Ole Johnson Kjersme Oral History Interview, 1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Kjersem, Ole Johnson
1984 (inclusive)
3 file folders
1 photograph
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Ole Johnson Kjersem, 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

Ole Johnson Kjersem was born on November 18, 1893 in Kjersem, Tresfjord, which is on the western coast of Norway. His parents were Marianne Daugstad and Johan Olson Kjersem, and he had six brothers and sisters. He was born and raised on the family farm, but times were very bad and he immigrated to Portland, Oregon in 1914. He knew a family there, and they helped him find work in the lumber industry. He later moved to Seattle, fished in Alaska, and worked in a logging camp near Hoquiam-Grays Harbor, Washington. Ole returned to Norway in 1925, married Elise Tomre, and took over his father's farm. They had two children, Margit, born in 1927, and Johan, in 1931; both were born in Kjersem, Norway.


Full Name: Ole Johnson Kjersem. Father: Johan Olson Kjersem. Mother: Marianne Daugstad Kjersem. Paternal Grandfather: Ole Kjersem. Paternal Grandmother: Marit Kjersem. Maternal Grandfather: Elling Daugstad. Maternal Grandmother: Ingeborg Daugstad. Brothers and Sisters: Maria Kjersem, Ingeborg Kjersem, Elling Kjersem, Johan Kjersem, Jon Kjersem, Magna Kjersem, Spouse: Elise Tomre. Children: Margit Kjersem, Johan Kjersem.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The interview was conducted with Ole Kjersem on June 20, 1984 in Tresfjord, Norway. The interview contains information on his family background, emigration to the U.S., his work experiences, his return to Norway, marriage and family life in Norway, and his impressions of and contact with America. This interview was conducted in Norwegian. Also available is a photograph of Ole Kjersem and his wife at the time of the interview.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on use.

Preferred Citation

[Collection Number, Collection Title] New Land New Lives Oral History Collection. Scandinavian Immigrant Experience Collection. Archives and Special Collections Department. Robert A.L. Mortvedt Library. Pacific Lutheran University. Tacoma, WA 98447

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
269, side 1 009: PARENTS
Father, Johan Olsen Kjersem was born in Kjersem. Mother, Marianna Daugstad was born in Daugstad. Both places were located in Tresfjord.
269, side 1 017: FATHER
Father owned a farm in Tresfjord. Ole took over the farm after his father and now Ole's son has it.
269, side 1 021: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
There were seven sisters and brothers. Ole was number four, two older sisters and one older brother who is entombed in Seattle. His name was Elling Kjersem, but he called himself Elling Jansen in America. He went to America four years before Ole.
269, side 1 030: AMERICA
Ole traveled to America in 1914. He arrived in Portland, Oregon on May 15th. He hadn't traveled very much before that, just small trips near home. He didn't know a word English when he left.
269, side 1 044:
Ole had saved money to buy a ticket. He had been working on fishing boat. He saved 600kr. The ticket cost 550kr.
269, side 1 050: LEARNING ENGLISH
Ole stayed with people that he knew. They were old neighbors that had traveled with the whole family. They had small children who spoke English. They helped Ole learn English and after about six months he knew enough to manage on his own.
269, side 1 058: WORK
The man was a foreman in a big company that built houses, so he got Ole a job after only two days. There he managed to save over $100. But when the winter came there where not much work there. Luckily Ole had a new job where he earned $2 and 25 cents a day, which was enough to live on.
269, side 1 072:
When he was done with that job, he went to Seattle where he met a lot of the people from Tresfjord who had moved to America. After working there he got a new job on a fishing station in Alaska, where he earned $100 a month, including living expenses. He worked there for two months.
269, side 1 086: LOGGING
After that he started working as a logger. He had a German as a partner, which he liked very much.
269, side 1 105:
They had one-week vacation starting Fourth of July, and one week during Christmas. Then they went to Seattle. That was about the only times he went to the city.
269, side 1 109:
His brother worked at the same place.
269, side 1 127:
Ole liked the food very much. It was a lot better then in the city. They had everything up in the woods.
269, side 1 133:
He returned to a made bed every day, the beds where changed every Saturday. And there was plenty of baths.
269, side 1 146:
Even though Ole liked it very much, he was still saving up money for a ticket back to Norway.
269, side 1 155: RETURN TO NORWAY
Ole had planned to go back home when he left for America. He thinks most Norwegians thought about that. But not many people could save up enough money. There was too much to spend the money on in the town.
269, side 1 174: CITIZENSHIP
Ole did not become an American citizen.
269, side 1 193: RETURN TO NORWAY
He returned home to Norway in 1925.
269, side 1 208:
Ole never went to school in America, but he still learned to speak English pretty well. When he left to go back to Norway, he could speak English just as well as Norwegian. It didn't make any difference which language people where speaking.
269, side 1 269: MARRIAGE
Ole married Elisa Tomre in 1926. He knew her before he left for America.
269, side 1 280:
Ole received the farm from his father. He also had to take care of his father.
269, side 1 293: DOCTOR
Told a story about when he broke his arm and had to go to the doctor and he had never been there before. The doctor was very surprised when he found out the Ole had never been sick before.
269, side 1 328: TRIP TO AMERICA
To get to America, Ole went from Bergen to Newcastle, to Liverpool. There they stayed for four days. Then they went to Quebec.
269, side 1 336:
He had not seen as many poor people as he did in Liverpool. The people had no clothes or food. They had bags on their feet for shoes.
269, side 1 357: TRAIN TRIP
Ole took the train from Quebec to Portland. The seats in the train were made of wood so it wasn't very comfortable. But when he went back from Seattle to Chicago, to New York, he had a bed where he could sleep all the way.
269, side 1 380: CHILDREN
Ole has two children, Johan and Margit. They both live in Kjersem.
269, side 1 391:
Ole sent his money to a bank at home but when he returned home the bank was bankrupt. So he did not receieve much money.
269, side 1 426: BANKING STORIES
Tells a story when he went to the bank and asked for the manager. When they went in to see him, they found him signing the papers to shut the bank down. And he [the manager] asked them: "I don't have any friends, and I don't have any money. Can I at least have some money to buy a rope?"
269, side 1 460:
Tells another story about a man who had saved a lot of money. Then he went to the bank to deposit the money. But later that day he heard that this bank was not safe so the next morning he went to take the money out again, but then the bank was closed and the money was gone.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Norwegian language
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Railroad travel
  • Return migration
  • Personal Names :
  • Kjersem, Ole--Interviews (creator)
  • Daugstad, Elling
  • Kjersem, Elise Tomre
  • Kjersem, Johan
  • Kjersem, Johan Olson
  • Kjersem, Margit
  • Kjersem, Marianne Daugstad
  • Family Names :
  • Daugstad family
  • Kjersem family
  • Tomre family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Grays Harbor (Wash.)
  • Hoquiam (Wash.)
  • Portland (Or.)
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Tomrefjord (Norway)
  • Vestnes (Norway)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Farmers
  • Loggers