An Extraordinary Man: Ludvig Kristian Gjenvick
Knaphus, Marie, An Extraordinary Man: Ludvig Kristian Gjenvick, Self-Published: Ames, Iowa (2005), Spiral Bound, 46 pages.
For several years three boxes of documents concerning my father’s early life sat on a closet shelf. Concerns of the present took precedence over curiosity of what was in those boxes.
At last I set aside time to inventory the contents of the boxes and what a gold mine of information I found.
Autobiographical information written in 1948 by Ludvig Kristian Gjenvick.
Documents such as baptismal record, official acknowledgment of Ludvig Kristian Gjenvick as an orphan, confirmation certificate, affirmation of employment in Skogn and Trondheim, documentation of Ludvig’s passage to America, certificate of membership in the First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rock Island, Illinois, 1913, citizenship papers, military records, as well as numerous miscellaneous letters, cards, and pictures.
-- Marie Anna Knaphus (Gjenvick)(1923-2008) , 2005
Autobiographical Sketch (March 1948)
After I finished writing the story of my father’s life I came across a short biographical sketch he had written in March, 1948. I am including it here, exactly as he had written it. Keep in mind the fact that my father never went to school in America. He spelled exactly as the words sounded to him.
“When I came to America I landed in Boston, Mass. 19th day of June, 1913 and came to Rock Island, 111. The 21st day of June, 1913. I went to 111. because I had 2 coussens living there. I was 21 lAyears old.
I went to live whit a Norwegian family who run a board and rooming house. Their name was Brouen.
I worked in a shoe facktory first for 2 days at Davenport, Iowa, but got fired because I could not speak American and the bos there was German. Then I got a job right away at Rock Island plow shop as a handy man and did a little off everything. I worked there for about a year. Then I quit and startet to work at Rock Island wood work. Did carpenter work. My cousin was foreman there. I worked for a year and a half, then moved to Minn. In March, 1915 and began to work on a farm.
In coming to America I felt America was way behind Norway in many respeckts. I did not intend to stay here as I just wantet to see the world. I always felt fine about the American people. They were helpful and considerate toward newcomers, although when you can’t speak or explain yourself of course it makes it verry difficult.
The American people did not in any way try to take advantage. When I came here I intended to stay but a couple of years, but 1 year after I came World War I broke out and so it was no use going back. So I decided to stay and in 1917 I was drafted and had to go to war and by that time I had learned to like America.
I was in Rock Island 1 month, then joined the church and mens club. They used the Swedish language. After coming to Minn. I joined the Norwegian Lutheran Church. They used the Norwegian of course.
For newcomers it is not so easy to leave a country and your people and come to a strange land. It has many sides to it. First to get used to the customs and ways here which are different from Europe - climate and wetter, mosquitos and the hot wetter and so it makes it difficult. But as the years go and one gets to understand and speak American and learn to know people one finds America to be the best land in the world.
As to the reasons why I thought Norway was ahead of America when I came here were - first, all over Norway they already had Eleck. light and power. Second, agriculture was far ahead of that in America, especially dairy. American farmers do not measure up to the farmers of Norway by any means. Thirdly, 35 years ago the people of Norway were better educated all around than the people of this country. All skilled labor of Norway was trained and performed their work more consiansius and better workmanship than any one of this country.”