Gunhild Alvhilda Kvingedal Sather Oral History Interview, 1982  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Sather, Gunhild Alvhilda Kvingedal
1982 (inclusive)
3 file folders
5 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Gunhild Alvhilda Kvingedal Sather, a Norwegian immigrant.
Pacific Lutheran University, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Pacific Lutheran University
12180 Park Avenue South
Tacoma, Washington
Telephone: 253-535-7586
Fax: 253-535-7315
Access Restrictions

The oral history collection is open to all users.

Additional Reference Guides

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Gunhild Sather was born on May 22, 1899 in Kvingedal, Norway, which is approximately seventy kilometers north of Bergen on the West Coast. Her parents were Gjert Kvingedal and Andrea Olsen Kvinge, and there were eight children in the family. Gjert owned a small farm and built a nice house for the family. Gunhild began school when she was six and half years old and was always busy with farm work in her spare time. After she finished school and was confirmed, at the age of fourteen, Gunhild began working for her brothers in addition to helping her mother around the house. In 1920, her brothers Rasmus and Mikal, who had been living in the United States, came back to Norway, and Rasmus invited Gunhild to return to America with them. Gunhild had wanted to go for a long time and was not getting paid to work for her brothers, so she gladly accepted Rasmus's offer. Gunhild left Norway on May 21, 1921, and it took them nine days to get to New York from Bergen. Upon their arrival, they took the train west, and Mikal got off in South Dakota. Gunhild did not like South Dakota and continued on to Everett, WA with Rasmus. Gunhild then moved to Seattle, where she lived with Berta Peterson, a friend of Rasmus's from Romsdal, Norway. Gunhild soon found a housekeeping job for a Swedish family, but wanted to be paid more and only stayed with them for three months. She then began working for a teacher in Mt. Baker, but the woman never stopped talking, and Gunhild left after one month. Finally, she obtained a good-paying housekeeping job with the Hull family and stayed with them until she got married. Gunhild met her husband, Carl Johan Sather, in 1922 at a dance at the Norway Center. Carl was originally from Aalesund, Norway and was a fisherman. They were married on November 29, 1924 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Seattle. In 1925, they moved to Ballard, where they lived in a duplex until July. On July 25, they moved into a brand new house and remained there for the following twenty-seven years. Gunhild did not work after she was married, but managed to remain busy while Carl was gone fishing. She has belonged to the Daughters of Norway and Eastern Star and has also helped cook at the Norway Center and at church. Gunhild did not become active in church until her later years when she learned how to drive at the age of fifty-seven. After that, she always filled her car with people who wanted to go to church. Throughout the years, Gunhild has also taken five trips back to Norway.


Full Name: Gunhild Alvhilda Kvingedal Sather. Maiden Name: Gunhild Alvhilda Kvingedal. Father: Gjert Bertelsen Kvingedal. Mother: Andrea Olsen Kvinge. Paternal Grandfather: Bertel Kvingedal. Paternal Grandmother: Ragnhild Bertelsen Kvingedal. Maternal Grandfather: Ola Kvinge. Maternal Grandmother: Olina Knudsen Kvinge. Brothers and Sisters: Bertin Teodor Kvingedal, Ola Kvingedal, Mikal Kvingedal, Henrikke Kvingedal, Rasmus Kvingedal, Bernhard Kvingedal. Spouse: Carl Sather.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Gunhild Sather on October 6, 1982 in Seattle, Washington. It contains information on family background, childhood, emigration, work, marriage, and community activities. The interview also provides photographs of Gunhild's home in Kvingedal, Norway, Gunhild as a young woman, Gunhild in traditional Scandinavian dress (1933), and Gunhild in her later years. The interview was conducted in English.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The partial interview transcription highlights important aspects of the interview. Numbers may be used as guides to important subjects. Two numbers separated by a slash indicate that the first number is for cassette and the second for CD.

Container(s) Description
190, side 1 020:
Gunhild Alvhilda Kvingedal. Changed her name to Kvinge when she came to the U.S. Married name is Sather. Gunhild was born in Kvingedal on May 22, 1899. Kvingedal is located about seven Norwegian miles (70 kilometers) north of Bergen on the west coast. Kvinge is on Austfjorden and Kvingedal Valley lies further inland. Boats coming to Kvinge delivered any supplies the farmers might need.
190, side 1 140: PARENTS
Father had a small farm. Worked really hard. His first house was fixed up really nice. He moved to a house that wasn't fixed up because he needed more room. Then he built a really nice house. His name was Gjert Kvingedal. Gunhild's mother's name was Andrea Olsen Kvinge.
