Vernon County Wisconsin
History of the Town of Christiana
[Source: pgs. 480 - 490, "History of Vernon County, Wisconsin, Together with
Sketches of its towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; Portraits of
prominent persons, and Biographies of representative citizens."
Springfield, ILL. Union Publishing Company, 1884]
Submitted to Genealogy Trails by Diana Morse
Chapter 31 -- The Town of Christiana
This town takes its name from the capital of Norway, its first settler being of that nationality. It is situated on the north line of Vernon county, and comprises congressional township 14, range 4. It is bounded on the north by LaCrosse county, on the east by the town of Clinton, on the south by the town of Viroqua, and on the west by the town of Coon.
The population of this town is largely Norwegian, and in 1883 it contained some of the choicest farms within the county. There is perhaps more tillable land in Christiana than almost any other in the northern tier of towns in the county.
The first settlement in this town was made in September, 1848, by Hans Olson Libakken, who with his family located on the southwest quarter of section 35.
About the same time or a little later, an American named Carrier settled on sections 22 and 27, where he took up State lands. He lived there but a short time, but did a small amount of breaking and then sold out to a Norwegian and moved from the town.
In 1849 and 1850 a large number of settlers located in this town. Ole Syverson came in 1849, and the following spring settled on the northeast quarter of section 35. Soon after he sold out to John Michelet and purchased other land on section 34, where he lived for a time, and then bought the forty acres where the village of Westby is now situated, and remained there till his death.
Lars Christopherson was another settler of 1849; he located on section 35, which land he afterwards exchanged for 160 acres on section 34. He had been a soldier of the Mexican War; he was living in 1883 at Bloomingdale, Vernon county.
Evan Peterson came the same year and settled on section 36, where some years afterwards he died.
Ole Thorstenson also settled in 1849 on section 30. He was born in Norway in 1785, and died a few years after coming to this town. His wife was born in March, 1788; died Aug. 27, 1863. Their son, Henry O. Gulord, in 1883, was living on the land claimed by his father.
Hans K. Larson came in 1849 and claimed land on sections 22, 23, 26 and 27; his tract was made up of forty acres from each section. His final purchase, however, was confined to eighty acres, forty on section 22 and forty on section 26. In 1883 he was comfortably surrounded at his home on section 22.
John Michelet settled on section 35 in June, 1850. Another early settler was Hans K. Ramsrud, who located on section 28.
John Olson Bergum settled on section 33 in the spring of 1850, and was a resident of the same place in 1883.
Lars H. Galstad came the same year, locating on section 34. Among other settlers of 1850 were Iver P. Hegge, who settled on section 29 with his father, Peter Olson and Ingebreth Homsted, who located on section 11. He was a prominent and well-known citizen, respected by all his neighbors. He died about 1875, quite suddenly.
In 1851 Ingebreth Homstad settled on section 11. He was a native of Norway, but came to this vicinity from Dane Co., Wis. He remained on this section till his death. His sons were yet occupy it in 1884.
Clement Bergh located the same year on section 35, where he resided till his death.
Ole Running, another settler of 1851, settled on section 27, from there moved to Viroqua, and still later left the county and in a short time died.
Lars O. Olson settled on section 23 in 1857. He was born in Norway in 1830; came to America with his two brothers.
The first school house in the town was built on section 35, in 1851. During this year the first term of school was also taught.
The first tavern for the accomodation of travelers was the residence of Engebreth Homstad, on section 11, who settled therein 1851. This was a popular stopping place for travelers for many years. Mr. Homstad died March 14, 1879.
The first death known in the town was that of a man named Ole Anderson, a non-resident who was on his way from Dane county to the Black River lumber region. He got as far as the house of a German settler near the present village of Westby, and was unable to proceed further. After a few days painful illness he died. This was about the middle of September, 1849. He was buried on the farm where he died. The deceased had a family living in Dane county.
The first white child born in the town was Brown Olson, a son of Hans and Caroline Olson, who were the first settlers of the town. This birth occurred March 30, 1850. In 1884 he was living on the same farm on which he was born.
The parties to the first marriage were John Clemenson and Martha Ingebrethson. They were married in 1851.
The first religious services were held by the early Norwegian settlers, at private houses.
