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HOW IT BEGAN
following are excerpts from a book “Norsk Nybyggerliv I Natal”
compiled by Andrew and Anna Halland and Ingeborg Kjonstad in
1932. This was later translated into English by A.H.E. Andreason
in 1932 to mark the 50th Jubilee of the landing of
the Settlers on the 29th August 1882
Norway's great poet, expressed the Norse folks' "wander-lust" –
urge to emigrate - from early history, when he wrote:
folket det viI, fare,
fore-kraft til andre."
and later, the explorers, Nansen (North Pole) and Amundsen
(South Pole) won fame and renown for Norway.
wonderful nature, mountains and fjords of Norway, its valleys
were narrow and living was hard. Up to 1880 America had been the
goal for seeking pastures new." Now, voices from the South
brought a change of direction. In the trail of missionaries to
Zululand, Captain Landmark, Master of the Mission ship,
“Elieser”, went on an exploring trip through Natal and Zululand.
He was impressed with the green hills, fruitful soil and sunny
land. He found few white people about and it struck him what an
ideal country Natal would be for Norse Colonists.
Norway, he wrote articles to the press, extolling the glories of
Natal. He also published a brochure giving information about the
geography and climate of Natal, also giving a list of fruits,
grain and vegetables to be grown. These brochures were quickly
sold out, as they gave valuable information to prospective
aroused especially among farmers round Aalesund. A letter of
enquiry was sent to Mr. Emil Berg at the Seamen's Mission in
London for further information, and how to get there. Mr. Berg
contacted Mr. (later Sir) Walter Peace, who was the agent for
the Government of Natal.
negotiations for emigration to Natal, they were promised free
passage from London for fifty families, under certain
conditions, to land at the mouth of the Umzimkulu River. They
would be given a lot of 100 acres for each family with 2,000
acres of common grazing of cattle. The land would cost R1.50 per
acre payable in ten years. Each applicant would need a minimum
sum of RlOO (£50) on arrival against want in the early years.
Applicants must have a doctor' certificate of good health and a
minister's letter of good conduct. They were required to be men
of integrity, sober, hard working and Christian people, willing
to be of mutual help. Each family was allowed to bring two
reckoned that these conditions were favourable, especially in
view of the- present hard times in Norway. Letters from the
Colony such as those from Daniel Nilsen and Isak Raffteseth also
influenced the relations favourably. One warning letter came
from Rev. Stavem of the Norwegian Mission, who considered that a
sum of R600 (£300) would be needed for the first years. Able
artisans might get work at R1 (10/-) a day. But the hardy young
people were determined to overcome such difficulties.
was selected comprising Mr. A. Andersen as chairman, Mr. K.
Martinsen, a business man, and Mr. E. Bjorseth, a cabinet maker.
Applications came in mostly from Sunnmore and Aalesund, three
from Trondelag, two from Bergen - about three hundred in all,
but only fifty families were provided for.
1882 the necessary documents were received for completion and
attestation by doctors and clergymen. A busy time followed in
making preparations and disposing of such assets as they
possessed to ensure that the necessary money was available. The
money was handed over to Rasmus Ronneberg in Aalesund and paid
out to the emigrants after their arrival in Natal by Mr.
visited Aalesund early that spring and accepted his call as
priest for the colonists in the new country.
time came to embark, it was found that only 34 families were
ready for the venture.
