Norwegian Immigrant Follows A Dream to a New Country

Ludvig Gjømvik circa 1910

Ludvig Kristian was born in Trondhjem (now called Trondheim), Norway, on 11 January 1892, the youngest of five children of a tradesman family. At the age of nine, he was orphaned and was sent to live with elderly relatives who were tenant farmers in the country north and west of Trondhjem. After his confirmation at age fourteen, he worked on farms and eventually gained employment as a shoemaker at A/S Trondhjems skofabrik in Trondhjem.

The Decision to Leave Norway

Life was difficult in 1913 Norway, and Ludvig had a dream that life could be much better in America. He talked this over with relatives and friends. His wages as a shoemaker were low, and it would take years to save enough for the voyage to America. So Ludvig secured a loan from relatives to cover the cost of the journey.

The Journey to the New World

In June 1913, Ludvig emigrated to the United States. From Trondheim, he took a small coastal steamer, the "Åro," operated by the Wilson Line of Hull that took him to Hull, England. He then boarded a train for a cross-country trip to the port of Liverpool.

At Liverpool, he boarded the Cunard Steamship RMS Laconia as a steerage passenger. The entire trip lasted ten days, and he landed in Boston, Massachusetts and after clearing immigration, took the train to the Midwest.

Living in the Midwest

Corporal Ludvig Gjenvick, US Army AEF

Ludvig first lived in the Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois areas, moving to Madison, Minnesota, where he worked as a farm laborer in nearby Garfield. It was there that he met his future wife, Clara Seefert.

The Great War

When the United States entered World War I, Ludvig was drafted into the Army and received his citizenship while stationed at Camp Pike, Arkansas.  He was promoted to the rank of Corporal and served in France.  He deeply loved his adopted land and was proud of his military service.

Postwar Life

Following the war, Ludvig married and settled in Minneapolis. Three children were born to Ludvig and Clara Susan Seefert: Benjamin, Marie, and Lawrence. 

Ludvig lived the rest of his life in Minneapolis except for several years in the late twenties when he moved his family to a farm near Spring Valley, Wisconsin. 

Before World War II, he began working for the D. W. Onan Company. Starting as a janitor, he was subsequently placed in charge of plant maintenance and security as the company expanded. He worked there until his retirement in 1957 at the age of 65.

Ludvig in 1960

Life's Gifts to Cherish

Ludvig's life was marked by the tragedy of his parents' early deaths, his wife's death in 1938, and the poverty, anxiety, and suffering of the depression and war years.

He was deeply involved in the church's life, serving as a deacon, Sunday School teacher and superintendent, and informal counselor to a succession of pastors. Concerned with missions and with service for people in need, he gave generously of his time, money, and energy to these causes.

Christian higher education captured his imagination as a young immigrant. Lacking much formal education, he inspired, encouraged, and supported his children's education and accomplishments.

A man of exceptional dignity and humor, he numbered countless friends who found unusual concern and wisdom in him. His hospitality, warmth, and charm made him an always welcome host or guest.

The Journey's End

Saying Goodbye - Ludvig Leaves on the Train (circa 1952)

Ludvig was a man of exceptional physical strength and energy.  He appreciated nature but also loved the architecture of the city. He found great pleasure in walking and physical work. 

He found lifelong joy in music and loved to sing with his family and friends. The treasures of the church's hymns - Norwegian and English - enriched and sustained his life. 

Beyond all this, he was a man with a profound personal faith. The Lord was his faithful, living friend to whom he turned in good days and ill. As the years increased beyond his expectation and his strength failed, he longed to go home.

Ludvig made a tile mosaic of the Last Supper, which he gave to the Reverend Ronald C. Peterson as a farewell gift. A short time later, Ludvig passed away at the age of 83. He faced death with courage and hope.

Copyright © 1975 The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Family

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