In the beautiful far-off country of Norway near Tydal, where this family began, lived Peder Rotvold, later referred to as papa, with his parents Johann and Margrethe Rotvold. He was born April 23rd, 1883 of a large family. There were six boys and four girls. He grew to manhood and met a beautiful girl from Selbu by the name of Kari Almos, later referred to as mama. She was born May 4th, 1885 and lived with her mother Brynhild Almos and a sister Anna. She was less fortunate in that she only had a sister, but she made up for that as you shall see. Well, a romance bloomed and Peder and Kari were united in Holy Matrimony on June 14th, 1905, and their first child Anlaug (Ann) Margrette was born in Norway.
They had dreams of coming to America, and these dreams grew until they decided they would venture to go to America to make their home in a new land. After tearful good-byes they left Norway and came to the States in April 1906. Mama had an aunt, Mrs. Uglem, who lived on a farm near Lake Preston in South Dakota, so they decided to settle in that community.
Papa worked as hired help to start with, learning the ways and means of doing things in this new land. Then on May 27th, 1907 another baby girl was born, and they called her Bornis Anora. Papa began thinking he should start farming for himself, so he rented a farm known as the Evergreen Farm because it had so many beautiful evergreen trees. It was here another baby girl was born on August 2nd, 1908 and they called her Agnes Josephine. So now mama and papa had three girls and the oldest was ready to start school and couldn't speak a word of English, but guess that wasn't too big a problem as it was soon overcome.
Then what do you know, on October 7th, 1910 a baby boy came to live with the three girls and they called him Perginar Kasander. Wonder where they found that name. We call him Pergie.
With his family growing papa needed more land to farm so they moved to a larger farm but in the same community. Papa worked hard and was a good farmer. He needed help during harvest, and mama helped too whenever she could. In those days there were very few cars and horses were means of getting places. Mama had a bob-tail Arabian mare called Daisy she would drive singly to town. Sometimes she would drive a team on the surrey if she took us kids and went calling. Daisy was quite a horse, she would run the seven miles to town and back. Mama churned butter and she had customers in town, and she would take eggs and butter to town to be traded for groceries at the country store.
Another baby boy, Theodore Kristian, was born but he died before he was a year old of pneumonia. Am not sure of the date of birth or death. On November 21st, 1913 another baby boy, Carl Philip, was born, and the next year on November 19th, 1914 a little girl, Ruth Rosella, was born. As Philip was still pretty much a baby he would steal baby Ruth's bottle and when mama would say "see what's wrong with baby" we would find Phil sitting under the table enjoying baby Ruth's bottle. He would cry and say "froska." Norwegian for bottle.
We kids had lots of fun growing up. We had playhouses in the large grove, swings in the trees and sometimes we even did forbidden things, like playing in the wheat bins in our bare feet, swinging in the haymow on the hay slings, and climbing buildings. All fun but forbidden things were usually done when we were left home alone while mama and papa were gone. But we didn't fool papa, he could tell and we would get a scolding or a spanking.
Papa's family grew by leaps and bounds and it seemed like there was always a baby in the house. So on January 11, 1916 another baby girl, Orpah Elsie, joined the family. In the fall of 1916, mama and papa and some good neighbors decided to attend the state fair in Huron. These neighbors had an Overland Touring car. They packed a lunch and left at 4 o'clock in the morning and left us children home alone. The oldest was eleven years old and the baby was about nine months. We had our orders, no fire in the stove and go to bed when it got dark as we were to light no lamps. We used wood-burning cook stoves and kerosene lamps for light. But we were good kids and obeyed orders. There were no mishaps, believe it or not. The folks got home around midnight and all was well. On March 14, 1917 another baby boy was born and he was named Donald Franklin.
