RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
June 5, 1995,
in Bryant Dakotan
Since records were kept of reunions after the death of Bessie Stadem in 1983, 138 different individuals have attended, including 112 relatives and 26 guests. This year, 62 attended from 9 states and Russia. Among the 14 guests was Dima Balkovsky, 20, from Moscow. Mr. Balkovsky, as a complete stranger, was invited by a family member to experience from the inside an American extended family when he first arrived as an international student in Wisconsin in January.
Housing for those in attendance included the farmhouse, tents, campers, area motls, and a bed-and-breakfast in Bryant. Two days of wind and rain dampened the affair, blowing down a tent and limiting recreational options for young members. A sympathetic Bryant resident arranged to have the gym in town opened for basketball, which replaced the usual volleyball and softball games. An alternate entrance to the Harrington place was necessitated by the mud and ruts which developed in the rain-soaked driveway at the main gate.
The theme for the reunion was "Where History and Christ-Centered Memories Meet". The Norwegian background of the family was celebrated as pictures from the old parlor were explained to younger members. Alfred Stadem's father, Peter, immigrated from Bergen at age 4 in 1865 [1866) and Bergit Holbeck came from Mandal at age 18 in 1903 with her sister, Tina Lundring [maiden name: Katrine Holbek], after both their parents had died [a brother Andrew preceded them).
Her father and grandfather had been farmers and Bible distributors [but also teachers, klokkers or pastor's parish assistants, and hospital workers]. Grandson Rennard Svanoe, who visited Norway in 1994, brought a picture from 1890 of Bergit's family farm near Mandal. He also shared the story told him by the son of Bergit's first cousin in Mandal of how her grandfather had earlier left the teaching profession over a school's refusal to remove an anti-Christian book where he taught.
Memorial tributes to family members who died during the year were given for Tom Harrington, 64, of Sherwood, ND and Plainview Farm, Luther Svanoe, 47, of Camp Meeker, CA; Sarah Stadem, 100, of Watertown; Myrtle Waldow, 81, of Watertown, and Hazel Lundring, 84, of Pasadena, CA. During the reunion word came to Elizabeth Stadem of Sioux Falls of the sudden death of her brother, Robert Aamoth of Sparsville, IN.
Rev. and Mrs. Tom Stenzel and daughter Sarah of Sherwood, ND, joined Ruth Harrington in remembering her husband Tom, who served as a US Customs officer in Sherwood at the time of his death. Rennard Svanoe of Madison, WI and Myrtle Svanoe of Eden Prairie, MN, shared memories of their beloved brother and son [Luther Svanoe].
In addition to Pearl Ginther of Puyallup, WA., three daughter of Sarah Stadem, Maxine Haugem, Shirley Wellington and Helen Van Sickle, all of Watertown, remembered their mother [Sarah Julson Stadem], who survived her husband Severt [Sever] Stadem, who died in 1945. Tributes to Myrtle Vorseth Waldow were given by Ruth Harrington and to Hazel Lundring by Bernice Schaefer of Atascadero, CA.
Christian mission work, both foreign and domestic was described through videos on work with indigenous groups in Brazil by Calvin Taylor and with street children in Madison, WI by Rennard Svanoe. A project in Park City, UT, collecting clothing for the homeless was described by Miriam Rinderknecht, as was the Christian men's movement "Promise Keepers" by her husband Ron and son Chad.
In spite of intermittent rain, a field trip to a century-old buffalo ring in a parcel of original prairie, south of the farm, and a Sunday night campfire was held. original t-shirt painting designs were created and displayed by younger members. Singing with guitars and electric piano punctuated family sessions, which were held in a tent erected by the farm house to accommodate the crowd. The family group also sang for Sunday services at our Redeemer Lutheran Church, presenting "How Great Thou Art" and featuring the small children on "Jesus Loves Me."
A fund was established for ongoing maintenance of the farm home, with decisions about the barn deferred to a future year. A decision was made to initiate a family newsletter. Excellent food was provided for this year's event by the Running Iron Restaurant of Bryant. [This article was contributed by a Stadem Descendant].