The following February, 1882, their first son Jakob was born, named after his paternal grandfather (his dad’s dad). We still aren’t sure when or why he followed his younger brothers to America. We do know he was living in Juneau in 1918 because we found his WWI draft registration card. He spelled his name Jackob and stated he was born on the 21st of February, his address was General Delivery, he made his living as a fisherman and worked for himself; his nearest relative was Gerhard Knubedal (his dad, pictured above) in Hauge I Dalane, Norway. He described himself as 5’6”, medium build, blue eyes and brown hair and didn’t have any tattoos, bite scars, or other “distinguishing marks.”
Back in Norway, his brother Kristoffer (my grampa) had married Anna Torkelson in 1917. Jakob was not “in country” for the wedding, but obviously thought she was a pretty cool lady because when he got back to Norway, he was introduced to, fell in love with, and married her sister Bertine, in June of 1921. So these two brothers and these two sisters ended up becoming sisters and brothers-in-law, too!
Two years later, Jakob was 41 and tried to convince his wife to move to America with 2 year old daughter Hjordes and 3 month old son Almar. Due to the fact that she did have these two little ones, her mother Johanne, 59 years old, and two single brothers who lived in the same house to take care of, there’s no way she could leave. Thank goodness the Torkelson family usually had enough resources to keep their photo album up to date. Here are a few pictures of Jakob and Bertine’s children growing up.
This time he didn’t just go through the line of immigration. Instead he was taken aside and held for “special inquiry.” He was held for detention due to “C.L. PH.D” (we haven’t found out what that meant yet). Whatever it meant, they kept him long enough that they had to feed him one meal - probably dinner - but doubtful it was a steak and salad. He was finally released and allowed to enter the United States at 10:40 am.
Jakob’s son Almar never forgave his father for deserting them. He grew up resenting, in fact hating his dad. He truly believed his father hated them and that they had been abandoned. He absolutely refused to put any of the blame on his mom. She just thought it was best not to leave her family and his dad did not agree to stay.
In one note Uncle Happy sent to Bertine from the states (when he was apparently still really mad because she didn’t come with him) he said “over here there are only women, wine and song!” (in Norway that meant he was living a really wild life.)
Obviously that didn’t make Bertine very happy—but (typically for a Torkelson woman) she never “shared with others how she felt” and Almar did find the note! That did add to the bitterness and resentment he already had towards his dad.
Bertine’s granddaughter Brit says her Gramma never talked about not going with Jakob (it was simply accepted) and they never divorced, but even so, she had no choice - she just couldn’t leave the country with the responsibilities she had.
It is very obvious that Jakob did have feelings and was actually a nice guy, too. The Torkelson family had enough money to feed them and they did have a house in Norway. Jakob leaving the country had to keep enough money to pay for his ticket on the boat, then the train to get across Canada and then re enter the United States to get into the Alaska territory. Although he didn’t leave her any money when he left, for years he did send packets with warm clothes and shoes from America. Even after he died Bertine still received money from America.
We have never seen a wedding photo of Bertine and Jakob: we heard his son Almar made sure to cut his dad out of any family photos.
The draft registration card we found with his birth date and race (they didn’t use the word ethnicity in those days) also indicated he had a relative living in Sogendal Norway. He registered for service in Juneau but his residence was Gull Cove on Chichagof Island.
Folks who lived in the same area as Happy remember him being a hand troller and operating a fish trap at Gull Cove, and working for the cannery in Excursion Inlet most of the time. He had the special reputation as an expert in putting up smoked salmon and making the best pickled herring. Today there’s a lodge at Gull Cove and the cabin he lived in is still standing.
His nephew Sig, who grew up in Juneau, remembers “Uncle Jakob and Uncle Sig were around our house as far back as I can remember--they always stayed with us whenever they were in town.”
Others must have thought so too (the happy part). He and Uncle Sig were cannery caretakers. Seems like the Knubedal boys (except Emil) preferred to live more like hermits; not necessarily isolated, but they did like their space when they wanted it.
His nephew also remembers that Happy stayed with them in the winter and that he and Uncle Sig were both sailors in their younger years and would tell stories about all their experiences. He said that when he got the same story from both of them, he knew he was getting the truth. But when it was just Uncle Happy (Jakob) telling the stories, they were usually taken with “a grain of salt.”
When he died, Uncle Happy’s address of record was Gull Cove, on Chichagoff Island, 65 miles west of Juneau. That is directly across Icy Strait from Glacier Bay National Park, where lodge guests arrive via floatplane from Juneau.
Special thanks to my special cousin in Norway, one of Jakob (aka Happy) Knubedal’s granddaughters —Brit Jorunn Kjode. For years she and her husband Stein have been so intent on sending me as much information as they could gather to provide all the extras I would have never been able to find.
Ole G. Jacobsen is the first name recorded on the SS Oscar’s passenger list. The ship’s manifest included some additional information that was not included on manifests in later years. They asked things such as: Have you ever been in prison, almshouse or institution for care and treatment of the insane or have you ever been supported by charity? If so, which one? Were you a polygamist or an anarchist and what is your mental and physical conditions? Ole of course answered no to each question and said that he was in fine condition. How could one of the Knubedal brothers be anything else?
He arrived in New York May 2nd, 1906 and went right to Route 4, Valley City, North Dakota to stay with his friend Tobias Olsen. Then we find his name on a 1909 Great Northern Railway Train passenger list, telling that he was traveling from Vancouver, British Columbia to Edison, Washington, and that he says that is where he lived before. Like all his brothers, he was able to read and write English, and stated he made his money working as a laborer (most likely a farm laborer), just like his brothers.
It does not seem likely that Ole spent nine years away from Norway, but there are lots of Ole Jacobsens on passenger lists born in the same time frame, and none of them are our Ole.
He still had his Norwegian name, Knubedal, in 1909. So did his wife Anne, daughter Grethe and his brother Emil when they came here in 1917. Grethe was almost 11 years old when she and her mom came to America on the SS Frederick VIII on January 20th 1917. The passenger list clearly shows this was Ole’s family because it indicates Anne’s nearest relative in Norway was her father-in-law Gerhard, who was also her daughter Grethe’s grandfather. What could be more convincing than that? Additionally, Ole’s younger brother, 17-year-old Emil Almer Knubedal, was traveling with them.
According to our cousin Brit, who lives in Norway today, the family relationships were not quite as they were listed on that passenger list.
When our Great Uncle Ole Gabriel married Anne Cecelie Allette and headed over to the U.S.A. the following summer, he begged his father Gerhard to look after his wife while he was gone and sure enough, his dad, our Great-Great Grampa, definitely did take care of watching and caring for his daughter-in-law really close. She ended up getting pregnant with him, and even though Ole always knew about it, he also heard that the child had died. So, he must have been shocked when he heard about this dodder, that was actually his father’s child, and he got pretty ticked off!
Obviously Ole’s wife Annie was sure Ole would be OK about having a little girl and that they were parents. A daughter Grethe (Gertie) was born the next year in May. It was assumed Ole had come back to Norway and took his child and wife to the USA.
Our cousin Brit thinks Bertine or Aunt Hjordes wrote to Grethe about the issue because they told her that she was not Gerhard’s daughter.
Annie’s occupation? Just like almost all other women-- housewife of course. Ole’s wife and dodder traveled to Bellingham, Washington and joined him on the 17th of February 1917. And then, a son, Albert, was born in 1918.
At some point, the family is not sure of the date, Ole, Anne, Gertie and Albert moved to Juneau. Ole worked for a cannery in Taku Harbor as a “web man”- a skill he learned while living in the “old country”- and he owned a fishing boat, the FV Mabel.
Juneau’s 1920 Census includes Albert as a two-year-old living in the house of “Elle” (Ole) and Anne Jacobsen, ages 34 and 35, respectively, along with a daughter Grethe who was 13 at the time. Sadly, their little son Albert died the same year the census was taken: we found his name on the August 1920 burial record at the cemetery.
Census records include two citations. One is a condensed version, a sort of card with the names and ages of those living in the household- taken from the original census record. Sometimes the person translating the handwritten record does not read the writing as intended. For example, in this particular case, Ole was recorded as Elle and they misread Albert’s birth place as Alabama instead of Alaska.
