20th Century, authors, History, Immigration, Minnesota, Prayer

“Giants in the Earth” Published

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1927
Ole Rølvaag, a Norwegian-born professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, publishes Giants in the Earth, his brooding, epic novel of immigrant pioneer life. The book becomes a huge success both in Norway and the United States.*

“The infinitude surrounding her on every hand might not have been so oppressive, might even have brought her a measure of peace, if it had not been for the deep silence, which lay heavier here than in a church. Indeed, what was there to break it? She had passed beyond the outposts of civilization; the nearest dwelling places of men were far away. Here no warbling of birds rose on the air, no buzzing of insects sounded; even the wind had died away; the waving blades of grass that trembled to the faintest breath now stood erect and quite, as if listening, in the great hush of the evening….”

-Giants in the Earth, excerpt from Chapter II “Home-founding.” *

Rolvaag, named after his birthplace five miles from the Arctic Circle, was born one of seven children in 1876. He worked as a fisherman with his father and brothers for six years until he was recruited to be a farmhand in South Dakota at age twenty. After a few years, he went after his education graduating from: Augustana Academy in 1901, Saint Olaf both in 1905 (B.A.), and 1910 (MA). His rugged life experiences gave authenticity and realism to his recollections of the struggles of Norwegian pioneers in the Midwestern United States.**

We remember, with You, the plight of the pioneers from Norway to the Midwest. We remember that this earth is Yours, as well as all its peoples and resources, and that in Your forbearance You move them where You choose. So we give thanks for the example of these aliens, and that within their hardships of displacement that they were perfectly placed to thrive by the King of the Universe!

We give thanks to You for the life and extreme austerity experienced by Ole Rolvaag. He knew both the frigid waters of Norway’s Lofoten fishing area, and the burning sun of South Dakota. He battled the elements for the privilege to enrich his mind, and truly took in the discipline and lessons of both.

We recognize the tribulations of the Norwegian characters of “Giants in the Earth”, and reflect on their lessons for all peoples at all times. Each immigrant must wrestle the elements of his environment, a culture that is unfamiliar, and the loneliness for home. We also ponder the judgments of aliens against Your Sovereignty.

Will You forgive our ancestors their environmental judgments against their new home land? Will You forgive the thoughts and words this wave of Norwegians made in their attempt to tame the “amber waves of grain”? Will You forgive our judgments in this era of them? We have forgotten what pestilence means: losing whole crops to blight, grasshoppers, and fire.

Will You forgive Norwegian Americans their judgments and false assessments of their neighbors? They encountered foreigners, also from Europe, who though racially similar held no common culture or language. They met Native Americans who led migratory lives following the buffalo, again somewhat relatable to fisherman following their catch, but different. For all their cultural struggles we seek Your mercy and restoration.

Granted, these are stalwart, hearty people who endured much more than our present generations, but even giants have hearts of flesh. Because of Your kindness, will You forgive the inward struggles of these pioneers? It’s understandable that one would ask, “Who am I?” while at home, but even more so, “Who am I in this new place?” Will You forgive their sins of fear and doubt related to their identity stemming from Norway rather than the Maker of Norway?

We, like them, are displaced from the heritage of our Creator. Much of our travail is that our identity is based on geography, ethnicity, and culture, but these are comforting false gods. Will You give us an unshakable sense of place that can only come from the Cornerstone of the Universe and Your unchanging Word?

17″You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18″But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. 19″When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.…
Deuteronomy 24:17-19 NASB***

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ole_Edvart_Rølvaag
***http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/24-18.htm

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20th Century, Boys, Girls, History, Immigration, Intercession, Israel, Jews, Minnesota

Neighborhood House: Camp for Immigrant Children

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1919
Neighborhood House on St. Paul’s West Side expands its sports and recreation program. Camp Owendingo on Carver Lake in Woodbury provides wholesome outdoor activities for the children of recent immigrants.*

“Led by Sophie Wirth, the classes grew into an industrial school. Girls and boys learned home and industrial arts. They took English language and American citizenship classes. In 1897 the industrial school grew into Neighborhood House, a full-service settlement house located at 153 Robertson Street. Still led by Wirth, and supervised by Mount Zion’s rabbis, Neighborhood House added recreational activities, dental and baby clinics, and programs for adults.

