The Elling Overjorde Tostenson Family Farm History
On a cool morning in the hills of Hallingdal Norway in 1852 a young red-haired Norwegian by the name of Elling Overjorde Tostenson had decided to make a life changing journey. He would leave his homeland and its King, where his father Tosten Hendrick Tostenson fought the Danes and helped secure Norway's Independence in 1814, and journey to America where he had heard from his sister Anne - who had herself emigrated in 1848 and was living with her husband Colbin in Stoughton, Wisconsin - that there was land and great opportunity for anyone who came. So he left the land of his youth and made his way from Norway to the populated and bustling eastern coast of America, to the untamed woods and prairies of the Midwest, stopping briefly in Wisconsin to learn the language and earn some money as a wagon painter.
In 1854 he set out to find land he could farm. That land would be in the Territory of Minnesota and Dakota, where he would claim and eventually buy 350 acres of railroad property in what would become New Sweden Township, in the County of Nicollet in the State of Minnesota. Once he had established his homestead and built his sod lodging, he returned to Norway to marry Jorand Hanson Larsgaard. Six months later he and his young bride returned to settle this wild prairie and call it home. His early years on the homestead were filled with excitement, fear, and much unknown. First he saw the land he had settled be granted Statehood in 1858, then in 1860 our nation went to Civil War. In 1863 he built a small brick house to begin his family, at the same time the Sioux Uprising began.
By 1869, with his farm in good order and this new country seemingly settled, Elling started his family. His first child was a girl - not of much use on an early pioneer's farm but he loved her all the same she was named Bertha Kristine. Then in 1871 came Anna Georgia, yet another girl and no one to help on the farm. Anna became an early Victorian model and seamstress who was well known through out the Midwest. She then went on to help lead the woman's suffrage movement, much to the consternation of her pastor at the Norwegian Lutheran church in Norseland.
By the winter of 1872 Elling's prayers were answered and his first son, Hans Theodore, was born. Hans learned to farm the land and became an avid hunter and inventor - building and patenting the first repeating air rifle in the United States. In the winter of 1874 a second son, Hendrick Edvart, was born. At the time of his birth the Minnesota countryside was being ravaged with the great grasshopper plague which destroyed acres of crops. Henry grew to master the land and produced bountiful crops throughout his life.
In 1876 Elling built the first two-story barn on the home place and America celebrated her Centennial. That June, Colonel Custer's regiment was wiped out by Sitting Bull and his warriors at the Little Big Horn in Montana. In the spring of 1877 yet a third son was born, Louis Olaf. Louis went on to earn 4 degrees from 4 different Colleges through out the Midwest, including Gustavas Adolfus. He mastered the art of animal husbandry and put it to good work on the farm raising and selling purebred stock and even taking a run at the State legislature.
Elling's last son, Albert Oscar, was born in the winter of 1881. Albert graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College, and was the only son to leave the farm, moving to Sisseton, South Dakota were he would be come a well known businessman, and opening Tostenson's Golden Rule Jewelry Store and the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Sisseton.
In the spring of 1883 twins were born into the family with the arrival of Bertrine Gurine and Emma Sophia. Bertrine died later that day and was the first tragedy Elling and his family would face. Emma graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield as a voice and music major. She went on to grace the many Opera Houses through out Minnesota including sharing the stage with the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind.
The winter of 1885 brought great sorrow to the home of the Tostensons when Elling's wife Jorand died at age 37, leaving her oldest daughter Bertha Kristine, age 15, to take up the mantle of her mother. Shortly after that, in 1893 the brick house on the homestead caught fire and was destroyed. By 1894 Elling had built the home that currently rests on the homestead. In 1900 Elling decided to leave his home once more and move to Beeville, Texas to build a home and start a mercantile and broom factory. Leaving the farm to his three sons Hans, Hendrick and Louis, the homestead was now officially named the Tostenson Brothers Farm. In 1915 Elling was transferred to the church triumphant and was brought home from Texas and laid to rest in Norseland.
