Martin's Trip to the USA

Picture of Martin at 16 or 17 years

In the Spring of 1906, at the age of 17 (he is listed as age 18 on the ship manifest), Martin left Norway for the USA. He had heard of the "riches" to be had in America and like many of his countrymen, opted to travel across the Atlantic. Opportunities were scarce in Norway during this time. He may have needed to borrow money but he claimed that he paid his own passage on the manifest. His supplies were meager. He probably spoke little or no English but was listed as being able to read and write as were most of the passengers.

Martin's only staples were 2 dozen hard-boiled eggs, hardtack, cheese, and a few clothes.

Ray's "Family History" states that he took a passenger ship and that the trip took two weeks.

Picture of Nils taken in Chicago
His brother, Nils, and other Norwegians had sent glowing reports about America telling about the freedoms, economic opportunities and affordable land. Shortly after the completion of his apprenticeship, in 1906, with his grandfather's or older brother's financial assistance, Martin left Melhus, Norway. He travelled the first part of his trip on a steamer called Tasso, which carried him from Tronhjem to Hull, England.
The Tasso, probably the ship on which Martin sailed to England

Although there is a story that he traveled by train to Oslo, and by sea to London, the Tasso actually went from Tronhiem to Hull. From there, he probably went overland by train to Liverpool, where he caught the Ivernia to Boston, and finally the train to Chicago. The picture on the left, is the Tasso.

Marin's sister Signe

Martin's siblings

At the time of Martin's immigration, Nils (b.1875) was in Chicago. Sigrid (b.1876) had married and was living in Norway. Marit, Ola, Ola, and Johanna, had died. Oline died in 1912, at age 26. Both Olga (b.1890) and Signe (b. 1893) followed Nils and Martin to America. At the age of 17, Olga travelled through England and left Liverpool on the Saxonia on 15 October 1907, arriving in Boston on 25 October 1907.  Olga married Hjalmer Mykles and went to Washington State. Signe arrived in New York on November 1, 1910 and initially stayed with Martin in Chicago (address: 1512 N. Rockwell St., Chicago). (In Norway, she listed her contact as Mrs Sigrid Woldhagen of Melhus.) Later, she went to California and, while there, married Ole Jordhiem. There are a few pictures of Martin and his two younger sisters while they were in Chicago. After the family move first to Duluth and then to Florida and Texas, contact between Martin and Nils seems to be limited but it is known that he corresponded with Signe.

Other images

See other images of Martin, his parents and siblings, and the Melhus area. Larger printable images are available from this location.

Martin's Story:

Melhus, Norway

Melhus area map
Martin's Family Tree
to the USA
New York &
Ellis Island
Martin's Relatives

Woldhagen Family Site

Norway's Story

Kamilla's Story

Martin's Story

Family Images


Duluth area

Tampa area

San Antonio

This page was last updated by Carolynne White April 27, 2008

Lack of opportunities led to Emigration:

In Norway, the late 1800's and early 1900's were a time and place when farming did not offer a promising future and emigration to the USA was a popular alternative for both religious freedom and economic opportunity. The population was expanding and Norway had been chafing under Sweden's dominance. Politically, the conflict with Sweden was finally coming to a resolution. A Norwegian referendum in August1905 ended the "union".

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Martin borrowed money for the trip:

In Palmer's "Family History" he states that Martin borrowed money from his grandfather, Nils Tomassen (who lived on the Reiten Farm).

Mildred remembers hearing that Nils provided financial assistance.

In Ray's "Family History", he stated that Nils provided financial assistance.

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Could he speak English?

In Palmer's "Family History" he states that when Martin left Melhus, "not speaking a word of English".

Mildred remembers his ability to speak English and feels that he must have had some knowledge of English before he left Norway.

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In Palmer's "Family History" he states that Martin left Melhus in the spring of 1905. Ray's story agrees with Palmer's. When researching passenger lists, I found Martin Hans. Voldhagen on the Tasso with the date: 25.04.1906. Here is the whole listing:

Martin Hans. Voldhagen ug Snedker m 1888 Melhus Chicago Ill Cunard Tasso Bill. bet. i Trondhjem a Snedkeriarb Meldt



The first rail link with Oslo was completed in 1877. In 1921 a second, more direct rail line was finished.

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