People of all religions and ethnic groups flocked to Neighborhood House. In 1903 it reorganized, evolving from a purely Jewish social effort into a non-sectarian one. In 1921 the population of the Flats was two and a half times greater than it had been in 1915. This led to crowding and housing shortages.

Under Constance Currie, who became head resident in 1918, Neighborhood House added playgrounds and camping activities. Most notable was the Sophie Wirth Day Camp in White Bear Lake. The Northern Pacific Railway provided free transportation to the camp for five years after its founding in 1919. The service gave hundreds of mothers and children a rare day of leisure.”**

“We praise Thee, O G-d, and thank Thee for all the blessings of the week that is gone; for life, health, and strength; for home love and friendship; for the disciplines of our trials and temptations; for the happiness of our success and prosperity. Thou hast commanded us: Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord thy G-d. Thou hast ennobled us, O G-d, by the blessings of work, and in love and grace sanctified us by the blessings of rest.” Union Prayer Book II, (New York, NY: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1973) p.36

Jesus, I praise You for the work of Sophie Wirth, and all who contributed to the Neighborhood House! Thank You for the inspiration and practical training this community center provided to West Saint Paul. Thank You for making a place for Russian Jewry, and that their place of Shabbat spilled over so much and blessed their neighbors!

How good and pleasant it is when brothers, and sisters, live together in unity. Thank you for the Sabbath of this day camp! Thank You that charity begets charity, and that the Northern Pacific Railway joined in to provide free rides.

I can’t imagine the reasons of judgments of Russian Jews, but by faith I acknowledge to You that we as human often fail each other in this way. Will You forgive any transference and judgments from Minnesotans’ towards this group of immigrants? Will You take any bitterness up, out, and onto the Cross?

Conversely, will You forgive the judgments that the Neighborhood House may have held towards its neighbors? Will You forgive any judgments towards Saint Paul, and the state of Minnesota? Will You forgive any bitter roots against the predominant Catholic faith?

We ask that You bless the heritage of Sophie Wirth in the community, her family, and her spiritual ancestry. May You continue to provide our State with those who have a heart for others! May You forever bless Minnesota through Your people Israel, specifically all Jews from Russia, and may they forever be welcomed here and endowed with Your Divine favor and protection. Amen!

 

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**http://www.mnopedia.org/group/jewish-roots-neighborhood-house-st-paul

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19th Century, Catholic, Civics, education, Faith, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Politics, Prayer

Catholic Colonization Bureau 1876

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Bishop John Ireland forms the Catholic Colonization Bureau to attract Catholics, particularly from Ireland, to Minnesota. A railroad provides land, and by 1885, 4,000 German, Irish, and Belgian Catholic families are living in southwestern and west-central Minnesota.

The towns of De Graff and Clontarf in Swift County; Adrian in Nobles County; Avoca, Iona, and Fulda in Murray County; Graceville in Big Stone County; and Minneota and Ghent in Lyon County become the business centers for the bishop’s colonies.*

Holy Spirit, thanks for Bishop John! Thanks for his help assisting so many to find a new way here in Minnesota! Thank You for friends like Bishop Ireland that keep offering us relief and making a way of exodus where it appears that there is no way. Will You again bless these counties: Swift, Nobles, Murray, Big Stone, Lyon, and Ramsey?

Lord, will You forgive us our bitter ways towards You and each other based on State and Federal law; legal and illegal immigration? Will You cause Your Church to bless Your image within each other in this effort; Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox? Our experience helps us see differing needs of those who migrate. Forgive us for favoritism, lawlessness, and placing unnecessary barriers in front of those who seek a safe haven and a bit of Your freedom here.