Papa had been very successful farming so that summer he decided he was interested in a car. So one day he went to town and came home driving a Ford touring car. That was big excitement. Mama tried to learn to drive but when she would go to release the brake she would kill the motor and as it had to be cranked she gave up. That same year papa got another idea he'd like to go to the state of Washington. They had friends at Stanwood. So that fall they had an auction and sold everything, traded the Ford in for a Dodge touring and drove out to Washington. It took us two weeks on dirt roads that most of the time were single lane, crossed rivers by ferry, drove through one-lane tunnels and lots of excitement along the way. Lucky we had nice weather. But our stay was short. It was rainy season out there and the altitude was too high for mama so we came back by train that same fall. Papa shipped the car back by freight and we got it the next spring. Us kids enjoyed that train ride very much.
Finding a place to live when we got back and getting back to school was a problem. But we found a vacant farmhouse and lived there until the next spring when we moved to a large farm again. Times were hard as World War I was on and there was lots of rationing and substitutes. We had rice flour, potato flour and bean flour which made very poor bread, as wheat flour and sugar were very scarce and we got very little, but we managed. There was a flu epidemic too at this time and we were all sick, but hardy Norwegians that we were we all recovered with no after effects. Then on March 27th, 1919 another baby girl was born and she was named Florence Lorraine.
Papa always farmed lots of land and always had hired help in the busy season, but we older ones were getting old enough we'd have to help with the haying, harvest and cultivating corn, which we weren't too crazy about, especially us girls. We would also have chores to do in the busy season like milking the cows, separating the milk, keeping the woodbox filled for the cook stove, and picking the eggs, we all had to pitch in and help. Then when Saturday night came we all looked forward to a night in town. Mama sewed for all of us and that was a lot of sewing. She never used a pattern but she was very good at it. Many nights, especially before Christmas, she would be up until after midnight sewing so we would have new things to wear for school programs or whatever.
We had just finished cutting the last field of oats and at four o'clock in the afternoon of July 20th, 1921, a baby boy was born. They named him Roland Duane but we call him Bud. The oldest was a sophomore in high school and the others were attending country school. Papa was very strict with us and we sometimes had to do things on the sly, like saying we were going to a party when we were really going to a dance. Guess he changed some when the younger ones got old enough to go.
Several years went by and the oldest was graduating from high school when on May 10th, 1923, Beryl Theodora was born. The two oldest had left home to find their place in the world and there was still another baby, the last one, a boy Robert Rueben born May 5th, 1926. So now Peder and Kari had twelve healthy Norwegians, as were mama and papa. For such a large family there were no serious illnesses or broken bones. They made it through the depression, and during World War II all five of their sons were in the service of their country and returned home safely. During the war papa was hard-pressed at home with the boys gone, but the neighbors helped one another, another hardship for them.
Mama and papa loved having their children home for Christmas. Mama made lots of Norwegian goodies, like ludefisk and lefse, krumkaka, fattigman, and lots of breads and other good things. She was a good cook and we had lots of fun. When Phil married, the folks left the farm and moved into town. This was in 1952.
In June 1955 mama and papa celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. A family dinner and open house was held at the Lake Preston Lutheran Church. All the children and their families were there to help them celebrate and wish them well, as were many friends and relatives. But mama hadn't been feeling well for some time. Her condition became serious and she was admitted to the hospital in August, and it was a blow to all of us to learn she was suffering from cancer and could not recover. She passed away on October 14, 1955, at the age of seventy years.
Papa lived alone for a year but it was lonely for him. He finally decided to break up the home and he visited with all of his children at different times for several years. He began to fail and it was hard for him to get around, so he decided to go to Kingsbury Manor in September, 1967, and was there only about three weeks when he suffered a heart attack and passed away on September 11, 1967, at the age of eighty-four years.
Mama and papa had thirteen children. Twelve are living, all married and have families except Pergie. There are twenty-seven grandchildren and thirty-seven great grandchildren as of this writing. We celebrated a two-day family reunion in Camp Bob Marshall, in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, in August 1971, which was most enjoyable. We were most privileged to have with us a cousin, Onkel Oliver's granddaughter from Norway, Aud Rotvold. Here we are again three years later celebrating our second reunion with some new additions to our large family. May God bless us all.