Jens Tynes Oral History Interviews, 1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Tynes, Jens
1984 (inclusive)
2 file folders
1 photograph
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Jens Tynes, 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
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Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Jens Tynes, known as John Sivertsen in America, was born on April 4, 1885 in Tynes, Sykkylven, Norway. His parents were Rasmus Sivertsen and Karen Jensdatter Tynes. Around 1870, Rasmus was a carpenter in Minneapolis, Minnesota and married Karen there. They returned to Norway around 1875, where Rasmus began farming, and they had six children: Jens, Petter, Louise, Syverin (Sam), Inga, and Bernhard. Jens attended seven years of school and some "middelskole," and immigrated to America in spring 1915, hoping to make some money. He spent a year in Rochester, Minnesota, painting houses, and then moved to Eatonville, Washington, where his half-brother, Charlie Sivertsen, lived and worked in a logging camp. There, Jens worked in the woods for awhile, but did not like it due to the risk factor. When America joined the war in 1917, Jens decided to go to Tacoma to work in the shipyards. He was of drafting age, but his work in the shipyards was considered war work, exempting him from the draft. When the war ended, Jens began fishing and working in the canneries in Alaska. He did this for seven or eight years and then began shrimp fishing with his uncle. In 1928, Jens, being the eldest son, had to return to Norway and take over the Tynes homeplace for his parents. He later met Aasta Solberg and was married on June 26, 1936. They had four children: Karen, Reidar, Anne, and Aasa. In 1963, Reidar immigrated to Seattle, and at the time of the interview, Karen still lived in Sykkylven, Anne lived in Spain, and Aasa was in Alaska, working at the canneries. Jens has visited America four times since he has been married, and continues to remain in contact with relatives in America.


Full Name: Jens Tynes. Father: Rasmus Sivertsen. Mother: Karen Jensdatter Tynes. Paternal Grandfather: Sivert Iversen Tjoenes. Paternal Grandmother: Ingeborg Andersdatter Melfor. Maternal Grandfather: Jens Pettersen Tynes. Maternal Grandmother: Louise Bernhardsdatter Hundeida. Brothers and Sisters: (Boy born in the USA) Petter Tynes, Louise Tynes, Syverin (Sam) Tynes, Inga Tynes, Bernhard Tynes. Spouse: Aasta Solberg. Children: Karen Tynes, Reidar Tynes, Anne Tynes, Aasa Tynes.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Jens Tynes on June 14, 1984 in Sykkylven, Norway. It contains information on family background, emigration, employment, return to Norway, marriage, and family life. Also available is a photograph of Jens at the time of the interview. The interview was conducted in Norwegian.

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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
263, side 1 030: FAMILY BACKGROUND
Jens Sigurd Rasmussen Tynes was John Sivertsen in America, because his father was in America and used the name Sivertsen. John was more popular than Jens. His father was a carpenter in Minneapolis, Minnesota around 1870 (??). He was married there to a Norwegian, and their first boy was born in America, but died.
263, side 1 095:
His parents returned to Norway in 1875 (??). Jens was born 4-2-1895 in Sykkylven on a farm. His father was farming in Norway. There were six living children: four boys and two girls. Two of the brothers immigrated to America, lived and died there: Pete Tynes and Syverin [Sam] Tynes. Jens is the oldest boy, and that's the reason he had to take over the farm.
263, side 1 147:
The two girls remained in Norway. One married a professor and lives in Oslo; the other lives in Sykkylven. The third brother has a furniture factory.
263, side 1 160:
Mother's name was Karen Tynes; she came from the Tynes homeplace, which he has now. His father, Rasmus Sivertsen, came from another farm nearby. In Minneapolis, he built houses, bridges, etc. Father thought it would be easier to make a living. They had a house in Minneapolis, but mother was a little sickly and went home. Father followed later.
