Tarine Olsdtr Gjerstad was born 27 Apr 1822 to Ole Gjerstad, a leading man in the community described as “had brains, no education but knew the law." He married Ingeborg Baardsdtr in Kvan Lutheran Church 14 Apr 1821. Tarine also grew up in a large comfortable home facing a lovely lake in the Kvam-Guin area in North Trondheim, a superb farmland area. In 1990 we saw this home, still in top condition. Tarine was the first single lady to leave her congregation and after 3 weeks on the ocean she arrived in America in Apr 1852. Whether prearranged or not, she too came to the Milwaukee-Muskego area, where she and Peder were married in the Muskego Lutheran Church 9 Sep 1852.

They lived there a while, starting westward toward Iowa with two Johnson couples, John Hallan and wife. Needing lumber for building, they purchased 40 acres of timber from Bjerke in Highland Twp., Winneshiek Co. which they later divided among them. Peder and Tarine then settled on Section 17 which has since been the Wennes farm. Iowa was raw prairie land with tall wild grass reaching the wagon box-untouched by man or plow.

The first winter they and three couples...eight people lived in a dug-out, where Tarine later that year had their first child, a baby boy born dead; and she nearly died. They spent the next year in the dug-out alone, breaking sod with one pair of oxen and a plow they bought in Wl. That year they also fenced. The year in the dug-out there was a storm-3 feet of snow, then rain which formed a 2 inch ice crust. Oxen could not be carried on this. There were some deer around whose small feet fell through the crust. They stood there and froze to death. They saw no deer around after that.

Peder was a carpenter in Norway and with his ax had worked in the pine forests in Wl. In Jun of 1856 he built a log cabin. It was not plastered between the logs and had no floor as yet. A newspaper reporter explained how Peder prepared for the birth of their second child. ‘As a woodsman and carpenter he loved his ax. So he went into his woods, selected a fine fir tree, chopped and chopped at it until it fell. Then he chopped off the branches and single-handed hoisted the log onto the ox-drawn wagon and drove to the sawmill on North Bend Creek to have the log sawed into planks and drove home the next day. He knew her time was near at hand as he rushed to fit the planks into a fresh, new floor and for her bed to be brought in from the dug-out so “his Tarine” could have her second baby in a fine new cabin. A few days later, 17 Jul 1856, Ole Lewis Wennes was born.” Oh, PIONEERS!! (See Ole Wennes story.)

Peder and Tarine had a daughter Ellen Johanna born 8 Oct 1860. She married John Halseth near Hesper where they farmed and built a large home. They had a son Albert and 2 daughters: Tilda, a dressmaker, and Ann, an office secretary in LaCrosse, Wl, Tilda married in late life. Ellen and John retired in Mabel, MN.

Peder and Tarine were faithful, consistent members of their Lutheran Church. Peder was an average sized man with a generous beard, described by others as quiet and friendly. His grandchildren remember him as gentle and kind. He loved music. In later years he took up a knife instead of the ax and did beautiful carving. We had one corrugated rolling pin, used for making lefse, made by him. They lived within their income, as evidenced by their housing: two years in a dug-out: four years in a log cabin, then building only one section to a frame house, rather than borrow money at the 40% interest being charged. Maybe they believed: “Owe no man anything but love.” Their goals were simple and necessary...to build homes, schools and churches and to improve their community. Tarine died 27 May 1901. Peder walked twice a week to the Highland churchyard to sit by her grave. For this he passed the residence where the church organist lived. If she were practicing the hymns he stood in the road a while to listen. Peder died 16 Dec 1902 after returning from a trip to Norway. Such were the times, trials and opportunities of many late 19th century pioneers. They laid foundations on which we are still building. Personally I’m sorry to have missed them.

Wennes, Theodore and Agnes (Burreson)

(Agnes Wennes)

Theodore Edwin Wennes was born 10 Feb 1903, the son of Ole Lewis and Caroline (Larson) Wennes. Ole and Caroline Wennes were married 15 May 1889. They were the parents of 9 children: Peter Norris (b. 17 Jul 1890), Jennie Telise (b. 29 Jan 1892), Edgar Rudolph (b. 13 Sep 1893), Norman Orlando (b. 25 Jun 1895, died as an infant), Norman Orlando (b. 15 Aug 1896 - died as an infant), Nels Oscar (b. 24 May 1898), Carl Lewis (b. 21 Aug 1900), Theodore Edwin (b. 10 Feb 1903), Thilda Amanda (b. 26 Aug 1904). Ole Lewis Wennes was a banker and a farmer. The Wennes family lived in Hesper Twp. in Winneshiek Co., IA.

Thoedore Wennes married Agnes Mathilda Burreson 26 Aug 1925. Agnes Mathilda Burreson was born 19 Sep 1903 at Hesper, IA, the daughter of Burrie Burreson and Hilda Marie (Thingvold) Burreson. Burrie was treasurer of Hesper Lutheran Church until he died. He was also superintendent of the Sunday School. He taught Sunday School and sang in the church choir for many years. Hilda Marie Thingvold was born 4 Jan 1880 to Hans Christian Thingvold from Norway and Sarah Losen 17 Dec 1853. Hans Christian and Sarah were married 8 Feb 1877 at Hesper Lutheran Church. Hans Christian taught Parochial school in America and was the Klokker at Hesper Lutheran Church. He opened the service on Sunday with prayer.

Theodore and Agnes (Burreson) Wennes were parents of 6 children. Marilyn was born 18 May 1926 and died 25 May 1926. Shirley Maxine married Edward Louis Jirele, Jr. 5 Mar 1952. She was a music teacher and a choir director at St. Olaf Church in Austin, MN for 30 years. She now lives in Tempe, AZ. Her husband, Edward, worked for Hormel Meat Co. as an Insurance Agent in Tempe. Their children are: Pamela, Jeffrey, Debra and Jane. Orpha Jeanne married Duane Snater 11 Jun 1950. Orpha was a secretary and is now retired. Their children are Gregory, Douglas, Ronald, and


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