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Paul and Inger Thompson 60th Wedding Anniversary, 1911


Posted By: Alan Nicholson
Date: 4/29/2010 at 23:34:54

Roland Record
19 October 1911

60th Wedding Anniversary [Paul and Inger Thompson]

Aged Couple Are Today Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary of Their Marriage, A Short Story of the Life of This Estimable Couple

[the article is accompanied by a picture, he seated and she standing]

Today is celebrated an event in the lives of one of the most highly respected couples of Story County, when Mr. and Mrs. Paul Thompson are celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage. It falls to the lot of a very few to be able to celebrate such an event, and they are today receiving their numerous friends at an informal reception at their home on South Main Street and accepting their congratulations, which they richly deserve. A light luncheon is being served to all callers and their numerous relatives who are assembled to pay homage to the venerable couple.

Paul Thompson was born in Selvig, Nerstrand in Ryfylke, Norway, March 10, 1829, being at present past 82 years and is still vigorous and strong considering his advanced years. He came to this county in 1849, settling near Lisbon, Kendall Co., Ill., where he started in as a farmer.

Mrs. Thompson, formerly Inger Helgesdatter Risvold, was born in Risvold, Saude i Ryfylke, Norway, March 30, 1825, thus being past 86 years. Mrs. Thompson has been a strong woman until nearly eight years ago, when she was taken sick with a siege of rheumatism, which has crippled her so that she has been confined to her home almost continuously since, and for the past couple years has been confined to her invalid chair and bed, although at present she is as well as her friends can hope. In 1851 she emigrated to this country, settling near Lisbon, Ill., where she was joined in holy wedlock the same year, October 19, 1851, to be more exact, to Mr. Thompson, Rev. Eiling Eielson performing the ceremony. Only a very few of their friends were present to witness this great event in their lives, which union they had hardly dared dream should fall to their fortune to last for three score years. They commenced keeping house in the most frugal manner, because finances in those days were very meager, but by frugality and perseverance, coupled with hard work, they managed to get together some few worldly belongings.

But, they were not satisfied to rent land and longed for a time when they would be able to get a home that they could call their own, but as land was already worth considerable in Illinois, they could see no future for themselves there and they began to talk and study plans for moving west into Iowa. Their neighbors and friends were also discussing this question and the more they talked and thought about the matter, the more plausible it seemed, so finally action was taken, looking towards an emigration. A mass meeting was called and the matter was drifted thoroughly, resulting in the naming of a committee that should take a trip into Iowa and investigate the prospects for getting good government land at a figure, which they hoped they would some day be able to pay.

This committee consisted of Paul Thompson, Lars Sheldahl, Jonas Duea, Ole Thompson, John Mehus Johnson, Mons C. Grove, John Tarvestad Nelson and Jacob Erickson, the only one still living being Mr. Thompson. These eight men left for Iowa in the summer of 1855 coming to Story County which in those days was nothing but a wilderness. The Yankees had settled along the Skunk River, but the husky Norsemen could see that the open prairie offered them a better future so they picked a location about four miles east of the river. They all purchased each a quarter section, Paul Thompson buying the farm one mile south of Roland which he still owns, M. C. Grove the quarter just south of town and still owned by the Grove family, Jonas Duea bought the farm which still is owned by the estate, Jacob Erickson the quarter on which the greater part of Roland is now located, Ole Thompson the farm on which H. H. Lura now lives, Johan Mehus a farm south of Story City and Lars Sheldahl a farm about six miles northwest of here. These men returned to their respective homes in the fall, with glowing reports about the fertility of the soil and the next spring a number of families started out for the wilderness, where they expected to establish their homes.

