Skarderud - Hagen

 History of The Otto Amundsen Hagen Family in America – 1873 to 1942

In 1673 Tarald Sjøli sold land in Glorvigen to his brother Bent Olsen Glarvigen who also owned land in Østmo, Hof. By 1723 Even Bentsen, Bent’s son had ownership of the farm called Glorvigen-store.

Even Bentsen had a son Ole Evensen, whose death is recorded in 1744, married Eli Olsdatter and their children were; Even b. 1740, Ole, b. 1742, Berger b. 1757, Kersti, & Siri. The eldest, Even Olsen married Ragnhild Olsdatter in 1751. They had Ole b. 1775, Olea b. 1781, Karen b. 1783, Eline b. 1787, b. Ragnhild 1790, and Halvor b. 1791

Ole Evensen Glorvigen, the eldest son of Even Olsen married Eli Petersdatter Strate, widow of Amund Anderssen Skarderud who died in 1809. Eli had ownership rights to the Skarderud farm through her Marriage with Amund. Ole by Norwegian law changed his name to Skarderud from the marriage with Eli so he could take ownership. Ole and Eli had one son, Amund Olsen Skarderud b. July 2nd, 1813. Eli died in 1821 and Ole remarried by 1823 to Martha Bergersdatter Ulfsbøl. From this second marriage; they had Embret b. 1824, Even b. 1829, Raghhild b. 1832, Bethia b. 1836, Olivia b. 1840, and Karen b. 1843. 

In 1846, Ole Evensen (now Skarderud) purchased the Hågen part of Skarderud called Skarderudshagen, which is now named Skjæret for Amund. To make it more confusing, it was also called Nordre Skarderud. Amund married Mathea Eriksdatter Ulsbølshagen and they had; Elina b. 1844, Emilia b. 1846, Olaf b. 1849, Otto b. 1852, Martin b. 1856, and Anne Marie b. 1859. Anne Marie died as an infant and in the 1865 Census for Våler, the whole family is listed living at Skarderudshagen, District of Stræte, Vaaler parish. The whole extended area was also known as Sølor.

Norway in the 1860s was difficult, there were a series of blights and poor harvests that made economic conditions hard. The younger sons of farmsteads were usually left to fend for themselves because of the land customs of Norway. The general rule in land inheritance was only the eldest son inherited land. Across the Atlantic, in America, the Civil War was just ending and the US Government was giving away free land in Wisconsin and Minnesota to Homestead. Many left Norway and answered the call for free land, adventure, and prosperity in the new world. In some areas, as much as 10% of the population left for America.

The first of the family to leave for America was Amund’s half-sister, Olivia Messingstad (Skarderud) and her Husband Andrew in 1869. Second, half-sister Karen Pederson (Skarderud) and her husband Nels in 1870. Third, half-sister Bethia Berg (Skarderud) and her husband Karelius in 1871. Fourth, Amunds’ daughter (Otto’s sister) Emelia Mattison (Amundsdatter) and her husband John, in 1871. Olivia, Bethia, (Otto’s aunts) and Emelia (Otto’s sister) settled in the Lakes Coulee area outside of Blair in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin and Karen (Otto’s aunt) in Black River Falls.

The fifth and sixth members of the family to leave were Amunds’ sons Otto and Martin. They began their journey to America on April 4th, 1873 taking the ship Oder to Hull, England. From Hull, they took the train from the Paragon railway station through Leeds, Huddersfield, Stalybridge, and to their final stop in Liverpool. Otto and Martin boarded the steamship Sarmatian on May 1st and arrived at the port of Quebec on May 12th. Both brothers are listed on the ship manifest as Otto & Martin Amundsen with a final destination of Black River Falls. 

The Amundsen brothers took the 1200-mile journey from Quebec to Black River Falls via Milwaukee. The standard route was from Quebec to Sarnia, Ontario, a distance by rail of 673 miles. Then they would board a ferry across the St. Clair River at Sarnia to Port Huron, Michigan. From Port Huron, they would ride a train to Detroit, Michigan, then to Grand Haven, Mi, a distance of 189 miles. From Grand Haven, they would board a steamer across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a distance of 85 miles. In Milwaukee, the brothers would take a train and cross Wisconsin to La Crosse. From La Crosse, they would take a cart or walk to their destination. One must assume they traveled to the Lakes Coulee area just outside of Blair to meet with their sister and aunts and made the final destination to Black River Falls 23 miles to the East.

It is worth note that two other members of the Skarderud family came to America. Hans Embretsen Skarderud came to America in 1903 and settled in Fargo, North Dakota. He was Otto’s first Cousin once removed. His father was Ole Embretsen Skarderud the son of Amund’s half-brother Embret Olsen Skarderud b. 1824. Some of the children of Hans Embretsen Skarderud, shortened their surname from Skarderud to “Rude”. In 1905, Otto Embretsen Skarderud b. 1878, Cousin of Otto came to America and settled in Lakes Coulee, Trempealeau County, WI. He came with his wife Gunda and daughter Aslaug and the Birth of his daughter Olga was recorded in 1908 in Blair, Wi. Otto Embretsen Skarderud was also the son of Embret Olsen Skarderud and they eventually ended up in Fargo North Dakota and later relocated to Mount Morris, Michigan.

