Histories: Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:
"Trempealeau County" by Clarence J. Gamroth:
Biographies: Gilbert and Maria (Dauer) Amundson
The Coming of the Norsk to Borst Valley
by Prosper Sylla
In the middle of the eighteen hundreds from Oslo, Norway came a girl by the name of Maria Peter Dauer, the name meaning Mary daughter of Peter. She came to America and emigrated to a valley near La Crosse, namely "Coon Valley" where she was employed binding grain. At the neighbors was employed a Mr. Gilbert Amundson. He was clearing land for crops. He usually managed to be working near where Marie was so he could go there to get a drink of water. This was only an excuse to go and see Marie. Finally after going there long enough, they got acquainted and later decided to get married. Gilbert was a common working man and he insisted on getting married in his working clothes, and that he did. She also was dressed in very informal dress.
Soon after their marriage, they set out by foot to find a place to homestead. They came to Borst Valley and homesteaded the present Marsolek farm near Russell Store. This is believed to be one of the first permanent Norwegian settlements here.
Their start in life was not easy. The timber on the place was not good enough to build a cabin so they had to live on a side hill in a sod house. They had very few cattle because there were no fences. Their young children followed the cattle all day and brought them home at night.
The mother of Marie came from Norway at this time and she also lived with the Amundsons. She went out to the woods daily to get firewood. One day, as she was gathering the wood, she discovered an animal that appeared to her to be a kitten, so she took it home in her apron and showed it to the family. The first thing the Amundsons did was to gently take the kitten out of the house. The kitten turned out to be a skunk with which she was not yet acquainted.
The settlers of this time were very much afraid of the Indians because they were frequently attacked by them. One summer night there was a great amount of confusion in the Amundson house. Marie's mother woke up during the night and saw what she thought were Indians setting fire to the buildings. Gilbert and the rest of the family got up and investigated and found that she was looking at fire bugs flying around. She had never seen them before she got here.
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