Red River Girl From Telemark to the Buffalo 4th Floor Gallery, though March 7, 2021
In 1859, Norwegian couple Olav Gunnarson and Tone Leivsdotter Songedal purchased a farm in West Telemark called Thortvedt (Tortveit). Two summers later they joined almost 100 fellow Norwegians emigrating to the United States from Fyresdal. After nine years in Houston County, Minnesota, the family moved again to the Buffalo River in Clay County. They named their new farm Thortvedt, the Buffalo River Settlement sprang up around them, and the family established themselves as some of the earliest settlers in Clay County. Olav and Tone's son Levi and Levi's daughter Orabel also established themselves as two of the county's earliest historians. The two recorded and saved a substantial amount of early Clay County history in the form of their own drawings, paintings, photographs, letters, and journals. In Red River Girl: From Telemark to the Buffalo, Orabel's art illustrates this history, providing a unique firsthand narrative.
This Norwegian-American collaboration between the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County and the West-Telemark Museum explores the tremendous stories of the Thortvedt family, from Fyresdal to Glyndon and the many miles between. In focusing on one family's experiences, Red River Girl contributes to a richer understanding of America's immigrant history, particularly our understanding of Norwegian immigration to the Red River Valley.
Red River Girl: From Telemark to the Buffalo is funded in part by a grant from the Lake Region Arts Council through a Minnesota State Legislative appropriation.