Amerikabrev – letters from America

The emigrants from Norway sent many letters home. They wanted to inform their families that they had arrived safely in the US. They wanted to tell family that they lived a good life and they wanted relatives to join them.

Here is a letter from Sakarias Arntsen Storli to his sweetheart to tell her how he is doing, traveling to the US. His family had a small mountain farm, Utisto Storli. Arnt, the father had died in 1883, when Sakarias was four years old. His mother Olava Nilsdatter managed the farm with the help of two of her children aged 9 and 12. The other children: Halvor, Marit and John lived on other farms. But later some of the children emigrated to the US. And Sakarias was offered work at his brother’s farm in Minnesota and thought that could be a starting point in acquiring his own farm.

Sakarias. The picture is from his time in the US.

Sakarias left Norway in March 1905. He went to the nearby town of Kristiansund and boarded the ship Salmo which came from Trondheim and picked up passengers in Ålesund, Bergen and Stavanger too. And then went to Hull on the eastern coast of Great Britain.

Sakarias letter was sent to his sweetheart Anne Henriksdatter Storli. She lived on a neighbouring farm and was nine years younger than Sakarias. The letter is written by pencil and he tells her that he boards the ship at 7 in the morning. A few days later they arrive in Stavanger which is in south eastern Norway; “the beautiful town”… we are hundreds of people onboard. Norway disappears in the horizon. There is a strong wind and there is a spray of water on deck. I am not yet seasick. We have to stay in the cabins, no one is allowed on deck.” But he does get seasick. He tells her that he is going on the ship Ivernia to the US, from Liverpool. The ship belongs to the Cunard line. A man from the agent will help people from Hull over to Liverpool.

Letter to Anne from Sakarias, written on his journey from Kristiansund to Hull March 1905.

“3 o’clock, the sea is calm, we can see an island. 4 o’clock we can see England, 7 o’clock an hour ago, we landed in Hull”. He also tells her that he will write her father. There also exists a postcard from Sakarias to Anne’s oldest brother Ole, where he has written “a last greeting from Norwegian soil”. One can only imagine what thoughts went through his head. He never came back to Norway.

Sakarias worked for his brother and other employers. Just a year earlier his brother Kristoffer emigaretd to the US. Later in life the brother’s shared a house. In Opdalslaget’s yearly book it said that they kept the neatest house. Sakarias did not earn so much that he wanted to invite Anne to come join him. And from what I have seen of her letters, I believe that she did not want to go any more. So I believe that they came to a mutual understanding that each stayed where they were. Sakarias died in 1959 and Anne in 1949. Neither married. They corresponded till about 1918, but Anne probably got news of Sakarias since she lived so close to his family.

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