Norwegian immigrant trunk, c1820



The United States government Homestead Act of 1862 offered settlers 160 acres of free land in the Midwest if they lived on and cultivated it for at least five years. This law was one of the reasons why so many immigrants moved as far west and north as North Dakota in the last half of the 19th century.
The immigrants who moved west came from many parts of Europe. Most of them were Norwegian.

Waterloo Docks Liverpool

No fewer than six of my ancestors emigrated to America during the late 1800s for just such a reason. These six were all brothers and sisters, children to Jakob Jakobsen Kvalheim (Kvaløy) and Martha Hansina Eriksdatter Salthella. Each leaving behind a land that they loved as well as their friends and family (these six were only a handful of the fifteen children of Jakob & Martha).

All of the migrating family entered America via Ellis Island, New York. Ellis Island was the main entry point for all
immigrants in NYC between 1892 and 1925/54. From there was a railroad to Cando, North Dakota, which is where most of the Dybevåg immigrants went, at least initially.

A fantastic WebSite covering the journey too and arrival of immigrants to Ellis Island.


Norwegian immigrants in the Dakota prairie

Below is the beginnings of a brief history of these young pioneers...


N.B. The Dypevåg family surname was begun by this generation, however those of the family who emigrated started out with the surname Dybevåg/Dybevaag leaving Bergen but arrived in America using the surname Jacobsen/Jacobson.

Jens Johan 'John' Jacobsen Dybevåg

Born: 11th April 1872, Bergen Hordaland, Norway.

Married Ragna Holien (sister to Esther, see Oluf Jacobson bellow) on 1st November 1900 at Churchs Ferry, Ramsey County, ND.

Died: 14th May 1955; Buried: Pinecrest Cemetery, Sandpoint, Idaho.

Down on the 1930 census as immigrating in 1885

Left Bergen harbor aged 20 on 27th May 1892, Occupation: Husmandsøn

Arrived May 1892 and again April 1898 "came home for a short visit".

The 1930 census has him living and working in Kootenai, Bonner County, Idaho. With wife Ragna (1884 - 1964) and eight children: Johnnis?, Elmer, Agnes, Alice, Easther, Henry, Roy & Maurice.

Oluf Andrin Jacobsen Dybevåg

Born: 16th July 1881(twin) in Dybvaag-Træ, Norway.

Married Esther Holien 19th March 1903 in Cando, North Dakota.

Died: 30th March 1955 in Minot, USA.

Left Bergen harbor on the s/s Rollo (Wilson Line(Sternelinjen PP)) on 3rd March 1899 aged 18. Destination Hull, England.

Arrived Ellis Island 16th Mar 1899 traveling from Liverpool on the s/s Teutonic (White Star Line (Hvite Sjerne Linje)

Listed on the manifest as Oluf Jacobsen Dybosag

(going to brother Jon Jacobsen in Churchs Ferry, ND)

Found in 1920 census with his Norwegian wife Ester (nee Holien - sister to Ragna above) - Olaf Jacobson, aged 37, farmer in Atkins Township, Towner County, ND. With nine children: Martha, Harry, Leif?, Andrea, Ruby, Joseph, Mildred, William & Ralph.

1930 census found Oluf & Esther living in Maza, Towner County, with son Henry, daughter Mildred, son Warren S. and sister-in-law Annie? Anise? Keith.

Jakob Martin Jacobsen Dybevåg

Born:1881 (twin) in Dybvaag-Træ, Austevold, Hordaland, Norway.

Married: to Julia

Died: After 1930 in Benson or Churchs Ferry, ND.

Left Bergen harbor aged 20 on the s/s Tasso(II) (Wilson Line (Cunard PP) on 25th March 1901 traveling to Hull, England

Arrived Ellis Island as Jacobon Jacobson on 8th April 1901, arriving on the s/s Servia (Cunard Line) out of Liverpool.

(Going to brother Oluf Jacobson in Churchs Ferry, ND)

Found in 1920 census - Jacob Jacobson, Butte Valley, Benson County, ND. With American born wife Julia, and four children: Julean, Lillian, Doras & Orval.

And in the 1930 Census still at the same farm in Benson.

At some point also lived at H. 211 E Ave. McLaughlin Hls. Vancouver, Wash.

