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Museum Blog: July

July 22, 2017

July 2017

The Museum Committee of the Trondhjem Community Preservation Society has embarked on making Trondhjem Community history a part of this TCPS Website. Our first installment focuses on early community member and World War I veteran Ole Berg. This blog, by Merle Fossum, is followed by links to more information about Ole Berg, posted on-line by the Minnesota Historical Society and Minnesota Reflections, part of the Minnesota Digital Library.

Check it out! And visit our blog in the months to come.

Ole Berg

1890- 1960     World War I Veteran

Ole Berg was born in the Trondhjem community to Norwegian immigrant parents. They lived in a squatters’ dwelling that they built in what was called “The Indian Woods.” This was a heavily wooded area that had not been cleared for farming located about a mile or two southeast of the church and owned by an absent investor. They supported themselves with a large vegetable garden and by hunting small game in The Indian Woods. Ole’s father, Johannes worked for cash helping community farmers doing odd jobs and especially tiling wetlands to drain them and make them available for agriculture.

Ole was known in the community as a very intelligent person. He loved to read and gain knowledge. When World War I broke out he was drafted and served in France, fighting in the battle of the Argonne Forest, one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of the war. Ole received many letters from friends and family in Trondhjem during his service and saved all of these letters for the rest of his life. We don’t have any of the letters he sent home but in from his mother she wrote, “What you wrote about (in last letter) have scared the life out of me. Live well Dear Son Ole

 When he came home from the battles, he suffered terribly from what was called “shell shock”, today known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is said that in the middle of one night he knocked on the door of his neighbor, Eddie Halverson, in great distress and said, “I shot Melford Docken!” (Another young neighbor). That was his terrifying hallucination and was not true but Eddie didn’t know it was a hallucination until he went to the Docken home and found everyone there was just fine.

A near neighbor to the Berg family, Leif Fossum and Ole spent many hours in their youth hunting together. Ole taught his younger friend, Leif, much of what he knew about hunting. Leif was a teen-ager when Ole returned from the war and he described taking Ole to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Minneapolis to get help for his shell shock. After a period of hospitalization, he was granted a military disability and a monthly stipend. A guardian was appointed for the rest of his life. He was never again known to have delusions or in any way shown signs of mental disorder. For much of his life, his old neighbor and hunting friend, Leif, became his legal guardian and Ole took up where is father had left off, digging trenches to lay drain tiles and draining much of the wetland of the Trondhjem community.

More about Ole Berg:

MNHS Education Portal

 Minnesota Reflections, Minnesota Digital Library

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