The photograph above (and much of the information appearing below) was generously provided by Clifford E. Rostvedt of Minot, North Dakota. He is the son of Sivert Rörtvedt (who changed his name to Rostvedt), a son of Johannes and Sophie Rörtvedt.
The Rörtvedts. They came to America from Norway, bringing with them Norwegian values and traits: strong character, tenacity, independence of thought, and self-reliance. They were contributors, not takers; they were doers and builders. They became loyal and productive Americans, retaining always their Norwegian character.
The Rörtvedts haled from Erfjord, a village in the City of Suldal, located in the County of Rogaland, in southwest Norway. They had lived there on the Rörtvedt farm until shortly after the death of Sophie Rörtvedt's husband, Johannes Olson Rörtvedt.
Born Soffi Johannesdotter Vågalia on Oct. 24, 1841, she became the second wife of Johannes in 1865. They had eight children
first wife was Siri Gaustesdotter Kolstø. They had five children:
Ola (b. 1844), Mari (b. 1847), Lisbet (b. 1851), Lisbet (b. 1858), and
Gaute (b. 1861).
Soffi had a choice of marrying a young man for love, or marrying an older man, Johnnes (born September, 1815) for money. She chose the later course. Ironically, Johannes died in debt. Her youngest son, Gudmund, recalled in later years the retreat from the farm when it was relinquished to creditors — his mother walking in the lead, her progeny following single-file behind her like ducklings, in order of age, with him at the rear.
Though Gudmund was at the rear in exiting the farm, he was in the lead in coming to "Amerika." He was sent off on a ship, sailing from Stavanger, at the age of 11, with two apples and 50 cents. Someone aboard stole the coins.
The boy arrived at Boston Harbor in 1890. His fare had been advanced by a farmer in North Dakota, for whom Gudmund was obliged to work for two years to pay off the debt. The farmer saw no need for the lad to be educated, but under pressure of the townspeople relented, and allowed Gudmund to attend school.
His formal schooling was brief. Yet through his life, Gudmund read prodigiously. Self-educated, he was a scholar, well versed in the history of Norway and the United States.
Soon to arrive were Ole, Knut and Hannah. Soffi sailed for the New World, along with Syvert, Gaute and Serine on May 2, 1891.
Syvert paid off the cost of his passage -- $60 -- at the rate of $5 a month. He worked in a store in Belmont, North Dakota. The youngster had to stand on a crate behind the counter to wait on customers.
In the "New World," new names were adopted. Soffi now spelled her name "Soffie." Syvert Johan Rörtvedt became Sivert John Rostvedt. Ola was now Ole. Knut Rörtvedt was converted into Knute or Nudt Johnson. Gaute became known as "Gust." And Gudmund, through his life, maintained the name he was born with, including the use of "ö" in his surname. In his marriage license, however, he listed his father, Johannes, as "John."
Gudmund Rörtvedt was wed to a well known soprano from Norway, Marta Sandal.
Sophia Rörtvedt died Oct. 5, 1937.