Henny Pederson Storwick Oral History Interview, 1979  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Storwick, Henny Pederson
1979 (inclusive)
3 file folders
1 photograph
1 sound cassette
2 compact discs
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Henny Pederson Storwick, 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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Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Henny Storwick was born Henny Pederson on August 1, 1884 in Vik, Helgeland, Norway, which is a coastal area in Nordland, and moved to Valvik, Nordland when she was three. Her parents were Peder Jakobson and Julia Edwardson, and there were eight children in the family, of which Henny was the oldest. Henny decided to immigrate alone to America on April 9, 1909, when she was only fifteen years old. The trip took five weeks, and Henny encountered various problems throughout the voyage. Off the banks of Newfoundland, the ship struck an iceberg, cracking its hull, and upon arrival in St. Johns Newfoundland, it was discovered that Henny's trunk had been lost. She was reimbursed $25. From St. Johns, Henny took a boat to Sydney, Nova Scotia, where she took the train to Egeland, ND. There, Henny worked for the Odegard farm, which entailed housework, cooking, baking, and milking the cows. According to Henny, she "hated everyday she spent in North Dakota." Three years after her arrival, Henny married a man named Sovick and stayed with him for seven years. In 1919, she took their children, two sons and a daughter, and moved to Tacoma, WA, where she had friends from North Dakota. Soon after the move, she was employed as a seamstress at Durie's Tailor Shop, where she worked for nine years until she obtained a job at Peterson and Davis Tailor Shop, which paid better. During World War II, she transferred to the McChord Field PX. In 1924, Henny married Ingvald Storwick, an Alaskan fisherman, and moved from South Tacoma to a bigger house on 72nd and Yakima. In Tacoma, Henny was very active in church and Norwegian organizations. She attended Our Saviour's Lutheran Church for forty years, where she served on the Board of Trustees and was administratively active in ALCW. She also took part in Nordlandslaget, Daughters of Norway, and Rebecca. She was elected the first female president of Tacoma's Nordlandslaget and served as president and secretary of the Daughters of Norway's Embla Lodge. Henny has returned to Norway nine times and continues to maintain her Norwegian traditions and language.


Full Name: Henny Storwick. Maiden Name: Henny Pederson. Father: Peder Jakobson. Mother: Julia Edwardson. Brothers and Sisters: She had three brothers and four sisters. Spouse: Ingvald Storwick. Children: Arne Storwick, a daughter, Herman Storwick.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Henny Storwick on April 5, 1979 in Tacoma, Washington. It contains information on family background, emigration, work, marriage and family life, community activities, and Norwegian heritage. The interview also includes a black and white photograph of Henny. The interview was conducted in English.

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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
17, side 1 003/09: FAMILY BACKGROUND
Born Henny Pederson on August 1, 1894 in Vik, Helgeland Norway. Helgeland is a coastal area in Nordland.
17, side 1 047: PARENTS
Father was Peder Jakobson (a trönder - person from Tröndelag), and mother was Julia Edwardson (nordlending - native of Nordland).
17, side 1 058: BROTHERS AND SISTERS
There were eight children in the family; Henny was the oldest. She had three brothers and four sisters. The youngest two children were born after Henny left. She emigrated on April 9, 1909 right after confirmation when she was 15.
17, side 1 078: EMIGRATION
"You know them days - everybody had to come to the United States - to America, you know." She had read about America as a young girl, and when she herded cows she talked "English" to them. "That was the fantasy at that time."Some of her father's friends in North Dakota needed a hired girl. Her parents did not mind if she went; her father paid for her ticket. She emigrated alone with a specific job and place in mind.
17, side 1 129/10:
The day she left, she felt like "any foolish young girl - anticipation of America - something....BIG". After confirmation, young people were expected to go out and earn a living.
17, side 1 148: FAMILY LIFE IN NORWAY
Henny was three years old when her family moved from Vik, Helgeland to Valvik (about 20 km northeast of Bodö), Nordland - her homeplace. They had a little farm but her father was a fisherman; had his own pursings, seine boats, etc.
17, side 1 181: TRIP OVER
Henny left Valvik on April 9, 1909. She had a ticket for the Canadian-Pacific Line, and boarded the "Baltic" in Trondheim for Hull, England. She took a train to Liverpool where she departed on the ship "Lake Champlain". The trip was fine until they reached the banks off Newfoundland. The boat struck an iceberg and cracked the ship's hull. Her cabin started to fill with water, and she and her cabin-mate moved out on deck. Rescue ships came in response to the flares, and took the people to St. Johns (Newfoundland) - not the original destination of Quebec. From St. Johns, the boat took them to Sydney (Nova Scotia).
