Odd was one of the early emigrants from Voss and he and his family have many descendants in America. He was born on the Himle farm in Voss and his parents were farmers. His father was a blacksmith and is known for making a chest hardware and locks. His father’s father Amund Johannesson øvre Himle fought in the war against Sweden in 1809 – 1814 as a drummer, and was later promoted to battalion drummer. Drummer’s in the military would drum out messages to another battalion. Amund was the first crofter (tenant farmer) at Moatråen in Granvin and when his house burned down he purchased the Lae farm at Tykkebyd in Voss, which is now a part of Hylle. He later purchased a farm at Himle where he eventually stayed. Amund had two sons that came to America; Sjur and Lars.
The ancestors of Odd’s mother Anna is connected to the well-known Glimme family and as such has many connections. The first of her Glimme ancestors is Torgeir Glimme who was mentioned in documents in the years 1603 – 1635. Then there was Tormod Torgeirson Glimme, followed by Lars Tormodson Glimme. His daughter Anna was married to Odd Nilson Himle and their son Tormod Oddson Himle was married to Arnguna Larsdatter Rue. Their son Odd Tormodson was married to Inga Nilsdatter Gjelland and their son Nils was the father of Bjarne Nilson Himle who came to America in 1839. Bjarne’s daughter Anna, born in 1786; was married to Johannes Amundson Himle and was Odd’s mother. Odd’s mother died young after having 2 more children; Amund and Brita. Johannes married again to Marta Aslagsdatter Flatekvål and had 5 more children, many of them having descendants in America.
When Odd first arrived in America he began working on the canal, which had been started to Ottawa, Illinois, and surveyed to the Mississippi River. Then he started with farm work until he took a trip to Voss in 1844. Anders Flage writes in 1840 that Odd Himle was making 2 dollars a day in harvesting which was more than commonly paid. Odd made his home in the Fox River Settlement as many of the early emigrants had. In the fall of 1839 he was hired by three young Voss men living at the Fox River Settlement to help them look for cheap land in Wisconsin. Odd had been in the country long enough to have learned the language tolerably well and also was skilled in evaluating land so he had been hired These young men had heard about rich land in Wisconsin and that there were great possibilities for anyone with courage and strength. Those fellows were Nils Sjurson Gilderhus, Lars Nilson Bolstad, and Odd. Magne Botolvson Bystølen was to be among them, but had gotten sick and had to remain behind, but land was selected for him and he joined them the following year. They all chose land between the border of Deerfield and Christiania. It was these men who founded the settlement at Koshkonong and earn the distinction of being the first Vossings and the first Norwegians at Koshkonong.
In the fall of 1844, Odd went back to Norway and was married the following spring on “Brudetirsdag” or Bridal-Tuesday; to Mari Larsdatter Gjermo. Odd, along with his bride went back to America. His father-in-law and his family went along with him. They sailed on the “Statsraad Van Vogt” and during the voyage a baby was born to Olav Anderson Dyvik (Haus) and Kristi Olsdatter Bolstad (Evanger) and was named Mons Statsraad Van Vogt Dyvik. Sadly, the baby did not survive and was buried at sea. After some weeks at sea they saw smoke. As they drew closer they could see it was a burning ship and as they neared they saw the deck collapse. Soon it wall all aflame and then sank. It had been a freight ship and had no passengers on board. In all, it took nine weeks and three days to reach New York. When they arrived they were asked if they wanted to travel by rail or by canal boat to Buffalo. Since they had heard that Lars P. Gjermo’s son Peter had injured his leg when he rode on the railroad earlier in the summer, they preferred to go by boat.
After being instrumental in founding the settlement at Koshkonong in 1839, Odd then moved in 1845 to Portage Twp., which became Leeds Twp. in 1846; and became one of the founders of the big settlement at Spring Prairie north of Madison. It had been discovered the previous autumn by Knut Langeland from Samnanger. In the fall he was joined by a Sogning, Ole Klæben. When Odd had returned from Voss he had brought many of the emigrants with him. Many of them had first gone to Koshkonong and found that what appeared to be the best land there was already claimed. That was the land that lay a little higher than the other prairie land and had little forest. This led Odd Himle, who, as a good judge of land, to look elsewhere, and several went with him. They heard of some outstanding land that lay about 20-25 miles farther to the northwest, and there went Odd and his following. It was this district that was called Spring Prairie. It lay partly in Dane County and partly in Columbia County, Wisconsin and was about 18 miles north of Madison. The mid-point of this area seemed to be Leeds Center which was a place in Leeds Township in Columbia County. This region now has the familiar sounding places of Keyser, Morrisonville, Windsor, DeForest, Columbus, Arlington, and Poynette Rio. Thus, they became the actual founders of this big settlement. Odd purchased 40 acres (SW. ¼ of SW. ¼ in section 36, town 10. North range 10 E.) and a cabin at Spring Prairie from Ole Klaeben and then made his home there. This cabin (hut) turned out to be the first dwelling of a Vossing on Spring Prairie, and it as a result a number of people in his party soon had lodging. This became Odd’s permanent home. He continued to purchase land until he owned more than 300 acres and in 1860 he had real estate valued at $4,000 and personal assests of $500. By 1870 he had increased this and his real estate value was $5000 and his personal assests were $1200.
