Wanda Melchert and Herbert Ongstad Melby-Rogness home, Manfred, ND  Vang Lutheran Church, Manfred  Heimdal ND, former Gigstad farm  Ardell in "Pastors Parking" Viking Church, Benson Co, ND

Wednesday morning October 8:  Stayed for the night in Ramada in Bismarck.  Rented a car, going to pick it up at the Bismarck airport. After that I turn my nose northwards in direction of Fessenden, Manfred and Harvey. Spoke with several of the relatives by phone last night, Bergquist, Lageson and Gigstad. After talking to Milo in Glenwood, my phone cards were empty.  

With the North Dakota Roadmap open in the passenger seat, and my pulse speeding above normal limit, I drove offinto new experiences. At first I felt a bit nervous when the big lorries passed me like lightening, but after a few miles I got accustomed to the “traffic picture”. The Toyota broughe me safe trough Steele,Tuttle and Fessenden. Soon I saw the Manfred sign,  and relief: the building from Wanda’s homepage. I knocked the door, and a surprised mrs. Melchert went speechless for a few seconds. I shared Wanda’s lunch sandwiches, and Wanda iasked whether I would accompany her to a Ladies Aid meeting.    – I had not attended “kvinneforening” since the age of 6, and answered “yes, yes” immediately. It was a nice visit, all the ladies had Norwegian roots, and once more I observed the close culture connection between the “new” and the “old” country.  – But ME in Ladies Aid ?  A few lines from Jacob Sande’s poem “After a booze” came to mind. (excuse poor translation, but mark the middle lines in the righthand poem....) –  

…..  Saturday October 11: I have been living with the Gigstads close to Maddock for the last 3 days. They are really very good people. I felt like I should have known them all my life. We have been around the local cemeteries, on the homesteads and I have taken a lot of pictures. Ardell Gigstad, together with son Kevin works a lot of land around the farm. I forgot to ask about a copy of the PowerPoint presentation the children had made for the parents silver anniversary.  Thursday evening son and two daughters with husbands of the younger generation Gigstad came to meet with their Norwegian cousin. One of the inlaws had his brought his family tree, and after reading the farmnames of his ancestors, I felt obliged to tell him that before going to Norway, he had to start training drinking “applecider” – so now you tell me which district in Norway his family originated from….

But will the fiddle maker play ??  Childrens quire "Sons of Norway" Gloria found some real atrwork They know how to lay in America too !

When I first spoke to Ardell Gigstad by phone from Norway (Christmas day 2002), he told me: “If you arrive in North Dakota in October, we will go to Norwegian Hostfest in Minot”. And Ardell kept his word!  Friday morning (October 10.), we drove into Minot. It was a huge exhibition area, and the hours went very fast. In my eyes the Hostfest was a very commercial event, even during the leikarring’s “Dance of Norwegian Sweaters” they marched big posters behind the dancers, telling in which stand you could grab this knitted goodies. All over there were products of Scandinavian tradition, quite a lot of good, solid handcraft, a couple of stands showing real artwork. We managed to view some shows, Swedish folkmusic, Childrens quire, dancegroup (leikarring) and a couple called “Indian and white Guy” who really made my laughing muscles work,  I also had to conclude that Bjøro Håland  is “worldfamous in Minot”.  At the “Sons of Norway”  table I met with Audrey Solheim, another relative.  It was close to Saturday when we arrived back in Gigstad farm.  I am very grateful for the younger members of family said to me: “It was good you arrived, now our parents got the opportunity to get a day off work”!

I spent some time wondering why a lot of people came up to me asking: “Hi, where are you from”? I immediately concluded that they saw I was a real nillbilly from “the old Country”. Looking closer to the sticker I had placed on my sweater (part of ticket) it dawned on me that a competition was going on – one had to search for the Mystery Viking,  but I wasen’t him, oh NO.  In the middle of the day we sat down with  a cup of coffee and lefse, when a couple asked us wether the last 2 chairs at our table were free.  After short time I understood that the lady had her roots in Hallingdal, and family connections in Fagernes. (Once more I had to admit that the world is small (but of course, in Norsk Hostfest a lot of Norwegian genes are walking around on two legs inside a small space)

towards Sheyenne river, Benson co. ND Heimdal, Wells Co, ND It's always sad to say goodbye Missourieriver at Washburn, ND Inspection of horses in Bergquist farm

  Time is 5 PM and I have arrived with the Bergquists in Wilton. I managed to find my way without problems.  This was a coalmining area, today they had open cut mining.  … In the evening we visited the Lewis and Clark center and the L&C winter camp by the Missouri river. We finished off with a meal in a nice restaurant.

Sunday (oct 12) started with a trip to Sunne Cemetery, further on to Emil’s grandson Les, whom I had spoken to by phone from  Åbjør 10 months earlier.  .  Christmas Day 2002 I called Les, told my name, where I called from and if he had Norwegian forparents. He was not so sure what kind of a phonecall this was, and asked “Is it true you call from Norway”? I confirmed I did, and got contra question: “Are yoy sure you are not calling from ….(radioshow). I said at last: “As far as I know, I’m sitting In Norway, and if I haven’t convinced you, I will start speaking Norwegian, but then - you will not understand me”.  Les answered: “You can talk to my Granddad”! – A few seconds later another voice said: “Hur mår ni (How do you do [Swedish]). After a few  words, and my reference to Ethel Christensen in Glenwood, the contact between the third cousins was finally made.          - On the farm they had more old tractors, excellent taken care of. Emil has been and is interested in agricultural mechanics. Met with the wife and children  on the farm, the smallest girl, together with her cat, became my chaperones – and we looked at the horses and the kittens.   

Emil Bergquist in Wilton Centenial Park Visit with Corrinne Haadem Pfaff 4 generations Bergquist "Is the hanged meat dried yet" ? my "Horse" in North Dakota

Back in Wilton Helen had waited for close to one hour for us (we menfolk to easily forget about time), so we started the trip to Bismarck immediately.  Bergquists with Buick in front and me following in Montana registered Toyota.  Our first visit was to Corrine Haadem Pfaff, who had a lot of information on the brothers Tore and Ola Haadem. We made an agreement that she mailed me a copy of the family-history to my hosts in Glenwood. Emil told us a story from his childhood about his family meeting with Tore Haadem in Tappen, ND back in the 30’s.  Next stop was Burger King, then to the Airport to give my rented car back, back to Sons of Norway Park in Bismarck.  The bus to Alexandria/Minneapolis was not due to leave for a couple of hours, so I had time to meet with Helen and Emil’s oldest son and family.  Soon 4 generations were together.  Robert Bergquist had the same ”tone of humor” as Ardell Gigstad and my host Milo, those guys ought to meet !! It looks to me that Emil has been among the first to take care of the ”family-feeling” in our branch up from Heimdal area.