Maria Taasensen Thorsen emigrated from Biri, Norway, one year after the man she would later marry, Bertinus Estensen. She arrived in 1776 along with her brother Torger’s wife Regina, Torger and Regina’s six children, and a Miss Herried. (My mother Cora has Herreid [yes, alternate spellings] relatives and I wonder if there was a connection to her.) Torger had immigrated to America one year earlier and worked for the Ekern Company in Pigeon Falls to earn money to bring his family from Norway. So there was another Ekern connection.
When this group arrived in the midwest, they were met in Winona, Minnesota (another Mississippi River town) by an A. Haraldrud from Pigeon Falls. Apparently they camped for one night in a Winona park* and then proceeded to Maria’s brother Johannes place where Maria would stay for a few months. He and his wife along with her parents had immigrated in 1868 to the coulee named after them (Steig). Maria moved in with brother Torger and his family when he built a new house in 1877. (source of the above: Homestead, Clara Cook)
So now we have both Bertinus Estensen and Maria Thorsen on the scene in the Pigeon Falls area. (Note: Clara refers to the Pigeon Valley and the family church was Pigeon Creek Ev. Lutheran.) In this northern Trempealeau County area these two would meet and marry, and soon our grandmother Gina would be on the scene as well.
*This note from Winona history may describe where they camped: A lake east of Warsaw had been called Eagle lake and the area around the north shore of the lake was called Spring Fountain Park. This area was described in the 1870’s as being infested with bullfrogs, dead trees and having an abundance of low and marshy ground. This area had been partially developed in the 1880s by the Beyer brothers, German immigrants who used the area as a small recreational area, and used the water from the natural springs to cool the eggs and butter that they purchased from local farmers, and then shipped and sold these products to markets in such places as New York and Boston. http://yesteryear.clunette.com/winonadarr.html