when our great-great-grandfather was born, one’s surname was determined solely by the place, or farm, where that person was residing. The farm’s name was your surname. With each move to another farm, one would acquire a new surname. So, here is the story about our Norwegian ancestor of many names who made it to America and to Winneshiek Co, IA.

On 15 Oct 1822, our great-great-grandfather was born Martin Christiansen Blixset in OstreToten, Oppland, Norway, the son of Christian Isaaksen and Marte or Marthe Hansdtr. In the 1937 confirmation records of Hof Parish in Ostre Toten, it first mentions his full name as Martin Christiansen Kallerudstad. The name change means that he was working and living on the Kallerudstad farm by age fifteen. There were no censuses taken in Norway listing families on their farms from 1816 to 1864; it is only with the help of local parish records that Martin and his family’s story can be told.

On 16 Mar 1846, in Vestre Toten, Norway, Martin Kallerudstad married Elise Gulbrandsdtr Steffensrud, the daughter of Gulbrand Fredriksen and Anna Olsdtr. Elise was born 21 Feb 1825, on the Bjugstad farm located in Vardal, Oppland, Norway. For at least a year Martin, now Martin Christiansen Steffensrud, and his wife Elise, lived on the Steffensrud farm in Vestre Toten where their first child, Hans Christian Martinsen Steffensrud was born. By April 1848 when their second child, Marie Martinsdtr Kallerudstad was born, they were living on the Kallerudstad farm in Ostre Toten. Once again Martin's surname was Kallerudstad. Martin and Elise had four more children born on this farm. They were: Caroline Amalia Martinsdtr, Carl Gustav Martinsen, Elene Mathea Martinsdtr, and my great-grandfather, Ole Martinsen Kallerudstad (b. 12 Jul 1857). Just a few years later, on 10 Mar 1860, their mother Elise died at the age of thirty-four.

On 14 May 1880, our great-grandfather Ole sailed from Oslo, Norway on the steamship Angelo putting his new name, Ole Martinsen Rustad, salesman, on the passenger list. He went first to Trempealeau Co, Wl, where his eldest brother, Hans Christian, had a farm. Then around 1881, Ole came to Highland Twp, Winneshiek Co. This was the same route his father Martin chose when he left Norway in March 1883 on the steamship Rollo changing his name one last time to Martin Rustad. Martin spent his first year in Wisconsin. Around 1884 he came to Winneshiek Co. to live with his son Ole. As a young man, Ole hired out by the month, saving his money.

At the time of his marriage, Ole was living in Freeport. On 18 Jan 1886, our great-grandparents, Ole Rustad and Agnethe Shervin were married at the home of Nels and Martha Gullickson in Winneshiek Co. Martha was Agnethe’s sister. Our great-grandmother’s birth name was Agnethe Jensdtr Aaslund. She was born 5 Feb 1855 on the Aaslund farm located in Vardal, Oppland. Her father died in Norway. Her mother Beata and her four brothers: Lars, Johan (John), Hans and Jakob (Jacob), had gone to America before Agnethe and her sister left 18 Jul 1879 on the steamship Angelo. They came directly to Decorah where the sisters worked as domestics until they married. The family chose these surnames when they came to America: Sherven, Shervin, Sherwin, Torke and Johnson.

Ole and Agnethe had four children. The first two children - Elise Beata (our grandmother) (b. 6 Nov 1887) and Mabel Josephine (b. 13 Jul 1890) were born on their parents farm in Springfield Twp. In 1892 the Rustads bought a 160 acre farm in Highland Twp, where they farmed for seventeen years. It is here their last two children were born - James Oscar Abraham ‘Abe” (b. 29 Jan 1894) and Marie Henrietta (b. 10 May 1898).

Bio Photo

Charlie Neison and Elsie Rustad Wedding Day, December 19, 1907.

Our grandparents, Elise Rustad and Charlie Nicholai Nelson were married 19 Dec 1907 at her parent's home in Highland Twp. They farmed and their first six daughters were born there: Agnes Mildred (29 Aug 1908); Donna's mother, Evelyn Lucille (b. 1 Jan 1911); Beatrice Olga (b. 9 Feb 1914); Clarice Lenora (b. 19 May 1916); Sonja’s mother, Gladys Margret (b. 1 Apr 1918) and Mabel Marion (b. 18 Jun 1920).

In 1909 Ole sold the farm and purchased a store in Nordness, Springfield Twp. He operated the Nordness General Merchandise Store for nearly twelve years, then in March 1921 he sold it to our grandparents, Charlie and Elise “Lizzie” Nelson. Besides managing the store, Ole was the station agent for the Rock Island Railroad Co. from about 1911 to 1925.

After Charlie joined his father-in-law, Ole in business in Nordness, Charlie and Elsie’s last three children were born: Florence Esther (b. 14 Dec 1922); Charles Orville  and Darlyne Mae.On 3 Jun 1931, Donna’s parents, Thomas E. Haugen and Evelyn L. Nelson were married at the Washington Prairie Lutheran Church parsonage by Rev. Paul Koren. Donna’s father became a partner with his father-in-law in the Nordness Store, just as our grandfather, Charlie Nelson, was a partner with his father-in-law, Ole Rustad.

The store was a “social-center” and meeting place and was important to the surrounding rural community. Donna’s father also delivered fuel oil to area farmers, built a garage where he did auto repairs, “candled eggs”, “pumped” gas, in addition to continuing the store. Nordness at that time had a creamery, telephone ex


Partial OCR transcription, some sensitive personal information such as birth dates of people that maybe living is not included.

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this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021