TORSTEIN TORSTEINSON was from the SLETTETVEIT farm in the village of Mo, in Mo, Telemark, Norway. Mo is one of several small villages that make up the kommune (municipality) of Mo (called Tokke since 1964). The kommune is adjacent to, and west of Kvitesveid kommune. The SLETTETVEIT farm is located in a valley that runs north from the Dalåi River, a tributary to Bandak Lake. The farm is only one kilometer south of the family church at the village of Mo.
Mo, Telemark, Norway
The Mo Church was built in 1839, on the site of the original stave church. The crucifix and altarpiece from the original church were restored and used in the construction of the new church. The church is located on highway F806.
In 1845, TORSTEIN was living at the VISTAD farm, west of the village of Dalen. Dalen is on the western end of Bandak Lake, and is the terminus of the Telemark Canal, a 105 km. waterway from Skien. The farm is located just below the confluence of the Tokke and Dalåi Rivers, between the river and the current highway 38. It was here, that he and SIGNE BJØRNSDOTTER were married. For many years they traveled between VISTAD and VIKEN, about 5 km. to the south, climbing the winding road up the steep slope south of Bandak Lake. They were innerstar (tenant farmers), farming the land owned by others.
According to the 1865 Mo census, TOSTEIN TOSTEINSON (as spelled in the census) and his family were living at the MIDJAAS (also spelled MIDJÅS) SØNDRE farm. TORSTEIN is listed as leilending (tenant farmer) in the 1865 census. As a leilending, TORSTEIN would not have owned the farm, but would have had a lifetime lease to use the farm. The farm is situated on a high hill, at the end of a long winding road. It is about ten kilometers west of the town of Dalen. MIDJAAS is about eight kilometers from the SLETTETVEIT farm, which TORSTEIN purchased in 1869.
TORSTEIN and SIGNE are also known to have lived at HAUGEN, a sub-farm of VISTAD, and at NEDREBØ on the road going up to the MIDJÅS farm
In 1882, TORSTEIN was still at SLETTETVEIT, and in that year he sold the farm for 2,200 kroner and left for Fergus Falls, Otter Tail, MN. They lived in the Fergus Falls area about 17 years. TORSTEIN is listed as an original land owner in Tordenskjold twp. Kittel obtained his final citizenship there in 1897.
By 1899, they were living in Red Lake County, MN. The 1900 U.S. census shows TORSTEIN and SIGNE living with their son, Kittel, in Equality township.
TORSTEIN and SIGNE were members of the Salem Church in nearby Garnes twp. Church records show that the family attended church, and the grandchildren of TORSTEIN and SIGNE were confirmed there. TORSTEIN and SIGNE are buried in the church cemetery in unmarked graves.
Kjetil had a child Olav with Hege Tarjeisdotter URBØ, in 1877. Hege had a child Inger, previously with Jon Halvorson BAKANNE, in 1871. There is no mention in the Mo Bygdebok (p. 97) whether she was married either time. Hege "died as a milkmaid at SLETTETVEIT."
photo courtesy LaVonne Brown
In 1878, Kjetil purchased ØVRE RINGESTOGA farm from his father's brother for 4,800 kroner, but sold it in 1881 and moved back to SLETTETVEIT from where he, in 1882, immigrated to Fergus Falls, MN.
The 1900 U.S. Census shows Kittel ("Kjittel") in Equality township, Red Lake County, MN, living with his wife Ragnhild and four children. Sophia, the oldest child was born in June 1883, in Minnesota. Kittel and Ragnhild are reported to have immigrated in 1882, and to have been married 18 years.
The 1910 U.S. Census shows Kittel still living in Equality township. His wife, Ragnhild, and their five children are living with him. A sixth child had died. The census shows that Kittel and Ragnhild had been married 35 years, and had both come to America in 1882.
The Mo Bygdebok shows that Kittel and Ragnhild were both living at RINGESTOGA, on different sub-farms, prior to emigrating. Kittel was at ØVRE RINGESTOGA between 1878 and 1881 (p. 267), while Ragnhild was living at JORDET (p. 271). Her parents were Gunnar Knutson JORDET (1811-1889) and Signe Eivindsdotter (1816-1876). Two of Ragnhild's brothers immigrated to Albert Lea, MN, in 1880.
The Mo Ministerialbok shows that Kjetil emigrated in 1882, with his parents and two siblings, Anne and Sigurd. Ragnhild also came with the family, but apparently was not yet married, as no marriage records can be found in the Ministerialbok.
Kjetil signed his Declaration of Intention for citizenship on Oct. 31, 1882, in Otter Tail County. In that document, he stated he arrived in the United States on or about June 15, 1880. His name was spelled "Kittel" on that document, as well as on the final Citizenship papers, dated July 15, 1897.
Kittel is mentioned in Telesoga No. 41, September, 1919, as an early settler in Equality. The 1909 and 1911 plat maps of Equality township show Kittel owning 160 acres in the southwest quarter of Section 15.
