Adolph and Agnes Hammer - Their Story

 

 Agnes was born on the Breivik farm in Norway, the only surviving daughter of Justin and Marie Frendal. When she was a young child her family moved to the island of Ja, where her father had a blacksmith shop and a saw mill.

One day, young Adolph Hammer made the trip to Survik with his father to grind grain, and on the way back they were caught in a storm. They sought shelter at the Frendal farm. While there, Adolph noticed a beautiful girl - Agnes - and could not get her off his mind. It was a couple of years later when Adolph and his father passed that way again, to have timber cut at Justin Frendal's sawmill. This time, Agnes noticed Adolph as well.

As was the custom for young girls in Norway, Agnes was sent to another family to help care for the house, children, and to cook - in short, to learn to run a household. She was hired by the Andreas and Anne Johanna Larsen family at Hundhammer. This was Adolph Hammer's family. 

Her girlhood quickly ended with the discovery that she was pregnant. Her father, Justin, was known for being a stern man, and did not take it well. Adolph and Agnes were married, and thrust into adulthood. There was not enough work on the Larsen's farm for Adolph, so the young couple moved in with Agnes' parents, but Justin had made it clear that he did not approve of Adolph Hammer as a husband for his daughter. Agnes and Adolph's daughter Mary was born the following year. Adolph's older brothers Oluf and Emil had emigrated to the United States and were doing well there, so the decision was made that Adolph and Agnes would emigrate as well.

On a cold January morning in 1923, the young family consisting of Adolph, a very-pregnant Agnes, and their 11 month old daughter Mary boarded The Oscar II bound for the port of New York. It must have been frightening for Agnes to leave her home and family, and embark on a new life so far away. It would be the last time she saw her parents and brothers.

 

   
Life in South Dakota was hard. Agnes did not know the English language, but the area of South Dakota in which they settled was chock full of other Norwegian immigrants, and it wasn't until her oldest children were in school that it became necessary to learn the language. Agnes had thirteen children in all, her youngest son dying in infancy. Feeding a family of 14 on a limited budget was not easy, especially during the Great Depression, when crops didn't always come through. She baked 12 loaves of bread at a time, every other day. She was a good cook, and even though they didn't have much, she made it taste great. She canned vegetables, beef and chicken, using the old wash boiler to process the jars. Adolph and the boys farmed and took care of the animals.  Every spring and fall, Adolph had a pig butchered, and around the holidays ordered a keg of lutefisk from Minneapolis as a little taste of home.

Besides caring for the house and kids, Agnes also worked in the barn and out in the fields with her husband.

Agnes loved to crochet, getting thread with what pennies were left over from the egg money after buying food for the family. She could look at an item and know how to crochet it without a pattern. She made mittens and socks for her family, and besides crocheting, could also sew and quilt, using colorful feed sacks for fabric.

Agnes loved to dance, and she and Adolph would frequently go to local barn dances on Saturday nights. Her daughter Mary said nobody worked harder than Agnes, and she was a very giving person who was good at whatever she did, and referred to her as "a gem."

 Agnes suffered a stroke at the age of 46, which left her partially paralyzed on her left side. A second stroke about 6 months later left her completely paralyzed, with a third one about six months after that, which was fatal. Agnes' work was done, at the tender age of 48.

Adolph took at job at Armour & Company meat packing plant in Huron, purchasing a home there at 1371 Dakota Av. S. in 1952, the same year he married Lisa Klungseth, a childhood friend in Norway. 

 


 

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