With their two oldest children (Ludvig and Marie) already in America, Karl (Larsen) and Karen Andrine Kofstad) Rustand made the necessary preparations for leaving Norway to join them. They sold their 3-story home, closed up his business (Karl demonstrated and sold Singer Sewing Machines), packed only clothes, tools, and household necessities in three big trunks, said their farewells, and with their remaining children:Konrad (11), John (9), Ragna (7), Wilhelm "Bill" (4), and Valberg (2), left the Kongsberg countryside of Kristiania (now Oslo) to board the Montibelo on September 18, 1903 for the trip over the North Sea. The storm tossed seas wreaked havoc on its passengers but the Montibelo arrived safely at Hull, England three days later.

The Rustands continued on the Great Central Railway across England to Liverpool, where they departed on September 25 aboard the White Star Liner Cedrich. This was a comparative smooth journey and they arrived at the port of New York (before Ellis Island) on October 3, 1903.

After their checkups and the shots that made their arms sore for many days, they left New York by rail to Minneapolis and on to Wilmot, SD, arriving there on October 7, 1903.

Uncle Anton Foss picked them up at the Levy's store and they spent a few days at his farm before going on to the John Foss farm, 8 miles northeast of Wilmot, where their new home waited for them. "Ma cried when she saw it", but they braved their first two South Dakota winters in this little sod house, which was simply a one room shack pressed against a small hill with one room above ground and the other three steps down and underground. "It had windows with 6 panes each, one window in the west, one in the south, and one in the east. The room that was built in the ground was four feet longer one way that the other and it had a stovepipe that came up through the ground. A big cook stove was in the center. Ma was heartsick that whole first year, but we had to make the most of whatever came our way. We couldn't go back. We didn't have any money."

"Actually, we had it a lot better than the others who came over before us. Dad's brothers, Anton, John, and Martin didn't have much more than their horses and a shotgun when they started out. You see, in Norway when you became 18 you were expected to join the army. They decided to come to America instead. Then Anton sent tickets to Marie and Ludvig, who wrote back about the opportunities here, and Ma was lonesome for them. That's what made Dad decide to come too."


"That first fall was nice enough, we were barefoot until Thanksgiving. Anton Foss came with two dogs, Dan and Pat, and they were two of the nicest pointers I ever saw. Anton and Ludvig took their shotguns down in the fields and the dogs would just point at the prairie chickens and that was our first Thanksgiving dinner. We always had potatoes, bread and coffee, nothing very fancy."

By Christmas winter set in with a vengeance and they had to stay inside most of the time. "When it got really cold, Ma just sent us to bed. But after two winters, Karl built a frame house and Ole Brauther, a neighbor and kind of handyman, helped put the roof on. Konny helped, too, but he nearly fell off. He rolled down from the peak and caught himself on the edge and hung on good.

Marie was working for a Miss Adams, who was unmarried, and needed her help with the sheep and chickens. I don't know how it happened but she chopped off her thumb while wielding an ax intended for a chicken. Got infection real bad."

Years later, Bill would insist he couldn't remember much about Norway. Born February 10, 1899, "I was just a little fellow when I left there." But of the home they lived in and sold prior to leaving for America, Bill recalled that "there were two other families living in it. We lived on the first floor, another family (the Ruhr's) lived on the second floor and they got pretty good rent from them. A pair of chimney sweeps lived on the third floor and they didn't have to pay much in rent." The people who bought the house from them could not come up with the 3000 crowns needed so the Rustands left for America with only a promise that the money would be sent to them. "It never came so the folks had to hire lawyers to collect it. Dad did a lot of writing back and forth, but in the end the lawyers got all the money and we didn't see any of it."

On the trip from Norway, Bill recalled sitting on his dad's shoulders and watching the burial at sea of a woman 'bout 40 or so. And he remembers going over the North Sea in the Montebelo and being "so gall darned sick we didn't care if we lived or died." He had a bottom bunk and in the top bunk was someone even sicker who threw up over the side of his bunk causing Bill to be constantly wiping up vomit--his own and his fellow passenger's.

