I have been looking into the history of my family farm and stumbled into something quite surprising. No, it wasn’t new bones from my family, but it was from a family before mine. It was the bones of the Johannes & Abelone Holgerson family who originally homesteaded the land in the late 1800s. They came from Nordland, Norway, which was in the northern part of the country. In fact, the town was almost on the Arctic Circle. There is no darkness there from mid-May to the beginning of August.
The family immigrated to the US in 1867. Father, mother, and seven children with the oldest being 22 years old and the youngest seven. Here’s the opening line to this family history. Check it out using this link.
“In 1867, the family…emigrated to America, settling in Section 8 of Irving Township in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota…. The Township of Irving was overwhelmingly settled by people from the Helgeland region of Nordland and was a very quiet and relatively uneventful area. It was not quiet and uneventful for the children of Johannes and Abelone Holgerson, however.”
Hoo, boy! Imagine my curiosity at that last sentence! Here’s a nutshell of what happened.
Peder – The next-to-youngest son, then 31 years old, was arrested for impregnating a household servant that lived with the family. The baby was born dead. Five years later, another household servant ended up dead. It was suspected she was pregnant and poisoned to death. Peder was arrested for that, but he blamed his sister Gertrude’s husband for having an affair with the deceased woman. Cause of death could not be determined, so I assume he went free. Seven years later he moved to Seattle with his wife but soon moved back to Minnesota. He ended up dying in an insane asylum. Imagine that!
Kristoffer – Another son, at age 44, molested a 9-year-old neighbor girl. He was convicted of “Taking Indecent Liberties with a Child.” He later lived with another family and died of old age.
Ole – The youngest son married and had a couple of children. It was noted that he was very poor and buried at the county’s expense.
Holger – The oldest son likely lived in the Poor Farm. It is speculated that he had a physical or mental handicap because he was recorded as being there as a young adult.
Abel – Another son made money as a farmer but was never married. He died from frostbite as an old man, alone, but wealthy, in his shack of a home.
Johannes Jr. – One son packed it up and moved far away, never to be heard of again.
Gertrude – One daughter came over from Norway. She became the legal guardian of her father when he was declared an Insane Person. That was what the deed to my property said. She ended up with all the land and considerable acreage more, along with her husband. When she died a widow, she left the property to her children. The one son purchased from them at least the land my family later purchased in 1962.
Kristense – This was the oldest (illegitimate) child of Abelone. She later came to the US. Her son lived near the Holgerson’s.
Interestingly, I built my home almost exactly on top of the very spot where their homestead was. I had no idea when I built it. I built it to be very similar to the original homestead farms in the area (see picture above).
Why do I share this with you? Because Jesus had a family tree that was very, very messy, too. There are many times when the tree appeared to be chopped down and dead, but it never was finished. Why? Because of God’s prophecies that we would have a Savior. Incredible good came from the ruins.
God can do that with any of us. I’m not exactly proud of my own story, but that which nearly ruined me was used by God as part of my salvation. I made a mess out of my life. I now look forward to life eternal, thanks only to God alone.
I urge you to commit to reading the bible in 2021 and every year after. You’ll start to recognize the family histories. Once you start seeing the train wrecks and connecting the dots, you’ll be amazed at how God made good out of evil. I have no idea how the rest of the story turned out for the Holgerson family. Only the dirt seems to survive the generations.
You know, the thought crossed my mind. That’s OK that the dirt stays here because I’m building my treasure in heaven. I would rather spend eternity looking at my treasure THERE and leave all the dirt behind. And that is exactly what will happen.
Oh, if you aren’t a believer yet today, become one. Now. There is no better time than the present. How do you do that? Repent from your sin – all of it – and follow Jesus. No turning back. It’s all or nothing. You’ll be rejected by friends, family, and many others. That’s OK because Jesus is worth it. Count your costs, my friend. Jesus is worth it, but it just may cost you your life. And that is good.
Father, thank you for revealing all this to me! Let this be a springboard for the gospel! Amen!
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers