Margrete Hjeleland Knutson

Name: Margrete Hjelmeland Knutson

Lifespan:  70 years, 1837-1906. Born Bergland, Norway, 06/03/1837. Died Plankinton, 02/22/1906. Buried in Knutson cemetery on her homestead (Hopper: 178 acres in section 3).

Locations:  Norway (1837), Morris, IL (1861), Rowe, IL (1877), Hopper Twp (1882), Mitchell (temporary for work @1883), lived out life mostly in Aurora County, may have died in Davison County, probably living with daughter Martha.

Spouse: John Knutson, 1822-1877, Born in Norway. Married 1856 in Norway. Tenant farmer.

Profile:  Margrete Knutson, widow and immigrant, homesteaded in Aurora County in 1882. Twenty-one years earlier, in 1861, she and her husband had left Norway and journeyed across the ocean, a voyage that took the lives of their two young sons. Settling in Illinois, Knutson gave birth to nine more children and mourned the death of two of them. When the youngest child was only two years old, Knutson’s husband died, leaving the destitute widow to raise seven children on her own. Learning about the opportunity to homestead in Dakota Territory, Knutson hoped that the beneficial climate would heal her daughter, diagnosed with tuberculosis, and provide a good home for her family. Knutson, now aged forty-six years, borrowed two hundred dollars and, with another family, chartered a railroad car to transport their belongings to Mitchell. From there, she transferred her possessions to a wagon, tied her two cows to the back, and travelled another eighteen miles to stay with friends before settling on her homestead in Hopper Township, near other Norwegian immigrants. Her neighbors from Illinois helped her to get started in 1882, and she, in turn, helped other neighbors who arrived later. She claimed the “happiest days of her life” were those spent in South Dakota. Her story of sorrow and perseverance indicate a strong character capable of overcoming immense challenges to lead a joyful life.

Roles/Talent: Wife, mother, grandmother to 42 children, homesteader, gardener, good neighbor, restaurant cook.

Parents(ethnicity): Lars Larsen Øksnevad and Ingeborg Johannesdatter Seglem, Norwegian

Children: 11 children born 1858-1876. Lars, Knute, Engeborg/Isabel (Julius Charleston), Rachel, Knute (Antonie Petrak), Minnie (Theodore Treat), Anna Margarite (John K. Johnson), John(Anna Larson), Louis, Elizabeth (Henry Williams), Martha (James Allen). Lars and Knute died on ocean voyage. Rachel and Louis died in infancy.

Sisters: Unknown

Brothers: Unknown

Education: Unknown

Work Experience: Farmer, Cook at Bradley House in Mitchell

Church, Clubs and Organizations: Unknown

Family Connections/occupations: Her children Knute, father of nine, John, father of eleven, and Minnie, mother of three, remained in Aurora County. John’s daughter Agnes married Lawrence Larson, and some of her descendants still live in the county. Martha Allen, mother of four, lived in Mt. Vernon and some descendants still live near there. The Knutson family still gathers for family reunions in the county, sometimes joined by relatives from Norway.

Time in Aurora County: 34 years

Physical Appearance:

Date of Submission: February 2021

Latest Update: April 17, 2021

Name and Contact Information of Submitter: Ruth Page Jones, rpjhistories@gmail.com