NAMES OF THE
HEADS OF THE 34 FAMILIES
K. Martinsen, merchant
A. Andersen, bookseller
E. Bjorseth, cabinet maker
O. P. Valdal, tailor
O. A. Vinjevold, farmer
J. Lillebo, builder
E. Haajem, ship builder
A. Bjorkelund, farmer
N. Gidske, farmer
K. HageseIle, farmer
J. A. Ole, farmer.
E. Pahr, teacher
I. Igesund, farmer
G. A. Kvalsvig, farmer
M. Holte, blacksmith
G. Kjonstad, teacher
J. Kjonstad, farmer
J. Nero, agronomist
C. Rodseth, goldsmith
L. Haram, farmer
I. C. Lund, landscape gardener
F. Hufft, weaver
J. Pettersen, farmer
P. Trandal, baker
J. Kipperberg, seaman and fisherman
S. Borgesen, bookbinder
R. Brune, boatbuilder
F. Bodtker, carpenter
K. O. Standal, painter
N. Oie, wagonmaker
R. Sandanger, builder
T. Dahle, mechanic and shoemaker
H. Andreasen, farmer
Rev. E. Berg
AALESUND - JULY 14, 1882
G. O. Kvalsvig, veteran of the immigration)
anxious to meet the emigrants, descendants of the Vikings, Mr.
Walter Peace arrived in Aalesund on 9th July, 1882. A large
festival had been arranged where friends and relatives met for
goodbyes. Rev. Jerval spoke on the text from Romans 12:12
"Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfast
in prayer". Lay Preacher Olsen admonished the people with the
text "Do not fall out on the way." Many heartwarming words were
spoken, and a special hymn written as a parting wish by friends
was sung. It contained the wish of God's presence, protection,
and blessing. It was sung in a solemn tune.
On the 14th
July, the Wilson boat, "Tasso," lay anchored at the quayside
ready for departure. Small boats in great numbers lay round the
ship - it seemed as if all Aalesund and district had come to see
was beautiful, the sea smiling, and the emigrants in high
spirits. As the ship moved out, minds began to realise that they
were leaving the beloved land of their birth, where they had
been accepted by God in baptism and where they had learned the
way of life from god-fearing parents and teachers. But a thought
of comfort also occurred, that their God would be with them also
in regions beyond.
Stadt, the point of turning south, seasickness attacked the
passengers. One small boy in distress asked" Shall we be sick
all the way, even in the train, Dad?"
however, England was in sight and they landed in Hull, on
Monday, 17th July. After a good breakfast, they were soon packed
in a special train for London, and there met by Rev. E. Berg, J.
Pettersen and F. Bodtker from Bergen. Escorted by four policemen
they safely reached the boat “Lapland" at the East India Docks,
where Captain Potts and Dr. Stuart, the ship's doctor, received
them. Each family was given a large cabin, with smaller ones for
the single persons and a common dining saloon. The ship was
clean and the food good. Next day, 19th July, in the Norwegian
Seamen's Church in London, the ordination of Mr. E. Berg as the
emigrants' church priest took place, Rev. Grondahl officiating.
On the eve of departure, 20th July, Mr. Walter Peace made the
People, I must now bid you farewell. As the Government Official
or Agent, my duties connected with your emigration are nearly
done. You are aboard a good steamship, in charge of a good and
experienced Captain. From him you will receive all attention and
supervision you need. On my behalf as well as yours, I want to
thank Mr. Donald Currie for his willing help, his exertions and
his thoughtfulness in the special accommodations. As far as
possible each family can travel together. The promises I made to
you are fulfilled, in fact, some of the privileges you have
received are better than we at first made you hope for. I am
convinced that no previous emigration had better conditions than
yours. The grass huts, your first dwellings are ready for you.
All going well, you will reach your lots early in spring, so you
can plough and sow in good time. From friends you corresponded
with in Alfred County, you will see that descriptions have not
been too glowing. I have no more to say as an Official in the
Natal Government Service. You will receive all aid and guidance
from the Land and Immigration Board after your arrival in
Durban. They will assist in the difficulties to get to your
"Allow me a
few words of a personal nature, as to the relation between us
and to your future. It was a great responsibility laid upon me
by the Government, a trust of honour to pick people of quality
for the founding of a new Settlement in Natal. I did this to the
best of my ability and with courage and I feel now as I look at
you that my work has not been in vain. I have no doubt that your
emigration to Natal will be a blessing to yourselves and that
you will fulfil the Government's hopes by your energy and
initiative. I shall not easily forget that afternoon in
Aalesund, the small island backed by snowdecked hills, or the
interesting festival with friends come to honour you and to
wish God's blessing on your venture. It will be happy news to
people in Natal that the new Colonists are Godfearing, and
willing for mutual help in difficulties of early pioneer life.
