Sivert Andreas Saure Oral History Interview, 1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Saure, Sivert Andreas
1984 (inclusive)
2 file folders
2 photographs
1 sound cassette
Collection Number
An oral history interview with Sivert Andreas Saure, 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

Sivert Saure was born on March 12, 1898 on Saure farm in Bjørke, Møre og Romsdal, Norway. His parents were Elias Knutson and Randi Monsdatter Skylstad, and there were seven children in the family: Marie, Knut, Mathias, Pernille, Petra, Peder (Sivert's twin), and Sivert. When Sivert was sixteen years old, he began working in the fishing industry, and then in 1926, he decided to immigrate to America, where he joined his brothers, Knut and Mathias, in Fergus County, Montana. The brothers later traveled to the west coast, and Sivert became involved with the Alaskan fishing industry. In 1931, he returned to Norway and married Edvarda Saure. Sivert and Edvarda had six children: Einar, Odd, Rolf, Odny, Svein, and Marit. Through the years, Sivert has maintained contact with his brothers and other relatives in America and has visited Montana, Parkland, Washington, and Vancouver, British Columbia.


Full Name: Sivert Andreas Saure. Father: Elias Knutson. Mother: Randi Monsdatter Skylstad. Paternal Grandfather: Knut. Paternal Grandmother: Marie. Maternal Grandfather: Mons. Maternal Grandmother: Pernille. Brothers and Sisters: Marie Saure, Knut Saure, Mathias Saure, Pernille Saure, Petra Saure, Peder Saure [+ twin with Sivert]. Spouse: Edvarda Saure. Children: Einar Saure [ + Berta], Odd Saure, Rolf Saure, Odny Saure, Svein Saure, Marit Saure.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This interview was conducted with Sivert Saure on June 17, 1984 in Bjørke, Norway. It contains information about family background, emigration, work, re-emigration to Norway, and further contact with America. The interview was conducted in Norwegian and is not fully translated. Also available are a photograph of Sivert as a young man and a photograph of Sivert at the time of the interview.

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
265, side 1 023: NAME/FAMILY
His name is Sivert Andreas Saure. He was born on Saure Farm outside Bjørke on March 30, 1898. He had seven brothers and sisters. Sivert was the youngest. His siblings' names were Knut, Marie, Mathias, Pernille, Petra, and Peder (Sivert's twin brother who died when he was about 2 years old).
265, side 1 083: PARENTS
His father, Elias Saure was born on Saure. His mother's name was Randi Monsdatter Skylstad and she came from Nordangsfjorden.
265, side 1 094: SCHOOL
Sivert went to elementary school for seven years. The school was located approximately two kilometers from the farm. School lasted for eighteen weeks each year. They went to school the entire week during this time then had the rest of the year off.
265, side 1 122: THE FARM
Sivert did several tasks on the farm, tasks that needed to be completed in order for the farm to run. He got some time off to do other things as well. The family had 10-12 cows, 20 sheep, and a horse on the farm. Also the farm had a summer dairy where they had the cows in the summer. He was not there during the summer because the girls had the responsibility for the summer dairy. The girls remained there for the summer after they were confirmed to milk the cows.
265, side 1 158: AFTER CONFIRMATION
Sivert's tasks did not change. He attended "framhaldsskole" for one year after confirmation. This school is similar to a non-vocational school. The school traveled from village to village and was in Bjørke the year Sivert attended. Sivert liked schoolwork and reading interested him. He would like to have studied more but he could not afford to continue school.
265, side 1 190: FISHING
After finishing school Sivert started fishing. The first time he went fishing he was 16 years old. He had his 16th birthday on a boat. He was a hired man and the salary was not good. He received 85 NOK for about three months of work, including free board. The boat fished along the coast outside Ålesund and he was on an island called "Lepsøy." They fished for both cod and herring. The boat went ashore with the fish to a big boathouse. The fish was split, dried, and salted and became "klippfisk." Women had to work in those boathouses. The work was fine, but he wanted to earn some more money. Sivert was rowing man for two years and then he became "lotsmann," which meant his salary was a percentage of the value of the fish caught. The following years he worked on different boats. Sivert liked the boat he was on the first year because they were nice people and he received some extra salary. There were differences in the catch of each day. He was fishing during the winter season and the salary could vary each year, depending on the quantity of fish in the area. They used fishing nets to catch the fish.
265, side 1 288: FAMILY
In the summers, he helped his father on the home farm. His brother, Mathias immigrated to America in 1910 when he was about 17 years old. He traveled to an uncle who was blacksmith in a small town close to Echo, MN. His brother worked there for two years before he traveled to Montana with a person from Mo, Norway. They settled on a homestead in Fergus County, Montana. He lived there when World War I broke out. He had many acres of land, so he did not have to enlist in the first group of soldiers. He was on a later list but he had a chest sickness, so he did not have to travel. Mathias moved to Phoenix, Arizona and died shortly after. Knut came to America during World War I and bought the farm in Montana from Mathias.
