The Erickson Homestead
My grandfather, Tom’s, journey from Norway that began in 1910, through 1916 when he filed to homestead land in Bustietown about five miles east of Effie, MN. The photo at the top of each web page is the campground my mother & dad developed on the original homestead land for their children and families. I will share a few documents as I go here that will help explain Tom’s journey. Due to language barriers, and legibility of some documentation, it was common to see misspelled names and incorrect information on official records. As an example, you will see several name variations for “Tom”. Tom made, what I can only imagine, a very difficult decision, to leave behind his mother, dad and 11 siblings and immigrate to the United States. It has been told to me that life was difficult Norway during the early 1900’s, especially for a large family. As the story goes, after settling in Bustietown he used the name Tellef Kjebekk. Tom would go to the Evergreen post office to get his mail. The postmaster would ask him now he spelled his name. He had difficulty spelling his name in English. Feeling a sense frustration, Tom made a trip to the court house and had his name changed to Tom Erickson. I have one post card addressed to T. E. Kjebekk at Evergreen. Tom was born Tellef Eriksen Kjebekk in Norway on February 10, 1889 to Erik Tellefsen Kjebekk and Anne Olsdatter Avitsland Baptismal Record. Tom left Norway on April 23, 1910 aboard the ship SS United States. The Ellis Island passenger records include the “List of Manifest of Alien Passengers For The United States Immigration Officer At Port of Arrival” Pages 1 and 2 reference “Thorleif Kjebek” on line 12. Also included in the records is the List Of Races Or Peoples and the Affidavit of the Master or Commanding Officer, or First or Second Officer. According to the Ellis Island passenger record Thorleif Kjebek entered the United States through Ellis Island on May 3, 1910. After spending some time in New York, Tom eventually settled in northern Minnesota. Tom’s Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen was filed in Beltrami County, Minnesota on May 10, 1913 and indicates that at the time he resided in Bemidji. Tom served in the US Army in France during World War I, also known as the Great War. The Great War began on April 6, 1917 and ended on November 11, 1919.
I have very little in the way of Tom’s military records. I do have Tom’s United States of America Certificate of Naturalization. It appears that while serving in the army at Camp Pike, he became a naturalized citizen on June 6, 1918. Tom was assigned to Co. A, 312 MP, Camp Pike, Arkansas; The naturalization took place in the Regular Circuit Court, in Pulaski County, Little Rock, Arkansas. It is interesting to note that Tom was assigned to a Military Police Company at Camp Pike. Tom always said that he was a cook while serving in the army. My guess is that the Military Police ate well. Tom was famous for telling everyone that his nick name was “Beans Tom”. Most likely because beans were an important part of the soldiers diet during the war. I am in the process of requesting Tom’s military records. Hopefully they will shed some light on Tom’s life while he served in the military. The US Department of the Interior, Notice of Allowance dated April 26, 1916 indicates that Tom was given approval to to homestead. On October 8, 1919 Tom paid the $205.25 for the homestead as evidenced by the receipt. Tom received his Land Grant from the United States, signed by Woodrow Wilson, dated May 22, 1920. The Land Grant was recorded in Itasca County on November 10, 1920. On September 10, 1921 Tom married Gunhild Hofstad. They raised three children, Harvey and the twins Edith and Allen all born in the their log cabin. Bergit Rylander once told me that you could eat off the floor it was so clean. In 1936 Tom built a new home with the help of his close friend Tom Norby. In 1946 Tom returned to Norway for the first time. It was then that he met his sister Sigrid who was born March 15, 1911 about a year after he left Norway. I was fortunate to meet Sigrid in 2001. She passed on February 22, 2003. During this visit, Tom brought with him three dolls (I believe this is the correct number). He gave these dolls to three of his nieces, one to Berit and another to Olga. I will need to think about who received the third doll. Tom regularly corresponded with his parents and family in Norway by letters and post cards. When Sigrid was born, Tom received a card from his mother telling him about his new sister. Tom wrote back to his mother and asked her… “Mother, does it ever end?” You can follow this link to some additional information and photos on the Erickson Homestead.