Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sadie Stean, Reluctant Traveler

Three of the girls Anna Hornnes sponsored were her nieces, Anna and Sigrid Stean and Gunie Osmund. They were all about the same age as Anna Hornnes was the youngest in the family and these girls were children of older sisters. Gunie was the step-daughter of Store Anna. This photo is of Sadie Stean, Anna Hornnes, Gunie Osmund, and Anna Stean sister of Sadie. It was taken circa 1911. Of the seven children in the Stean family four emigrated. Marie was ill and returned to Norway where she died two years later. John disappeared in America. I have since discovered that he went to Canada rather than the United States. Sigrid or Sadie as she was called in America wrote her story down so we have her own words to tell us how she felt about leaving family and home.

“My Aunt Anna came home on a visit from Boston [1907/1908] and my sister wanted to go to America. When she heard of all the nice things about it from Aunt Anna, mother talked me into going with my sister Anna. She didn’t like to have her go alone although she was more than 2 years older than I.* So one stormy December night we sailed for England. It is all like a dream, Mother getting my clothes ready. Father getting the necessary papers fixed up and my kid brother cryng all over the place because his very own favorite sister was leaving him. I can see him now, his little fat rosy cheeks streaked with tears. Loking across the river from the train window, Mother, Father and little brother and sister Ingeborg were waving to me with their handkerchiefs. I was all froze up inside, it didn’t seem real somehow to see all the familiar scenes roll by and not knowing when I would see them again, in an hour’s time or so the train would pass Goosseflaer**, and the train would whistle and someone would run out and wave. How many happy days I had spent on my Aunt Anna’s*** farm; would I ever come there to visit again? I was to meet my sister in the city [Kristiansand] but she had decided to visit some friends in the country so I had to go to a hotel alone, but the next day my aunt and uncle Osmund came to see us, it was all so unreal somehow, perhaps because I didn’t like to go in the first place, more to please mother. It was like a bad dream to board the boat on a stormy night with the storm and foghorns blowing and my first trip on the ocean. I don’t remember much, we got to England, we were both seasick and we had to stay in our cabin, it was too stormy to be on deck. . . .

“We spent our Xmas on the stormy Atlantic Ocean and we were glad when we reached New York and the next day it was Boston. . . . I’ll never forget how lonely I was the first weeks, but time changes everything and I soon learned to talk enough so I could go shopping alone and make myself understood and letters from home helped a lot.”



* Anna Stean was 19 years old and Sadie was 17 when they left Norway.

** I have seen this farm name spelled several different ways Gåseflå, Gaaseflå, Gaaseflaa and as Sadie spelled it here Gooseflaer. It is located across the parish and county line in Hægeland, Vest Agder. From the name it would seem likely that it was a place where the geese landed during migrations.

*** The Anna referred to here is Store Anna the older sister of Lil Anna. Store Anna was married to Osmund Bårdson Gåseflå.

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