Andrew & Bertha Loftesnes

Johannes Loftesnes, with his wife, Bertha, and their two children, came from Norway in 1864 to LaFayette County, Wisconsin. There they made their home with a brother, Gjert Hanson, who had come to America in 1858.

It was not unusual among Norwegians in America to use different names, as some would change their names to something that sounded more American, while others would retain the family name. Even in Norway, it was not unusual for people to change their surnames. In this case, the family name was Loftesnes.

Johannes Loftesnes had two other brothers who remained in Norway. One took on the name, Stedje, while the other called himself Hagen. Hagen was the father of Jens and John Hagen, both of whom lived out their lives in the Granville, North Dakota community.

Gjert Hanson bought a farm in 1861. Andrew Loftesnes was born there on November 14, 1864. They stayed about two years, then moved west to Fillmore County, Minnesota, near the town of Whalon. This part of Minnesota was already settled, and all of the land was taken. They stayed there for seven years, then moved west to South Dakota, settling about ten miles northeast of Sioux Falls. Eleven families made this trip by covered wagon, taking all of their belongings with them, and herding their livestock.

By this time, the Loftesnes family had grown to six children. He took a homestead, building a sod house, as that was the only building material available. Andrew Loftesness spent the rest of his childhood there.

In the spring of 1886, Bertha Hystad came from Norway. On December 8, 1886, Andrew and Bertha were married, a marriage that was to last nearly sixty-four years.

Andrew and Bertha Loftesnes farmed in South Dakota until 1900, when they decided to come to North Dakota and file a homestead claim. Two of Bertha's brothers, Mons and Jens Hystad, had come to Granville, North Dakota in 1899 by covered wagon. During the summer of 1900, they built a small barn and put up hay for Andrew.

The family came in the fall of 1900. Bertha and the children traveled by passenger train. Andrew came with the family's personal property in an immigrant car, arriving in Granville on October 26, 1900. Bertha's brothers were there to meet them with a lumber wagon to take them to their home, which was seventeen or eighteen miles.

Mons and Jens were in North Prairie Township, while Andrew's claim was in Hendrickson Township 154-79. As he was a bit late getting there, Andrew didn't have many choices still available to him. Most of the land was taken, and what was left was divided. He got eighty acres in Section 10, where he was to build his farm, forty acres in Section 3, and forty acres in Section 4.

They stayed with Bertha's brothers while their own home was built. Each day, the men drove to Andrew's claim, a distance of about ten miles, to build the house.

The first house was a dug-out. As there was a hill in the yard they were able to dig into the south slope, then build over it with sod, put in a wood floor, and a wood roof. It was plastered on the inside, but dark on one end.

They were able to finish the house and move in by winter. When blizzards struck, the snow would sweep over the hill and bury the house. They would have to dig themselves out when the blizzard ended.

There was nothing on the prairie to use for fuel, so Andrew spent a lot of time near the river, cutting wood on shares, to use as fuel. This was a distance of about six miles.

In 1904, they built another sod house. By this time, they had a grove of trees started, which were planted in an L-shape. The house was built in the corner of the L so it was protected. This was a fairly large house with an upstairs, which was unusual in a sod home. There were two large rooms downstairs, and two upstairs.

In 1912, they built a frame house. In 1925, the barn burned, with a large loss of livestock. Another barn was built to replace it.

Threshing crops was a problem, so Andrew and four neighbors formed a company and purchased a rig. The first one was a gas engine, which wasn't much good, so it was traded for a Case steamer. In 1916, they bought a new Nichols & Shepard outfit, a big 25-85 HP, double-cylinder engine, and a 36-60 separator. In 1928, steam had given way to gas, so they got another outfit that they used unti it, in turn, gave way to the combine.

In 1901, the North Prairie Lutheran Church was organized, and the Loftesnes were charter members, and remained members throughout their lives. They also helped get a school started. Walters District 11 was organized, and for many years Andrew was a director. He also served on the township board.

When the Fargo-Surrey Cut-Off was built and Simcoe was formed, the farmers decided they needed a grain elevator. They formed the Farmers Elevator Company of Simcoe, and Andrew was on the first board of directors, serving in that capacity for several years.

He was also are charter member of the Sons of Norway Lodge, which was organized in Granville in 1912, and later moved to Simcoe in 1918.

Four more children added to the Andrew and Bertha Loftesnes family after they came to North Dakota, making a family of eleven children: Ida, Bessie, Celie, John, Melvin, Arnold, Martha, Hazel, Inez, Clarence, and Edith.

Bertha died in May of 1950, and Andrew passed on in 1952.

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