Celebrating Norway’s bicentennial (in Norway)

Milan man is descendant of constitution signer

Joel Lund, of Milan, is a descendant of one of the original signers of the Norwegian constitution. Photo by Arlene Quam

Some years, Joel Lund represents the Lions Club by driving his one-owner 1965 Ford Fairlane in his hometown’s syttende mai parade in Milan. This year, he took admission for the Norwegian Tea held at Kviteseld Lutheran Church. He is always part of the festivities.

But last year, he celebrated in another town… in another country.

Lund was in Norway and celebrated the bicentennial of Norway’s Constitution at the country’s cradle of independence.

Two hundred and one years ago, 112 Norwegians met at a private home to write Norway’s constitution, which they signed on May 17. A year ago, at that same venue, 37 descendants representing 10 of the original 112 celebrated Norway’s bicentennial; among them was Joe Lund, of Milan.

On May 17, 2014, Lund took about a 15-minute morning walk from Oslo’s Royal Christiana Hotel, where he was staying, to the Royal Palace. The sidewalks along the flag-draped Karl Johans Gate were already filled with flag-waving folks waiting for the parade to begin. Lund watched the three-hour parade, in which every school in Oslo was represented with its own group and its own banner.

Returning to the hotel, he had to maneuver his way through a crowd-filled street to catch the bus leaving at 11 o’clock for a buffet at an Eidsvoll area farm. (Eidsvoll is a small community 34 miles northeast of Oslo) “The buffet was big…had everything…fish….salads…..everything. For dessert we had kransekakke, ice cream and lingonberries, and of course, coffee.”

After attending a small community syttende mai celebration at another nearby farm, the bus returned to Eidsvoll at 1 o’clock. Covering about a two-city-block area, the grounds were already filled with thousands of people.

The afternoon program consisted of speeches, interviews, singing, dancing and other entertainment showing the historical significance of Eidsvoll.

The royal ceremony included (R to L). Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonia, Sweden’s King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe and His Royal Highness Prince Henrik, Norway’s Crown Prince Haaken and wife Matte Marit. Contributed photo

“We knew that at about 6 o’clock dignitaries would arrive—including the king and queen.” Lund was standing by a roped-off street and near a cement platform when his group of four or five were asked to move back a bit. Dignitaries began walking in, and after the dignitaries, came four Royal Guards, who stood in front of Lund’s small group.

At 7 o’clock King Harald and Queen Sonia walked in. They were followed by Sweden’s King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik, and Norway’s Crown Prince Haaken and his wife Matte Marit. “That was being at the right place at the right time,” said Lund. He stood maybe 25 feet away from royalty. He snapped a picture.

At one point at another spot, “King Harald gave a speech, but we couldn’t hear or see everything. There was such a crowd! Thousands of people.” The jumbo television was often blocked and drowned out by the jubilant crowd.

As part of the Eidsvoll descendant group, Lund had arrived in Oslo three days before the big bicentennial celebration. Individuals paid their own expenses, but the trip had been arranged by Michael J. Bovre, president of the Eidvollsmen Council of North America.

Lund’s great-great-great-grandfather had participated in the five-week Norwegian Constituent Assembly in 1814. Talleiv Huvestad represented Bratsberg amt (Danish for state or province). Bratsberg amt is the present Telemark fylke (Norwegian for state or province)

Huvestad was a well-read farmer from Dalen, Telemark, who signed documents for his parish and taught school part time. He was also a politician. The Milan Standard of Wednesday, May 14, 2014, stated, “As the only farmer in the parliament, Talleiv was recognized as a thoughtful, unassuming mountain man in national costume. He quickly won the esteem and confidence of the other members there.” Huvestad helped write the constitution and, along with the other 111 representatives, signed it on May 17, 1814.

Lund’s genealogical connection to Huvestad goes like this: Huvestad’s daughter Tarbjor became mother to Gunhild, mother of Lars, father to Leonora, Lund’s mother.

For five days the descendants’ home was the Royal Christiana Hotel. Said Lund, “It was a beautiful old hotel, and we almost didn’t get to stay there. The hotel workers were going on strike, but the strike was settled on May 14, the day I was to leave.”

Flying Delta-KLM, Lund met two other descendants, and in Amsterdam, they met a few more. Friendships were formed.

