The transatlantic crossings of our immigrant families

A quarter of my ancestors’ families first arrived in North America in the early to mid-18th century. My paternal grandmother Gladys Parke Bergeson’s group (Parkes, Harts, Redfields and Newberrys) were well-established in this country before the Revolutionary War. Most of them came from the British Isles although we have not yet located exactly from where or when they sailed westward. One thin line of her lineage came from Germany and settled in Pennsylvania.

The families on my grandfather Ragnvald Duesund Bergeson’s side (Mjangers and Andviks) as well as all of the ancestors on my mother Patricia Femrite Bergeson’s side (Femrites, Tryggeseths, Holtans and Lindseths) emigrated from Norway during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The earliest Norwegian immigrant in my family was Hans Hansen Holtan. His journey took him from Norway to Le Havre, France where he boarded the American packet ship “Louis Philippe” for the transatlantic crossing. On July 15, 1845, the Louis Philippe left Le Havre and arrived in New York City on August 21, 1845. Hans was 24 when he emigrated. He lived in Illinois for five years and Wisconsin for six years. He moved to Minnesota in 1856 and settled in Goodhue County where he spent the rest of his life. Hans Hansen Holtan was a member of the first Minnesota state legislature as a representative from the 6th district in Red Wing. Hans was my mother’s paternal great-grandfather.

Louis Philippe
American packet ship Louis Philippe. Painting by the French artist Frederic Roux in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.

The next emigrees were Hans’s parents, Hans Holtan Hansen and his wife Gunhild Larsdatter.  They booked passage on the maiden voyage of the sailing bark “Vesta” which carried 105 passengers according to the ship’s manifest. They were in transit almost two months, leaving Langesund, Norway on July 5, 1851 and arriving in New York City on September 2. Hans was 52 that year and Gunhild was 55. They joined their son in Wisconsin and moved to Minnesota five years later, establishing a homestead in Wanamingo, Minnesota in Goodhue County.

Nearly 20 years passed before the next family boarded a ship bound for North America. In 1870, Martinus Fimreite (Femrite) arrived in the United States with his wife Helge Johannesdatter. I have not been able to locate any  information about the dates or their passage or the port of entry into the United States.  Martinus was 40 and Helge was 29 the year they left Norway and they settled in Lac Qui Parle County in western Minnesota. Martinus was my mother’s paternal great-grandfather.

My mother’s maternal great-grandfather, Ingebrigt Haakensen Lindseth arrived in 1881 with his wife Johanne Bergithe Mortensdatter. My database searches haven’t provided any information about the dates of their journey or their arrival destination. Ingebrigt was 37 when he emigrated and Johanne was 32. They also purchased land in Lac Qui Parle County in Minnesota.

Nils Johan Ivarsson Tryggeseth was my maternal great-grandfather.  His transatlantic passage was in 1887 on the “SS Carthaginian” from Liverpool, England to Baltimore, Maryland. He arrived in Baltimore on March 31,1887. Nils was 20 years old when he left Norway and he followed in the footsteps of his brother, Kolbein Ivarsson Tryggeseth, who had come to the United States in 1886. Kolbein settled in Lac Qui Parle county and Nils joined him there.

SS Carthaginian
SS Carthaginian

Ragnvald Duesund Bergeson was my paternal grandfather. Of all of our immigrant relatives, he made his first transatlantic crossing at the youngest age. Ragnvald was 17 when he boarded the SS “Empress of Britain” on April 22, 1910 in Liverpool, England. He arrived in Quebec, Canada on April 29, 2010. He was headed for South Dakota where a family friend, Arne Hope, had settled some years earlier.

SS_Empress_of_Britain_in_1905
SS Empress of Britain

Ragnvald made another crossing in 1923 to visit family for the first time since his emigration in 1910. After leaving Norway, he had graduated from high school and college in South Dakota and served a year in the US Army. He spent the fall of 1918 in the trenches in France in the closing days of World War I. On his return to the United States in 1923, he traveled aboard the “SS Leviathan” from Southhampton, England to New York City, arriving September 2, 1923. This time he was accompanied by his brother, Olav Duesund Bergeson, who was planning to start a new life in the United States, just like Ragnvald had done over a decade earlier.

SS_Leviathan_1913
SS Leviathan

For those wishing to research the voyages of their own relatives, the website “Norway Heritage: Hands Across the Sea” (www.norwayheritage.com) can be a helpful resource.

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