Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Welcome to a Bertelson Blog!

Hello Bertelsons,

     I am Clytee Kleager Gold, daughter of Thordis "Sis" Bertelson Kleager, grand daughter of Jim & Lily Bertelson.  My cousin Christian Bertelson, The Bertelson Photo Archivist will pick out a picture each month and I will write a history to go with it.

     I hope this blog becomes a source of photos and information to share with our children and grandchildren.  Feel free to comment at the bottom so we can share our memories with each other. And please, forward this or let me know of an e-mail address to add of other family members not on the list.

     In honor of Mother's Day, we have a picture of the birth family of the matriarch Lily Dagny Tollefson Bertelson.

Tollef Tollefson & Anna Ocatvia Hansen Family 1912

The Tollef Tollefson & Anna Octavia Hansen family in 1912
The oldest son Einer had left home to work on the railroad, and his mother wanted a family picture, so Einer came back for the picture.
Agnes on far left, Lily behind her, Einer the tallest, Almor behind his mother, Rolf on the right, Fern in front

      By 1912 when this picture was taken, the Tollefson family had already had it's share of adversity.  Almor lost his left eye in an accident that perhaps involved an arrow.  You can see in the picture he had a false eye, but his left eyelid is droopy.  The leg sticking in front of the father, Tollef, is an artificial leg.  In 1904 he was working for the railroad (or the Updike Elevator Company).  There was a box car full of grain that was being pulled by a big thick cable-like rope that somehow got looped around his leg and strangulated it.  Shortly after the accident his leg was amputated at home by a doctor.  

     There were two children missing from the picture.  Between Almor and Lily there had been a girl named Thordis Alvilda who passed away as a two year old.  Lily named her first daughter, Thordis ("Sis") after her deceased sister.  Between Rolf and Agnes there was a baby boy who died shortly after birth named Victor. Four years after this picture, in 1916, a year after Lily was married, 15 year old Rolf contracted diphtheria or scarlet fever. He seemed to be recovering when he suddenly developed pneumonia and died. Of the eight children born to the family, only five survived to adulthood.

     Tollef and Anna were Norwegian immigrants who married in Chicago. Anna was from a wealthy family, as her father exported lumber and fish (obviously Norway had plenty of both). Anna and her sister went to private school. But Thomas Hansen lost his fortune rapidly when his brother-in-law business partner, ran off with the butcher's wife to the United States, stole money and left Thomas with the debts.  Anna had to quit school and go to work as a domestic.  Her mother died, and her father hired a housekeeper, whom he married a couple of years later. Anna and her sisters found the new marriage "discraceful", and left the country.  Anna came to America, married Tollef Tollefson, settled in Missouri Valley, Iowa where Tollef worked for the railroad, and bore eight children.

If you want to know more of the story, find a copy of Bertelson Family History Book written by Christian Bertelson and myself in 2002.  There is a digital copy available at 


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