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 Charlotte Bergstedt


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Charlotte Bergstedt
Borghild Bergstedt

 

Charlotte met Ole Williamsen Rødland through some girlfriends from Kvinesdal. They got married Oct. I2, 1907 in Springfield Illinois. Her sister VLagnhild married Ole's friend Hans Thompson Aagedal from Kvinesdal.

When Charlotte's mother died, she came home with her daughter Helen to help her father and take care of her brothers and sisters at home. Her second child Anna Synnnøve was born there Sept 5, 1911.

Ole came to Arendal in 1912. He was a carpenter and built an to Johan Henrik's house. After that Charlotte and Ole moved to Kvinesdal, and Ole built a big three-story house in the center of Liknes. In those days people used to have their cowsheds behind their houses. In the summer the cows pastured a little away. Milking was considered women's work, but because Charlotte had not learned it, Ole used to do it. One Sunday as he was busy going up to Rødland, he told Charlotte she had to milk, and so she did and managed it perfectly.

There was not much carpenter work to get, so Ole helped his father on the farm He also bought some farmland, Elvelund, which he cultivated. He built a barn for the hay. He added a couple of rooms and a kitchen where they could live and cook while staying there in the summer. Unfortunately a fire in the pipe made the ceiling catch fire and everything burned down. Ole rebuilt, but he sold the place when they moved to Rødland after his mother died in 1928.

He was good repairing shoes, and he taught others as well. Ole too started working on the railroad that was being constructed, and he stayed with his daughter Anna. But headache troubled him and he quit. One day while working in Liknes, he went to see the doctor due to terrible headache. It turned into brain hemorrhage, and he lost his speech and became paralyzed. Ole died Nov. 22. 1937.

Charlotte was now 51 years old. Ole's father Wilhelm died July 28. 1938, 80 years old. Their house at Liknes had been rented out, but Charlotte had to sell it in 1939.

Charlotte took care of the farm at Rødland with the help of her children. They had a horse, a few cows, sheep, a pig and hens. She got her income from selling butter, eggs and the animals that were slaughtered. They grew potatoes and vegetables, fruit and berries. Up in their mountain area they fished trout in the lakes. They did not buy much.

They had to carry the water they used into the house from a well outside. Beside the house there was a little house "bryggerhus", where they used to make flatbrød and lefsa, big portions at a time.

I remember the big cooking stove they had at Rødland in the chamber between the kitchen and the sitting room. It had a built in space for heating water, and they could bake cakes and bread in it. Marta once said that they always used butter when making food; only in cookies they used margarine. Magne then said that Charlotte was an excellent cook, especially the dinner and the sauce tasted very good. She had an American ice-cream maker and used it for special occasions.

I remember when I visited with my Grandmother and she set the table for bread and coffee at her round table in front of the window, she always had some exquisite home made jelly in small jars. She also went down and picked blackberries in Lia and made jam. She was the only person I knew of that made that. Charlotte was a good housekeeper. One summer she was the hostess at the first cafe at Utsikten and made food and served the guests.

When Charlotte and Waldemar came to visit at my parents for Sunday dinners when I was little, they used to walk and that was 4-5 km. Charlotte came in her American dark red coat and black hat and she looked very good. In those days it was unusual for older women to dress in bright coats.

She was a good talker and interesting to listen to. She spoke with an Arendal accent. She had a good memory and had a good common sense. She was the first woman that was elected for the Labor party in Kvinesdal County shortly after the WWII. In those days the members dressed very formal, so she always had a black American dress, which she called her "kommunestyrekjole".

She went over to Salt Lake City to visit with her daughter Helen and her family after the War. Then she had some trouble with her ticket, which she did not get back from the Embassy (?) in Oslo in time to leave. So she managed to get to New York by boat without a ticket. And she even got her $50 that was to be paid her on her ticket when arriving US. It so happened that Andreas Rafoss from Kvinesdal worked in the office in New York, and he knew her.

Helen and Harold came to visit with her in 1956. Harold, being a plumber of profession was insistent that his mother-in-law had to have an indoor toilet, so he took care of that.

Her son Henrik had taken over the farm in 1950. When Henrik was finished remodeling the house, Charlotte and Waldemar got their flat upstairs. She enjoyed her grandchildren living on the farm: Jan Ove born 1956, Magne born 1958 and Ingrid born 1962.

When she had her 70. Birthday, she was entitled to get social security. It was not much but she felt it was very good. Charlotte in her late years did a lot of crocheting. Her fingers were knuckled and bent, but she managed to do what she liked.

Again Charlotte went over to Helen and Harold to stay with them for some time and also to visit with her sisters and brothers and their families.

She was at the doctor's office waiting for a checkup before she was going back to Norway, when she died, Aug. 31. 1964, in Salt Lake City. Her daughter Helen came home with her and she was buried Sept. 8. 1964 in Liknes, Kvinesdal

(This is written by Signe, I hope my cousins in S.L.C. will continue the story)

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