The following incident illustrative of pioneer hardship, is given in the language of the writer, Hans Nelson, of Westby, Christiana town: "In 1849, there being no grist mill nearer than Prairie du Chien, the settlers had to go to that place for theif milling and to purchase their flour. Upon one occasion, I remember T. Unseth went to Prairie du Chien to buy flour and other necessaries of life; but unfortunately the store keeper made a grand mistake and loaded up a barrel of white sugar instead of a barrel of flour. When Mr. Unseth got home his daughter at once climbed up into her fathers wagon to open the supposed flour barrel, the family being entirely out of any kind of bread stuff, at the time. But upon her taking out the head of the barrel, what was the surprise at finding the contents to be white sugar, instead of flour. Imagine the situation! No flour in the house - white sugar, however good in its place, would not make bread. The woman then began to cry as she thought of their condition - fifty miles away from a mill and not a morsel of bread to eat.
"What was to be done? The only way was to thresh some grain out of the stalk. And how was this to be done, unaided by machinery? Why they simply made a round ring twentyfive feet across on the ground and let oxen tread it out, in the good old fashioned way! After "threshing," came the grinding. This was not by the modern "roller process," but by turning an old country coffee mill. "There were many of the settlers of that year who lived on salt and potatoes, literally speaking too."
In 1855, the territory now constituting the towns of Clinton and Christiana were set off from the town of Viroqua, by the county
board of Bad Ax county. To this territory was given the name of Christiana. In 1856 this territory was divided into the present towns of Cliristiana and Clinton.
The first election in the present town of Christiana was held at the house of Nels Hanson Napurd, on section 33, April 7, 1856. The following were the officers elected: J. R. Bjorseth, (chairman), David Wilt and Hendrick Johnson, supervisors. Lars Christopherson was elected town clerk, but did not except the office and William McKnight was appointed in his stead. Hendrick Johnson was elected assessor; no other town officers are recorded as being elected at that date.
The town officers for 1883 were: Timothy Madden, chairman; Jacob Olson and Ole Bentson, supervisors; A. J. Moen, clerk; E. C. Bratlie, assessor; Julius Johnson, treasurer.
Andrew J. Moen, the present town clerk of Christiana, resides on section 33, where he settled in January, 1869. He was born in Norway in 1844; came to the United States in 1867. He lived in Minnesota two years, coming here from that State. His father, who came to Vernon county, several years later, now lives in the town of Coon.
Timothy Madden resides on section 15. He is the present chairman of the town board. He came to the town in 1855, was born in the city of New York, in 1818, of Irish parentage. Mr. Madden came to Wisconsin in 1852 ; spent some time in the pinery regions and came to this town in 1858.
In 1884 the town was accommodated by three postoffices, Westby and Newry, on section 14, and Lovass on section 8. The first postoffice in the town was established in 1857, and was called Coon Prairie. The first postmaster was George Smith, who had the office on section 5, town 13, range 4. It was then removed to the house of John Benson, on the same section, and subsequently removed to the house of Mr. Whittaker. It was then moved to across the town line into Christiana and kept at the house of Robert Lange. Later it vibrated across the line from one town to another, until the establishment of the postoffice at Westby, in 1879, when the Coon Prairie office was discontinued. The first postmaster at Westby was Andrew Johnson, who was shortly succeeded by Nicholas Nelson, who still held the office in 1884.
Newry postoffice was established in 1868. This office was first kept by Peter Bredle, at his house on section 11. The second postmaster was Frank Delle, who kept the office at his store on section 14. In 1884 the office was kept by Christopher Christopherson, who received his appointment in the spring of 1872.
Lovass postoffice is so called from Jacob Lovass, the first settler of that part of the town. It was established, March 15, 1875, when Christian Olson was appointed postmaster and was still in charge in 1884. Mr. Olson keeps a small general store at this point, which is located on section 8.
The only mill in the town of Christiana is a saw mill built in 1862, on the south branch of Coon creek, on section 8. It was erected by Iver A. Amunson. The object in view, by the builder of this saw mill, was to cut lumber from the fine hard wood found in this section of the county. After running a few years it was taken down and replaced by one of a greater capacity, which was propelled by steam power. In 1883 this was removed to the northeast corner of section 7.
The advantages for schooling in this town have always been fair, though perhaps below the average town of the county.