After Otto and Martin left Norway what happened to the farm and family? Ole Evensen Glorvigen died in 1860. His eldest son from his second marriage, Embret Olsen Skarderud, took over now what is called Søndre Skarderud. Amund owned Nordre Skarderud (Skarderudshagen) or now what is called Skjæret (Hagen) that Ole purchased for him. In 1867 Amund sold the farm (Skjæret or Hagen) to his eldest son, Olaf Amundsen b. 1849. For 400 spd. In 1872 Arne Halvorsen Knutsmorønnin bought Skjæret (Hagen) for 600 spd. From Olaf. Arne married Amund’s daughter Elina, and he changed his name to Skarderud after purchasing the farm. Arne and Elina had; Halvor Hagen b. 1873, Marthea b. 1876, Adolf b. 1878, Anna b. 1881, Otto b. 1883, Emma b. 1884, and Maria b. 1887. The youngest, Maria married Karl Torkildsby. In the early 1960’s Guy B Hagen, the son of Bennet Hagen and his family, visited his relatives Maria and Karl in Norway while on leave in the Army. He also met with Martha the eldest daughter and sister to Maria. Martha was a seamstress and made garments for Queen Maud of Norway daughter of King Edward VII of England.

Back in Wisconsin - Martin Amundsen Hagen stayed in the area until 1879 where he is recorded applying for citizenship. By 1880 he was listed in the Fargo census as a laborer. Sometime in the 1880s, Martin started M. A. Hagen & Company and was a jeweler by trade and sold jewelry, watches, eyeglasses, and stationary on 8th & Broadway in Fargo. The business later moved to 316 Broadway and the name changed to the M. A. Hagen-Newton Co. Martin married Lucy Graham a singer on April 29th, 1913, who was 26 years his younger. By the end of the year, the marriage ended in divorce with Lucy winning considerable alimony in a divorce settlement. The unfortunate events took their toll on Martin and he became despondent. On March 8th, 1914, Martin took his life with a pistol in Hot Springs Arkansas.

The drama did not end there. When Martin passed, his estate was worth a considerable fortune of approximately $99,721.50. Martin had his three siblings listed as heirs to his estate; Otto A. Hagen, of Northfield WI, Amelia A. Mattison of California, and Elina A. Skarderud of Norway. The problem arose when the tax rate was 1.5% for heirs that were native residents of the US; i.e. Otto and Amelia, but 25% for a non-native heir like Elina who lived in Norway. Elina A Skarderud and Martin’s attorney, John Moody sued the State of North Dakota for violating a US treaty with Norway stating that the 25% tax was unjust. The supreme court of North Dakota eventually sided with Elina and ruled the 25% non-native tax was violating the treaty and the law was declared unconstitutional. Elina was then only assessed the lower 1.5% tax.

Otto did not speak English when he first arrived in America and he went to Lakes Coulee by his family to learn English. His teacher was Inge Maria Solberg, daughter of Andreas Larsen Solberg and Brit Jørgensdatter Hestdalen. Otto and Maria were married Nov 16th, 1878 at French Creek Lutheran Church in Ettrick, Wisconsin and this is the first time the Hagen surname is recorded. In 1879 Otto had purchased 80 acres of land in Northfield, Jackson County, Wisconsin about 17 miles NW of Lakes Coulee. Otto is listed as Otto Amundsen in the 1879 Jackson County land atlas and by 1914 the farm had grown to 200 acres and listed under O.A. Hagen. Otto declared his intent to become a US citizen Oct 25th, 1888. He states that he arrived at the Port of Detroit in June of 1876 but it does not make sense because Martin his brother, declared that he arrived March of 1874. It seems they both made up the dates or just forgot when they arrived unless they worked in Canada before arriving in the US.

Otto and Maria had eleven children. Morris Albert b. 1880, Adolph Oscar b. 1882, Bennet b. 1883, Melvin Oliver b. 1885, Aletta Ovidia b. 1888, Laura Enora b. 1889, Olga Matilda b. 1892, Emma Alrelde b. 1894, Gustava Constance b. 1896, Magna b. 1898, and Belva b. 1902.

Bennet Hagen, Otto’s third son, Graduated from Gale College in 1907 in Galesville, Wisconsin. Ben’s major was called Luther College Preparatory and it is at Gale College where Ben met Ella Sagen, daughter of Ole Nilsen Sagen and Ella Thronson. The same year Ben graduated, Ella Sagen was listed as a second-year prep student with a minor in music. Ben and Ella married June 24th, 1910 and after the marriage, Ben for short time worked for the railroad in Superior as a mail carrier. Ben and Ella had; Oswald M b. 1913, Alta Josephine b. 1915, Marian Elaine b. 1917, Guy Bennett b. 1920 and Owen Wendell b. 1926.

