The Glenwood Public Library, Viking Library System and the Pope County Historical Society are pleased to present “The Stavig Letters: The Story of a Norwegian Immigrant,” at 2pm on Saturday, September 15. In 1876 Lars Stavig, his wife Maren, and their three young sons, rowed thirty miles down a fjord on the rugged west coast of Norway to reach an ocean steamer leaving for America. Knut stayed behind in Romsdal, Norway. The brothers never saw each other again.
The brothers did, however, keep in touch over the next five decades through the exchange of nearly 200 letters which reflect not only their own lives but the experience of countless other families separated by distance, language and the struggle to survive whether in a new land or in the old country.
Lars’ letters document the family’s first eight years in Pope County where they lived on the Einar Johnson farm, worshipped at Indherred Lutheran Church, added two daughters to their family, and witnessed the extension of the railroad west to Starbuck.
The letters have been translated and condensed into a dramatic performance: “The Stavig Letters: The Story of a Norwegian Immigrant,” will be performed at the Pope County Museum on Saturday, September 15 at 2pm. The annual meeting of the Pope County Historical Society will be at 1:00. All Society members are encouraged to attend. Memberships are available at the door. Be a part of history – become a member and attend the annual meeting.
Lars’ letters from America offer an authentic first-person perspective of the events of his life, including the arrival of the railroads on the prairie, changes in agriculture, World War I, and the Great Depression. Knut’s letters from Norway reflect on of the state of the Norwegian economy, the dangers of traditional fishing practices of the period, and changes that occurred over the years in Norwegian culture. Woven throughout the letters are the personal triumphs and tragedies of the two brothers and their abiding faith in God.
Harold Torness, the grandson of Lars, collected the letters from Norway and America and had them translated from Norwegian into English. Excerpts from the letters were shaped into a readers’ theater drama by Dr. Wayne S. Knutson, Professor Emeritus at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. The performers are Jane and John Rasmussen of Sisseton and Gary Westgard of Watertown. Jane is a great granddaughter of the immigrant, Lars Stavig.
This performance is sponsored by the Glenwood Public Library, the Viking Library System and the Pope County Museum with funds from Minnesota’s Arts & Cultural Heritage fund. For more information about the Stavig House Museum in Sisseton, SD, and the Stavig Letters visit www.sissetonmuseums.org