RURAL BRYANT, SD, PRESENTS:
a Tribute to Sjur and Oline,
Dedicated to Leroy and Elizabeth Stadem,
by Sjur's Great Great-Grandson Ronald Ginther
our Progenitor from Sogn Fjord.
His picture shows a sturdy frame
that could have swung a Viking sword.
Stadheim land was sparse, owned by few;
So when came Oline (wife) and child,
he was hard-put to pay rent due.
Between a rock and hard place pressed,
to stay on there meant more distress.
Would things turn and give relief?
Or just get worse, and mock Belief?
They went about their daily chores,
while in their minds these questions burned.
No wonder cream ran thin and sour,
so hard to set up butter when Oline churned!
It's easier for a man out in the rough;
strong men can get stronger with the ax and plow.
But Sjur was hired shepherd too, tending flocks;
he couldn't spend all his time teasing barley from Stadheim rocks!
Sjur and Oline lost Ole their first-born;
they laid him in a grave forlorn.
They had no money for a decent grave stone,
so today his resting place is unknown.
Sjur likely carved a small wooden cross.
It wouldn't last long, it's true,
but still it spoke of Jesus Christ--that's the best this grieving father could do.
only strong faith endures either such trial.
Life's North Face breathes a cruel, bitter breath;
the weak will wither, give up in a little while.
No future, just hard-scrabble drudgery,
year on year--but what of his family?
and clip short their wings;
they won't launch out to brave the sky,
they set in places known and snug;
as for their reason, it's fear, that's why.
Not so Stadheimers! They trusted child-like in Providence;
Rationalist religion for them made absolutely no sense.
Knud, Sjur's brother and Mother Britta's eldest, launched first;
he refused to spend his life in a place that seemed accursed.
The brothers talked and planned all winter long,
how best to chart a course ahead out of Sogn.
They must have shared faith to start over anew here--
it would take more than Norse grit to venture so far to pioneer.
Some emigrants relied on themselves and had little faith in God,
but not so Olsons or Stadheims
sprung from Vik-i-Sogn's thin, rocky sod.
Sjur and Oline were left virtually alone to carry on.
Hard as they tried, they couldn't raise their ship fare,
so they took their few sticks of furniture,
and left their ancestral cottage bare.
the Stadeims grew in number,
but they hoped to move ahead, not sink down.
Sjur patrolled at night warehouses and docks;
crime was comon there--thieves burst
bolted doors and smashed heavy iron locks.
They carried off stolen goods in small, swift boats,
and some tried it with rafts, or just anything that floats.
Though policeman was his job,
at heart still shepherd by Sogn's deep blue-green water,
he and Oline kept few sheep,
tended their tiny garden, and played cotter.
Finally, they had their fares and little besides,
and they all boarded the BODRENE,
a fixed-sail barque--it took weeks to reach America.
to join up with Knud in Worth County, Iowa,
they had to do whatever it takes.
So much depended on this our Stadheim Scion--
if you don't know, thousands of souls, won for Christ's own!
Try to compare, if you will humor me a bit, a fillet mignon and a McDonald's quarter pounder? When you got your teeth in these people, so to speak, you got your teeth into something truly meaty. As for McDonalds, they are fine for treats, but what you get nutritionally is sometimes problematic. If anything, the Stadheims or Stadems were the last thing from problematic. They were real, and they stayed real to the end, the whole generation of them. What you saw was what you got. Isn't that refreshing, compared to what you see today? This arrogant and even morally ungodly popular culture, which at its best is so light, frivolous, materialistic and self-centered, could never produce indomitable pioneers such as "old" Norway, for all its faults, hardship and scarcity at the time, produced in Sjur and Oline, Knud and Britta.
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