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Nils Hansen Rustand later Nils Viker

by Ingeborg and Wilhelm Elsrud
Translated by: Bjarne Breilid----Feb, 2003
Edited by: Don Nelson------------Feb, 2003
Updated on Kari's Genealogy Site on April 10, 2013

Nils Rustand was born at Rustand the 17th of February 1792, and was the brother of Ole Hansen Rustand, later Ole Hansen Haugerud. Nils was a man of unusual character and it is appropriate to include some of his life's history in this account. He was especially famous as one of Ådalens most renowned hunters, and he is said to have shot about 20 bears. The following information is based mostly on the "Emigration History from the Ringerik District" and "Notations regarding Hunting and Fishing" by Elling E. Elsrud.
It is told that in his youth Nils had a child by a girl in the neighborhood of Rustand, but this has not been verified. In the summer of 1815, he was married in the Viker church to Kari Viker and moved to the Viker farm. Viker was then church property, and Nils and Kari took over the lease on the farm. Kari was daughter of Thor Nubsen Viker and Gjertrud Andersdatter. In 1824, they purchased the farm for their own. As custom was at that time, he then called himself Nils Viker.

Kari and Nils had 10 children, 6 boys and 4 girls. In 1850, 4 of the children emigrated to America, and some time later 4 more went. Thus there were only 2 left in Norway. They were the elder son Thor who married Kari Andersdatter Sandviken and moved there, and Kari who married Fingar Johbråten. Thor and Kari had 6 children, of whom Olea married Lars Simensrud.
Nils was not interested in farm operations. He was generally out hunting, bear hunting using bait, hilltop hunting in winter, game hunting the whole spring, and trapping in the fall. The farming went badly, and in the end he had to sell Viker. He had become a widower, and although his brother Ole had warned him against coming (see page 10 Hrinvariki from May 1992), he emigrated to America the 9th of April 1861. There he lived some time with each of his children, but he was not happy. In a letter to his relatives at Elsrud he wrote that he would "rather be a beggar in Norway than a farmer in America." He especially disliked the simple sod houses and the primitive log cabins. After a time he went back to his Ådalen birthplace. At that time it was seldom that anybody went home to Norway from America, and it aroused great attention that Nils came back. People came from far away to hear how the conditions were in the promised land, and Nils told gladly.
Nils now had no home of his own. He lived partly with his brother's daughter Olia at Elsrud, and partly he leased a house at Skarrud. Now he was able to take up hunting again, and he spent the entire spring in the forest shooting game. He shot anything he was able to, hens and grouse, and he put out snares at game places. One time he had found a new, great grouse mating place at the Skarrud summer farm in the mountains, and there he shot so many birds that he had to make several trips to collect all of them.

A "hulder girl" came to him there one night when he was lying beside the fire. At one time in the spring he arrived at Knapvassetra, and saw 7 bears in the field there. He had only birdshot, and besides he thought that there were too many, he said, so they might not be actual bear. Nils was highly superstitious.

Once Nils shot and wounded a bear in the mountain slopes near Skarrud. When the bear tried to seize him, he crawled up on a great stone, and the bear came after. He pushed the bear several times with the gun barrel so it went down again, and in between he attempted to reload. At last he had shot the bear. There was a second hunter with him on this trip, it was either Palme Enga or Gunnar Børsesmed (Gunnar Gunsmith, called Børsegunner (Gun-Gunnar). He didn't arrive until after the bear was dead. In the summer two red foals had disappeared, and when they took the stomach out of the bear, they found out, alright, what had become of the foals, said Nils. When Nils had shot a certain number bears, probably 20, he got an award.
Nils had many guns. One of the guns he gave to Edvard Elsrud who was the youngest son of his brother's daughter Olia, married to Elling Elsrud. This was the gun Edvard used when he shot his first grouse, and that is now with his son's son, the writer Edvard Elsrud at the North Storruste in Hedalen. Another gun he took with him to America, and had it with him on his return to Norway. That is now supposed to be at Rustand, where there are three old muzzle loading guns made by Børsegunner. Likely Nils took this gun with him from home when he moved to Viker and in his elder days gave it back to his brother's son Hans Rustand. Dentist Nils Viker in Hønefoss also has a gun which had belonged to Nils the elder.

At the census in 1865 Nils lived at Skarrud, which was the property of Sheriff Skougstad at Gunbjørrud. At this counting it was also recorded that Gulbrand Olsen and Aaste Olsdatter lived in Braaten below Elsrud. Late in the fall in 1867 Gulbrand was logging at Sandvannet in Vidalen. The 2nd of December he started to go home over the mountain along with the other loggers. The weather was bad, it snowed and blew hard. In the darkness and the snowstorm he became separated from the other men, and nobody managed to locate him again in the evening.
Several days later Gulbrand was found frozen to death in the cold. He had sat down under a tree for a rest and got himself a little food, and in his hands he had a frozen dumpling. Gulbrand was taken on a ski toboggan down to Aaste, where he had to thaw out before he was laid in the coffin. He was buried the 26th of December, and Aaste was left with 4 small children. She was then 35 years old.
In the years after Aaste was widowed, she no doubt helped Nils a bit with the housekeeping, and perhaps she moved up to Skarrud. The 2nd of February 1870 Aaste had a son who was baptized Ole. At the christening, widower Nils Hansen Viker admitted to being the father. Ole was later a famous man in the community. He went by the name "Aasteola", and was in his youth Ådalens best speed skater. The 18th of May 1872 Aaste again had an illegitimate son who was baptized Gabriel, and Nils was also this time named as the father. He was then 80 years old.
In the new year 1873 Nils decided to go to Brenna in Hadeland to visit his family. Before leaving, he had put out an otter trap in a deep pool in the Skarrud river with a fish for bait, and he asked Edvard Elsrud, who then was a youth of 18 years, if he would take care of the trap for him while he was gone. Nils never returned from this trip. He suddenly became sick, and died the 18th of March 1873 at his relative's home in Hadeland. He was then just over 81 years old.

They caught an otter in the trap, and Edvard went with Lars Simensrud and the Opperud fellows to Kristiania (Oslo) to sell the skin. Håkon and Elling Opperud had bought up many skins which they wanted to sell. The fellows walked all the way to Hen, and in Kristiania they stayed with shopkeeper Hoxmark who owned a "farmers' home" (hotel for country people). Here they got room for free, and they had food with them from home.
We close with a survey of Nils Viker's children in the marriage with Kari: Thor, born 1818; and Kari, born 1815, stayed in Norway. All the others who grew up, left for America: Hans, born 1820; Gjertrud, born 1822; Nub, born 1824; Anne. born 1826; Ole the elder born 1830; Gunhild Maria, born 1832; Ole the younger born 1834; and Iver, born 1837. (There also was born an Ole in 1828, but he died when 8 months old.)

Hans' second marriage was to Maren Lunde, widow of Ole the elder, Rustand, (a first cousin) see page 12 in HRINGARIKI from December 1992. Iver died after having participated in the civil war, see page 15 in the same reference.

All children who emigrated were married, and they left behind themselves a great family in America. Just south of Grand Forks in N. Dakota, at the border to Minnesota, lies Viker farm, which still is owned by the family.