The first school was taught in 1851 in a building erected that year on section 35. It was 22x26 feet and at the time it was built was among the best in the county. A few years later this building was burned.
In 1884 there were seven school houses in the town, located in seven sub-districts.
In district No. 1 the population are nearly all Norwegians who send their children to school more in the winter season than in the summer. This district affords a fair school building, though quite small.
In district No. 2 about the same interest is manifested and also nearly the same advantages given in way of school property.
In district No. 3 the school population is made up largely of Germans, Irish and Norwegians; the latter nationality being in the
majority, however. Much interest has been manifested in school matters.
Timothy Madden, clerk of the school district, has held the office for many years, during which time he has over looked after the well being of the schools. The school house in this district is a large, well-planned frame structure, provided with the best improved seats, maps, charts, etc.
District No. 4 is situated near Lovass postoffice. Jacob Olson is the leading man in school matters here. The school building is not first class, but is rather an index of by-gone days, when the common school was slighted more than it is now-a-days. Notwithstanding this difficulty the patrons, who are nearly all Norwegians, evince a deep interest in their schools.
In district No. 5 the Norwegian element predominates largely. The school house is a log building which is fairly comfortable. School is usually held five months in the year.
District No. 6 is situated on the north line of the town and county and embraces a portion of Portland town in La Crosse county. This district is also provided with a log house. The Americans have the majority in this locality and great interest is manifested in the schools, which are generally taught by first-class teachers.
In 1884 district No. 7 was comparatively a new district, which embraced the village of Westby. Here a large comfortable school house stands, furnished after the latest plans and methods.
The Norwegians were the first to maintain religious services in this town. They hold meetings at a very early date, sometime prior to 1850.
In 1884 there were three religious denominations having organizations within the town. A Norwegian Lutheran church was located on section 2 and one of the same sect situated on the northeast corner of section 28.
The Methodist Episcopal denomination has for many years been represented by the Norwegians of that faith, who have held their meetings of late years in their church building on section 26; but, in 1884, had discontinued services and were preparing to build a new church in the village of Westby.
The Norwegian Lutheran church on section 2 was erected about the same time that the Coon Prairie church was erected in the town of Viroqua. These two Churches were formerly one, but owing to the large membership and the great distance apart it was deemed necessary to build a second church in the northern part of the town. This structure is a frame one, costing about $2,500. These two Churches are supplied by the same minister.
Rev. O. Jacobson, of Viroqua, pastor of Coon Prairie M. E. Church, was born at Taunsburg, Norway, Feb. 12, 1849. Came to the United States in 1871, lived in New York city some time, where he began preparation for the ministry. He began preaching in 1875; was ordained deacon at Faribault, Rice Co., Minn., in 1877 by Bishop Andrew; was ordained elder at Winona in 1879 by Bishop Peck. Was assigned to the Deer Park circuit where he remained two years; came here in 1881. Before his ordination, Mr. Jacobson had charge of the Churches of his denomination at St. Paul and Minneapolis, and afterward at Faribault. His wife is a native of Sweden. They have three children.
In 1884 there were three burying grounds within the town of Christiana. The one first located and used was on section 33. This was finally removed to the village of Westby. One known as the Methodist cemetery is situated on section 26, and one used especially by the Reformed Lutherans, is situated on section 28.
Village of Westby
The forty acres upon which this village was laid out was purchased of the State by the Lutheran Church, with the intention of building a church thereon. A portion of the land was used by this sect as a cemetery for a number of years. The Church, however, decided to build on Coon prairie, and they then exchanged the property with Nels Hanson, for that of their present location on Coon prairie. Subsequently Mr. Hanson sold the land to Jens Johnson who in turn disposed of the property to Ole Syverson, and before the village was laid out, the property passed into the hands of a son of the latter-Anton Syverson. The plat was surveyed by the railroad company in August, 1879, and a little later the survey was confirmed by the county surveyor, with a slight change. The village is the outgrowth of the railroad, which reached this point at about the same time the plat was being surveyed. The place derived its name from O. T. Westby, who was then running a small store at this point.
The first act toward business development in the place was the erection of a store by Hans Nelson, soon after the village was platted; this was still used as a store by Mr. Nelson and his son, in 1884. The postoffice was also in this building at that date.
