This is a great and strong history of emigrants from Norway and how they settled in, in America. Thanks to John Ritland and Ritland Homepage (Photos) and Charlotte Ritland Anderson for compiling the story.
The Story of my Life March 1988
Karen has asked me to record some thoughts and memories of my life, I hope that what I write will somehow cause my children and grandchildren to appreciate
and be proud of their heritage. T
he longer I live the more grateful I am for my forebearers.
All four of my grandparents were born in Norway and came to America in their youth.
Norway at this time was a poor country, less than five per cent of the land could be tilled, and the small farms could not even feed the families living on them, America was the land of opportunity,
the land of milk and honey that called the more
adventurous to her shores. They were strong people, strong in body, soul and mind, They brought their Lutheran faith with them and instructed their
children in the same faith. My grandparents were part of the building of a new society in this new
land. They leave with us a proud heritage.
In the summer of 1986 Karen and I had a most memorable trip to Norway and we visited the area near Stavanger from which my forefathers came. All
four grandparents lived within a few miles from each other.
On the Ritland side my great grandparents were Ole and Siri Ri tland. They lived on the Ri tland farm near Hjelmeland, Norway, a farm high on the mountainside, It was not possible for Karen
and me to get to Ritland.
We got as far as an auto would take us but it was raining and we would have had a slippery 20 minute walk up the mountain. No one lives there now but we were told the house is still standing. The scenery was indescribably
beautiful but the farm was small and rocky,
They werewpoor tenant farmers and they could not support their family of seven children so America beckoned as the land of opportunity.
Ole and Siri with their seven children, including my grandfather,
Jens, imigrated to America in 1855. Jens was seventeen years old, After spending eleven weeks on the sailboat, The Sisters, they sailed up the St.Lawrence River to Quebec.
Upon reaching Quebec they boarded a train for the east coast of Michigan.
They crossed Lake Michigan to Chicago and from there they went to Lisbon, Illinois, where they lived for two years. Their son, Lars, died here in 1856.
In 1857 they left Lisbon for Story County, Iowa, There were seventeen covered wagons, draw by
oxen, in the caravan. The Ritlands lived in their covered wagons along Skunk River on the outskirts of Story City until they secured temporary shelter in a log cabin.
Later they moved to the farm which Ole Ritland bought. Their son, Jens, was a
young man on the prairie, spending his time as that of any ordinary man on the farm, splitting rails and breaking prairie with a huge breaking plow drawn by eight oxen.
But the Civil War between the states was now raging and he enlisted in the Union
Army at Story City, Iowa, on August 12, 1862 and left for service in September. He saw a lot of action in the Mississippi River campaign.
We have his War Story as he himself dictated it. It is ironic that he came back safel but his brother Osmond
was accidentally shot at home on April 14, 1865, the very day that President Lincoln was shot. He was 17 years old and my father was named for him.
By serving in the Union Army Jens secured his United States citizenship.
My grandfather, John (Jens) Ritland, was born near Hjelmeland, Norway on September 10, 1838, and died in Roland, Iowa, in 1917 at 79 years of age. After his discharge from the army he was engaged in farming the
rest of his life. This farm is still in the Ritland
family and was named a Century Farm. John married Inger Hegland, who also was born in Norway, July J, 1835. Inger was from a beautiful valley near Hjelmeland. Karen and I were within a few miles
of the Hegland farm, but time was running out on us so we did not see it. J
ens and Inger had 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters, namely, Olaus, Bennie, Osmond, and Lewis; the three daughters were Belle, Julia and Louise.
Charlotte Ritland Andersen