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Nasset, Bertha 1857-


Posted By: Lori Ellickson (email)
Date: 1/10/2011 at 23:38:39

In Her 93rd Year, Glenwood Township Farm Woman Recalls Dangerous Trip From Norway

The Decorah Public Opinion
Northeast Iowa’a Prize-Winning Paper
Decorah, Winneshiek County, Iowa
Thursday, October 19, 1950

In her 93rd year, Mrs. Bertha Invick is one of Winneshiek County’s most interesting
personalities. I enjoyed visiting with her recently at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Clem Dinger, on a farm in Glenwood Township near the Glenwood Cave.

Her memory is as sharp as a new knife. She recalls many interesting incidents out of a life encompassing nearly a century. She is the last of the early settlers for whom the Nasset Exchange was named.

Born in Bergen, Norway, January 8, 1857, she came to this country in June 1870, with her brother John, a spinster aunt, Miss Kjerste Hattleberg, a teenage cousin, Marie Nasset, and another cousin Andrew, who had just turned 20.

Her parents, Hans and Ragnild Nasset, had planned to come to this country with young Bertha, but her father developed pneumonia about the time the ship was scheduled to sail from Norway, so other members of the family had to remain until the next spring.

The Nassets came to America to join some cousins who had settled in Glenwood Township. These cousins, Hans Nasset and Hans Hendrickson had settled on some land in Glenwood Township and had written home about the promising prospects of life in the new country. “The population is not so congested here,” they wrote. “There is more land to be had, bigger farms for everybody. A good opportunity to get ahead.”

Late in the afternoon of a spring day in 1870,
Bertha and her party set out from Norway on the Valkerin, a sailboat carrying about 700 passengers.

Lots of Food
With them, Bertha and her relatives took a
substantial quantity of food. Most of it was packed in barrels. They had white cheese, brown cheese, shingle bread, rye bread, butter, dried beef, milk, cream, coffee and lots of beer.
While on the ocean, food was kept in the laste
(cellar) room. This was a compartment in the lower part of the ship below the water level. There food could be kept cold during the entire voyage.

The beer was transported in kegs, beer made by Berthas’ mother. It was a special kind of beer, probably tasted by few people now living, made of molasses, hops, sugar and water.

It was a rainy day. Large gray clouds rolled low over the North Sea. The adventurers felt a sense of uncertainty in the changing atmosphere.

Bertha had never been on a boat before, but
she had been near the sea all her life and was
accustomed to seeing the boats come and go.
So, she was not frightened when the sailboat
began bobbing outward to sea.

During the night, however, something happened
that frightened her very much, something that chilled all the passengers to the bone.

The incident happened after midnight as the
Valkerin came into Dover, England. Suddenly
through the night rang a loud crash. Through
the cabins of the Valkerin, all was confusion,
the sailboat quivered and pitched. Many of the
passengers were jarred from their bunks by the terrific impact.

Investigation disclosed that a steamship had
rammed the side of a sailboat. By the time the
passengers were out on deck, the steamship had
vanished, like a phantom in the night.

Bertha Invick, now in her 93rd year, recalls
that accident at sea, as if it had happened only
yesterday. “It was terrible,” she said, “A terrible accident.” There was a loud noise from under the water. The steamship had sunk.

“From out of their watery graves, we could hear the trapped passengers and crew crying out
and screaming for help.” The Valkerin and
its passengers were delayed in Dover while the
captain of the Norwegian vessel conducted a
search for the sunken ship. The phantom ship
was never located.
Landed At Quebec
After the two weeks delay, the Valkerin
resumed the voyage toward the United States.
“We landed in Quebec,” Bertha recalls. “From
there we took a steamboat by way of the
Great Lakes to Milwaukee. From there we
travelled by train to Prairie Du Chien. From
Prairie we took a steamboat to Lansing.

It happened that Hans Hendrickson, Bertha’s cousin, was building a new house on his newly-settled land in Glenwood Township. It is the same farm where Wilbur Wilkins lives today.

Hans had been hauling lumber by team from
Lansing for the dwelling. He had one of the haulers look for the newcomers every time he was in Lansing.

