Homesteading in South Dakota by
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Grandpa Herman Harnisch came to America from Germany all by himself when he was 17 years old.  He used his brother Carl’s visa, since Carl had died of the plague. As a child he said he was taught “the 3 R’s plus”..the plus included Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and French. Herman was somewhat fragile with a heart condition – probably the reason he was allowed to leave the country, since he would not have been accepted by the army.  In 1884 he homesteaded his 160 acres in South Dakota.

Grandpa was taught "the 3 R's plus" ...the plus included Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and French.

Grandma Bergitta Carter was born in 1862, in Norway.  When 7 years old she came to America in a 100 year old sailing ship.  The ship foundered between two rocks just off the coast of Newfoundland, and luckily a steampship came along to pick up the passengers.  Bergitta started crying when they tied ropes around her to lower her into a small boat.  An oft-repeated memory was of her mother’s dismay when a chest with the family’s valuables was carelessly lost overboard, prized silver coins and family mementos lost forever.

Grandma Bergitta received only a third grade education.  Her own grandmother had been a doctor in Norway.  Self taught, she read the medical books which were brought with the family.  At age 14 she was first pressed into service as a midwife!  It must not have been too traumatic an experience, since she went on to birth 14 children of her own, 8 of whom lived to adulthood.

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  1. Wow, I’d love to hear more about these intrepid folks.

  2. David Rock says:

    Fascinating story, and well told, in an interesting spare fashion.

  3. What a history! Very interesting…

  4. Ruth Elaine says:

    I like the history. The boat rescue was very vivid and I felt the tragedy of losing the chest.

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