On May 15, their first full day in Oslo, the Eidsvoll descendants were given a tour of the city. A bus and driver had been reserved for their five-day stay.

The next day the 37 descendants were honored with a private tour of the extensively restored house where the constitution was born. The house had once belonged to Carsten Anker, owner of the Eidsvoll Ironworks. In 1814 Anker’s home was one of Norway’s largest, most modern and stately homes. Eight years after the constitution was signed, Anker went bankrupt.

The house became known as the Eidsvoll building and was eventually purchased as a national monument.

The day after the big Bicentennial Celebration, the group toured more of Oslo. One highlight of the day was visiting the Storting, the Norwegian Parliament. Lund posed for a picture below his great-great-great-grandfather’s portrait.

A nine-day tour began on May 19th. They headed north to Trondheim, where they visited the Nidarosdomen cathedral, which was built over the burial site of St. Olav – the Norwegian Viking King who became patron saint of Norway. “The beautiful pipe organ had been refurbished.” Says Lund. “A concert was about to start, so we stayed a bit to hear the pipe organ. It was tremendous!”

The tour continued to Voss, Flom, Sognedal, and ended at Dalen in Telemark. Lund agreeds that at Dalen, he was “home.” Along the route, they visited cemeteries where lay the constitution signers. The signers’ grave markers were always bigger than the rest – 6 or 7 feet high.

Joel Lund (right) and his third cousin, Asgerd Dalen Groven, at Huvestad’s grave marker at Eidborg Stave Church, where Talleiv Huvestad is buried. The church dates back to between 1250 and 1270. Contributed photo

Asgerd Dalen Groven, a third cousin, and her husband Georg met Lund at the Eidsborg Stave Church, where Talleiv Huvestad is buried. Estimated to have been built between 1250 and 1270, the well-preserved stave church is presently used for special events.

A banquet at Dalen, Telemark was the final bicentennial event for the Eidsvoll descendants.

Lund’s interest in genealogy started before his graduation from Milan High School in 1954. Besides his mother, who had some information, another catalyst was a genealogy article published in the Appleton newspaper. In the article Minnesota Sen. and Gov. Elmer Benson mentioned Talleiv Huvestad as part of his family tree; Benson was also a second cousin to Lund’s mother.

While earning his B.S in economics and business at St. Olaf College, Norwegian students anchored interest in ancestors and heritage. After his college graduation and a two-year army stint, the Norway trip taken by Lund and his parents spurred genealogical attention.

After visiting his mother’s friends who had returned from South Dakota to live in Norway, the three rented a car to drive to Dalen, Telemark to seek a second cousin to Lund’s mother.

They stopped at a shop and inquired of Astrid Dalen. Told there were two in town, they decided the older would be the one. They crossed the street to the telephone office and met Astrid at her work. While having coffee at Astrid’s house that afternoon, they meet Astrid’s three sisters.

Astrid mentioned her cousin, a silversmith. While visiting him at his house, they were given a picture of the Signing of the Constitution. Talleiv Huvestad stands in the back right corner of the room.

Lund remains an active member of Eidsvollsmen Council of North America, The Sons of Norway, the Telemark Lag, and the Landings Lag. (The lags are Norwegian-American groups whose ancestors came from those parts of Norway). Trips to Norway with these groups have also aided in finding information for his family tree.

Lund’s paternal side of the family came from a different region, Dokka on Randsjord (the third largest lake in Norway). “Grandpa died in Norway,” said Lund. “Grandma sold the farm and moved to western South Dakota with her three boys and two girls in 1901. My dad was about 15 years old. Two of grandma’s brothers had homesteaded in northwestern South Dakota, eight miles from the Montana border.”

Born on a ranch 50 miles from Belle Fouche, S.D., the 12-year-old Lund moved in 1947 with his parents to his mother’s hometown, Milan.

After 39 years at the Northwest State Bank in Appleton followed by 10 years working for a farmer, Joel Lund retired. He’s active in the Kviteesid Church and plays golf twice a week at the Appleton Golf Club.

He likes lefse, rommegrot, fattigmann, and sandbakkels, which he sometimes makes. Lutefisk is not a favorite, but he does sometimes eat it. He enjoys klub served at Milan’s More Café and a friend’s blood klub. He speaks, writes and reads Norwegian well enough to get by. Joel Lund enjoys his heritage.

#JoelLund #NorwayConstitutionBicentennial

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