Amalia Jacobsdtr Dybevaag

Born:1879 in Dybvaag-Træ, Austevold, Hordaland, Norway.

Died: in USA

Left Bergen harbor for New York onboard the s/s Hellig Olav (Skand Amerikan Line) on 3rd May 1910 (aged 31), Occupation: seamstress?; Reason: a better life; Desired Occupation Housewife; Remarks: Shall see brother

Ellis Island records show her arriving in 1910. Place of birth: Dybevaag in Stolmen, Norway. Going to visit brother Oluf in N. Dak., Cando.

Arrived Ellis Island 18 May 1910 onboard the s/s Hellig Olav (Scandinavian America Line) out of Kristiansand, Vest-Agder. She is listed as 27 years old and single. Of good health, 5'8" tall, dark hair and blue eyes. Never been in the United States before. (Going to visit brothers Olief Jacobsen in Cando) In possession of $10, ticket paid for by brother. Next of kin, father Jacob Jacobsen living in Dybevaag, Stolmen. (Manifest Line Number 0025)

Jacob Olaj Jacobsen Dybevaag

Born: 1871

Married: in Tau, Stavanger

Left Bergen harbor with Amerikan Line on 25th May 1906, Occupation: sailor; Reason: a better wage; Desired Occupation farm worker; Remarks: traveling to their brothers farm

Traveled to Cando at the age of 35 as a seaman in May 1906 "to see his brother".

Left Bergen harbor again with Stjerne Line on 29th July 1913, aged 42; Destination Amk Arthur Ont Br Cn; Occupation: factory worker and farm labored; Reason: a better wage; Desired Occupation Farm worker; Remarks: Traveling to see brother, farmer

Mons Olai

Born: 1889 in Dybvaag-Træ, Austevold, Hordaland, Norway

Living in Holcum, Wash.


Both rural and agricultural, with grain farms and cattle ranches, North Dakota gets its name from the Dakota division of the Sioux Indians who lived on the plains before the Europeans arrived. "Dakota" means "friend." French-Canadian soldier and fur trader Pierre Gaultier de Varennes was the first known white explorer to visit the home of the Dakota in 1738. North Dakota was one of the last areas of the frontier to be settled by non-Native Americans, and even today, it's not a highly populated state. North Dakota, whose capital is Bismarck, joined the Union in 1889 as the 39th state. Appropriately, the state flower is the wild prairie rose.

Wild Prarie Rose


Norwegian Immigrants

If the United States government offered you free land, would you take it? Thousands of people did when the government passed the Homestead Act in 1862. This act offered settlers 160 acres of free surveyed land in the Midwest if they lived on and cultivated it for at least five years. This law was one of the reasons why so many immigrants moved as far west and north as North Dakota in the last half of the 19th century.
The immigrants who moved west came from many parts of Europe. Most of them were Norwegian or German.

On 4th July 1825 the sloop Restoration with its 52 passengers sailed from Stavanger, on the southwestern coast of Norway. The ship reached the port of New York on October 9 after a journey of three months. Since then, almost 900,000 Norwegians have emigrated to North America. By 1915, 79 percent of all people living in North Dakota were either immigrants or the children of immigrants. Among countries in Europe, only Ireland has had greater mass migration.

Annual Celebration by Icelanders

North Dakota residents like to celebrate their diverse ethnic heritage. For instance, in 1999, the town of Mountain honored its Icelandic cultural legacy by throwing its 100th Annual Celebration by Icelanders. More than 10,000 people from the United States, Canada, and Iceland, including the President of Iceland, came to celebrate. The festival's parade included a replica of a Viking ship.


A photographer from Milton, ND, took this picture of John and Marget Bakken and their two children, Tilda and Eddie, in front of their sod house in Milton in 1898. John Bakken was the son of Norwegian immigrants, who homesteaded and built a sod house in Milton in 1896.

Roger Quesnell is Eddie Bakken's grandson, click here to visit his CD store.


North Dakota Genealogy Links:

Genealogy Helplist North Dakota
North Dakota Genealogy Resources
The Promise of America
The Norwegian-American Collection at the National Library, Oslo

Norwegian-American Bygdelagenes Fellesraad


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