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson did not move that year, but left Illinois in the spring of 1858 arriving at their destination in July. There were ten families in the company and they had twelve covered wagons in which was stored all their earthly belongings, except their cattle, which they drove in a herd after the wagons. Slowly they wended their way westward crossing the Mississippi river on a ferry, and fording other streams which they were obliged to cross. They traveled every day except Sunday, when they would go into camp and would conduct religious services, they being brought up in the Lutheran religion in their mother county, and they were loyal to it wherever they were. Those in the company were Messrs and Mesdames Baard Beroen Henryson, Lars Osteboe Henryson, Johannes Mathre, Chas. Halnes, Knudt Twedt, John Grindem Michaelson, Thor Hill, Mons C. Grove and Christian Erickson and their respective families. The only ones now living of this company are Mr. and Mrs. Paul Thompson and Mrs. Knudt Twedt.

Upon their arrival here, they were greeted with the most sincere reception by the families that had arrived a couple years previously, and were given what few comforts they were able to offer in those times. They commenced at once to prepare to build houses and barns so that they would be ready to break their farms the next spring and get something for food and feed. They had to travel over the prairies to the banks of the Des Moines river to get the lumber and did the carpenter work with the help of their neighbors which were then few and far between.

Their life on the prairies was anything but the most pleasant the first few years, as they had few comforts to enjoy, except the satisfaction of knowing that they would in a few years be able to own their home, and what family is there not who derives happiness from the pursuit of a home. They had to kill and dress their own meat, grind much of their own meal, and even weave much of the cloth from which they made their clothing. They had to travel by wagon to Marengo with their wheat and corn to be ground and to make their few necessary purchases, and many a time they got very little for what they had to sell, but had to pay very high prices for what the bought. Later they had to go to Marshalltown and Des Moines and as the railroads were built, they had Nevada as their trading point. The town of Roland was not established as a trading point until in the seventies, although a postal station was established at the Duea home, with Jonas Duea as postmaster. The mail was carried on horseback across the county.

As soon as traffic became somewhat general across the county, the Paul Thompson home became the stopping place for the travelers. Under this roof a stranger was always welcome, finding a refuge for himself and beast with his generous portion of the eatables that was to be had in that home.

Every Sunday when the weather was such that it was possible for people to be out, they would have religious services conducted at the various homes, and would even use barns for a meeting place. It was not so much the beauty and convenience of their place of worship that they considered as of most important but what they had in mind was to hear the Gospel, as they had learned to know it in their fatherland. Rev. P. A. Rasmusen who had been their pastor in Illinois, would make an occasional trip to this small colony and conduct services, which was a treat that they looked forward to with great joy. Later, they extended a call to Rev. N. Amlund, who had just arrived from Norway, to act as their pastor and he accepted and in a few more years, they felt that they would be able to build a church in which to conduct their religious worship.

A meeting was held and it was unanimously voted to build a church. Mr. Thompson was elected to pick the trees that were to be felled for use in the new structure, while the others were to cut and hew the timbers, and haul the same from the Des Moines river banks to the location chosen, on the B. B. Henryson farm, just east of Story City. Everyone took active interest in the building of the church edifice, doing most of the work without the aid of carpenters and mechanics. By hard work and much saving, they were at last able to complete their church and that they took pride in their church is needless to state.

This arrangement lasted until 1875 when the colonies about Roland and Story City had grown to such proportions that they decided to separate into two congregations, the church being moved into Story City and the people of Roland community built a new church in Roland which is still in use by the Bergen congregation. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson have been active members of the congregation from the first and they are still faithful to the same congregation having helped with generous donations and such other assistance as they were able to offer through these many years.

Mr. and Mrs. Thompson lived on their farm south of town until eleven years ago, when they moved to Roland and are today receiving their friends. Their acres grew from a quarter section to 500 acres so they are able to enjoy the years that they may have left without worry as to financial matters.

Three sons were born to this estimable couple, only one of whom living, namely Henry, who now occupies the old homestead. They have seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, all of whom are living in close proximity to the aged couple and who are today happy to help them celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of their marriage. The history of this worthy couple has been the history of Howard Township and has been the history of Roland and of the Bergen Lutheran congregation and that is why we have written the above article, which is incomplete but is still a review of what has been done during their 53 years of residence in Iowa. They have reached a ripe and honored old age, and the Record wishes to join the numerous friends, in wishing them many more bright yeas to enjoy with their relatives and other friends.


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