Ragnhild died April 26, 1922. Kittel died September 14, 1927. Both are buried at Salem Cemetery.
Kittel and Ragnhild had six children.
Sophia - b. Jun 13, 1883 - d. Jan 13, 1919 buried Salem Cemetery Ole - b. Apr 25, 1885 - d. Jan 16, 1931 buried Salem Cemetery Carl G. - b. Sep 20, 1891 - d. Oct 1, 1926 buried Salem Cemetery Theodore - b. Nov 18, 1895 - d. Dec 3, 1961 Victor L. - b. May 8, 1900 - d. Jan 22, 1966 buried Salem Cemetery unknown - d. before 1900
photo courtesy Patty Slettvet Fleming
The Mo Bygdebok shows that Thorstein and Olaf utvandra til Stoughton (emigrated to Stoughton), Wisconsin, in 1878. "Ole" is found in the 1900 U.S. Census living at the Dane County Asylum in Verona, WI. He was still there in the 1930 Census, shown to be working at the power plant. There is also an entry in the 1880 U.S. Census for Ole Slettveit living in Pleasant Springs, Dane, WI, age 21. This would be a spelling closer to the actual spelling in Norway.
"Thomas" does not appear in public records of Wisconsin, but, his son, Thomas, was enumerated there in the 1905 state census for the town of Burke in Dane County, WI. Thomas was in the 1900 and 1920 U.S. Censuses for Genesis, Cumberland, TN. In 1930, he was living in Sumner, Pierce, WA. He died there in 1943.
Their brother Tallief may have lived for a short time in Wisconsin also. The Bygdebok shows that he emigrated to Stoughton in 1881, but his first child was born in Minnesota in 1883.
Thomas and Thea had three children.
Mary - b. Mar 1885 Thomas - b. Jan 14, 1887 - d. Jul 22, 1970 buried Sumner, WA Arthur L. - b. Oct 14, 1892 - d. Dec 1986 buried New Castle, IN
As reported in the Mo Ministerialbok, Tollef emigrated in 1881. The family was known to be in Glyndon township, Clay County, in 1895, and in Equality township, Red Lake County, by 1899, as his daughter, Hilda, was confirmed at the Salem church there, Nov. 19, 1899. He is found in the 1900 U.S. Census for Equality, Red Lake, MN. He is also in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census records for Equality township.
Tollef married Gunlaug Eivindsdotter SKÅLEN. Gunlaug was the daughter of Eivind Torsteinson HUSDALEN (1824-1884) and Guro Olavsdotter SKÅLEN (1821-1899). See Mo Bygdebok (p. 295). SKÅLEN is a sub-farm of the HAUGEHÅTVEIT farm, which was the home of TORSTEIN STEINARSON (Tollef's grandfather). Gunlaug was Tollef's first cousin.
Gunlaug used the name, Julia, in the 1895 census, but later went by Gunlaug again. She died April 9, 1936. Tollef died July 15, 1946. Both are buried at Salem Cemetery.
Tollef and Gunlaug had ten children.
Anna - b. March 1883 Evend "Ed" - b. Sep 3, 1884 - d. May 31, 1946 buried Salem Cemetery Sophia - b. June 1887 Olga - b. Aug 13, 1889 - d. Jul 3, 1964 buried Salem Cemetery Theodore O. - b. Mar 8, 1892 - d. Jul 5, 1967 buried Salem Cemetery Gena B. - b. August 1894 Clara - b. June 1896 Hilda - b. August 1899 Salvie - b. Jul 8, 1901 - d. Jan 4, 1973 buried Salem Cemetery unknown - d. before 1900
grave of Sigurd Torstenson
Salem Cemetery, Garnes MN
photo courtesy LaVonne Brown
Sigurd, the youngest child, married in Otter Tail County. He, his wife Andrine, and three young children joined the rest of the family in the move to Red Lake County. Sigurd had been there only a short time when tragedy struck in the form of a violent storm. As is prominently displayed on his gravestone, Sigurd was "killed in storm."
According to the 1900 census, Sigurd and Andrine had already lost two children. Then Sigurd was killed. And daughter Sina must have died within the next five years as she is missing from the 1905 census. After Sigurd's death, "Annie" married Ole Lerfald, a widowed grocery merchant from Fergus Falls, and she and her children returned to Fergus Falls.
All must not have gone well there, as by 1915, Ole had moved away from Fergus Falls and was with his children, from his first marriage, in North Dakota. Annie continued to run the grocery store in Fergus Falls and was still doing so in 1930.