The first regular train of cars reached this point Aug. 13, 1879. The station was opened for the transaction of business the day following. Andrew Johnson was appointed agent, which place he was still filling in 1884. The same season the warehouse of W. E. Coats & Co., was erected. Andrew Johnson purchased the first load of grain shipped from the village. John Michelet erected a second grain warehouse, the same fall.
The first lumber dealer was Peter E. Peterson, who later engaged in trade with O. T. Westby. Cargill & King, of Sparta, were the first stock dealers of the place; John Humphrey was their buyer. John Steig had a blacksmith shop at this point when the railroad was built through and continued in the business for some time thereafter. The first hotel was built in the autumn of 1879, by Berut Gilbertson, who continued to operate it for about three years. It was owned by E. C. Bergh in 1884.
The business directory of the village in July, 1883, was as follows: Hanson & Son, general merchants; C. H. Ballsrud, E. C. Bergh and Thoreson and Co., lumber dealers; John Michelet and W. E. Coats & Co., grain dealers; E. C. Bergh, hotel; Jens Skugstad, harness maker; M. J. Lindahl, tin shop; Miss Ballsrud and Josephine Michelet, milliners; Theodore Thorson and Anton Syverson, furniture dealers; B. Hanson and A. Peterson shoemakers; Charles Thorson, foundry and machine shop.
Case of Murder
A brutal case of murder of one of the citizens of the town of Christiana occurred on New Years night, 1864. Robert Lange resided on section 33, where he kept a store. Jack Clear was a soldier in the Union army, whose father lived in the town of Viroqua. At the time of the murder Clear was at home on a furlough, which had about expired. He and Lange were well acquainted and personal friends. Lange, having business at La Crosse, an arrangement
was made with Clear, by which the latter was to ride to La Crosse with Lange, on his way to join his regiment. Lange was not again seen alive by any of his friends. At about midnight, his team, with the wagon, appeared in front of the City Hotel, where Lange was accustomed to call. The team was without a driver. An examination revealed blood stains in the wagon; a search was instituted and the body of Lange was found about three miles south of La Crosse.
He had been killed and his head terribly mangled with an ax. It seems that the parties had stopped at a place where beer was sold, and Clear had improved the opportunity of secreting an ax in the wagon. The day was very cold and after they had resumed their ride, Clear pretending to be cold, jumped out of the wagon and ran along behind it for some distance, and then quietly getting in behind, picked up the ax, and struck his unsuspecting companion, mangling him in a terrible manner and doubtless killing him instantly. He then drove into the timber, threw the body from the wagon, drove the team into town, and as it appears, left it to take care of itself. The object of the murder was to secure several hundred dollars that Lange had upon his person at the time. Clear succeeded in reaching Chicago where he was arrested by Elias Solberg, sheriff of La
Crosse county. The murder produced intense excitement and when Clear returned to La Crosse, with the sheriff, a desperate effort was made to lynch him, which was finally prevented by strategy. Clear was tried for the murder and sent to Waupun for life, where he remained till recently, when he was pardoned by Gov. Smith, at about the close of his administration.
Nearly thirty-six years have passed since the first settlement was made in the town, and the following named citizens are early settlers, sons or descendants of pioneers, or men prominent in town affairs, at the present writing.
Hans K. Larson, has the honor of being one of the first settlers in this town. He was born in Norway, in December, 1803, and went direct to Koshkonong, Dane county in 1848, and to Vernon county in 1849. He made a claim of a quarter section of land, forty acres on each of the four sections numbered 22, 23, 26 and 27. He finally purchased the eighty acres which lie on sections 22 and 26. Mr. Larson was married in Norway, and three children were there born, one daughter and two sons. The daughter died in Norway, and in 1849, Mr. Larson's family accompanied him to America. Another son was born on the vessel while enroute to this country. Mr. Larson has been peculiarly unfortunate with his family. His wife died in 1859, and his eldest son, Lars, reached maturity and then died, leaving a family. His second son, Mathias, died at Westby, in 1881. He was a man of intelligence, and at the time of his death was chairman of the town board and justice of the peace. The son, Andrew, born on board the vessel, only lived to be fourteen years old. A grand-son of Mr. Larson, Henry Hanson, son of Mathias, lives with his grandfather. He was the only son of his parents, and born in this town, April 7, 1870. He is a boy of intelligence and much promise.