Around 1915-1917, Otto and Maria moved to Fargo and Ben bought the farm from them for $100 an acre. It seems Ben did not really want to buy the farm but was almost forced to do so, either by guilt or necessity. At the time, the Hagen farm was very modern. Otto had a built one of the first drive-through barns in the area and they had, 20 registered dairy cows, 30 pure breed calves, and it was one of the best producing herds in the state.

The farm had a windmill to pump running water and did not have electricity. The laundry was done in the kitchen and the clothes were hung on the line where they would freeze-dry in the winter. Oswald remembers his mother sewing a dress on a sewing machine telling him the facts of life; “leave girls alone until you get married”

Sometime after 1925, Ella had a big fall ice skating and hit her head and started having seizures. Ben and the kids would find her passed out on the floor or over the stove. They took Ella to the Mayo clinic to see what was wrong but her spells got worse. Since Ella was now bed-ridden, Ben hired Oscar Hanson as a farmhand to help with some farm chores and Oswald did all he could to help. Oswald had three cows, four horses, and calves to feed, and in the summer, he did fieldwork and ran the mower. Ella’s illness was also taking a toll financially, Ben ended up with thousands of dollars of medical bills and owed the Mayo clinic over $3000 alone.

Otto and Maria ended up moving back to Northfield and built a house. Ben became seriously depressed and so helpless that Otto and Maria ended up taking care of Wendell and Guy went to Galesville to live with his Grandmother Ella Thronson Sagen.

Ella died March 14th, 1927 at 42 years of age and her kids; Oswald 13, Alta 11, Elaine 9, Guy 6, and Wendell 1.5 years were all very young. To Make matters worse the cows got bangs disease and they lost most of their herd. From the bills and hiring extra help, Ben eventually lost the farm right before the 1929 stock market crash. In 1929, the stock market crashed. In 1930 Ben and the three remaining children moved in with his parents Otto and Maria, and his sister Belva in Northfield. Ben got a job in Northfield where he was employed at the local hardware store.

During the depression life was hard. Olga, Ben’s sister recalls “During the 1930s, in addition to the depression they had a drought for 5-6 years and record heat. They were no good crops. They cut down trees to let the cows eat the leaves. They sold cattle but it cost more to truck them to market than they made on the cattle” Guy remembers his uncle George Sagen losing his house, savings, and his job at the local bank. George had a breakdown and they found him wandering the streets in La Crosse suffering from amnesia some six months later.

Ben remarried to Leah Crobar on June 24th, 1931, who was a widow to Harry Neprud, Inez Negard (Neperud)’s sister. In 1932 Guy’s grandmother Ella Sagen died and he was taken care of by his aunt and uncle, Millie and Guy Sagen who also lived in Ella Sagen’s house. The same year Elaine moved in with Guy and went to school in Galesville for her Sophomore year.

In 1934 Guy went to live with Ben and Leah in Northfield because the depression started to hit Guy and Millie and they could not afford to take care of him. This was the first time Alta, Elaine and Guy had lived together since they were very young. Oswald had moved out and Wendell was still with his grandmother Maria and his aunts Laura and Belva. Alta, Elaine (Seniors) and Guy (Freshman) all went to High School in Hixton that year. Leah’s kids Marjorie and Gladys were also living with them as well as Leah’s father Henry. That winter the kids stayed at Chris Johnsons during the week because the drive to Northfield was on dirt roads in a makeshift bus with unfastened wooden benches. In the spring the kids would have to get out in three places to push the bus through the mud.

The next year in July of 1935 they all moved to Osseo were Ben got a job running a chicken hatchery and Guy did his Sophomore year in Osseo. That same year, Otto A Hagen Died Feb 27th, 1935 at home. The following year in October of 1936 they moved to the town of Hixton where Ben started his own Chicken Hatchery. It was in Hixton at this time where Guy met Phyllis Linnell, The daughter of Ora Ray and Etta Linnell (Woof)

Guy was a letterman basketball and baseball player and graduated from Hixton High School in May of 1938. In 1938, he worked the bridge over the Trempealeau and the road that went over it to Alma Center. In the summers of 39-40 Guy courted Phyllis and took her the Roller Rink in Hatfield twice a week. On Oct 2nd, 1940, Ben drove Guy to Tomah to enlist in the US army. The next day Guy was sent to Milwaukee for his physical and the next day he was in Fort Bragg North Carolina, assigned to the 60th Division. In 1941 Guy was promoted to Corporal and Sergeant in Jan 1942. The next month in February, Guy was transferred to the 82nd Division and promoted to Staff Sergeant. In August Guy then went to Officer Candidate School and graduated as a 2nd Lt on August 26th, 1942, then was assigned to be trained as a Communications Officer and finished March 11th, 1943. While on a five-day leave, Guy Hagen married Phyllis Marie Linnell, March 16, 1943, in Lacrosse, Wi. The Rest of Guy’s story will wait for another time, on June 10th, 1944 his life changed forever.



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