Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Hovland Boys

From a well off family living on farms near Faaberg, Norway that dates from 1396; it is said that the Hovland boys never did any work harder than horseback riding. The farms were were small and the family was large which could explain why they came to America.

(the following information is taken directly from Cousin Carrie's "The History of the Hovland Family" that she did in the mid 1970s. She was about 70 years old at the time so please keep that in the back of your mind when you read this. It is not all politically correct.)

The family of seven children, Ole, Lars, Simund, Johanna, Johan, Karen, Berthe and their parents emigrated to America in 1857. Ole and Lars were not on the emigrant list so it is suspected that they came earlier.

Simund and Johan, too young to file claims, decided to find work down south for the winter. (personally I can understand why they went south. First, they are in the freezer called Norway, then they move to Minnesota. They were the original snowbirds) They went as far as New Orleans, but they found the sentiment of the people there was pretty hot. Northerners were not welcome. (Though, they weren't really Northerners. I doubt seriously whether they even spoke English very well but they were strangers and at that time would have been consider suspect.)

One of the many difficulties they had was buying food and one time went without food for 3 days. They would go up to a settler's home and ask for food, and be met at the door with a gun. "Yankees go home," they said. "We have no use for you." The settler's would set the dogs on them if they saw them coming.

So, Simund and Johan decided to try to catch some fish. They borrowed hooks and lines from the negroes. They were lucky enough to catch four fish. Simund caught a large catfish, the others caught three small catfish. Simund had waded out into the river and sat down on a rock. (I assume that is why he caught the biggest fish.) They had to have salt, so one took the three small fish and traded them for some salt at a negro's cabin. Then they had a feast on boiled fish. (not my idea of a feast but, hey, they hadn't anything to eat for three days. Who am I to judge).

Soon after they reached more friendly towns and at last they got back home to their parents. But, they were so incensed at the treatment they had received, when the Union called for volunteers they all enlisted in the northern army. Co. G of the 15th Wisconsin regiment was made up of Norwegian immigrant boys.

Johan was a sharpshooter and stayed all through the war. He served time in Andersonville prison and nearly died there. When he got back from the war he was an invalid and lived only another three years.

Simund served only a year on Island No.10 on the Mississippi. He came down with typhoid from the bad water and was honorably discharged.

Cousin Carrie spent years writting an exhaustive family history. She interviewed her papa, uncles, aunts, and cousins, wrote to churches and government offices in Norway and newspapers in the U.S. and Norway. This was a ton of work and must have taken her years.

I'm blessed to have found it among my in-laws things and to have been in touch with Carrie before she died.

History lesson over for today. Don't forget to read "The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara" THERE WILL BE A TEST! Damn kids. Leaving before the bell stops ringing.



  1. Wow, I feel like I know them so well now! Great history!

  2. What a treasure trove. I love that they chose they Union over the South after the treatment they received. They were smart boys.

  3. I so wish I had family history like that recorded. Wonderful!

  4. Very interesting.

    And I'll leave it at that, because I have no wish to get caught up in a North/South debate. I tend to get, er, "het up" over the subject, as my very Yankee husband will attest to.

  5. Jan: this wasn't meant to provoke a debate about the North/South just to provide a little historical information as they saw it.

  6. "The Killer Angels" has been on my 'gotta read before I up and die' list for years. Retired Army spousal unit must have it lying around someplace. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. I've been doing family research for YEARS. Since 1970. Gradually I have been able to piece together lives of some of the family members. When that happens I bake a cake I am just so happy.

    Good for you aunt in-law! And thanks for sharing with us!


  8. All this history of the families must of been saved with you in mind!!! All their work has not been wasted!

    It is always so interesting.

  9. Nice historical post. Your mention of Andersonville gave me the creeps. My Dad had a painting of it on the wall in our house, and have read many books about it. What a hell hole that place was. Cheers Michele!!

  10. Wow, talk about denying the welcome mat. But catfish? Yuck.