265, side 1 345: KNUT
Knut worked for a while on the east coast and when he visited his brother he saw that Mathias was not well, so he offered to buy the farm from him. Knut would normally have taken over the farm in Norway. He was a seaman in the beginning. He started cod fishing but joined "Handelsflåten" (the merchant fleet). He sailed during World War I and the boat Knut left was hit by a torpedo outside Spain and sank. Knut is 96 years old and still lives in Montana. He visited Norway several times. None of his sisters went to America. All married in Norway.
265, side 1 386: FARM IN NORWAY
Sivert immigrated in 1926 when he was 28 years old. He decided to go because his parents had died and he was alone on the farm. He had no money left because he had to hire men to run the farm. Also the market price for the products was bad. He leased the farm to another family for five years and planned to return after those five years. Sivert did not want others to take over the farm, so it was either him or his brother who were going to return.
265, side 1 409: TRAVELING
Sivert traveled alone from Bergen to England then from England on "The Empress of France" from the Canadian Pacific Rail Company. This company had ships and trains. The ship landed in Quebec and he traveled on the railroad westwards. Sivert did not know much English but he knew what "yes" and "no" meant. Sivert picked up some phrases on the trip over, but did not feel confident in the language.
265, side 1 428: LANGUAGE
The Americans, especially the children were nice and it did not matter if a person said a wrong sentence.
265, side 1 432: PEOPLE
A school was close to where Sivert lived. One of his neighbors was a humorous Irishman. He had two girls and a boy who went to school and he had been told that Sivert was Knut's brother. Knut usually wore clogs. The kids placed themselves on the school grounds close to Sivert's house and he wondered what they were looking for. Their father later told him that when the children had come home they had said to him "Knut's brother does not wear wooden shoes." Many nationalities lived in Fergus County but the majority was Norwegian. Sivert lived 5-6 miles from Pete Hustad's homestead.
265, side 1 468: TRAVEL
Getting into America was easy. They had some restrictions but he received a letter from his brother that he could show to immigration. The letter said that the American government would not have any problems with Sivert. The bank manager of First National Bank had also signed and notarized the letter.
265, side 1 482: FARMS IN MONTANA
People did good work and were nice to each other. Farming was different from Norway because they used tractors. Mathias owned one of the first tractors and cars in the area. He was a good mechanic. Sivert worked with horses on his first visit to his brother's. His brother used the tractor and Sivert helped with the horses. His brother bought another tractor after a while. He grew mostly wheat but the farm had around 120 milk cows. The cows were sent to a butcher in Chicago.An uncle also visited the farm sometimes. He also had a small farm (homestead). He was 70 when Sivert was there. He had immigrated around 1880. Two uncles and an aunt had traveled together, Knut, Ole, and Kristine Knutsen. They went to Minnesota first. Uncle Knut had a farm in North Dakota. He moved from there after seven years without selling his farm. Crops were bad for some years, so he just took his belongings in a wagon and left the farm to try his luck somewhere else. His relatives liked Montana.
265, side 1 553: TRAVELING IN AMERICA
Sivert was in Montana for two winters and one summer. Then his brother told him about his experience as a fisherman in Alaska. Sivert wanted to see this and decided to go to Alaska. He went to Seattle in April and met an acquaintance there. He gave Sivert a name of a company that could help him get a job for six months. In the spring Sivert worked in the forest outside of Seattle. Sivert traveled to Bellingham, Washington and found the Canadian Pacific Fishing Company. He got a job for six months fishing outside the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. He was working on a cannery boat that used tow-nets.
265, side 1 581: WORKING ON THE BOAT
He was a sailor on this boat. He had experience so he had one of the better jobs. Their assignment was to go to the company's salmon ladders and catch the fish in them. There were 6-7 different salmon types in the water outside Alaska. A Chinese man had a contract with the company for packing the fish and he hired many Filipinos to do the work. The captain on the boat, Horg, was Norwegian. The machinist was American and the number two machinist was Dutch-American. The first steward was French and when he quit, a Chinese steward worked on the boat. The stokers were Irish and Greek. Some Native Americans worked in the area but not on the boat.
265, side 1 619: ALASKA
Norwegian trappers hunted fox in the winter and worked in the cannery during the summer. These people had been in Alaska for 20-30 years. Sivert liked the climate and nature in Alaska. He liked walking around in the countryside. The company had one store in the area. The manager was an author who wrote books about Alaska. Sivert did not talk to any gold miners. One of his friends in Alaska was born in Romsdal, Norway and was married to a half-blooded Native American. His friend had a family there. Another Swede lost his wife and remarried with a Native American. Sivert attended the funeral and the woman was buried not far from the cannery in Akutan.