These difficulties will not be minimised by the use or misuse of
responsibility begins now - I pray you each not to forget it,
not only to prove the trust laid on you for a diligent and
exemplary moral life, in building the new homes, but also make
faithful use of your possessions and show the best influence in
your way of life. Honour your nation, blaze the trail for
Christianity and civilisation for the heathen folk you get in
contact with. I will say a hearty thank you to Messrs. Berg,
Andersen, Martinsen for their help in our consultations. May God
bring you safely to your desired haven, both in this world and
in the next. Farewell."
Currie, the owner of "Lapland" spoke a few words and Rev. Berg
on behalf of the emigrants conveyed their thanks. The "Lapland"
slipped quietly from the quay, a little early on account of high
water. Two of the boys got a fright as they came running too
late to get aboard! They were put on the train for Tilbury, and
taken aboard happily. At Dartmouth next day, the ship obtained
provisions, water, live sheep and poultry.
course turned south and England disappeared. The northwester set
in, rain splashed on the ocean surface and darkness covered the
Lapland. Only the white sea-foam round our ship was seen. The
Lapland moved on with its precious cargo - 233 persons. All had
been committed to God's care. Without His protecting guidance it
could have been a dangerous passage. The rolling of the boat
increased in the Bay of Biscay, and few were seen at the tables.
Calming gradually at Madeira, it was fine weather. Here we
passed a ship on its way to England bearing the rebel Zulu Chief
Cetswayo, we were told. At Madeira, natives flocked up to our
boat with fruit, wine and fancy-work for sale. Some youngsters
dived for pennies, bringing them up between their teeth. Our
ship took in further supplies and coal. At the Grand Canary the
wind blew up sharply - the top sail was in danger of loosening
up - the Captain requested someone to climb up to make it fast.
Two of our boys climbed up and did it.
arranged Christian meetings. services on Sundays and Sunday
School. Marie Dahle played the guitar and Mr. Emblem played the
violin. He organised a choir among the young. One of the songs
gold." Time was spent in planning and tentative committees were
set up for the future.
One day the
steward opened the mustard bottle to show how to use it on salt
beef for lunch. Two ladies took a spoonful each to their horror
and to the amusement of the others. Nearing the equator it
became warmer, the air was fine and all the passengers felt
well. SomE! of the children had been very ill. Three had died
and were buried at sea - Pahr's, Bjorkelund's and John Die's.
Equator the boys had fun. They fixed a hair across a man's
glasses and asked if he could see the line. "Line, yes, quite
clearly" he said. They also had fun watching flying fish, and
caught some which dropped on deck. As the South Easter began
blowing freshly our speed was modified but we moved on and early
one morning we passed Robben Island, and soon lay anchored
outside Cape Town. The Customs Officer came in a boat rowed by
six men. After the customs inspection our boat was allowed to
move to the quayside to take in coal and foodstuffs, but no one
was allowed to land owing to smallpox in Cape Town. A policeman
stood guard. The magnificent' view of Table Mountain impressed
First View of
On the way
again Port Elizabeth was by-passed but we stopped at East
London. Excitement grew as Natal was sighted but the straight
coastline, so unlike the rugged coast of Norway disappointed us.
By permission Old Durban Collection
one night we were told that the Umzimkulu River was in view.