190, side 1 179: GRANDPARENTS
Maternal grandfather's name was Ola Knudsen Kvinge. Doesn't remember her grandmother's name. She died when Gunhild was half a year old. She remembers her paternal grandmother, Ragnhild Bertelsen Kvingedal. She lived with them. Gunhild's father's name was Gjert Bertelsen Kvingedal. Her mother was a seamstress before she got married.
190, side 1 259: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
Eight originally. One girl died when she was little. Bertin married a girl from another farm. Ola was in the U.S. for six years. Logged in Petersburg, Alaska. Was in Seattle and Everett, Washington. Came home for Christmas one year and stayed. Rasmus came to the U.S. and asked Gunhild to come along. He mined in Alaska. Henrikke became a seamstress. Learned to make gentlemen's and ladies clothes. Mikal came to America in 1913. He farmed, logged, and fished. Had a beautiful home that he paid for. Doesn't remember well now. Was brought up by an aunt in Kvinge. Bernhard stayed in Norway. Was a farmer and a mechanic.
190, side 1 404: CHILDHOOD HOME
Moved in 1940. The house burned right after they finished it. They built another beautiful home. A nephew, Ola's son lives in the house now. When Ola came back to Norway, he got married and fathered three sons and three daughters. They lost their first son.
190, side 1 450: SCHOOL
Started school when she was six and a half years old. Had to walk one Norwegian mile (10 kilometers). A ferry took them across the beautiful, big lake. There was a lot of snow in those days. She was really tired by the time she got to school. There was a certain time of the month when she was pretty bad off because she was only 10 and a half when she matured. Her mother would send hot chocolate to school with her. Gunhild didn't like hot chocolate so she would trade someone for coffee or whatever they were drinking. Her mother would be so happy when she came home and the chocolate pot was empty. Gunhild never said she wasn't drinking it. She grew quite fast so she needed food. She was weak at times.
190, side 1 494: CHILDHOOD
Helped her mother. Did some farm work. Milked cows and goats. Her mother made both white and brown goat cheese. She made ordinary milk cheese in wooden containers with holes all around. Wrapped the cheese in cheesecloth. Helped her mother weave. Liked to crotchet. Started Hardanger embroidery when five years old. Her mother taught her well. Sometimes they had to go up in the mountains and milk the cows. She would have to carry about 16 quarts of milk on her back going back and forth. Gunhild was always busy. Her mother felt bad when she left for America. She was the baby of the family. When it was time for Gunhild to leave, her mother got sick and went to bed.
190, side 1 574: CHURCH
Had to row for a mile across the water and then walk a mile. There were eight in her confirmation group who would row to church together. Her parents would go to church on Sunday mornings.
190, side 1 614: FOLK STORIES
Her parents told stories they shouldn't have told. They were too scary for children. Gunhild would run up to her room thinking something was chasing after her heels. She grew up in a wonderful home though.
190, side 1 626: CHRISTMAS
They had a very nice celebration. Their mother would make them new clothes. They got new underclothes for Christmas. Got an orange and an apple. Didn't get toys like children do today. Her father always went out fishing so they would have fresh fish for Christmas. They had a Christmas tree for Christmas as soon as Gunhild was old enough to go out and get it. Her father didn't have the time and her brothers were busy with other things. They got a kick out of Gunhild going out in the deep snow and bringing a tree home. Everybody helped decorate it. They made their own trimmings for it. They made chains and heart-shaped criss-cross buckets out of paper. They had candles on the tree. It always looked really nice. They went church on Christmas morning. It was cold but they never complained about such things. They had homemade mutton.
190, side 1 684: CHRISTMAS FOOD
Had fresh fish on Little Christmas Eve. They had rice mush on Christmas Eve. They had potato lefse and lefse made with milk, lemon juice, eggs, and flour. It was a little thinner than Hardanger lefse. They had some cookies but not many.
190, side 1 684: CONFIRMATIOND
(See also I-574) Was 14 years old when she was confirmed. It was a difficult year because their home burned. There was a hired girl who helped out a lot. She and Gunhild milked the cows. They had hired men too. They had cured lots of meat and potatoes. They used quite a bit of that that year. They sold some meat. They sold their butter and bought margarine. They were strong kids. Gunhild had never gotten sick until she came to the U.S. Food in Norway was much better. (See also CHILDHOOD I-494)
190, side 1 755: WORK
Worked for three of her brothers, Bertin, Ola, and Bernhard after she was finished with school and confirmation. She did housework and worked outside. They would all help their mother.
