In the late spring of 1869, Elias and Kari emigrated from Christiania (Oslo), Norway to America via the ship Skandinavia. Their route being La Crosse, Wisconsin, they settled temporarily in the Halfway Creek area just north of La Crosse and east of Holmen. Apparently they had relatives and friends in that community and they stayed until early 1874. During this time a daughter Syverine Maria was born (1870) followed by son Emil born in (nearby) Onalaska on September 17, 1872. He became our grandfather. (source: Homestead, by Clara Cook)
I find this especially interesting because my wife and I live but three or four miles from the Halfway Creek area where Emil and his family spent four to five years before going on to Fitch Coulee near Pigeon Falls. It makes me think I haven’t come very far! I drove out to the Halfway Creek and took a few photos, thinking you’d perhaps enjoy a glimpse of the area (below) where Grandpa Emil had his beginnings. His parents saw the same creek and perhaps walked in this very area. In the background is the old cemetery too.
Of special interest to me is that the Halfway Creek Lutheran parsonage had been the first home to Luther College, Decorah, IA just seven years before Elias and Kari arrived in this area to begin their new life. In the far left background of this photo there is a hint of a farm place, and in that yard stands a historical marker (below), a tribute to Luther College’s roots.
The marker on top reads, “Here Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, was conducted during its first year 1861-1862 in the Half Way Creek parsonage which was later destroyed by fire.”
So, our grandfather was born near here. If you’re ever in the La Crosse area, it might be worth a stop. Of course, the Borreson cousins are doing a reunion at Luther College during Nordic Fest, July 28-30, 2011 (more on this later), so maybe you could combine the two.