265, side 1 663: RETURNING TO SEATTLE
Sivert was in Alaska for six months. The boat returned because of repairs. They received an extra fifty dollars for taking the boat to Bellingham. The trip took eighteen days. One of the seamen fell asleep and the boat almost ran aground. The shifts were six hours on and six hours off, continuously 24 hours a day for 18 days. This was very hard work and not a good experience.
265, side 1 685: OTHER JOB
After Sivert returned to Bellingham he started working for a cargo ship belonging to McCormick Steamship Company. The ship went between Portland, Oregon, via San Francisco to San Diego. He worked fourteen hours a day and the pay was reasonable.
265, side 1 700: SALARY
His brother gave him $100 month in 1927-1928 for working on the farm. He worked part-time as a rail watchman in the winters, in the three months when he did not have other jobs. There he got $80 a month.
265, side 2 051: WORK AS RAIL WATCHMAN
The Greek who worked there had a handcar and patrolled certain distances of the railroad. They had to check if something was wrong with the rails. Due to the cold winter weather the bolts could break and they had to change the bolts. The weather was cold here in Montana, so Sivert remembers wearing many clothes on these trips. The temperatures were much better in San Diego. Sivert remembers hanging down by the shipside, removing the rust on the ship, which was a warm job in the summer.
265, side 2 094: LANGUAGE/NEWSPAPERS
He learned English. It was not that difficult and people normally understood what the immigrants meant. Sivert also read western stories in English and the language they used was usually easy to understand. He read the local newspapers, which also helped him with the language.
265, side 2 118: ORGANIZATIONS
Sivert moved around a lot, so he never joined any Norwegian organization or church. He was a member of the Seaman's Union and the Lumberman's Association. He joined these organizations because he did not want to be more an outsider than necessary.
265, side 2 138: CONTACT WITH OTHERS
American people were easy to interact with. Some nationalities just spoke their own language and were not well liked. The Finns tended to get together and just speak Finnish to each other. Sivert thinks it is better when it is mixed crew and people speak English together.
265, side 2 160: RETURN TO NORWAY
He returned to Norway around 1930 when the Depression started in America. He was never in doubt about returning to Norway. He wanted to keep the home farm and he had possibilities to earn money in Norway as well. Sivert had not saved much money during the five years. He had around $1,000 with him when he returned. Things were different in Norway, so Sivert did not bring any new ideas back to Norway.
265, side 2 203: MARRIAGE
Sivert married Edvarda Saure in 1931. She was from the neighboring farm and had the same last name. Sivert came home for Christmas in 1930 and was married the spring thereafter. They had known each other their whole life and had not discussed marriage before.
265, side 2 228: CHILDREN
Sivert and Edvarda have six children, four boys, Einar, Rolf, Odd, Svein and two girls, Odny and Marit. None of the children went to America.
265, side 2 257: CONTACT WITH AMERICA
In the 1970s, Sivert and Edvarda visited America for three months. They visited his brother in Montana and Edvarda's relatives in Parkland and Tacoma, WA. They also visited Edvarda's sister-in-law in Vancouver, BC. Edvarda's brother died in an accident at sea.
265, side 2 312: CHANGES
He saw many changes when he returned to America. Farms were bigger than when he was there and had new machines and methods. He was satisfied with his stay in the America, it was interesting to see the country again. They visited the forest outside Renton, in Issaquah, WA. They also visited Mt. Rainier and Paradise Valley. Sivert was impressed by the big trees. On the last trip, they traveled around in Washington and managed to see more of Washington now than when he was there in the 20s.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Depressions--1929
  • Education--Norway
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Family--Norway
  • Fishing
  • Marriage service
  • Norwegian-Americans--Northwest, Pacific--Interviews
  • Norwegian-Americans--Social life and customs
  • Return migration
  • Personal Names :
  • Saure, Sivert--Interviews (creator)
  • Saure, Edvarda
  • Saure, Einar
  • Saure, Knut
  • Saure, Marit
  • Saure, Mathias
  • Saure, Odny
  • Saure, Svein
  • Knutson, Elias
  • Saure, Odd
  • Saure, Rolf
  • Skylstad, Randi Monsdatter
  • Corporate Names :
  • Canadian Pacific Fishing Company
  • International Seamen's Union of America
  • McCormick Steamship Company (Bellingham, Wash.)
  • The Empress of France (Steamship)
  • West Coast Lumbermen's Association
  • Family Names :
  • Knutson family
  • Saure family
  • Skylstad family
  • Geographical Names :
  • Aleutian Islands (Alaska)
  • Fergus County (Mont.)
  • Møre og Romsdal fylke (Norway)
  • Parkland (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral histories
  • Occupations :
  • Farmers