Main Pages


LEARN MORE about John Svee's farm in Norway at our SALTØY PAGE

LEARN MORE about Berit Rokke's farm in Norway at the bottom of this page and at our FJÆRPLASSEN PAGE


Include information on the formation of Pine Island Township and about the "pine island" referred to by the indians.  Put this in the TIMELINE.

John Svee Ancestors <Click>

You may have to click on the resulting picture to magnify, depending on your browser.

Chart of John Svee's Ancestors

Berit Rokke Ancestors <Click>
You may have to click on the resulting picture to magnify, depending on your browser.

John Svee Family John Svee Family about 1909.  Pictured from left to right:

Henry Svee, 1888-1948; John Svee, 1855-1931; Lena Svee Lewis, 1894-1987; Bernice Svee Flotterud, 1899-1965; Thena Svee Iwen, 1903-1996; Julius Svee, 1890-1952; George Marshall Svee, 1901-1984; Celia Svee Satrum, 1906-1957; Emma Svee Kvam, 1886-1918; Bertha (Berit) Rokke (Rykkja) Svee, 1863-1931 (front row); Julia Svee Raasch, 1892-1962; Arthur L. Svee, 1897-1988.

Children of John Svee and Berit Rokke (Their details are on a separate page).
John and Bertha Svee had 10 children of their own and raised one grandson, Kenneth Luverne (Bud) Svee as their own child.

JOHN J. SVEE (Jon Jonassen Svebukta)
John J. Svee, a farmer, immigrated to America in 1875 and returned to Norway in 1883 to bring his mother and a sister back to America.

Norwegian emigration records indicate that more than 600 Norwegians emigrated to Zumbrota in Goodhue County, Minnesota between 1880 and 1910, most of them with prepaid tickets. In an effort to increase their populations, settlements in Goodhue County were paying emigrant transportation costs from Norway during that period.

John was reserved and quiet and his wife, Berit (Bertha), was outgoing and fun.  They came to America separately and probably met in Red Wing, Minnesota (a meeting place for many Norwegians). Later they were married on March 29, 1885 in Red Wing.   When she came to America, Berit was taken in by a couple in Red Wing.  Berit said that the wife in this home taught her everything she learned about sewing, cooking and keeping a house.

John had 8 brothers and sisters, Ingeborg Anna Svebukta (1843), Johan Arnt Steinvikaunet (1845), Gunnerius Svebukta Februrary 22, 1847, Peter Svebukta (February 12, 1849), Arnt Swee (Arnt Jonassen Svebukta) (February 14, 1852), Petrine Svebukta (1858), Lena Svebukta (1860), and one other sibling for whom we do not have a name.

John went to Red Wing, Minnesota to become a U.S. citizen on January 15, 1897, his  family automatically becoming U.S. citizens because of this.  N.A. Stageberg and Cogen Benson were his witnesses.

John chose "Svee" as his version of the family name while his brother, Arnt selected the spelling  SWEE instead of SVEE.

Arnt came to America first, in 1872, and he and John spent much of the early years cutting down trees.  Arnt Swee and Ragnhilde Gundersdatter Hoset had 17 children including Joseph Swee who was adopted by Kari Blakstad as was his sister Mette Ingmar (Mattie) Swee.  Christine Swee Ulevig was adopted by Ida Ulevig Tongen.  Arnt and Ragnihilde had 5 children who were deaf. 

In 1883, at the age of 28, John returned to Norway to bring his mother, Lisbet (Elizabeth), and one sister, Lina Jonasdatter Svebukta, age 22, to the United States.  Emigration records indicate that Elisabeth's ticket was purchased in America, so we know that bringing her home to Zumbrota was part of John's plan.  Family members say that John made this journey because John's father, Jonas Andreason Svebukta did not treat Lisbet well.

Elisabeth and Lina emigrated, and John returned to America, on May 5,1883 with the Dominion Lines on the Ship S/S Hero. The S/S Hero of the Wilson Line was used as a feeder from Trondheim Norway to Hall England where they would have traveled from Hall to Liverpool by train. In Liverpool she would have boarded a Dominion Line transatlantic ship for either America or Canada. Their destination was Zumbrota Minnesota and the ticket was paid for in America.  John's record indicates a destination of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  Since we know they were returning to Zumbrota, we can't explain the reference to Chippewa Falls, other than that may have been a planned part of the journey to Zumbrota.