Many rushed out, but it was too dark to see clearly; they did
however see the bonfires which Mr. Bazley had made, as a welcome
for the colonists. By midnight our boat arrived in Durban
harbour stopping at the outer anchorage. Next morning, August
28, the men rose early for the first view of the much-talked of
new country. They spied the Town Hall and houses on the Berea in
the bright sunshine. At nine a.m. Mr. Butler, Secretary of the
Immigration Board, together with a Customs Officer and several
gentlemen came on board. They brought a map of the Settlement
and the farms were allocated by the drawing of lots. Rev. Berg
was given a lot in the centre and No. 17 was chosen for Church
and school. Messrs. Rafteseth, Gorven and Hoidel came on board
to bid us welcome and brought bananas, oranges and sweets for
The 100 mile
journey by land to the Settlement would have been hazardous, and
expensive so the authorities offered to let the Lapland take
them down. They arrived back at the Umzimkulu mouth late on the
evening of August 28.
Bazley fired five cannon shots as a welcome and the Captain sent
up coloured rockets in reply, which pleased the people. Seeing
the English colonists were on the shore to welcome them, our
men gave three loud hurrahs. The choir on board sang some
Sankey’s Hymns in Norwegian, guitar playing was heard and the
ship's crew sang some of their songs. Early on August 29, a
lighter came out to convey us to land. Rev. Berg now made a
speech on behalf of the immigrants to the Donald Currie Co.,
thanking the captain and crew for their care and good attention
on the voyage - the food had been plentiful and good. In reply
the Captain said that he had transported emigrants before, but
none had given him more pleasure than these Norse ones.
the landing, the men used a ladder of rope, while the women and
children were put in a basket with room for five, having a door
at the side and lowered into the lighter - 128 persons were
crammed into the lighter hold. As the waves splashed over the
lighter the hatches had to be clamped down. A small steamer, the
“Somtseu”, drew the lighter to the mouth of the Umzimkulu
where a troop of Zulus pulled it over the sandbank and in
through the river mouth. The poor tightly packed passengers
suffered from heat and lack of air, became seasick and some
fainted. They had forgotten to bring drinking water along. The
towing of the boat across the sandbank took time but some of our
seamen came to the rescue, opening the hatches, so the poor
passengers could breathe freely again. They were relieved to
step out on to firm land. The rest of the company came in the
A number of
the colonists were gathered to welcome the arrivals _ the
English were David Aiken, Reid, Sinclair, Brickhill, Pearce,
Woolly brothers, Bazley, General Bissett and W. Mason. The
Germans were Mr. and Mrs. Sangmeister, Rev. Stoppel, Klusener,
Ringo, and Kruger; Swedes Orenskjold and George Anderson;
Norwegians B. Rafteseth, Rasmus Nilsen and H. T. Brudewold who
was assigned by the Government to meet the arrivals and help
them with guides and transport. Mr. Orenskjold was most helpful.
Mr. D. Aiken invited Rev. Berg and family to his home for three
days, while the luggage was unloaded. Mr. Brickhill gave
accommodation to thirty immigrants in his new shop on the hill.
Mr. Reid gave several lodging in his hotel. The Kjonstad family
were taken to the brothers Rafteseth, the Huffts went with
Ringos. The rest were lodged in Mr. Pearce's large shed. The'
Captain sent blankets and ship's biscuits until supplies could
be obtained. Mr. de Beauvais the Harbour Captain was helpful
and Mrs. de Beauvais sent cakes and sweets for the children.
Fynn, son of Henry Fynn, the Zulu chief of the district had
staged a war dance by 400 Zulus as a welcome. Dressed in full
war regalia with spears and cow hide shields they made a
terrifying impression on the newcomers as they came down the
hill with war cries, and began stamping back and forth until
sand and dust were blowing in a cloud. The women and children
fled to the big shed, some of the men entered the bush nearby,
unable to fathom this strange welcome. Soon, however, three big
oxen were driven into the dance and pierced with spears. The
warriors drank the blood, the skins were torn off and the
carcases cut up and grilled on coal fires round about. The
immigrants were offered some underdone meat but they declined.
