Biography of Elling H. Burtness
Houston County, MN Biographies

Elling H. Burtness, a pioneer settler of Wilmington Township now passed away, was born at Ness Hollingdal, Norway, Sept. 29, 1837. In 1861, accompanied by his brother Swen, he came to the United States on a sailing vessel, landing in this country after a long voyage. Like most of his race, he sought the northwest, making his way to Wilmington Township, Houston County, Minn., and having on his arrival no other property than what he could conveniently carry around with him. Here he went to work by the month as a farmer, an occupation that he had followed in his native land. In 1863, though without money with which to make a first payment, he bought 120 acres of land on which was a log house, about 50 acres of the land being broken. For a few years he led a bachelor life, his father, Helge, who came from Norway and joined him in 1865, living with him. His farming operations, like those of the other pioneers, were carried on with the aid of oxen, horses being scarce or little used at the time. His personal qualifications, however, were such as to command success, and in time he found himself the owner of 440 acres of land, having by 1874 erected a large house and barn. A member of the Norwegian Lutheran Church, he helped to start the congregation of that faith in his locality, and served as trustee of the church, being also one of the school officials of his district. After a long and useful career, he passed away on the home farm on February 15, 1913. Mr. Burtness was married in Houston County, about 1866, to Christie Myhre, who was born in the same locality in Norway as himself, Dec. 27, 1845, and who had accompanied her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ole Myhre to this county in 1849. She died Aug. 13, 1913, having survived her husband but a few months. They were the parents of 14 children: Live, now Mrs. J. P. Kopang, of Spring Grove; Sigri who is living on the old homestead; Margaret, who died at the age of eighteen months; Henry, who occupies a part of the old homestead; Olaus E., county treasurer of Houston County; Peter, who is farming and is President of the Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Cook, Minn.; Theodore, who died in infancy; Theodore (second), who is a farmer in St. Louis County, Minn.; Emma, who died at the age of ten years; Theoline and Elida, twins, the former of whom is living on the homestead, the latter having died in 1908, at the age of 28 years. Carl and Edwin, who now own the old homestead; and Emma, who is a professional nurse and has been in the United States service with the Red Cross.

The History of Houston County, Minnesota
Edited by: Franklyn Curtis-Wedge.
H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co.
Winona, Minn. 1919


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