My thoughts for this page is to show you how it looked like on the farm and crofter place's in Årdal . But there have been great changes from the 1850's and up to today, so most of the farms are gone now. Therefore some of the pictures are from today and do not give the right impressions of yesterday . So, with some old pictures and some new, here are the farms of Årdal. As you can see I have divide it into 10 pages, so you need to know at least the farm names. Remember that the crofter people always were using the main farm as their surname. As an example, my great-grandfather was from Bremborg, a small crofter place under Eldegard. So he and the others who used Bremborg always wrote their surname as Eldegard.
Why did so many people leave Norway for USA ?Why did they leave a known life among friends and relatives for a life in a foreign country among strangers and with unknown conditions?Why did they make a journey that they knew was a journey of no return? ?
Well some of the answers were the economic, social, political and religious condition in Norway, which made them want to leave. Another was the large increase in the
population from 1801 to 1865.In Årdal the population grew from 834 in 1801 to 1865 in 1865. There was little land sold in those days. The "Odels" law always kept the land in the family. But this was only protecting the oldest son.
For the youngest there was simply no land at all. For the cotter, on his small plot, the best he could hope for was a marginal living at best. He to could pass his house and lease to one of his children when he died or retired.
children in the usually large families would have to start their married life with very little in the way of either property or opportunity. The cotter had a difficult time making a living. Their small holdings would support a small family, but often they had 6-14 children, and it was necessary to seek work of the farm to survive. So they had no choice. Most of the emigrants from Årdal were cotters' children and in some cases, a number of cotters also sold their holdings and left with their entire family. The bonder of the farm seldom left, but several of the younger children who had no hope of inheriting left.
USA was a dream and a magnet at that time. Imagine hearing of a country where land,"Good, fertile, flat land"...was abundant, available and inexpensive: a country where jobs were available so that money could be earned to support a family and
bay land: a country where everyone had a opportunity to get an education, and where economic opportunity was limited only by one's own ability and effort; a country where all men could vote and take part in the political process and where a person could worship as he chose
Too good to be true? Perhaps, but it gave them hope. It started them dreaming! When other emigrants sent letters back and told of conditions in USA and how well things were going there, they dreamed of a better life. This letters were
shown to friends, copied, passed around,talked about and sometimes even printed in newspapers. A few emigrants came back for a visit. They drew large audience of people; many traveled a log distance to learn about USA. So they left. With
little money, large families, no knowledge to the language. Some were young, some were old, some were even born on the journey.
My thought for these pages is to show you how it looked like, as a contribution to this brave men and women!
- Tangen.Lægreid,Hæreid,Langvoll,Brekken and more
- Nundal Torpen,Haugstad,Tretteteig,Buhaug,Bjørkehaug,Hagen,Andersgarden,Ekra
- Farnes Øvstetun, Midtun, Hestetun, Øren, Ve
- Utladal Svalheim,Volldal,Hjelle,Avdal,Vetti
- Fardal Melheim, Holsæter, Åbøle, Haug