M. C. Bergh is a son of Clement Clementson Bergh, who settled in Christiana town in 1849. He was born in Norway, in December, 1816, and emigrated to America with a wife and three children the same year he settled in Vernon county. He purchased forty acres of land from the government, and a like amount from Lars Christopherson, and lived thereon till his death, which occurred May 24, 1878. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Bergh, after their arrival in this county. The widow still occupies the old homestead with her son, M. C. Bergh. The latter was born in Norway, in 1846, and married a daughter of Ole Olson, who is now deceased. These parents have been blessed with the following named children: Clara Menneli, Oscar Melvin, Tilda Maline, Nelle Bolette and Alma Charlotte. The home farm contains 120 acres.
John O. Berggum was one of the pioneers of Christiana town. He was born in Norway, Feb. 13, 1802. In October, 1836, he married Nellie Johnson, and with his wife and one daughter, also an adopted daughter named Martha Larson, left their home April 3, 1849, in a sailing vessel for America. When five weeks out, a son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Berggum. At the earnest solicitation of the captain, this boy was named after himself and his vessel, Wittus Johain Benedictus. After a ten weeks voyage, they reached New York. They went up to Albany in a vessel, and from thence to Buffalo by the Erie canal. Then boarded a steamer for Milwaukee, and thence to Dane Co., Wis., by team. This was their first halting place after five and a half months of constant travel. The family stopped with friends in Dane county the following winter, and the father traveled on foot 200 miles north to find work in the pineries. He succeeded, and by spring had earned about $100, but the failure of his employers deprived him of his earnings, with the exception of a few dollars. On his return to Dane county, he passed through the northern part of Vernon county, and was so well pleased with the country called Coon Prairie, that he resolved to locate there. He purchased a yoke of steers and two cows and with a sick wife and three small children, made the long and tedious journey to the town of Christiana. He settled on a farm on section 33, and in the summer of 1851, erected his present dwelling house. This is the oldest
house now in the town. Mr. Berggum had to go to Prairie du Chien, fifty-five miles distant after provisions. He has two living children - Elizabetii, wife of J. M. Rusk, and the son born on ship-board, W. J. B. Johnson.
John Michelet is a grain merchant of Westby, and one of the early settlers of Christiana town. He was born in Norway, in 1880, and in 1850, when a young man of twenty, set sail for America. He came direct to Vernon county, and from thence to Prairie du Chien, where he engaged in clerking. The following Christmas he returned by invitation to attend the wedding of Evan Olson and a Miss Nelson, which was among the first marriages in the county. When he first came to the town, he purchased a claim on section 35, of Ole Syverson, but did not settle there-after leaving Prairie du Chien, he engaged with Frank Dunn (a brother of Judge Dunn ) as clerk in a store at Tibbet's Landing. This store was the first at that point; building of frame, and contained a complete stock of general merchandise. The parents of Mr. Michelet came to Vernon county in 1851, and located on their son's farm. After again clerking in Prairie du Chien for a short time, he joined his parents on the farm, and remained there until 1819. In the fall of the latter year, he came to Westby village, and has since been engaged in the grain trade. Mr. Michelet is one of the representative citizens of Christiana town, and a man highly esteemed.
Hans Olson was born in Norway Dec. 24, 1814. He married Karn Bakkam March 28, 1841. She was born June 9, 1817. They emigrated to America in the spring of 1847, and located in the town of Christiana in 1848, on the southwest quarter of section 35. Mr. Olson was accidentally killed Dec. 22, 1864, by a stroke on the head from the limb of a tree he was felling. He died within fifteen hours from the time of the accident. He was the father of six children, two of whom died before him--Minna and Martinus. The oldest daughter, Agnethe, was born in Norway, married Markus Montgomery and lives at Chicago, Ill. A son, Brown, was born in the town of Christiana, March 30, 1850, was the first white child born in the town and probably in the county. He was married to Sophia Nelson June 25, 1878, and is still living on the old homestead, where he was born.
A sister, Helene, was born March 24, 1852, and married to Ole Bentson and is living in this town. Olave was born April 13, 1854, and died in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 13, 1871.
