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lars and grethe anderson house

an 1866 norwegian home built in chippewa county, wisconsin

Further Information

The Journey to America

 

Staking a Claim

 

A Home on Big Elk Creek

 

Daily American Life

 

The House in Later Years

Related Reading

Farm Life by Frank Smoot, Chippewa Valley Museum Press

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Chippewa Valley Museum
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A HOME ON BIG ELK CREEK

 

The Lars and Grethe Anderson house was probably built in 1866. A smaller, almost certainly older log structure sat on the farm until it was dismantled in the 1950s. For many decades, the Andersons and their descendents used that building as a granary.

Although there is disagreement, several family members and older neighbors firmly believe the Andersons lived in the smaller building for several years when they first came to the banks of Big Elk Creek.

Tradition has it that the first meetings of the Big Elk Creek Lutheran Church were also held there. And, according to the History of Dunn County, when the Andersons built their first home, “there was only one house between Mr. Anderson’s place and Eau Claire.”

Lars and Grethe slept in the smaller bedroom and the older children slept in the loft. For many years, the larger bedroom was reserved for guests, including the Lutheran minister.

*

When the Andersons were ready to build this, their second, home, they hired their friend and neighbor Gabriel Jensen.

Like Lars and Grethe Anderson, Gabriel Jensen came from Baerum, Norway, passed through Waupun, and came to the countryside near Big Elk Creek in the late 1850s. He may have lived briefly on Lars Anderson’s land, but after he returned from the Civil War, he settled on land about a mile west of the Anderson farm, just across the Dunn County line.

Jensen had been a ship builder in Norway, a trade that he learned at the age of twelve. He brought with him to America great skill at wood shaping, and an unusual and splended way of joining logs.

The corner joint used in building this house is called a Kamlaft (Kamnov in Norwegian) and is characteristic of Norwegian immigrants, particularly those who came to Canada. This kind of construction was very unusual in the United States, and this house may be the oldest remaining example in North America.

Jenson and his neighbors were the first members of the Baerum Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church, which shared its minister with the Big Elk Lake Church, of which Lars and Grethe Anderson were founding members.

The house was built from trees cut along Big Elk Creek. Logs for the exterior and ceiling beams were all hand-hewn and trimmed. The original floor was also grooved and tongued by hand. This house Jensen built was not a rough cabin, although it may appear to be at first glance by today's standards. In its place and time, it was a fine, substantial home.

 

envelope addressed to "Louis" Anderson at their Chippewa Valley home

envelope addressed to "Louis" Anderson at the Andersons' new Chippewa County home

an illustration of the Kamlaft corner

an illustration of the Kamlaft corner

 

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