The two surviving children were Theodore and Alvin. As adults they each dropped the "son" from their name and went by Thorsten. Theodore had two daughters, and he died in 1972 in Austin, Mower, MN. Alvin, a dentist in Isanti, MN, retired and moved to Clearwater, Pinellas, FL. He and his wife Dorothy died there in the 1970's.
old Salem Luthern Church
|Tollef T. Slettvedt||02-13-1905||Section 28||S-1/2 of NW-1/4||80 acres|
|"||02-13-1905||Section 28||W-1/2 of SW-1/4||80 acres|
|Bjorn Torstenson||10-19-1905||Section 15||SE-1/4||160 acres|
|Kittel T. Slettetvedt||11-24-1905||Section 15||SW-1/4||160 acres|
|Andrine I. Thorstenson||12-08-1905||Section 18||SE-1/4 of SW-1/4||67 acres|
The family belonged to the Salem Lutheran Church (photo right), founded in adjacent Garnes township in 1895. The three brothers can be found on the second membership list of the church. TORSTEIN and SIGNE are buried at Salem Cemetery. THEA and Amanda were confirmed at the church. The confirmation classes, as well as most of the services, were in Norwegian.
The homesteads were located about six miles to the east of the church, in Equality township. The land is a mixture of trees, tillable land and wetlands. Many of the farmers, at the time, would go to North Dakota in the fall for the grain harvest. They would find work in the winter to the east, at the lumber camps. Then in the spring they would float the logs down the rivers to the mills.
When the family arrived in Red Lake County, Ole Klostoe was serving as pastor of the Salem church. A few excerpts from his biography shed some light on the conditions at the time:
"... indefinite stretch of semi-wilderness ... territory dotted with settlers' shanties hidden away in the woods and cut off by the swamp lands ... roads, when they could be found, were invariably bad and often the use of horses had to be abandoned ... grueling effort merely to travel the sodden wagon tracks that served as roads ... mud and mosquitos of summer ... cold and snow of winter."
The ground, almost always soggy, in the area was referred to as swamp. It was covered with brush and dead grass, making it difficult to clear. "It limited the settlers to scarcely more than subsistence farming and to its accompanying poverty."
In Norway the children of TORSTEIN would have had the patryonic name of Torsteinson or Torsteinsdotter. They also would have their farm name, Slettetveit. But, the immigrant families coming to America had to choose one or the other for their last name. Which would this family choose?
Kittel and BJORN both filed papers in the fall of 1882, declaring their intention to become citizens of the United States. On October 31, Kittel did so using the name, Kittel T. Slettvedt. Four days later, on November 4, BJORN filed using the name, BJORN TORSTENSON.
In the 1900 U.S. Census, TORSTEIN and three of his sons can be found in Red Lake County, using the name Sletteveit. This is the only time that BJORN used the farm name. In the same census, three of BJORN's children, in Otter Tail County, were all using the name Thorstenson. Sigurd used Torstenson.
By 1910, BJORN and his family were all using the name Thorstenson, while his father and siblings were using the name, Slettvedt. The spelling of the farm name in Norway is Slettetveit.
Sigurd used the name Torstenson, although,in 1905, his widow used Thorstenson when buying land.
In Wisconsin, Olaf and Thorstein chose the name Slettvet, without the silent "d."
|1895 Minnesota State Census||-||TORSTEIN, SIGNE; Kjetil, Ragnhild, and children; Sigurd, Annie, and children.|
|1900 Equality, MN Census||-||TORSTEIN, SIGNE; Kjetil, Ragnhild, and children.|
|1900 Equality, MN Census||-||Sigurd Torstenson, Andrina, and children, Theodore, Sina, Alvin.|
|1905 Minnesota State Census||-||Ole Lerfald, Annie (Sigurd's widow), and children, Theodore, Alvin.|
|1910 Fergus Falls, MN Census||-||Ole Lerfald, Carline (Sigurd's widow), and children, Theodore, Alvin.|
|1920 Fergus Falls, MN Census||-||Andrena Lerfald (Sigurd's widow), and Alvin.|
|1930 Fergus Falls, MN Census||-||Adrain Lerfald (Sigurd's widow).|
|1930 Isanti, MN Census||-||Alvin Thorsten (Sigurd's son), wife Dorothy.|
|1910 Equality, MN Census||-||Kjetil, Ragnhild, and family.|
|1920 Equality, MN Census||-||Kjetil, Ragnhild, and family.|
|1900 Cumberland, TN Census||-||Thorstein (Thomas) and family.|
|1905 Dane, WI Census||-||Thorstein's son Thomas.|
|1920 Cumberland, TN Census||-||Thorstein (Thomas) and family.|
|1930 Pierce, WA Census||-||Thorstein (Thomas) and family.|
|1880 Dane, WI Census||-||Olaf (Ole).|
|1900 Dane, WI Census||-||Olaf (Ole).|
|1930 Dane, WI Census||-||Olaf (Ole).|
|1900 Equality, MN Census||-||Tallef - bottom of page.|
|1900 Equality, MN Census||-||Gunlaug, and family - top of page.|
|1910 Equality, MN Census||-||Tallef, Gunlaug, and family.|
|1920 Equality, MN Census||-||Tallef, Gunlaug, and family.|
|1930 Equality, MN Census||-||Tallef, Gunlaug, and family.|
Translations from the