Lars Hanson resides on section 34. He was born in Norway, in 1817, and there resided during the earlier years of his life. In 1849 he emigrated with his family to the United States and settled in Vernon county in 1850. The year following he came into the town of Christiana and located on his present farm, where he has since resided. Mr. and Mrs. Hanson are the parents of four children. The eldest child, Evan, was born in Norway Dec. 12, 1845. The others are natives of this town-Johanes, born Dec. 23, 1853, Louis L , born Aug. 1, 1856, married Carrie, daughter of Andrew Peterson, Otto, born Feb. 10, 1859.
Torger Nelson Naperud is one of the oldest settlers of Christiana town. He came to Vernon county in 1852 and purchased his farm of Lars Christopherson the same year. The farm now contains 280 acres, the greater portion of which is under cultivation. This land is situated on section 34 and only six acres were improved when it came into possession of its present owner. Torger N. Naperud was born in Norway in 1814 and emigrated to the United States with his family and parents. His father was born in 1778, and died in 1858. The mother was born in 1788, and died in 1865. Mrs. Naperud's father, John Pederson, was was born in 1791 and died in 1869. Her mother, Berte Pederson, was born in 1803, and died in 1876. These parents died at Mr. Naperud's house and all are buried in the same cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Naperud have five children, two sons and three daughters-Bergete, Necoline, Julia, John and Carl. Mr. Naperud is one of the most wealthy and respected citizens of the town.
Hans Nelson, of H. Nelson & Son, merchants at Westby, is one of the most prominent citizens of Christiana town. He is a native of Norway, where he was born in 1835. His parents had five children-two sons and three daughters. One daughter, Ingeborg, died in Norway. Another daughter, Helene, married Nels Jacobson, and with her sister Penele came to Dane Co., Wis., in 1849, where both daughters died of cholera. Mr. Jacobson afterward came to Vernon county and was one of the early settlers of the town of Hamburg. Mr. Nelson came to this State in 1852, and located the same year in the town of Hamburg, Vernon Co., Wis. In 1854 he sent to Norway for the remainder of his father's family. His mother died in Dane county when coming through that section of country, and was buried in the same graveyard with her two daughters. The father and a brother Ole located in the town of Hamburg, and there the father died Nov. 22 of the same year; aged sixty-three years. This was the first death in the town of Hamburg. Ole enlisted in the 25th regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and died at Columbus, Ky., while in the service. Mr. Nelson is the only surviving member of of the family. He settled in the town of Hamburg on section 12, in 1852, and fourteen years later removed to the town of Coon and farmed on section 8. But on the advent of the railroad into the town of Christiana, he removed to Westby and engaged in his present business. Mr. Nelson's wife is also a native of Norway. They have two sons-Necolai and Anton, both natives of Vernon county. The former is the junior member of the firm of H. Nelson & Son and the present postmaster at Westby; the latter resides on his father's farm in the town of Coon.
Even T. Sangstad, junior member of the firm of Thorreson & Co., lumber merchants, Westby, was born in Norway, in 1835. His father came to Wisconsin in 1850, and the mother and two sisters followed him in 1851. The family located on section 26, in the town of Christiana, where the mother died in 1854. The father is now in his ninety-second year, and is the oldest person in the town. They were the parents of nine children, four sons and five daughters. Two sons and four daughters are still living. The eldest daughter died in Norway. Even T. remained in his native land until eighteen years of age. In 1853 he joined his parents in this town, and has since made it his home. On Aug. 12, 1862, he resolved to assist his adopted country in suppressing the Rebellion, and therefore enlisted in company K, 25th regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and served till the government triumphed. In the spring of 1864 the regiment was at Helena, Ark., where Mr. Sangstad was taken sick, and during the remainder of his term of service, when able to work, he was assigned to detached duty. Since the war he has been mostly engaged in cultivating the soil, and at present owns a good farm on section 21. In 1881 he became a member of the firm of Thorreson & Co., in the lumber trade at Westby. Mr. Sangstad married Bertha M., daughter of Thore Olson Bakkedahl, who settled here in 1854. They have been blessed with seven children, two sons and five daughters, all living.
Christian H. Ballsrud is one of the prominent merchants of Westby. He was born in Norway, June 30, 1834, and came to the United States when twenty years of age, and direct to the town of Christiana. He was young and vigorous, and for the first four or five years readily secured employment in the lumber camps on the Black river. In 1855 he bought a piece of land on section 27 of this town, but worked two years more before making a permanent settlement.