263, side 1 200:
Mother had gone to America to marry his father. Both parents learned some English. Jens got a good picture of America from his parents. There were lots of Scandinavians around Minnesota, hard winters but nice summers. Jens spent some time in Minnesota and liked it also. Then he went out west.
263, side 1 243: EMIGRATION
Jens went to America to make some money. He emigrated in spring of 1915 just after WWI began. He took a passenger boat, "Stavangerfjord", from Norway. They were stopped by Germans and boarded to check cargo.
263, side 1 278:
In New York, Jens had address, so boarded train for Rochester, Minnesota. He knew very little English, just showed address and managed a few words. The people in Rochester were friends from Norway. They had visited Norway and told Jens they had a job for him. Rochester was full of hospitals and doctors. He began painting houses right after he arrived.
263, side 1 315:
Worked mostly with Norwegians. Bought a book and taught himself English. Two brothers went to Parkland (PLU) for evening school.
263, side 1 323:
Jens had seven years of school in Norway. After confirmation, he attended a little more school, "middelskole". He intended to go to America, and worked on farm to earn some money. He borrowed the money for his ticket; had to have "guarantee" money, about 200-300 kroner plus sponsor's name. He traveled with other people going to CA and met others on the boat who went other places. He had no plans how long he'd stay. Parents told him to be careful and take care of himself.
263, side 1 394: SETTLING IN AND WORK
Spent about a year in Minnesota. He went to West Coast because a half-brother lived and worked in logging camp, "Tidewall"? He, Charlie Sivertsen, had a farm below Eatonville and had been in America 10-15 years. Jens took the train from Rochester to Eatonville. He liked the West Coast better because of the climate and its similarity to Norway.
263, side 1 429:
Jens was working in the woods, but didn't like it because of danger. He had some close calls. Then, America joined the war in 1917, and Jens went to work in the shipyards. This was considered war work and exempted him from the draft. He had to register, but wasn't inducted. Many Scandinavians were drafted and sent overseas. The ship-building company was "Sibone" ? by the 11th St. bridge. He lived with relations in Tacoma and took the streetcar to work.
263, side 1 482:
His job was cranework, placing timbers on wooden ships. Had room to build four ships at a time; many Scandinavians and Scandinavian-Americans worked there. He worked eight hours a day, some overtime, and some night shifts. Pay wasn't quite as good as the woods, but he managed to save a little money for which he had no immediate plans.
263, side 1 514:
He belonged to the Sons of Norway [Norden Lodge #2]. They had good meetings; can't remember anything special. It was a big lodge with lots of entertainment. Meetings were at Normanna Hall on K ST. Family lived on 45th South and Asotin St. toward South Tacoma. The man's name was (?) Jacobson; he was a gardener and fished in summer in La Conner.
263, side 1 551:
After the war was over, Jens fished for salmon and did cannery work in Alaska. Some winters, he worked in the woods; had contract to fell trees or make cordwood.
263, side 1 568:
At the logging camp there were big bunkhouses and one dining car on the railroad tracks where the men ate. It was hard work. They worked eight-hour days at that time, but there were strikes to obtain this. Jens worked both 12 and eight-hour days. Remembers the "scabs". They got two and a half or three dollars a day, and had Sunday and the 4th of July off.
263, side 1 617:
Would not get to town except on longer holidays. Got English newspaper at the camp. He never subscribed to Norwegian newspaper, but read both English and Norwegian books. Spoke mostly English in the camp. His half-brother had many children, and Jens learned English from them. Jens also learned to drive his brother's old Ford; it was transportation to the logging camp.
263, side 1 646:
He began Alaska fishing just after the war. Spent seven or eight years in salmon canneries and fishing. He was out on the boat--the cannery tender--packing salmon from the traps and scows into the tender. Big floating traps were made from logs, which the fishermen built early in the spring. They were put in place and checked daily when the salmon were running.
263, side 1 670:
Jens had done some cod fishing in Norway, but salmon fishing with traps was a big operation. Lots of Japanese and Chinese worked inside the cannery, but the Scandinavians worked outside, logging, building traps, and sailing. The company had housing on the boats and land. This was in southeastern Alaska around Petersberg and Ketchikan. Jens thought it was good country.
