Saturday, 3 October 2015

Erick Anderson Elton (1817-1855) (Week 40) Theme: "October"

The theme this week is "October - What ancestor has a birthday or anniversary in October?"

Vang Kirke in Valdres, Oppland, Norway
Photo Courtesy John Erling Blad Wikimedia Commons

My great great grandfather Erick Anderson Elton married Sigri (Sarah) Knudsdatter Holien on 28 October 1844 in Vang, Valdres, Oppland, Norway. They would have just ten (or perhaps eleven) opportunities to celebrate their October wedding anniversary. But during that decade, they were a very busy couple and made a major decision that would change their lives and that of their descendants for all time.

Vang Church Marriage Records for 1844 showing
Erick and Sigri's 28 October wedding (detail shown above, highlighted in pink)
The marriage record shows that Erick was 28 at the time of his marriage and that his father's name was Anders Erickson. Erick's birth record in the Norwegian church records has him born 12 January 1817 and baptised 26 January 1817 at Øye i Vang.

Øye i Vang in Valdres, Oppland, Norway
Photo courtesy John Erling Blad, Wikimedia Commons

When Erick married Sarah, he became step-father to her 3 year-old son Hans Asbjornson Holien. (Sarah had given birth to a second son before their marriage, a boy named Henry Evenson, but he had either died or was being raised by someone else.) They soon added to their family before their first wedding anniversary when their daughter Synner (Susan) Holien was born 12 July 1845 and then another daughter Annie (my great grandmother) was born 14 March 1849. One final daughter Sigrid was born in 1852 but died within the year. Her death may have provided the final impetus for Erick and Sarah to do some soul-searching and make a major change in their lives.

The 1850's were times of great change in Norway. Every spring, shiploads of settlers from all over Norway headed across the Atlantic Ocean. The Vang area emptied out to the point where in 1920 its population was fewer than 2000 people. Tens of thousands of Norwegians were leaving for opportunities in America and Erick and Sarah soon joined that exodus.  The "utflyttede" (moving out) portion of the church records details the departure of the family for America on 10 April 1854: Erich Andersen age 38, Sigrid Knudsdtr age 39, Sannava age 11, Anne age 5, Plar Aslynsen age 13, and Sigrid Anderstr age 24. Although the names are a bit "off", presumably the children are Susan, Anne and Hans. Sigrid Andersdtr was Erick's younger sister who moved with them to America.

Location of Vang, Oppland, Norway marked with red pin
Image from Google Earth

Before leaving for America, Erick sold the Eltun farm to Trond Iversson Eltun who was married to another of Erick's sisters, Anne. After Trond's death, Anne continued to run the farm. The same farm exists to this day, now called Teigen.

By the time the Eltons sailed to America, their port of arrival most likely would have been Quebec even though the desired destination was the American Midwest. To reach this destination, Erick and the two women and three children probably would have gone by boat down the Saint Lawrence River from Quebec to Montreal and then taken a canal boat on the Welland Canal (completed just a few years earlier) to Lake Ontario, across Lake Ontario to Buffalo and then sailed the Great Lakes to the Midwest. (A railroad connecting Quebec and Detroit wasn't in operation until the year after their immigration.)

Points in the likely journey taken by Erick and Family in 1854
Image from Google Earth

The family first located in Iowa where Erick and Sarah would have celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary during their first October in America. They then moved to Goodhue County, Minnesota. Although we don't know their specific Iowa location, Goodhue County had many Norwegian settlers who moved there from Washington Prairie, Iowa, in 1855.

It would appear that Erick was either lumbering or clearing the Minnesota land for farming when he met his death by being crushed under a tree. This accident was a tragedy for the entire family who were left without brother, husband and father. It isn't clear how the family made ends meet since Sarah never did remarry. Sadly, she and Erick had celebrated so few 28 October wedding anniversaries.

Erick is buried in a small rural cemetery, now abandoned, near Kenyon, Minnesota. His plain marker indicates simply that he died in the Fall of 1855.

Gravesite of Erik Anderson Eltun who died Fall 1855
Photo courtesy Dave Vangsness from Find a Grave website

Old Hauge Cemetery, now abandoned, near Kenyon, Minnesota
Photo Courtesy Dave Vangsness from Find a Grave website


  • Norwegian kirkebøker (church records) for Vang, Oppland, Norway accessed online at digitalarkiverket
  • Bygdebøk for Elton Farm at Vang, Valdres - information provided by
  • LDS microfilms 125645, 125646
  • "Eltun-manuskriptet" provided by Mona Dolen to Astrid Jorgenson of Swift Current, Saskatchewan in 1996 (copy held by author)
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, "Research Outline - Norway" 
  • "The Valdris Book", 1920 accessed online on 1 October 2015 through this link

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