Many families joined him in his home that first winter. Beside him and his wife, there was his father-in-law Lars P. Gjermo and his wife and six children, Sjur S. Reque with his wife and five children, hired boy Mons Småbrekke; and also Ole Klæben. The next winter there were also several families, among them Styrk Ivarson Vike, who had come from Muskego.
Odd was an obliging and helpful pioneer, and he took an interest in the future of the colony. He was interested in establishing a church and it was he who first got Pastor Dietrichson to come to Spring Prairie. He and Knut Fosmark went and got him from Koshkonong and Odd’s children were the first to be baptized at Spring Prairie. For one reason or another he became dissatisfied with the high church ministers from Norway, and when Elling Eielson Sundve came there in 1846 and started a congregation,Odd adhered to him. First he gave free land to the church on his property, and Eielson’s Society, as it was often called, had its church there. He subsequently became a member of Hauge’s Synod. The result was, that two congregations were started in 1846, one with Dietrichson as minister and one with Eielson.
In 1890 he moved to the village of DeForest, WI, where he spent the last three years of his life.
Mari, Odd’s wife was the daughter of Lars Pederson Gjerme, born 11 Dec 1822, and was the granddaughter of Peder Larson Gjerme and Marie Madsdatter Sæve. Marie’s great-grandfather was sheriff Mads Torbjørnson Sæve of the old Norwegian Dal family. Her paternal grandmother, Gudve Knutsdatter Raudstad’s was Inger Klausdatter Miltzow of the well-known and documented Miltzow family.
Mari’s father had his father’s farm at Gjerme until he, in 1845, sold it to his sister and her husband Anders Strykson Rekve, who then started to live on Gjerme. After his arrival to Spring Prairie, Lars bought land beside his son-in-law Odd; but he didn’t grow old in America. He was already dead in 1847, leaving eight children: Mari, Peder, Margaretha, Eli, Synva, Asgjerd (Ester), Knut and Martha. After Lars Gjerme’s death his widow, Asgjerd, married widower Ole Knutson Fadnes (Rongo).
The family took the name Johnson. They had seven children.
- Johannes (11 Mar 1846 – 1847)
- John (2 Sep 1847 – 1917). In 1867 John went to Iowa and bought a farm in the Forest City area. He never married.
- Lars (c1849 – ). Lars died between 1850 and 1853. He is buried in Spring Prairie Lutheran Cemetery.
- Ann (31 May 1851 – 2 Jan 1924). Ann was married to Andrew Leedahl (20 Feb 1842 – 29 Oct 1925). He was born Endre Hermandson Leedahl in Sogn, Norway. They lived in many places Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Oregon. Andrew was a farmer. They had 9 children: Ed Henry, Lewis Robert, Mary Matilda, Judith Anna, Burnie Mathias, Carl Alfred, Esther L., Arthur John, and Emma J.
- Lewis O. (19 Sep 1853 – 1932) m. to Inger Sjursdatter Rindal (1861 – 1898), 6 children: Minnie, Edward, Sivert, Nellie, Arthur, and Jennie.
- Esther (20 Nov 1855 – 18 Oct 1920) m. 1870 to Ole Illand, 13 children: Ole, Emma, Adolph, Lewis, Christian, Otto, Willie, Josephine, Henry, Joseph, Marie, Lilly, and Ida.
- Inger (1860 – )
Sources: 1885 Iowa State Census; 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 US Census Records; A History of Norwegian Immigration (Flom); History of the Emigration from Voss (Rene); Norwegian Immigrants to the United Steates, Vol. I (Naeseth); Spring Prairie-Hauge Cemetery Records (Leeds, Columbia, WI); Vossaboki, Vol. IV (Kindem); Vossingen, 3rd yr., No. 3 (1921); Zion Lutheran Cemetery Records (Noonan, Divide, ND)
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