Leland, Earl and Virginia (Johnson)

(Virginia Leland)

Earl and Virginia Leland moved to Decorah and Winneshiek Co., IA in 1959 when Earl joined the faculty of Luther College as a professor of history. They were accompanied by 2 children, Timothy Louis (then 7 1/2) and Cora Elizabeth (then 4 1/2), both of whom were born in Chicago, IL, their previous home. Another daughter, Amy Arlene, was born in Decorah in 1962.

Earl was born in in Superior, Wl to Fred and Tina (Hansen) Leland, both of whom emigrated to the U.S. from their native Norway, she from the area near Tromso; he from the area north of Christiansand. Earl served 4 years in the Army Air Corps during World War II as an Armaments Specialist. He received his higher education at the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL where he received the doctoral degree in 1964. Earl retired from Luther in 1986 and died in 1995.

Virginia was born to Cora L. (Gunderson) and Nels M. Johnson at Oconomowoc, Wl. Her mother was a third-generation Norwegian-American and her father was born in Norway, emigrating to the U.S. about 1907. Virginia also was a graduate of the University of Chicago with a degree in psychology and human development. She was active in civic and church organizations and in volunteer work while a resident of Decorah. She was also employed from time to time in various capacities as secretary or library assistant. Previously she had been a nursery school teacher.

Their son Timothy was married in 1981 to Anne Louise Straka from Cedar Rapids, IA and they made their home in the Minneapolis area. Their children are Elizabeth Anne and Robert Earl. Timothy is employed by the Operating Engineers’ Union.

Cora Elizabeth was married in 1978 to Jerome Kievan of Zumbrota, MN. They made their home in Minneapolis and later near Spring Valley, MN. They were divorced in 1987 and Cora moved to Las Vegas, NV at that time where she was later married to Jan Courtright. She has three step-daughters and is employed in accounting.

Amy Arlene was married in 1986 to David Usgaard of Decorah, and of this writing they are the parents of 2 boys: Curtis James and Daniel Robert. They make their home in Decorah, IA where they are associated with the Usgaard family business.

Lennon, Arthur and Agnes Marie (Jaastad)

(Ellen Lennon Holland)

My paternal grandfather, Arthur B. Lennon, was born 1 Jun 1889 in Decorah, IA. He was baptized 14 July 1889 and confirmed with the class of 1904. Arthur died in his home in Winneshiek Co. 17 Sep 1935. He was appointed as a regular clerk in the Decorah Post Office 16 May 1916, where he continued his employment until his death. He was married 20 Oct 1915 in Winneshiek Co., to (Agnes) Marie Jaastad. My grandmother Marie was born 28 Aug 1896 in Winneshiek Co. Four children were born to this union: Huber Dean, born 6 Dec 1916; Elaine Bernice Boe, born 23 Sep 1918; Helen Jean Bentwood, born 9 Feb 1921; and Lowell Benjamin, - all born in the county.

Although Arthur’s number of years were limited, his accomplishments were many. He built a beautiful and comfortable home for his family, cared for his mother, and encouraged education among his family members. He was a well-read man, taking great interest in the world around him; he enjoyed taking his family on informative and interesting trips, fishing excursions, long walks on beautiful days gathering wild flowers, or drives on the area’s country roads. Arthur’s father, Charles B. Lennon, of Scotch-lrish descent, was born 2 Jan 1852 and died 18 Jan 1913 at the age of 61 years. Arthur's mother, Sarah Anderson, was born 28 Jul 1866 and died Feb 1947 at the age of 80. She was of Norwegian/Lutheran heritage and was said to have planned the family meals, setting a strong moral climate and bringing Christian principles into the home. Sarah was an excellent seamstress and made her home with her son and his growing family.

Ancestors from my paternal grandmother’s side of the family left their home in West Sorpen, Norway 8 May 1844. When they arrived in what is now Chicago, Marie’s grandfather was approached by someone wanting to sell him twenty acres for $200. His friends talked him out of it because they believed the land to be worthless for farming. My grandmother, Marie (Jaastad) Lennon, was born 28 Aug 1896 in Winneshiek Co. to Ben and Sophia (Fossum) Jaastad. She married Arthur B. Lennon 20 Oct 1915 and they had 4 children. Marie’s only brother, Lloyd Myron Jaastad, was born 16 Jan 1903. He married Clara Nesset 20 Jun 1936. The beautiful brick country home a few miles north of Decorah was built by their grandfather, Mons Foss. This house was home to Lloyd and Clara for many years.

Marie's husband, Arthur, thought family was very important and he wanted to have information to hand down to his children about their roots. He gathered stories of his and Marie’s families, as well as keeping a diary of his own. This has been cherished by his descendants. One of the stories concerned Marie’s grandmother. An eight year old when her parents brought their family to this country, the youngster, while investigating the ship, started to lose her balance and was saved from falling overboard by someone grabbing her petticoats. The diary, kept by a fellow passenger, stated that the three week trip caused some alarm when they were chased by pirates for three days.

Marie was blessed with a long life. All but a few of her last years were spent in this county. She spent the last few months of her life at the Eastern Star Home and she enjoyed the wonderful care. She enjoyed celebrating her 97th birthday with family and friends. Handwork, especially Hardanger, kept her busy.

Ben Jaastad’s parents, Marie's grandparents, farmed in Canoe Twp. and built their home of hand-cut stones from rocks quarried nearby. The large barn, struck by lightning, burned in 1956. A century farm, the well-built house is now the home of Huber and Corolla Lennon.

Sogn, Norway, was the home of my maternal


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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021