Will You give favor to these Catholic generations of Bishop Ireland, in their homes, the property You allow them to reside, and in the practice of their love for You? We need You! May we see You in all who emigrate their beloved homelands’ to immigrate to our Land of 10,000 Lakes in good faith! Come Lord Jesus and be our guest in the state of Minnesota!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Culture, Exploration, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Icelandic Colony 1875

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Icelander Gunnlauger Petursson relocates to Lyon County, laying the foundation for the second largest Icelandic colony in the United States. Its residents acquire land in surrounding Lincoln and Yellow Medicine counties, but Minnesota becomes the center of the Icelandic colony’s business, social, and cultural activities.

Many of the Minneota Icelanders are highly literate farmers who love to read and who fill their modest homes with books they brought with them across the Atlantic Ocean. Icelanders establish the Lestrarfjelag (Reading Society) and publish Vinland, a monthly Icelandic-language newspaper with a literary focus.*

Thanks for Gunnlauger Petursson and the Icelandic peoples of Minnesota! I am so happy to hear that over a century ago, they were common farmers with an enjoyment for learning and reading. Thank you, Lord, that you do not limit us the way our societies sometimes do. You give us a curiosity to know, and reward our searching. Why do we fritter away so much time on entertainment and other amusements; You have something to teach us each day if we can listen!?
I want to bless the heritage of this Icelandic colony, their generations, their dwellings, and property in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! May they know You in all Your beauty.

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Civics, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Nininger City Fails 1869

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The Panic of 1857 and the decision of the steamboats to use Hastings instead of Nininger as a river port doom Nininger City, the dream town of Ignatius Donnelly.

Nininger declines steadily after the financial panic of 1857 that causes banks across the country to call in loans. Donnelly tries to put a positive spin on the eastern bank failures by issuing a handbill entitled “Cure for the Panic. Emigrate to Minnesota! Where no Banks exist.”

People move away anyway. By the 8th U.S. census in 1860, only 469 remain. Buildings disappear and by 1869 no other buildings remain besides Ignatius Donnelly’s house. The town eventually disappears from the map.*

Have mercy on us! We make our dreams into idols, and are heartbroken and bitter when they fail us! Thank you for Donnelly and bless Your heart within his dreams! There is much good in wanting to provide a shelter for others in volatile times. How bitter for him it must have been to see Hastings thrive?!

Lord, will You forgive any judgments that Donnelly had against Hastings, and vice versa? Will you make us free in the present from this bitter root? Will You bless the river and the lands involved? Will You preserve Nininger and Hastings in the season of flooding? Will You cause us to bless the town next door as much as our own?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Culture, education, government, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Leadership, Minnesota, Politics, State Government

Attracting Settlers 1867

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People mean progress and prosperity to the new state. Minnesota establishes a board of immigration to attract settlers. Hans Mattson, secretary of the board, makes several trips to Sweden to recruit immigrants.

Mattson had been a founder of Goodhue County’s Vasa colony in the 1850s. Now he encourages newly-immigrated Swedes to farm mainly in the central part of the state, with great successes in Wright, Meeker, and Kandiyohi counties.*

Thanks for the establishment of a board of immigration! Thank You for Hans Mattson and his work to advertise Minnesota. Thank You that this state could be a shelter for many Europeans, but in this case, especially Swedish immigrants.
May any bitter root judgments between Wright, Meeker, Kandiyohi, Mattson, Minnesota, or Sweden be broken in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Will You soothe the burning frustrations between citizens of Minnesota and illegal immigrants past? Will You show our nation how to resolve the problems of having a population of perhaps 20 million non-citizens in the present? Will You forgive our sins against You and our fellow human beings through this issue into the future?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Catholic, Faith, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

John Ireland Arrives in Minnesota 1852

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Fourteen-year-old John Ireland comes to St. Paul. He later serves as bishop and archbishop of Minnesota for more than 40 years and promotes Catholic immigration to the state.*

Lord thanks for the blessings we inherit through John Ireland! It’s hard to sum up the impact this one man has made on the city of St. Paul. Bless him and his progeny for welcoming so many of our state! Thank you for his zealous example to Catholics, Protestants, and those searching for faith!

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .

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