Kremlin Homesteader Christ Haugen, 1911

This history of Kremlin Homesteader Christ Haugen was written by his oldest son and daughter-in-law, Ed and Donna Haugen.

Kremlin Homesteader Christ Haugen was among the earliest arriving
Kremlin homesteaders in February, 1911.

Leaving Norway

Christ Haugen was born on July 31, 1885, at Sandane, Nordfjord, Logn og Fjordane, Norway. He was the son of Jorgen and Valborg Hauge who were both native to Norway and his family had been residents of the surrounding area for many generations.

Christ's work experience included in Norway working in seasonal work in the areas including farming, dairying, fishing and construction of railroad. In Minnesota and North Dakota farm labor and lumbering industry. In Canada, farm laborer, lumber industry and street construction.

Norwegian Emigration records show Kristoffer Jorgensen Hauge, 23, born 1885, accompanied by his sister Anna Jorgensdatter Hauge, 26, born 1882, and an uncle Rasmus G. Hauge, 56, born 1852, left from Bergen, Norway, to come to the United States on April 27, 1908.

Arriving United States

They went by train to Aitkin County, Minnesota, where another uncle was sheriff. This uncle was known as Christ Haugen, having changed his name from Hauge to Haugen. When Christ applied for his first naturalization papers, his uncle advised him also to use this spelling, which he did.

Their uncle, Rasmus, took Christ and Anna to North Dakota where another uncle lived, Abrahm. Rasmus secured employment for them in the area close to Park River and Lankin, North Dakota, where they stayed for a year and a half until Anna married.

Christ returned to Aitkin County in Minnesota and worked in the lumbering industry until 1911 when his uncle, Rasmus, contacted him and suggested he come to the Kremlin area in Montana to take a homestead claim.

Arriving Montana, February 1911

Christ arrived by train at Kremlin February 1911. He took up residence on unsurveyed land and later filed a homestead claim on N½ Section 12, Township 33-N, Range 12-E,(proved up April 27, 1915) staying with his uncle for a short time until getting his homestead "shack" built, with the help of a neighbor and his uncle.

During harvest season of 1911 he followed his uncle, Rasmus, to Monarch, Alberta, Canada, near Lethbridge, to obtain employment, since he had no other income, going by train on the Great Northern Railway to Lethbridge.

In the spring of 1912, he worked one month each for two other farmers, payment being 10 acres of breaking from each. During the harvest season of 1912 he again went by train to Canada, in the company of others from the area, to work in the harvest fields. He also was employed briefly on street construction in Lethbridge, but soon went to British Columbia to work in the lumbering industry because he could make more money. He worked six weeks and made $80.00.

On returning to Kremlin, he seeded his new breaking to winter wheat, getting a good yield during the harvest of 1913, and making him believe farming was going to be very successful. In the spring of 1913 he took employment on a neighboring farm, again receiving payment in additional breaking. With the proceeds of his "Bumper" crop in the fall of 1913, in the spring of 1914 he and a close neighbor bought five horses, a breaking plow (one share or blade), a wagon, a drag (harrow), and a drill. Harvesting, first out with a binder and later threshing was done by neighbors on contract, until he was able to buy some equipment of his own.

Montana Differences

Christ had a general farm background, however, in Norway everything was on a much smaller scale, using one horse and seeding by the broadcast method. Moisture was much more plentiful and moisture conservation did not have to be greatly considered, when tilling the soil. His experience in farm work in North Dakota was closer to what was experienced in Montana, although again, moisture totals were much less; 16 to 20 inches per year was the average in North Dakota compared to 12 to 14 inches per year in this section of Montana.

Because everything was new to Christ and he had not as many preconceived ideas of farming, he was open to learning. This did not protect him from making mistakes in methods, and overconfidence, as the years were soon to show a vast variety of conditions.

Christ was cut off from any close family, as his uncle, Rasmus, was killed in a fall in Canada in July of 1911, so he learned to rely on neighbors and they exchanged many things, as mentioned in connection with the breaking and harvesting.

There were other Norwegians and Scandinavians in the area and they tended to band together, despite widely different backgrounds in their native lands. Their common religions affiliation and language also contributed to this association. These differences in some cases cut "foreigners" off from participation and acceptance.

But the general strangeness or newness for all those who came to the Kremlin area at around the same time, had the capacity to draw them together in the common cause of adjustment to a formidable challenge in the form of climatic conditions, insect infestations and the complete unpredictability of a hailstorm. Lesser individuals gave up and moved on to less trying conditions.

 
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