After arriving, we believe Lisbet (Elisabeth Jonsdatter Floasen) lived with John's brother Arnt in Roscoe, Minnesota, but we cannot verify that Arnt had a farm near Roscoe.  We can verify that Arnt lived south of Wanamingo and can document that farm.

ACTION: We need to determine if the statement that Arnt was in Roscoe is correct.  He may have had more than one farm.  On the 1900 census, Arnt is listed as renting his farm. If  he bought his farm south of Wanamingo after 1900, the statement that Lisbet lived with him in Roscoe may be accurate.

Lisbet (Elizabeth) died December 14, 1902 and was buried in Lands Lutheran cemetary, west of Zumbrota, Minnesota.

Lina Svebukta, married Samuel Dahl and moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, where she died and was buried in 1948.  She and Samuel had 5 children: Julia?, Inga, Lena, Margaret, and Sidney.

The Svee family had a strong emphasis on education.  Several of the girls attended college and several were school teachers.  Some family members noticed the coincidence that Lena Svee taught at Lena Station.

John had 2 different Minnesota family farms and lived in 2 different houses on his 2nd farm.  We currently don't  know when these farms were purchased.

FARM #1 (no picture available)
In the 1894 Plat of Pine Island Township we find the first John Svee farm of 74 acres located at 109 North / Range 15 West , Section #8, in part of the S.W. corner south of Zumbrota, east of highway 52, on the first road south of the 2nd farm he would eventually own.  6 Acres of the 80 acres that included John Svee's farm belonged to someone with the initials "A.P.".  We believe that all, or most, of the Svee children were born at this first home as the oldest child, Emma, was "born at home" and Thena's daughter, Mary Iwen Lamp, says that her mother Thena was also born in that home.  Thena was the next to last child born (1903).

Farm #2 - first house on the farm.
1st house on John Svee's 2nd farm
John Svee Farm #2, 1st house, about 1906-1907.  The family later moved across the entrance drive into a 2nd house about 100-150 feet south of this house
Pictured from left to right:  George (usually referred to by his middle name - Marshall), Bernice, Bertha (Berit) Rokke (Rykkja) Svee, Celia, Arthur, Thena, Lena, John Svee, Julia.

Farm #2Farm #2 Early Photo - second house on the farm.

 John Svee Farm #2, 2nd house.  Family stories say that the house was a log cabin and then modified.  In the earlier picture on the left you can see an addition to the house on the left.  In the picture on the right it is much like it appeared in the 1940's and 1950's.  This house was later torn down and a new house built in its place.

In the 1894 Plat of Pine Island Township we find the 2nd John Svee farm, shown in this plat as the farm of "Simon Meyers", made up of 160 acres located at 109 North / Range 15 West, in the southeast corner Section #7 and another part in the southwest corner of Section #8 next to John Svee farm #1.  Another part of this farm may have been located in the southeast corner of Section #7, but the spelling of the owner is "Simeon" Meyers.  At this time we don't know how MUCH of the Simeon Meyers farm John Svee actually bought.

A photograph of the family at farm #2, with Thena appearing to be about 3 or 4, would lead us to believe that the family moved to the 2nd farm after 1903 and by 1906-7.  One family reference states that a cheese factory was operated at the location of John Svee's first farm in Section 8 of Pine Island Township sometime after 1914 and that this was on a corner of the section referred to as "Lena station" and that at one time this corner had 2 depots with warehouses and a telegraph office, an elevator and a school house.  I believe this may be incorrect.  An examination of the plat book, shows Lena and the warehouses and depot about 1.5 miles east and 1 mile north of the John Svee farm, in the very northeast corner of Section 9 and Lena school being in the very southwest corner of Section 3.

After John and Berit died, Svee family members gave their shares in the farm to Arthur L. Svee to keep the farm intact.  Arthur ran the farm until it was taken over by Orville Kvam, John Svee's grandson.  We don't know what happened to the "value" of each persons' share and if they received money; or if Orville bought the farm from Arthur.

LEARN MORE about John Svee's farm in Norway at our Saltøy page.

