The Botterud family of Curtiss, Clark Co., WI

Contributed by Svein Botterud
 

During the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century Clark co. Wisconsin was a very important place in the history of the family from the farm Botterud at Tretten in Norway. In the first part of the latter half of the 19th century two bothers, Even and Gunder Johnson, sons of John and Goro who owned the Botterud farm, were residing at the landing Vik a few miles north of Tretten in the community of yer in Gudbrandsdalen in Norway. They were making their living as tradesmen, having one of the greatest cattle markets in the country at the time just a couple of miles south from the farm in Tretten. This trading post was on the "wrong" side of the lake Losna, even though the local ferry serving the area had its intermediate stop at Vik.

 

Even and Gunder were soon to be accompanied with their sister Lisbeth and their brother Johan in the running of the trade post. As this trading post was not making a good fortune,  Even in 1869 obviously made a decision to render his trading permit to his brother Gunder and went off to the land of opportunity for Norwegians at the time, United States of America. His first destination was La Crosse, Wisconsin. He left before his younger brother Gunder became a parent to a John Johnson. Gunder kept on running the trading post while his older brother most likely made a living as lumber jack in the vast forests of Wisconsin.

 

The youngest brother Johan was the tradesman of the three and was making a good living on horse trading. In Norway the first train connection was completed in 1854 between Christiania, later Oslo, and Eidsvoll on the south end of the lake of Mjsa. From Eidsvoll people either went by horse and carriage or, for those that could afford it, by boat to Lillehammer before embarking on the route north through Gudbrandsdalen towards Trondheim. Because of the importance to the communications in Norway at the time, horses were a very valuable commodity, and being situated at the very heart of trade, Johan made and lost fortunes on horesetrading.

 

Another sister of Even, Gunder and Johan, Johanne, married a local, Johannes Strangstad, and in 1872 emigrated to the US to settle in Vernon co., Wisconsin. In the meantime their younger nephew John Botterud, later to be found in Clark co. WI, had joined Gunder, Lisbeth and Johan at Vik. John was the oldest son of Haagen Johnson Botterud, the oldest brother to Gunder and Even. He had, customary at the time, inherited the farm Botterud from his parents Goro and John.

 

As John settled at Vik and got married, Gunder and his wife Barbro, in 1875, decided to follow his older brother Even and emigrated to the US in 1875. They settled in Clark co. where Even had acquired land in Mayville, later to be Hoard. Even had some 120 acres of land in section 26/27 while Gunder got adjacent 80 acres. In the meantime John Botterud got married to Karen Olsdatter from the neighbouring community of Ringebu. Marry did also his youngest uncle Johan, the tradesman. Johan went to the US in 1873 but came back. His last child borne in Norway was borne in 1876. Because of a really bad trade he did, he lost all his fortune and emigrated to work in the lumber business in Hinckley, MN. He and his family survived the great fire of Hinckley in 1894 and one of his daughters married a famous to be Norwegian-American poet Julius Berg Baumann, see Norwegian American History Association.

 

After 1880 and before 1883 John Botterud and Karen joined his uncles Even and Gunder in Clark co. He acquired 80 acres land next to his brothers in section 23 of Hoard township. Soon John's oldest sister-in-law, Anne Olsdatter Bergehagen from Ringebu, joined them. She then married Even Johnson, John Botterud's uncle. In the meantime several of their fellow acquaintances from Norway joined them in Curtiss. There were Thompson families, Bekken family, Borgemoen family and Lokken family, all from a radius of less than 10 miles from the Botterud farm. Some were even relatives, though not close.

 

In the meantime in Norway, the trading post at Vik had turned into a school for the local area around the Botterud farm. The railway had been extended from Eidsvoll to Tretten and the end of the line for many years was at the Botterud farm. As the railway was to be extended towards Trondheim at the turn of the century, many workers were coming from near and far to make this their business. One of them was Nels Gustav Nelson from Sweden. He must have been living near or at Botterud as in 1894 he was married to one of John Botterud's sisters, Gunda Anna. A neighbour Anton Stalsbergsveen was also married to one of the sisters from Botterud, Emma.

 

Gunder Johnson and Barbro (Barbara in the US) had 11 children, 3 borne in Norway and 8 in Clark co. Some are found in the 1905 census of Hoard. In 1892 Gunder and his wife Barbro had twins. Barbara and Grace were borne and their mother soon succumbed from the strain and died one month after. Barbro is buried at the old Norwegian cemetery in Curtiss. The older children were by the grown up and the oldest, John, must have wondered off to make his fortune by going to Alaska for the gold-hunt. He was later accompanied by his sister Bena.

 

As Gunder became a widower, he must have "called" back to Norway for help. From descendants, testimony has been given that Gunda Anna and Nels Gustav Nelson stayed in Hoard before moving on along the SOO line to settle in Gonvick, MN. Emma and Anton Stalsbergsveen also joined the family in Hoard and of 6 children, three were borne in Curtiss. They then returned to Norway in 1905 to take on a farm at Tretten from another relative who had no children. A third brother to John Botterud, Hans Christian Botterud also emigrated to settle upstate Minnesota.

 

Of the 11 children of Gunder and Barbro, 7 ended their lives in either Orange co. California or in the south of California. I believe that Gunder died around 1908 in Clark co. In 1915 the farm is owned by a D. Werner and in 1926 by H. Kohls according to the ALHN plat map pages for Clark co. The younger children were then raised by relatives. I know that at least Ida, borne in 1879, went to stay with her aunt Johanne (Jane in the US) and her husband Johannes (John in the US) Strangstad who lived in Vernon Co. She later married Melvin Kirkeeng, Norwegian descent from Gudbrandsdalen, and lived for many years in Lake Benton, MN, before moving to the LA district in California.

 

Another sister, Jennie, married Dwight Goodrich and settled near San Diego. Many of the siblings though, according to living relatives, never married.

 

Even Johnson and Anne had 6 children at the census of 1905. A note I have received states that some of them ended up in Winona, Minnesota I believe. No other trace have been found. In 1926 the farm was operated by Axel Rued.

 

John and Karen Botterud continued farming their farm just up the road from Gunder and Even and by 1926 they have let the farm to their oldest daughter Helga who had married Allen Knight. John and Karen had 11 children in total. Only two of the families are still resident in Clark co., Knight of Abbotsford and Kiviko of Owen. The rest are scattered around the US. Names in marriage are from the Knights, Lokken, Pettis, Ecke, Thorson and Kiviko. Then there are Heinzel, Page, Machlett (Benda married Ben Machlett of Curtiss), Stadler, Azine and Naslund. And of course Botterud. All Botterud in the US are descendants from John and Karen Botterud of Curtiss.

 

A copy of a letter I have received says that the farms north and west of Curtiss were very important to the family. My grandfather, a younger brother of John Botterud, who took on the Botterud farm had stated that whenever any of his children wanted to emigrate, he refused them to do so. He had followed too many of his relatives to the emigrant ships in Oslo. And if counted from mid 1800, there are more emigrant relationship from Botterud in the US than left in the old country.

 

Note:  For those familiar with Hoard, the three farms are today a greater part of the Robert Weideman estate. Some old houses are still standing according to one of the Knight family members. Relatives still go there to attend to the gravesites. It is important that the ALHN members continues their work on preserving the local history of Clark co. for generations to come. That is why some of us here in Norway can take our pedigree back through time for centuries.

 

 

 

 


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