17, side 1 225:
Of the boat trip Henny remarks that it was "a long drawn out affair, and it wasn't the best voyage". She also lost her trunk and was reimbursed $25 for its contents: clothes, pictures, few pieces of silver, which were confirmation gifts. While she doesn't feel good about losing her possessions, she regrets even more leaving all the newspaper clippings about the shipwreck in North Dakota - from the "Decorah Posten" and from Norwegian papers also. But when she left North Dakota, she disposed of all unnecessary things.
17, side 1 263:
The shipwreck took place in late April 1909; she arrived in Egeland, North Dakota, on the 17th of May. The trip took five weeks - "not like now when the plane...takes eight hours."
17, side 1 282/11:
She traveled from Sydney to North Dakota on the railroad, changing trains in Duluth, Minnesota, continuing on to Egeland. Her cabin-mate from Trondheim was Elena Johnson- in her 20's and going to Valley City, North Dakota. She lost contact with her after the first summer in North Dakota.
She worked on the Odegard farm outside of Egeland, a town about 40 miles north of Devil's Lake in the northeast corner of North Dakota. The morning after she arrived, she was gotten up at 4:30 am and expected to make pancakes for breakfast for the hired men. She had to learn how to make the American pancakes; she only knew about "pannekaker". Henny hated every day she spent in North Dakota. The sanitation was horrible in those days. If a horse died, it wasn't buried - simply allowed to rot in the pasture. There were no screen doors on windows; the ceiling would be black with flies by evening.
17, side 1 360:
The Odegard farm was basically a small grain farm: wheat, barley, oats, and flax. Henny's jobs included housework, cooking and baking, and milking the cows. Both American and Norwegian foods were cooked - e.g., kjöttsuppe and klubb. In winter they had fresh fish from Lake Superior: herring, trout, whitefish. Because there was no refrigeration, there was salted and smoked meat in summer.
17, side 1 403/12: THE EGELAND COMMUNITY
Egeland had a post office, grocery, bank, blacksmith, implement store, and "churches galore" - three Norwegian churches. Henny was accustomed to one church - the state (Lutheran) church of Norway, so this was an unusual situation for her. There was the "Hauge Synode kirke", "en forenede kirke" [United Church], and a free church. She accompanied the hired man to the "forenede kirke" one Sunday afternoon. Back home Mrs. Odegard asked which church she'd attended. When told, Mrs. Odegard replied, "Oh no! You mustn't go to that church. They don't teach the true Word of God. Oh, no! You should go to the Hauge Synode kirke." Henny was confused by the three churches.
17, side 1 436:
Each congregation was small and couldn't support a pastor. So the rural pastors had two or three point parishes; for example, one pastor served Egeland, Perth, and Calio. Their salaries were small, but were supplemented with gifts of food from the parishioners.
17, side 1 464/13: SCHOOL
Henny attended school in Norway before emigrating. She wanted to attend the evening class at the Egeland school (a mile away) to learn English, but the family laughed at her. They didn't understand why she wanted to learn English.
Bathing was rather difficult because there was no bathroom, privacy, or bathtub - except a round washtub that one had to sneak hard water into. One time, in lieu of a bath, she decided to go wading in a slough beneath the house. She stood around soaking her feet. Out of the water, she found two black horse leeches attached to her legs. She didn't try to remove them because she thought they'd fall off after they were gorged with blood - like the blood leeches used for medicinal purposes in Norway. But the leeches didn't fall off, and she finally "scraped them off - skin and all" with a knife. The family had a good time at that also; "so they didn't have much mercy on a newcomer girl". She never went wading again.
17, side 1 519:
Egeland was flat land. Henny remembers the saying from that area, "you could look further and see less there, than anywheres in the world". She was accustomed to fjords, mountains, and trees from the West Coast of Norway.
17, side 1 531/14: MARRIAGE
Three years after her arrival, she married a man who rented a farm, and "I went out of the frying pan and into the fire". Sovick had come from Namsos. He quit the farm, and they moved to Devil's Lake. She stayed with him in North Dakota for seven years, and then left, taking her kids and moving to Tacoma, Washington in 1919.
17, side 1 552: IN TACOMA
Henny's friends from North Dakota were living in Tacoma, and they advised her to come. She decided to and has been happy ever since. She rented a house in South Tacoma and within three weeks was employed as a seamstress in Durie's (?) Tailor Shop. Henny held that job for nine years and then advanced to Peterson and Davis Tailor Shop where the pay was better. She worked there a number of years before transferring to the McChord Field PX during WW II. Here she supervised a group of seamstresses engaged mainly in alterations - cutting down Eisenhower jackets and making blouses.
17, side 1 586: A SECOND MARRIAGE
In 1924 she married Ingvald Storwick who was an Alaska fisherman. In those days they left early for the fishing season because of the sailing ships, so she was alone at home quite a lot. But "a fisherman's wife is used to those things" and she also had her job.