Mikal and Rasmus came home in 1920. Rasmus asked Gunhild if she'd like to go back to America with him. She had been wanting to go for a long time. Didn't get paid working for her brothers. They had small farms and nothing to sell. Her oldest brother, Bertin's wife has a machine so she knitted underwear and sweaters. She made good money. Gudrun would sew for her. They paid her $40 a month and room and board. Gunhild had a lot of fun there. Her brother's mother-in-law liked her because she was so full of life. Gunhild was 21 years old when she left Norway. Her parents didn't want her to go. (See also I-494)
190, side 1 811: LEAVING FOR AMERICA
Left on May 21, 1921. She didn't take much with her. Her brother said she wouldn't need it. She had made a nice dress and had a shoemaker make her shoes of real hide. Her brother said not to bring them. She was sorry she left them home but her brother didn't know any better. Her brother paid for her ticket and she paid him back later. The ticket cost about $235. She was excited about going but she felt bad about leaving her mother. Her mother said they'd never see each other again and they never did. Her mother wasn't able to say good-bye. She wrote to her mother every week. After she died, she wrote to her father once a month. (See also I-494)
190, side 1 865: TRIP TO AMERICA
They left from Bergen. The trip went fine. They ran into a storm about the middle of the trip. Gunhild didn't feel very good. When her brother told her to come to breakfast one morning, she said she didn't feel like eating. She went out on deck, got sick, and went back in to sing with everybody else. They had a good time. Gudrun was with Rasmus and Mikal. It took nine days to get from Bergen to New York. They came on the Bergensfjord. They didn't have to stop in England.
Thought it was strange that people used "flour" on their faces. They had such good complexions growing up in the country that they didn't need powder on their faces.
190, side 1 908: ELLIS ISLAND
Not a good experience. They didn't have any problems there but they had to wait a long time.
190, side 1 917: TRAIN RIDE
Her brother, Mikal, got off in South Dakota. Gunhild didn't like it there. Too much thunder and lightening. She got off the train in Everett, Washington with Rasmus and visited some of his friends. Gunhild stayed there for three days while Rasmus was in Seattle seeing if he could get work in Alaska.
190, side 1 944: WORK
Gunhild went to Seattle and found a job there. She stayed with Berta Peterson, Rasmus's friend from Romsdal, Norway. Berta put an ad in the paper for Gunhild. She got work right away. She worked for Swedish people. She couldn't tell if they were speaking Swedish or English. The Swedish alphabet is harder to read than the Norwegian. Gunhild was a maid of all trades. The man was a captain of a lightship at Cape Flattery. Their name was Lindman. They had four children. The lady was a little nervous. Sometimes she didn't get up in the morning and Gunhild would bring her breakfast in bed. She would ask Gunhild to make certain dishes. The lady would make certain Swedish dishes. Gunhild stayed there for three months. She wanted more pay. She was working hard. Did the laundry by hand, cooked, and cleaned. She got only $20 a month. She learned quite a bit of English from the children.
190, side 1 1046:
Worked for a schoolteacher at Mt. Baker. She had two children. She said she'd teach Gunhild English in a short time. She drove Gunhild crazy. Never stopped talking. She stayed only one month.
190, side 1 1056:
Went to the place where she stayed until she got married. Nice people. Earned $35 a month. $50 after she'd worked there a year. Gunhild did most of the cooking. When she had parties of 8-10 people, she hired a cook and Gunhild waited on the table. She thought that Gunhild did a good job. Their name was Hull. He was an engineer. Built bridges. Did a lot of building in Portland. They trusted Gunhild. Their children were one and four. She watched them when their parents were gone.
190, side 1 1115: MARRIAGE
Gunhild met her husband at a dance at the Norway Center. The Hull's gave her a set of breakfast dishes. They wanted her to get married at their house. Gunhild said she wouldn't feel comfortable getting married at the place where she had been working. Gunhild went to church with Berta Peterson. That was how she got acquainted with people and started going to the Norway Center.
190, side 2 SIDE II:
190, side 2 011: SPOUSE
Husband's name is Carl Johan Sather. He is from Valderøy, Norway, which is by Ålesund. He was a fisherman. Had his own boat when they got married. Built a bigger boat in 1938-39. His boats were called Faith and Faith II. He had a lot of faith. He was a good, strong man. He died of a heart attack. They met in 1922, were engaged in 1923. He went back and forth between Seattle and Alaska. He wrote to Gunhild's father in Norway and asked for her hand.
190, side 2 20: WEDDING
There were sixteen people at their wedding. They were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The minister's wife played the organ. Gunhild's two brothers came. They were both working in the woods. Gunhild and her husband rented a house on Magnolia Bluff. Her brothers stayed with them over Christmas. Gunhild got married on November 29, 1924. she had a white dress that went down to her ankles. A lady living nearby made it for her. They had dinner at Hallberg's on Pine Street in Seattle across from Frederick & Nelson's. That was where they met each other most of the time before they were married.
