. They were accustomed to do so many things in life and their fortitude and their faith in God was an ever-present power.


They were the organizers of the Bergen Lutheran Church and always active in the promotion of God's Kingdom.


Grandma Sigdestad died April 7, 1919 at her home where she had struggled in earlier years to build for keeps, happy to know she was near her children and grandchildren to enjoy their association. Her husband preceded her in death. She is buried in the Bergen Church cemetery.




Submitted 4/15/55 by granddaughter, firs. Bert Flakoll (Selma Olson), Bristol, SD