In the late 40's and early 50's when Bill was buying and selling cream, eggs and poultry in his little corner store on Main Street in Peever, he would often cross the street to Holland's Grocery and spend the time of day reminiscing. It was on one of these occaisions that Andrew Holland told Bill about his own trip to America and how awfully sick he was. He could only roll over, put his head out of his top bunk and let it fly. Bill needed no further convincing as to who his fellow passenger was that caused him such misery. "Aw, putt, that was Andrew!"

" I learned more outside of the schoolhouse than I ever did inside. I just had to cross over the section line to go to school and I started playing with the kids outside at recess and then I learned to speak English and understand it some. Anne Flannery got me to come inside and she was my first teacher. I also had a man teacher named Little (he was small too, but his right name was Little) and Lena Diddes and then I finished up with Lois Walker in 8th grade."

"I went to school with Charlie Swayze, Billy Swayze, Faye and Florence, and the Dows, Irene, Rudy, Oscar, Eddie and Virginia. And there was Andrew McDonald. The second year, more came. There was Billy Cameron, Gordon Cameron, Alvin Cameron, Clarence Madsen and Rose Madsen. Bernard and Edna Greiner, and the Stetson kids, Gilbert, Signe and Jenny and that was it until the Walkers moved in. Going to school in them days was a lot different than these days. The teachers didn't know that much more than we did..."

"I was confirmed by pastor O.J. Holden in the old wooden Lutheren church that was moved from Wilmot to Rosholt or Clear Lake in the 40's. On my confirmation day when I was 14 or maybe 15, my dad said to me, 'now you know right from wrong and if you get in trouble , you are on your own.'"

About WW1. "They declared war in the spring of 1918 and finished up in 1918. But they took enlistments before that and Ludvig joined the army and was stationed in Europe when they declared on Germany. Shortly after that, Konrad got drafted and was in camp only a few days when they found out he had false teeth and they turned him loose. They drafted John, but sent him back saying that they wouldn't take him unless it got real necessary. I wanted to enlist but Dad wouldn't let me because he thought he needed me on the farm. Then I got drafted anyway, but I was told to wait for further word--and I'm still waiting. Clarence Ward was the first one drafted and they took 23 from Roberts County."


Bill started "baching" in 1919 and enjoyed going to barn dances and parties. "I first saw Rosie from a distance when she rode by my place on a wagon, but I didn't really meet her until early in 1930. We went together and got married the first of November that year." They farmed in rural Peever and moved into town in the fall of 1939. Their chidren, Wilma, Donna, Arlas("Bud"), Arvilla and Illa were all baptized and confirmed in the Peever Lutheran Church, educated and graduated from Peever High School. Bill raised his children with a firm hand and sound advice. "Don't go doing something you're going to be sorry for later...You can go but you better be home by dark!"


Rosie took over as telephone operator from Anna Dudeck in the 40's until the Bell system went to an automatic switching station.


Bill held many jobs. He was a farmer, shoe repairman, town cop, and road construction worker for Heily Construction Company, and at various times, he ran a cream station, a liquor store and a recreation center. He loved to hunt, to fish, and to trap near the place he grew up by Big Stone Lake. He enjoyed getting together with the other Peever old-timers for a game of cards or pool. And along with all of these there are stories as only he could tell them.

In later years, Bill would round up Rosie and his sisters, Ragna and Valborg and head for Sisseton for a day of shopping in his old beat up Rambler. It was on one of those trips that he was pulled over and it resulted in his losing his license to drive. "I wasn't speeding or anytning...just wasn't going fast enough. Can you beat that?" Bill immediately took to a three wheeler and scooted around Peever for many more years.


What is it with Norwegians anyway? Don't they even know their own names? How is it that Karl is a Rustand while Anton, John and Martin are Foss (or Fjerdingstad??) and all are brothers with the same parents, whose names are Lars and Anne Larsen? Dad said it is because they took the names of the places they lived on and got their mail, but is that supposed to make sense? Is Larsen the real surname or is that just another piece of property somewhere?

The information on this webpage was given to us by Arvilla Rustand Schaub originally for the Peever Pilot 2001.