John Svee's brother Arnt (Arndt Jonassen Svebukta) emigrates to America.
Jon Jonassen Svebukta (John Svee) emigrates to America
Berit Rokke emigrates to America
John Svee returns to Norway to bring his mother, Elisabeth, and a sister, Lina, to America
John Svee and Berit Rokke are married on March 29.
1894 Pine Island Township Plat Book:
Township 109 North Range 15 West
"John Svee" is shown on 74 acres in the southwest corner of Section #8.  The other 6 acres of that 80 acres piece is shown as owned by "A.P."  In the 1877 plat book the 80 acres is shown as having multiple owners ("J.N. Harper"-40 acres, "H.C.Harper"-34 acres, and "A.P."-6 acres). 
The son of John Svee's brother, Gunnerius, 22 year old John Gunneriusen Sve, from Norde Stjørdal, sailed from Trondheim on April 2, 1902, travelling on a pre-paid ticket aboard a feeder service ship, S/S Tasso of the Wilson Line. Bound for Zumbrota, Minnesota,
1910 U. S. Census:
John Svee and his wife Bertha are listed as living in Pine Island Township with their children: Emma (a teacher in Public School), Henry (a farm laborer), Julius (a railroad fireman), Julia, Lena, Arthur L., Bernice J., George M., Tena (notice spelling from census), and Celia E.  All were shown as speaking English and able to read and write.
1920 U. S. Census:
John J. Svee, a farmer who owned his home, and his wife Bertha are listed as living in Pine Island Township with their children: Henry J., Lena, Arthur L., Bernice J., George, M., Thena F., Celia E., and a grandson, Kenneth L.
1930 U. S. Census:
John Svee, a "dairy farmer" who owned his home and had a radio, and his wife Bertha are listed as living in Pine Island Township with their children: Arthur L., a laborer on a farm and a veteran of the "world war" ("WW"); Tena (note spelling by census taker) F., a school teacher; Celia E., a school teacher; and a 2 grandsons, Kenneth L. Svee and Orville W. Kvam.

Notes taken from Berit's obituary:
Bertha Rokke was born January 19, 1863 in Lower Stordalen, Norway.  She was baptized and confirmed in Skatval parish.  In 1881 at the age of 18 years, she emigrated to America, coming to Red Wing, Minnesota.  On March 29, 1885, she was united in marriage to John Svee, the wedding taking place at Red Wing.  They established their home on a farm in Pine Island township, about 3 miles south of Zumbrota where they lived until 1911, moving then to their present home which adjoined their first place of residence.  She leaves one brother, Olaf Rokke of Forest Mills and a brother whose address is unknown, also the following nephews and nieces: Conrad, Joseph and Oscar Rokke of Zumbrota; Mrs. Louis Larson, Galesburg N.D.: Herbert, Myrtle, Sidney, and Ruth Johnson of N.D.;  Mrs. Ole Soholt of Galesburg and Ray Rokke of Minneapolis.  Among the out of town relatives and friends who attend the services were Mr. and Mrs. Olaus Kvam of Minneapolis, Ellerth Walker, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Nelson, Mrs. Nels Nelson, and M. Knutson of Bricelyn, Minnesota. Magne Rokkee(sp?) and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Nelson and daughter; Helen Joan of Belmont, Iowa, Misses Agnes and Julia Oyen of Minneapolis; Mrs. Sam Dahl and son, Sidney of St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Mr. and Mrs. Emil Zeller of West Concord, Minnesota.

Note: Mrs. Sam Dahl is Lina Svebukta, the sister John Svee brought to America in 1883, along with his mother Elisabeth.  Emil Zeller was the father of Carolyn Zeller, wife of George Marshall Svee.

The farm of her father Hågen Olsen Røkke (Rykkja) was Fjaerplassen
Berit Røkke immigrated to America in 1881.

Berit's mother was said to have died when Berit was 8 years old, but from the differences in Berit's birth date and her mother Karen Johanna Olsdatter's (Rokke) death date, Berit would have had to been  approximately 12 at the time of her mother's death.

In America she was known as Bertha Rokke and is referred to as "Berit" and "Beret" in some notes.

When Berit came to America she was taken in by a couple in Red Wing.  Berit said that the wife taught her everything she learned about sewing, cooking and keeping a house.

Mary Iwen Lamp, daughter of Thena Svee and granddaughter of John Svee and Berit Rokke told a story that at the first John Svee farm in section #8, Bertha had to walk 1/2 mile to bring back 2 pails of water as there was no well on the farm itself.  We know of no creek or stream near that farm.  The nearest creek or spring would have been 1 mile away.  Unless she used the well of a neighbor she may have walked to this spring.

There is a separate web page for the farm FjærplassenClick Here to learn more about that farm and view pictures taken at the farm in September of 2005.

 © 2008 Jon Satrum