However they enjoyed the tea, cakes and fruit brought by the
colonists - they were served with mealie porridge from a large
pot and found it quite tasty.
day, August 30, Rev. Berg conducted an impressive service on the
river bank where they thanked the Almighty God and Father for
their safe arrival in sunny South Africa, the goal of their
happy dreams. They also invoked His blessing, help and guidance
for the future.
Klusener, a German who stayed with Rev. Stoppel at the Mission
Station, Marburg, was given the contract of carting the luggage
of the immigrants to their respective homes by ox-wagon. This
took time and many walked on in the tall grass; father carrying
provisions, mother carrying the baby with clothes parcels, big
brothers and sisters helping the smaller ones up the hills in
the sun. Each lot had two rondavels, the only window being the
upper half of the door. They had been built by the Government.
The number of the lot was nailed on the door. The huts did not
look very inviting, the thatched roofs were wind torn,
and inside weeds and climbing plants were growing on the crude
earthen floors. Frogs, wasps nests and snakeskins had to be
swept out. Soon, however, the coffee kettles were boiling in
the middle of the floor and the families were refreshed after
the strenuous walk.
Arrival at the
ox-wagons arrived and the cups and dishes were unpacked, they
found that much of their crockery had been broken on the way, an
ox-wagon having overturned on the steep hill. The empty cases
were soon converted into tables and chairs. A two hundred pound
bag of maize meal was given to each family.
arrived at the place of their dreams, and felt the warm sun on
the hillsides with the beginning of summer. Trees grew by the
spruits and the rolling veld gave promise of fields of corn, but
there was a secret feeling of dismay as they began to see the
difficulties ahead. Still the joy of a successful voyage and
safe arrival was great, and to build a home and make a success
of their place in the Colony of Natal was the firm decision of
one and all.
the Government had been helpful and generous. What the future
held either of prosperity or adversity no one could know.
Harbour Works. Port Shepstone
Arrival of the "Lapland" yesterday. Norwegian Emigrants "All
of the steamer for the Umzimkulu, the C.H.M.S. 'Lapland,' which
was expected here a day or two since, arrived at this port early
yesterday morning. She had on board 36 families numbering 229
persons, who possess between them the capital to the extent of
about £2,400. They are Norwegian emigrants, and appear to be a
fine and hardy class of people, who will make first rate
colonists. Arrangements had been made to give up the whole of
the passenger accommodation on board the 'Lapland' to them, and
to carry them out direct.
concession has been highly appreciated by all concerned, and
those gentlemen who inspected them yesterday morning, prior to
their departure for the Umzimkulu, found them to be in tip-top
condition, and all content and happy.
visited them were Mr. B. VV. Greenacre (member of the E.L.I.B.),
Mr. C. H. Butler (Secretary), Mr. D. C. Andrew (Agent), Mr. T.
Petersen (who acted as interpreter) and a few Norwegians in the
town who had some friends on board. We hope in the course of a
day or two to be able to place before our readers some
interesting particulars connected with these useful emigrants."
romance" in the settlement, began when young Mr. W. Bazley chose
his bride-to-be on the bank of the river. She was Miss Margaret
Martinsen. Their courtship was carried on with the help of a
Norwegian-English dictionary, and their rendezvous was
Berg was delighted to perform the marriage ceremony, and
General Bissett read an address at the wedding. It was truly a
festive gala day.
couple were towed in Bazley's boat by a whaler up the river, and
from the banks, Bazley's inevitable dynamite explosions
resounded. The young couple lived in two rondavels for many
years. They had two sons, Willie and Harry Knut.
retirement, Bazley built a magnificent home on the south bank of
ihe river, overlooking the river and sea. There he carried on
his hobby of collecting fossils and books, until his death.
this early example, scores of romances could be chronicled in
the history of the colony.
