Just inside the main entrance to the Big Canoe Lutheran Church Cemetery (rural Decorah) in Winneshiek County, Iowa, are the graves of the Gjere ancestors.

The gravestone inscription reads: Anders/ T. Gjere/fodt 19 Nov 1832/dod 6 Nov 1915/Kari Gjere/fodt Afdahl /1 Mai 1836/dod 26 Apr 1915, with GJERE in large letters at the base.

The name was Gjerde, after the farm name in Voss, Norway, but when Anders came to America he omitted the letter "d" in Gjerde to form Gjere.

As noted on the gravestone, Kari's maiden name was Afdahl. They were married in the West Koshkonong Lutheran Church near Stoughton, Wis., on July 17, 1860.

Afdahl (usually spelled Afdal) means "to the rear of the valley", and this farm was located in the northern part of the valley on the west side above the popular Tvindefoss (Twin Falls).

Cameron Stewart, a man who has done a great amount of research on this family and whose books we have in our Giants library, visited the Afdal farm in 1961.

He learned that the farmhouse in which Kari Afdal was born had been destroyed by a snow slide in 1928. The six people occupying the house at the time survived. The relatives then on the farm told how during World War II German prisoners had constructed the modern winding road from the base to the Tvindefoss waterfalls and the Afdal farms.

Anders and Kari Afdahl Gjere had seven children, among them Gunvord, who married Martin Peterson. Martin's name before coming to America was Mathias Smeby. Gunvord and Martin had 15 children, 11 of whom grew to adults, married and had children.

Their son, Peter Peterson, married Martha Bertha Mestad. They homesteaded in Adams County, N.D., and both are buried in the Wolf Butte Cemetery located there.

I became acquainted with Peter and Martha's family as their daughter, Inga Peterson, was Sigmund Bergrud's wife. Inga and Sig had two sons, Steven and Dennis Bergrud.

Inga's sister, Lucille Peterson, married Rags Wilhelmson from Spring Grove and had two children, Linda and Gary Wilhelmson. They and their families have all been my friends for many years.

I met many of the other brothers and sisters through family gatherings over the years, one of which was George Melvin Peterson, who married Amanda Sophia Bjorgo.

Two of their children were Ragnhild, who married Harold St. Mary and lives in Caledonia, and Valborg, who married Carlton Clauson and lives in Spring Grove.

Their brother, David, graduated with me. Another brother was Olaf Peterson, who was Spring Grove's one and only cop for 33 years. He married Emma Bjorgo, and after she passed away, he married Madelia Wevley.

I also met his sister, Mattie Peterson, who first was married to Albert Roppe and then to Arthur Sveum.

I will also mention a brother of Kari Afdahl's by the name of Lars Knutsen Afdahl. He married Olina Johnsdatter Rosheim - another name that has become extinct here in the Spring Grove area although there remain still a number of relatives.

Olina had a brother by the name of Erick Rosheim married to Anne Berge. In June of 1876, Erick moved with his parents, John and Britta Hoperstad Rosheim, to Moody County, S.D. Before he moved, he lived on the Olaus Kroshus farm where my son, Oscar, lives today.

Erick and his family and the Kroshus family remained friends even after they moved, and several of Erick's children returned to visit. I had the pleasure of meeting them when doing research.

The school in District #76 near Spring Grove was first named the Rosheim School before it became the Kroshus School.



Additions and corrections to these columns are welcome. Apologies to Lois Lommen Sollien for leaving out her name as a sister of Margaret Lommen Ranzenberger in the Aasum article last week.

We have several books at our library at Giants of the Earth, which gives a tremendous amount of history about these early settlers of this area.

Contact us at the Heritage Center (507) 498-5070 or email rosefarm@springgrove.coop.