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  Mindrum Family

On September 17th, 1931, Mr. Peter M. Olson passed away on his homestead in Norway township at the ripe old age of 86 years. He was one of the earliest settlers of Fillmore County, and few have been better loved and more respected. His wife died July 27, 1930. After his death his youngest son, Otto C. Mindrum, found in his papers the story of the Haug and Carstensen families written in the Norwegian language. It's a document of value to historians, and it is a pleasure to be able to reprint it in a translation, permission having been granted by the family. --Ole Levang

"My father and mother, Ole Christiansen Haug and Berit, born Baardsdatter, and five sons, Christian Olaus, Baard, Isak Andreas, Gunerius and Peter, were born in Stod parish, Northern Trondhjem district, Norway. Ole Carstensen and his wife Pauline, born Arntsdatter, and their daughter, Oline Petrine, were born in Beitstaden, Northern Trondhjem district, Norway.

In the month of April, 1857 these Norwegian people decided to leave their native country and emigrate to America.

Having acquired the necessary passports and other documents from the respective authorities in the old homeland, the journey was begun-first to Stenkjaer and from there in an open boat over an inland lake to a small coast hamlet called Indherret, and from there by steamship to Trondhjem and Bergen, at which last named city we left Norway.

After waiting for some weeks we boarded the sailship Orion, which was to carry us across the Atlantic ocean. After ten long weeks we had at last finished the crossing and were in the harbor of Quebec, Dominion of Canada. Here we set our feet again on land the 4th of July in 1857.

From Quebec the journey continued inland, partly by steamship up the St. Lawrence river, and then over land until we reached the Mississippi river, and partly by river boat until we reached the small village of Lansing, Iowa. We and our baggage were landed on the bank of the Mississippi, and we had to look after ourselves as best we could. Our destination was not as yet reached. Those who could, continued the journey to the respective places in the interior to which they were to go.

The Haug family came to Ole Hallan, a cousin of my father, where they remained for a short time. The Carstensen family came to Peder Weiness, relatives and well-known by them in the old home in Norway. These people lived in the neighborhood of Hesper, Winneshiek county, Iowa.

At last we had reached the end of the long journey. After resting for a brief period and looking for work, one went here and the other there into environment and occupations among strangers and in new conditions. Many a time we were confronted with difficulties and feeling hopeless. Confronted with having very little or nothing to start with, it was necessary to be both industrious and satisfied with everything. But thanks to God who gave good health and decided all things for the best, through his blessed help everything turned out well.

The Haug family took a farm on shares three miles southeast of Spring Grove, Houston county, Minnesota, and remained there two years. In the fall of 1860 we moved to Highland Prairie in Fillmore County, Minnesota. On this prairie there was some railroad land which as yet had not been put on the market. On this tract of land the Haug family built a house and cleared as much of the land as was possible. Later they bought 80 acres of this tract, situated in the southwestern corner of Town of Rushford (later incorporated as a village). My parents lived on this farm for about twenty years and then sold it.

I was the youngest of the five sons, observing my twelfth birthday the first year we were in America on October 8, 1857. Mostly I was at home with my parents, but worked for strangers whenever there was an opportunity.

In my fifteenth year I received the rites of confirmation by Rev. N. E. Jenson in the Overland grove, near where the Highland Prairie church now stands. Rev. Jenson was the first minister called to the pastorate of the Highland Prairie Congregation.

The Carstensen family came to Johannes Hallan who resided four miles north of the Weiness place, and worked on farms and at whatever labor was obtainable. They also stayed with Jens Olstad who lived in the same neighborhood. In the spring of 1861, the Carstensen family also moved to Highland Prairie and came first to Halvor Solem, who resided on his farm near the Highland Prairie parsonage. This family also found out about some government land in the neighborhood which could be bought, and journeyed to Chatfield, the nearest place where a United States land office was located. They bought 80 acres, paying for same $2.50 per acre, which was the government's price. To close the deal they were obliged to borrow some money at 30 percent interest for a short time. A few years thereafter the so-called homestead law was enacted, this law giving anyone right and opportunity to take an 80 acre tract provided it adjoined land already bought by the individual. But through some mistake in enacting the law, a settler was after all obliged to buy this additional tract of land at the government's price of $2.50 per acre.

The nearest markets in those days were either Winona, 38 miles away, or LaCrosse, 48 miles away, and it was a long and hard trip to the city. Mostly the trips were made by ox team. The roads were bad and almost impassable, and it took three days and two nights to make the round trip.

Fate so willed it that I should become related to the Carstensen family. At the age of 22 years, on February 12, 1867, I married Oline P. Carstenson. We had been friends and companions since we traveled across the sea to this country, and we had also received the rites of confirmation on the same day. I thus became one of the Carstensen family and resided with them, later buying the farm of my wife's parents with the understanding that as long as they lived they should stay with us and be provided for. For several years we had six old people with us, two of those being Nicolai Johnson and his wife Ellen, a sister to Mrs. Ole Carstenson. They had a 40 acre homestead near us and were alone, their son, Ole Monrad Johnson, having given his life for the adopted country as a soldier in the Union army. My parents also moved to our farm, but built their own house.

Father died July 5, 1887, aged 79 years.
Mother died September 18, 1887, aged 73 years.
My father-in-law died September 10, 1894, aged 78 years.
My mother-in-law died in October 1887, aged 76 years.
Nicolai Johnson died in January, 1883, aged 83 years.
Ellen Johnson died in April, 1881, aged 80 years.

During the years my own family also increased considerably, nine children being born, six boys and three girls. Our oldest son, Ole Andreas, died November 5, 1915, and is survived by his wife and eleven children, all living. Our six remaining children are all living and have their own families.

Thus ends our family story, and it will have to be enough from my pen, others may add what is right if there is anything more to add."


Because of the use of patronymic surnames (last names derived from a father's given name) in Norway, Peter and his brothers, as sons of Ole Christiansen, took the last name of Olson, sometimes spelled Oleson or Olsen. Had they lived in Norway, Peter's children would likely have taken the surname Peterson (or Pedersen). But in Minnesota, Peter adopted American customs and used the surname of Olson for his children. When the children became older, however, they adopted the surname Mindrum.

Norman C. Mindrum offered some reasons for this. "Otto Mindrum told his children that his older brothers initiated usage of the "Mindrum" name because there was constant confusion with so many people named Olson. (In the 1880 US Census, Fillmore County had 1,023 people out of a population of 28,178 who used the surname Olson or Oleson). They decided as brothers to change their name to "Mindrum." They chose this name because it was the name of the farm in Norway where their mother came from. It is interesting that the father, Peter, continued to use the name "Olson." Was this for legal reasons? Or, was it a matter of pride? It is also an interesting thought that we should probably be the "Haug" family since Peter's father took his Norwegian farm name of Haug as his surname in America."

Whatever the reasons for changing the name, Mindrum remains a rare surname in the United States. Peter and Oline Olson have about 1,000 descendants but only about 200 were born with the surname Mindrum.

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