He still owns the farm which he first purchased, and it now comprises 280 acres. Mr. Ballsrud came to Wisconsin the same year the republican party was first formed at Jackson, Mich., and when he had been here long enough to understand the different principles that characterized the parties then in existence, he attached himself to the new party, and has proven a strong and earnest member to the present time. He is one of the prominent citizens of Christiana town, and has served in the greater number of its ofiices. He was town clerk for seven years, six of them in succession; was chairman of the board three years; assessor three years, and treasurer two years; was also justice of the peace for nine successive terms. He embarked in his present business in 1879, and now enjoys a good trade. He was married in 1859, and is the father of seven children, two sons and five daughters. Mrs. Ballsrud's parents came to America in 1854. The father, mother and two children died of cholera soon after reaching this country. Two sons and one daughter (Mrs. Ballsrud) are the only survivors. Mr. Ballsrud was once a nominee for register of deeds of Vernon county, and only lacked 132 votes of being elected. When he first came to America he acted as interpreter for his countrymen for some time.
Ernest C. Jager is one of the most industrious farmers of this town. He became a resident of Vernon county in 1855, and of Christiana town in 1871. He was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1840. In 1854 his parents, Christian and Wilhelmina Jager, with their family, started for America, but the father sickened and died while they were yet in Europe. The widow and family came on and settled in Waukegan, Ill. In 1855 Mrs. Jager removed to Vernon county, and settled in the town of Liberty. She died at Viroqua. There were six children in the family, four sons and two daughters. Two of the sons were in the Union army. Henry enlisted in the 9th regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer lnfantry, and died in Arkansas while a prisoner of war. Louis, the other soldier, is now residing in California. Mr. Jager came to Christiana town in 1871, and bought a farm of Elias Johnson, whose father was the original settler on the land. This farm comprises 160 acres, and is well improved. Mr. Jager's wife is a native of Norway. They are the parents of four children -Carl, Eda, Josephina and Henry.
Chris Christopherson resides on section 14, where he settled in 1857, and has made all the improvements on his farm. He was born in Norway, in November, 1823, and came to the United States in July, 1856. He first lived in Racine, Wis., one year, and then came to Vernon county. His father, Christopher Olson, died in Norway when his son was twenty-three years of age. His mother still lives in her native land. Five of the family came to this country all of whom live in Vernon and Monroe counties, Wis. Mr. Christopherson has been twice married. He has four sons by his first marriage, and seven children by present wife. His farm contains 160 acres besides timbered land. Mr.Christopherson is postmaster of Newry postoffice, and is also engaged in the mercantile trade.
Erick C. Bratlie was another settler of 1855. He purchased a farm on section 36, of Simeon Peterson, the latter of whom bought it off a Mr. Woodman, a non-resident. . Five acres of this land was improved when it was purchased by Mr. Bratlie, and he has placed it under a good state of cultivation, and erected substantial farm buildings. E. C. Bratlie was born in Norway in 1842. He accompanied his father, Christopher Bratlie, to this country, in 1854. The father lived with his son till his death, which occurred in 1860. He was twice married; his first wife the mother of E. C, died in Norway. His second wife died here in 1877. There were four children in the family, one son and three daughters, E. C, Bertha, wife of Elias Neperud, Mrs. Katherine Unseth, now a a widow, and Karine wife of Wilhelm Fleicher of the town of Viroqua. Eric C. Bratlie married Olavi Peterson. They have been blessed with eight children, one son and seven daughters. Mrs. Bratlie's father, Evan Peterson, came to Dane Co., Wis., from Norway, in 1847, and the following year settled on section 36 in this town, where he died June 10, 1877. His wife died in 1871. There were one son and eight daughters in the family. Three of the latter live in the town of Christiana, and all the surviving children are residents of Wisconsin.
