J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

A Lesson in Family and Heritage

It was August of 1887 when a young married couple and their two month old infant son packed all of their belongings into a covered wagon and headed west toward the Dakota Territory.  They had assembled a cover by affixing hickory sticks and muslin (a thin fabric) to the wagon.  Two horses pulled the wagon (they purchased them at very little cost given both horses were blind).  Trailing behind the wagon was a cow which was used to provide milk for the infant, since the mother was unable to nurse due to fever she had shortly after giving birth to the child.  They were both children of immigrants from Norway and their names were Ole and Christine Gullickson. They were my great-grandparents.

One hundred and twenty three years later, my son began a project on family and heritages.  What would a 10 year old think of his heritage? Would it be difficult for him to imagine what life was like during that time?  The story of his great-great grandparents was the same as so many Americans during that time – traveling westward to get a piece of their own American dream.  Many died, and many others turned back. But his great-great-grandparents endured the trip, and eventually settled in North Dakota.

Luckily, my Grandmother had written down her research on her parent’s travels, so my son was able to read about their adventures. I have to admit, I was much more into this slice of history than my son.  However, his interest peaked when he made the connection that lefse was from Norway (lefse is a Norwegian flatbread made of potatoes – a recipe I learned from my Grandmother which my kids love to eat today). He also thought that his 3-times Great-Grandmother’s name “Gro”, was a very strange name. I explained to him that according to my Grandmother, Gro hated her name and made her children promise not to name any of their children after her.  He also tried to imagine living in a house without a floor, since the Gullickson’s lived in what was called a ‘sod’ house and they couldn’t afford the wood for the floor.

I have a renewed respect for my heritage and I hope Logan does as well. Our ancestors took great risk during their lifetimes in the name of a better future for themselves and their children.  It’s a piece of his history that I hope he takes with him through his life.  I know I surely will.

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