DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Remembering Anna

This is my Norwegian immigrant grandmother, Anna Vorland (above), photographed by my father on the family farm northeast of Harvey, N.D., in the late 1940s.

She’s been on my mind lately.

Hans and Anna Vorland.
Hans and Anna Vorland.

A few years ago at New York’s Ellis Island, Dorette Kerian and I saw the official record of Anna’s entry into the U.S. with her new husband, Hans.

He had come to North Dakota earlier, established a homestead and then in 1906 returned to Norway to marry her.

Anna was a strong and intelligent woman who lost Hans to an accident in 1930. But she raised the children still at home and kept the land in the family through the Great Depression and its aftermath.

I loved her as only a grandchild can.

When under stress (for example, when shopping in town) she would sometimes revert to a combination of Norwegian and English — what linguists call “patois.” It would annoy her immensely if she wasn’t understood.

Once I heard her mutter to herself, “Can’t they understand English?”

She died in November 1959, in her 80s.

A high school student then, I tried to keep my grief under control at the funeral. But when a woman with a beautiful soprano voice sang a hymn in Norwegian, I cried.

So did many others.

2 thoughts on “DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Remembering Anna”

  • Helen Murphy January 3, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    As a grandmother myself, I am glad you have fond memories of your grandmother. I am sure she would be proud of your accomplishments. One of my grandmothers died before I was born and one died when I was around 7. My children grew up next door to their paternal grandparents. Children’s lives today are so much richer thanks to the close connection to their grandparents.

  • David Vorland January 3, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, Helen


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