Soren Paulsen has been a resident of Vernon county since 1858, and of this town since 1872. He is a native of Norway, where he was born in June, 1827. He there learned the carpenter and milling trades and in 1854 came to the United States. He resided a short time in each Chicago, Ill., Racine, Wis., and La Crosse, Wis. From the latter place, in 1858, he came to Vernon county, and purchased a farm of Mons. Anderson, of La Crosse. He engaged in farming farming for nine years. He sold his farm to John Bergh, of Richland county, and removed to Sparta, Wis. He there worked at the carpenter trade for three months. Then returned to Vernon county, and purchased an interest in the grist mill at Bloomingdale, in the town of Clinton. He was there engaged in milling, with various partners, until 1872, when he sold his interest, and purchased of Fred Olson a farm on section 35, of this town. Mr. Paulsen owns 160 acres, well improved, and his farm buildings will compare favorably with any in the town. Politically, he is a republican, and a firm adherent to the principles of that party. Mr. Paulsen's wife is also a native of Norway. They have eleven children, two sons and nine daughters.
Ole T. Westby, in whose honor the village of Westby was named, was a merchant on the site of the village for fifteen years. His uncle, Evan Olson, came to Viroqua at a very early day, and in 1849 his father, Tosten Olson Westby, came to Vernon county from Norway, and stopped with his brother Evan for a time. The following winter he left his family at Evan Olson's, town of Viroqua, and worked in the lumber regions along the Kickapoo river. In 1850 he settled on 160 acres of land on section 34, Christiana town, where he resided till his death in March, 1871. His widow still resides at Westby. They were the parents of three children when they arrived in Vernon county-
Rigene, who was born in Norway in 1838, and now resides at Westby; Olen T. and Evan T., the latter of whom resides at Bloomingdale, in the town of Clinton. One child, born in this town, is now deceased. Ole T. was born in Norway in 1840. He was nine years of age when his parents came to Vernon county, and was here reared and educated. When the war commenced he enlisted in company H, 15th regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, and served over three years. Returning home, he purchased eighty acres of his father's farm, and was engaged in farming until 1869. He then embarked in the mercantile trade, and continued it until 1881. He married Sarah Duhl. They are the parents of nine children, six living, two sons and four daughters. Three daughters are dead.
Hermon Hermonson, a baker by trade and a farmer by occupation, resides on section 26. He was born in the city of Tousberg, Norway, Nov. 20, 1831, and lived there till fifteen years of age. He emigrated to the United Status in 1865, and joined his countrymen in Dane Co., Wis., where he lived for a short time. He then went to Racine and there worked at his trade until 1869, when he came to Vernon county and located in this town. He was the only one of his father's family who came to Vernon county. He was married in Norway in 1857 to Louise Harmonson, a native of Sarpborg. They have two adopted children-Peter, who was born in Norway, May 20, 1853, and Hilda, born Jan. 15, 1877. Mr. Hermonson is an industrious and intelligent citizen, and both parents are members of the M. E. Church.
E. C. Bergh is proprietor of the Westby House, also engaged in the lumber business at Westby. He is a son of C. C. Bergh, a pioneer of this town, whose personal history appears elsewhere in this woik. Mr. Bergh was born in the town of Christiana, Jan. 4, 1855, and here
grew to manhood, receiving as good an education as the district school afforded. In September, 1879, he came to tiie village of Westby, about the time the railroad was first opened to the village, and embarked in his present business. He is an active buriness man, and his hotel is highly spoken of by the traveling public. Mr. Bergh married Matilda Gilbertson, and two daughters have been given them- Martha Florence and Rebecca.
Andrew Johnson is agent of the railroad at Westby station, in the town of Christiana. He was born in Norway, Feb. 1, 1851, where he was reared and educated in his native language. When seven years of age his father died and his mother subsequently married John Jurgenson Steen. The family came to the United States in June, 1867, and lived one year in Jackson Co., Wis. Then the step-father took up a homestead in the town of Preston, Trerapeleau Co., Wis., and there settled. Both parents are now deceased. There were four children in the family, three sons and one daughter. The latter, Mrs. Caroline Anderson, resides on the old homestead. Charles E. is agent of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, at Zembrota, Minn., and his brother Christian is with him. Andrew is the elder child and accepted his present position when the railroad was finished to Westby. He is an industrious and intelligent citizen, and his official services are very satisfactory to the company by which he is employed. He married Sarah Ramstad, a native of Norway. They have two sons- Leonard I. and Carl O.
[Source: pgs. 480 - 490, "History of Vernon County, Wisconsin, Together with Sketches of its towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; Portraits of prominent persons, and Biographies of representative citizens."
Springfield, ILL. Union Publishing Company, 1884 - Submitted by Diana Morse]
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