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Birger R. Handeland 1895-1909


Posted By: Merllene Andre Bendixen (email)
Date: 3/7/2014 at 22:33:05

Berger [Birger] Handeland Drowned
Fourteen Years Old Son of Mr. and Mrs. Lars Handeland Meets Death in Des Moines River
He Was Unable to swim
Several Companions See Him Wade Into Deep Hole But Unable to Save Him
Another death by drowning has been added to the already large list of victims in the treacherous Des Moines river at this place. This time it was Berger Handeland, the fourteen year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Lars Handeland of north 5th street, who was drowned Sunday [August 15, 1909] afternoon in the Des Moines river near the Kettleson springs. He was with a small party of young people were at the springs for a picnic and was chaperoned by Mrs. W.A. Hodge. This lady went home on an errand and cautioned the boys not to go bathing, but boy like they took to the water like ducks and no sooner had Mrs. Hodge left than three or four of the boys went in for a swim, the Handeland boy among the number. He was unable to swim and was cautioned by the others but he started to wade from the shore and when only a short distance out went into a hole where the water was about ten feet deep. As he went down he grabbed Bernard Franz and nearly pulled him in under also. The Franz boy kicked himself loose and escaped but the Handland boy went down never to come up alive. Assistance was soon at hand and by the aid of a rake the body was recovered near where it went down, by W. H. Hodge, within an hour of the time of his disappearance. Dr. Anderson was on hand and after careful examination pronounced the boy dead.

Funeral was held from the Norwegian church Tuesday forenoon and the body laid to rest in the Norwegian cemetery north of town. Berger was a good boy and had recently been confirmed in the Lutheran church. His father and mother, who are most distracted over their sons untimely death have the heartfelt sympathy of the entire community. (Vindicator and Republican, Estherville, IA, August 18, 1909)

Drowned in River
Berger Handeland Looses Life in Des Moines River Sunday
Bathing at Kettleson’s Spring
Body recovered in One and One-half Hours – Funeral Held Yesterday – Burial in Norwegian Cemetery
Estherville and community was again called upon Sunday to mourn the loss of another boy, who went to his death in the Des Moines river.

Berger Handeland, fourteen-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Lars Handeland, was drowned in the river north of Estherville near Kettleson’s Springs at about 4:30 Sunday afternoon. It appears that just before 4:30 his parents who live on North Ninth street, went calling and told Berger to stay at home. They had just left home when Berger and John Benson got on their bicycles and rode very fast to the river back of P.A. McKibben’s. Upon reaching the river Young Handeland went into the water with his overalls on. The children on the bank advised Berger not to go in as he could not swim. But he did not heed the advice. In just a moment after going into the water he got beyond his depth and went under. Berger made a gallant effort to save himself, as did the other boys on the bank but all to no avail. They went to Mr. McKibben’s for help. The accident was phoned up town, the fire whistle blown, and a large crowd soon gathered at the river. After one and one-half hours of faithful work the body was found. Every effort was made to revive the boy but the last spark of life was gone, and all labor was fruitless. The body was taken to the home and the funeral held yesterday morning at 10 o’clock at the home. Later short service was held in the Norwegian Lutheran church. Burial was made in the Norwegian cemetery.

Berger Handeland was born in Norway June 27, 1895. He came to Estherville with his parents five years ago. He was a bright boy and well thought of by all. Estherville is grieved to learn of the untimely death of this little fellow, and hastens to extend sympathy to the family. (Estherville Enterprise, Estherville, IA, August 18, 1909)

River Claims Boy
Berger Handeland Drowned Sunday Afternoon
Near Kettleson’s Spring
Was in Swimming With Three Other Lads – Water Was Over Fifteen Feet Deep
Berger Handeland, the fourteen year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Lars Handeland residing on north Ninth street, was drowned in the river near Kettleson’s Spring Sunday afternoon about four o’clock where he had gone bathing with Johnnie Benson, Lawrence Bowman and Francis Hodge. Lawrence Bowman and Francis Hodge were at the spring with a party of picnickers. Berger, in company with Johnny Benson, rode their wheels over during the afternoon. It was a hot day and the exercise in riding the wheels made them very warm and Berger immediately discarded his garments all but his overalls and plunged into the river where the other two boys were bathing. He started out to swim across but had only taken a few strokes when he went under. He came up and caught hold of Lawrence Bowman and came very nearly getting him under before Lawrence could get away. He went down again but did not come up. The boys gave the alarm at once and in less than half an hour half the residents of the town were there to assist in the search for the body. Boats were secured and the river dragged and men were diving in the fifteen feet of water where he went down. W.H. Hodge was using a garden rake and was about twenty feet below where he sank when he struck something and getting it securely fastened to the teeth he raised it to the top and it proved to be the body of the unfortunate lad. He was hurriedly carried ashore and an effort made to bring life back into the body, but to no avail. He had been in the water too long, fully one hour from the time the alarm was sounded.

Berger was the fourteen year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Lars Handeland and the oldest of eight children. He was a bright boy and a favorite among his associates. It is thought he was immediately taken with cramps when he jumped into the water on account of being so warm from riding his bicycle. The remains were taken to the Brees undertaking rooms where they were prepared for burial. Funeral services were held in the Norwegian Lutheran church Tuesday and the remains interred in the cemetery north of town. The sympathy of the community is extended the bereaved family and relatives. (Estherville Democrat, Estherville, IA, August 18, 1909)


Emmet Obituaries maintained by LaVern Velau.
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