Fenstad (farm number 14/2), by Kristoffer Rein
[Kristoffer Rein's Stadsbygd bygdebøker are mainly comprised of the stories of Stadsbygd's farms and the families that lived there since the Reformation period (16th century onward). Some stories are very brief and factual. Others display drama and subtle humor. I picked the following one to translate into English (with apologies for my ineptitude in that task) because it is very typical of the stories. Per and Ingeborg Anna were my father's maternal grandparents. --Dennis Haarsager, ed.]
The area of the newly divided part, 14/2, was 100 decare [about 25 acres], and practically all of it was comprised of good fully cultivate land. At the time of division, the farm also got half of the outlying field property at Vatngård [another farm in Stadsbygd] that belonged to the main farm. It became a new farm number 36/9, Karevika. The area of it is 257 decare [about 66 acres], . . .100 decare [about 25 acres] are average wooded thicket, and 117 decare [about 29 acres] are low quality.
I. Farmer from 1859-1880, Per Kristensen Fenstad (1826-1877) and Ingeborg Anna Knutsdatter Myhr (1841-1879), married 1860.
year old wife of the new small farm was born at
As a bachelor, Per had a daughter Ellen Maria, born 1856, with Beret Anna Rasmusdatter Myrstrøen, see farm number 11/12. Ellen Maria was married to Morten Askjem and lived for over 100 years. See farm number 19/2.**
Notes from 1865 show that already after a year the new farm "of stall and bin" had two horses, four cows, ten sheep and one pig. Crops were ten barrels [about 40 bushels] of barley, sixteen barrels [about 48 bushels] of oats and 50 barrels [about 200 bushels] of potatoes. High crops were 50 loads. About 70 decare [about 17 acres] were under cultivation.
hardworking family was well established, then rather suddenly there was crisis.
In 1877, the husband died and two years afterward the wife died, their small
and medium-sized children were distributed among relatives. But then Kristen,
the eldest brother, as an 18 year old, emigrated to
*Andreas (1822-1861) and Per (also known as Peder) were the two oldest of seven children born to Kristen Pedersen (Flyta) Fenstad (1787-1857) and his wife, Anne Andersdatter (Sund) Fenstad (1799-1862). –ed.
**Rein's volumes have many examples of people having children before marriage, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, so this was not at all unusual. –ed.
from Christen (Kristen) Fenstad's
[Christen lived only until
Fenstad lived in Otter Tail County, Minnesota before moving to the 160 acres of
land he homesteaded in La Moure County, Dakota Territory on May 15, 1883 at the
age of 22. While in
was not a
with 60 acres under cultivation and 25 acres fenced for pasture, he estimated
the value of the land at $300. Two neighbors estimated it a $2,000.00. Notice
of Christen s intention to file his "final proof" for the land was
published in the "La Moure County Chronicle" for six consecutive
weeks from March 29 to
Christen built a frame house on the land in May 1883. It was 12 feet by 14 feet with a 6 by 9 foot lean-to. By 1889, it was sided with boards, paper and siding outside and flooring and ceiling inside. It was painted inside and out. It had a shingle roof and "matched" floor. It had two windows, two doors and a cellar. He also owned a stable, 26 feet by 30 feet, made of stone, sod and boards and a frame granary 12 feet by 14 feet. In 1889, he estimated that the house was worth $150.00; the stable $50.00; the granary $25.00. He had a well, 41 feet deep, curbed and worth $50.00, and about $60.00 worth of wire fencing. A neighbor stated that Christen "made these improvements himself, as he was able."
winter (December 1, 1883 - March 1, 1884), he went back to the woods of
In 1883, the only farm implement he owned was a breaker. By 1884, he acquired a wagon, drag and cross-plow. He added a seeder and rake in 1885 and a binder in 1886. Two years later, in 1888, he owned a sulky plow.
In 1884, he had 15 acres in wheat that yielded 306 bushels. He doubled his acreage the next year, reaping 735 bushels of wheat on 30 acres. Progress was slower the next few years, but steady. In 1886, he harvested 770 bushels of wheat from 40 acres. In 1887, he harvested 840 bushels from 50 acres. He diversified a bit in 1888, planting 55 acres of wheat, yielding 684 bushels and 5 acres of oats, yielding 181 bushels.
Christen and Dina were married August 1887. She moved to their home right after the marriage. By 1889, their home included a stove, bed and bedding, table, chairs, a clock, a sewing machine, dishes and cooking utensils.
Christen and Dina also owned 2 horses, 3 oxen, 3 cows, 5 steers, 2 heifers, 1 pig, 20 hens, 1 dog and 6 cats.
Their friends and neighbors included:
Torjus Sjulli who lived ½ mile from them, "within sight of their place." He had to cross their land to go in to town. Torjus settled there in 1883, the same year as Christen.
Jens A. Egge who lived 1½ miles from them and could see Christen working from his farm. Christen and Jens exchanged work during harvest and threshing. Jens also settled on his land in 1883, the same year as Christen.
Elias J. Haarsager* and
Andrew J. Haarsager.
*Ole Kasseth and Elias Haarsager were among the group of staværinger who emigrated together to