About the day the travellers were thought
most likely to arrive, Hans had a neighbor,
Ole Nasset, drive to Lansing with a two-seated
buggy drawn by a team of horses. That day -
it was a Saturday, the Norwegian immigrants
arrived in Lansing. Other people were landing
from other boats

Ole wanted young Bertha to ride back to
Hendrickson’s farm with him in the buggy,
but Bertha’s brother, John, refused to be
separated from his sister.

“We were suspicious of strangers in the new
country,” Bertha says, “so my brother insisted
that he be permitted to ride with me on a load of lumber with our cousin Andrew Griejso.” (?)

The others went in another buggy with Nasset.
They reached Hendrickson’s farm Saturday night.

Bertha, John and Andrew ate supper with the Hendrickson’s and put up there for the night.
The spinster aunt, Kjerste Hattelberg and
cousin Marie, stayed all night with the Nassets.

Bertha remembers that she had a very good
dinner at the Hendrickson farm that night. “We had pie, cake, mutton, fresh, home butchered
beef, and many other delicious foods.”

“For those who drank it, there was whiskey,
I never touched the stuff.”

The next day being Sunday, all the new arrivals from Norway assembled at the Hendricksons to arrange to go to church together. All except Mrs. Hendrickson went to attend the services. They walked about three miles across the hills northward to the little frame Norwegian church to hear the Rev. Vilhelm Koren. Mrs. Hendrickson stayed home to get dinner.

The little church stood on the same ground where the present Glenwood stone churchstands. “The church was filled.” Bertha Invick recalls.

Impressed By Koren
“I was very favorably impressed by Koren. He
was a striking looking young man. He spoke
of the problems we faced in the new land and
advised us how to conduct ourselves. He
cautioned us to behave ourselves so that we
would be liked by the people in our newly-adopted home.” Mrs. Invick remembers that Koren’s house on Washington Prairie had burned down a short time before. He and his wife were living in a house near the present Luther College Campus in Decorah. He was travelling to his Winneshiek County churches by horse and buggy.

From the church services Bertha and her
relatives returned to the Hendrickson home
to partake of Mrs. Hendrickson’s bounteous
dinner. “I remember,” Bertha says, “that we had chicken, lefse-kaka, apple pie, coffee, milk, and other good things.”

That summer Bertha and John worked for Hendrickson, helping put in garden and field
crops, and assisting with the chores. Andrew started working for another man, Botol Styve,
who lived near the Bakke School.

That fall Bertha started working as a house
maid for Arve Benedict. She recalls that
Benedict lived on West Broadway. He was a
carpenter. He and his wife had a grown son,
who taught English in the Decorah public school,
and a grown daughter, who was teaching the Rocksvold school.

The next spring Bertha’s parents arrived in
the Glenwood community. They lived there the rest of their lives.

Other people for whom Bertha Invick worked as a girl were Soren and Albert Sorenson and a
Mr. Hall. After that she started working for
Pete Bakke. It was here that she was destined to meet the man who became her husband.

This young man was Thore Invick, a young
Norwegian from Trondheim. He was working as a
hired man for Andrew Haugen.

One Sunday Thore came walking by and stopped
at the Bakke place to visit with the Bakke
boys. At this time Thore was showing alot
of interest in military drills. He had been
a soldier in Norway and since coming to this
country had been rounding up some young men
in the Glenwood community to take military
training. He made a hobby out of drilling them
in foot work and in the use of fire arms.

Every Sunday Invick and his “soldiers” would
have shooting matches in the Glenwood bottoms
along Trout Creek.

“The first time I saw Thore,” the 93-year-old
Bertha Invick reminisces, “I didn’t like him.
I thought he was too proud. He had the Bakke
boys introduce us, but I just spoke to him and
let it go at that, didn’t waste any time with him.”

Her First Date
A short time after this meeting, Thore started
working for Bakke. And not long after this,
Bertha had her first date with the young
Norwegian from Trondheim.
“I remember that day very well,” she says. “It was the Fourth of July. He took me to a dance at a nearby farmhouse. A large crowd of young couples danced to an instrumental trio comprised of two violinists and an accordionist.”

