Olsen letter #3

[Tonight, the next Ole Olsen letter, one of the shorter ones. Letter 1 is here; 2a here; and 2b here. I know nothing about the life of the author’s father, my great-great-great grandfather (whose name was also Ole Olsen), except that he once sailed on a merchant voyage to China.]

Kvalevaag, the 12th December, 1892

Mr. Jan Hendrik Olsen,

Dear Son, with your wife and child,

After receiving recently your very welcome letter, with the accompanying contents which were a joy for us here at home, that all is well worth praising and thanking the Lord for, who holds His hand over us in every way, both for soul and body, and also provides us each day with all that we poor humans need for daily life. Ja, it is grace upon grace from our Lord that He is so good toward us poor sinful creeping things, who do nothing but what is against Him. Ja, Lord help us all to appreciate Him, that He is a good Father toward us, but I see that things have worked out poorly for me. I want to grumble against Him, that I always get too much suffering from Him. Oh, wretched man that I am, when and where will it be otherwise with me? The Lord knows. God help us all.

Also, as before, I can note for you children that the Lord, in His eternal grace and mercy, has borne us in His patient arms up to this day, granting us to remain in the day of grace thus far. Ja, that is a great thing the Lord has done for us, to bear with us a while longer here, we who are so disobedient toward Him as we are, ja, Lord help us.

Ja, so I , Father and Mother, tell you that we have managed to be up [and about] every day this year too. God be thanked for it. But it should perhaps also be said that we aren’t always equally energetic, especially Mother, but what can we do? We must go on here as long as we can keep moving, for I have no one to trade off with at my side; ja, that is how things have turned out for me. Ja, God knows that it is often hard for us to think of, that we in our old age should have it so hard and weary as we have it. Ja, ja, that is our lot, but God who sees and knows all, He has a way out for us too, when He thinks it good. Ja, His will is best.

Also your sisters who are here send greetings and best wishes. It is Anne Ma[rte] that we have with us, and who takes care of us, but she also wants to go to that Goshen-land of America in the spring, she says. She says she has no more responsibility to stay home with us than the others, she says, so that it looks as if we will soon probably have to turn ourselves over to mere strangers. Ja, that also is in God’s hand, for our children apparently despise our property, and are not concerned for our toil and trouble.

Berta is, so to speak, also home for the most part, but she comes and goes as she likes, so she is no use to us, for she is getting ready to be married, so that she will soon be a wife now. The banns haven’t been pronounced yet, but from what I hear, they will be pronounced at Christmas. He’s a pretty smart and decent man she’s getting. He has three children—a son who was confirmed last year, who helps with the steamboat—the boat is so small that only the two go with it. Andrias gets 100 kroner a month, and the son gets 30 kr. mo., and the boat is called the Karel. He also has two daughters. The oldest is 13, the youngest 6, and they are with us now, and have been here since spring. Lava is in the same place as before, and from what we hear, she will probably stay there forever, too.

Tore [perhaps a farmhand] is still with us. He will go for Confirmation in the spring. He has always been a tough fellow, and especially with Mother, for he doesn’t dare cross me, much as he’d like to. Many times he has deserved to be thrown out by us, but you said in one of your letters home to us that you would never want us to let Tore go away from us. But Mother has often wished that Jan had him now and saw how he was. But we will try and endure until the last year with him, to get him confirmed. Ja, Mother has cried many times because of him.

Also I will tell you that both my old parents are dead. Father died this spring, in February, and now Mother died in November, and she had been in bed the whole time since Father died. Ja, she was tired and weary of this wretched world, and we have the hope that they have both gone home. Father was 88 years old when he died, and Mother was 82, a very great age, and many days of grace they had. Ja, now I, their son, am in my 59th year, and am old myself, and your mother is 62.

Teacher Hans Hansen died this fall, and has certainly gone home. He died in Vigsness. I was there when he died. Ja, it was glorious to see him die; such a funeral procession as followed him from the schoolhouse has never been seen. There were two pastors there.

[Marginal notes:]

Today the lensman [bailiff] will come and write up [the documents] concerning Father and Mother, and it is because of his son Lars that there is no proper authorization [?], so that most of it will go to the recorder and the bailiff. If it had been otherwise, you would have shared in it with us.

Axel Tre is now with Sivert Olsen as a hired man. He went there this fall; he had nothing to tie him down. Berta is a servant in Stavanger as before. We hear nothing from Omund now, whether he is alive or not.

Lars J., my aunt’s husband [?] has now sold everything he owns, land and house, to Ole J. Sjohuse, and has got 550 Dalers, and he will take possession March 25 in the spring. Lars has thought about going to America, but is not decided about going. Helge and the rest of his children say he should go.

Greet Kolben Pikkhaugen from us all, and tell him we are all well, and tell him his mother is doing all right, and tell him that now his [maternal] aunt is with his mother, and it’s going fairly well. Torbaar is better since she went to Hinderagen.

Ja, now I will have to leave off telling you any more for this time, since time and space don’t permit any more. We have gotten a little frost and snow and cold, but it doesn’t last long, for every third day we get thawing and rain again, then frost the next day. Write soon. On Røvær [Island, where some family lived] everyone’s well.

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