190, side 2 203:
Moved to Ballard in February, 1925. Rented a duplex, which was much cheaper than the house on Magnolia Bluff. Carl was out fishing. Gunhild never worked after they got married. Carl said he wanted to take care of her. They never had any children. She was pregnant once but she got a poisonous goiter and miscarried. They lived in Ballard until July 24, 1925. They moved into a brand new house on July 25. They lived in this house for 27 years. Carl was home in the winters when he wasn't fishing. He had been home for a week when he died.
190, side 2 288:
Gunhild wasn't lonely while he was gone. She was always busy. She worked in the garden. Did a lot of canning. Talks about when Carl was home.
190, side 2 378: CHURCH
Wasn't active in a church until her later years. Learned to drive a car when she was 57 years old. Always filled her car with people who wanted to go to church.
190, side 2 437: LEARNING TO DRIVE
Went to driving school while her husband was in Alaska. He was nervous about driving and couldn't teach her himself. They got their first car ten years after they got married. She went to Kirshner Auto Driving School in the U District. She didn't get her license the first time she took the test. She got it on the second try.
Had belonged to the Daughters of Norway and Eastern Star for over 50 years. She went to Immanuel Lutheran Church for quite a while because she could drive. (See also II-378) She has helped with cooking at the Norway Center and at church. She was a trustee at the Daughters of Norway. The Sons and Daughters of Norway give money to different causes. They have given money to Norse Home. They are service organizations.
190, side 2 608: TRIPS BACK TO NORWAY
Five trips. She and her husband went in 1932. many changes. Went hiking in the mountains. Danced and had fun on the boat on the way over and back. They went back in 1950. Traveled all over Norway and part of Sweden. Had never seen so much of Norway before. Stayed for six or seven months. The weather was nice expect for North Cape. They were on a boat, which stopped at the different ports. They stopped in (?) in Finland. Went to southern Norway. Took different boats. Gunhild had an aunt in Hardanger. Gunhild went to Norway in 1959, when her oldest brother had been married for 50 years. Her husband didn't have time to go. She went to Norway in 1970 with her brother, Mikal. In 1977, she went to Norway with two nieces and a nephew. Norway has changed a lot.
190, side 2 705: CHANGES IN NORWAY
The first time she went back it was different because both parents were gone. They used to have bread in the morning and then have devotions. She missed not doing that. She had three brothers to visit. In 1970, Gunhild and Mikal went with their brother Ola (who had been in America) up in the mountains to visit a cousin who lived in a cabin up there. Many changes occurred after WWII. Many really felt the war. They almost burned her youngest brother's house. His home was on a bay leading to the ocean. The Germans made his wife row them across the bay to where he was. There were looking for people working underground. The Germans were nasty about killing people and burning houses. The Germans killed Gunhild's father's cousin. He was hiding in the mountain cabin (where Gunhild's cousin was living in 1970). His animals were starving so he finally went down to feed them. The Germans shot him, put him in the house, and burned the house.
190, side 2 809:
Tells about when her husband got pneumonia. She took him to the doctor. Got him medicine. He wouldn't stay at home and rest. He was afraid the five boys working on his boat would quit. They had to take him to the Port Angeles Hospital. Mikal, who was also on the boat, called Gunhild and she went to Port Angeles. Carl had been given a cardiogram. He was feeling better the next day. She got to take him home on the second day. Their doctor in Seattle said he should be in a hospital. They took him to Northwest Hospital and he died there a few days later. She says in Norwegian that it was disappointing that he had to die.
190, side 2 954:
She says the Norwegian Table Prayer.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Confirmation
  • Education--Norway
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Fishing
  • Marriage service
  • Norway--Social conditions--1945-
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Ocean travel
  • Railroad travel
  • World War--1939-1945
  • Personal Names :
  • Kvinge, Ola
  • Kvinge, Olina Knudsen
  • Kvingedal, Mikal
  • Kvingedal, Rasmus
  • Peterson, Berta
  • Sather, Carl
  • Kvinge, Andrea Olsen
  • Kvingedal, Bertel
  • Kvingedal, Gjert
  • Kvingedal, Ragnhild
  • Sather, Gunhild--Interviews (creator)
  • Corporate Names :
  • Bergensfjord (Steamship)
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Bredablick Lodge #10 (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Immanuel Lutheran Church (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Norway Center (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Order of the Eastern Star (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Kvinge family
  • Kvingedal family
  • Sather family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Ålesund (Norway)
  • Kvingedal (Norway)
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics