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Erik Svenbalrud Gundersen
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Erik Svenbalrud Gundersen, a pioneer postmaster, now a retired farmer of Sacred Heart village, was born in Halland, Norway, Sept. 17, 1841, son of Gunder Erikson Svenbalrud and Pernile Ingvalsdatter, who died only three days apart in the latter part of December, 1866, the father at the age of sixty-six and the mother at the age of fifty. He attended school a few months in Norway and after coming to this country learned to speak, read and write the English language with but little instruction. April 16, 1866, he left Norway, with his wife and one child, Petra, and arrived at Waseca, in this state, June 29, 1886, being ten weeks and four days on the trip coming across the Atlantic ocean aboard the old-time sailing vessell called the "Olaf." After staying in Waseca three years he came to Sacred Heart township in the spring of 1869 and settled on a homestead of eighty acres one mile south of the present site of the village of Sacred Heart. Even as early as 1887 his farm was known as having one of the best orchards of apple and other fruit trees in the county. In 1895 he moved to the village of Sacred Heart. Here he has likewise planted a splendid orchard. Taking care of trees and cultivating a good garden is his hobby. As related elsewhere, he was the first postmaster of Sacred Heart postoffice. He was townsihp supervisor in 1871 and 1872; township treasurer in 1874 and 1875; and town clerk from 1878 to 1896. For three years he served in the army in Norway. He belongs to the Norwegian Synod Congregation of Sacred Heart, was one of its first members, and took an active part in having the church built. Mr. Gundersen was married Oct. 27, 1864, to Karen Olson. This union has been blessed with two children, Petra and Knute. Knute is manager of the Sacred Heart Telephone Exchange. Petra is now Mrs. O. K. Bergan. Her children are Eugene Lenorad, attending the Sacred Heart High school; Knute Washington, a teacher in the high school at Marmarth, N. D.; Laura, a teacher in the high school at Canton, S. D.; Clara, wife of Peter Mortenson, of Sacred Heart; Olga, a teacher in the High school at Lyle, Minn., and Gunerius Olaf, postmaster at Sacred Heart.
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