About three years later, they were married
in the Washington Prairie Lutheran church by
the Rev. Koren. It was April 24, 1875. At her
father’s home near the Glenwood cave, friends
and relatives celebrated two days and two nights.

After that Thore and Bertha moved into a little log cabin on the Southwest bank of Trout Creek near her father’s home. Here they lived several years. Here four of their 11 children were born.

During spring rains, Trout Creek often went out of the bank and threatened the little house. One spring the rains were worse than usual, and the creek rose menacingly near the cabin.
Little Cabin Flooded
One afternoon in June, Thore went down the
stream for some distance from the cabin
fishing for trout. Suddenly a cloud burst hit the Sheggrude bottom. Trout Creek became a
raging torrent in a matter of minutes.

Bertha gathered her children in out of the
yard, took them upstairs, and dashed
downstairs to brace the door. By the time she
got back downstairs, the water was sweeping
into the cabin.

Three little kittens that hed been playing in
a tub in the kitchen were having a merry ride
about the kitchen on the rolling waters.

An Awful Sight
When the storm swept over the Glenwood Hills, Thore set out at once for his little cabin home, fearing for the safety of his wife and children. As he came to the brow of a hill
overlooking the Sheggrude bottom, an awful
sight greeted his eyes.

Ugly flood waters surged high about the little
farm home. Bertha stood in the door, not knowing what to do next. He shouted to her to get inside and shut the door to keep the water out. Bertha had barely complied with his request when the storm settled down with renewed
fury. The water rose so high it began seeping through the keyhole in the kitchen door.

Bertha grabbed old rags and stuffed them into
the keyhole and kept shouting to Thore not to
venture into the flood. Suddenly she heard a
racket at the door and was startled to see it open. In staggered Thore to rescue his loved ones.

Finally the rains subsided and the waters began to go down. Bertha was trembling like a
frightened child. “We must not live in this cabin any longer.” she said. “If the water starts to rise again,” he said, “you will not have to stay. I will move us to a new home.”

Waters Rise Again
That same night the waters rose again. That
was the last night the Invicks lived in the little cabin. The next day they moved to a house on higher ground about a quarter of a mile away.
In that second home Thore and Bertha lived all
the rest of their married life. Here the rest of their family was born, seven children, making a total of seven daughters and four sons.

Of these six are still living. Besides Mrs. Clem Dinger with whom Mrs. Invick makes her home, there are one son and five daughters, Julius Invick of Decorah; Mrs Mary Anderson of Decorah; Mrs. Henry Gross, Madison Township; Mrs. Ole Severson, Dubuque; and Mrs Howard Theis, Waukon.

In her 93rd year, Mrs. Invick feels quite well. “If her eyesight were not so bad,” her daughter says, “Mother could do a lot of hand work. Until recently she crocheted and made rugs and did lots of fanciwork of all kinds.”

The Glenwood Township woman eats three square meals a day, starting with a breakfast of toast, fruit juice, oatmeal with cream and sugar, and one cup of coffee with cream but no sugar.
Eats Lightly
Although not a heavy eater - she’s always
been a light eater - Bertha eats well, enjoying all kinds of good food, meats, vegetables and fruit. She eats little pastry but is fond of lefse, fish and cheese. Of the cheeses, primost is her favorite. Of the fish, ludefisk is her favorite.

With thoughts of this she begins dreaming of the coming Christmas season when ludefisk will be served often by persons of Norwegian heritage.

Christmas is an exciting time for the long-time Glenwood Township resident. This is one time of year when life focuses around the aged Bertha.

Around a big Christmas tree, bedecked with
bright ornaments and surrounded by heaps of presents, all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gather. It is a festive time with opius quantities of lefse, ludefisk, guro-kaka, fattigman, fruit suppe, and other typical Norwegian dishes.

Bertha goes to bed about 9 and gets up from
8 to 8:30. She sleeps well most of the time. She is an ardent radio fan and since she can’t see enough to read she keeps in touch with the
world by means of her radio.

She is especially fond of church programs, and
has a regular schedule of programs she follows
every day. Ordinarily, when there is no company, the radio is on from morning until night.


Winneshiek Biographies maintained by Bill Waters.
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