263, side 1 711:
Then he began shrimp fishing with an uncle, John Grebstad (?), who owned a boat. The first boat was 28 feet long. They went to a woman fortune teller in Tacoma and asked for advice. He knew about a "spirit club" in Tacoma, and found out about this particular woman. She "read" hands to tell fortunes. It wasn't legal for her to take money. But Jens believed her because her predictions turned out about getting married, returning to Norway, fishing, etc. She predicted that they'd be taking a trip up north and fish for something. The men made a hotel contact and arranged to sell crab. They loaded the scow with king crab daily and auctioned them off to the canneries.
263, side 2 037:
[Conversation is in mid-discussion about sending crab to a hotel in Tacoma.]
263, side 2 054:
Jens' fishing for crabs was successful and they bought a 55 ft. boat. One of his partners was a German fellow who was married to an Alaskan native and had five children.
263, side 2 102:
Jens began fishing in Alaska about 1919. He stayed with fishing for many years, coming back down to Washington for the winter.
263, side 2 113: RETURN TO NORWAY
He returned in 1928 because parents were old and wanted him to take over the farm. Two other brothers had come over to Seattle, so he had to go home. It was pretty lonesome back in Norway, but he became accustomed to it.
263, side 2 130: MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
He met Aasta Solberg and they were married in 1936, the 26th of June. They spent their 25th wedding anniversary in Seattle at the World's Fair in 1962. His brother was still living in Seattle. Both brothers were fishermen and owned their own boats.
263, side 2 168:
Jens emigrated in 1915, and the brothers came in 1922. Pete was out sailing. Discussion about Jens' son building a boat in Tacoma, and Jens remembering the Tacoma smelter.
263, side 2 212:
Two brothers went to Parkland to PLU to take English courses. Jens visited there when his brother's daughter, Sandra, graduated from PLU. He knew other people attending PLU also.
263, side 2 225:
Some differences he noticed between America and Norway when he returned was there was more machinery and modernity in America.
263, side 2 266:
Jen's son, Reidar Tynes, lives in Seattle. Karen was oldest child and lives in Sykkylven. One daughter, Anne, is in Spain; she married a doctor from Peru. The third daughter, Aase, is in Alaska working on a salmon fishing boat with about 20 other young girls. The job will last three to four months.
263, side 2 315:
Reidar emigrated in 1963 after visiting with his parents in 1962. He got a job building houses, and then began crab fishing in the Bering Sea. He did well and invested in two or three boats. He married an American, but returns home once or twice a year.
263, side 2 358:
Jens has visited America four times since he's been married. The last time was in December, after which they went to Spain.
263, side 2 380:
He has very good memories from America. Especially the eight girls on the farm by Eatonville. One, Maxine, is coming to visit Norway. He has lot of contact with American relatives. He receives the Western Viking weekly and can keep track of people. He also belonged to the Commercial Club in Seattle and knows many people there.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Education--Pacific Lutheran University
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family farms--Norway
  • Family--Norway
  • Fishing
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • Personal Names :
  • Tynes, Jens--Interviews (creator)
  • Solberg, Aasta
  • Tynes, Aasa
  • Tynes, Anne
  • Sivertsen, Charlie
  • Sivertsen, Rasmus
  • Tynes, Karen
  • Tynes, Karen Jensdatter
  • Tynes, Reidar
  • Corporate Names :
  • Commercial Club (Seattle, Wash.)
  • Sons of Norway (U.S.) Norden Lodge No. 2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Stavangerfjord (Steamship)
  • Western Viking (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Melfor family
  • Sivertsen family
  • Solberg family
  • Tjoenes family
  • Tynes family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Alaska
  • Eatonville (Wash.)
  • Rochester (Minn.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Tynes, Sykkylven (Norway)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Loggers