Voices of Minnesota

Oral History Interview with Inger Margrethe Jensen Frelander

DATE: November 29, 1986 - January 7, 1987

INTERVIEWER: Chad Barthelemy

Inger Margrethe Jensen was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1911 and lived in an orphanage until her foster parents, the Jensens, took her in when she was a year and a half old. When she was nine years old the family immigrated to the United States and she was formally adopted by the Jensens. The family settled near Rosendale, Minnesota, and later moved to north of Grove City, Minnesota, farming rented land. In 1927, Jensen finished school at the eighth-grade level, having completed the eight grades in six school years. In 1932 Jensen married Wally Frelander of Atwater, Minnesota, and over the next 10 years they had four children. The Frelanders lived for short times in Litchfield and New Brighton, Minnesota, and Hudson, Wisconsin, and in 1944 they returned to Litchfield, where they bought a house and remained until Wally Frelander's death thirty years later.

Subjects discussed include: school years, including learning to speak English; her family's travel in third class on a Norwegian ship; Jewish and Polish passengers on the ship; arrival in Grove City, Minnesota, on New Year's Day, 1921; ethnic groups in the area; Fastelavn, a festival similar to Halloween; her family's gradually purchased livestock and equipment; difficulties in understanding certain English words; completing the eighth grade in Minnesota; marrying in the 1930s and taking up farming on rented land; always being in debt to the landlord; her father selling his farm equipment and traveling back to Denmark to discover that time had changed the people and their situations; working at Land O'Lakes; returning to farming in Litchfield, and her husband's injury in 1944, when he lost his leg while working for the highway department; his return to work as a signal man after five years, but a subsequent layoff; a settlement they received from the accident; three trips back to Denmark later in her life; her father's disappointment in the United States; how children's political views are formed.

The interviewer is the narrator's grandson. The transcript consists of excerpts from three interviews.

TRANSCRIPT: 223 pages