When my Grampa Kristoffer and Gramma Anna, my Uncle George, mom JoAnn and Aunt Gertie arrived in Juneau in 1926, my Great Uncle Ole had already been an Alaskan resident for 20 years. Our Aunt Gertie remembers her Uncle Ole being short and heavy, a very serious and stern man (much like her father). And, he also had a great sense of humor and loved to tease the little ones and could be very “manipulative’ when needed. She also says that in general he was also very warm, friendly, and always welcoming.
Ole and Anne’s daughter Grethe (also known as Gertie), my mother’s cousin, married Sigurd L. Olsen. Juneau’s 1930 Census records show him as head of the household, born in Norway. He had come over to this country in 1910 when he was 18 years old, he spoke English, he was fishing on a halibut boat and also served time in the military.
In 1930 Sigurd Olsen's wife Grethe was 23 and had come over in 1917. She spoke English and worked in her own home. They had two children, a daughter Anne L. (Lenora), who was four years old, and a son, Sigurd Jr. (also known as Leonard) who was two. My aunt Gertie remembers her cousin as being very creative, independent and always doing lots of sewing. She believed everyone should “do their own things”—set their own priorities - and said we should make sure not to confine others, not to do stuff they didn’t like and didn’t really want to do- cause that always wasted time.
Others in the same household were Linda Stickney, 22 years old, a “lodger” born in Alaska with a parent in Finland. She worked as a waitress and we’re guessing it was her children, Donald and Venetia, listed as “boarders.” The lodger mom, with two boarders?
Our Great Uncle Jakob always stayed with his brother Ole when he was in town. Ole and his daughter Grethe’s husband Sig did not get along. Since “Grampa Ole” lived only four blocks down the street, Grethe’s son Leonard always loved spending a lot of time at his grandpa’s house listening to stories. Today he says he would always love smelling the cakes and cookies that Gramma Anne was always baking.
One of his favorite stories was when his Great Uncle Jakob (aka “Happy”) and Grampa Ole talked about sailing and getting shipwrecked in Australia, describing quite an adventure when they had to walk across a desert to get back to civilization.
Anne died December 27th, 1949 and the news article announcing her funeral service is titled “Services tomorrow for Mrs. Ole Jackson. Mrs. Jackson died Monday at St. Ann’s Hospital. A long-time Juneau resident, she was a member of the Women of the Moose, Sons of Norway and Pioneers of Alaska.”
Ole died two months later, February 15th, 1950. His obituary in the Juneau newspaper reads “Funeral Services for Capt. Ole Jackson, 63, who died at his home in Juneau Wednesday will be held Tuesday at 2 pm.” His remains were placed in the Moose Plot at Evergreen Cemetery next to his wife. He was buried February 21st. He was survived by his daughter, Mrs. Gertie Berggren, who returned to Juneau from Portland, and four brothers: Emil, of Blaine, Washington; Chris, of Sitka (my grampa); Jack (Happy), of Gull Cove; and Sigurd Jackson, of Douglas.
At the time they passed, they also had two grandchildren - Lenora (Nora) and Leonard Olsen (referred to as Uncle Leo), and a great granddaughter (Nora’s daughter), Janice Hollender of Juneau.
Sig Jr. (aka Uncle Leo) is our Great Uncle Ole’s grandson, the son of Ole’s daughter Gertie. He has never been married and has no children. He met several women looking for someone to take care of them but he wanted to remain on his own. He lives in an apartment in downtown Juneau that he owns and plans on staying there. He also has houses, some 5 or 6 miles out of town, including a “shack” located off Douglas Highway.
He had worked as a “general marine vessel” maintenance mechanic in the big harbor in the downtown area and also worked for the city for 12 years dealing with gravel needs.
He owned a 26’ steel pleasure boat that he also used for trolling for many years.
His niece Janice Hollender in Juneau was “taking care of him; making payments, keeping track of all things he needs to keep locked, etc.”
He was currently resident in the Veteran’s Hospital in Blaine Washington. He was suffering a continuing foot infection that only got worse. The VA foot doctor in Juneau was very concerned it never got better so he had a VA charter flight take him from Juneau for treatment in the Washington veteran’s hospital. A very “good” charter flight. He has been there for going up to three months now, with doctors concerned about constant infection requiring continuing treatment. “Chopped on it twice to get rid of infection and that hasn’t worked.”
He is required to use a wheelchair—he found a “good electric wheelchair” for good deal. Only had to pay $500 instead of $3-$4,000.