Alfred Stadem & the Roald Amundsen Connection

Alfred Stadem was very proud in his younger to to his last years of having brushed shoulders closely, so to speak, with Norway's great Polar explorer and discoverer of the South Pole, Roald Amundsen.

Roald Amundsen toured the U.S. in the early 1900s, after his epic feat of leading his team to the South Pole, first man to do so, against the expert rival team led by England's great polar explorer, Robert Falcon Scott. Robert Scott beat the dour Amundsen hands-down in personal looks and dashing ways, but Amundsen planned better and supplied himself far better, and not only reached the South Pole first but made it back alive. Scott made it to the Pole too late to wrest the grand prize that Amundsen won, and he and his men did not survive the trek back.

For those brave men and their families it was a double tragedy. Amundsen, on the other hand, survived to tour America where he was treated to a huge reception all across the country. He did not overlook his native Scandinavians in his gala tour either, returning to even Canton, SD, where he had been a student at Augustana College. At Canton the people, many of them Scandinavians, put out the best reception they could, complete with a band in which Alfred Stadem played.

On the article of Time Magazine, Dec. 31, 1956 which reviewed polar expeditions including Amundsen's and Scott's, which Alfred Stadem saved and framed to put in his own home for his descendants to see, Amundsen is pictured on the left, and the tragic Scott on the right side. But most important to us Stadem descendants, and also to many relatives in Norway and America of both Holbek and Stadem lines, Alfred Stadem typed these notations on the margins of the page:

"1905--It was my privilege to meet this world renown explorer, Norway's great Roald Amundsen. he had just conqured (sic) the challenge and come through the northwest passage with the Norwegian ship 'Goa'. [I--Alfred Stadem really did not like using this personal pronoun, as it signified pride to him, the "big I," as he called it] Was a guest of the Canton Male Chorious (sic) "Grigg" As I played in Canton City band. We were present at the grand reception. As the train came to a stop at the depot HE was greeted with a selection by the band."

This framed article was found in the utility room downstairs in the Plain View Farm house, remarked about to Steve Stadem, then Ron Ginther moved it to the bookcase in the dining room for public heritage display.

Alas! It then was moved by someone to obscurity in a cupboard, found by Ron looking everywhere for it and then taken by him to make sure it is not lost or discarded and thus preserved for the future Heritage Center Archives collection.

The picaresque journeys of this particularly precious piece of heritage from one place to another in the house within a few days' time illustrate how difficult it is to keep and preserve the wonderful items still existing at PVF, but it also illustrates how important it is that a genuine Archives is created (not an out of the way nook, where it is forgotten and no one gets any benefit from it).

Until it has such a place for safe-keeping and display, it will remain with the other Stadem archives items I still have in my dry, heated indoor storage unit at 8,000 Feet Elevation in Park City, Utah.

Pearl Ginther, Alfred and Bergit Stadem's eldest daughter (who remained eldest to the age of 101 years of age when she passed to Glory!), recalled her days at Augustana Academy in Canton, SD, and how the entire school was let out by the President, a very rare thing for him to do, as movies were frowned upon, and the Canton movie theater reserved for the students, just so they could go and view the film the famed explorer took of his epic polar expedition. This was a memory of a great event she never forgot.

THE PRIVATE CHRISTIAN/SCANDINAVIAN SCHOOL THAT TAUGHT STADEMS ALSO NURTURED AND INSPIRED GREATNESS: Did you know that many Stadems (all nine sons and daughters of Alfred and Bergit Stadem, for example) attended Augustana Academy (also called Augustana College and Normal School) in Canton, SD, and that this is the same school that enrolled such famous people as Ole Rolvaag, the author of GIANTS IN THE EARTH, and Roald Amundsen, in the field of Norwegian-American fiction, the contemporary of the Norwegian conqueror of the South Pole? Alfred Stadem was very much aware and proud of Augustana and its famed connections with these noteworthy men. His eldest daughter when enrolled at Augustana saw the films Amundsen took of his polar expedition. She mentioned them a number of times in later life. Amundsen, a Norwegian leading a team of five men and many dogs, arrived at Antarctica by ship, a special exploratory sailed craft called Fram (Forward).

Using sleds and dogs to carry supplies and scientific instruments, Amundsen and his men were adept at the Norwegian national pastime, long-distance treks on skiis, and so they used this ability to conquer the South Pole. They beat the British team seeking the same objective by many days, and the Brits and their leader, Scott, died on the return trip after reaching the South Pole and finding the Norwegian flag and a tent and a written note from Amundsen to Scott informing him of his discovery. It is tragic that Scott and his five man team died, but they were not as well equipped in their clothing as Amundsen and his team, and they did not store adequate supplies on the return route. Amundsen proved that his careful preparations paid off by his phenomenal success, without losing a man though they ate many of the dogs taken along.

Go to the Buffalo Mound site, for the Christmas Letter from Grandmother and "Mama" Bergit Stadem, and Christmas Card (1947) to the Ginther Family, and Mama Bergit's Embroidery.

The Buffalo Mound Home Page

Plain View Heritage Farm Home Page 1


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