Tysvær Bygdeblad article
"På jakt etter fortida"
"SEARCHING FOR THE PAST"
by Martin Eike
Thursday, July 13, 2000, page 4
175 years ago Jakob Slogvik left on the sloop Restaurationen, the first emigration to America that was arranged by Cleng Peerson. Now Jakob Slogvig’s American descendants have returned to Norway to learn about the past.
Keith and Peggy Wheeler live in the outskirts of San Francisco. The reporter from “Bygdebladet” met them after the Emigrant Concert at Tysværtunet on July 2nd. Jakob Slogvik was Keith’s great-grandfather. Jakob was a Quaker and traveled to “the country of opportunities” to achieve religious freedom. The voyage across the Atlantic was both hard and dangerous. When the 53 persons on the tiny vessel at last reached New York, they were first arrested because the boat was too small to carry so many people. The Norwegian immigrants lived for a time just outside New York before they moved to Fox River in Illinois. But Jakob did not feel comfortable about living in Illinois.
"I believe he longed for the coast and the ocean," says Keith.
Jakob traveled on, and after having spent a few years staying in several places on the vast continent he found the place of his dreams in Northern California. He settled on the coast where the scenery resembled most the Vestlandet area. His family still lives there.
Keith Wheeler’s great hobby is family history. He has traced his ancestors back to the first ship that came to the USA with immigrants, the Mayflower. He is more interested in his Norwegian roots, though.
- "When I was young I did not really care so much about where I came from, but the interest has grown since then. I also think that in America in general there is much more interest for genealogy now than there used to be. Americans want to know about their roots," he says.
To keep contact with the old country and its culture is not easy. San Francisco has plenty of tramcars, steep hills, and a closed-down prison island, but not many Norwegians. In other American areas you may find celebrations of May 17th, the Norwegian Constitution Day, and other Norwegian and Scandinavian festivals, but in California there is very little of this.
- "All we knew about our roots came from a book we got in the early 1960s. The book is almost like a Bible to me and other immigrants," says Keith.
Now he has much more material than just one book. Keith has made his own website on the Internet about his family. He also keeps contact with other genealogists around the world.
On a tour of Norway
Now Keith and Peggy are in Norway to meet relatives and experience Norwegian culture. When “Bygdebladet” talked to the couple, they both agreed what the best experience of the trip had been:
- "To visit the Slogvik farm where Jakob grew up was a reason for making this journey, and we have achieved this goal," they say.
They have now stayed at Slogvik for a few days. The present owner of the farm is Einar Slogvik. He is not related to the Wheelers, but he still thinks it is great to have visitors from the USA.
Keith and Peggy also confide to us that they enjoy themselves very much in our small country. Here they have also had the opportunity to meet their two only remaining relatives.
Peggy is a teacher at an American high school and she tells us that the interest among pupils for Norwegian culture is increasing, particularly the interest for the Vikings.
- "We teach our pupils these days that Leiv Eirikson was the first (European) who came to America. Since the proof of the Norse discovery of America was found, the Americans are more interested in Norway. This year a big Viking Exhibition is arranged," says Peggy.
Now she and Keith are on their way back to America with their suitcases full of memories.