|A History of STRUM
and the TOWN OF UNITY by Roy Matson
|his large family to choose homestead land just west in the same section. He had contact
with Gustav Gulliksrud and family who settled further up the valley; Christoffer Swendby,
the Civil War veteran, and Hans Moltzau drove up from La Crosse County behind
Swendby’s mules one day, acquired the quarter-section next south. Moltzau was an old
Hurdal name, Swendby came from nearby Feiring.
A cousin, Anton Dahl, had homesteaded in section 32 a year after Evenson. H. J.
Rognlien was an early arrival. Blacksmith Per Bonkerud and John Nelson Indgjer were
influenced by Evenson. Later arrivals from Hurdal were Nels Garson, his brother Olaus,
and Olof Indgjer. Johannes Dahl’s large family of grown sons and daughters were all from
the small home valley. The sons were merchants in various places. A son, Oluf, was in
partnership at Strum for several years. Johannes lived in section 27. Other immigrants
came to this community, lived and worked here a short time and found homes elsewhere.
Rindal, a valley near Trondheim, had a group of immigrants who formed a transplanted
community in the Big Creek area. Fredrik Olsen found one settler in that part of the long
valley when he and Nels Hagestad came there in 1868. The two men had met in Sparta,
were looking for land and had heard it was available north of the Beef River in Eau Claire
County. Olsen had left Norway in 1861, landed in Quebec and had worked in Lodi in
Dane County some years prior to meeting Hagestad. Both men found what they wanted
and applied for homestead rights later that year. Both families settled in northern Big
Creek the next spring.
Nine people left Rindal in 1869, among this group were three Romunstad brothers and
Erik Hanson who had employment on WRR track preparation north of Black River Falls.
Letters from the old country informed them of Olsen’s location and when an opportunity
arose, these men hiked across the unsettled miles and found their acquaintance. All were
impressed and the three brothers obtained their quarter sections of land in one little valley
that presently bears their name. Hanson worked as a blacksmith at Eau Claire some years,
returned to Norway for a bride, came back and bought land within a mile of the others.
Late arrivals from Rindal that settled in the same area were the Peder Shermoe family, Ole
and Lars Stomprud, Lars Hatlee, the Rindal family, besides others who came and moved
after a short time.
Hamlin and Osseo were the closest post offices when these arrivals located. These Rindal
people erected a small house of worship the very first years. Later several families joined
the St. Paul’s congregation when it formed. Others became members of the West Beef
Northeast of Oslo, perhaps 75 miles or more, the Glomma River makes a right angle turn
westward as it drains the length of a large valley named Osterdal. Inside this angle and
northward lies Solør, a fairly large bygd that has two large settlements in this country.
Blair has a great number of Solør descendants as well as does Bruce Valley and Chimney
Rock of this area. These descendants were often called “solungs”.
Karelis Wenberg came to America in 1867, worked a couple of years and then began
looking for a place to live. Trempealeau County was reputed to have many Norwegian
settlements at that time and he was naturally attracted by this rumor. He claimed land in
Chimney Rock and tells that three English speaking settlers preceded him. These men left
and Wenberg’s countrymen began moving in. In a few years the whole area was settled
and the majority were from Solør.
Wenberg’s home was a postal station in the Whitehall-Eau Claire stage run. He was
authorized to open mail bags. He mentions that knolls had a blue haze where the blueberry
crop was ripe, that old Norwegians pronounced Trempealeau “Trommela” and wheat was
hauled to a village by that name.