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Lyman County, South Dakota  Genealogy

Hilmoe, Peter J. and Family
From Tydal Norway to Baltic SD

Article submitted by Robert Pfister as found in the TRONDELAG-L Archives, from

Posted Sunday, September 13, 2009

    In the year of 1837, Peter J. Hilmoe was born in Tydalen near Thronheim, Norway, the land of the midnight sun. At the age of 20, Ane Martha (Aas) was married to Peter J. Hilmoe. Seven sons and three daughters were born to them on the father's farmstead in the valley of Tydalen.

    In the early spring, of 1883, Peter J. Hilmoe, his wife Ane Martha, sold their farmstead and home in Tydalen Valley, and their livestock and personal property, and with their sons and daughters, sailed for America to join their sons Svend and John and their daughter Magnild, who with Peter J. Hilmoe's brothers, Jens and Ole, had settled on a homestead near Baltic, S. Dak. It was a sad parting to leave their relatives and friends in Norway, but they had visions of the future to look forward to. Their trip was saddened by the death of their youngest daughter, Seri Anna, who was seven months. She was buried at sea in the Atlantic Ocean.

    On May 29, 1883, they arrived at their destination at Baltic, S. Dak., and had a happy reunion with their relatives and other
friends who had arrived in South Dakota several years previously.

    Peter J. Hilmoe and family settled on a small farm near his brother's and their families. In the spring of 1893 they decided to move further west, so with their covered wagons, ox teams, saddle pony, cows, chickens and household goods, started over the sparsely settled prairie for Chamberlain, S. Dak. They milked their cows along the way, sold butter, and lived off the land. When they arrived at Chamberlain, they laid in a stock of supplies, bought lumber and other necessities, and crossed the Missouri River on the Pontoon Bridge to American Island, then on west up Medicine Creek and then southwest to what is now Presho, and staked their claims. Peter J. Hilmoe and family located on the Southeast Quarter of Section 8, Township 104, Range 78, and Karsten Enang on the NE of Section 8, Township 104, Range 78. Svend built his house about 1000 feet northwest of Peter's home, and Gilbert built his house about 400 feet west from Peter's home. They immediately set to work to build dams, sheds and yards, and to fence in a small pasture and the dams, as this was open range country.

    The year 1893 was a busy year for the little community. There were three homes to be built, as well as sheds, fences and pole yards. Each family acquired a team of horses and they had to put up hay for their stock. A trip to Chamberlain, which was fifty miles away, took three days, and this was their only means of replenishing their groceries and other necessities.

    Ane Martha Hilmoe was the midwife and doctor for the whole community. Their sheep supplied their wool from which they made sweaters, mittens, socks and other wearing apparel. The community had quilting parties and made their own quilts and mattresses. Their mattresses were made of heavy ticking filled with hay. Their washing was done on a wash board and the tubs were barrels
which had been sawed in half. Their "flat irons" were heated on the stove for their ironing. Wild plums, choke-cherries and buffalo berries were plentiful and were gathered and made into jelly. Each family dried their own beef. Cottonwood logs were hauled from White River for heat and fuel.

    A Lutheran minister or missionary used to ride the circuit, so about once each month the community would gather at some home for religious services. Nels Fosness had homesteaded nearby and the traveling minister married Nels to Kjerstie Hilmoe, one of the daughters of Peter J. Hilmoe.

    This settlement became known as "Little Norway. At the instigation of Jorgen J. Boe and Nels Fosness, the church, school, post office, general store and township were given the name of "Hilmoe" as a tribute to the patriarch of the community, Peter J. Hilmoe.

    In 1905 the railroad between Chamberlain and Presho was completed and an influx of homesteaders came into the area. There was a severe drought during the years of 1908 and 1909, and many of the homesteaders sold their land.

    On July 4, 1897, the Scandinavians joined together for a picnic and program on White River and it was then they received news that Christen, the fifth son of Peter J. and Ane Martha Hilmoe had been drowned in a flash flood while crossing Bad River. His brothers recovered the body and buried it along the Bad River. More than a year later Nels Fosness, who was a cabinet maker, built a coffin which Karsten Enang and Peter P. Hilmoe took to the place where he had been buried and removed the body and took it back
to Baltic, S. Dak., for burial in the East Nidaros Cemetery.

    Peter J. and Ane Martha Hilmoe spent the remaining years of their life in the community which they loved and built. Ane Martha died on November 14, 1916, and her husband Peter J. lived only a little more than a year after her death, passing away on December 26, 1917. There was by that time a Hilmoe Cemetery, west of Presho, the "Hilmoe Medicine Creek Cemetery," where they were buried, and their daughters, Kjersti and Magnild, and their son, Peder, were buried in the Hilmoe White River Cemetery. Son John was
buried in the West Nidaros Cemetery and Christen was buried in the East Nidaros Cemetery near Baltic, S. Dak. Svend, Gilbert and Ole were buried west of Presho in the Hilmoe Medicine Creek Cemetery. Peter P. Hilmoe is staying at the Bethesda Lutheran Home at Beresford, S. Dak. At 91, ( in 2004) he is still hale and hardy for his age.

    The family of Peter J. Hilmoe and Ane Martha Hilmoe, 1837 to 1967, consisted of the following:

    Peter J. Hilmoe: Born Tydalen, Throndheim, Norway, February 7, 1837. Passed away at his homestead, December 26, 1917.

    Ane Martha (Aas) Hilmoe: Born Tydalen, Throndheim, Norway, September 2, 1838. Passed away at the homestead, SE Sec. 8 Hilmoe Township, November 14, 1916.

    The seven sons and three daughters listed below were baptized in the Evangelical Lutheran church in Tydalen, Norway. All were born on their father's and mother's farm in Tydalen.

    John Hilmoe: Born August 2, 1859, and passed away on his farmstead three miles east of Baltic, S. Dak. on May 31, 1941.

    Svend Hilmoe: Born December 28, 1860. Passed away at his home, SE 8 104-78, November 8, 1906.

    Gilbert Hilmoe: Born October 24, 1865. Passed away at Methodist Hospital, Mitchell, S. Dak., January 3, 1916.

    Magnild (Hilmoe) Enang: Born August 16, 1870 passed away at her homestead, NE 8 Hilmoe Township, December 27, 1951.

    Peder Hilmoe: Born September 24, 1872 and passed away at Bethesda Lutheran Home, Beresford, S. Dak., on February 10, 1958.

    Christen Hilmoe: Born April 16, 1874. He drowned in the Bad River during a flash flood while crossing the swollen stream, July 1, 1897.

    Peter P. Hilmoe: Born April 14, 1876. He took over his father's farmstead after his death. He is retired and is now staying at the Bethesda Lutheran Home at Beresford, S. Dak.

    Kjersti (Hilmoe) Fosness: Born February 1, 1878. She passed away July 28, 1939, at St. Mary's Hospital, Pierre, S. Dak.

    Ole Hilmoe: Born May 29, 1880. Passed away at homestead, SE'4 8 104-78, September 14, 1903. He died of wounds after being trampled by a team of wild horses.

    Seri Anna: Born November 1882. Passed away and was buried at sea the middle of May 1883.




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