17, side 1 609: CHILDREN
When they were first married they bought a bigger house on 72d and Yakima Avenue, later selling it and buying the present house where she's lived for 40 years. She had three children: Arne, a daughter, and Herman. Arne was lost in WWII; he was in the Air Force and shot down by the Japanese over Attu Island on the tip of the Aleutian Island chain. Her daughter passed away from cancer in January 1964. She has one son left, Herman. He is a bachelor and has his own apartment. There are no grandchildren.
Henny has been active in church and several groups including Nordlandslaget, Daughters of Norway, and Rebecca. She was the first female president of Nordlandslaget in Tacoma, a position she held for three years and enjoyed very much. Henny was also president of the Daughters of Norway - Embla Lodge - and secretary for seven years; filled almost every chair in that lodge.She has belonged to Rebecca, Order of Oddfellows, for 30 years.She was a member of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church for 40 years, on the Board of Trustees, and very active (administratively) in the ALCW. Now she attends Gloria Dei.
17, side 2 /16:
Activities in the Scandinavian organizations included retaining Norwegian heritage, giving scholarships, contributing to charities.
17, side 2 SIDE II:
17, side 2 036/01:
In North Dakota as a single woman, Henny felt that none of her family should join her "because they couldn't better themselves in North Dakota than what they had at home."
17, side 2 061:
But in 1947 when she returned to Norway for her first visit, she was accompanied back to Tacoma by her youngest sister who worked in Oslo. She lived here for 14 years; was married. When her husband died, she returned to Norway for a visit, met a widowed school chum, and married him. Now (1977) she thinks it was a foolish thing to move back to Norway; she'd been better off to stay in America.
17, side 2 094:
Even with all her troubles in North Dakota, Henny didn't consider going back. Her father heard somehow that she didn't have it so good in North Dakota. He wrote and offered her and the children tickets back to Norway if she needed to get away. But "I was too proud and wrote back that I'd come back to Norway when I'd earned enough on my own to get back". She never had a chance to see her father as he died in 1920.
17, side 2 119: RETURN TRIPS TO NORWAY
Her first trip was in 1937; she couldn't go before because of her job and young children. She has made eight trips since; has lots of cousins, nieces, and nephews back there.
Besides speaking Norwegian in Norway on her visits, she still speaks it with friends - especially when referring to Norway.
17, side 2 164/02:
She believes Norwegian traditions are more common on the West coast of the US than in Norway. There, many of their foods are pre-packaged and ready to cook (like puddings) or to eat (flatbread).She keeps a very traditional Christmas. On Christmas Eve they have "ribbe" or risengrynsgröt. Other holiday foods include hjortetakk, fattigmann, berlinerkranser, sandbakkels, lefse, gomme (a sweet cheese made of cooked sweet milk, sugar, etc.), and sylteflesk. The hardest thing in Norwegian food preparation is to obtain good meat - lamb. "One couldn't have Christmas without those things."
17, side 2 220/03: CHANGES IN NORWAY
Norway has become very modern. She has enjoyed all her trips, traveling all over Norway. She thinks northern Norway is the most beautiful part with the exception of Gudbrandsdalen. She has taken the "Hurtigruta" all along the coast up to Kirkenes; the coast is fabulous north of Bodö, through the Lofoten Islands, Raftsundet, and the Tromsfjord.
17, side 2 285/05: SPEAKING NORWEGIAN
She recites the table prayer "I Jesu navn går vi til bords....". Her favorite song is used in Nordlandslaget also, "La oss leve for hverandre og ta vare på den tid vi har..."
Mrs. Storwick has traveled extensively in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and on tours into Germany.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Christmas
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Norway--Social conditions--1945-
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Personal Names :
  • Storwick, Henny--Interviews (creator)
  • Edwardson, Julia
  • Jakobson, Peder
  • Storwick, Ingvald
  • Corporate Names :
  • Baltic (Steamship)
  • Daughters of Norway (U.S.) Embla Lodge #2 (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Gloria Dei Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Lake Champlain Steam-Boat Company
  • Lake Champlain (Steamship)
  • Nordlandslaget (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Nordlandslaget Nordlyset (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Our Saviors Lutheran Church (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Rebecca Lodge--Order of Odd Fellows (Tacoma, Wash.)
  • Family Names :
  • Edwardson family
  • Jakobson family
  • Pederson family
  • Sovick family
  • Storwick family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Egeland (N.D.)
  • Tacoma (Wash.)
  • Valvik, Nordland (Norway)
  • Vik i Helgeland (Norway)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Domestics
  • Dressmakers
  • Farmers
  • Fishing -- Alaska