Near Elk Point in Union County, South Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Giants in the Earth Country
Ole Edvart Rolvaag's First Home in America, 1896-1898
When the famous Norwegian-American novelist Rolvaag (1876-1931) came to America, he worked on the 200-acre farm of Severt Eidem (NE quarter, Section 12, and 40 acres, Section 1, Brule Township), two miles north of this corner. Rolvaag's first book The Third Life of Per Smevik (1912) and later novels reflect this experience. Pure Gold is set in a neighborhood like that around Elk Point, and events in the three Beret Holm novels -- Giants in the Earth, Peder Victorious, and Their Father's God -- are owing to Rolvaag's first two years in South Dakota. The Indian trail of Giants is like a trail nearby, and a hill reminiscent of the Indian hill where Beret sat is to be found a quarter mile north of the farmhouse.
In the fall of 1898 Rolvaag enrolled at Augustana Academy in Canton. He returned to the Elk Point area frequently, for Eldem's wedding in September 1898 and for summer farm work. After graduation in 1901 his home was to be Northfield, Minnesota, for the rest of his life. At Augustana Rolvaag met Jennie Berdahl and in 1908 married her. At her father's house near Garretson he heard many of the stories of pioneering that made their way into Giants and his other novels.
In 1978 the Nordland Heritage Foundation moved the Berdahl house to Augustana College in Sioux Falls as
Erected 1981 by Nordland Heritage Foundation, S.D. Department of Transportation, and the S.D. State Historical Society.
Location. 42° 46.543′ N, 96° 41.263′ W. Marker is near Elk Point, South Dakota, in Union County. Marker is on 476th Ave. ¼ mile north of Groethe Rd., on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Elk Point SD 57025, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. St. Paul Lutheran Church (approx. one mile away); Fort Brule (approx. 1.2 miles away); Richland Methodist Episcopal Church (approx. 1.9 miles away); The Great Missouri River (approx. 5.1 miles away); Homestead Rest Area (approx. 5.1 miles away); Elk Point (approx. 6.1 miles away); Lewis & Clark Campsite / Eli Wixson Farm Site (approx. 6.4 miles away); Return to "Elk Sign" Campsite (approx. 6.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elk Point.
Also see . . . Ole E. Rolvaag, Minnesota Historical Society. (Submitted on February 4, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota.)
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on February 6, 2017. This page originally submitted on February 4, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 164 times since then and 54 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 4, 2017, by Ruth VanSteenwyk of Aberdeen, South Dakota. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.