they realized they could never be free for the opportunity to succeed and save as feudal serfs serving the minister of the Vaernes Church in Stjodolen in the Trondelag, near Trondjem in Hegra. They sold all they had to go to America when copper mine owners in Michigan sent men to Norway offering passage for a contract to America to work. They did not know they were exchanging serfdom in Norway for wage slavery in America. Nothing is known about their passage except they probably landed at Quebec, and from there took a ferry up the St. Lawrence (the old-fashioned kind with a mule towing it from a path on the shore while someone steered the boat in the channel), making their way to Copper Harbor by way of the Great Lakes. Once there they learned that wages were very poor. They had to rent company-owned shelter, buy groceries and other necessities from company stores at inflated prices. They could not speak the language which was a great handicap. The post office was in a company store and the postmaster was a company employee who censored the mail and if anyone complained about the treatment accorded them, the letter did not reach its destination. If anyone tried to flee (as did one of Marie’s ancestors), he was arrested and put in jail. Their debts increased, so Bjorn Geving, Anna Prestmo’s brother, as one story is told, was put in jail because of his attempt to flee to the Paint Creek area. His four year old daughter was able to send the letter the family wrote to relatives telling of their plight in Michigan. Relatives and friends collected money and financed a trip by Hans Smeby to rescue the family. He forced the company to accept notes for the passage over the Atlantic.

Then started the slow and painful walk to Iowa. They secured employment on the way by working at farms and at Fort Snelling putting up hay for the cavalry horses. It was somewhere in Dakota Co., south of St. Paul, an epidemic of cholera took the lives of their three children who were born in Norway and had emigrated with Ola and Anna: Ola Johan at 8 years, Sivert at 5 years, and Bortinus at 2 years. How old they were and where they are buried, Marie found impossible to trace — records too old, not available or burned.

After they reached Iowa, another son was born to Ola and Anna, they named him Ola Johan (called John) after their first-born who died in Minnesota. This Ola Johan, Marie’s grandfather, was born 3 Aug 1858 and died an untimely death at 44, on 16 Jun 1902. Marie’s oldest uncle writes: “He was highly regarded in the community and was looked upon as a man of deep integrity, uprightness and sense of honor. It was commonly expressed ‘his word was as good as his bond.”’ He was active in his church and was associated in the organization from the beginning. He actively promoted the cultivation of choir singing, a library for the people, debating societies and Co-Operative Fire Insurance Society. He married Mari (name meaning Mara "bitter grace") Kolsrud 6 Mar 1883. She was born 6 Jan 1864 and died 9 Mar 1907. She emigrated with her parents Kittel Kolsrud (b. May 1832) and Gunhild (b. 2 Oct 1832) both born in Al’s Parish, Hallingdal, Norway. Mari’s sisters were Kari and Aagaat and a brother, Solve. Gunhild's trunk is in Marie's possession. The family arrived by way of Quebec on a sailboat called the Norge, with all their supplies, then the ferry towed them up the St. Lawrence River, railroad to Prairie du Chien and river boat to Lansing. Marie’s great uncle, Solve writes: “Compared to fellow travelers, my father was well off...home was a log cabin...Haldis, Lars and Laura were born here.” In 1873 he bought the farm in Jefferson Twp. (where Marie was born). Gunhild lived on for many years. Solve writes: “at bedtime we said prayer in rotation, probably 2 or 3 each, sang a song of praise and thanks to the morning we went through the same procedure when it was time to get up.” Mari did not fare well. When Marie’s grandfather died, he left Mari with eight sons — the oldest was 17 years old. Tuberculosis took the lives of several. “The tragic situation was so shocking that it undermined her health. The bitter struggle with the every day effort to carry on resulted in her death five years after her husband’s passing." Marie feels the influence of family hardships and Christian faith, bonded relationships and made the marriages strong.

Smith, Earl and Eileen (Barnes)

(Eileen Smith)

Bio Photo

Back row: Terry Smith, Brandie Matzen, Tom and Lynn Schaefer, Earl and Eileen Smith, Steve Bauer and Joshua Ingamells. Front row: Kevin and Carol Smith, Eric Matzen, Kristi Bauer and Brooke Matzen in front.

Taken at Lynn’s wedding, October 1, 1994.

Earl Edward Smith was born in Waukon, IA to Loren and Florence (Mahoney) Smith. Loren and Florence were born in Allamakee Co. Earl’s brothers and sisters are: Norman, Mary, Darlene, Rita, Kathryn, Donald and Karen.

Earl married Eileen Evelyn Barnes 24 Sep 1955 at Caledonia, MN. Eileen was born in Winneshiek Co. to Lester and Ella (Naab) Barnes. Eileen’s brothers and sisters are: Richard. Elizabeth, Ronald, Allen, Kenneth and Dorothy. Eileen graduated from Decorah High School.

Earl and Eileen have four children, all born in Decorah. They have four grandchildren. The children are: Terry Lee  attended schools in Decorah, Waterloo and Hudson, IA. Terry is now working at Florida Rock, Jacksonville, FL. Kristi Ann attended schools in Decorah, Waterloo and Hudson. Kristi married Steve Bauer in South Carolina. They have one son,


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

See the associated scan to compare with the published information.

Please, contact the County Coordinator to submit additions or corrections.

Winneshiek IAGenWeb Home

Copyright statement

Please read the IAGenWeb Terms, Conditions & Disclaimer
~all of which applies to the Winneshiek Co. website. ~
this page was last updated on Monday, 29 March 2021