From The Rutland Leader, October 1, 2006


Sigvart Susag is a Great Uncle of  Walter Edwin Johnson.

Sigvart Johannes Susag
Sigvart Johannes Susag was born October 18, 1887, in Namsos, Nord-Trondelag, Norway.  His father, Edvard Sivertsen Susag, was a blacksmith in Namsos.  Sigvart left Norway as a young man.  He emigrated April 18, 1909, from the Trondhjem Port on Ship Laurentia, debarking at Port Huron, Michigan on May 19, 1909.  His uncle Antonius had sponsored Sigvart's immigration.  Sigvart's grandfather & grandmother, Sivert & Andreanna Johnson, along with his uncles, John Sivertsen, Antonius Sivertsen and David Susag, had immigrated from Sparbu, Nord-Trondelag, Norway, to Dakota Territory in 1880 & 1881 and taken up homesteads south of Cayuga, on land that is now owned by Harvey & Judy Bergstrom and by Edith Pherson. 


Sig arrived by train at Cayuga on May 11, 1909.  Upon stepping off the train, a wave of homesickness struck, and he wished he had enough money to get back on the train and return to his home in Norway.  There was a solitary hill on the south side of Cayuga, a gravel deposit left on the prairie by the receding glaciers of the last Ice Age, and Sig recounted that he hiked up to the top of that hill, gazed over the prairie in every direction and there was not a tree to be seen from where he stood on that hilltop, all the way to the horizon.  "My eyes filled with tears,"  he said, "and if I had any money at all, I would have gone back to the depot and bought a ticket to go back to a place where trees grew"

Antonius Sivertsen to Canada
He (Sigvart) took over the management of his uncle Antonius Sivertsen's homestead, in April of 1910, while his uncle went to Canada to look for another farm.  Antonius and his wife, Ellen, moved to New Norway district, Canada, in the summer of 1910.  Antonius' widowed mother, 
Andreanna, accompanied her son to his new farm in Canada.  Sig's grandfather, Sivert Johnson, had died in 1902 and is buried near Rutland in the Nordland Cemetery.  His uncle John sold his Sargent County homestead and moved up to the Tioga, North Dakota area at about the same time. Sigvart's uncle David, farmed near the town of Comstock, Minnesota. 

Sivertson or Susag

Sivert, John & Antonius had observed the old Scandinavian practice of children taking their father's first name as part of their last name.  Sigvard's father, Edvard, who remained in Norway, and his uncle David, however, took the name of the farm on which they resided in Norway as their last name.  The name of that farm was, and still is, Susag.  (Sivert Johnson (Jonsen) and sons: Antonius Sivertson, Edvard Susag, John (Johannes) Sivertson, and David Susag.)

Sigvart and Mabel

Sigvart met his future wife, Mabel Hoflen, while she was teaching at the rural school located near the farmsteads of Sivert Johnson and Antonius Sivertsen, in southeastern Ransom Township.  Mabel Cora Hoflen, daughter of Andrew Hoflen and Anna Martha Johnson, was born December 17, 1888, in Fulk County, Dakota Territory South.  She married Sigvart on November 15, 1915, in Forman, North Dakota.  After their marriage, Sigvart and Mabel continued to live in Sargent County, establishing a farming operation with their son, Lloyd, who later purchased their share of the farm.  The Susag farm was 1 mile west of the town of Rutland, on the south side of County Road #3.  A nice grove of trees was planted around the farmstead.

Sigvart' Powerful Bass Voice

Sigvart had a beautiful singing voice and was called on to sing at events and funerals throughout the area.  He was always happy to oblige.  One of the hymns well suited to his powerful bass voice was the Norwegian language version of "How Great Thou Art" and he was often called upon to sing that number at the funerals of pioneer Scandinavian homesteaders.  Sigvart first returned to Norway to visit his boyhood home in 1947 and made three more visits over the years. One of the visits was a reunion of the Norwegian male chorus group he sang with before immigrating to America.

Mabel's Parents
Mabel's parents were Swedish emigrants who homesteaded in Dakota Territory, Faulk County, in 1885.  Statehood was granted to North and South Dakota November 2, 1889.  Mabel's father, Andrew Hoflen, was born in 1863 in the province of Jamtland, Sweden.  Her father lived initially in a sod hut on the prairie.  About 1900 the family moved to Sargent County.  One of Andrew Hoflen's grandsons, Andrew G. Hoflen, currently owns and operates the Hoflen farm northeast of Rutland.

Sigvart and Mabel's Children

Sigvart and Mabel had the following children:  Grace Margaret, who was born January 11, 1917, and died April 3, 2003; and Lloyd George, who was born April 14, 1919, and is still going strong.  Mabel died June 30, 1966, and Sigvart died October 23, 1978.  (Since the writing of this article, Lloyd passed away on July 15, 2013).


Grace married James Pfau on January 13, 1954, and the couple spent most of their married life as school teachers in the U.S. Panama Canal Zone, returning to Lake Cormorant, Minnesota, following their retirement.  


Lloyd married Beulah Donaldson September 20, 1945.  Beulah was the daughter of Iver Donaldson and Sofie Pedersdatter.  Her father, Iver, was the Standard Oil Co.'s bulk oil dealer in Rutland.  She was born in Rutland on June 24, 1923, and died November 5, 1982.  They had eight children:  David; Ivan; Mark; Joel; Ronald; Carolyn; Wayne; and Sandra.  The Susag farm was taken by eminent domain in 1972, becoming part of the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge.  Lloyd married Thala June Aleshire on February 19, 1991, in Austin, TX.  

Sigvart Susag Family History