In 1916, as the Great War rumbled across Europe, Hendrick Edvart took Anna Elizabeth Olson as his bride. Hendrick soon started his own family on the homestead with the arrival of his first son, Edward Clifford, in the winter of 1917. Clifford graduated from Gustavus Adolphus, and served our country in the United States Army during World War II. He married Louise, left the farm, moved to Virginia and became an Accountant.
In 1919 Germany signed the treaty of Versailles and the Great War was ended as Hendrick's second son, Harry Ellington, arrived that winter. Harry later left the farm, married Myrna Olson, started his own farm in Wisconsin and worked as a Mechanic. In 1920 Hendrick's first daughter June Elizabeth Irene was born. That year the 18th and 19th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States were signed - Prohibition and the Women's Right to Vote. June graduated with her teaching certificate, left the farm, and married Ingvald Eidem, who worked for the United States Post Office after they moved to Chanhassen, Minnesota to raise their family.
In the winter of 1921 Hendrick's second daughter, Joyce Eldora Marie, arrived. Joyce graduated with her teaching certificate, left the farm to move to Minneapolis, became an executive secretary and married Charles Ness. In the middle of the roaring 20s with flappers, the Charleston and bootlegged whiskey, the spring of 1923 brought Hendrick his third daughter, Viola Marjorie Elaine. Viola, too, graduated with her teaching certificate and left the farm. She moved to Florida and married Bruce Smith, a grocer and farmer, then raised her family. In the spring of 1926 as Charles Limburg prepared to make his transatlantic flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, Hendrick's fourth son, William Emanuel, is born. William went on to serve in the United States Army during the Korean War, and became the third generation to farm the homestead. In 1929, as the stock market plummeted and the Great Depression began, tragedy struck the Tostenson farm again. Hendrick's wife Anna Elizabeth died and was transferred to the church triumphant, leaving her family in the hands of Hendrick's sister Anna Georgine.
In 1956 William Emanuel took over the farm as the United States starts sending troops into Vietnam. He married Carol Winifred Currier at a time when American agriculture was at its very pinnacle of success. William started a beef operation, farmed the land and later raised hogs with his son Dwight. In 1957 the Atomic-aged couple built a three bedroom rambler to begin their family. Before long their children will number six in all - duplicating William's childhood family.
Richard Emanuel, who was adopted into the family, was born in 1956, as Communist Russian troops marched into Hungary to put an end to Hungarian Independence and tighten their grip on the Soviet blocked countries. Richard went on to work with U.S. Presidents, Governors, U.S. Congressman and Senators as well as many foreign dignitaries through out the world.
In 1958 Dwight Henry was born the first child of William and Carol, as the United States entered the Race to Space launching "Explorer I" a year after the Soviet Union had launched "Sputnik". Dwight would graduate from college and go on to be a political Finance Director and then COO of one the nation's top conservative think tanks. He and his brother Richard worked to renovate and rebuild their family's homestead after moving back to the farm.
In 1959 William's first daughter, Diane Joyce, was born as Alaska became the 49th State in the Union and Hawaii became the 50th. Diane left the farm, graduated from school and became a Master Baker - a livelihood that she would enjoy for a lifetime.
In 1961 William's second daughter, Susan Irene, was born while Communism grew more tyrannical as the Soviets erected the Berlin Wall and the Cold War began. Susan left the farm, went on to school and work as a professional at Taylor Corporation in Mankato.
In 1965 a third daughter, Jean Marie, was born at a time of great unrest in our nation as we struggled with Civil Rights for the black citizens of our country. Jean became Miss Nicollet, left the farm, graduated from college, and became a professional at Taylor Corporation as well.
In 1967 John William was the last child born to the family. This was a year of great tragedy for a nation who was still gripped with the fight for Civil Rights. Both Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy were assassinated and a nation mourned. John left the farm and became an enlisted career officer in the United States Air Force, serving in both the Iraqi Wars which continue until this day.
This is our family story, and we leave it to the next generation of Tostensons to add to its pages.