Stavanger Aftenblad article
"Sluppfolket førte dem sammen"
"The Sloopers brought them together"
by Ludvig Lorentzen; photos by Håkon Vold
July 5, 2000
[A hurried translation by Rotraud Slogvik on July 09, 2000.]
Page 1 (with color photo):
United: Ernst Torkelsen is standing at the quay again. Keith Wheeler is onboard. Their great great great grandmothers were sisters. One of the ladies left for America and the other stayed behind in Norway. That makes Torkelsen a Norwegian and Wheeler an American.
Page 6 (with large black & white photo):
The sloopers brought them together
Shaking hands across the Atlantic: Thanks to the Restauration the 6th cousins met.
By Ludvig Lorentzen and Jan Soppeland (photos)
- "I'm deeply touched inside of me," says the 63 year old Keith Wheeler, a retired psychologist from the little town Mad River in northern California. Yesterday he met Ernst Torkelsen from Stavanger for the first time.
Great-great -great settled it
Torkelsen's and Wheeler's great great great grandmothers were sisters from Seldal in Høle. One of the sisters, Siri, left with the Restauration in 1825. The other one, Ingeborg, stayed in Maudal and got married there.
The meeting between Torkelsen and Wheeler happened, when the 175 years emigration jubilee was celebrated in Stavanger yesterday. Anna of Sand was there at the Skagen quay as a substitute for Restauration. Wheeler was enthusiastic about getting invited onboard.
- "I did cross the Atlantic towards Norway in 1955 when I was serving on a destroyer. We had rather bad weather."
Trip to Høle
"But it was something quite different to sail from Stavanger to New York in such a boat with 52 people onboard and survive a storm. I rather can't imagine that," confesses Wheeler inside of Anna.
His 6th cousin took him with him to his great great great grandmother's place at Høle.
- "The landscape is beautiful, but barren. I can understand, that they emigrated," says Wheeler.
It was the Norwegian Emigration Center, which made the contact between Wheeler and Torkelsen. When the meeting took place, Wheeler had a lot of papers with him, telling what happened when "salig" (deceased, blessed ??) Siri came to America.
She was about 55 years when she arrived. She had with her the 3 youngest children. The oldest stayed behind, but came after later on.
Siri and her husband Tormod Madland settled down in Rochester, in the state of New York near the lake Ontario. Tormod died 8 months after their arrival and Siri 2 years after him.
The meeting with Wheeler made a deep impression on Torkelsen. The Stavangerman is 55 years old, the same age as Siri was, when she went onboard the Restauration.
- "I don't know if I would dare to do the same," he says.
Prize to Erik Bye
Under the emigration jubilee, Erik Bye , the TV-veteran, was given the Emigration award. This is a new award awarded by the Norwegian Emigration Center and the county. The person who gets it has "made an effort to keep and strengthen the cultural and human connections between Norway and the emigrated Norway".
Can we say anything else than Good Bye?
Caption below the picture on page 6:
Keith Wheeler (left) meets his 6th cousin Ernst Torkelsen on the Anna of Sand. Their great great great grandmothers caused that one became American and one Norwegian.