My Bestemor's Bunad

In Attire
Norwegian vest, cap & apron w/ hardanger
Norwegian vest, cap & apron w/ hardanger

For many immigrants, the journey to America is a story of inspiration and heartbreak, rich with emotions raw and deep. Then there are the Scandinavians. By all accounts, my ancestors came to America with the same stoic philosophy they lived by in Norway: Emotions were not an option. 

In 1895, my great grandfather Anton Olson immigrated to the United States from Svarstad, Norway. Anton sent for his wife Olga to join him in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. In 1900, they had my grandmother Marie and moved to Sandpoint, Idaho, where there was a Norwegian community. Equally important, the countryside looked like Svarstad with thick forests and tall mountains that dropped into a deep blue lake.

My grandmother grew up speaking only Norwegian. When she started first grade, she would chatter away in Norsk with her classmates. The teacher would reprimand Marie, but my grandmother did not understand. Eventually, the teacher would place Marie on a stool in the corner and put a white dunce cap on her head. My grandmother thought it was an honor to wear such a special cap and she loved the attention.

When I was growing up in Idaho, my grandmother would teach me Norwegian. My first full sentence in any language was: “Jeg elsker deg Bestemor” which translates as “I love you grandmother.” In 1995, after a good long life and one trip to Norway, Marie Olson LePard died in her sleep in the log cabin Anton had built. She left me her bunad -- a Norwegian traditional costume I wear on special occasions.

Place(s): Norway,Wisconsin,Idaho
Year: 1895

– Bonnie LePard

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more