Norheim Family Page
Descendants of Carl Josephson Norheim
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|Here's a portrait, taken about 1932, of Carl J Norheim
Carl J Norheim family in 1897
Ane (39) & Carl (38) with their children
L to R: Anna (<1), Emma (3), John (8)
Carl J Norheim moved to North Dakota in 1885 and helped build
the railroad between Jamestown and Carrington. On April 27th he paid $18 to
enter his homestead application for Sec 26 Twp 145 Range 64 in Bucephalia
Township. Carl moved onto his land on June 1, 1885 and managed to build a
sod house and break 6 acres of prairie that first year using a one-bottom
breaker walking plow drawn by an ox and mule team. Since Kensal wasn't
completed and there were no bridges, Carl carried his supplies on his back
across the James River from Melville. According to testimony by George B
McKenzie and A.C. Mayfield in his homestead proof papers, he planted crop on
6 acres and broke another 40 acres of land in 1886 and in 1887 planted
crop on 46 acres and broke another 38 acres Family stories indicate that he
also broke wild mustangs to do the work.
March 28, 1888 Carl and Ane Eriksen were married by Rev J. M.
Van Every at Jamestown, North Dakota at the Commercial house. They moved
onto Carl's homestead property, northwest of what later became Kensal.
Over the next few years Carl worked hard and by March of
1892, when he filed his homestead papers, he'd built a 12' x 24' x 8' house
valued at $150, a 28' x 40' x 8' barn valued at $200, a 14' x 14' x 8'
granary valued at $50, dug a well valued at $100, and had broken 120 acres
of land worth $360.
Although Carl and Ane had 8 children, only 4 lived to
adulthood. John was born January 30, 1889. Martin, born March 11, 1891, died
as an infant and according to family history was buried in Melville. Emma
Matilda was born March 28, 1892 and died of dysentery at about 6 months. She
too was buried in Melville. Emel was born August 1, 1893 and died as an
infant. Emma was born November 12, 1894.
The winter of 1896/97 was very severe, with many blizzards.
It was easy to get lost as there were no fenced in pastures or roads to
follow. Ane's brother Chris was living with them that winter, and when Ane
went into labor Carl sent Chris with a team and a sleigh to Kensal to get
the midwife. Although the sun was shining when he left the farm, word came
by telegraph that a storm was coming and that people should remain in town.
Chris and the midwife started out anyway and the storm overtook them. He
gave the horses loose rein, and the horses were able to find their way home
to the farm, where Anna was born January 21, 1897. Halvor was born July 16,
1899 and Carl Gustav November 29, 1901. On August 26, 1911, a Saturday
afternoon, Gus and Halvor were taking the cattle from one pasture to
another, and while they were about to open the gate some colts near the gate
kicked Gus in the head. He was taken to the house and Dr. Langstreth was
summoned, but Gus' skull had been fractured in two places and he died
The worst enemy of the early settlers was the prairie fire.
Reaching speeds of 40 mph, sometimes horses couldn't even run from it.
Farmers plowed wide firebreaks in the hope of saving their property from the
Ane's brother Chris was living with them in June 1897 when
Chris' wife Berta and 4 year old son Sivert were expected to arrive from
Norway. Chris knew when Berta's ship had left Norway, but arrivals weren't
precise. On the first possible day of their arrival, Carl let Chris take a
wagon to Kensal to meet the train. However Berta and Sivert weren't on it.
The next day Carl wouldn't let Chris drive the wagon in to town again, so
Chris walked, and the three of them walked the 6 miles back to the farm
after the evening train, leaving the luggage at the depot to be picked up
In the early 1900's, before telephones were available in
rural North Dakota, postcards were a primary form of communication. They
were sold for a nickel and mailed for a penny. Ane collected more than 200
cards, many bearing messages written in Norwegian. Some showed Jamestown and
Minot, others were Christmas and Valentine cards, and some were
do-it-yourself postcards featuring a photograph taken by a family member.
Some of the cards just went from farm to farm, not very far away. Many of
the cards had simple messages on them: "Pick me up at the train station" or
"come and have dinner with us tomorrow". Ane and Carl's grandson, Gus
Stangeland, inherited her card collection.
Their first barn burned down June 22, 1907 after being struck
by lightning. The entire barn was lost, together with some hay, feed and
machinery. The loss totaled $3000. By August, Carl had built a second barn.
Since both Anna and Emma enjoyed music, Carl bought them a
piano and they taught themselves to play through a correspondence course. It
was a good investment, as both girls played organ or piano in their church
and for enjoyment almost their entire lives.
A concrete walled cellar and a 16' x 24' kitchen and dining
room were added to the house in July of 1916. Later, the end portion of the
house was moved away as a separate building, and a 2 story addition was
made, with the kitchen on the first floor and extra bedroom space on the
second floor, with just a tiny door connecting to the previous bedrooms.
Throughout the years Carl and Ane attended "lagets", meetings
of Norwegians from a particular area. The meetings were held in many places,
including Fargo and Cooperstown in North Dakota, Willmar, Minnesota, and
Brookings, South Dakota. Carl attended one in Fargo with their daughters
Emma and Anna. A photo of Carl and Ane at a Grand Forks laget shows them
sitting in the center of the front row, indicating they were probably
Ane died at 10 PM at her home on Sep. 17, 1923 and was buried
in the Kensal cemetery.
Carl had a large farming operation until the 1930's. Although
he lost a lot of money when the banks failed, he took pride in the fact that
he hadn't lost any of his land. At the Foster County Fair in the fall of
1939 he was named the oldest county pioneer still actively engaged in
farming in the county.
Relatives and neighbors threw surprise birthday parties for
both Carl's 70th and 80th birthdays. At his 70th, he received a silver
shaving cup with his initials engraved on it and a white gold watch chain.
His granddaughter Phyllis remembers sitting on Carl's lap and playing with
his watch chain when she was about 4.
Memories about Carl from his children:
He always dressed in a suit and smoked a curly pipe. He'd let
the pipe rest on his chest, and it would fall over to the side and burn
holes in his shirt. In later years the pipe was stored with other family
memorabilia in the one room school house on the farm property; sadly, the
pipe was stolen from there.
During a severe storm in the 1930's, a tornado had completely
picked up Carl's garage and removed it while Carl was in town. The family
remembers watching him drive his Model T home, getting out to open and close
the various gates in the yard, driving past the house and up to where the
garage had been. He just sat there in the car looking at the spot where the
garage had been when he left for town.
Carl went to California for the winter the last 14 years of
his life. He was found dead in his hotel room in Los Angeles on Dec, 28th,
1939, presumably from a heart attack
His sons John and Halvor were in charge of Carl's estate
auction sale on Mar. 15, 1940. The sale drew about 1000 people, and 51 head
of cattle, 12 head of horses, and 39 pieces of farm machinery were sold,
with some of the milk cows going as high as $70 and $80.