WHO ARRIVED ON THE “LAPLAND”
Rasmus Sandanger, wife Helene. With Peter Knotten,
wife Maren, child
2: Matias Holte, wife Karen, child Konrad. With
Johan Myklebust and
3: Isak Igesund, wife Dortea, child Anna. With Jakob
and Olava Ribbestad.
4: Johan Nero, wife Karen, children Anna and
Dorthea. With Martin
Amundsen and Ane Sande.
6: Ole Valdal, wife Beate, children Marie, Lina,
Olaf. With Regine Johnson
and Severin Loken.
7: Kristian Rodseth, wife Kristine, children Aage,
Anna, Marje, Elisabet.
With Johanne Oie and Peder Ertesvaag.
8: John Kipperberg, wife Gurine. With Emblem, wife
Marit, children Trine,
9. Elling Pahr, wife Ane, children, Olava, Kristine,
Pernille, Peder, Anna,
Eilert and Ole. With A. Hansen.
10: John Lillebo, wife Kanutte, children Peder, Anna,
Myklebust and Jorgine Ensti.
K. O. Standal, wife Johanne. K. E. Standal, wife
K. Martinsen, wife Elisabet, children Margrete, Klara,
With Kaia and Gudve Rogne and E. Brudevik.
13: Ole Haajem, wife Hendrikke, children Edvard, Anna,
Laura, Karl, Ole,
Nora. With Petrine, Hans and Nille Haajem.
14: Emil Berg, wife Kornelia, children Johan, Gusta,
Marie, Magda, Alfa,
Harald, Arthur. With Anna Brungot, J.
15: C. D. Lund, wife Marie, children Sverre, Einar,
Ragnhild, Astrid. With
brother Tank Lund.
16: A. Andersen, wife Gertrud, children Johanne,
Hilma, Andreas, Karen.
Rodseth, Ingebrigt, Edvard Bye, Marie Jorgensen and Vaernes.
Church and School Lot.
18: Peter Brune, son Ole. With Marie Moe and R.
19: O. Vinjevold, wife Oline, children Oline, Peder,
Oluffa, Anna, Josefine,
Andreas. With Anders Stigen.
20: F. Hufft, wife Kristine, children Sofie, Inga.
With Jorgen VoId and
23: Martinus Gidske, wife Anna, children Anna, Petter,
Bernt, Berte. With
Johan Petersen and Nikoline Londahl.
25: Gjert Kvalsvig, wife Marie, child Gustav. With J.
Johannesen and Sevrine Paulsen.
29: Nils Oie, wife Malene, children John and Guttorm,
Kannutte and Inge
borg and Kornelia. With O.J. Brauteseth and
30: T. O. Dahle, wife, children Anna, Gusta, Thea,
Ludvig, Oluff, Kornelius.
With Ingeborg Dyb, W. Andersen and Marie
31: A. Birkelund, wife Marta, children Lars and
Larsina. With Ane Vatne
32: P. Haram, wife Cecilia, six children.
33: John Oie, wife Karen. With Olai Vatne and Malene
Borgensen, wife Marie, child Eivind. With Londahl,
Wife Ragnhild, children Martha, DevoId and Dorthea.
36: Pettersen and J. Andersen.
37: Knut Haggeselle, wife Johanne, children Sofie and
Ida. With mother
brother Anders, and Anna Karlsen.
41: F. Bodtker, wife Cecelie, children Fritz, Paul,
Marie, Rebekka. With L. Berntsen.
43: P. Trandal, Haakon Hjelle and Elen Ekornes.
44: J. Kjonstad, child Dina. With Ingeborg Valum and
45: G. Kjonstad, wife Elise. With Dagna and Emil
Holte. Zefanias Olsen.
Karl Meeg and Lina Pettersen.
46: H. Andreasen and Kristian Olsen.
E. Bjorseth, wife Anne, children Anna, Peder, Alfred,
Olivia. With Johan Vernes.
A total of
229 passengers landed at Umzimkulu on 29th August, 1882.
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