October 29, 2010

Norway to New York

This past weekend, I was going through old papers and trying desperately to organize my life a bit, when I came across this wonderful story my grandmother sent me a few months before she passed away.  I was lucky enough to get a few stories such as this one from her before she died, as well as a nice collection of beautiful family photos, letters and documents.  My Grandma's mother was Signe (daughter of Olava) who was born after the family arrived in America.  Since yesterday was the Statue of Liberty's 124th birthday, I thought it would be fun to post this! 
"In May, 1891, the eight member Omberg family traveled by train from Fredrickstad Norway, to Kristiania Norway (later named Oslo) and boarded the steamship Thingvalla.  Their possessions were very limited to what could be packed into a single trunk.  The ship carried more than 500 passengers, mainly Scandinavians.  Many Danes and other Europeans were already on the ship, having boarded at Copenhagen.  The trip was very difficult.  The infant, Inga, who had just been born on March 1, 1891, became very ill.  They had already lost 3 children before leaving Norway, Evan who died as an infant in 1882, Johan Kristian who died in 1889, and eleven year old Inga (first Inga) who died in 1890.  The ship's doctor was not reassuring, and Inga showed no signs of movement.  In the evening, the doctor told them Inga was dead.  He began to take her away, but Olava fought to keep her, so that she could hold her one more night.  Before he returned the next morning they detected signs of life.  Inga was NOT dead.  On May 17, there was traditional singing and dancing among the Norwegians on the boat as they celebrated "Syttende Mai" (May Day in Norway).  They could not know the joy in the Omberg hearts over having their baby Inga alive.  Almost all the people came on deck to see the Statue of Liberty.  They docked in New York on May 18, 1891 and were processed through the Barge Office at the south end of Battery Park - people arriving 8 months later would be processed at Ellis Island."

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